Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Financial Freedom priceless

How much does financial freedom cost? In the vain of those MasterCard commercials, it is priceless.

Being debt free (or in my case credit card debt free ) really gives me a sense of financial freedom, well being and that is priceless.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Frugal Five Meet Julie

Julie is a frugal lady that is a central figure on the savingadvice boards and shares her own journey at I'm a saver

What is your financial life?

I have been interested in saving money all my life. I am older and have 1 adopted daughter. My husband and I live in the North Georgia Mountains. My father died when I was nine and suddenly there was no income coming in. I got a job at age 12 and started saving part of everything I earned. I got married at age 20. At that time I was making $1 an hour. I saved my money and bought my first house at age 21. Since I knew nothing about investing and there were no IRA's back then, I concentrated on paying my house off, which I did when I turned 32. I have lived mortgage free ever since. At this point I have no mortgage, no credit card debt and we live on my husband's income only. My last full time job was as a waitress making $2.01 an hour in a rural town.

What is your budget buster?

My biggest budget buster is not house payments, but cars. My husband loves cars! Since he works so hard, seven days a week, I do indulge him with a new car once in a while.

What is your favorite money saving tip?

My biggest money saving tip is, it doesn't matter how much you earn, it is how much of your money that you keep that counts. Pay yourself first. I always sat down with my tips and paid myself 10-15% before I ever paid the bills.

If you had an extra $1000 what would you do with it?

I would just save it.

What is your best resource for frugal living?

My best financial resources were all the good financial books that I have read over the years.

Let us know if you would like to be profiled in the Frugal Five

Sunday, July 29, 2007

New tires yes a budget buster

When we got our car inspected last month and then had to get a repair, they also said our tires were getting bad. My husband agreed and since we worked at Sears and National Tire and Battery for years, I had to go with his opinion.

I was trying to hold off as long as I could until I had the cash, but I had to put almost $600 on the credit card. This is the first time in years, I have put something on the credit card that I won't be able to pay off immediately. I feel like I am getting hives and I don't feel comfortable in taking it out of emergency fund.

My goal is to get it paid off within 3 months or sooner. I really need to tighten the belt over the next 8 weeks. I got my sister's wedding- hotel room, 3 tuxes to rent plus the rest of my dress and I don't have all the cash saved up. Total of $1000

Yikes I hope I am not heading into a downward spiral. I need the frugal mojo here.

Frugal Meal Planning week of July 29th

Here is what we are having for dinner this week

Sun Mother in Law birthday party just having pizza

Mon Asian ground beef (basically ground turkey or beef with a bag of cole slaw, some soy sauce, onions, mushrooms-yummy)

Tues Chicken Pad Thai Hubby asked for this since he had it last week while on a business trip. I picked up some thai noodles and some Chicken pad thai sauce.

Wed Ham and cheese calzones

Thurs Pasta of some kind

Fri Clean out the fridge night....

Sat Pizza

For more dinner ideas Dine Without Whine -is a great menu planning service for active families

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Wash, rinse, repeat isn't frugal

Where do you think those "wash, rinse and repeat" directions on the shampoo bottle came from? The manufacturer they want you to use more and more. The more you use the more you buy

I've found that I can cut the cost of certain items by as much as half by just using less. Beauty and cleaning products seem to lend themselves to this especially well. I have even added water in the end especially on the shampoo and it still works fine!

Here are things that I have cut in either half or by a third and have not noticed a change

Hair Conditioner
dishwasher soap
laundry detergent

So use less and watch your dollars save up!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Freebies and coupons

Enjoy your freebies!

Bowflex® | Strength Training Book & DVD

Free American Baby Subscription

CUTIVATE® LOTION - Save Our Skin for itchy skin

the healing garden skin organics free sample

NESCAFÉ Taster's Choice - Sampling Free coffee

Sign-up for great baby freebies and deals

Free kid socks

Estée Lauder perfume sample

Body Shape™ free trial offer

Sunsilk shampoo

Welcome Credit Panda readers

Hello Credit Panda readers

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Lots of clicks from you! I am a frugal work at home mom. I am a little obsessive, compulsive about making ends meet, living on a budget and saving for retirement. I think we are a typical family, not necessarily living paycheck to paycheck but worry about the cost of living and the typical "What if's" of life. I have been writing this blog since 2004 so there are lots of parts of my life in different posts but to summarize. I have 3 boys,. I stopped working out of the house when the twins were born. I had worked in the financial services field for 10 years.

In 2000 is when my husband and I got serious about paying off the credit cards and living the debt free lifestyle. I started to read Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman and almost everything I could get my hands on. We paid off our last credit cards in 2003/2004. Our debit card is what we primarily use when we are out shopping now. If we do have to use the credit card, it is paid off immediately. For example, we went to Disney this summer and charged the card I paid it off immediately.

Frugality is a choice now rather than a necessity. However since we are primarily a 1.5 income family, I need to work on our emergency fund a bit more. So for the next few months we are trying to live below our means rather than right at our means. My husband works on commission in a team setting-so if the team doesn't meet the goals-their commission is low. Living with variable income isn't always fun!

2007 mid year financial goal check in

2006 end of the year financial goal check in

2005 end of the year financial goal check in

So sign-up for our weekly newsletter! If you are looking for a specific topic, you can use the search button at the topic to review!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Frugal doings

The kids have been out of school this summer and we are trying to keep the entertainment budget down.

1. Free summer movies This has been once again a treat for the kids. We have gone 3 times. I do let them get 1 popcorn to share.

2. Our local libraries have been great as well. A summer reading program for the my oldest as well as we had 2 music shows. We have done PJ night as well.

3. Our pool... they are having a blast every day in it While not necessary frugal in the costs of the daily upkeep. It is less expensive than driving to the ocean, pay $15 parking etc and then lunch.

4. Planned playdates once a week with friends at the local parks.

There are lots of ways to keep the summer fun and frugal

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Yummy Tomato Cumcumber Salad

My in-laws brought over their first tomatos of the season and we have an a ton of cucumbers. I made this for lunch for me to eat this week. Basically all free!!

4 medium tomatos , chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cucumber seedless variety, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 medium red onion , chopped
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Mix all together and chill!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dave Ramsey words of wisdom

Some simple tips from Dave Ramsey... on getting your financial house in order

1. Pay Cash or Debit Card.... no credit cards You don't want a second mortgage
2. Get Instense it is about 80% behavior 20% math
3. Find a friend-an accountability partner
4. Sell the car if it is tightening the noose around you....
5. Remember Murphy Laws If it can go wrong, it will go wrong "Keep three to six months of expenses in place. And that will keep the black cats away from the door."

Dealing with Murphy's

Monday, July 23, 2007

Frugal Five Meet Debbie

Debbie is a frugal mom from Texas that runs Barking Chihuahuas as a way of earning some extra money.

What is your financial life?

We have 8 kids between us but all are grown except 1 young teen still at home. We live in Texas where it seems the cost of living is higher. Our house is paid off, but we both have new trucks with payments . My hubby is an electrician for a very wonderful company, and I have had my own housecleaning business for over 20 years now so that has helped a lot. I have just recently gone to part time.

What is your budget buster?

Really the only thing that has put a dent in our budget is our truck notes.

What is your favorite money saving tip?

I believe using coupons at the grocery store helps so much and I also believe in bargain shopping on the sales racks in the clothing stores first. I also am a firm believer of shutting off the lights when not in use and using cold water to wash my clothing.

If you had an extra $1000 what would you do with it?

Most likely, we would put it into our savings account....and of course, have a family dinner out somewhere nice.

What is your best resource for frugal living?

I have struggled a lot in my grown life and I truly believe that my best resource
has been tips from elders, websites with good tips and just learning by living.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Frugal Meal Planning week of July 22nd

Hubby is off on a business trip through Thursday so it is just me and the boys.

Sun My parents are coming over with take-out

Mon Chicken nuggets, fries

Tues Hamburger and noodles

Wed Sandwiches, leftover hamburger noodles

Thurs Steak, potatos (since hubby is home)

Fri Clean out the fridge night

Sat Pizza

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Pay us money to pay off your mortgage faster

We received our annual bi-weekly mortgage letter this week. This letter drives me crazy maybe because I feel I am an informed consumer and others are being suckered into this.

Basically for the privilege of paying a one time fee of $300 and then $9.00 a month you can pay your 1/2 your mortgage every 2 weeks and we will auto deduct it from your checking account.

Or course you could do the same thing yourself save yourself hundreds (or even thousands) in fees by taking your mortgage payment divide it in 12 and then add some extra each month.

They also added that they could refinance my mortgage to another 30 years-

Right now, I am not focusing on paying the house off early. I am still building up my emergency saving account as well focusing on retirement and college savings. Maybe some day I focus on paying off early.

Best time of the year to make purchases

Did you know following the calendar can help you save a lot of money each year when making purchases. Good Morning America did a recent segment on The Saving Calendar

There tend to be certain times of the year when things are on their deepest discounts," said Consumer Reports magazine senior consumer editor Amanda Walker. "You might get 50, 60, 70 percent off if you can wait."

January TV sets usually go on sale due to the Superbowl. Exercise equipment such as treadmills. Also bedding goes on sale in January Housing for buying and renting

April Video Camera due to upcoming graduations and summer vacations End of April Spring Clothing

May Cordless phones, sneakers

July indoor furniture and computers

September Air conditioners and gas grills

Dec Car Sales

"If you don't need an item as an emergency something that's just broken down and you need to replace it, but you can take your time -- especially on large purchases where you're saving your money -- it's a great idea to time your purchase," Walker said. The trade off for using the shopping calendar is waiting months to purchase the items you desire.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Car rich, cash poor

How much is your car loan? How long is it for? Many people on personal finance or getting out of debt message boards often talk about their high car loans when struggling to get out of debt. It is not common to see $400 monthly car payments. Like the old saying house rich, cash poor, they are car rich, cash poor.

According to The Real Reason your broke

"They may be spending 15% to 20% of their (take-home) pay on just the car payment," said Thompson, who supervises credit counseling for the nonprofit Family Foundations, "and that doesn't include insurance, gas, maintenance and all the other costs of owning a vehicle."

And sometimes there's more than one whopping payment. Sandra McGeary, a counselor at Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Western Pennsylvania, says she regularly sees middle-class families struggling with two payments in the $400 to $500 range. The burdens are so big that it doesn't take a major disaster, like a job loss, to send them over the edge.

"This fall they started coming in saying, 'We were doing so well. We don't know what happened,' " McGeary said. "I'll ask, 'Where did you cut back in your budget when gas prices went up?' and they'll usually say, 'What budget?' . . . A lot of times they don't know how much they can really afford, and they didn't cut back elsewhere" when their transportation expenses rose.

I like to think of my husband and myself as being financially responsibility regarding cars. We haven't purchased a brand new car since we have been married, we typically buy cars that are 2-3 years old. Currently we are driving a 1996 and 2001 one. In the next 18-24 months, we will be replacing the 1996 since it is has high mileage. I don't like to take a loan out with more than 36 months.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I saved $400 today

I recently got 2 bills in the mail for medical services that 2 of my sons received. Back in Feb, my oldest had the croup (bad barky cough and difficulty breathing) so we went to a pediatrician appointment. She sent us over to the x-ray area at the hospital outpatient services for a chest x-ray. We gave our insurance card and the paperwork from my son's pediatrician.

Five months later I receive a bill from the hospital not covering $100 of the charges because it needs to towards our deductible. I called up the 800 number and didn't get anywhere the with the customer service rep. I was loosing my patience with her because she couldn't give me a straight answer.

My second situation was a $300 bill for my son's semi-annual appointment with his neurologist. He has autism and this has always been covered except for the specialist co-pay amount.

I called up Aetna again to see why I got this bill. Luckily, I had a competent claims specialist this time on the phone, who quickly told me it was coded incorrectly in Aetna's system and the claim was rejected.

I then asked about the x-ray bill and the claims specialist was quickly able to resolved that as well. It was coded at the hospital that we walked in with no doctor referral.

The bottom line is to check up on all medical bills that you receive. A simply coding error at the doctor's office, hospital or the insurance company can cost you a lot of money. I had to do alot of that when my twins were first born they were in the hospital for almost 2 months. Everything from they were not covered for a procedure because it the date was before the coverage started (ie coverage started the day they were born and couldn't have tests done until they were born) and that you couldn't have two people in the same house with the same birthday. (that is called twins and they said the doctor's were double billing)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Suze Orman on Women and Money

Suze Orman was recently on The View and shared some money advice for women bases on her newest book Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny

1. Stop Co-signing loans -women often get in trouble when cosigning a loan for family members or friends.

2. Get your own seperate saving account from your spouse-you never know what might happen.

3. Make sure you have an emergency fund of 8 months of living expenses.

4. Make sure you are contributing to your 401k at least to the company match. If you don't have a 401k; contribute to a Roth!

See her in action:

Monday, July 16, 2007

Frugal Five Meet Lynn

Lynn is a frugal stay at home mom in Oregon who is blogging about her journey at www.beingfrugal.net She is also part of the Frugal Folks group

What is your finanical life?

I am married with two kids, and we
live in beautiful Oregon. I'm a SAHM, and my husband works in sales. He's new to
his current job, so we're not completely sure where we stand as far as
income goes at the moment (that's kind of scary, isn't it?). It's a
commission based job, so our income will vary from month to month. We
rent, so we don't have to worry about a mortgage. Our credit card plus student
loan debt equals a little less than $10,000. I hope to have that paid
off by July of next year. Then we will be completely debt-free!

What is your budget buster?
It's definitely eating out. I'm not particularly fond of cooking, and I tend not to plan ahead
sometimes. I find myself calling my husband and asking him to bring home dinner a little too often.

What is your favorite money saving tip?

Wait at least 24 hours before buying
something that's not necessary. I can be pretty impulsive, and I've found
that if I make myself wait to buy things, the impulse often passes.

If you had an extra $1000 what would you do with it?
I'd put it toward our debt.

What is your best resource for frugal living?
There are so many, it's hard to choose. I like
by Dave Ramsey and Mary Hunt. I also love the cookbook Cheap. Fast. Good!
Besides recipes, there are tons of tips for saving money on your grocery

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Frugal Meal Planning week of July 15th

Here are our dinner for this week;

Sun Turkey burgers (got a super deal on 8 burgers for $4.00. They were marked down)

Mon Spaghetti and meatballs

Tues Mexican Lasagna

Wed Cheesy beef and broccoli Actually using thin stir fry steak-got it marked down I have frozen broccoli that I will be using as well.

Thurs Leftover Mexican Lasagna

Fri Leftover Cheesy beef and broccoli

Sat Pizza

Disney Crystal Palace review

Crystal Palace wasn’t on our original list to eat at however due to some switching around due to Star Wars Weekend in MGM, I need to make some changes. My mother in law raved about Crystal Palace in the past so I decided to make advance dining reservation there. We would be dinning with Winnie the Pooh and all of his friends!

Crystal Palace is located at the end of Main Street USA near Casey’s hot dogs in the
 Disney World   Magic Kingdom. park.  There is fantastic view of the castle from there. The inside has beautiful windows and there is natural light. . It is like an old Victorian building inside. We were going to eat an early dinner to Crystal Palace at 4:15. We checked in and were told that would be a short wait. We waited about 25 minutes to be seated.

Once we sat down, our waitress even explained what route the characters would be taking around the restaurant, so we'd have a good idea where and when to look for them.

Crystal Palace is a buffet and wow what a buffet. The all you can eat buffet offers a wide variety of choices including, salads, pasta dishes, soups, carved meats, seafood, breads, desserts and an ice cream station complete with soft serve and toppings. There is also a separate children’s buffet that had typical kid fare, chicken nuggets, hot dogs etc.

The character interaction is great. No waiting in lines like you do in the park. They come around to the table. We had Pooh, Tigger, Eyore, and Piglet all visited our table. They signed our autograph book and we were able to take pictures and get hugs! . The kids loved being able to get their autographs.

Crystal Palace was a wonderful dinner. We enjoyed the food and since we were on the Disney Dinning plan didn’t have to worry about the cost. The adult dinner buffet is $27.99 and the children was 12.99! Well worth the cost!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Florida teacher wants out of debt

One thing we often hear very often when folks are trying to get out of debt is cut off the extra expenses or try to earn more money. It is always easy to do one, but something doing both can be hard.

Student loans and high credit card debt are affecting a Fort Lauderdale teacher.

He's a 27-year-old physical education teacher who works with special needs kids at a private school in Coral Springs. His income is $32,000, including part-time work during the school year and summer jobs.

He's single, lives in a large house with five roommates, and pays modest rent. But it's not the carefree life that it could be.

Add onto top of that he is 42k worth of student loans and $10,000 in credit card debt from spending carelessly.

He is currently coming out $300 a month short. He is playing the robbing Peter to pay Paul game. I have been in his situation with my debt and I know how stressful it is.

The suggestions from the financial planner include some simple advice:

  1. Earn more Apply for higher paying teacher jobs. He is currently teaching in a private school.
  2. Get a part time job during the school year.
  3. Sell his 2006 car since it is has 14% interest rate and payment is $507. he would then buy something cheaper.
  4. See if he could live with a family member rent-free
  5. Work with the credit card consolidation company to lower rates or a lower payment

Two thing I would also suggest would be a budget as well as a small emergency fund. I also don't necessarily agree with asking a family member to move in. He is an adult and shouldn't be looking for a financial safety net from Mom and Dad. I do agree that he needs to earn more and as a single guy could be working 7 days a week to get out of this financial mess. If you are working 7 days a week, you don't have the time or energy to go out every night.

If you are in debt, there are way to get out of the whole. We had over 20,000 in debt that took us several years to get out http://www.budgetdial.com/news-Jan0105.htm

Thursday, July 12, 2007

CVS Pharmacy printable coupons

Check out these great printable in store coupons for CVS. I need to pick up some stuff this week and will surely use them!

CVS $5.00 off $30 Receive a $5 discount on purchase in store over $30 . This coupon excludes gift cards , money orders, prescriptions, postage stamps, pre-paid cards and tobacco products .. Non prescription only

CVS $10 off $50 Receive a $10 discount on purchase in store over $50 . This coupon excludes gift cards , money orders, prescriptions, postage stamps, pre-paid cards and tobacco products .. Non prescription only

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How to find a good contractor

I have been very luckily that my Dad is an carpenter/contractor and we haven't had to hire a construction or a handy man to do any home repairs. In the 11 years that we have owned our house, my Dad (and my husband as the helper) have replaced a roof, added sliding, windows, basement updates and many odds and ends. That has saved us a lot of money and probably a lot of stress as well. However we do have some remodeling that we will probably do within the next 3-6 years such doing an addition.

The Today Show did story on how to find and how to hire a contractor. Here are some of their tips:

How to find one

  • Talk to your neighbors next door.
  • Cruise the neighborhood.
  • Ask your real estate broker

I do drive around the neighborhood when I see any second levels being added on to house and write down the names of the company and website. )

How to hire one

  • Hire someone local.
  • Get three estimates.
  • Check out his truck.
  • Call three past customers.
  • Visit a job.
I especially like the check out his truck
In all my experience, this is the most reliable gauge out there: Go have a look at that contractor’s truck. If it’s a mess, the job he’s going to run is going be a total mess. You have to appreciate, the truck is that contractor’s office, and how he manages his truck is exactly what he’s going to do with your job. So have a look at his truck.

What questions to ask
  • “What is your availability?”
  • “How long will it take to complete the job?”
  • “How many people do you have working for you?”
  • “Will you be personally on the job each day?”
And what should you include in the contract
  • Change orders.
  • Clean-up.
  • Number of workers each day.
  • Proof of insurance.
  • Permits, permit fees and inspections.
  • Exclude fixtures and appliances.
  • Hold last third of monies until job is completed.

A lot of this advice sounds like common sense, but that maybe because I have been around the construction business all of my life. If if sounds too good or the estimate is way below the others, it maybe the contractor is simply desperate to get work and not really any good!

Looking for a deal

What Frugal Mom doesn’t like to get a deal? I am always looking for a bargain these days to help stretch my dollars. Shopping online is the best option for most of us. I know it helps me with comparison shopping as well as saving on gas driving back and forth to the store I came across a new site where they have many coupons to help save money. A lot of coupon sites don’t always update their sites on a regular basis, but Keepcash.com does.

KeepCash.com is the site to get promotional codes for your favorite online store. My sibling and I are giving my mom a laptop for her 60th birthday. I like to see what the best deals are on line. I logged on this morning and found a great Best Buy Coupon Codes for an Hewlett Packard top of the line laptop computer. The bargain hunter in me is very happy! It is going to be bookmarked so I can check the deals during the Christmas season.

Since my mom is getting her new laptop and will be surfing the web in style, I would recommend KeepCash.com to her because it is easy to navigate and I know she will like the deals because I learned a lot of my frugal ways from

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dave Ramsey 3 reasons to save money

Dave Ramsey shares the 3 reasons to save money in his Financial Peace University workshops

1. Emergency Fund
2. Purchases
3. Wealth Building

Monday, July 09, 2007

Frugal Five Meet Jacquelyn

Jacquelyn is a single mom who has recently gotten on the frugal bandwagon and runs an Ameriplan business which helps people cut down on their healthcare costs.

What is your financial life?
I am single mom and I work full-time and have a part-time business. My biggest bills are rent and child care because I choose to live with my parents in order to save some money to live out on my own and I live in Salt Lake City, Utah.

What is your budget buster?
My budget buster right now is child care. It is expensive.

What is your favorite money saving tip?

PAY YOURSELF FIRST! What I do is Direct Deposit $150 a paycheck towards savings and then I budget with the money I have leftover to pay fixed and flexible Expenses. I also recommend an FSA (flexible spending account) if you or your children are always sick because that Saves you 20-30% before Taxes to pay for Co-pays and misc Medical Expenses.

If you had an extra $1000 what would you do with it?
What I would do with an extra $1000 is use part of it for my business to build it and increase my Income; Open a Savings Account for my Daughter and then Save the rest towards Emergency Expenses.

What is your best resource for frugal living?
Well, from a referral from a Friend I use http://www.savingadvice.com/ as a great resource for Saving Money with the help of their Website and their Partner sites and their Money Saving blogs as helped me out ALOT! I also love http://www.stretcher.com/. It has some great money Saving Tips as well.

Let us know if you would like to be profiled in the Frugal Five

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Frugal Meal Planning week of July 8th

Sun Will be simple hot dog rolls, potato salad and some corn

Mon Layered Ground beef casserole

Tues Chicken Bruschetta Bake

Wed Leftover ground beef casserole

Thurs Leftover chicken brushcetta bake

Fri Something simple-we have family afternoon at cub scout camp. We didn't get home from this last year until after 7pm. I am trying not to eat out.

Sat Pizza

For more dinner ideas Dine Without Whine -is a great menu planning service for active families

Vacation planning

Since we recently came back from a vacation, we have that bug that travelers often get. I want to go away again soon! The best and fastest way to check out best deal is via surfing Internet and I came across these great Hotel Discounts

The website is loaded with features. Hotel Reservations.com offers a wide selection of hotels , car rentals , vacation packages and a lot more on their website. They have a worldwide selection. You can even book bed & breakfasts and condo rentals. Cruise packages are also available. The great thing is you can either book online or call toll free in the United States, Canada and Europe. There is also a $100 rebate on the site
They have a destination guide where you can research the city you want to visit. Other links that I want to explore is the Family Fun as our next trip would be a family trip it would be worth it. They have recommendations for family hotels.
The vacation package section well organized. There are over 1400 destinations. You have several options to chose from Flight + Hotel + Car, Flight + Hotel, Hotel + Car or Flight + Car. You can also add in theme park tickets or other activities as well.
Since we were planning to go down to the Orlando area in the near future. I wanted to see what hotels they offered. They have a large selection of hotels near Walt Disney World, Universal Theme Parks and Sea World. You can narrow your search to specific landmarks as well as well as by price and value.
When using a travel website, you want easy of use. Hotel Reservations.com is very easy to navigate. It has a lot of selections in the United States, Canada and Europe to make vacation planning simple and easy to do.

Disney MGM Sci Fi Dine-in Review

Going to the "Drive-in" is not something that everyone has a chance to do these days, however at
 Disney World  MGM studios there is the Sci Fi Dine in restaurant.

My husband is the biggest sci fi junkie and has passed that onto the 3 boys. My husband has watch Mystery Science Theatre for years so I thought that this would be the perfect place for us to dine.

Our reservation was at 11:15am for lunch. We had been to the park since it opened that morning and only did a quickly granola bar so we were hungry so we check to see if they could take us in early. They sure did!

The theatre restaurant was huge. They have fake stars on the ceiling and depending on the size of your group, will determine if you get a car or a table. Our car had 3 rows. The movie clips played were all stuff from the 1950 think aliens with scuba masks on etc, nothing too scary for little ones. They even played an old Tom and Jerry movie in there. Mom, this is a really cool according to my DS 8.

Now onto the food, since we were on the Disney Dinning Plan we appetizer, entree and desert. The waitress said the Reuben was the highly recommended for a sandwich but my husband got onion rings for appetizer and I got the spinach artichoke dip. They were both tasty. For our entrees, we got hamburgers. They were normal hamburgers that you would get at an Applebees or Chili's. Desert for us was fruit salad and honestly it wasn't even worth touching.

We were in there for more than 90 minutes, it was a little slow when we asked for the check.

They do recommend doing advanced dinning reservations there.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Christmas in July

Thinking about Christmas. I hope to do a frugal Christmas this year. I read a great saying in Victorians Time about Children and Christmas

Give children:

Something they want.

Something they need.

Something to play with.

And something to read

I would love to only give 4 gifts to each kid, but my husband is the biggest kid and he is sometimes the reason my budget goes out of wack during Christmas. Both sets of grandparents spoil the kids rotten and then I got single siblings on my side so they tend to overboard as well.

Frugal Christmas Guide keeping your budget in check during the holiday season.

Lottery 777

Will you be playing the lottery today?

I have played the lottery less than 100 times in my life. Mostly the big games when they have millions of dollars on the line.

Will I be playing today since it is 7/07/07?

Nope, but it looks like many others are playing the lottery today.

Many states in including Pennsylvania have sold out of 777 or 7707 tickets for today's drawing.

"We've had a bunch asking for it," said York Township Bookland owner Andy Chock. He estimated there had been "hundreds" of people at the York Township store requesting the numbers "777" for lottery tickets. "People are very superstitious."

So will you play? I won't. I am not a fan of the lottery.

Disney 50s Prime Time Cafe review

If you enjoy comfort food, you will enjoy the 50s Prime time cafe at Disney MGM studios located near the Indiana Jones Stunt Show.

Our first night at Disney world, we had made advanced dining reservations for the the 50's Prime time dinner. Even though we had reservations, we still needed to wait about 15 minutes and they were turning away people at the door for walk-in. The waiting room/bar had couches that you could rest your weary legs on.

"Mom" is in the kitchen cooking the food while your Aunts are the servers. Black and White TVs play in the background. When calling you to your table, OK Smith kids time to eat. And my 8 year old had to set the table!

Our "Auntie Jen" review the rules of dinning there. No elbows on the table and you must eat your vegetables or no desert.

Since we were on the Disney Dinning plan, we were able to order Appetizer, Entree and Dessert.

My husband got the Beer Battered Onion Rings and I ordered the Shrimp Cocktail for my 8 year old for my appetizer. The  younger ones  each got the salad which I ate and my 8 DS got the chicken noodle soup.

For the dinner portion the kids menu includes chicken nuggets, hot dog, mac and cheese. All 3 chose something different. They ate them up. However the chicken nuggets didn't look all that good. My husband and I both got the meatloaf. It was truly comfort food with the mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans were on the side.

As for drinks, the boys had the choice of milk, bottled water or juice. They all got milk. Hubby got a root beer and I got a diet coke. We got several refills during our meal.

The kids menu had the choice of fruit salad or ice cream sundae. Guess what they got-ice cream. It was in a waffle bowl cone which they loved! My husband got the angel food cake with fruit and I got the huge brownie sundae that I think I took 2 bites of since I was so full.

We really enjoyed this resturant for the nostaglia and almost consider it a "Dinner show". It was fun and a nice way to celebrate our first night in Disney.  Need to tips to save money at

Friday, July 06, 2007

How meal planning makes your life easy

Are you ready to save some time, feed your family healthier meals and save some money along the way? These are just some of the benefits of family meal planning. Let’s look at all of them in a little more detail.

Eat Healthier
Planning your family meals will cut down on your trips to your favorite fast food restaurant and the amount of pizza you have delivered to your door. Food you prepare at home tends to be much healthier than hamburgers with fries, fried chicken or pizza. When you plan your meals include some lean protein like chicken breast, as well as some salads and vegetables. Your entire family will benefit from the healthier meals.

Save Time
How much time are you spending now running to the grocery store a few times a week. I used to run to the store at least 3 times a week to buy something to fix for dinner. Planning your meals out for a week at a time and then putting together a grocery list with everything you need to cook those meals will cut your trips to the store down to one a week. This alone will save you a few hours each week. Plus you won’t be standing in front of your fridge and pantry every night trying to come up with something you can fix with what you have at hand.

Save Money
All that eating out and having food delivered can quickly add up. By preparing more meals at home you will save quite a few dollars each week. In addition, you will save on your monthly grocery bill, since you will be making a list of everything you need for the week and won’t end up buying extras that just go to waste. I used to throw out food almost every week before I started meal planning.

Less Stress
You know the routine. It’s 6 pm, everyone in the family is starving and you have no idea what’s for dinner. Trying to come up with something to cook from what you have in the kitchen while your kids are tired, hungry and screaming isn’t one of the most fun family activities. You will be much more relaxed about dinner, when you know exactly what you are going to cook ahead of time and known you have everything you need in the house.

Quality Time Together
Meal Planning also encourages everyone to gather around the dinner table each day. Who could resist the delicious smells coming out of the kitchen? Dinnertime has always been a great time for families to gather and share news and experiences of the day. Parents and children can pay each other undivided attention. Cook some dinner, set the table and don’t forget to turn off the TV. Make dinner a daily family tradition again.

I encourage you to give meal planning a try. I am sure you and your family will see the benefits within less than a week. Don’t have the time or patience to plan your family meals? Let us do it for you!

Christine Steendahl runs Dine Without Whine - A Family Friendly Weekly Menu Planner Sign up today.

Freebie Friday and coupons

I got some great freebies in the main this week Gain Laundry, Olay face mask, Aqua fresh toothpaste!

Hip Hop Music Free CD
Sample Total Effects Daily Cleansing Treatments
Free Hanes underwear
Free BBQ wine wheel
Neutrogena Samples
Free rice cereal sample
Ensure shake coupon
GoldBond sample
Free baby stuff diapers and wipes
Fill out a Survey and get a $50 Gift Card

Old Navy is rumored to start it's summer clearance at 50% off today

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Oatmeal Peanut Butter & Banana Muffins

I made these this week since I had some over ripe bananas and didn't feel like making banana bread again. Oh my these were sooooo good! I used the mini muffin ones.


1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal (either instant or long cooking)
1/8 cup Splenda Brown Sugar Blend or Brown Sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup reduced-fat peanut butter
1 cup 1% milk
1 egg
2 medium over ripe bananas (mashed up)
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon


In a large bowl, mix the flour and the oatmeal together, blend in brown sugar Add baking powder and salt, mix again until well blended.
In another bowl (or in a blender or food processor if so desired) mix the peanut butter, milk, (liquid maple flavor, if that's what you're using), egg and bananas. Mix well, then combine with dry ingredients, just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Fill muffin tins 2/3 full with batter. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes

Makes 12 muffins or 24 mini muffins!

Milk to hit $5.00 a gallon by summer's end

This is what Fox news is reporting. I try to buy my milk at the gas convenience store since it is about $1.00 cheaper a gallon there. We go through about 3-4 gallons of milk here.

Here are some tips on how to stretch your milk budget:

1. Freeze milk you can freeze milk up to 3 months. Open the container and empty out a bit into anther milk jug. If you catch a good sale, this maybe helpful.

2. Powdered milk I know you are thinking yucky, but actually powdered milk isn't too bad for cooking. I haven't really had it by the glass. I have in the past given it to the kids when I couldn't make it to the store for fresh milk. The Hillbilly Housewife has great section on how to save money with Powdered milk.

Restaurant.com $25 gift certificate for $5.00

Restaurant.com is having a super sale right now. We have used them several times in the past for some local restaurant deals.

50% Off Sale! Get $25 gift certificates for just $5, use code FUTURE at checkout. This code is valid from July 5 - July 7 only!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

July 4th kid party ideas

I know the day is here but here are some great fun activities if you are having a cookout with kids on the July 4th!

Buy a red, white, and blue piñata. Fill it with candies and small toys. Set it up in the backyard patio. When you are finished with your dinner, give the kids a chance to whack the piñata and enjoy all of the riches that fall to the ground.

Do you have a pool in your yard? If so, you’ll want your guests, including the kids, to bring bathing suits to the party. To this end, here is another party activity: Fill up red, white, and blue balloons with water and initiate a “toss the balloon” game. Each child can toss a balloon to the other. Whichever kid catches the most balloons without them breaking wins.

Musical chairs is another fun game for kids to play. Use patriotic music as the kids walk around the chairs. You’ll all have a great time with this familiar game.

Have you seen the crazy hot dog eating contests? Well, take this idea and give it a new twist for the kids. Buy miniplates at your local paper goods store. Fill the plates with whipped cream. Have each kid sit at a table with a plate in front of them. Make sure their hands are behind their backs. Explain they have 2 minutes to devour the entire plate. Whoever finishes first wins a trophy. You can purchase minitrophies at any card store. Think of the fun these kids will have. Remember to have the camera ready as well.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

My Disney thoughts

1. We will be staying at the value resort-actually the Disney All-Star Music Suites. Since we are a family of 5, it was either two value rooms or this. So our room price isn't all that cheap.

We loved the All-Star Music Resort! It is very similar to a Holiday Inn hotel room. We were actually in a suite where my husband and I had our own room and the boys slept on the pull out couches. There was a tv in each room. Two bathrooms-more than we have here!! Total size of the suite was almost 600 sq feet.

When we plan another trip down there, we will be using the suite again! I think many are concerned about a value resort being cheap and not having the Disney magic there, however it did. The guitar pool was great, they played Disney movies each night

2. We will be using the Disney Dining plan. The Disney Dining Plan puts guests on a two-meal-and-a-snack per day diet for each night of their stay. For adults it is 37.99 a day and for the under 10 crowd 9.99 a day. It is actually great not to have to worry about paying for each meal individually.

If you are staying on property, you are crazy not to get the Disney Dinning Plan. We had 3 character meals that would probably would not have done. Its worth every penny. We didn't pay less than $40 for lunch or less than $100 for dinner. We would never have been able to eat like this if we hadn't had the plan. I booked all of our dinners ahead of time and the places were great. The tip is included as well!

I also had bottle water shipped down from Staples. This kept us cool. We also got two refillable mugs for $12 a piece. Honestly, I didn't think we needed them, but hubby got them. They could be refilled with soda, coffee for the length of the trip.

3. We will be using Disney Transportation called the Magical Express from the airport to the resort. Since we will not be renting a car, we will use the Disney buses.

The transportation was great! Magical express is the transportation to use going to and from the airport. Going to the airport was great-they pick up your luggage and deliver it to your room. No dealing with baggage claims. Of course, my husband didn't think it would get there. It was there when we got to the room later that day!! Going back to the airport, they gave us an assigned time but two buses came that were full and couldn't take us. I was a little upset, but wouldn't let this ruin my vacation.

The internal bus transportation was super. We rarely wait more than 5 minutes for a bus and many times the buses were only 1/2 full. I think we may stood once or twice.

4. Included in our $6,000 budgeted for this trip we have $1000 spending money. We probably won't spend all of that but I would rather budget more than not.

We spent $6500 the extras that I forgot to budget were airport parking and the kennel for the dog. We did buy a lot of suvivors. This is where my hubby gets a little crazy. And we had to hit the Lego store at Downtown Disney.

5. I saved about $250 a month for our trip plus used our tax refund for this year to help pay for this all. This will not be a trip that we will be paying for years.

Absolutely this is the best feeling!! We may plan another trip in 3-4 years however I got to start saving again for it!! I do need to get my frugal butt get in gear if we are going to do it!!
 Disney World money saving tips

Monday, July 02, 2007

Frugal Five Meet Darren

Darren is hitting the big 30 this week and is a single guy from Indiana

What is your financial life?

I am single, no kids. I had rented an apartment but I, moved back in with my parents to save up for a sizable down payment on a townhouse or condo. I had 18k+ credit card debt, but now it's down to about 5k. I make a little under 30k a year.

What is your budget buster?
Video games! I'm a gamer. I gotta have the latest games.

What is your favorite money saving tip?
Eh, don't really have any saving tips. Just don't live above your means. Saving money was never my problem. I just didn't pay attention to my credit cards. I let it get out of control and I always just paid the minimum. But I've always been good at saving.

If you had an extra $1000 what would you do with it?

I would pay off more credit card debt

What is your best resource for frugal living?

http://www.savingadvice.com/ is great resource. Just reading the forums has helped me alot. Especially threads about the online banks
and their rates with the money market accounts. I'm going to open up one next week

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Frugal Dinner Planning week of July 1st

The cupboards were bare this morning so I had to hit the grocery store. Money is a little bit tights as we recovering from our Disney adventure.

Sun Kielbasa and baked beans

Mon Creamy crockpot chicken

Tues Tacos

Wed Burgers, cookout food

Thurs Leftover crockpot chicken

Fri Pasta

Sat Pizza

I am really trying to stay out of the grocery store this week. Hubby has the week off from work as well.

2007 Financial Goals Mid-year review

Since we just went past the half-way point of the year, I wanted to do a check-in!

1. Continue funding DH 401k at 15%
We are doing this

2. Continue to deposit $350 a month into a Roth IRA for me. This is done through automatic deducation
We are doing this!
3. Save $5,000 outside of retirement and college saving plans. This will help with a downpayment for a newer car for 2008 and/or bathroom remodel. Will attempt to do an automatic deduction for $220 each payday from hubby's check.

Nope... I really need to get going on this.

4. $50 each, each month into kids 529 plans-automatic deduction

All set! I may stop contributing to my son's account who has autism and have the money set aside for his living expenses when he gets older. He will probably never go to college or live on his own. It will probably be in a special needs trust.

5. Disney trip need an additional $1000 cash! Use tax return money (and money saved for self-employment taxes)

All set!!

6. Excess tax return money will go towards new couches first and then some minor remodeling for our family room.

We have done the remodeling in our family room. We added barn board this past spring. It cost $2,000 but it really helped shape up the family room.

We are back from Disney World

The trip to Disney World that I have been planning for over 18 months is over. However my family and I had a wonderful time. Many memories made over the week.

We stayed in one of the suites at the All Star Music Resort. Since we had 5 of us we couldn't stay in the regular value rooms.

It was $6500 vacation-paid in full! I don't know how people do Disney each year. The kids want to do it again next year. We may do it in 3-4 years again. So I if I save $200 a month for the next few years, we maybe able to manage it.

Disney on a budget My original goal was $6,000 but we did spend a little more than I wanted in the world.

Ashley from the Kid Within shared some tips on how to do Disney on a budget

If you are looking to go really frugal check out some money saving tips at Disney part 1 and part 2