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 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 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

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.


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 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 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!!!

Don’t Throw Away Your Apples – Make Apple Muffins!

If you have apples that you are trying to use up or some that are on the verge of going soft, give this Apple Muffin recipe a try. I tried to today and it is awesome!

Mix together:

2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup oil
1 tablespoon vanilla

Then, mix together in a separate bowl:

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups peeled, cored, diced apples (around 3 apples)
Brown sugar for topping (approx. 1/2 cup)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add dry ingredients to the mixture. The batter will be very thick. Add the diced apples.

Grease muffin tin and fill with muffin batter. Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Makes 18-24 muffins

Entertaining With Ease – Create a Watermelon Bowl

Add color to your display of food! A watermelon bowl is easy to make and is such a healthy option for guests when entertaining during the summer months. All you need to do is:

Slice the watermelon in half.I purchased the watermelon for $3.99 and was able to make two watermelon bowls since you have both halves to work with. Inexpensive and attractive!

Use a melon ball maker cooking tool to scoop out watermelon balls and place in another bowl.

Once you have gotten to the bottom of the watermelon half, scoop out any remaining melon so that you just have the rind.

Refill the watermelon bowl with your watermelon balls.

Hosting a Great Kid’s Birthday Party…Without Breaking the Bank!

I recently hosted a pirate themed birthday party party for my son’s 5th birthday. All totaled, the party itself only cost $50! Here are some of the budget-friendly party ideas that helped me…hopefully they will help you, too:

Choose a free location. We had the party at our house in the backyard. Since it was a summertime party for younger children, we decided water would be a great addition to the pirate theme and would keep the kids cool and entertained. So, we got our slip n’ slide, sprinkler, large kiddie pool, beach balls and water squirters ready for some aquatic fun.

Take others up on their offers. We borrowed a bounce house from a family member which was another free, fun addition to the backyard party. Also, my sister operates a cupcake business and offered to make the pirate themed cupcakes (which we felt would be easier to hand out to the soaking wet kids while they played outside).

Make your own invitations. I typically design my own party invitations, print them out and drop them in the mail. However, for this party since I was tight on time, I used the website, I was able to choose a customized pirate theme, input the party invitation and email it out – FOR FREE. This saved on both the cost of purchasing invitations AND mailing costs. Plus, I thought it was neat that people could RSVP right on the website and Evite took care of sending RSVP reminders.

Choose your party time wisely. We held the party from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. This way, everyone had already eaten lunch prior to the party and it wasn’t necessary to serve a full meal. However, we did have a great spread of finger foods and a cooler of drinks. Which brings me to my next point…

Shop your pantry first. I love finding groceries at great prices and when I find a great deal (usually when couponing), I tend to stock up. So, it helped to check my pantry first for party snacks. In my pantry, I had a box of brownie mix, canned peanuts and chex mix that I had recently purchased and pulled out to use for the party. Next, I checked to see what my grocery store had on sale the week or two prior to the party. I found chips for buy one, get one free, canned drinks for $2.50/12 pack, and juice boxes and chip dip on sale. I purchased fruit for a fruit tray (that I made myself) that was in season and on special for the week. I put out a nice blue fabric table cloth, wrapped the table in a straw skirt (left over from a luau I hosted last year) for a festive look and was all set.

Visit your local dollar store. I found some great pirate themed party plates, napkins, and Happy Birthday helium balloons. And, I purchased only enough themed plates and napkins for the kids. For the adults, I bought solid red plates. You get more in each pack of solid colored plates than you do in the party-themed packs. And, I knew that any leftover red plates could be used at my next son’s birthday party, coming up this weekend.

Splurge when necessary. My son specifically asked for a pirate pinata and since I am not quite crafty enough (yet) to make one, I went to Party City and spent the $16 to get him what he wanted…all while knowing that the pinata’s sole purpose was to get beaten with a stick and would be thrown away post party. But, afterall he was the birthday boy!

Get creative on the goodie bags. Since the kids were getting lots of goodies from the pinata, I handed out birthday goodie bag sacks and let them fill their own goodie bags when the candy spilled out. Better yet, I had enough goodie bag sacks left over from a previous party that I didn’t have to buy any this year.

It was a wonderful party and my son and his friends had a ball! I firmly believe that a child’s party doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or be elaborate and complicated to make it a success. The birthday boy or girl just wants to feel special, loved and have fun with friends and family…and that is exactly what we did!