Up for a FREE meal?

Up for a FREE meal?

Who doesn’t love getting something for free?  Especially a meal at a nice restaurant, a hotel room or an afternoon of bowling.  Thanks to the years I’ve been mystery shopping, those are a regular part of our lives. In just the last month, I’ve had a breakfast date with my hubby ($42), went bowling and played laser tag with the kids ($115), had pizza and beer for lunch over Spring Break ($50) and got a carry-out lunch at a national chain restaurant ($35).  This is just me doing a shop or two here and there.  If I had the time I could do so much more.  I started mystery shopping almost twenty-five years ago when the company I was working for closed it’s doors and I was out of a job.  I started doing a few dinner shops a month so we could still enjoy a nice meal out without spending money we didn’t have!  Now I just do it for fun, to stretch our entertainment dollars and to force myself out of my routine and try new things. It would be challenging to make a full-time living mystery shopping; most shops don’t pay much outside of reimbursement, but for cutting costs or adding extras to your life, it’s a great part-time gig.  It is important to undersand that once you conduct the shop, you will have to come home and fill out an online form (sometimes within 12-hours of doing the shop), upload some pictures and be available for the next few days for questions.  At first, it would take me an hour or so to fill out...
The Best Hidden Resource!

The Best Hidden Resource!

Today I’m singing praises about a resource most of us have access to, and few people ever use.  It makes my life easier, brings me daily enjoyment and costs NOTHING.  What is it? The local library. Seriously – if you don’t use your local library, you really need to check it out.  Libraries are so much more than dusty old shelves of books (although if you love to read, you’ll appreciate that too).  Ready for some examples of why the library is such a great resource? It’s free.  Unless you habitually forget to turn in your books, the library will cost you nothing. The library contains more than books.  Most libraries have DVD’s, audio books, music and magazines.  Mine also has board games and get this –  museum passes!  Yep, on our recent Spring Break we were able to check out family passes for two state museums and visit them for free.  This easily saved us $100. If your library doesn’t carry what you want, you can request it.  The library doesn’t have a book you want to read?  Ask them to purchase it or see if they can get it on loan from another library.  Most libraries are continually buying new material and they appreciate it when members tell them what they’d like to see. The programs can be terrific.  When my kids were little, we were regulars at story time – it was a fun, free activity we could do together.  Now they always enjoy participating in the summer reading program. Our library offers a program or two almost every day of the week – truly something...
Spring Cleansing – Personal Care

Spring Cleansing – Personal Care

When I thought of areas I need to “cleanse” in my life, personal care was right up there.  This is a hard area for me.  I’m sure you’ve read/heard/been lectured to/ etc. about how important it is to think about what you put on your skin.  After all, your skin is the largest organ in your body & quickly absorbs everything you put on it (one of the reasons I love my essential oils so much!). But … Those organic, healthy products are EXPENSIVE!  Plus they often don’t seem to work very well. I struggle with this.  I do.  The cost-conscious side of me wants to buy my products at the drugstore using a coupon.  The beauty loving side goes into the specialty stores willing to shell out big bucks for miracle creams.  I’ve done both, for sure. It’s a slow and hard process to switch to a healthier regime, so I’ve decided to do it in pieces.  This is my path and I hope it encourages you.  Instead of breaking up with all my personal care products at once, I’m replacing them with better for me versions one by one. It’s less stressful, less expensive and much more manageable.  Hopefully in a year or two, my bathroom cabinet will be a lovely minimalistic home to a few well-chosen brands or homemade concoctions. Since it’s going to be a slow road as I experiment and try to wean myself off old ingrained habits, I’ll be sharing each new step as it comes.  This means this isn’t going to be a pretty “look at my instant success” post like last week.  ...
My Thoughts on Aldi

My Thoughts on Aldi

I’ve shared in the past some great ways to save money on healthy food – and I still do most of those things weekly.  Lately I’d been hearing about how Aldi now has a line of organic food.  Of course I had to check it out. For those of you unfamiliar with Aldi, it is a grocery store chain (owned the same company who owns Trader Joe’s) that carries a small selection of products.  Most of the food Aldi sells is it’s own brand label.  Just like Trader Joe’s, if you want ketchup, you have one choice, not the twenty you’ll find in a typical grocery store.  At Aldi, you also bag your own groceries using your own bags – this helps keep the costs quite low. I’ve often run into Aldi to check out their produce or pick up some staple like dried beans that I know I can purchase inexpensively, but I’ve never done a full out shopping trip there. This week I decided to go in specifically to check out this new organic line.  I have to say, I was quite impressed!  Most categories (dry goods, snacks, dairy, frozen, even meat) carried at least a few organic items.  And at excellent prices!  Check out what I purchased (note the seeds weren’t organic, they were just a really good deal, and I used them for a big batch of trail mix!): A few examples of what I found: Organic Vegetable and Chicken Broth -$1.79 Organic Coconut Oil – $4.99 Organic Spices – $1.99 Gluten Free Bread – $3.99 Based on my experience, I will definitely be adding...

The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle

Don’t you wish you had affordable short-cuts to make healthy living easier? Are you tired of trying to make a Whole Foods lifestyle work on a Trader Joe’s budget? I get it. You want the best for your family. You want to raise healthy kids, have strong immune systems, be more fit and energetic, and be intentional about creating a natural home, but sometimes it just feels so hard. There’s a lot to learn and the internet can be more than a little overwhelming at times. I know what it’s like to feel that healthy living shouldn’t be this difficult, and it shouldn’t have to cost so much, either! Don’t you ever wish someone would just tell you exactly what you need to know and how to make these changes for less? When you have the right info and tools at your fingertips, it all comes together so much more easily. You know what to cook for your family. You’re more confident in choosing natural alternatives. You can easily replace store-bought products with DIY options that really work. You feel better (and even look better, too). Healthy living becomes less stressful and more enjoyable. That’s why Stephanie and her team have put together the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle for the fourth year in a row. Each year, they’re amazed at how many families are saying “yes!” to their health and taking them up on this super short opportunity to get a complete collection of natural-living resources for a crazy low price. You sort of need to see it to believe it, but the package includes over 90 digital products...
Enjoy Fall to the Fullest!

Enjoy Fall to the Fullest!

We are well into September so I think we can consider Summer officially over.  Most kids have gone back to school (mine have been in school for over a month now) and the weather is finally getting a bit cooler. Early Fall is one of my all-time favorite times of the year.  It seems like there is so much going on and the weather is often beautiful enough to fully enjoy it.  Make a commitment now – while you still can – to enjoy this Fall to the Fullest!  Here are my favorite ways – and what I plan to make sure we do before the cold weather hits! Apple picking.  I love going to the apple orchard each year.  We load up on crisp, fresh apples, check out the farm store and enjoy time in the warm sun.  Once we get home we can use all those apples to create more memories – making apple pie, packing them for picnics, etc.  Good times for sure! Hiking.  With a new puppy, hiking is high on our list of priorities this Fall.  He’s a hairy dog, so the hot summer sun is a bit rough on him.  A cooler autumn breeze is perfect for him to enjoy long hikes with us.  We’ve been checking out nearby parks the last few weeks and enjoying them all! Last time for outdoor activities.  We’ll hit the pool one last time on the next really warm day.  We’ll definitely play a game or two of putt-putt, and we’ll take a bike ride or two while we still can. S’mores by the campfire.  Last month...

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