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...
Spring Cleanse Your Wardrobe

Spring Cleanse Your Wardrobe

This is an extra in the Spring Cleansing line up, but the timing is perfect so I had to share it with you!   Like many busy women, I used to have a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear.  I’d wear the same old outfits every week.  It wasn’t that I didn’t have great clothes, it’s just that I didn’t have time to figure out new ways to combine them, or how to add fun accessories to make the outfits look fresh. A few years ago I discovered Alison Lumbatis and her very fun Style Challenges.  I’ve been a huge fan ever since.  They are so.much.fun. When you join (and the challenges are super affordable), you get a shopping list for the upcoming challenge along with multiple suggestions on where to purchase each item.   Now before you get all worried about spending a fortune, I’ve found that most of the items I already had in my closet (or at least something similar I could substitute).  For example, for the last challenge I bought one pair of white jeans, a striped t-shirt and a pair of sandals.  That’s it.  I definitely spent less and bought less than I would have if I’d gone out to buy some new spring clothes on my own. When the challenge starts, each evening you’ll receive an email with the outfit for the next day.  Simply go to your closet, pull together the pieces and voila, you are ready to get dressed the next morning guaranteed to look cute and stylish.  There are tips for small changes if you need a casual or...
Spring Cleansing – Ditch the Chemicals

Spring Cleansing – Ditch the Chemicals

You knew I’d get here eventually right?  Actually writing a post about cleaning your house in a healthful way.  I’ve shared a couple of great cleaning recipes using Tea Tree essential oil so far, but today I want to dig into the topic a little deeper. There are several good reasons to look carefully at your cleaning routine.   Cleaning supplies you purchase at the store contain many dangerous ingredients.  After all, there is a reason they have warning labels, right?  Let me show you a quick example.  Here is the ingredient list for a common window cleaner: Commercial Window Cleaner:  water, carriers, cleaning agents, wetting agent, fragrance, dye, and a “formula” Well, that tells me nothing – but the big warning below:  KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND PETS is worrisome. How about a window cleaner touted as “natural”? Natural Window Cleaner: corn and coconut derived biodegradeable surfactant, soda ash, potassium hydrate, corn alcohol, fragrance oil, colorant, purified water Okay, I’m still not sure what’s in that cleaner – sounds fancier, but who really knows? Now, take a look at my homemade window cleaner ingredients: Homemade Window Cleaner: 1 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol, 2 1/2 cups water, 1 T cornstarch, 20 drops essential oils (I like lemon or tea tree) Still not something I want my kids to ingest, but at least I know what’s in it, right?  And I know none of the ingredients are of questionable safety if I get it on my skin or inhale the fumes while using it. In addition, I made an entire bottle of this cleaner in less...
Inexpensive Winter Activities!  Get Fit for Less.

Inexpensive Winter Activities! Get Fit for Less.

It’s Friday, so time to share a frugal tip. Since my challenge this week was to spice up your exercise routine, I thought it would be useful to share a few tips on finding inexpensive winter activities that would help you do just that! Want to try skiing?  It’s a pretty darn expensive sport, but there ARE deals out there.  Here are some of my favorite resources and tips: For the past few years, Shell has had an AMAZING promo.  At participating stations, buy just 10 gallons of gas and you can get a B1G1 (Buy one get one free) coupon for lots of local ski resorts!  This is a major savings when lift tickets run $60+ a day. Look for Kids Ski Free spots -many resorts allow kids 8 to 12 and under to ski for free. Liftopia offers discounted ski tickets – I haven’t used them, but it might be worth checking out. Check the resort to see if they have a beginner ski lesson deal or maybe even a section of the mountain that is free for beginners. Rent your equipment if you aren’t sure you’ll ski again. But, if you ski every year, think about buying a used set of skis and boots at the end of the season.  Our skis are a bit outdated, but I’ve been using them for over ten years and have saved LOTS of money on rentals. Other winter sports more your speed? Ice skating is fun for the whole family.  If you have a local rink, check out Groupon and Living Social regularly.  I’ve found 50% off deals for...
Four Free or Low Cost “Kid” Dates

Four Free or Low Cost “Kid” Dates

Tuesday I challenged you to plan a one-on-one date with each child this week – have you done it yet?   If not, here are a few ideas to help you accomplish this FUN challenge: 1.  Reading time.  This could involve an afternoon or evening at the library (FREE) or a night at a local bookstore.  Either enjoy hot chocolate during the “date” or make some once you get home to enjoy while reading the books you selected. 2.  Breakfast.  This is one of my favorites.  Once a week, we get up early and go to our local coffee shop for hot chocolate and muffins.  I have to admit I bring my own muffins and fruit (cause my kids prefer them), but I buy the hot chocolate and coffee there.  Total cost with tip is $5.00, and we get to start the day in a fun and different way. 3.  The Park.  For little kids, this is a no-brainer.  You shouldn’t feel like you have to spend tons of money and create an elaborate “night out.”   Your child just wants to spend time with you.  And what better place than the park?  Don’t just watch them – play with them.  They will love it, guaranteed! 4.  Puzzles or Board Games.  This is great for days you don’t want to go anywhere!  Or maybe you other kid(s) have something to do outside the home (birthday party, etc.).  Just let you child pick their favorite board games, card games or puzzles and lay down on the floor and play with them.  My son and I do this a lot –...

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