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>Wednesday’s Woman–Molly Green, Budget-Stretcher Extraoridnaire

>At the end of 2010, I subscribed to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, a publication for home educators. Through this magazine, I discovered Molly Green, today’s Wednesday’s Woman. Molly is all about saving money, as I know all of you are! So let’s just get to it! Make sure you download her free money-saving e-book at the end–we have our OWN PAGE! And now, here’s Molly in her own words…

Hi! My name is Molly Green and I’m so pleased to be invited to participate in Jenny’s Wednesday’s Woman series. I have a feeling that my “photo” above might leave some of you wondering just who Molly Green is. It’s a fair question.




Molly Green (me!) was created in 2008, to moderate Econobusters.com, in response to a spiraling economy. I’m a character much like Betty Crocker, intended to be an inspiration and encouragement to homemakers both young and old(er). Many families, especially those in single income homes are facing financial challenges these days. We at Econobustesr.com place a high value on family and wish to encourage women to make the most of what they have been given while enjoying the role of managing their homes wisely.


Molly Green is a fresh, fun way to share practical ideas, joy and encouragement in a non-intimidating, non-boring way. I was created as a symbol of “everywoman” who is trying to do the best for her family in today’s challenging economy. I’m not to be mistaken for an expert, however! I represent a friend who researches and shares the answers her readers are looking for. My team interacts with experts in different fields as well as with real women with real families sharing real solutions.


Contributors to the Econobuster blog and free weekly newsletter (sign up on the blog) include Dena Wood and Toni Riggs. My Monthly Money-Saving Digest includes articles by Dena and Toni as well as Eleanor Joyce, Patricia Hunter along with special guest and regular feature writers. We also offer a Membership Program that includes the Monthly Digest as well as lots of special perks and freebies.


The overall goal of Molly Green and Econobusters.com is to underscore the importance of home and family, and to offer continual evidence that frugality does not mean drudgery . . . it can be fun, creative and immensely fulfilling.


If you visit Econobusters.com regularly, you’ll find everything from tips on grocery savings, to décor ideas, to organization tips. Basically, anything that will help you to run your home efficiently, while spending as little as possible.


To get a good idea of the kind of information I share, I’d love for you all to have a free download of my 52-page January Money-Saving Digest. Just visit this page or click on the picture below to access the download. Enjoy, and thank you for allowing me to introduce myself!

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>Important Annoucement–Save $ Monday

>

Hello, MHM Readers!

As you know, I have added some extra hats recently. I have done some thinking about my blog and decided to stop the Save $ Monday feature. There are two reasons: 1) I don’t have the time to do it well, like my readers deserve; 2) There are women out there who are doing it much better than I am. Having said that, I am going to list my two favorite saving-savvy ladies, and also give my local readers a new link they may not be familiar with. They are listed in the “Helpful Links” tab in case you ever forget what they are. However, I highly recommend you sign up for their email list or add them to your electronic reader service. The three ladies also have pages on Facebook. Personally, Money Saving Mom is my favoritest. ; )

Savvy Savings:
Free is My Life (metro-Detroit)
Thank you for your understanding. Be sure to stop by later this evening to see how my oldest is dealing with the transition to kindergarten at home.


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>Save $ Monday–Guest Blogger

>Shelly Molitor was our Wednesday’s Woman a month ago. She wrote a great post last week that I think fits with Save $ Monday, even though it’s not a specific coupon or a free movie. She explains how she packed up her Christmas things and is saving herself money this year by doing so. I know a lot of you are in the hunt for post-Christmas bargains, so I thought this may be helpful. You may also want to click here to see what Shelly’s got lined up weekly for her blog in 2011. It looks like a great list!

Reminder–electronics often go on sale in January! Now may be a good time to buy that TV or camera you’ve been wanting. Retailers are making room for new models. And now, Shelly’s post:

Christmas is behind us, and for me, it was literally the best year ever! Thanks in part to those of you who read my post on Christmas and responded with thoughtful ideas, I was able to see what I had hoped for in my home during the season: simplicity, joy, and relaxation.

Today, I neatly put away our decorations, and although it took longer than anticipated, it was actually enjoyable! Every thing fit in one large green and red tub which I bought on clearance yesterday, along with a bunch of ribbon, bows, wrapping paper, tags, and cards.

At the clearance sale, I made a point of only buying wrapping paper which could be used for almost any occasion, such as solid red, silver, and multi-colored paper. These items did not go into the bin, and are ready for all-occasion gift giving in 2011. In addition, I have started a special occasions notebook to house our receipts and thoughts and ideas from Chrismtas 2010, and for recording details of our gift giving and special occasions moving forward!

Several months ago, I got a bin full of a variety of greeting cards for a QUARTER, so I am ready to send on-time greetings to those we love at a FRACTION of the cost to us prior to 2010! I am crowing, but with a thankful spirit, and to give you hope of establishing similar ways in your life that WORK FOR YOU!

It takes stepping out of yourself to choose change. Two years ago, I didn’t even have the self-confidence, motivation, or “time” to go out and get gifts for our family. Like Eeyore, I was constantly under a cloud of doubt, frustration, and unhappiness.

If you are tempted to think: “I wish my holiday were that simple,” or “It’s all so-and-so’s fault that the holidays are so difficult year after year,” or “I am so busy just trying to get by from day to day, I wouldn’t miss Christmas next year if it magically went away!”, then know this: you need to give yourself the gift of established ways.

As with everything, it takes time to build routines and new habits into your life. Once you pass the learning curve, however, something amazing happens! You gain self-confidence and drive like you never had, and instead of yearning for rest or gladness, you see it creeping into your life like a cup of hot chocolate. It sneaks up on you in simple moments that you are newly ready for, and saps stress from your veins.

Decide to pursue your dream of being organized in 2011! Let me know what type of stress you most want to be SAPPED from your life!

Happy New Year!


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>Save $ Monday–Quick Tips

>Our mothers taught us to share, so I’m going to share some tips from an article in the January 2011 Family Circle magazine. Kelli Grant wrote “Fast Money Fixes” on page 57, so if you want more tips, you can check them out at your local store.

One of Kelli’s recommendations is creating a separate email address for your shopping alerts. I did this purely for sanity’s sake–too many emails in one place can drive a girl mad! Kelli has another reason: if you check this inbox less frequently, you will be tempted by the spending gremlin less often.

This tip sounds intriguing. If any of you find money for yourselves, please leave a comment! You can submit your name and states you’ve lived in, and these sites will tell you if you have any unclaimed funds or property sitting around in the government’s holding pen! This could be long-lost bank accounts or unclaimed deposits. You can check into it at MissingMoney.org, Unclaimed.org, and Irs.gov.

Finally, since we all like to find new sites that help us save money, I thought I’d pass on Kelli’s favorites.

PriceGrabber.com  (compares prices at different retailers)
RetailMeNot.com   (coupon codes)
CouponCabin.com  (information about sales)
ShopItToMe.com   (information about sales)
Yelp.com              (reviews and consumer complaints)

Remember, you can find more of Kelli’s tips in the current issue of Family Circle magazine!


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>Save $ Monday–Shop Smart Tips

>A couple of weeks ago I received an invitation from Shop Smart to receive a free issue. Shop Smart is published by Consumer Reports, and I actually notice it every time I’m in Office Max. It’s piqued my curiosity, but I wasn’t willing to pay the $4.99 cover price since we need a new car!

However, I am willing to send away for a free issue. The invitation they sent me was actually an enticing 10 page booklet full of examples of how Shop Smart will save you money. Their shtick is that since they do not accept advertising, just like Consumer Reports, they are free to make completely honest recommendations.

You can click here to learn more at the Consumer Reports site. They have some articles for you to browse. I decided that if they send this out to thousands of people, I can share some of my favorite tips with you!

~Viva paper towels fared well in the scrubbing tests and are much more affordable than Bounty Extra Soft (my friend E will be so excited!).
~Chip clips did better at keeping chips fresh than putting chips into a zipper style plastic storage bag.
~The $20 pair of Levi’s Signature jeans were made better than a $220 pair of True Religion jeans! Now THAT’S saving!
~This tip sounds like Dave Ramsey style bartering to me–when you are negotiating with a salesperson, ask them, “Can you do better for me?”
~Target’s Market Pantry brand brownies tied with Duncan Hines Family-Style Brownies Chewy Fudge, and they will save your pocketbook 30%!
~Here’s another one that astounded me, and I just have to share. The Victoria’s Secret IPEX demi bra has a competitor in Target! The Vicky’s version costs $45. The Gilligan & O’Malley version found at Target costs $11, and it survived washing better!
~Curious about “As seen on TV” items? The PedEgg worked great when Shop Smart testers put it to work.

This is not any kind of ad for Shop Smart. I simply thought these are great tips, and I can’t wait to get my complimentary copy! I may be very, very tempted to subscribe! Hmmm…they do have fashion information. Perhaps it could be a tax deduction for my business!


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Save $ Monday–Spend Less on Christmas Next Year!

I am very pleased to bring you a guest post today. I asked my good friend Jessica to share with my readers how she has saved hundreds of dollars on Christmas shopping this year so they could use her tips to accomplish the same thing next year. Here is what Jessica had to say…

Ok, so I hope all you Many Hats Mommy readers out there do realize that Christmas is just 19 days away!  Yep, that’s right, just 19 days.  In regards to your Christmas shopping does that number send you into a panic or are you still breathing ok?  Well, in the past I would have been hyperventilating just about now, but not this year.  I mentioned to Jenny that I had almost all of my Christmas shopping done for a fraction of the original cost thanks to some online programs I participate in, and she asked me to share them with you!  I am, most thankfully, completely done Christmas shopping.  A big task since I purchased gifts for 37 people, including my immediate family, extended family, and staff & Sunday School teachers at church.  My total would have been….drum roll please…..$1, 105.98.  Praise the Lord I only paid $380.17!  That’s only 1/3 of the original total!

Here’s how I did it:

1.       I keep a very detailed spread sheet of my Christmas shopping.  It has columns for the people I’m shopping for, the gift, the original price, the price I paid, my total out of pocket spending so far, and last year’s total.  This helps me see each gift and price as well as keep an eye on the big picture so that I don’t let the budget get out of hand.  My goal is always to keep things low cost and to beat last year’s total!

2.       I stalk several blogs, including this one, to help me find the best deals all year long.  There are so many online deals for things that make great gifts (photo mugs and calendars for instance) that you can buy at any point in the year and save for Christmas.  I would never know about these deals if the great women who write these blogs didn’t post them for all of us.  I am very thankful to them!  My favorite money-saving blogs are:

Many Hats Mommy     www.manyhatsmommy.blogspot.com
Spend Freely                 www.spendfreely.blogspot.com
Frugal Coupon Living  www.frugalcouponliving.com

3.       I get what is basically FREE MONEY online by participating in a few ABSOLUTELY FREE programs and earning online gift cards.  I know folks can be skeptical about such things, but my 3 favorite ones I have been participating in for at least a year now, and I have never been asked to spend any money—I’ve only received it!  Here is a rundown of these programs and links to get you started:

1)      Swagbucks:  Swagbucks is basically a search engine.  First you register for a Swagbucks account which is free.  I found it easiest to download their free toolbar and set your default search engine to Swagbucks.  This way every time you search for something online you have an opportunity to win points.  That’s it.  Just use your search engine the way you normally would. You will be awarded points randomly.   You can also earn points by taking daily polls, surveys, and online shopping if you wish.  My favorite way to redeem these points is with Amazon.com e-gift cards.  450 points gets you a $5 Amazon.com e-gift card.  These can add up quickly.  I’ve only been a member for 15 months and I’ve earned $160.00 in Amazon.com e-gift cards!  To get started just follow this link:  http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/Iheartmykids
2)      Mypoints:  Mypoints is probably the least exciting of these programs to me, but still effective.  I think it just takes longer to see fruit for your labors with Mypoints.  With Mypoints you set up a free account and they send you e-mails.  You click on the link in the e-mails and are awarded 5 points for each click-thru.  You make a lot more points when you do online shopping through Mypoints.  If I am going to buy something online, I always check Mypoints first to see if the company participates.  You redeem your points for Gift Cards from various companies.  I like to use these for Christmas presents.  I have given Bath & Body Works, Sears, and Visa, etc Gift Cards as gifts that I got for free from Mypoints.  To get started just follow this link:
3)       Expotv:  Expotv is a product review program.  I get most of my online e-gift cards from Expotv.  I LOVE THIS PROGRAM!!  First you sign up for a free Expotv account.  If I remember correctly you complete some surveys at the beginning so that they can send you invitations to review products you might already have or be interested in.  Expotv will send you invitations to do short video reviews of certain products.  These reviews only have to be about 1 min. 30 sec. long.  Super easy and they tell you how to do it.  There is also a monthly list of “Most Wanted” products you can choose from to review for extra points.  I find items from this list that I already own.  You upload your video and they reward you with points.  Each video is worth anywhere from 500-2500 points.  Again, I usually redeem mine for Amazon.com e-gift cards.  So far this year have earned over $300 in Amazon.com e-gift cards…and I still have some points waiting to be redeemed!  To get started follow this link: www.expotv.com/raf/twocoons
So, that’s the scoop on my Christmas shopping.  I have found that the more I shop throughout the year, not only do I save money, but my holidays are a lot less stressful since I’m not worrying about getting gifts in time or how I am going to afford all these presents and still get my groceries for the month!  I have been so thankful for these resources lately as my list of people to buy presents for continues to grow, but the budget does not!  Just another way God continues to show me that He provides for our needs and sometimes even for our wants.  There really is more joy in giving than receiving, and sometimes the giving is even sweeter when you know that you saved a whole lot of pennies!


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>Save $ Monday–Grocery Shopping Tips from Winners!

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=manhatsmom20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B002PXW1WU&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrI subscribe to All You magazine. If you are not familiar with it, take a look. It is the only magazine that I currently pay a subscription for. Be on the watch for a deal. In addition to having the features most women’s magazines have (fashion, home, health, recipes, etc.), All You has a lot of coupons inside, many of them high-value. I do not use a lot of them because most of my cooking is from non-processed foods. However, I got my subscription for 72 cents/issue (may be hard to find now). I usually find one or two good coupons inside and share the rest.

Last year the magazine ran a grocery challenge that invited readers to start shopping spending $25 per family member, choose healthier foods, and create new savings strategies. The November issue has an article about the grand-prize winner and two runner-ups, including their tips. I noticed that all of these three ladies spent significantly less than their allotted $25/person. Here are my favorite tips from each lady:

1) Sara Vanderzee, WINNER 
    [Sara has a blog, but at the time of this posting she was in the process of moving. If you click on
     her name and the link ends up leading to an empty blog, I apologize.]
~Cut down on processed foods and bulk up on seasonal produce
~Not sure what to cook? She recommends Miserly Meals and 5dollardinners.com
~When you’re tempted to give up, remember your ultimate goal to keep you going.

2) Michelle Huddleston, Finalist
~If you’ve been working on saving money via grocery shopping for a while, challenge yourself to find new ways to save!
~Get your kids involved–they may work harder than you!

3) Wendy Whitney-Scherer, Finalist
~Consider planting your own garden.  No matter what the size, it will make a difference!
~Learn what you can freeze.

If you want to read more, you can find the article here.