Updates and Deal-Huntin’

It’s been a bit of a crazy past couple weeks. I’ve noted before that my hubby is “away” right now – so it’s just me and the Kid. The Kid is incredibly unhappy that Daddy is gone (understandable), but the DOG is also apparently not happy that Daddy is gone. He’s poo’d in Xander’s room twice now – last night at 3:30am! Thankfully, my parents drove up from Florida a couple days ago and they are helping me out a LOT! Once hubby gets home we will be driving up to New York in order to visit family (including my adorable nephew whom I haven’t seen in over a year and a half now). The house is pretty clean now thanks to my Mom and my fridge is full (and so is my belly). I love having my parents visit … I miss “home” and that includes them (don’t tell them!)

I’ve been working hard at school and it seems to be paying off. The teacher likes my work (it’s a Photoshop class) and I’ve really been learning a lot in the class. I’ve been trying to post work on the blog – I still need to post my “pen tool” drawing and a couple “print ads” that I’ve created. Next term I have “Storyboarding for Animation” which I believe is a Flash-based class. I’ve always wanted to learn how to use Flash so I am pretty thrilled to have the opportunity. I’ve been doing some freelance design work lately and trying to learn how to really personalize a WordPress template and especially how to make templates cross-browser compatible. That’s taking me for a ride though – it’s hard designing for all the browsers available. Once you get something created and it looks good on say, Firefox or Chrome then you realize that it looks insane on Internet Explorer. So – you re-create and of course once you’ve gotten it good on IE it looks awful on FF and Chrome. It’s incredibly frustrating.

Oh! Forgot to mention that I was checking out North Face jackets for hubby again – I saw that a company that sells them has free shipping all over Europe (well, the “EU” at least). Figured that would be helpful for all of my Euro-readers (and those military families overseas).

Hopefully, I can remember to update more often – my brain has been completely elsewhere lately.

A Clubbing We Will Go

No … not clubbing like cave people!!

I like going out with my girls every once in awhile – but since we are all “Mom’s” it’s usually every once in a blue moon! We’ve hit a couple bars here in town (and outside town) and have had a lot of fun. I bet you can picture it – a few Mom-types out at a bar gulping down beer (or mixed drinks) and playing (or in my own case – trying to play) pool. It’s a blast!

My normal “attire” for going out to a bar is a pair of jeans and a nice shirt – short sleeve, lower cut, strapless even sometimes. I do my makeup and I do my hair. I put on some good upbeat music (I am in LOVE with Pink’s “Bad Influence” right now) and I feel good about myself.

Now – when someone (um, usually a guy) compliments me on how I look I admit it feels good. It’s an ego boost for me. My husband tells me all the time how beautiful I am but admit it chicks – sometimes it’s nice to get compliments from other men also. I obviously don’t ACT upon those compliments – and I normally just laugh at whatever guy is doing the complimenting.

I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin here.

Jewelry for Mother’s Day

Have you figured out what you are getting your Mom this year for Mother’s Day? I mean this wonderful holiday is only a few days away – you must have thought of something by now!

Have you considered getting her some jewelry? Jewelry is beautiful, looks great with any outfit and most importantly … won’t die in a week (or less). Jewelry can fit into any budget and any style – so it’s a great gift for that “woman” (or you know – your “other dad”).

Check this out – GemzNGold is offering a beautiful little red jewelry box FREE with your jewelry purchase just until May 11th. Why not get your Mom some pretty earrings or a necklace to fill that sexy red jewelry box? They have every type of stone imaginable – so you can pick your birth stone, your child’s birth stone or just a favorite! Diamonds are always kind to us girls – so they work well as a gift!

My first Mother’s Day I received a beautiful garnet ring “handed” to me by my 4 month old baby boy – so cute! Now he’s a smart and handsome four year old who makes me pictures and French toast (with Daddy’s help) for Mother’s Day!

So, what will your Mom be getting this year?

It’s All About the SALES!

Xander is in desperate need of some clothes – he outgrew his 3T sizes overnight it seems. In fact, for shirts I’ve begun buying him size 5T and in pants 4T because he’s Mr. Skinny-bum! Hubby has been asking for some more jeans and I know he really needs some shorts also. Something that looks good – like corporate casual style.

I don’t wanna buy clothes – I wanna lose more weight first. I bought a couple things for the season, but for the most part I’m just going to wear my fat-chick clothes from last year. I do want a new bathing suit though. Something strapless with a long enough top that covers the gut. No one needs to see my flabby belly.

My Mama taught me that when you want the best deals on clothing you need to shop off-season. Now that Spring and Summer are finally on their way it’s time to start looking for Fall and Winter bargains! That’s easy enough to do when you have places like Sears putting their Winter and Fall apparel on CLEARANCE! Sears is offering 75-80% OFF… from now till April 18th – that’s a sale to hit.

Dockers Metro Stretch Pant

I was poking around the Sears website and came across these awesome Dockers Metro stretch pants for less than $10! Holy awesome! I need some nice pants for school and hopefully work. I’ve gotta look ‘put together’ or something. The pants at that price are only available online – so I’ve gotta find a card. Hope they have my size!

Click Here

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Saving Money with Layaway

In these hard economic times people are wondering what the heck they are doing this year to afford to give holiday gifts to their family and friends. I know at least for us (my family) we are going to try and give inexpensive and well thought out gifts (a good few will be handmade) to a lot of our family members. Our immediate family – mostly the Kid – will be getting the more expensive stuff. We will also be really focusing on the “real” meaning of Christmas this year. We’ve already purchased a beautiful wooden advent calendar that we will be putting little blessings into instead of the normal trinkets and/or candy.

As far as actual shopping goes – I for one rely on saving money and layaway programs when it comes to purchasing for the holidays. One of my favorite stores – Sears – has a wonderful layaway program! My husband needs a few new tools for Christmas because he has had his current stash for a long time. He will ONLY buy Craftsman tools which have that great lifetime warranty. So, into Sears we will go to find out what he needs and find out what he needs replacing. I would love to surprise him with one of those great drawer sets so he has a place to put all of his tools! That would certainly make the garage more orderly!

I personally love the selection of dresses at Sears. I’ve always been able to find a nice dress for the formal events that hubby drags me to – in my size even! Since I need a dress for an upcoming Navy dinner I could always save some money and put one on layaway! (Before they are all gone!) My son also needs some more winter stuff (like PJ’s) and it’s been a tradition each year to dole out new PJ’s to each member of the family. Both of my “Mom’s” (mine and Alan’s) still give me (and Xander) new pajama’s each Christmas.

I would also love to purchase a new set of pots to cook our meals in. Most of the cookware we have is “cheap” and some is even coming apart! I’ve already had to throw out a couple pots where the Teflon was literally coming off the pot (so unhealthy!) So, if I could afford it I would love a set of Rachael Ray pots! I have no idea what color since I was bent on doing the kitchen “red” for a long time – but that sweet neon green makes me smile.

See, not a HUGE wishlist – although a little pricey. But using something like the Sears Layaway program and saving up some cash really go a long way. We’re really trying to lower our credit card debt and I’m glad to see some stores still care enough about their customers to offer the layaway program.

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Ways to Spend Less Money

From http://www.twede.com/

As I get older and more in tune with how to run a household successfully I realize all the ways that a family can be frugal, or “go” frugal (like, going green … only cheaper lol). I’ve been a coupon clipper and usually save at least $10 at the Commissary (which in itself is a wonderful place to save money!) I also look for sales and price compare things. I have a chart that I got from ListPlanit that helps me to compare items at different stores – it’s very helpful because I am a bad list maker.

Anyway, here is a little list of ways our family is working to be more frugal:

  • Clip coupons (they seriously work!) – but don’t buy something that you wouldn’t normally buy just because you have a coupon for it. Also – my friends and I swap coupons sometimes, it works out really well!
  • Search for sales – check out various stores for price comparisons.
  • If you are military and have access shop at the Commissary! They aren’t lying when they say they can save you 30% off your grocery bill. Get what you can there and then what you can’t try Wal-Mart (if you have one). They might be a little *evil* but they are still cheap.
  • Save and try NOT to use credit cards!!!! (easier said than done, I know!)
  • If you are swimming in credit debt why not try and do a balance transfer? Make sure that the percentage rate is super low for at least 6 months (or better yet for the “life of the balance”). Pay attention to the “balance transfer fee” because it could be high. Then, make that card a PRIORITY.
  • Make a budget and stick to it – sounds simple but it works. Try and use cash for things like groceries and entertainment (and allowance). A trick I learned from my Mom that works for me is to divvy up the budgeted money into different envelopes. Then you can see plainly what you have to spend.
  • Cash in those bonus points from you credit cards! I love getting either $50 “cash” or a $25 Starbucks card from my Discover Card points. A lot of companies have reward cards – if you are going to use plastic you might as well earn stuff.
  • For playgroups meet somewhere FREE (like a park) and plan a picnic. The kids will have a great time eating on a blanket on the ground and the adults get to relax.
  • Swap babysitting with friends.
  • Try to shop online at places like eBay or Half.com – even Amazon now has a used entertainment category. Pay attention to shipping though.
  • Seriously SHOP AT THRIFT STORES (and pawn shops!).
  • If you like to rent movies see if there is a “Redbox” nearby – the movies (usually new releases) are only $1 per night! You can even get a text message per week with a “freebie” code!
  • Don’t pay a lot for eyeglasses when you’ve got a website like Zenni Optical around. Their glasses start at only $8 and are super cute and in tons of styles. I personally know moms who have shopped at their site and say that their deals are really for REAL and that the quality is excellent. They were even mentioned in a book titled “Living Rich by Spending Smart” by Gregory Karp. (Which might I add has some seriously great advice).

I’m sure there are more GREAT tips on spending less money. Please share YOURS!!