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.

Saving Money With Lists

By Gail Johnson

Do you like finding new ways to save money? I do. I also like sharing ways to save money. So I’m enjoying this month’s theme!

For this post, I decided to list ways to save on several items rather than one. Let’s begin with school supplies.

School and Writing

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Whether you have kids in school or not, writers need school supplies. Or at least, this one does! I begin everything with pen and paper! I learned how to save money on used books when my children entered college. My son refused to buy new books when he could purchase used ones from Amazon. Moneycrashers.com offers great advice.

Clothes

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Who doesn’t like to find a bargain on a new outfit? ThePennyHoarder.com offers her advice on how to save when shopping for your next bargain. My favorite tips are one and seven.

Groceries

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Most of these ideas weren’t new to me. Others would take some discipline. Isn’t that what saving money is all about? See how many ideas you can keep from CashCowCouple.com

Vehicles

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My truck isn’t that old, but it isn’t new, either. I usually tend to my truck and make the appointment for hubby’s car. I use local shops to help local businesses and to have a friend when I’m in need! I thought this article might come in handy.  Debtroundup.com offers suggestions when looking for a tune-up.

Books

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I added this last bit of information because I read one article on how to save money and his suggestion was to eliminate books! What?! Uh, no. I would suggest taking advantage of the offers on your device’s plan. With Kindle, you can get many books for free. Another way to save money on books is not to press the 1-click button too often! 😉 Check out TheHappyHouseWife.com for more ideas.

Do you have any ideas to add? If so, I’d love to hear them. Please leave your tip in the comment section to help others in their quest to save money.

Click to tweet: I’ve listed ways to save on several items rather than one.

Writing Prompts

Sally eyed the purple dress in the window. With her digital coupon and the 10% off sale, she could afford the…

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3 Questions Wednesday with Liz Galvano

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday, Liz.

Liz Galvano (Harshberger) has been writing since she was a little girl. Her stories combine old style adventure and romance with a dash of humor. She loves family, food, animals, and all things Italian. Liz lives with her husband Jeff, two rambunctious dogs, two entitled cats, and a horse who thinks she’s a princess.

According to her website, Liz grew up in a loving Italian family with four brothers and a sister. They spent long hours in the kitchen and filled their home with lots of love, laughter, fights, and makeups. She’s been a golf professional, a radio personality, a youth pastor (with her husband), and a counselor. What an interesting background. So let’s see how she answered our 3 questions.

What inspires you?

Liz:  I get the best inspiration from three things:

  1. Nature – often great ideas come while I’m on horseback, out in the middle of nowhere. There’s just something about the sun on my face and the smell of earth. A horse is a great companion for discovery and inner-reflection.
  2. Cooking/baking. I’m Italian American so I grew up basically in the kitchen. I love to draw from my experiences as a child, familiar smells and sounds and recipes do that for me.
  3. Music. If you find me in the kitchen, I’ll be playing my music. Andrea Bocelli, Ill Volo, and stuff from my growing up days, such as Perry Como, Dean Martin and Al Martino. “When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie….” Music most definitely gets my creative juices going.

Sounds amazing, especially the Italian cookery. Suddenly I’m hungry for marinara sauce. Second question–

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

Liz: Sunshine State Yellow! I love the sunshine and I LOVE Florida. Bright sunny days with a balmy breeze in contrast to a turquoise sea…. What more could you want?

Yellow is the color of happiness–which definitely reminds me of sunny days. I love the picture you created there.

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

Liz: A story teller! I love to make up a tale. My favorite story teller is C.S. Lewis.

I was a storyteller when I was a kid, but it wasn’t a good thing. 🙂 Looks like you had a great start in life. C.S. Lewis is one of the best.

Click to tweet: Fun author interview with Liz Galvano. #WriterWednesday #amwriting

Her books– Messina, Book 1, The Casa Bella Chronicles. Book 2, Anna Lucia, will be out this month.

You can find out more about them and purchase the books from Liz, or at Amazon.com.

Here’s more information about the book:

Messina by Liz Galvano

Ominous words from the stone-faced physician at the temporary hospital greet her: “Welcome to hell, Miss James.” No description could be more accurate. Earthquake, tsunami, and fire have razed Messina, Sicily. In a single night in 1909, one hundred thousand people never wake up. Physician Lucille James is determined to help despite horrendous conditions, almost non-existent medical supplies, and the opposition of the medical community she worked so hard to join. Giovanni Castello, the man facing her now, stands as her biggest opponent. Surrounded by blood and death and pushed to the edge of exhaustion, Lucille relies on God as her only option. When God gives a gift, after all, a person must use it. Will she have the strength, courage, and faith to do so?

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May Winners

May is over and most schools are out for the summer. I know my grandchildren are elated. How about you? The month of May saw six more winners on our blog.

Janell Butler Wojtowicz’ offer of a Kindle copy of Embracing Hope has been won by Janetta. Congrats!

Mimionlife has been picked to win a Kindle copy of Katie Clark’s book, Securing the Handyman’s Heart. 

Stephenia H. McGee is gifting an E-book copy of In His Eyes also to Mimionlife. She was the only one to leave a comment. An easy victory 🙂

The winner of a $10 Starbucks gift card from Melissa Henderson is Becky Hrivnak. Woo hoo!

Susan Holt Simpson is a contributor to Michelle Medlock Adam’s book, Love and Care for the One and Only You. She is graciously giving this book (print version) to lelandandbecky.

The winner of Waiting For Butterflies by Karen Sargent is Frank! Yay!

A big THANK YOU to all our faithful readers for taking the time to stop by and comment. We so appreciate you! And please don’t forget us while you’re enjoying your summer 🙂

Saving the Old-fashioned Way

by Betty Owens

I have a confession to make–I’m not a coupon-cutter. I tend to be overwhelmed by the whole process. Even after spending time and energy cutting out coupons, I forget I have them. They turn to clutter in my purse.

I know this is probably offensive to some of you, but there it is. I’m not proud of it.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t save money, because I do. I do it in my own way. Yes, I use those little cards I get in the mail from a certain department store. And I cash in on their extra savings with a credit card I pay off every time I use it.

How I save the most money is in itself another confession, I suppose. How I save:  I don’t spend. I’m a little bit miserly. When I need something, I think of fifteen excuses why I don’t really need it, and how I can live without it.

I also believe in the piggy-bank method, only I don’t have an actual piggy bank, I have a savings account. I use that to pay for things that are difficult to find the money for in our sometimes very tight  budget.

And I have a penny jar, but the penny jar has more than pennies. It holds whatever I find in the bottom of my purse. Quarters, dimes, nickels…these usually end up as an annual gift to a ministry through our church. Every penny counts.

So now that you know the ugly truth–but wait–I’m a miser who actually gives away things. Hmm…does that offset my miserly instincts? I’m not a total Scrooge, I promise. I do love spending money on others.

I think I came by this naturally. My mother has the same tendencies. She lived through many difficult circumstances, saved green stamps and quality stamps. That’s how we got our toaster oven and hand mixer, among other things. When Dad was in the Navy, she lived off a sack of potatoes for the entire month so she could afford to pay for formula.

I do like to grow things and make things. I tend to cook from scratch, rather than depend on expensive mixes. I grow herbs in my flower bed to use in cooking, which saves a few dollars here and there. I re-purpose things. And I’ve learned many good uses for plain, white vinegar (thank you, Pinterest!).

So, in lieu of a writing prompt, let’s take a quick poll–


While we’re on the subject of savings, I have a new book due to release any day now. Sutter’s Landing, Kinsman Redeemer, Book 2, is the sequel to Grace Award-winner, Annabelle’s Ruth. For a limited time, you can pre-order the Kindle version for only $2.99. That’s a $2.00 savings. Click  on the book’s cover to read more about it.

I also have a 3 Questions Wednesday (on Thursday) interview coming up June 15, right here on the Writing Prompts blog.

At that time, I’ll offer a copy of the book to one commenter.  (Remember, even though I have miserly instincts, I love giving stuff away.) So, don’t be surprised if I give more than one. 🙂

Happy Savings!

Click to tweet: I’m a miser who actually gives away things.

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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…

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3 Questions Wednesday with Karen Sargent

Happy Wednesday!  Author Karen Sargent creates characters whose imperfect faith collides with real-life conflicts, taking readers on a journey through grace and redemption to discover enduring hope. Let’s see how she tackles our questions…

First Question:

What inspires you?

Karen:  Momhood inspires me. For nearly 21 years I’ve loved being a mom, and that’s long enough to look back and realize I expected too much from myself—just like moms typically do. I expected perfection and always fell short because I compared myself to moms who loved to cook (my least favorite book is a recipe book!) and to moms whose homes were spotless (I’m good at moving clutter from one room to another and closing the door). I overlooked what I did well. Like my own mom, I’m a good listener and I have honest conversations about the hard stuff.

I try to remember what it was like to be a young adult and that my girls are still learning how to do life. It took time for me to sort the important from the trivial, but once I did, I was inspired to share. So I started The MOM Journey, a blog where moms aren’t perfect and that’s perfectly okay. Being a mom has also inspired the novels I write. Each explores the depth of a mother’s love and how that love can reach beyond possible. I love being a teacher. I love being a writer. But most of all, I love being a mom.

What a great way to look at inspiration. Now…

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

Karen: My crayon color would be passionately purple. First, purple is my favorite color…inspired by guess what? Momhood! When my first daughter was born, I loved dressing her in frills and lace, but there was so much pink!

Just to be different, I started to dress her in purple instead, and somewhere along the way purple became my favorite color. It makes my heart happy! Passionately…that’s genetic. I credit my Italian grandparents. Whatever we feel, we feel deeply.

I like that. Color should make the heart happy. 🙂

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

Karen: I wanted to write before I could write. I remember sitting at the kitchen table with a crayon, pretending to write words. However, I never dreamed I could be a writer. I chose to be an English teacher instead, so I could be surrounded by books and writing. My desire to write would wiggle every now and then to remind me it was still there, but I was busy raising two daughters and 120 students each year. Little did I realize that being a teacher and a mom were preparing me for Waiting for Butterflies. Teaching students to read great literature and to express themselves in writing taught me to be a better story teller and writer. And being a mom gave me something important to write about.

It’s amazing how life prepares us for writing. Thanks so much for dropping by!

Make sure and leave a comment if you’d like to be entered in the giveaway of a print copy of Waiting for Butterflies.


Waiting For Butterflies

A mother’s love never ends—not even when her life does.

Longing for her family after a tragic accident, Maggie becomes a lingering spirit and returns home where she helplessly witnesses her family’s downward spiral in the aftermath of her death. Her husband is haunted by past mistakes and struggles to redeem himself. Her teenage daughter silently drowns in her own guilt, secretly believing she caused her mother’s death. Only her five-year-old, full of innocence, can sense her presence. Although limited by her family’s grief and lack of faith, Maggie is determined to keep a sacred promise and save her family before her second chance runs out.

A tender portrait of a mother whose love reaches beyond possible, Waiting for Butterflies will embrace your heart and not let go.

Buy the book.


Karen Sargent creates characters whose imperfect faith collides with real-life conflicts, taking readers on a journey through grace and redemption to discover enduring hope. A romantic element is woven within each story. Her writing has been featured in Guidepost’s Angels on Earth magazine and on ForEveryMom.com.

When she is not writing, she teaches high school and college English in the beautiful Arcadia Valley where she resides with her husband and two daughters.

Website: karensargentbooks.com

The MOM Journey Blog: karensargentbooks.com/blog

Facebook: Facebook.com/KarenSargentAuthor

Twitter: Twitter.com/KarenSargent_87

Pinterest: Pinterest.com/KarenSargent87