Sunday, January 25, 2009

my newest hobby


I think I've mentioned before that I do NOT like paying full price for things. I have to be getting some kind of deal on it. Even if it's just 10% off, free shipping if it's online, or knowing that I'm getting the best price I possibly can.

I've always liked buying groceries on sale or using a good coupon here and there. But, now I've entered a whole new world. It all started with a friend who posted some good Albertson's sales on her blog. Then from her blog I found other blogs about sales/coupons. So, for the past two weeks I've been clipping coupons and catching good deals at the store. I love keeping up with the blogs because they find the deals for you and write about them. It sure saves me time!
Here are the blogs I've been following:

Deal Seeking Mom
Frugal Chic Living
I am Frugal
Money Saving Mom
Penny Mavins
The "Cent"sible Sawyer

There are a ton of money saving blogs out there. I can't really follow anymore that those because they post a lot! But if you know if a really awesome one, let me know.

My best deals so far? Free 7-up, Popcorn for $.50/box, juice for $.50/bottle, oatmeal for $.50/box, almonds for $1.23/can, mascara for $2 that was originally $7, and so much more. One of my best deals of all time was getting 3 bean bag chairs for the kids for a total of $10.00! I found them at a thrift store and they were in great condition. I just need to add a little more filling and they'll be perfect!

My favorite stores for great deals? Albertson's, Walgreen's, Kmart, and Target. There's a cool grocery store in Billings too... Mr. Thrifty's (discount grocery store). I know I'll be stopping there every time I come to Billings for a visit.

My #1 rule? Only buy stuff you NEED or buy on a regular basis! It's so easy to see that something is pretty cheap and WANT to buy it even if you don't need it. I have to remind myself of that A LOT. If I wouldn't normally buy an item, I don't want to even waste $.50 on it.

I've been pretty restricted the past few weeks on what I can buy because we're not in our house yet and I have no where to put it. I also can't really remember what kind of storage space I'll have in our house either... I know there isn't really a pantry. But, I can't wait to see the damage I can do when I actually have somewhere to put my bargains!!!

With that being said, here is something pretty awesome I saw on my friend's blog:

Quoting from her site (moneysavingmom.com),

"I don't know about you, but I do a lot of searching online. If I need to find the answer to just about anything, Google is my best friend.
So when Lavonne told me about Swagbucks--an online search engine that rewards you for searching online--I was all ears. Especially when she told me she had earned enough in Swagbucks in the last four months to receive hundreds of dollars in gift cards.
I did some investigation and learned that Swagbucks is very simple to sign up for. In fact, it takes all of about one minute. There are no fees, no credit card required, and no phone number or address requested.
After that, you are credited 3 points to your account and then download the toolbar and every day as you're searching online, you earn a few more points. After only 45 points earned, you can get a free Amazon gift card. Or at 50 points, you can get a Starbucks gift card. There are dozens of other prizes, too.
Now, you might be thinking, "What's the big deal if I only earn a $5 gift card every month?" Well, you're right, $5 isn't that exciting. It's something, but that's only the beginning. You see, your earnings will exponentially multiply when you refer others.
Do you know anyone else who searches online? I thought so. Well, tell them about Swagbucks, send them your referral link, and you'll not only instantly earn more points when they sign up, you'll also earn points for the searching they do online.
Tell lots of folks and you're well on your way to funding your entire Christmas budget with free gift cards from Swagbucks. I'm not kidding you, that's exactly what Lavonne did. See her post here with the details.
For those of you who have blogs, you'll especially want to jump on board with this. It's free, it won't take much of your time to do, and it could generate a nice stream of gift cards in your mailbox.
I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty sweet to me! So what are you waiting for? Go click on my link at the bottom of this post and I'll get credit for it too!!


Here's my referral link! http://swagbucks.com/?cmd=sb-register&rb=311887

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

We have a home!


I decided that I can FINALLY post about finding a home. We've actually known about it for quite some time now, but I wanted to make sure it was REALLY going to happen before I posted. Now that we have the closing scheduled, I figured it was pretty solid.

We bought a manufactured home that is simple and cute. After realizing that renting was not an option (the cheapest we could find was $1400 and it was either a complete junker or a 2 bedroom apartment), we met with a realtor and started looking at homes. Well, we only needed one day to look because there were really only three houses in our price range to choose from! One was a HORRIBLE and unlivable foreclosure. I felt like I was on one of those cable TV shows where the realtor shows a disgusting house and tries to make it seem wonderful! It was bad. Our second option was a really nice newly built home. The price was a little more than we would have liked, but it seemed really great. However, it was extremely close to a train track! We were touring the house and a train went by blowing it's horn and literally shaking the house. I almost burst out laughing as the realtor is continuing to talk over the sound of the train as if nothing was happening! Then two more trains went by during the time we were there! We're still laughing about that. Our third option was a new manufactured home. We had looked at several before (there are a lot in the area) and weren't sure if we wanted to go in that direction. But we went to a new company and looked at their homes. We were pleasantly surprised that we liked them and decided this was basically our only option...so went with it!

We hadn't even wanted to buy a home to begin with because we didn't feel financially ready. But, we got a great deal on our loan because we are first-time home buyers. A house like ours would probably rent for $1500-$1800 a month. Buying was a much better option. Gillette has a really complicated housing situation!

I don't even know where to start with what happened after that. It has been the longest and most stressful process of my life! We signed a contract right before Thanksgiving and were told it could be ready by Dec. 5. We were so excited! Now we realize we NEVER should have believed that...what were we thinking!? It was fantastic weather when we signed the contract, but no work got done on the house. (The actual house was already in Gillette, they just have to move it to our lot and set it up) Then they told us it could be done before Christmas. BUT, we had those frigid frigid temps. and of course very little got done. Then we started wondering....should we just back out of this deal? But what else can we do? We couldn't think of anything. And we thought we were already far enough into it that we might as well wait it out.

I started calling them about every other day asking what they were doing and when they would be done. Tom even called and chewed them out too. Of course they made it sound like things were moving along GREAT...then we'd drive by and not much would be done. GRRR we were so frustrated. I told Tom,"I am NEVER EVER in a million years, going to build a home!" I guess we know what all the frustration with contractors is all about now. We aren't even building an entire home and we were stressed beyond belief. I guess if you have LOTS of time to wait for a house to be done, then you might be ok.

Anyways, that is the short version of what happened. Finally things have been wrapping up this week. We've scheduled the closing for next Wednesday. I can't wait to get in our house and just put all of this behind us and MOVE ON with our lives. Not to mention we've been living with Tom's sister and my parents for nearly 5 months now. It makes me sick thinking about the burden we've been on them for 5 months of their lives. I don't even know how to thank them or show them how much we appreciate their generosity. I feel like we owe them so much for what they have done for us! So, THANKS GUYS!!! I know we'll be thanking them a lot for weeks to come.

Wish us luck on the move!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A few recent photos that I like:

Little Angel after her bath.

I put Jordyn in the middle of the living room and over the course of about 30 minutes, she slowly scooted all the way over to the TV and put her legs up on it. She's watching "Sit and be Fit" on PBS. I guess she likes exercising with old people!

Ok, this is really random, but it cracks me up. This picture is a package of Jordyn's wipes. Notice that you don't get 70 wipes anymore... you get 72! I'm so glad I get two more wipes! haha I guess it gets me to smile every time I see it. And by the way, these wipes are awesome. Jordyn's medical insurance covers them (and her diapers!) and they are about 3 times the size of dinky regular wipes. We love 'em.

My two cute guys. We were just having fun taking pictures the other night. (Don't mind Evan's nerdy haircut! I took him to the cosmetology school and I don't think I like it too much.) The bottom left picture is Evan with his "blanky". He uses the yarn from the quilt to tickle his nose. He's done this since he was very little. I'm glad I got a picture of it to remember. Geesh, it tickles my nose just looking at it! How does he stand it?!

Our sweet snowman! I made this, I mean... Evan and I made this snowman the other day. It was pretty fun!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Indoor Water Park

A few weeks ago we met Tom's mom and sister at the new indoor water park here in Billings. It was a pretty awesome place! Finally something new to do in the winter time. The kids had a blast and we did too! They had two big slides for the grown ups and Tom and I both agreed they were some of fastest slides we had ever been down... which was way fun! They also have a wave pool and a huge play area for kids with two little slides and all kinds of water features.

The photo below is blurry, but I thought it was so cute of them!


Jordyn having fun. In the photo below she was watching the huge bucket of water dump on everyone. (It was one of the kid's area water features)

Linda's boys Cole and Clay. Her nephew Trent in the middle.

Jordyn even got to go down a slide which she never gets to do! This slide was perfect for her. She seemed to like it. She really loved the wave pool though. We sat for a long time where the waves would splash up on our laps.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Welcome 2009


I love our New Year's Eve tradition. We get together with all the family who is in town, eat finger foods, and play games. This year it was my mom and dad, Todd, Susan and Kurt(and their two girls), and Kurt's mom Jane. Tom wasn't able to drive up which I was really bummed about!

I really LOVE our dinner of finger foods. I have to say it may be one of my favorite meals of the whole year. It varies from year to year, but this year a few of the foods we had were: pigs in a blanket, lil' smokies, deviled eggs, stuffed mushrooms, crackers w/ jalapeno artichoke dip, bread w/chicken salad, cranberry almond green salad, fruit, veggies and dip, and dessert too.

We played Bingo with the kids and then the adults played train track dominoes and Apples to Apples.

My mom and dad playing dominoes.


Elizabeth and Jane playing Bingo.


Evan just wanted to spin the Bingo numbers.


"B - 21!!!"


BINGO!


Evan, Elizabeth and Katherine.


The party animals: Mom, Jane, Dad, Kurt and Susan.

Happy New Year!






Sledding


The kids got a little sled for Christmas. When it was finally warm enough outside, we took Evan for his first sledding adventure. We thought it was still too cold for Jordyn and Carter to come along... and they were sleeping anyway.
So, this first picture cracks me up. You can see that Tom is heading towards a small mound a.k.a. "the sledding hill". Now you're probably all squinting or trying to enlarge the photo to see what I'm talking about. This park is one block from the home I grew up in and we went sledding on this "hill" our entire lives. I honestly can't believe how small it really is! It seemed like when we were little we were flying down the hill so fast and we had so much fun! Seriously... could it have shrunk? Oh well, it's a good hill for a two year old I guess!


Good thing it's only one block! Pulling a kid through the snow is harder than you think!






Evan was a little more interested in playing on the playground equipment than sledding. He would FLY down the slides because they were cold and slick! And he had a great landing spot in the snow at the bottom. He loved it!



The first movie is Evan going down one of the slides. The second movie is when we told Evan that it was time to go home...he wasn't very happy.




video


video