Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Positives of Housing Exchange Students

Many of my readers know that since 10/08, we have had three different foreign students living in our home, pretty much continuously, except for the summers. Obviously, there are positives and negatives to this arrangement, and every family is different, but we have had wonderful experiences with all of our adopted kids: Teresa from Guatemala, and Young Meen and Seung Gi from South Korea.
Tere, our Latin girl, was only here for 8 weeks. She was very outgoing and wanted to be involved in all that we were doing. She was here for a language/cultural immersion program, so studying wasn't a priority. We travelled quite a bit and I even got up early to go Black Friday shopping with her--something I will probably never do again!

Young Meen was with us for 2.5 years, and she and my daughter were like sisters by the time they graduated in May:

Seung Gi has been with us since the beginning of this school year. Like Young Meen, (and in our experience, most Asian students) he is quiet and prefers to spend much of his time alone in his room. I know this is bothersome to some families we have been in contact with, but we really don't see this as a negative, it is mostly a cultural difference.

How do we handle having a "stranger" in the house? Again, I know every family is different, but we essentially treat our students as we would a guest/boarder in that we don't feel we have to have the same rules for them that we have for our own kids. We only have three basic rules. They have to: eat (a minimum of) the evening meal with us, clean their room on Saturday, and go to church with us for one service a week. Unlike I would be with my own kids, I don't worry myself with how much time they are on the computer,  what they are eating, or how they doing with homework. IF any of these issues became a problem, I might worry, but these kids are here to get an American education-most have been away from home since middle school-and trust me, Asians are pretty self-motivated.

Are we compensated? With Tere, no; with the Asian students, yes. How much? Because our school has different agents that we work with, I am not able to divulge this information, but most pay a monthly stipend of at least $400. Anything $400 and under is non-taxable, more than that and you have to claim the difference.

So to sum it all up, having a foreign student in your home can be a very rewarding experience in many ways, a situation I would highly recommend!

Wednesday, November 30th, is that last day you can vote for me in the cheap sally contest. Thanks for all your help!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Free almonds

Not a lot to say today but I did want to share this link for a free almond sample before they are all gone..enjoy!

Here's a great link for a 1 ounce sample of fresh almonds (thanks, Lori!) http://www.caalmonds.com/ Look for the link that says "free sample" on the left side.

Free sample of Atelier Cologne: https://www.facebook.com/AtelierCologne?sk=wall

Thanks for your votes! www.cheapsally.com/contest/tricia-cliff/

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Freebies

I'm just gonna come right out and say it...this cheap sally contest has been wearing me out. There have been 78 days of voting so far (just 12 left!)...my brother calls it the longest job interview EVER. I have to agree. All I can say is that you are the most amazing friends. Except for a few moments here and there, I have stayed #1 in the state of NC the entire time, but the lady in second place has worked me for every vote. Honestly, with the exception of maybe MN, we have to be the most competitive state out there. If I were still in Maine, I would be not even breaking a sweat at this point. Here's the irony: if in the last few hours #2 surpasses me...even if I am #2 in the nation...I would not advance to round 3 because you have to be #1 in your state. Sigh. I've made peace with it though. If I end up losing, I will honestly be able to say I gave it my very best shot! So, thanks to all. Hang in there with me:

It's a much colder day here--27 degeess this morning. I managed to get 4 loads of laundry on the line, make a big to-go cup of generic coffee with 55 cent-after-coupons Coffee-Mate, deliver the turkeys to our church, clean two rooms, and stop at Carolina Thrift, just for fun. They had Christmas music playing and one of the workers was singing away. Totally made my day. Came home to some gift cards in my mailbox, $200 worth to be exact. I "bought" them with points from my credit card and am hoping that they will knock out the majority of the kid's gifts. That's right...getting my inner-Christmas-frugal on. Life is grand.

Except I'm hungry. Why am I hungry? I decided it was time to do my 3-day drink fast. I'll feel really great after tomorrow when I can have real food again. Don't worry...I'm not starving myself. I actually get about 1000 calories a day, and part of that comes from 2 homemade protien shakes that give me 40 gms of protien. I am a grazer by nature, and this fast shows up my weaknesses big time. Do you have any idea how much junk food shows up at a nurse's station around the holidays? Krispy Kremes, anyone?? Oh my word. But I've been good. And I feel very focused...and hungry...

Here are some great freebies for you:

A sample of Biolage shampoo: https://www.facebook.com/MATRIX?sk=app_289095531122361

A sample of Seattle's Best Coffee if you are working on Black Friday:

Free sample of Nature's Bounty Fish Oil and $2 coupon: https://www.facebook.com/NaturesBountyVitamins?sk=app_161033847281768

Free Roadside Blooms 2012 Calender: https://apps.dep.wv.gov/reap/calendarsignup.cfm

Free sample of Calvin Klien Beauty perfume: http://www.minimartclients.com/CalvinKlein-BeautyPromotion/

Coupon for a free liter of Living Life water from Thorntons: https://www.facebook.com/thorntonsinc?sk=app_163849080647

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Give back ideas and nearly free Bounce bars!

Wow, it's really raining here in High Point today, but it's unseasonably warm, so I'll take it. It's been the perfect day to work on some holiday projects: Each year our church hosts a Thanksgiving dinner for area foster families, and I generally bake two turkeys--that I get on sale, of course. So today smells like Thanksgiving at my house. The kids also participate in the Samaritan's Purse shoebox drive every year:
http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/afr/. It's such a concrete way to give. Does your church or community center host any meals? A shoebox drive? Angel Tree? There are so many ways to give that don't cost much. What are your favorites??

What freebies have arrived in your box lately? In the past few days I've received Hugo cologne samples, 4 Barista K-Cups, 3 Twining Tea Bags, a Kinerase skincare sample, a Kleenex sample and 3 Platex Tampons, along with many coupons. Make sure you are getting free products...sign up when I post the links! It's even more fun now because I have many of them shipped to my daughter in college to fill her box also. You know how college kids like mail! Right now there are more sales than freebies, but always be on the lookout.

A couple of tips I recently read (and tried successfully):

What's your recipe for making traditional rice? Two parts water to one part rice, I'm guessing, and if you let it cook too long, it gets really sticky. I read somewhere that if you think of rice like pasta, and boil it in at least 4 parts water to 1 part rice and then drain it, it will not be sticky but will have more of a "minute rice" consistency. Guess what? It worked!

And don't you hate to have "pilly" sweaters? Use a pumice stone to take off all the pills; works like a charm.

Have you tried the new Bounce Dryer Bar? I did when they offered a rebate earlier in the year, and I do have to admit that I like not having to remember to add a dryer sheet. Right now there is a rebate offer for $5 back and there was a coupon for $1 off in the last P&G coupon insert. It's for a 6 month bar...that makes for a very good if not free deal!

Thanks for your votes! 14 days left: www.cheapsally.com/contest/tricia-cliff/

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On doing what you love (big changes in the family)

Our Holiday Drinks
I've literally been jumping up and down around the house quite a bit lately (try not to paint that picture too literally), but oh-my-goodness...big things happening here. By now, some of you have heard that my husband, Mike has decided to return to teaching next year. OK, you may be thinking, so what? Well, it's quite a big "what" at our house, as in, "What are we going to be doing next year?" Not too long after Mike told his boss of his desire to be in the classroom again, his predecessor called this same boss and said he was feeling the call to come back from Taiwan. So BAM, just like that, God closed the door to Mike's principal job. Isn't God amazing? No going back now, we have crossed the proverbial Rubicon. And I really couldn't happier, if not just a tad stressed. (OK, maybe sometimes more than a tad...)I'm just really proud of my husband for following his heart in this because I think he's a great teacher and he needs to be doing what he loves, even if it means a pretty significant pay cut.

Speaking of doing what you love: recently Mike heard a speaker who was talking about finding your passion: Look for areas where you produce the most fruit, get the most positive feedback, and feel the most fulfilled. Teaching. That's it for my husband. A confirmation of sorts. The fact that he has no job after June is just a minor glitch, seriously. I know that God will take care of everything. He's never let us down before. Where will we go? No idea. Life is such an adventure.

All this makes me wonder....about me. Fruit? Fulfillment? Feedback? My passion is getting a deal...and writing. I'm not super great at either, but that's not the point. That's where this blog becomes my outlet. So thanks for reading!

Why am I jumping around now that husband is jobless in July? It isn't about that. One reason was that I sliced my thumb open on the side of the kitchen sink and it motivated me to want to start on a kitchen remodel. Another reason was finding out that our story about our car wreck and subsequent annual visits back to the hospital is a *potential* winner in the Dave Ramsey Giving Challenge! Three winners get $5000.00 to give to their charity of choice. I love Dave...even before this...enter your story here and inspire others: http://www.daveramsey.com/specials/christmas/ictid/text2.hub.3way.c11/

Um let's see, what else? Starbucks is having their annual BOGO free drinks Nov 17-20, 2-5 pm: http://merry.starbucks.com/en-us/#/bogo/

Laurel Oaks Christian Church on Old Plank Road in High Point is giving away the remainder of their pumpkins. Just run by and get them!

I discovered a great new site: http://www.airbnb.com/ where you can list rooms/apartments/houses/futons for rent and/or find a room somewhere. And it's free to list, unlike most sites. Check it out!

I got a BIG FAT check from ebates (that's what they call them) for $40.00. If you don't have an ebates account yet, you really need to sign up. You get cash back just for shopping online and going through their site. Do it now before you start all your holiday shopping. From now until the end of the year, you can get an extra $150.00 just for getting 10 friends to sign up...so help me out, then get 10 of your friends to do the same! Merry Christmas! Use this link:

I haven't fixed my dryer yet (it's been over a month now) and when I saw how much less my electric bill was this month, I'm rethinking paying someone a minimum of $75 to show up and tell me how much more they are going to charge. Alright...I WILL fix it, but it's been a worthy experiment.

And we should get our van back this week! We've been a month without that also. Great month.

Thanks for voting for me in the cheap sally contest. Only 15 more days of voting. It's been a long 10 weeks and I appreciate your tenacity. Most of the other bloggers have thousands of followers...I don't. But you all are the best and I'm currently 8th in the nation, 1rst in NC! www.cheapsally.com/contest/tricia-cliff/  Thank you!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veteran's Day!

Hello Blogger Friends! Hope you are geared up for a beautiful, if cooler, weekend.

If you have served our country or are currently serving, I want to personally thank you for your dedication and sacrifice. It is appreciated.

Rather than compile yet another list of wonderful discounts and freebies available to you Veterans, here is a link with a boatload of them: http://freebies4mom.com/2011/11/11/weekend-freebievents-1111-1113/

Thanks for keeping me in first place in NC in the cheap sally contest. So appreciated:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A dozen items you should never pay for...

(our sweet potato harvest)

Ahhh, what a glory day. Beautiful blue sky, brilliant leaves, a delish lunch of sauteed cabbage and noodles, an hour browsing my favorite magazines at the library, putting away my sweet potato stash, and a Rite-Aid shop all planned where I will be picking up 4 free items: feminine pads, lotion, toothpaste and toothbrush. I have been couponing and rebating for so long now that it always surprises me when I am asked, "What do you mean when you say you don't pay for _______?" So for those of you still new to this, here's a list and few pointers:

Simply put, I rarely pay money for: shampoo, conditioner, hair color, antiperspirant, lotion, make-up, toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, tampons, feminine pads or contact solution. There are a few other items, but this delightful dozen make up the majority of my small stock pile, and I do mean small. With seven of us using these products, they don't last long.

How is it done? I buy these items at Walgreens, RiteAid and CVS. I don't shop at every store every week, in fact, most weeks I only hit one. All three stores have rebate/printable coupon programs: Walgreens has Register Rewards (RRs), CVS had Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) and RiteAid has the +UP program. All three now print the rewards right when you buy, which is very convenient. Just don't lose them! Even when I was living in Maine and only had RiteAid available to me, I kept a decent stockpile. Here are the some things to remember:

1. Don't be brand loyal. I have 10 different kinds of toothpaste right now--they all do the job.
2. Don't wait until you run out of an item before you buy. Always keep ahead or you will pay full price.
3. Get the Sunday paper and look through the sale ads. Specifically look for items that are free or nearly free.
4. After you have the list of free items that you want, look on http://www.southernsavers.com/ and click on the link to that store. Here Jenny will tell you where to find coupons for these same items, including links to printable coupons and the dates that they were in the Sunday paper.This is where the fun begins. Now you can get the products for free AND make a profit.
5. If the item is completely free and you can't use it, buy it anyway. Make gift bags for local charities of use for gift bags of your own. I routinely put lotion in baby shower gifts for mom to use.
6. Use your ECBs, RRs, and +UPs to purchase your "freebies" the next week, paying very little out of pocket. Most are only good for 3 weeks, so keep up with them. Don't let the expire. If there's nothing you want to buy, pick up a gift or something useful like paper towels or toilet paper.
7. Consider getting yourself a laser printer. I bought one last year on black Friday and it has more than paid for itself. Before I had it, I was slow in printing colorful coupons that uses too much ink. Now I look for free paper at Staples and Office Depot and use the rewards to get free toner.
8. Have fun knowing you are saving yourself tons of money!!

Here's a facebook freebie for a free Scotch Brite Sponge:

And thanks for your continued votes in the www.cheapsally.com/contest/tricia-cliff/

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Got shoes? Information on CDs (no, not the kind you listen to:)

You may have seen this photo making its way around facebook, and as with most other folks, it gave me pause to think about just how blessed I am. But it also made me realize how much of a blessing all the shoes that I have been collecting will be to someone...somewhere! To all of you who have donated to the http://www.soles4souls.com/  shoe drive, thanks! I am collecting until the 11th of November, so bring out those used shoes.

Today I am sharing a post from fellow blogger Trent Hamm, who blogs daily at http://www.thesimpledollar.com/. I really like Trent's posts. He is very down-to-earth and I have learned much from him. Today he was answering reader questions about investing, and while most of you (like me) don't have big chunks of change sitting around, I learned some things about CDs that I didn't know. If you have anything invested in retirement accounts, as we do, you know how depressed the market is right now....so here are some things to think about, at least for the short term:

CD “Ladder” by Trent Hamm

"A certificate of deposit (often called a CD) is something you can buy from a bank. CDs are usually sold at a particular length of time and at a particular interest rate.

Typically, people will go to the bank, buy a CD with a particular interest rate and length, and wait for that length of time. At the end of that length of time, the buyer gets their money back plus the interest earned on the money during that period. If you try to get your money early, though, you usually have to pay a stiff penalty.

So, let’s say you find a 1 year CD at your local bank with an APY of 2%. You put $10,000 into it. At the end of the year, you get your $10,000 back and get another $200 back in interest. You can set this up to happen automatically so that the $200 gets rolled into your checking account and the $10,000 goes to buy another CD. All you see is the $200 in your checking account each year.

So, what’s a “ladder”? Let’s say you buy one of these CDs at the start of each month for a year. This means you’ve spent $120,000 on CDs over a year.

At the start of each month, one $10,000 CD matures, paying you $200 (assuming they’re always at 2% interest). That $10,000 then automatically buys another one year CD. That way, when that month rolls around next year, the same exact thing happens again.

The problem with this approach right now is that the interest rates on CDs are so incredibly low that you’re not really getting much of a boost at all beyond what interest rate you can get for an ordinary savings account. As the economy rebounds, these rates will go up and, eventually, CD rates will exceed savings account rates by enough to make it worthwhile.

If you’re thinking of this option, I offer a couple points of advice.

One, don’t put all of your money into this CD “ladder.” Keep at least a month’s worth of living expenses outside of this in savings as an emergency fund so that you don’t have to sell a CD early.

Two, wait to start this until there’s at least half a percent between a one year CD rate and what you can get in your savings account. Since you have to lock away your money for a year, you shouldn’t do it unless you’re getting some reasonable compensation for it."

And thanks for keeping me #1 in the state in the cheap sally contest; much appreciated:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November Winner!

Just a quick post to announce the winner of this nice little teapot: ssevie98@. Be sure to answer when I email you & congratulations!
Has anyone else noticed that there seem to be many, many prize drawings, sweeps and coupons since this new month hit? My goodness, I can hardly keep up....but tomorrow I will try to have some new listings for you. In the mean time, thanks for voting for me: http://www.cheapsally.com/contest/tricia-cliff/

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Easy French Onion Soup; Target sale and HT doubles

For many of my readers, I'm sure you would agree that it almost seems as if we went from fall to winter overnight. Here in High Point it was 80 on Thursday and 38 on Friday evening--quite the drop. Many of you in the northeast are getting snow today, and as much as I now dislike the cold, there is a part of me that twinges with a sad nostalgia. I can remember as a kid, there was nothing more exciting than snow on Halloween! So, with the advent of cold weather, I thought I'd share this recipe that I found. I love French Onion Soup, but no one else in my family is crazy about it. Consequently, I generally save this for the few times a year that we eat out in nicer restaurants. This recipe is so easy though...mmmm. You can half the recipe if you don't want a family size batch.

Easy Onion Soup

(makes about 6-7 cups)
1or 2  medium onions
4 tablespoons real butter
2 tablespoon flour
4 cups broth - beef is best but chicken or vegetable will do
2 cups white wine - or water
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan or Swiss cheese
Good French Bread sliced in 1" thick slabs

Cut the onion in quarters and finely slice into half moons. Heat the butter over medium heat, then add the onions. Stir and cook over medium heat until they are slightly caramelized and soft - about 6 or 7 minutes. Don't let them get too dark or the soup will be bitter. Add the flour and stir until the onions are coated. Add the broth and wine, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the soup. Let it simmer for a minimum of 10 minutes or so, lifting the lid at the end to let it reduce a little. Taste and season. Serve with fresh grated cheese and good bread. If you want to spend just a bit more time and get the real "French" feel, place the bread on top of an oven proof bowl full of soup, smother with cheese, and place under the broiler for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and slighty crusty. To die for.

Top five: Davis, Will (17:34), Aaron(18:30), Connor, David

Lee (20:20)

Yesterday was the last Cross Country meet of the season. I'm so proud of my boys (and the whole team) for all setting personal records and finishing strong.

Today my husband ground the coffee and made eggs my favorite way--his Saturday morning tradition when I'm not yardsaling. We Skyped my daughter and later we are taking the boys to see Real Steel, compliments of a friend who actually sent me cash to buy the tickets. She said it was so good that I shouldn't wait until it was in Redbox, but she also knew I wouldn't pay for it. Funny thing is, she's a frugal type also, so it must be worth the money. Looking forward to a good afternoon. Tonight is the fall festival at our church...Friendly Hills in Jamestown. It starts at 5:30 pm. If you have little ones, bring them out for a good FREE time!

And a heads up for you triad readers. Next week is super double coupons at Harris Teeter (doubling to $1.50) Be sure to check http://www.southernsavers.com/ now as Jenny is already posting links to printable coupons. These will be the items that are still on the shelves. Anything with a recent coupon in the Sunday inserts will be sold out in the first 2 hours.

Also, for any Target shoppers, it has been reported that SOME Target stores are having a 70% off sale in parts of their "dollar spot" section, located at the front of the store. May not be worth a separate trip, but if you are going anyway, check it out. Great stocking stuffers or items for Operation Christmas Child.

Thanks for your continued votes in the cheap sally contest. http://www.cheapsally.com/contest/tricia-cliff/

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sell your old Corelle for a nice profit! New freebies, including Pantene gift set.

I'm sure many of you have seen advertisements for Replacements, Ltd., a company in Greensboro, NC that buys and sells china and other tableware. They advertise in many magazines, and I have seen the massive warehouse (the size of 7 football fields, they say) myself. I wrongly assumed that they only deal with high end china patterns, but such is not the case. Did you know that also purchase Corelle made by Corning? How many of us have that in our cabinets?? If you have an older (or even current) pattern that you are thinking about selling at a yardsale, go ahead and check out their site at http://www.replacements.com/. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at their offer. If you live in the triad area, I would recommend going directly to the store. They do, however, pay for shipping or you can ship yourself. They do not buy anything that has chips or cracks. Of course, they also purchase china, silver, crystal and glassware, but the Corelle surprised me the most. For most patterns, they will beat any price you could get at a yardsale. Just another way to make a buck in this economy!

Here are a few freebies for you today:

If you happen to be in Target, you might want to pick up the holiday Pantene gift set they are selling for $9.99 which comes with a FREE subscription to Allure magazine. The best part? If you don't want the magazine, you can opt for a $12.00 refund, which make this a money maker. Free Christmas present! Check it out here (info about the refund is at the very bottom of the form) : http://condenastdirect.com/corp/pantene/

Free sample of Hugo Boss Men's cologne: http://www.boss-fragrances.co.uk/free-sample/?lc=gb

Free sample of Chinese tea: http://www.rosechinesetea.com/free-tea-samples.html

12 free issues of Ski Magazine: https://www.valuemags.com/freeoffer/freeoffer.asp?offer=Ski-RDC.aspbe

It's almost time for another giveaway! All you have to do to be in the running is to either subscribe to or follow my blog. Next drawing will be November first. The prize? This incredibly cute Le Creuset teapot:
Thanks for your daily votes in the cheap sally contest!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Great new freebies and a van report

I love autumn, even though it means the end of lower energy bills. The leaves, the hearty soups, pumpkins everywhere...it's such a beautiful season and I rejoice in God's creativity. Aren't you glad that any one season doesn't last forever?

I finally have my computer back and it seems to be in working order now. However, our van is out of commission and I really liked that van! We hit a deer while we were in PA visiting our daughter (see picture...think her brothers were glad to see her?) and still aren't sure of the prognosis. The insurance company is trying to decide whether it should be totaled or fixed--a waiting game right now. So thankful that no one was hurt, even if we were 7 hours from home. Also thankful to have a great insurance company.
(funny, it's not as bad in the picture as I remember it that night)

I really like getting unexpected freebies in the mail. Yesterday I got a mailer from the new Sheetz store that opened in High Point. It has 7 coupons for free items, plus a card to get free coffee or fountain drinks for 30 days. Wow. Thanks Sheetz. I'll be visiting. I also received my totally free digital camera today, a Kodak Z5010 that I "purchased" using Max Rewards points from Office Max. It's regularly $229.00. I'll be giving reviews after I play with it for awhile:)

Here's a link for a free-after-rebate neti pot from Arm and Hammer:

One of the things that we do in our family to save money is home haircuts; I cut Mike's hair and he does the boys. I conservatively estimate that we have saved well over $3000.00 in our married years. I even offered to let Mike cut my hair, but so far he has refused and I have relied on coupons. Anywho...we purchased a Wahl home haircut kit with clippers and scissors for $20 at Walmart nearly 20 years ago and it's still going strong. Get the very same kit now for under 10 bucks...here's how: http://www.southernsavers.com/2011/10/wahl-hair-cutting-set-20-pc-kit-for-9-77/ Go on youtube and find tons of how-to-cut-hair tutorials.

Get a free (facebook) sample of Nescafe Peppermint Mocha. MMMMMMM.:

Free sample of Dove leave in conditioner: http://www.dove.us/Products/Hair/Make-Friends-with-Your-Hair/Sample.aspx

Free sample of Garnier Color Shield Shampoo and Conditioner ( and you may have to cut & paste the link):

If you live on at least an acre of land, you can get the magazine "Living the Country Life" completely free! Click here: https://secure.livingthecountrylife.com/bhg/store/checkout/partner/index.jsp?promoCode=I0025LD33&_requestid=376294

The Bring Home the Bacon contest it almost half over, and thanks too many of you, I have remained #1 in NC and about 15th in the nation. Starting on November 1rst, the competition will increase exponentially.The top five in each state will be vying for the #1 position, so don't stop the votes! I really appreciate it.

(New River Gorge. Longest Arch bridge in the Western Hemishere, and a great park in which to picnic:)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

puffy doves and free stuff


This morning, sitting on my sofa drinking coffee, watching two gray mourning doves, feathers puffed fat, sitting on gray straight stick against rain gray and sky gray and I wondered why? Why don't they take shelter under the "wings" of the tree? Why do they sit in the silver gray wet rain, puffing to make big and keep warm? And I was reminded of me. Why do I not take shelter from One who longs to gather His children under his wings? Instead I sit, puffed, trying to stand against the cold rain. I am thankful. For mercy and grace and hope and promise of peace. He has never failed. Not once. I fail daily. Thankful. That's what He wants. And when we are thankful, joy comes. No other way. It must be in that order to be most beneficial. Not joy and then thanks, but thanks and then joy. The harder the day, the harder thankful is, but the bigger the joy when we choose to say YES and be thankful for the hard.


Free sample of Find Your Bliss body wash: http://www.find-your-bliss.com/

Free sample pack of Cream of Wheat here: http://www.creamofwheat.com/sample/

Join the AuBonPain email club and get a free travel mug! Look for the link: http://www.aubonpain.com/

I don't post a lot of sweepstakes, but this one is for free groceries for a year...you never know:

Paul at http://www.iheartthemart.com/ (a great site dedicated to finding deals at Walmart), has been working diligently with the Mart to try to get a day a week of double coupons. When I was in college in Marion, IN in the 90s, the Walmart there doubled one day a week and it was wonderful!  Would love to see them bring it back. You can sign a petition here. It will link you to a site where you can give a donation to "ipetitions", but that is not necessary...just skip that screen. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/we_want_doubles/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=system&utm_campaign=Send%2Bto%2BFriend

And thanks for your daily votes in the contest...half way there!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Food wants vs food needs....free keurig coffee...and the giveaway WINNER!

My computer is still in an off again/on again mood, and being hunkered down in my frugal state right now, I really have no desire to take it to the shop, consequently, my time spent on here has been less, which isn't a bad thing after all.  I'm continuing on in my quest to cull out the clutter in my home, a bag here, a box there and my things are finding better places to live. It's really a great feeling. Much like going on a diet! I'm also making a conscious effort to be more grateful. It's harder than you think. At least for me. I find myself falling into the trap of grumbling and complaining far too easily....so today...I'm...


Ahhhhh, fall: cool days and pretty leaves. We did finally have to turn on the heat for a few hours yesterday...but I'm thankful that I can do that so easily. I'm thankful that God is in control and I'm not, I'd surely make a mess of things. I mean, I already do in my own little world, I can't imagine having the whole universe to deal with!


A big part of being thrifty is just learning to get by with less and really figuring out wants vs. needs. I looked in my grocery cart at Aldi this week and thought about how many items were wants: juice boxes, chips, pretzels, coffee, soda, hot sauce, hazelnut spread, cold cereal...you get the idea. Everything becomes so blurred in our land of plenty. Yes, I have to eat, but I don't need name brand cold cereal. Come to think of it, I don't need cold cereal at all...oatmeal or corn meal muffins are so much cheaper. Think your kids won't eat basic, bland foods? Try this. The next time they want a pop tart because they are "starving," tell them to eat a bowl of oatmeal, an apple or a bunch of carrot sticks instead. If they refuse, they really aren't THAT hungry, they just want to eat.  Ask yourself the same question. I eat for many reasons, seldom is it for true hunger. It may seem nit-picky, but if frugality becomes a harsh reality in your life, you need to examine every area, even the tough ones.

There are some great deals at Office Depot again this week. Many, many items that are free after rewards, but perhaps the best deal this week for coffee lovers is free 18 pack keurig cups!  You can pick up 2 boxes every day all week. Very nice! Look for the banner on the top of the page for details: http://www.officedepot.com/

And as promised, I have a winner in this month's giveaway! I have several items for the next 2 months, the item and the winner are chosen randomly:  Drum roll....

Winner is: pescel11@. I don't know who you are, so I'll be emailing you directly and you'll have 72 hours to respond before I pick another winner! This month's prize is a brand new stainless steel crock pot, the ultimate frugal appliance! Congratulations!! Make sure you become a subscriber or follower to be in on next month's giveaway!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bippity Boppity Blog Part 1--Saving money at Disney and beyond...

I have been pondering how to write a post about saving money in the Orlando area for quite some time now, and have decided that it is going to warrant more than one post! Our family has been to the Orlando area two times. The first time we went in 2008, and we went again this year. Our first trip was our biggest, and at the time, I thought it would be our only trip there. I planned for nearly nine months; the six of us spent 9 days, but we did EVERYTHING, and that's not too much of an exaggeration! So, here are a few tips from someone who's been there, done that...I would LOVE to get your input on this one so that we can all help each other.

Next to theme park tickets, crazily enough, one of your biggest expenses will be food. This is often something that we don't plan well for enough, if at all, and the theme parks count on this. Once you are inside the parks, there will be a great temptation to pull out the credit card and spend $50-$75 or more per meal. I know for many folks, eating out is a big part of the vacation, and they'll go in extra debt to do it. It's very hard to say "NO" when you are at the happiest place on earth! Resist! Personally, I would rather spend my money seeing/doing something new and save in the food department...and then enjoy myself the day the credit card bill arrives. While I may be a minority on this, I can give you some great tips on how to save. Many of these are from experience, a few from others:

1. Stay off site in one of the bazillion hotels close by and get one that has free breakfast included! Eat a lot for breakfast!!
2. Be sure to fill up your refillable coffee mug that you brought with you while you are at breakfast!
2. Get a hotel/rent a home that at minimum has a mini-fridge and a microwave, if not a full kitchen and take advantage of them! The second time we went, I had a voucher for a free hotel stay, and it didn't have either. The first thing we did was make a Wal-Mart run and I bought a cheap styrofoam cooler, milk and a few other frig items. We used ice from the ice machines in the hotel. Saved a BUNCH of money.
4. If you are flying, consider ordering a case or two of water or juice from Sam's, Cosco, Walmart or Amazon and having it shipped to your hotel...no baggage fees! Drinks are incredibly overpriced everywhere you go.
5. If I understand correctly, you are now allowed to bring food into the Disney theme parks (woot!). This will be a great help to us frugal types who think that paying 4 bucks for Coke is highway robbery. Eat your big breakfast at the hotel, bring lunch into the park, and eat supper after you leave the park.
6. Before you go, purchase an attractions book for the Orlando area. http://www.attractionsbook.com/ This will give you lots of dining options.
7. Also check at http://www.restaurant.com/ for some great deals in Orlando.
8. If you don't want to carry around a water bottle, you can ask for a cup of water at a restaurant. They should give you a cup for free even if you aren't buying a meal.
9. If you do carry a water bottle, consider packing some individual flavor packs in your purse to add a little flavor to your day.
10. If you are driving, (or even flying), consider bringing your crock-pot to the hotel. Another option is buying one at a thrift store when you get there. At your first Wal-Mart run, buy canned soups, pastas or other easy crock-pot heat-ables from the deli section of the grocer and a loaf of fresh bread. Voila! A nice, inexpensive warm meal waiting for you when you get back at night! (I've never had a problem with the hotel staff on this one.)
11. The greater Orlando area has some lovely free parks and gardens (another post). Consider packing a picnic lunch and heading out for a day of reprise in the midst of the chaos.
12. If you are driving, stop at one of the many visitor centers when you cross into Florida and pick up lots of free visitor guides that are filled with coupons. Don't forget your free cup of OJ!
13. Go to http://www.plasticjungle.com/ and look for restaurant gift cards at a discount. Combine these with coupons you picked up and you have an even better deal.
14. Water fountains are a requirement. Enjoy.

If you do choose to stay on site:

15. On-site hotels often offer a deal where you buy a souvenir beverage mug the first day of your trip and get free refills (at your resort only) during the length of your stay. This little perk can save significant bucks if you prefer to get soda or coffee. However, bringing your own is still cheaper, and it's a long walk back to your resort!
16. Make lunch your big meal of the day. If you'd like to try some of the nicer Disney World or Universal restaurants, especially those in Epcot's World Showcase (the best place to eat at the parks, IMHO), book them midday, when prices are considerably lower than for evening hours.
17. Consider sharing entrees, which are typically huge. Kids can eat off mom and dad's plate.
18. Obviously be on the lookout for restaurants offering deals where kids eat free.
19. Want to try a classy, atmospheric restaurant? Book a 3 P.M. seating time and just have dessert. You'll experience the ambiance, get a pleasant sugar high and spend far less than the cost of a full meal.
20. Check out http://www.mousesavers.com/ and http://www.affordingthemouse.com/ for other ideas!

As I mentioned, I'd really love your input on this! Any other ideas on ways to save on food??

Thanks for continuing to vote for me! Much appreciated:)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Free Hat and Free Brita Water Pitcher...because you are awesome!

My computer has been acting possessed lately, hence the lack of blogging....but I needed a break anyway. Have you been getting freebies in your box? In the last week I've received Poise samples (these can be used as regular pads, by the way), Dove body spray, Bobbi Brown lip gloss, a coupon for free Zyrtec, John Frieda hair samples and several magazines! I just love getting free stuff, somehow it makes the bills a little more tolerable.

I have been diligently working at cleaning out some clutter from my home.  Last week I donated several bags of goods to the National Kidney Foundation; they do regular pick ups in the area. I also sold a sweater to Plato's closet, took 10 used ink cartridges in to Staples (will get a $20 rewards credit for that), andwent through all the closets looking for shoes for my shoe drive next month (more later.) This week my goal is to list 20 items on ebay and/or Craig's list. One little step at a time.

Here are a few great deals for you:

You are awesome...here's a hat to prove it! http://you.yovia.com/free-awesome.html

Allure is having free giveaways to the first 10,000 every day at 12 noon this week. Check out all the details here: http://www.allure.com/cs/promo/popupshop/giveaway.html

If you live near Walgreens and have been wanting to make the switch to filtered water without much cost, here is a chance to get a free Brita water pitcher! I've been using mine for 10 years now. Read the details at a another wonderful site:  http://embracingbeauty.com/2011/09/26/walgreens-free-brita-slim-pitcher/

Thanks to those of you who have been voting for me daily. I truly hope that I can return the favor one day!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pondering money...Free $10 from Ted Nugent's Sportsman Guide


At first glance, it would appear that the Bible is full of contradictions when it comes to money. On the one hand, Jesus tells his disciples to give up all they own to follow Him, not taking as much a two sets of clothes on their journey. No planning ahead; you will be cared for he promises--consider the sparrow (yes, Keith Ham, I still think of you when I read that), don't I care for them? So I will take care of you too. But then we are told to consider also the ant, who works industriously and stores up food for hard times. Or what of the rich man, who comes to Jesus and asks what he must do to get to heaven. Jesus tells him to sell all he has, and the rich man goes away sad. Harder it will be for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven, Jesus says. But wait...then he tells the parable about the talents...in this case money. One man is given five (I remember reading somewhere that this was well over 200 grand in today's dollars), one man two and one man only one. The men given the most double their money and are commended, the one with the least buries his in fear and has even that taken away and given to the richest man. The widow's mite,we are told, is more valuable to the Kingdom than all the money of the Pharisees, giving thousands and blowing trumpets to announce it. So what is the key? Two things, I think: the heart and the context. Jesus, God/Man, always knows our heart. He knows if He is more important than our "stuff." He knows when we are trusting and when we are worrying. He knew those first disciples had a job to do, and fast. He also knows it is prudent to plan ahead. What are we to do? Plan. Invest. Save. Give. Help. Worry less. Yes, all of them. Will he call you, like George Mueller or Mother Teresa to give up worldly goods to follow Him? Possibly. Does He want you to use your talents to make a lot of money and fund the next George Mueller? Maybe. One thing is for sure, He wants to be first in our lives and that will look a little different for each of us. I'm trying really hard to listen when He speaks, because, you know, He knows my heart better than I know it myself.


Do you have a sportsman in your life?? How about a free $10 gift shipped to your door? "Like" Ted Nugent's Sportsman Guide facebook page and get a $10 e-gift card sent to your email. You can use it for anything in the store...and apply it to shipping too! May be slow to load...keep refreshing the page.

How about a free Artisan's pizza from Dominos? They are giving away a set amount each day. Click here for details: https://www.facebook.com/Dominos?sk=app_220192758037547

Thursday, September 22, 2011

grateful for a day of saving...follow me...to freebies

Thankful and Thrifty.

"In everything....with thanksgiving.....make your requests known to God."

It's been a day of trying on this gratefulness-in-all-things: Follow me...that's the easiest way that I know how to teach you this frugal life....

~Grateful when the frig was leaking and I stepped in the puddle and got my sock wet (because I have a frig and it's not dead yet!)
~Grateful for the same reason when the dishwasher had the same problem.
~Grateful when my computer keeps freezing (I can walk to the library, after all...)
~Grateful that I had sense enough to return a new stovetop that I bought for half off over Labor Day weekend (I'm sure I can do better than 50% off, and that was $650 back on the credit card, which more than makes up for the days I'm not working this week!)
~Grateful for coupons for a FREE pumpkin latte at Dunkin Donuts and a FREE spicy chicken sandwich at Chick-fil-a. Yummm. Free lunch!
~Grateful that Plato's Closet gave me $7.20 for one of Abby's sweaters (she'll get the $:)...even if they turned away 10 other items.
~Grateful that I'm making headway in the "clean out the clutter" vow I took for fall. (see above)
~Grateful for 5 hungry men who'll be coming home soon, bellies all a grumble, covered in mud, full of bravado. Taco Casserole and salad coming right up!
~Grateful for the opportunity to bless others this week. (Have you done a good deed yet? It'll bless you, I promise!!)
~Grateful that I "spent 15 minutes on Geico" (and several other sites). It appears that I really will save us $500 or more on car/home insurance!
~Grateful that I went into Ollies today (for those who don't know what this is, think Big Lots). I spent about $15 on food and another $65 on Christmas gifts...a great start on the season!!
~Grateful for $124 worth of totally free-after-rewards items from Office Depot! Do you need to stock up on paper (to print free coupons) and batteries? Who doesn't? Be sure to print the $20 off $100 coupon first. Here's the link:
Free sample of Tom's of Maine new strawberry toothpaste for kids: http://www.startsampling.com/sm/tomsstrawberry102021/captureAddress.iphtmlitem=102021&source=ba-tom

~Grateful for all of you keeping me in first place in NC...nice! Thanks so much:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Of Dahlias and Potted Herbs; Lots of weekend freebies!

I did it! I read half of Ann Voscamp's book One Thousand Gifts. It is as wonderful as I knew it would be, and it is inspiring, after I got over being angry for really selfish reasons! As I suspected, the theme is gratitude. Giving thanks to God for ALL THINGS, but especially those things that we don't want to give thanks for. Stopping to give thanks, she says, forces us to live fully in the moment. She kept a list of one thousand things for which she was thankful, and it changed her perceptions of what was going on around her. This is a similar concept that was introduced to us in the 90s when Sarah Ban Breathnach wrote her bestseller Simple Abundance. She suggested keeping a gratitude journal (scrapbook) and filling it full of quotes and musings and magazine pictures that make us smile. Same idea, different author. (But I must say that Ann has a better grip on Who to thank....Sarah's god seemed a bit more ethereal than the living Christ!)

Thankful today?

Today I dug up some herbs that were left over in the garden next door when our neighbors moved. I didn't take them all! I left a good deal for whoever rents next. Here they are on my windowsill. We'll see how they fair:

I also stopped to admire all the beautiful flowers, and especially the dahlias, that my husband has planted and cares for meticulously. I'm thankful that he has a hobby that adds beauty to our home and doesn't just bust the budget:

And I'm ever thankful for the long growing season here in NC. Here is today's harvest. Not many more days for fresh tomatoes, I'm afraid!

I will be leading a group for like-minded frugal women at my church (Friendly Hills Church in Jamestown) starting sometime next month. I'm VERY excited about this opportunity!! We are having a free luncheon after church on Sunday inviting ladies to learn more about women's ministries at Friendly Hills, so be sure to stay after if you are interested. I'll post more details on the group as it all comes together.

My husband and I will also be hosting a showing of Chuck Colson's nationwide live simulcast, Doing the Right Thing. This will be held at Wesleyan Christian Academy in room 410, located at 1917 Centennial Street in High Point. Enter from the Eastchester side of the school across from the mall. It will be from 9-1:30 this Saturday, the 24th. Breakfast and lunch will be provided, but you need to email me at miketrishcliff@yahoo.com so we'll be sure to have enough food. There you go, 3 free meals in one weekend if you plan it right!!

Also, keep in mind that this Saturday is free museum day nationwide. Click here for a listing:

To honor our veterans, hundreds of inns and bed and breakfast around the country are offering a free nights stay on Veteran's Day, November 10/11th! What a great way to honor those who serve! Check out the link here: http://www.betterwaytostay.com/current-promotions/bbs-for-vets/

And yet one more freebie this Saturday and also Nov 11-13, over 100 National Parks will open their gates for free! Check out the details: http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm

Here's a link to a free subscription of Bass Player Magazine:

Thanks for voting! I am truly shocked at how well I am doing. I really didn't ever expect to make it this high up the scoreboard, and that is all your doing, whoever you are. Thank you so much! If nothing else, it's just a fun ride getting this far: http://www.cheapsally.com/profile/tricia-cliff/

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fighting Poverty 101

I've always had mixed emotions about the arbitrary lines our government draws concerning the "poverty level." Given the fact that our very poorest have so much more than many third world countries, it seems a slap in the face of humanity in general. Also, so much of the current welfare system in our country relies on these arbitrary lines drawn in the proverbial sand, causing hundreds to "work the system." Why get a better job when that will cause me to get less aid? Have you seen the movie Million Dollar Baby? It is a poignant scene when the star of the show, Maggie (played by Hilary Swank) earns enough money boxing to buy her mother a home and help her out of destitution, only to have her ungrateful mother refuse to sign the papers because she won't be able to get her welfare check anymore. I suppose there are those who would say this wouldn't happen in real life; they are wrong. I know some of them personally.

Most of you know that I grew up in rural Maine; this was and still remains a very economically depressed area. I didn't have hot running water until I was in middle school, I qualified for free lunches and my dad--and many other men--poached deer and other wildlife to put meat on the table. Still, we had more than many other neighbors, some of whom don't have indoor plumbing even now, and never, ever did I consider myself poor. I never remember being hungry, cold or without basic necessities. It wasn't until I applied for college and had to fill out financial aid forms that I discovered that I had grown up "in poverty." Yet, my parents were always generous to everyone around them. In other words, neighbors helped neighbors.

"Last week, the Census Bureau released new figures showing that nearly one in six Americans lives in poverty, a record 46.2 million people. The poverty rate, pegged at 15.1 percent, is the highest of any major industrialized nation, and many experts believe it could get worse before it abates." (from Yahoo News)

So there are those numbers again, telling us who is poor and who isn't. And the bottom line is, it's not going away soon, regardless of where we draw the line. So what can we do? Well, personally, I don't have to look very far to find someone I can help. I know many on a very personal level who can use a hand right now.In some respects, this is why I write this blog: to help others find creative ways to save money. And also to find creative ways to be grateful, because no matter how little you have, I can guarantee you that somewhere in this big old world, somebody has less.

So my goal this week is to find a different, concrete way to help someone each day. I have some ideas, and I won't blog about them because this is really a personal issue, but I do challenge my readers to help someone this week, even just one time, regardless of how strapped you are financially. Maybe you can't give money, but could donate a few hours at the homeless shelter or give a bag of clothes to a family you know who may need them.

I really think this is the heart of the American spirit, or at least it used to be. And if a neighbors can help neighbors, we'll get through this thing called "recession!!" Happy Giving!!

As always, thanks for voting for me! I'm up to #20 in the nation, second in the state. You all are the best!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Follow me!

Thankful and Thrifty:

What a beautiful, cool fall day! The whole family ran in a 5K race to benefit the heart center at my hospital. My men folk did great! Me? Well, I was just glad to finish and very happy that the money was going to a good cause.

Sometimes friends want me to teach them how to save money, and I wish that they could just follow me around for a couple of weeks, because, well, that would just be easier. Here are a few examples from my money saving day:

I picked up 5 loaves of whole wheat bread at the Merita Bakery Outlet for 80 cents a loaf.

I stopped at the library to return and pick up books and movies. Why rent? Hundreds of options available.

I had to pick up a few items at Wal-Mart. I had coupons for free scalloped potatoes and BOGO La Creme coffee creamer, which made it cheaper than generic half and half. I was craving a beef stew and have not seen a good sale on beef lately. I didn't really find one either, but I did manage to snag a small package of steak with a mark down sticker on it. I went heavy on the celery, potatoes and carrots. Served with hot cornbread  no one seemed to notice the scant amount of meat. I also made "chocolate chip" cookies with a bag of crumbled chocolate candy that I bought at the salvage store for 75 cents. Chocolate chips are getting so expensive.

I spent a couple of hours with my cousin again, redressing the hands. I love to listen to stories about life during the great depression, which was our subject of choice today. I realized as I listened how few people there are left who actually lived through it. I am blessed to know some of them. They have so much to teach us.

The boys and I are getting ready to snuggle under fleece blankets (I have a rule that I won't use the furnace before October 1...my husband doesn't always obey the rule:) and watch a movie! Cheap family entertainment.

Thanks for the votes www.cheapsally.com/profile/tricia-cliff/!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Freebie Friday! Gratitude continued...Dunrobin Castle


It wasn't that before our car accident I was an ungrateful sot, and it certainly wasn't that I didn't believe in God before then, it's just that something changed that day, and I am better because of it. My husband read a quote a few years back, I think it was by Chuck Swindoll, and while I don't remember the exact wordage, the gist of it was that you can measure a person's maturity in general (and particularly maturity in Christ) by how grateful they are, i.e. gratitude is the surest sign of a true relationship with God. Wow. I am so not there yet. I fail everyday...but like the great apostle Paul, I am learning to be content, and it is best learned in times of adversity. But we do have to learn this gratitude thing. Day by day. Hour by hour. Moment by moment. Because everything in us leans to selfishness.

And so, I really thought I was on to something fresh and new. I've been pondering the whole subject quite often these last few months (and years). This fall, just when I thought I'd have time, energy and enough thoughts to start really blogging about it, my husband gives me Ann Voskamp's New York Time's Best Seller, One Thousand Gifts, for my birthday this summer. He meant it to be a validation of what I was doing; he thought it was the perfect gift--but oh no, poor guy, it made me mad. I picked it up and read a page or two...and doggone if Miss Ann wasn't saying everything I wanted to say, and rather than feel validated, I felt dejected. I still haven't read it, isn't that crazy?? Ungrateful for someone elses gratefulness. The irony. Moment by moment.

So today, I'm thankful.
I'm thankful for not having to turn the furnace on...yet.
Thankful for a bag of bruised and shriveled apples that I turned into a delightful apple crisp.
Thankful for my cousin--90 years young. Today I went to his house to bandage his dog-bitten hands. We talked about the Sutherlands of Maine, in the area where we grew up. My great-great grandfather was a Sutherland. It's my dad's middle name, my son's also. So he tells me that this Sutherland crew came from Scotland. In fact, they are from Clan Sutherland, who happen to own this: Dunrobin Castle:
Yep, that's right. One of the most visited castles in Scotland today and it belongs to my kin. OK, so my cousin also told me that the Sutherlands had a rather sordid reputation; they ran off some of their own clan, burned their homes, and put them on ships to...you guessed it...New England. And my NE branch was dirt poor. But it's still a pretty nice thing to know.

Free Photo Journal (pay shipping) with the code WRITEITDOWN: http://www.papercoterie.com/promo/journals/

Free facebook sample of Infusium hair treatment:

Free sample of Bragg seasonings. Look on the left side of the page for the link: http://bragg.com/

Here's a link for a $10 rebate on the purchase of $50 worth of certain P&G products. This isn't that great in and of itself, but if you combine it with the $10 off $30 that drugstores are having right now (Walgreens this week) AND use sales and coupons, you can easily get 50-75% off! It's good until 10/31 http://www.pgpinkrebate.com/pink_rebate.pdf

And lastly...don't forget to vote today....thanks!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The beginning of deliberate gratitude.


I can tell you the exact moment when it happened, my first brush with living this life of true gratitude. I remember it so distinctly because it was such a shock. I was sitting beside my third child (in photo) in the emergency room at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. He had just drifted off to sleep, or at least into a drug induced stupor, as the morphine surged its way through his veins, calming the pain of a cracked vertebrae and a possible internal rupture...somewhere. My only daughter was in surgery, face smashed, back broken and bowels ruptured. My oldest and youngest sons were in adjoining rooms, one with a massive cut across his face and back fractures and both with (what we thought at the time) internal ruptures of their own. My husband had just been taken down for x-rays on an obviously broken hand. I leaned my head back against the wall. I don't remember having any thoughts at all. I guess I was in shock. We had been travelling to Michigan to visit family. It was Christmas Eve, 2008. We hit ice. We hit a cement wall. And in a 15 seconds, life changed. At this point, it had been about 5 hours since the wreck, and we had been transferred to this hospital. I had been told that all the children and my husband would be going to surgery. I didn't know anyone from Cleveland and we were 5 hours from the closest family and 8 hours from our NC home. I pulled off my boot, finally realizing my foot hurt. My sock was bloody. I quickly tucked it into my purse, wiping off the blood. No time for that. I leaned my head back again.

As I sat there, I became very aware of God's presence, and it was the strangest sensation because I wasn't praying or seeking or questioning; I wasn't sad or angry or hysterical, in fact I was incredibly calm. I am not by nature a "mystical" type person. I don't seek signs or wonders, but I do believe that God in Christ is very real and meets us where we are. At that moment I can only say that three unrequested thoughts entered my mind: I AM here, I AM sovereign, and I AM very, very good. What? I sat up and looked around. I had who often struggles with the goodness of God, especially when "bad things happen to good people."  A doctor came in, my husband was back, they were "reducing" his fingers in the next room, my youngest son was asking for me; I stopped to see my oldest on the way to the youngest.

The next 40 hours were a blur. Surgery after surgery. Doctor after doctor. 4 kids in the PICU on Christmas day, getting presents from people they didn't even know. It took time to process my ER awakening. To see it for what it was...a test, a gift, a thing of beauty that changed me from the inside out. About 3 days into the 21 day vigil, my husband and I had time to talk...and pray. We knew. We had to praise God though this whole thing even though we didn't know what the outcome was going to be. "Don't waste the car wreck," became our theme. It was a transformation that was for me both sudden and gradual, but months later my husband would say, "You've changed. You don't get angry at God anymore."

Angry at God? I didn't think I was. But he was right, and I had changed. And so began the gratitude journey...and this story will have to be continued...


Yesterday I realized I had a CVS ECB for $5 that was expiring, so I checked http://www.southersavers.com/ for the best deals (and I advice you to always do so before any shop at the "big 3" drugstores), clipped /printed my coupons and made my list. My husband I walked that way last night. I spent $11.00, saved $12, and got back $13 in ECB to use for next time. I purchased toothpaste, tampons, body wash and allergy meds.  This is part of my thrifty living. Always picking up the free stuff so I don't have to run out and pay full price.

Always find new ways to save. Even if you think you know them all, read one more book. You'll surely learn something; I know I always do.

Don't forget to keep voting...thanks!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What type of tightwad are you?? Knife Set giveaway coming up!

I don't know why I've always been fascinated with the economy, I really don't. First thing I look at in the paper is the business section, and it's not because I follow the stock market, I just like to read the headlines. Dow Jones up. Dow Jones down. Housing market halts. Jobs have slight uptick. Consumers still not buying. European market teeters on edge. You know, you see it too. But I'm guessing you don't read it first!

I've always been fascinated with money, and more precisely saving money. I've never had a desire to accumulate a great deal of it, it just has always pricked my interest. My mom used to give me her old check book ledgers to play with on my little white desk before I even went to school...no kidding! Ever since I doubled that first coupon back in Lincoln, Maine at the ripe ol' age of 12 (Anybody remember Wellbys Superdrug, beside Shop & Save?), I could never for the life of me figure out why anyone would pay full price for anything. That's not to say that I never do, it's just that I try awfully hard not to.

Through the ups and downs of the economy, I've noticed that there are several types of frugalistas. Here's my synopsis:

The "I'm only frugal because I have to be and as soon as the money's back, I'm spending!" In my not-so-humble-opinion, these aren't tightwads at all. They don't understand the concept, which is why they are usually in boatloads of debt and only start saving money to be able to spend again. Author Joni McCoy, (Miserly Moms), fits this category.

The "I love to get a deal, but only because I like really nice things and I want to buy more of them." These are the folks who still want to look rich, but don't want to spend lavishly. They appreciate the finer things in life and would rather have one really nice item than 5 generic alternatives. They generally shun debt. Authors Mary Hunt (Debt Proof Living),  Marjorie Harris (Thrifty)  and Dave Ramsey (Total Money Makeover) belong here.

The "Green is good, I am saving the world by being thrifty." This is a bigger movement than I'm sure I am aware of, but there are hundreds of blogs out there on the subject. These are the folks who will spend extra to buy organic and who wouldn't be caught dead with a Teflon frying pan. They are thrifty because they don't want to use precious resources, but it's really not about spending less, it's about consuming less. Thrifty Green by Priscilla Short fits here. 

The "I'm so cheap I'll do things that border on illegal just to save a buck." Now, IMHO, these guys sometimes go too far. I take great pains to try to be "above board" in all I do. John Hoffman (The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving) lives in this group. I have to admit, the book is funny...and yes, I've been a diver on a couple of occasions!

The "I'm living in grinding poverty and see no way out." This is truly the saddest place to be, because I believe there is a way out (at least in our county), but it's not an easy road and requires much work. I have seen this first hand (up close and personal) growing up in rural Maine.

The "I'm just thrifty because I like to be. I appreciate nice things, but I can do without them because I have greater goals in mind, and debt is the REALLY bad 4 letter word." This would be the Jeff Yeager (The Ultimate Cheapskate), Amy Dacyzyn (The Tightwad Gazette) and Steve & Annette Economides (America's Cheapest Family) crowd. Oh, and this would be me! So, of course, I'm a little partial to this brand of tightwad.

Now, obviously there is overlapping involved and sometimes folks move from one category to another, but no matter which way you slice the frugal pie, there's enough thrift to go around. And you can even have a cup of coffee with it (make mine generic!) In which category are you?

I haven't had a giveaway in quite some time, and have decided to set a goal. Right now I am at approximately 205 subscribers and 57 followers. If I can make it to 300 (combined) by October 1, I will randomly select one person to receive a brand new 14 piece knife set!
This will coincide with the beginning a great shoe drive I am planning to be a part of. The greater frugal blogging community is "pairing" up with http://www.soles4souls.com/ and http://www.flipflopwines.com/ (I know, a little weird, apparently because of their name, they are sponsoring the drive) to collect shoes to give to some of the world's poorest people. There is a contest involved (surprise) to see who can collect the most, but really, I'm just doing this one to help clean out my closet! My collection will run the entire month of October. So, while you're doing your fall clean-out, save a few pairs of shoes for me!! More info will follow.

And thanks to you, my blogger friends, I am advancing nicely in the Bring Home the Bacon Contest. Thanks so much for your votes of confidence, 3rd in state, 33rd overall. You really have no idea what this means to me! http://www.cheapsally.com/profile/tricia-cliff/

Monday, September 12, 2011

Unsettled...but thankful for the free stuff!

I have that unsettled feeling I get sometimes....don't like it, not one little bit...but I've learned (scratch that...am learning) that feelings are just feelings and I can choose what to do with them. Sooooo, I talked with my big sis, purveyor of sanity and sage advise, had a great time in the good book, prayed for wisdom (that's a constant) and now I'm dusting off my lazy self and my living room furniture, hanging my sheets on the line, going for a 3 mile run, returning a movie to the library, making dinner for my 90-year-old cousin who got his hands mauled by a dog he was trying to adopt, and then I'll pick up my boys, and go in to work for a 12 hour night shift thankful for a job as my hospital just cut 63 positions!

God is good...all the time! Here are some great freebies for you:

Free Kleenex cool touch sample: http://samples.target.com/

Free sample of Biker Bull leather therapy restorer:

Free sample of Crest white strips: https://www.pgeverydaysolutions.com/pgeds/crest/brandsampler-login.jsp

Facebook sample of Purina ONE catfood:

Do you live near a World Market? Sign up for their "Explorer rewards and get freebies on your birthday and free coffee!! https://www.worldmarketexplorer.com/benefits/

Thanks for keeping up the votes!