Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Finding Normal Again by Way of a Little Productivity

I feel like I am lifting out of the fog a bit today.  Does anyone else ever have those days...weeks...months when you just feel a little off?  A little not quite yourself?  You look around your home or at your children and realize you just feel a bit disengaged?  I think I have been there for a while and didn't even realize I'd been hanging out and getting comfortable in it.

Can anyone else relate?  Is it the never-ending demands on the SAHM that can make us feel this way?  Is it the "Groundhog Day" type of repetition in the daily routine that makes me more prone to sliding down into the funk?  It isn't anything that I would call depression, not even unhappiness, really.  It is just a sense of apathy that seeps into my bones and keeps me from enjoying my day, my children, my home, my husband, my LIFE the way that I really want to be.

It seems to effect many aspects of my life.  I don't engage in relationships in a way that helps them foster and grow.  I find that I am much too content to sit on the couch and watch more sitcom reruns and daytime court TV than is really healthy.  I allow housework to build up around me and I find it difficult to work up the motivation to exercise or eat the way I should...which sometimes leads the numbers on the scale to creep in a direction that is really disheartening.  I find that I am less spiritually in tune.  My Bible may go several days without being cracked open and my prayer time may become all but non-existent.  I am not engaging with my children in any meaningful ways, which often leads to THEM watching way more television than is typically advised.  When I am not at my best, my family is not at its best.

The hardest part seems to be recognizing when I get to this point.  It is difficult to see the pit for what it is when you are down in it.  The next most trying task is to begin pulling myself out of it.  It usually starts with a decision.  A decision to turn off the TV, to pick myself off the couch and begin plugging back in.

We were out of town for the 4th of July weekend, and I have just been getting by since we have come home.  Today I looked around and realized I had sunk back into apathy.  It was time to pick myself off the couch and make a change.  I started with opening up my Bible and doing some extra reading.  I don't know why I am always amazed by how re-engaging spiritually has the ability to energize me to take charge in other areas!  After breakfast it was time to put my house back in order.  No more avoiding.  Time to get things done.  I don't think my house has been this clean for the past two weeks!  Does anyone else find it invigorating when your environment is clean and ordered?  I spent my morning cleaning, vacuuming, putting away laundry and it felt great.

I got a start on mowing the lawn, but I got rained out.  Oh well, it gave me the opportunity to sit down in front of the computer and write a new blog post:)  I get to sit and reflect on what I have accomplished so far today...and not just housework.  I got to take the first steps back towards Normal.  I am reminded that I need to take a little more time for myself.  I need to take more time to enjoy my children.  I need to be more intentional about staying connected with my girlfriends.  I need to remember to take opportunities to date my husband.

Today is a reset.  I think I am going to have my 6-year-old pick out a book and have her read it to me.  Tonight I am going to have a Girls Night with some very good friends.  But right now, I think I am going to go back outside and mow the lawn.  The rain has stopped and the clouds are clearing...and not just in the sky.    

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Some of This Mom's Favorite Ways to Save While Online Shopping

So I thought I would take a little time out this afternoon to share with you some of my favorite online money-savers.  From coupon codes to rebate checks, there are so many ways to make your dollar stretch when shopping out in the vast world wide web.  Odds are good you are familiar with some of these sources, but perhaps not all!  Feel free to click on any of the links provided below and check them out.

Ebates.com is a great place to start your online shopping experience. It is a website that pays you cash back when you shop online (up to 26% back!) Ebates works with 1,700 stores including Expedia, JCPenney, Kohl's, Home Depot, Best Buy, Groupon, and Walmart, so odds are good you will find some of your favorites.  
How does it work?  Simply go to Ebates first and select the store you wish to shop.  You will be redirected to the website and Ebates will track any purchase made and you will start banking up rebates in the percentage that is represented on Ebates.com In addition to cash back, Ebates has thousands of great coupons, free shipping, and special offers from its stores to help you get a great deal.  
Membership at Ebates is free and there are no forms to fill in or points to redeem. You get paid cash back for shopping by check or Paypal. As an added bonus, when you use the link above, you will receive a $5 bonus when you make your first purchase! It perhaps won't cover a mortgage payment, but since becoming a member, I have received checks totaling up to $102.67.  Who doesn't love a little extra fun money?

RetailMeNot.com also needs to be in your savings arsenal.  It is the world's largest digital coupon marketplace.  If you are not already armed with a coupon code when you head to a website, you absolutely MUST check with RetailMeNot before doing your final checkout.  I ALWAYS search for a coupon code whenever I see there is a place to enter one.  I often am able to save anywhere between 10%-30% simply by taking that extra step.  I also have found that if you cannot find a coupon code at RetailMeNot, odds of finding one elsewhere are slim to none...believe me, I've tried!

Zaycon Foods is a way for you to buy quality food for your family in bulk at great prices.  I am new to this, but I am excited about the great deals!  The way it works is you go online to ZayconFoods.com and create your account.  You will then be able to see the upcoming "Events" in your area.  Some of the events include: Ground Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Pork and Fish.  Choose your event and place your order.  On the day of your local Zaycon sales event, you bring your order confirmation to a designated location (in my case it is a church) and you get your fresh, delicious, nutritious food!  They cut out the grocery store middleman so your product is fresh, direct from the producer.  This service is not ideal for everyone. Because they sell product by the case, you must be willing to devote a certain amount of time and effort to prep and portion your products for consumption and storage (a vacuum sealer will be your friend!).  I think the prices are worth it and my family can go through a case of chicken breast fast enough that I don't worry about losing it to freezer burn:)

Online Consignment Shopping Options:  
Twice and thredUp are both online consignment boutiques that sell carefully screened used clothing.  Twice offers quality women's clothing items while thredUp offers accessories, shoes, handbags and children's clothing in addition to women's clothing.  I am totally obsessed with this new way of "thrifty" shopping!  The selection is constantly changing and I have saved so much money on brands that I would not typically wear because they are usually out of my price range.  
I have also earned some cash cleaning out my own closet (which I, of course, have used as credit towards my purchases but you can choose to cash out through PayPal if you prefer).  If you want to get paid to de-clutter, you can go to either website and request a free shipping bag and send in your own gently-worn items (they do carefully screen items for quality so do not expect to get paid for every item you send in).  In full disclosure, I have used the thredUp clean out service and I have been pleased with what I have received for compensation.  I have not used the Twice service so I cannot comment on their selling program (if you give it a try, please come back and leave a comment and let me know about your experience!).  
If you are new to these sites, using the links above will provide you with a $10 credit for your first purchase on either site.  

Finally, there is Amazon Mom and Amazon Subcribe and Save.  These are both ways for you to put products you buy often on auto-delivery and save some money in the process.  When you join Amazon Mom, you can take advantage of 30 days of free Two-Day Shipping with Amazon Prime, 20% off diapers, other promotions for parents, and a free trial of Prime Instant Video.  With Subscribe and Save, you can save up to 15% on grocery and household items and never have to worry about running out since you decide how frequently you want deliveries.  I used this for years when my girls were in diapers and it was consistently the best price around for my prefered Luvs diapers and Pampers baby wipes.  I also think it is great for other items like cleaning products or multi-vitamins.  Shop around and when you find one of your favorite products at a great price, start your subscription and forget about it!

I hope you give some of these money-savers a try.  Let me know what you think and if you have any great wallet-friendly websites or tricks, please leave a comment below and let us know about it!  I am always on the lookout for the next way to stretch a dollar.  Hopefully I will continue to find new ways to save and this will be just the first installment of frugal hints and tips.  So to all my fellow Home Economists out there, Good Luck and Happy Saving!