Simple Solutions – Creative Gift Wrap

Whether you are tight on time or tight on money, using the comics from your Sunday newspaper can be a great way to inexpensively wrap a child’s gift. Plus, it is an earth-friendly solution to repurpose the newspaper to have another use before going into the recycling bin or trash can. Comics are colorful and serve the purpose of covering the gift until present opening time. Kids themselves have commented to me on what a good idea it is!

More gift wrap money saving tips:

Reuse gift bags and bows that are still in great shape.

Check your local dollar store for great deals on tissue paper, greeting cards, gift bags and gift wrapping supplies, such as tape and scissors.

Never pay full price for gift bags or wrapping paper. I have always had good luck finding wrapping paper deals after Christmas, as well as on sale periodically at drug stores or on clearance at Target.

Be creative! You can also use plain paper lunch bags (decorated somehow, possibly by your kids), baskets or metal tins to “wrap” your gift.

Making Money Monday – Selling on Ebay Continued…

As I have previously posted, selling on Ebay has been a wonderful way to make some extra money while being a stay-at-home mom. Last night, I sold four more items, which like last week, totaled around $30, plus shipping. I have found Sunday nights to be the best day for auctions to run out, so I usually list items on Tuesday nights for five day listings or on Sunday nights for seven day listings. This week I sold another child’s Halloween costume, an Abercrombie & Fitch shirt and two brand new cosmetic items that were gifts with purchase.

If you are a fellow stay-at-home mom, unemployed or just looking for a way to make a little extra cash, I encourage you to give Ebay a try. You are in control of how much or how little you sell and it puts cash in your hand very quickly for items you no longer need. Added bonus – less clutter at home!

Other ways to obtain items to sell on Ebay:

Sell for others. You may know other busy moms or individuals who just don’t have the computer know-how or interest in listing items. Sell items for them for a percentage of the profit. Win-win – you both profit!

Purchase low-cost, brand name items at consignment sales, garage sales or thrift stores. Many times you will find items with tags still hanging on them or pre-owned, but in like new condition. I have turned a $4.00 Vera Bradley purse into a $30.00 Ebay sale. Keep your eyes open for opportunities like this.

Reward Yourself with MyCoke Rewards – Free Magazines, Gift Cards & More!

As promised, I am continuing my series on the various reward programs currently available. I have participated in MyCokeRewards for a couple of years now. Participation is super easy -this is how it works:

Register at www.mycokerewards.com.

Each time you purchase a coke product, it will have a code under the bottle lid or printed on the inside of the 12 and 24 packs. Go to www.mycokerewards, log in to your account and enter the code.

After you accumulate a certain number of points, you are eligible to redeem prizes. Click here to view the rewards currently offered.

It is THAT easy! So far, I have used MyCokeRewards to get various magazine subsciptions for free, such as Redbook, Oprah and Fitness. MyCokeRewards also offers gift card rewards for Nike, Chuck E. Cheese, K-mart and more. Check it out…if you are going to spend your hard-earned money to drink the Coke products, you might as well get rewarded for it!

Tonight’s Tasty Treat – Monkey Bread

What an EASY, yummy dessert I made for my family tonight! You may recall from a previous post, that I picked up several cans of canned biscuits last week for $.30 during Super Double Coupons at Harris Teeter. As I scanned my refrigerator for dessert ideas, these stood out. I had all other needed ingredients on hand. So, it was not only easy to make, but very inexpensive, as well.

Monkey Bread

1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sugar
3 cans of biscuits
1 stick of margarine, melted
1/2 to 1 cup of chopped nuts (optional)

Combine sugar and cinnamon. Lightly dredge biscuits (one at a time) in melted butter, then coat with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Put into bundt pan standing biscuits on side, repeat with all biscuits. You might have to sqeeze to get them all to fit within the pan. Combine leftover butter and sugar/cinnamon mixture and pour over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Best served hot.

Note – I don’t own a bundt pan, so I used a loaf pan (as shown in the picture). Therefore, I only used one can of biscuits, as opposed to the three cans the recipe called for, and it worked out great.

Reward Yourself with Swagbucks

Earlier this year, the name “Swagbucks” kept popping up on websites I frequently visit. I eventually decided to check it out and I absolutely love Swagbucks!

In a nut shell, you register (for free) at Swagbucks.com and then use the site for your web searches, take daily polls, surveys, etc. While you get a small one point reward each day when you take the daily poll, you will randomly be rewarded varied amounts of larger “swagbucks” for your website seaches. This morning, I have won three times already (34 points) just by doing the regular web searches I would do anyway! Google never rewarded me like this!

Then, after you accumulate swagbucks, you visit the Swag Store to redeem your points for rewards. The reward options are endless, from free magazine subscriptions to electronics to gift cards. I personally have my eye on a Starbucks gift card which I am well on my way to earning. If you use the internet often, which I do on a daily basis, this is an easy avenue to “treat yourself” or even start accumulating points for Christmas presents and gift cards for others. Click the banner below to learn more!

Search & Win

I will be reporting on more reward programs that I participate in, so be sure to stop by www.homemakingmom.com soon for a visit!

Save Time and Money – Drinks on the Go!

My boys and I are on-the-go alot running errands, going to playdates, ball games, school functions and that type of thing. And, as any mom to little ones know, they get thirsty…and hungry…and need to go to the bathroom…you know the drill. I have found it handy to always pack a little cooler with our drinks (as well as keep snacks on hand) any time we are leaving the house for an extended amount of time to cut down on extra stops and the added expense of popping in convenience stores on a regular basis. With a family of five, this really starts to add up!

In addition, I always buy twelve packs of canned soft drinks for my hubby’s personal work refrigerator. He is a diet drink addict and it is much more economical to stock up on twelve packs when I find them for $2.50, then for him to pay close to $1.00 several times a day from the company vending machine. Cha-ching!

This year, we have also started buying Gatorades and packing them for my son’s ball practices and games. The convenience store used to be a routine stop afterwards…not anymore. The drinks are cold, convenient and ready to be enjoyed…straight from the cooler. And, paying an average of $.50/drink is much better than the $1.50+ we were paying for before. Another cha-ching!

My philosophy is not to deprive yourself of what you want, for you only live once and should enjoy it! But, if you can get exactly what you want for a lesser price and put the rest of the money in savings…or pay off debt…or in a college fund…or whatever your financial goal may be…then why not? These little cost savings on a daily basis add up to significant amounts over time.

Conquering the Clutter Series – Plastic Grocery Store Bag Storage Solution

Wondering what to do with all of those plastic grocery store bags you have managed to accumulate? Try this easy organization solution: Store them in an empty tissue box. It keeps them contained, but yet gives easy access when you need them. Personally, I keep two tissue boxes full of them and anything beyond that is recycled.

This Recipe Name Needs to be Changed to “AWESOME” Apple Cake

Since I needed to use up the last of the apples I was recently given, I tried a new Apple Cake recipe last night and it turned out fabulous! I felt it was easy to make and impressive to serve. Maybe I am getting the hang of this whole cooking from scratch thing afterall…

“Awesome” Apple Cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups of sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups chopped, peeled tart apples
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Sauce:
3 tbsp. butter/stick margarine
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl, beat eggs and then add applesauce, oil and vanilla until well blended. Stir into flour mix, fold in apples and pecans. Pour into 13 X 9 baking pan coated with nonstick spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

To make the sauce, in a small sauce pan, melt butter, then add brown sugar, milk and vanilla. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Pour over warm cake.

Enjoy!!!

Making Money from Home – How to Sell on Ebay

Ebay has been a wonderful avenue for me to make extra money while staying home with my boys. In fact, I just sold three items this morning! It is free to sign up for an Ebay account and it is relatively inexpensive to sell items, with small listing fees (varies on listing price) and final value fees (varies depending on what price the item sold). The great part about it is that you can sell new or used items you have at your very own house right now. Clear your clutter and increase your bank account!

Here’s how to get started:

Visit www.ebay.com and create an account. Free! You are now on your way to making money from home!

During the Ebay registration, you will be prompted to create a PayPal account. This is the method buyers will use to pay you for the items they purchase.

What can I sell? Search your biggest resource – the stuff you already own at home. Ebay provides a monthly “What’s Hot” list here.  Check it out to see Ebay’s current best-selling items. I have had great luck selling cosmetics, purses, children’s clothing, baby items and more!

How much shall I charge? I would recommend doing a quick search on Ebay to see if there are similar items up for auction and determine what seems to be a fair price to begin your auction. Do not price an item for less than you will be happy receiving for it in hopes that the starting price will be bid up higher. Sometimes it will, sometimes it won’t.

Do I have to pay to ship the item once sold? Some sellers offer free shipping, however, most sellers (including me) charge to ship items. When calculating how much to charge for shipping, don’t just estimate postage! Keep in mind that you still have to purchase boxes or a padded envelope and use your gas to go to the post office.

Where can I find inexpensive shipping supplies? For most of the items that I sell on Ebay, I typically use padded envelopes (which can be purchased two for $1.00 at Dollar Tree/two for $1.25 at Dollar General), reuse a box that I already have on hand from something that was shipped to me, or if you plan to use USPS Priority Mail, they provide you with free boxes as part of this service. Visit http://www.usps.com/shipping/prioritymail.htm for details.

How do I receive my money from PayPal? And, how quickly? When buyers go to PayPal to pay for the items purchased from you, PayPal will take another small percentage of the total. Then, your money (up to a $500 monthly limit), is available for you to withdraw. If you choose to withdraw funds and have it transferred to your bank account, I have found it usually takes about three days for it to appear in my bank account.

To ease you into how Ebay works, I challenge you to choose 2-3 items that you are willing to sell and get started… Good luck!

Money-Saving Monday – Save Money on Greeting Cards

I picked up all of the greeting cards shown above today for only $3.00! That is less than it normally costs for ONE card. I purchased these at Dollar Tree which had a HUGE selection of quality cards for only $.50 cents each. This is one easy way to save your hard earned dollars…while still spreading the cheer to your loved ones!!!