A Couple Ways to save for next Christmas

This year, we didn’t have a whole lotta extra funds for gifts, and I thought I’d let you in on a secret – I got a couple of gifts for free this year.

How?

  Two apps. The first is the Walmart Savings Catcher. If you go to Walmart with any regularity, there’s no reason not to use this app. It is quite simple: You scan your receipt when you’re done shopping. If the app finds that a competitor has a cheaper price on pretty much anything on your receipt, it will credit you with the difference. Most of the time, it’s 50 cents on the whole bill, but every once in awhile, it’ll be a couple of bucks. And over a year, that adds up. You can redeem for a gift certificate whenever you’re ready, or use it towards your grocery bill or anything you buy in the store. Easy peasy.

The second is Shopkick. This one works in various stores, and will notify you when you are near a participating store if you let it. The stores I get credit for are mostly Walmart and Best Buy (because we do not have many of the others in our area), but there are many more stores for which you can get credit, so you should check it out. Again, you get “kicks” just for visiting the store sometimes, and if you have some time to kill, you can get kicks for scanning certain items. When you are ready (and have enough kicks to be eligible), you can redeem them for gift cards, movie tickets, gasoline… lots of different things! Some are a pretty good deal, others are not, but you’re getting something for doing something you would do anyway, so in my book, anything is a good deal. I actually got two gifts (one from restaurant.com for $100, and one from GameStop for $25) from this app this year, but I think I’ve been accumulating kicks for longer than I’ve been using the Walmart app.

In any case, I got three free gifts for zero dollars, and it helped a bunch. If you’re the type to plan ahead, check out these apps now, and you just might be able to save some cash next year. (I’m not affiliated with either of these apps, just glad I was able to save by using them.)

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DIY Erin Condren Stickers using Picmonkey and Pinterest

If you have an Erin Condren planner and are on Pinterest, you’ll find lots of stickers to purchase out there, but they can get expensive, and they may not say just what you want them to.  A pack of stickers from a craft store that are not even sized to fit the squares in the Erin Condren planner can run you five or six bucks, and to me that’s a lot to spend on something that’s not quite right.

While on Pinterest, I found this handy post on how to use Picmonkey, a free online photo editing tool, to create your own stickers.  Ms. Marcia Beckett does an excellent job explaining how to re-purpose Picmonkey to make a sheet of cut-yourself stickers.  And luckily, I had purchased some full-sheet sticker paper from Staples last fall.  A package of that can get expensive, too.  But with coupons and watching for sales, I think I got mine for about $12, and it has lasted me quite awhile.

But I didn’t want any old random stickers.

Like many people, I have a board on Pinterest with Quotes that resonate with me, some funny, some inspiring, and these are what I wanted sprinkled through the pages of my planner.  I googled to see if anyone else had done this before, and couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for.  I decided to play around with it myself. Here are the steps I followed:

1.  Open Pinterest, and find the pins you want to make into stickers. I recommend pins that have a lot of space on each side, and are more vertical than horizontal, but you can play with it yourself to get the look you want. Once you click on your pin, right click on it to save it as an image.

pins into stickers

2.  Open picmonkey, and follow the instructions in Marcia’s post above.  You can add more pictures by dragging them onto your layout, and waiting until a grey area appears.  Then simply drop your picture.  You can also resize them by dragging the sides of each picture you have placed.

3.  I would recommend putting 16 pictures on an 8.5 x 11 page to get close to the size of the boxes in the Erin Condren planner.  You can eyeball the sizing to get it fairly close to the right proportions.

Pinned Quotes into EC stickers

4.  Adjust your spacing to around 127 to get the pictures to the right size on the background page (the icon looks like an art palette on the left of the Picmonkey page).

5. Print and cut out!

pins into EC stickers

A couple of notes:

  • Don’t try to make a buck off of other people’s designs. That’s stealing.  Using these for personal use is one thing, but using someone else’s work to create stickers to sell would not be the right thing to do.
  • I wouldn’t recommend using people’s designs from Etsy or other sites where people are trying to make a living from their work.
  • If you have some pins/quotes that won’t work due to the layout, you can always create a new one using Picmonkey, as well! It really is a lot of fun!

Money and Change

Hands down, the biggest change that The Boy and I will be experiencing centers around money.  I have been so lucky to live and work where I do, because teachers here make a decent wage.  Without the third person in the house, and with an increasing salary, I was able to crawl out of the debt that was largely due to the ex’s money mismanagement, and then provide a life for my son, virtually free from want.

In about a month, I will be unemployed.  I will get paid through the summer, and God willing, I will be employed again by the time those paychecks stop coming.  But I know I will not be making anywhere near what I have been making.

1874 USA 3 dollars coin.

Now, before you start freaking out on my behalf (because I really have put a lot of thought into this move, contrary to what most people think), we will not have a mortgage or rent payment.  And if you give that fact it’s due consideration, you will understand why this move is not nearly so scary as it might have seemed.  For most people, the house payment is the biggest chunk of their pay, usually 25-33% of their monthly income.  In addition, insurance is substantially lower (at least half of what we pay here), and we will have no water bill (well water).  The Man is very handy, and the labor portion of any home repair bills (and even some minor car repair bills) will be nonexistent, as well.

We have considered selling my rather new car in exchange for an older, yet reliable car, eliminating the one car payment between us (not sure we’ll do this, but it is on the table — we both feel if you aren’t making payments, you’re paying repair bills).  We also intend to plant a garden, if not fully-fledged this year, then at least by next, to supplement our groceries (we have really good soil – used to be a potato farm!).

Where I do anticipate some difficulties adjusting to a blended checking account will be in the food department.  The Man loves the convenience store, and often eats out, sometimes for lunch and dinner.  The Boy and I eat out about once a week, with all other meals coming from our weekly groceries.  Of course, we may also have a discussion or two about where to keep the thermostat, too…

I just found this lovely series from The Peaceful Mom, on how to live on under $28K a year.  You should check it out – lots of great tips on how to live more frugally (without couponing).  I’m hoping we can use some of these in the near future (I’m thinking a clothesline would be nice!).

What money-saving tips have you used?