Coupons: A Family Tradition

By Bonita Y. McCoy

Coupons saved my way of life.

When my oldest son was a baby, we lived in a neighborhood that had sidewalks. This was the first house we had owned, and money was tight. Because we were a one-car family, I would take the baby out for a stroll in the afternoons just to get a break.

I began to notice on recycling day that many of my neighbors didn’t keep their coupon booklets but rather tossed them in with the other recycling. It took a bit of nerve, but if I spotted the booklets on top of the bins, I stopped and pulled them out. We needed all our pennies, and coupons were one way I could help cut the cost of our groceries.  After all, I was a stay at home mom, and I wanted to do my part.

Over the next several months, I began to find more and more of the booklets at the top of the bins. My neighbors were becoming aware of my weekly walks on recycling day and made the effort to make the coupons accessible for me.

Their ministry to my little family lasted for nearly two years until we moved.

During this time, my aunt in Mississippi also began sending me an encouraging note along with coupons for diapers and other items that she knew I used. Through the generosity of my aunt and neighbors, I was able to keep our grocery bill within our budget.

Today, coupons play an important role as a ministry tool for me and my family. We have given coupons for diapers and formula to new mothers and young families, and we have sent specific coupons to friends when it was a product that we knew they used often.

Within my family, I exchange them with my mother-in-law, and on the flip side, I pass them along to my own daughter-in-law.  They have become a family tradition, of sorts. Even my youngest son knows to ask for a coupon before going to get a haircut. For us, couponing works.

Five Coupon Tips:

  • Don’t buy items just because you have a coupon. The idea is to save money. If the store brand is cheaper or the coupon is for something you don’t normally use, it won’t save you money.
  • Team up with a buddy. Nobody can keep up with all the sales. Find someone who is interested and swap coupon booklets every week or two.
  • Don’t be an extreme coupon-er if it isn’t you. Do what fits your life style. Some people have notebook binders; others like me have the wallet-sized coupon holder that fits in your purse.
  • Put your coupons somewhere, like in your purse or your car, so you’ll have them with you when you’re out. The number #1 problem with using coupons – leaving them at home.
  • Remember coupons can be used as a ministry tool. You can use them to purchase needed items for food banks or homeless shelters, or you can find a neighbor who could benefit from your unused coupons and share with them, like my neighbors did for me.

Coupons have played a vital role in the life of my family. They are a McCoy tradition. We use them to save money for sure, but more than that, we use them to bless others.

Click to tweet: Coupons saved my way of life.

Writing Prompt:  The coupon made me think of my neighbor Lenita…


Hello! I’m Bonita Y. McCoy. I hail from the Great State of Alabama where I live on a five-acre farm with three horses, two dogs, two cats, and one husband who I’ve had for over twenty-five years. I am a mother to three mostly grown sons and one beautiful daughter-in-law who joined us from Japan. I love God, and I love to write. My blog is an expression of both these passions. Drop by and visit.

www.beautifulpiecesofgrace.blogspot.com

3 Questions Wednesday with Leila Tualla

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday!

Leila Tualla

Leila Tualla is a Filipino American writer, and author of a Christian YA contemporary romance, Love, Defined. She can be seen drinking copious amounts of caffeine while chasing after two miracle babies. She is a 2-time Preeclampsia Survivor, and online Advocate.
When she’s not writing about her Preeclampsia journey or chasing after her tiny “Mexipino” bosses, she can also be found buried in books.

Thanks for joining us today, Leila. Here’s the first question:

What inspires you?

Leila: My family inspires me to be better person. Children are our legacies, and I want to be remembered for my kindness by the actions of the little loves I left behind.

What a wonderful outlook and goal. Next question–

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Leila: I would be lavender. It’s pretty, and sweet, and unassuming. It’s not bold and loud like purple, but there’s just something about that color that makes you pause…at least, I’d like to think so. I can be shy around people, but I’ve been told that even though I would swear I blended in with the background, people seem to remember me. Of course, how many Leila’s do people meet on a daily basis?

Nice. I read that a “lavender” person is usually creative, charming, witty and civilized. What do you think? Comments, anyone? Last question–

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Leila: I wanted to be a teacher just so I could give stickers and write in pretty colored pens!

Cute!

Readers–Leila is offering a signed copy of her book, Love Defined–so comment to win! As usual, if we have lots of comments, we’ll draw for the winner and let you know. Here’s more about the book:

Love Defined by Leila Tualla

Click on book to buy Print Version.

In their final summer before graduating college, three childhood friends expect an uncomplicated transition to adulthood…but learn they all still have some growing up to do.

Alex Makapulo is facing a crisis of faith.

Raised a Catholic, Alex is considering becoming a member of her best friend Jack Page’s church—against her family’s wishes—but she can’t quite take the final step of baptism. Jack loves Alex and doesn’t understand her hesitation, and Alex wonders if Jack’s love is a blessing or a distraction to test her religious conviction.

Lori Hanson embarks on the trip of a lifetime.

For her twenty-second birthday, Lori’s grandfather presents her with a summer vacation in England. While preparing for her adventure, she meets British musician Colin Watson online and quickly falls for him. They plan to hook up when she lands in London, but her grandfather forbids it. Due to complicated family dynamics, Lori must regretfully comply with his wishes, though she vows never to forgive him.

Andy Taylor is looking for love in all the wrong places.

When Andy runs into an old crush, she decides she wants a more meaningful relationship with sexy Miles Webber. But when she confides in Alex, her friend warns her Miles only wants her for sex. Andy becomes angry and devises a reckless plan to distract Alex’s attention from her relationship. Things don’t go quite as she expected, though, and Andy is left facing a crushing moral dilemma.

As the summer unfolds, three young women learn love and faith go hand in hand, not everything is black and white, and sometimes in a fast-paced world you have to slow down, breathe a little, and find your own definition of love.

Kindle Buy-Link


Leila Tualla reads various novels, and her book reviews can be found at www.leilatualla.com/bookshelf.  She is currently working on a memoir about her Preeclampsia journey, 2-time NICU hospital experiences, bouts with anxiety, and postpartum depression, tentatively titled, “Preeclampsia can SUCK it.”

More places to find Leila:
www.facebook.com/leilatuallam
www.instagram.com/leilatualla
www.twitter.com/leilatualla


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3 Steps to Living Debt-Free

By Randy Tramp

mombizcoach

We were 30,000 dollars in debt. We needed out—fast.

That began a journey of discovery. For the next few minutes, I’d like to relate to you my findings.

Starting with credit cards. Not only did we need to pay them off, but we also needed a new mentality; one, I’m proud to have obtained.

(1)  Pay off your credit cards monthly.

It may sound like a simple thing, but unless you have this cemented into your thinking, you’ll never rise to financial freedom.

To get our cards paid off, we tackled one at a time. With laser determination, we conquered the highest interest card. Once zeroed, we directed all the money to the next one. It snowballed until we had every card paid off.

Today it feels good to get a monthly reward check.

We didn’t stop there.

(2)  Make payments to your savings account.

With the credit cards paid off, we had extra money each week. Immediately that extra money was designated. Emergency fund. Car savings and regular savings.

Lowered stress happens when you plan for emergencies. Having extra cash when something breaks down keeps a family in smooth waters. You may be asking, “We have a hard time paying our bills, how can we save extra?” Let me answer that, by saying this: “Start with a small amount and be consistent.” If it’s ten dollars a week, keep putting that amount in your savings. Over a year’s time, it’ll be over five hundred dollars. Put more in – well you can do the math.

We’ve saved thousands of dollars over the years by paying for our vehicles with cash. How? We make monthly car payments—to our savings account, then use that money to buy a car.

(3)  Pay Extra on your Mortgage.

You’d be surprised at how a few extra dollars to your mortgage interest adds up. It does.

I’ve calculated my mortgage considering my retirement. When I hit that age, both our houses will be paid off.

The last thing I want to talk about is giving. I know it’s a non-stopper in conversations. That’s why I put it last, even though it should be first.

We’re wired to be selfish and self-centered. Nothing flows when we live in that nature. Giving creates a flow, allowing God to bless. I’m not speaking give a dollar and get two back. Blessings come in all different forms.

Give, and it will be given unto you, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38 (NIV)

Our journey was one step at a time. Are you ready to join me?

Click to tweet: Lowered stress happens when you plan for emergencies.

Writing Prompt: Think of a way one of your characters in your current WIP can give a blessing, expecting none in return. Write it.


Randy Tramp is a freelancer, writing articles for newspapers and magazines. He’s just published his debut novel, Night to Knight.
He served in the Navy for eight years, supervised inmates at a Federal prison for twelve years and ministered as a children’s Pastor for twelve years. During this time, while on a missions trip, he taught African’s about children’s ministry.
His passion is to see families strengthened and relationships restored. He and his wife Kim are parents of eleven children (eight adopted) and five grandchildren, ranging in ages from two to thirty-two.
You can connect with Randy at:

Night to Knight

night-to-knightSpecial Forces Mark Steele commands an operation to save two American Missionaries. He’s injured and dismissed from the Special Forces. Not wanting to take a desk job, the Navy discharges him. Mark becomes discouraged until he discovers a new purpose in life—locate and return abducted children to their family.

To protect his wife from emotional stress, Mark doesn’t tell her. During one of Mark’s missions, Kaitlyn finds a crumbled paper in the wastebasket next to his desk. She calls the number and hears a female’s voice, then Mark’s voice in the background. “We’re a married couple headed to Phoenix,” Mark says…

Read more about Randy’s book here.


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Gathered Fragments

by Harriet E. Michael

And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” John 6:12 (ESV)

I first noticed this verse in an old handwritten book my father has on his shelf. It was handed down to him by his mother who got it from her mother. It appears to be an old journal of some type. On the pages of the book are poems gathered and carefully written by its first owner. Some are famous poems while others are original work by family members. My grandmother and even my father have some original poems hand written by them in this treasured book. The book is titled, “Gathered Fragments” and this verse is written in beautiful penmanship on the first page.

old journal 2

These words in scripture were actually an instruction by Jesus to his disciples after the miraculous feeding of five thousand people. The crowd which gathered to hear Jesus was hungry. It was lunchtime and the people were without food. Most of them had come spontaneously without planning ahead even enough to have brought lunches. Rather than going home, the disciples found a little boy with a small lunch of five loaves of bread and two small fish. After blessing the food, Jesus broke it into pieces, and offered it to the hungry crowd who consumed it eagerly. Then, when the crowd had eaten all they wanted, the disciples were told to “Gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost.”

Isn’t that a beautiful instruction? How do you gather fragments? Do you have a collection of some kind? Perhaps you collect rocks, coins, or stamps. Maybe you like to make scrapbooks? Do you keep old photos and relics from years gone by; polished and put in a place of honor in your home or give them away as special gifts? My father has a plaque hanging in his home of an old letter he wrote to his mother from camp when he was a child. His sister found the letter and made a very special birthday gift for him one year. Maybe you have carefully held onto family heirlooms so you can pass them to the next generation. Or perhaps, you gather fragments in other ways. Maybe you can or freeze garden vegetables for winter eating or maybe you gather and dry herbs, fruits, or vegetables.

canned food

I have written about this concept before. In fact this blog post is drawn from a previously published magazine article I once wrote. But as I thought about our topic this month, this verse and practice kept coming to my mind. I think one of the best ways to keep costs down is to have a habit of gathering things that can be reused at another time by us or by others.

When the disciples gathered the fragments in the Bible story, they had twelve baskets left over. Though this was a miraculous occurrence, the underlying principle is still valid. If you or I form fragment gathering habits, we will find abundance in our lives too. And so will others whom we bless with our fragments–carefully gathered and lovingly given.

Click to tweet:  “Gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost.”

Writing Prompt: Share about something you gather and reuse. How do you keep / alter it for future use? How/ when do you use it again?

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3 Questions with Betty Thomason Owens

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday on Thursday!

It’s standing room only at 3 Questions Wednesday! We double-booked again, so we’re catching up with a Thursday post.

Today I get to interview a very close friend–Me! I’m so excited to see how I will answer our 3 Questions. So without further ado–

Let’s get to the first question:

What inspires you?

Betty:  Sunshine—oh, and rain. Storms. And noise. I like noise when I write. I’ve always had this ability to close myself off, and noise actually helps. A movie in the background helps me get into the flow of writing. Unless there’s music. Music distracts me. I end up singing–that’s not a good thing.

You’re inspired by many things. I think we agree on the sunshine. Sunshine energizes me. Can’t wait to see how you answer this next question–

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Betty:  Hang on…I’m picturing myself as a crayon. Well, I would have to be cherry red. I absolutely love that color. Except that it makes me hungry for cherries. Or cherry pie.

Wow, I love cherry red, too. It’s MY favorite color. Red is the color of strength, health, and vitality. And cherries are so good for you! So, last question–

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Betty: The first thing I remember wanting to be was a cowgirl. Which is funny, because I was terrified of horses. The only horses I’d ever been around were my grandparents’ big work horses. One of them, named Henry, loved to bite. I had nightmares about those horses. But I so loved watching Roy Rogers westerns with my dad, so, I guess that’s where I got the idea in my head. I wanted to be Dale Evans. And I just aged myself really badly with the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans comment. Oh well. Anyone else remember campy Saturday westerns?

Ha Ha! I can place those in the late fifties, early sixties–I know how ancient you are, or rather–how “mature” you are. With age comes maturity, usually, though judging by your answers…

Click to tweet: Fun author interview with Betty Thomason Owens.  

All right, time to get serious. Betty has a brand new book coming out! We have waited long for this one. And I’m excited to tell you, she is willing to give away one of those, either a print book, or Kindle–winner’s choice.

Leave a comment for a chance to win!

Here’s more information about the book:


Sutter’s Landing

Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep.

In early spring of 1955, Annabelle Cross and her daughter-in-law, Connie have nearly made it through the first winter on their own. Then the skies open up as West Tennessee and much of the south endures one of the worst floods in history. As many of their neighbors endure losses due to the flooding, Annabelle and Connie sit tight on dry ground.

As spring gives way to summer, Annabelle begins to dread Connie’s upcoming marriage and removal to Sutter’s Landing. Though she’s happy to note the growing affection between Alton Wade and her daughter-in-law, their marriage means Annabelle will be on her own for the first time in her life.

Connie’s doubts increase when Alton’s bigoted brother Jensen uses every opportunity to drive a wedge between them. Is she doing the right thing? Did she move too quickly? Unexpected summer visitors and anticipation of a new neighbor provide diversion and open possibilities for both Annabelle and Connie.

Buy the book


Betty Thomason Owens is a multi-published, award-winning author of historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group, and serves as vice-president/secretary of the Louisville area group. She’s a mentor, assisting other writers, and a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers. She also serves on the planning committee of the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference.

Her writing credits include a 20’s era romance, Amelia’s Legacy (2014), Carlotta’s Legacy (2016) Books 1 & 2, Legacy Series from Write Integrity Press (WIP), and the Grace-Award-winning Annabelle’s Ruth (2015), and Sutter’s Landing (2017), Books 1 & 2, Kinsman Redeemer Series, also from WIP. She has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM.

You can find me…uh…her…online in the following places–

Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Instagram and Amazon Author Central.

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3 Questions Wednesday with Traci Wooden-Carlisle

Happy Wednesday!  Traci Wooden-Carlisle began writing poetry and short stories as soon as she was able to form words on paper. She used that as a way to creating worlds, as well as, to communicate with God.

She’s offered to give away two awesome prizes to two blessed commentors: a digital copy of Missing Destiny, gifted through, Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Smashwords.  Also, a pendant and earring set of multicolored horses to go with the theme of Missing Destiny which mostly takes place on an equine therapy ranch.

 So read on and see how you can win…

First Question:

What inspires you?

Traci: Acts of kindness and love that I see people perform in everyday situations inspires me. I love seeing God move through people and I love the way He teaches me through others as well as circumstances my characters go through in my books.

I love small acts of kindness too! 🙂

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Traci: I would be blue and white swirl so children can make their own cloud animals on rainy days.

Beautiful thought. Last question:

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Traci: At 11, I knew I wanted to be an author. I took a round-a-bout way of getting there, but it only took 29 years from the birth of that dream.

Thanks so much for dropping by, Traci.

Click to tweet: Fun author interview with Traci Wooden-Carlisle . #WriterWednesday #amwriting

Traci has graciously offered to give away two awesome prizes: a digital copy of Missing Destiny, gifted through, Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Smashwords.  Also, a pendant and earring set of multicolored horses. Don’t forget to leave a comment and be entered to win!


Missing Destiny

She spends Friday nights with charts and graphs. His best friend is a dog named Sebastian. 
All she’s ever wanted was peace and to feel she belonged. All he ever wanted was to disappear.
She’s a city girl hiding in a small town. He’s back home hiding from his past.
If life were perfect, they could be each other’s missing destiny.

When a mysterious man becomes a threat to her health Dr. Shauna Nathan, a workaholic scientist, is about to lose control over her emotions and her life.

Her family steps in to protect her even if it means disrupting her otherwise predictable and orderly existence by bribing her with a chance to spend time with her old college roommate and surround herself with her one true passion — horses.

She heads to a ranch in Chandler County to hide from her stalker. Instead, she might find there healing she looks for — and love she doesn’t. 

Horse therapist Zach moved to New York, had a successful career in finance, a beautiful wife, and daughter one day and the next it was all gone. He came back to Chandler County to come to terms with his loss and find a modicum of peace as a ranch hand- turned therapist at Murphy’s Equestrian Therapy Center. He has lost everyone he loved. Would he risk his heart again for Shauna? 

Though the ruthless killer on Shauna’s trail will stop at nothing to destroy her, will Zach and Shauna escape danger and find happiness in each other’s arms and their missing destiny?

Amazon – https://goo.gl/LsaMJi

Barnesandnoble – https://goo.gl/tvoBls

Kobo – https://goo.gl/ymhoOE


Traci Wooden-Carlisle began writing poetry and short stories as soon as she was able to form words on paper. She used that as a way to creating worlds, as well as, to communicate with God.

Mrs. Wooden-Carlisle lives in San Diego with her husband. She teaches fitness classes, runs a jewelry and craft business, and is currently writing the third book in her Christian-fiction romance series.

Amazon Author Page – https://goo.gl/mpD2YX

Bookbub – https://goo.gl/WMGebX

website: www.tawcarlisle.com

www.facebook.com/traciwoodencarlisle

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6548758.Traci_Wooden_Carlisle

www.instagram.com/tawcarlisle

www.twitter.com/traciwcarlisle

www.pinterest.com/tawcarlisle

Makes Cents to Me!

by Tammy Trail

Our reality is we have no savings. We are rich in debt, and poor in cash flow. Can anyone else relate? My husband and I  struggle to save money. We have taken the Dave Ramsey course–Financial Peace University–our antelope has broken legs. Dave teaches that we should all have $1,000.00 emergency fund. Typically, when we can get a nice sum saved something happens. A car needs big repairs, an appliance goes on the fritz, or my husband’s commission check goes up in smoke.Our savings account may be bare, but we do manage to find ways to save money. It allows us to treat ourselves to a movie, or a nice meal in a restaurant.

I recall in my youth, our family would spend Sunday dinners seated around my Grandma Quigley’s big dining room table. My mother and I still marvel over how she fed all those family members with the meager salary my Grandpa brought home. Grandma sure knew how to make the food stretch, and I think she passed that gene onto me.

When my darling husband complains about spending too much at the grocery store I know it’s time to go back to my habit of making menus. It is a time-consuming task, but someone has to do it.

The family helps by giving meal suggestions. I take a blank calendar to give each day a meal. Then I pull out my box of recipes and begin making a list. I make columns for my list–one for meat, one for dairy, canned goods, produce, etc. Once I have my list done,   I make sure to have a quarter, and my own shopping bags for a visit to Aldi’s. The quarter is used to rent a shopping cart. You bag your own groceries. I usually buy all my produce, dairy, and canned goods here.

Next, is a stop at Sam’s Club. Here is where I purchase meats  in bulk, frozen vegetables, and frozen items the teenagers will eat for their lunches. After this trip, I spend a bit of time separating the meat to freeze. For instance, I buy a very large tube of ground beef and separate it into one pound zip lock bags for future use.

The plan is not to go back to the store for the month, unless it’s absolutely necessary. I will need to replenish paper goods, bread, and milk.  I try to restrain myself from buying anything else. Do I save money? Every time I go to the store without a plan, I spend $20.00 to $30.00 more. So, yes. I think I do save money.

I remember a time when we had no money for food, days away from a pay check. I took every leftover we had in the refrigerator and mixed it together, tossed cheese on top, and baked it. It was actually pretty good! My kids also know what happens when I tell them it’s the “end of the month slump”. That means beans and rice for a few days.

Click to tweet: Our savings may be bare, but we do find ways to save money.

Writing Prompt: Share your favorite money-saving trick when you go to the grocery store. Consider adding it to a story you’re working on.