Digital Coupons: Click and Save

Hi! Jennifer Hallmark here. I’m super excited about our topic this month: Best Ways to Save Money. I don’t know about you, but I’m always searching for new methods to stretch a dollar. Be sure to drop by every Monday and Friday in June for a new post. And now, my take on digital coupons.

Extreme couponing. I tried it. Bought the special notebook, fixed all the tabs inside, and purchased a newspaper. According to the instructor (yes, I even went to a class), the money would soon be rolling in.

Except that was the only newspaper I ever bought. By the time I clipped all the coupons and filled my notebook, I was confused. And you don’t even want to know about the shopping trip with me stumbling all over Publix.

It didn’t work.

Now I’m not saying it won’t work, because people have proven it does. It just didn’t work for me. So I put my notebook in a drawer and whispered a prayer. “God, if I’m going to save money, there has to be an easier way.”

Cue the angelic choir.

Did you know your smart phone can carry digital coupons?  I’m no expert at this but I can tell you how it works with the stores that I clip them from. You can add what you want and when the coupon expires, it disappears. Most stores probably work in similar ways. Just get out your smart phone and let’s start collecting coupons and saving money.

The area I live in is very rural so I do most of my shopping in the small town of Moulton, fifteen miles away. The stores I use for couponing are Dollar General, CVS, and Gateway Foodland. I also use Publix digital coupons, but it’s about 35 miles away. Let’s start with the one I use most.

Dollar General-go to their website and sign up. Then you can go to digital coupons. You can look through the available coupons and add what you want to your phone. When I get an email with their new ad, I go to the coupon section and add more. At the moment, I have 292 coupons. Any time I’m shopping I can look through my coupons and add them to my list. If I’m in a hurry, I still enter my phone number in the payment terminal before I check out so it will look over my coupons for me. I’ve saved $99.43 so far using these coupons.

Gateway Foodland & PublixI do the same thing. Make an account, add coupons, then start saving. I have 190 coupons loaded at Foodland and close to that at Publix. And new coupons come each Wednesday to my email.

CVSThis one is a little different. I signed up for their extra care card since I purchase my prescriptions here. I add their deals from the app on my phone. I also get extra care bucks back (I have to spend at CVS) when I fill so many prescriptions and at different times get coupons for a percentage off certain items.

I love couponing this way. Wednesday is usually the day I sit down, add all my coupons, and make my list. I can have everything added in thirty minutes or less and make my list for shopping.

One more tip of a way I save money. I have the Wal-Mart app on my phone and I’m signed up for Savings Catcher. Again, I first created an account. I scan each receipt as I get them and they search for all the stores in the area for a lower price. Say, if Foodland has milk cheaper in their ads, Wal-Mart loads the difference on an e-shopping card. So far, I’ve saved over $50 from price compare.

Hooray! I can chunk the notebook, put my scissors away, and rid myself of the headache. I wonder what people will think up next?

Click to tweet: “God, if I’m going to save money, there has to be an easier way.”

Writing Prompt: Cassie gripped my hands, her eyes pleading. “But by using digital coupons, I can save enough to pay for my phone in less than a year.”

I shook my head. Then…

Save

Save

Teaching Life Lessons to Your Children and Grandchildren

By Jennifer Hallmark

May, at the Writing Prompts blog, is all about families and children. We have a wide variety of posts to share since this topic is so full of possibilities. Today, my thoughts are on teaching your children life lessons. My children are grown, but I have six grandchildren who can profit from the wisdom and experience I’ve gleaned over the years.

I love object lessons. When my daughter and son were young, I enjoyed explaining different truths by using simple items that I had around the house. They were able to better understand what the Bible says and I believe it stuck with them. Jesus gave us the pattern through His use of parables. Here’s one of my favorite ones below that you and your family might try.

Jigsaw Puzzle Activity

An ordinary jigsaw puzzle provides a meaningful family activity to help your child or grandchild learn about the body of Christ. Begin with a simple puzzle, twenty-four to two hundred pieces, depending upon their age. Encourage each child to examine the pieces as they remove them from the box.

Consider these questions:

(1)        How are the pieces alike?

(2)        How are they different?

(3)        Can one piece be effective by itself?

Discuss how each piece consists of different colors and designs. Though similar, each piece has its own individual characteristics.

Take a moment to read I Corinthians 12:12-27. As you cradle a puzzle piece in your hand, explain how God gifted every person with talents and abilities, unique to them.

As your family builds the puzzle, mention the fact that each piece only fits in a certain place, the same way God has a given place and plan for each life.

Each piece connected together completes the puzzle in the same way each individual in the body of Christ works together to learn and grow, leading people to a relationship with Jesus. Take a moment to elaborate on the ways each person in the congregation contributes to reaching your community for Christ.

Now it’s your turn. What can you use in your house to illustrate truth? Share some examples below in the comments…

Click to tweet: Teaching life lessons to your children and grandchildren.

Writing Prompt: Take a broom or a mop and think of a simple analogy to explain a life lesson to a child. Share it with our readers. 🙂

 

Cleaning and Organizing the Pinterest Way

By Jennifer Hallmark

What is better than a clean, organized home? I can’t think of much. I love the smell of a freshly laundered, dust-free, and everything-in-its-place house. But with six grandchildren who enjoy visiting Mamaw and Papaw and a full-time job writing, who has the time? Or the money to hire someone to scrub and scour?

Betty has already shared the way she schedules her cleaning. If you missed it, check it out here. But maybe you’re like me and can’t seem to follow a schedule when it comes to cleaning. I’ll start with a schedule but then notice that something (not on the list) needs to be done that day and I just have to clean that item. Then I’m off schedule. Again.

So, what’s a person to do?

Pinterest.

I’ve found so many great ideas and tips to first organize, then clean. So I thought I’d share some straight off my page and maybe they can help you create that clean and organized living space. https://www.pinterest.com/jenlhallmark989/cleaningorganizing-tips/

Organize

  1. Tips for Organizing Your Home for Spring Cleaning- This article takes your house, room by room, and shares good tips for putting it back in shape.
  2. 22 Things to Get Rid of Right Now-I loved this simple list.
  3. 20 Mind-Blowing Organization Ideas-Good all-around organizing tips.
  4. How to Organize Your Entire House: A Ten-Week Plan-For you planners, here it is, all written out.

Clean

  1. 3 Genius Hacks For Swiffers That Will Save You Money-I loved this one because, well, I love my Swiffer and it saved me money. 😊
  2. How to Wash Walls in 5 Easy Steps-Simple tips for that normally hard job.
  3. 20 of the Most Popular Cleaning Tricks on Pinterest-And here are twenty tricks all in one place.
  4. How To Clean Your Microwave In 3 Easy Steps-Am I the only one who looks in the microwave and can’t believe the mess? Here’s your answer.

Try out some of these ideas and tips and let me know what you think by leaving a comment. I’ve got to go now. I’m in the middle of organizing and cleaning the “toy” room I’m creating for the grandchildren. Now where are my rubber gloves?

Writing prompt: Needed: Money to

Click to tweet: I’ve found so many great ideas and tips to first organize, then clean.

5 Reasons to Love Wemmicks, Parables, and Max Lucado Books

By Jennifer Hallmark

wemmickDo you know what Wemmicks are? How about little Hermie? If not, you probably haven’t read a Max Lucado book to a child yet.

What? You didn’t know that my all-time favorite non-fiction author of encouraging, inspirational books for adults also writes children’s books? Then let me share with you 5 reasons you need to read these books…child reading

  • The Wemmicks– There are at least 5 books featuring the Wemmicks, small wooden people carved by a woodworker named Eli. The issues and situations they deal with definitely mirror those we encounter daily. Max addresses these issues gently, displaying the grace of God.
  • They touch your heart-One book I especially love is “Just In Case You Ever Wonder.” I cannot read this to my grandchildren without tearing up. We are so special to God and this book is simple enough for a child to understand, but deep in truth.
  • Little Hermie books-They are extremely easy to read with bright illustrations children enjoy. And I love the way Max uses insects as the main characters.
  • Christmas stories-Beside A Fruitcake Christmas, which is a little Hermie story, there is Itsy Bitsy Christmas: You’re Never Too Little For His Love, The Crippled Lamb, and one that I own, The Christmas Story for Children. Again, basic truth written for all ages.
  • Parables, Love and Acceptance-The basic theme of all these books is grace. They resonate with the parable of the prodigal son’s message: If you cry out to God, He will hear and come running. You and your children will feel the one-of-a-kind of love the Father has for you through the sweet messages in Max Lucado’s books.

(Click to Tweet): 5 reasons to love Wemmicks, parables, and Max Lucado books. https://ctt.ec/SD4ff+ #amwriting #amreading

20170214_134402Oh, and as for his selection of books for adults? I presently own ten, but would love to have them all. The first inspirational Christian book I ever read was When God Whispers Your Name. Someone at the church I had just started attending gave it to me, saying they felt like I needed it. They were right. It opened a whole new world of reading and drawing closer to God.

My favorite Lucado books are When God Whispers Your Name, In the Grip of Grace, On the Anvil, Facing Your Giants, and the mini-book, Give It All to Him. I buy that last one in large quantities and give them away. The parable within is a wonderful tool for witnessing to the lost or strengthening anyone who needs a little reassurance.

I’ve just purchased one of his latest, a novel titled Miracle at the Higher Grounds Café. I can’t wait to see what encouragement and surprises await me.

So why don’t you give those Wemmicks a try? You’ll be glad you did…

Writing Prompt: The Max Lucado book lay near the fireplace, just inches from the burning logs. I’d meant for it to go in when I threw it but it seemed to have a mind of its own. I fell to my knees as…

Save

Save

Save

How Can a New Year’s Resolution Help My Writing?

By Jennifer Hallmark

new-years-eve-1941665_960_7202017. Relief washes over me as I realize it’s a new season. A time to start again, with a feeling almost like spring bursting forth in all its glory.

Except it’s cold. And nothing is blooming.

But it’s still a time of newness, and many people make resolutions or set goals every January for what they’d like to do, see, lose, gain, or buy during the New Year. Others, like myself, don’t like to promise to do things (mainly lose weight or write more) since they probably won’t follow through. But resolutions are worth looking into…

I pulled up dictionary.com and looked up the definition of a resolution. They say a resolution is: the act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action,method, procedure, etc. A decision or determination; the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.

Oh. This sounds more like a plan than wishful thinking. Maybe there is something to making resolutions. But first, I always pray about a focus for each year. A thought or scripture to wrap my mind around so when life gets hard, I can remember and not lose heart. This year, my focus is to be thankful. Just pure, simple gratitude.

focus

Okay, so I have my focus to remember to be thankful. And maybe coming up with a plan is not a bad thing. I’ve researched this and found some very useful articles. So if you’re a writer and need help getting started this year too, here are the results of my research:

(1) Writer’s Digest. How to Develop a Writing Plan.

(2) Writers Helping Writers. Will This Be Your Year? Making a Writing Plan and Take Out the Guesswork.

(3) The Write Conversation. 9 Writing Productivity Mistakes to Avoid.

(4) Helping Writers Become Authors. 5 Ways to Make Better Writing Resolutions in 2016. 

(5)  Writer’s Digest. The Setback: How to Successfully Start Writing Again.

pencil picCheck them out. Then, like me, sit down and write out a plan or guide to keep you moving forward in 2017. And if you decide on choosing a focus, write it down and place it where you can see it often.

And let’s keep on writing!

Writing Prompt: Edith stared at the computer screen. She’d written Chapter One at the top of her page. Her first novel began with three words, the ones she couldn’t get out of her head. They were…

All Things Wedding

By Jennifer Hallmark

wedding flowersI dreamed of a wedding of elaborate elegance,
A church filled with family and friends.
I asked him what kind of a wedding he wished for,
He said one that would make me his wife.

~Author Unknown

This quote made me smile. June is traditionally the month of weddings and here at the Writing Prompts blog, we’ll discuss all things wedding. Whether a wedding is a simple ceremony among a few friends or as extravagant as Princess Diana’s, some type of ceremony can be found in almost all cultures and countries. Join us throughout the month of June. Maybe we’ll learn something new.

Mandy's wedding

Mandy’s wedding

Weddings are very much on my mind these days, though none of my immediate family married in June. Mom and Dad married in September as did my daughter, Mandy. My husband and I married in July. My son will be newly wedded (May 27th) by the time you read this post. When I think of the weddings I’ve been personally involved with, several words come to mind:

Beauty                         Romantic

Stress                           Hurry

Good food           Flowers          Surprises

 

And did I mention stress? I’m still looking for my dress and considering the groom’s table. That’s as far as I’ve gotten. Did I mention it’s only two weeks until the wedding? Sigh. But like all the others, it will somehow fall into place and we’ll look back with fond memories.

As a writer, I’ve thought a lot about weddings over the past couple of years. I’ve written a novel tentatively titled “When Wedding and Weather Collide.” If you knew me very well, you’ve find it amusing that I’m writing a book with a wedding as a major plot point. I never really dreamed about weddings as a teenager, though I always figured I’d marry someday. I didn’t have a scrapbook like my daughter or any thoughts on a wedding dress.

Our weddingSo when my boyfriend proposed, almost 34 years ago, I said okay. I couldn’t think of an argument against it. I was finishing a semester at college so Mom did a lot of my planning. I remember I didn’t want a traditional bride and groom cake topper, so I found a bell and dove to go on top. I wanted pink in the wedding because it was my favorite color. I borrowed a dress, planned a fairly simple ceremony, and we became husband and wife.

In my novel, I really enjoyed planning the wedding. I found the perfect dress, picked out colors, cakes, bridesmaid’s dresses, and even invitations. You can see all of my findings on my Pinterest page here.

So, in a way, I discovered a perfect wedding. 30 something years later. But that’s okay. Maybe one day, I’ll sell the movie rights and we can all watch the wedding on the Hallmark channel…  🙂


Writing Prompt: Complete this thought…

Lila stepped into the fabulous, lace-covered gown that had been her grandmother’s. The few alterations had made it fit like it had been made for her. Her best friend, Anne, started to zip the gown, then stopped.

“Uh, oh.”

“What do you mean, uh oh?”

The Crocodile Hunter and the Writer

crocodileBy Jennifer Hallmark

I have no fear of losing my life – if I have to save a koala or a crocodile or a kangaroo or a snake, mate, I will save it.”-Steve Irwin

When I think of Australia, one of the first things that come to mind is crocodiles. Large, salt-water, scary, teeth-filled reptiles that can grow to 17 feet long. Yes, the stuff nightmares are made of.

Also The Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. I really enjoyed his shows where he and his family would rescue, doctor, and feed the terrifying crocodile. Steve and his wife, Terri, were major proponents of conservation. Instead of a honeymoon, the couple took the chance to embark on a crocodile rescue mission and film the project for a wildlife documentary. According to Wikipedia, film footage of their honeymoon, taken by John Stainton, became the first episode of The Crocodile Hunter. (Shown below)

Irwin was a passionate conservationist and believed in promoting environmentalism by sharing his excitement about the natural world rather than preaching to people. He was concerned with conservation of endangered animals and land clearing leading to loss of habitat. He considered conservation to be the most important part of his work: “I consider myself a wildlife warrior. My mission is to save the world’s endangered species.”

While I didn’t always agree with all his philosophies about conservation and life in general, there was something about a man totally sold out to what he believed. On September 4, 2006, Irwin was on location at Batt Reef, near Port Douglas, Queensland, taking part in the production of the documentary series, Ocean’s Deadliest. He was snorkeling in shallow water when he was stung by a stingray in the heart and died.

He had given his all to see the message of conservation reach others. As a writer, what is my message? You might say, “But I write fiction”. All writing has a point to make, even if it is to purely entertain. Every book, whether non-fiction or fiction, has a theme. Have you thought about what you are trying to convey through your writing?

One theme I try to incorporate in all my writing is hope. I also love to include symbolism in subtle ways throughout my writing. Many times, in writing the first draft, I do this sub-consciously, only to notice it later in a read through. It is part of who I am and shows up in my writing.

writing450Crocodile hunting and writing. Maybe there not as different as you first thought. Both need passion to keep moving forward, courage to tackle the tough assignments, and a willingness to see it through to the end. I leave you with these questions.

  • What is your message?
  • What is your specific work’s theme?
  • What are you trying to convey through writing?

This is the final month before our big blog-a-versary celebration in June! You can enter our contest to win a $100 gift card simply by finishing one or all of our writing prompts offered on our regular Monday and Friday posts. If you haven’t already, you may want to follow this blog to receive an email each time we have a new blog post. The “follow” link can be found to the right of this post. Or, you can also “like” our Facebook page to stay up with the news.


Writing Prompt: Write a short paragraph from the prompt below. Don’t think of a theme or message. Just write it fast and from the heart. Then analyze the finished product and see what the subtle (or not so subtle) message is.

Uluru, a massive sandstone monolith, towered over our camp, magnificent even in the fading light of day. The place was sacred, or so said Daku, our young Aborigine guide. I turned, suddenly aware of a force emanating from somewhere above…uluru-1076320_1280