12/32/2021 Freebie Friday!

It’s Friday! And the last Friday of the year, and usually that would mean a blowout freebie and deal post, but not so this year. Between supply chain shortages, the uptick in the new variant, there aren’t tons of great freebies or deals, but I’m always on the lookout.

But, fear not friends, I’ve still got some good stuff for you!




Starting off 2022 Right: How to save money at the grocery store and beyond!

Saving money is my bag. It’s what I’m good at, and I’ve made a name for myself as the resident frugalista in many of my friend circles.

A lot of people want to save money as one of their New Years Resolutions, and with the price of everything going up (thanks to inflation and the global pandemic), it’s becoming more important for people to learn and use some frugality skills.

So let’s get started on saving you some money at the grocery store and other places as well. Since I’ve been writing about these topics since 2016 on various blogs, I have tons of great posts that will be linked to throughout this post.

Start by making a list of what you already have at home. I use inventory sheets that I made on Canva.  I have one for the Pantry, one for the fridge, and one for the freezer. They live in plastic page protectors, and I update them when I am cooking (or afterward). It makes seeing what we’ve got on hand a breeze.

  • Shop sales- Buy and eat what is in season. This doesn’t only mean produce. Various items are on sale during the year, usually to correspond with holidays. My list of sales cycles can be seen here.
  • Buy in bulk if you are able.
  • Utilize Store apps to save money- CVS, Walgreens, Target, Vons, Ralphs, Food4less, Sprouts, etc.) all have apps with digital coupons and savings. With a few clicks, you’ll be saving money without clipping coupons! This tip is a great way to save on cleaning supplies, health and beauty aids, and OTC meds. 
  • Utilize cash back apps. My list of favorites can be found here.
  • Take advantage of local farms and CSA’s. I love Yasukochi Farms CSA. They are a local farm and have great produce boxes.

Right now they are having a New Years Sale! Choose either a 1-month regular box subscription for $88, or a 1-month jumbo box subscription for $120. To learn more or order, check out their website.

For less than $30 a week, we get a big box of produce delivered to our door. It helps us stay on budget and eat healthy!

Basically, it boils down to being organized, which can be hard. Choosing 1 or 2 of the above to get started and adding them to your routine until they become second nature, and then adding in 1 or 2 more, and so on and so on.


Tryazon: Give a Room a Refresh with Deflecto

It’s time to love your space with the Tryazon Featured Party opportunity, from Deflecto. Featuring storage and floor protection products to transform your home. Stackable cube organizers make organizing easier, clean up the clutter, and stack to save space. The Deflecto FashionMat floor protectors come in three unique designs and are great for hard floors or flat pile carpets. Update your craft room, child’s room, or home office!

Tryazon has 100 hosting spots open for this opportunity! Those selected get to receive a party pack valued at $300+ with a variety of Deflecto products to share with friends and family! Learn more and apply here. 
We’ve been participating in Tryazon events for three+ years. We’ve gotten to try all sorts of fun toys, games, and food.  You can learn more about Tryazon here.

Free Food at Faith Chapel throughout 2022!

Pastor Josiah emailed this morning with some great news to share!

Faith Chapel will be having free food distributions on the 1st & 3rd Mondays throughout 2022 at 10:00am.

Faith Chapel
9400 Campo Rd.
Spring Valley, CA 91977

This is a drive-thru-style event, so you don’t have to leave your vehicles. The types of food vary, but in the past, there has been milk, cheese, eggs, canned goods, seasonal fresh produce, shelf-stable dry goods (beans, pasta, etc.).

In addition to free food, there is also a boutique open to be shopped at during these distribution times. Everything in our boutique is FREE and available to any guests that come through. You can find everything from clothes to household furnishings, kitchenware, toys, etc.

To speed up the food lines, please RSVP here. 

Chatterbox Opportunity: Try Maple from Canada

While mass-produced syrups come from highly processed ingredients, real maple syrup comes from mother nature. If it’s not real maple, you’re consuming loads of sugars, artificial flavors, and corn syrups which is what you’ll typically find in regular pancake syrup.

Apply to try Pure Maple Syrup from Canada and discover the sweet, delicious flavor of real maple. Use it as an alternative to sugar in a variety of dishes such as desserts, baked goods, beverages, and so much more!

If you are selected for this Chatterbox, you will receive:

  • 1 Bottle of Pure Maple Syrup from Canada
  • 3 Pure Maple Syrup from Canada recipe cards

You must apply and complete the required activity by January 18th to be considered.

Upcoming Project on Laundry $125

AO Opinions is another Market Research company that I get information from. Right now they are recruiting for an upcoming research study on the topic of Laundry.

  • To be considered, complete the pre-screener survey here. 
  • Date: Fri, Jan 7th, 2022
  • Compensation: $125 (if chosen)

Starting off 2022: It’s Budget Time!

Soo, the potato is crazy in the photo, but it made me laugh, so I included it.

As I mentioned in this post, we’ve got 7 posts coming through the end of the year to help you start 2022 off on a good foot.

I’ve talked a lot about budgeting before and not much has changed except that the cost of stuff keeps going up. Inflation is a bitch, y’all. And with wages not keeping up with the inflation, we’ve got to do what we can. We need to control the factors that we have to ability to control.

Setting up a budget takes time. You can do it all at once, but be prepared to spend a few hours working on it.

You’ll need:

Access to your bank account or bank statements for three months.

A Google Sheet page, or an Excel Spreadsheet

List of your monthly financial obligations. Here are just a few of those:

  • Mortgage/Rent (Our Mortgage payment includes impounds for our Homeowners insurance and property taxes)
  • Gas/Electric*
  • Gift Fund
  • Transfer to Savings
  • Life Insurance
  • Auto Insurance
  • Hulu
  • Car payment
  • Kids 529
  • Netflix
  • YMCA
  • Internet
  • Credit Card Balances
  • Student Loan Payments
  • Water Bill*
  • Groceries*
  • Fun Money (stuff to do with kiddos/girls nights in/date nights)*
  • Gasoline*

Of all of these categories, the only ones that have any difference per month are the ones I indicated with an asterisk (*). For Gas/Electric and the water bill, I averaged the cost over three months and used that amount for the budget.

The categories I included above are what is in my budget, you may have other items that my family does not. Some of the expenses such as Health Insurance and retirement savings come out of paychecks, so for our family, they are not included in our budget. You may wish to add them to your budget if you pay them directly.

Cash for some Budget Line Items: For items such as groceries, fun money, and gasoline I visit the ATM each week and take out cash. I paperclip the money for each budget line item together and keep them separate in my wallet. When the money is gone, no more spending.

Doing cash for those line items really helps me take a hard look at shopping for groceries (this is when cash back appscouponing, and price per unit knowledge all come in handy), and making sure that I am getting the best deal on gas (I have the GasBuddy app, it’s very useful). Any unspent money gets rolled over to the next week.

If you are discovering that you have too many bills and not enough money (and hey, it happens), trim where you can ( this article has some helpful suggestions), and if that’s still not enough, here are some Southern CA/San Diego based resources to help you.

Please do not be embarrassed to seek help. Resources are available to help you. If in the future you are able to give back, please do, but in the meantime, accept the help that is offered.

Next up, we’ll be talking about ways to save money on groceries and beyond. The beyond is going to be how to get toothpaste and health and beauty items for free (or really cheap) without turning into the stereotypical crazy coupon lady. Because clipping coupons out of ten plus newspapers each week is sooooo 2008. Seriously. I love to save money, but I don’t clip Sunday papers these days.

AO Opinions: Upcoming Project on Social Issues $350.00

AO Opinions is another Market Research company that I get information from. Right now they are recruiting for an upcoming research study on the topic of Social Issues.

This project is extremely specific, and most of us won’t qualify, BUT, if you know someone who might, please share this with them.

  • To be considered, please complete the pre-screener survey here.
  • Compensation, for full participation, if selected: $350.00

12/20/2021 Weekly Meal Plan (Holiday Edition)

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgIt’s the First day of Winter Break! WOO! We’re making cookies and relaxing, but this week will be packed with adventures, including play dates and zoo trips!

I did some cooking (and cleaning) yesterday. I’ve got some tasty treats coming up this week, including Christmas Eve Pizza!

We’ve been trying a lot of new foods lately, thanks to the really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for a kitchen inventory printable, I have made my own and you can find them for sale here on my Etsy Store.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. The Ancient Grain bagels from Einstein Bros. are the current family favorite. I pick them up on Mondays when a dozen is only $7. I slice them and freeze them to keep them from going bad too quickly.

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. I’m back to packing lunches again. However, school lunches are free this year- Little Bit has been buying her lunch and expanding her palate.

Dinner: I’ve got some tasty (and quick) meals planned for this week!

  • Monday: Nuggets, fresh fruit, noodles, or cheese toast 
  • Tuesday: Chicken enchilada casserole
  • Wednesday: Roasted Veggie Soup, popovers with butter
  • Thursday:  breakfast burritos, hashbrowns, fruit salad
  • Friday: Christmas Eve Pizza!
  • Saturday:  Early dinner with my mom (dad is still in the hospital, prayers are welcome)
  • Sunday: Leftover Fiesta

Please stay safe you guys!

Let’s Start Fresh in 2022!

Starting fresh means different things to different friends. For some, it’s New Years Resolutions to Eat Better, Lose Weight, Get Organized, Spend more time on Self-Care. Whatever Starting Fresh means to you, I’m here to help.

For me, Starting Fresh means grabbing new calendars for the kitchen, kid’s rooms, and my room (I have a bulletin board next to my vanity with a wall calendar so I can review each day while I brush my teeth in the morning). I update the calendars each month with appointments, days off school, birthdays, etc. I usually get free calendars in the mail towards the end of the year and use those. For the kitchen, I get a Holiday a Day calendar and use that- It’s a great way to include silly “national” days into the meal plan or weekend plans. Like National Pizza Day (it’s in February) or National Bake Cookies Day (that was yesterday- we’re celebrating today).

Other Ways I Start Fresh Each Year (and keep it going through the year):

  • Inventory my Fridge, Freezer, and Pantry (and donate/share any unwanted still-in-date food). You can buy my inventory sheets here on Etsy.
  • Deep Clean/ Organize one area of the house each week. Start small. I start with the front coat closet.
  • Clean my car out. If you are a parent, you know. I take a laundry basket and a trash bag down to the car, and once the trash is out, and the stuff that needs to go into the house is in the basket (and back upstairs), I take my car to the carwash and pay $20 to have someone else wash and vacuum the car (and clean the windows inside and out).
  • Get rid of stuff that no longer serves you. I like to start in my closet. It’s a great chance to weed out clothes that no longer fit or serve me, and I can donate or share them.  I tend to do one area a month. I work on it for 10-20 minutes a few times a week, so it is not a mental burden.
  • In the same vein, do a toiletry/beauty/makeup purge. Travel-sized/sample-sized toiletries can be donated to homeless or domestic abuse shelters or local rehab/inpatient centers. Makeup and personal care items do expire (check out this article from Insider for more deets). If it smells weird or has a strange texture- toss it!
  • Space out Appointments or other “Adulting” tasks. As someone who had two mental/behavioral health appointments, an IEP Meeting, and a doctor’s appointment last week, I can assure you I was mentally and physically exhausted. As it was the end of the year, provider time was limited, so I didn’t have much of a choice, but going forward, I’m limiting myself to 1-2 “Adulting”/appointments per week. Otherwise, it is overwhelming and everything else, like tasks of daily living, gets pushed aside (shower, what’s that?).
  • Spend time Doing Stuff I Like. Yeah, seems weird? Spend a little time doing something that makes you happy. Play a game on your phone for 10 minutes, read, do a craft, work on a project, play Legos with your kids, go for a walk.

A content creator I really like, Rayna Cohen put it simply, ” Allow yourself to enjoy the new energy of the new year.”

My kid’s school sent out a Kindness Calendar for January. I plan on incorporating some of these RAOK throughout January and beyond.

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about how you are Starting Fresh for 2022!