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Grocery List

#1 – Wal-Mart

#2 – Local Super Market (United)

#3 – Altus Commissary

#4 – Walgreen’s

#5 – Dollar Store

   #1   #2   #3   #4   #5 
CPK Frozen Pizza  $    4.98  $    6.29  $    3.98    
Fresh Express Baby Spinach Bag  $    3.18  $    3.29  $    2.17    
Yellow Onions  $    1.48  $    1.90  $    0.59    
93/7 Ground Beef  $    3.78  $    3.99  $    3.09    
Orowheat Health Nut  $    2.50  $    2.99  $    1.85    
Jif Peanut Butter – 40oz  $    5.12  $    6.19  $    4.45    
Chicken Breast  $    3.33  $    3.99  $    1.95    
Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers  $    2.88  $    3.29  $    2.50  $    3.99  
Campbell’s Tomato Soup – Family Size  $    1.96  $    2.39  $    1.83    
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese  $    0.64  $    0.89  $    0.75    $    0.80
Macaroni Grill Box Dinners  $    3.88  N/A   $    3.67    
Mott’s Apple Juice   $    3.88  $    4.58  $    3.79  $    3.79  
Oscar Mayer Bacon – 16oz  $    3.48  $    5.49  $    2.75    
McCormick’s Basil   $    2.18  $    2.89  $    1.49    
McCormick’s Cinnamon  $    2.42  $    2.99  $    2.19    
McCormick’s Chili Powder  $    2.36  $    3.65  $    1.99    
Splenda – 9.7oz  $    5.78  $    8.29  $    5.28    
Pam – 8oz  $    3.12  $    3.14  $    2.39    
Bertoli Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 17oz  $    6.24  $    6.29  $    4.49    
Fiber One Bars (5)  $    2.68  $    3.00  $    2.25    
Cinnamon Toast Crunch – 17oz  $    2.88  $    3.74  $    2.71  $    3.49  
Hillshire Farms Turkey – In the tub  $    3.50  $    3.99  $    1.99  $    3.50  
Gold Fish Crackers – 10 oz  $    2.68  $    3.69  $    2.76    
Lays Classic Chips – 10.5oz  $    2.48  $    1.99  $    2.97  $    3.99  
Kraft Natural Shredded Cheese – 16oz  $    4.08  $    5.00  $    2.50    
Sara Lee Turkey – At the deli counter  $    6.98  N/A   $    6.99    
Yoplait Light Yogurt  $    0.58  $    0.69  $    0.45    
Simply Orange OJ  $    3.00  $    4.49  $    2.99    
Land o’ Lakes Butter  $    3.22  $    4.29  $    2.59    
1 Gallon of Milk (2%)  $    3.18  $    2.99  $    2.51  $    3.19  
Household Goods          
Pampers Baby Dry Diapers – 96 ct.   $     19.77  $ 22.69  $ 24.96    
Tide – 64 Loads  $     10.48  $ 16.79  $ 10.99  $ 15.99  $ 16.80
Downy Dryer Sheets  $    6.23  N/A   $    3.49    
Downy Bottle – 120 Loads  $    9.00  $    8.50  $    7.99    
Clorox Clean Up Spray  $    3.33  $    3.69  $    2.43  $    3.99  $    3.00
Bounty – 8 Regular Rolls  $    9.72  $    8.99  $    8.91  $ 10.99  
Charmin – 12 Big Rolls  $    6.36  $    8.99  $    5.39  $    6.98  $    5.50
Glad Tall Kitchen Trash Bags – 45 ct.  $    7.58  $    7.90  $    5.60    $    5.00
Reynolds Foil – 200ft  $    8.73  $ 10.29  $    6.05    $    8.00
Ziploc Sandwich Bags – 100   $    3.34  $    3.59  $    1.89    
Tylenol   $    6.37  $    8.79  N/A   $    8.49  
Pantene Pro-V – 12.6oz  $    3.47  $    3.89  $    1.99  $    4.49  
Dove Soap Bars – 6 ct.  $    6.68  $    8.26  $    7.19  $    7.49  $    5.75
 $   199.51  $   218.77  $  168.79  $ 80.37  $ 44.85

Article publié pour la première fois le 08/06/2010


Money Carnivals

Here are the carnivals where I was featured this week:

Carnival of Personal Finance @ Miss Thrifty – Avoid Money Mistakes

Financial Independence Carnival @ Ditch the Boss – Pay Now, Play Later

Carnival of Money Stories @ Simply Forties – To Insure Prompt Service

Also, check out my featured article, In OR Out Burger, at MSN Money’s Smart Spending.  Color me stoked. 

Article publié pour la première fois le 10/08/2010


Make It or Buy It

I wrote today’s post with one of the sisters.  For fun.  And fun we had.   


Things were tough when we were kids.  We didn’t have cell phones.  We had terrible bangs.  We even had to make our own Halloween costumes. 

Actually, we didn’t mind the costume thing so much.  Remembering our other sister maneuvering with a trash bag full of purple balloons around her torso (grapes) always makes us giggle; grapes are tough to get into cars… and jackets.  

Though we thoroughly enjoyed exercising our imaginations, there was another rational for our homemade disguises: store-bought ones were ex-pen-sive.

A lot has changed.  Kids nowadays have cell phones and much more stylish haircuts.  And those once high-priced “designer” costumes have come down in cost.


Screen shot 2010-10-26 at 8.17.07 PM

For example, Wal-Mart now offers this classy Chewbacca ensemble for a low, low, practically unheard of price of $350! 

Yes, we’re kidding.  About it being a low price, that is.  Wal-Mart really does have ’em.  And we kinda want one two.

But, they do have very reasonably priced Spider-Man, Snow White, and a variety other iconic costumes ($20 & under). 

So now that an authentic Genie Barbie costume is within the realm of your budget, the question is: buy it or make it?


When to Buy It:

1. When the price is reasonable.  There are clearly still some pricy Chewy’s out there. 

2. When it gets too complicated.  Making a costume should be fun, not stressful.

3. When you’re in a time crunch.  You’re busy, and that’s ok.


When to Make It:

1. When the price is reasonable.  You can blow a lot of money at Hobby Lobby if you aren’t careful. 

2. When you can utilize it other than on All Hallow’s Eve.  For example, this year two of the nephews are going as Mario and Luigi, but their overalls-turned-superhero-garb can be worn to school without looking like lunatics (or like they have lunatic parents). 

3. When you want to literally make a memory.  As kids (as if you needed the clarification), our dad made us fairy wands and our mom made the outfits to match.  Best Halloween ever.

4. When you want to exercise your creativity.  Stretch your imagination and see what clever costumes you can make out of only things in your home.  The possibilities with cardboard boxes are endless: Dice, Robot, the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (yes it can be done). 


We know, this sound advice has arrived right in a nick time, as you just completed over 40 hours of intensive labor on you kid’s fully functional, Transformer costume.  Not to worry, the same rules are applicable for all make or buy decisions. 

The holidays are fast approaching and you have plenty of choices to make. 

Sweaters – to knit or not to knit. 

Cookies – to bake or not to bake. 

Ornaments – to paint or not to paint.

Article publié pour la première fois le 27/10/2010


An Air Force Gal’s Guide To: The Pentagon

The following comes to us from Meg in Washington DC; a Lieutenant herself, as well as an Air Force wife.  Sounds like Wonderwoman to me…


Wish you were here?  If you stay in the Air Force, you probably will be at some point.  Being staitioned in DC is very unique!  Most people do not live on base, and some even commute from 70 miles away.  Because of this, there is not a very close military community, but that doesn’t mean you can’t love this assignment.  Just make friends with your neighbors and pretend you are civilian for a bit.


DC Top 8 (It’s a big city, you can’t narrow it down to just 3):

1.    Get a bike!  DC is very flat, tons of great bike paths. 

2.    Stay close to home or take the metro.  Traffic is a way of life, car rides are always a big time commitment.  One more reason to get a bike…

3.    Greet WWII veterans.  Honor Flight is an amazing program, we highly recommend it.

4.    Start running, or taunt your friends that run (see photo above). There are lots of races, but they always fill up in the first 45 minutes!  DC is a skinny place.

5.    Get out of your house.  You’re not in Minot anymore!  Go to the Kennedy Center, attend a protest or play kickball on the Mall.  Be a tourist.  Everything is here and there are tons of free museums/festivals/concerts. 

6.    Pamper your puppy.  You’ll soon notice there is an eerie attachment to dogs (think dog yoga, dog cruises on the river, etc.)  What the heck, join the cult.

7.    Drink Virginia Wine, get to a Winefest, or drive to a vineyard

8.    Get out of the city – for your sanity.  Try Shenandoah, Harper’s Ferry, Annapolis, or even Delaware seashore.  For a weekend take the Megabus or the Boltbus: $20 to NYC or Philly, plus it’s very clean with free wifi on board.   

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Article publié pour la première fois le 04/07/2010

1 comment

Home Spa: Save Sanity and Money!

In my humble opinion, there is absolutely nothing more relaxing and rejuvenating than a day spent at a spa. There is something magical in getting a massage and forgetting all of your cares for an hour or so. But, the joys of going to the spa are not solely to be found in getting a massage — it is the entire relaxing experience. Taking a dip in the hot plunge, sweating away in the sauna, or breathing deep in the steam room is relaxation defined. There are few things I’d rather do more than spend an entire day with little between me and the world but a plush spa robe. With just the mere thought of it I can already feel my shoulders relax and my breathing deepen. Like I said, its magical.

Unfortunately, while a day at the spa is absolute relaxation, paying the bill is usually enough to shock you back into the real world. When it comes to a spa, relaxation comes at a cost, and that cost is almost never cheap. So, the other day when I was at my wit’s end and the siren call of the steam room was beckoning, I thought that there had to be a way to bring the spa experience home. Luckily I found that a few simple additions (and subtractions) to your own bathroom can make home feel that much more like the lusted-after spa. Try out some of these ideas and before you know it, you’ll be relaxing and saving money.

Clean your bathroom and then clean it again. Although it is a basic trait, perhaps the most essential trait of a good spa is how clean everything is. It has to be, if it were dirty, it would lead to stress rather than relaxation. Bringing this home is simple: deep clean your bathroom. Its best to clean everywhere, but pay special attention to the bathtub area, the place where you will most likely be spending your “me-time.” Once everything is clean make sure you . . .

Declutter. Spas are relaxing because there are usually simply and minimally decorated. There is no visual clutter muddying up your line of sight. Visual clutter leads to mental clutter which leads to stress.  If you do want to add to the visual aesthetic, a good way to decorate without muddying your line of sight is modern wall decals depicting relaxing locales. By decluttering and organizing your bathroom, you can obtain the clean look that leads to relaxation.  And if you simply can’t bring yourself to throw out half of your lotions and potions at least tuck them away in a basket or bin.

Set the mood with candles. Bright lights are great when you are trying to shave or brush your teeth, but when it comes to relaxing, it is the soft flicker of a candle you are after. For a few dollars in candles, you can turn down the lights and turn down your stress.

Use your sense of smell to relax. Your sense of smell it a powerful thing. By using candles, soaps, bath salts, or any other smelly things that have the right scents, you can breath your way to complete relaxation. Try anything with lavender if you’re trying to fall asleep. Nothing says clean like the smell of eucalyptus. Mint and citrus are rejuvenating. Pick the right scent for you and float away.

Invest in plush towels, robes, and bathmats. Remember, the softer the better. Nothing feels better after stepping out of the bath or shower than surrounding yourself in a luxurious and plush towel. Spas surround you with softness. Mimic this at home and you’ll never regret the cost.

Play the right music. An essential part of the spa experience is how a spa sounds. Mostly, its quiet. The little sound you do hear is soft instrumental music, usually with the sounds of nature playing with it. Simply closing your eyes and listening to this music will calm you immediately. Invest in similar music and your house will sound like a spa in no time.

One of my favorite perks at a luxurious spa are the snacks.  I just feel like a queen lounging near the cool plunge waterfall nibbling dainty treats.  But if you really think about what you are eating these are not expensive food items.  Cover the top of your hamper next to the tub in a white hand towel and put a glass and pitcher of extra chilled water with sliced cucumber or fruit in it. Add a small bowl of natural granola, nuts, or my favorite– chocolate and Voila!  You’re set.

So if the hustle and bustle of the holidays has put a kink in your neck, but your spa budget was snuffed out with 2012 use these ideas to mimic one at home and get ready for a richer and more relaxed year in 2013.

What affordable additions to your home spa would you make friends?

Article publié pour la première fois le 16/01/2013

1 comment

Avoid Money Mistakes

I just finished reading Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich by Lois Frankel, PhD.  In it, she sites “75 Avoidable Mistakes Women Make with Money.”  Really, anyone can commit these errors, however, she asserts that women are more at risk due to some of their common predispositions towards money.  Here are a few of the differences between men and women regarding views on money that Frankel points out:

Men:  Invest

Women: Save

Men:  Buy what they need.

Women:  Buy what they want.

Men:  Spend money on themselves.

Women: Spend money on those they care about.

Men:  Ask for what they want.

Women: Ask for what they think they deserve.

Men:  Learn how to be effective investors.

Women: Expect others to know more than they do.

Men:  Advocate for themselves during trying financial times.

Women: Want to be fair during trying financial times. 

Of course, these are just generalizations.  Husband buys things he wants all the time.  You think he needed that PlayStation3?  Oh, please. 

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Article publié pour la première fois le 05/08/2010