Thursday, September 18, 2014

Easy Ways to Earn & Save (Christmas!) Money

Now that we're almost into fall, I have to admit that I have Christmas on the brain! Too soon? Probably. But with 2 kids and 1 wallet, I love to shop ahead, score good deals, and make my money stretch as far as possible for the holiday season. And actually, this is pretty late for me... usually I start my shopping in the midst of the summer! Because I'm all about a good deal, I'll likely be sharing good finds with you from now until the holidays (as you saw last week).

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I earn some extra spending money and a few of you had questions... so today I'm sharing a few things I do nearly everyday to help with the holiday spending.
SWAGBUCKS - I've had this account forever but never really used it much until I started chatting with Erin about it. Basically you earn 'swagbucks' for doing all sorts of activities online... surveys, games, simple tasks, searching, etc. It really is very simple to earn the swagbucks and once they start adding up, you can redeem them for gift cards (Amazon, PayPal, all different stores, etc.).  Right now I have over $150 in gift cards that I'm saving for the holidays and I'm hoping I'll earn at least another $150 within the next couple of months. Totally doable and you better believe those extra few hundred dollars will come in handy when I'm Christmas shopping. I've only been earning on my swagbucks account for the last few months so if you use this all year long and let them add up, you could get a whole lot of your Christmas shopping covered! You can get started with Swagbucks here.
CHECKPOINTS - This one is a website and an app (I have an iPhone, not sure if it's available elsewhere) and it's SO stinkin' easy! Another friend turned me on to this app a couple of months ago and I'm so glad she did! Everyday I 'check-in' to different places locally just by opening up the app and clicking on the locations that are available. Every time you 'check-in' to a location, you get points and then redeem those points for gift cards. There are other ways to earn points within the app or online that are super easy as well. I've been earning about $50/month in Target gift cards with this app... can you imagine how helpful it would be to walk into Target (or Walmart or wherever - tons of different gift cards available!) at Christmas time and have a free hundred or two to spend?! I can't wait! Go online or search your app store for the 'CheckPoints' app and when you sign up, you can use my bonus code of 'shesabigstar' to get free points that will get you started!

GROCERY - I posted about a few grocery apps that I use a few months ago and that info is all still valid and super helpful. I'm certainly not raking in the money with these but they're super simple to use and the money definitely adds up. Read this post for all the details or just click these links to sign up for the ones I use the most and find the most beneficial: SavingStar, Ibotta, and Checkout 51.
SALES - Be smart with sales! It seems like everyone and their mother ran to Bath & Body Works this last week to take advantage of their candle sale. Their candles are the absolute best and usually cost $22.50 each. This week they're on sale for 2/$22, making one of them essentially free. Good deal. You want something even better? Thanks to Kayla, I saw that they have a coupon good right now for $10 off a $30 purchase that you can use in addition to the candle sale. That means you can get 3 candles for the price of 1! Deals like this are too good to pass up and are the perfect opportunity to stock up for your home and also for Christmas gifts!
FREEBIES - There are so many websites out there that will help you score freebies. I don't have time to be checking a bunch of different websites everyday so the ones that I find most useful, I follow them on Facebook. That way if a good deal is available, it will pop up right where I'm most likely to see it! A lot of these freebies can be small sample sizes but you can also score some bigger ticket items as well. A few weeks ago, American Eagle (who has the best jeans ever!) was having a promo online where you could win a pair of jeans, gift cards, etc. So many people were winning so I knew the chances were good and sure enough, I scored a $50 gift card! I was a bit skeptical as to whether or not I'd actually get the gift card but sure enough, yesterday it arrived in my e-mail! A pair of jeans and a new scarf later for a grand total of $2.37 out of my pocket! Yes, please! Like I said, there are SO many sites to follow along but Coupon Clipinista is one of my favorites.
EBATES - Ebates, Ebates, Ebates... I'm always going to tell you about Ebates until every last one of you is signed up because it's simply silly not to! All you do is sign up, and then when you shop online you go to Ebates first, search the store you're going to shop at, and click their link to get to that store. It's a couple extra clicks of your mouse and it earns you a percentage of your money back. That $2.37 I spent on my jeans and scarf at American Eagle yesterday? I got a $2 rebate back through Ebates. They also have a lot of sale codes and free shipping codes for you to use which is always helpful. Once a quarter they'll send you a check in the mail for the amount of rebates you've earned. Free money. And with the holiday season coming up where we'll all be doing a lot of online shopping, you definitely want to keep more of your money where it belongs... in your wallet! You can sign up for Ebates here... simply the easiest money you'll ever make!

Those, along with the ones I posted earlier this year, are just a few of the ways I earn and save money for the holiday season... do you use any of these? What are some of the things that you do to earn and save? I'd love to hear your tips!

 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Weigh-In Wednesday - "Fed Up"


Happy Weigh-In Wednesday, friends! Once again, I don't have an actual weigh-in for you and I need to get better at that! A scale that needs a new battery makes it really easy to not keep on top of the actual number of your weight and for me, that also makes it really easy for me to slack a little too! But that's all changing right now for me... due to some chronic health issues, I have a certain eating plan that I have to stick with for the next 6 weeks. It's drastic, a little tough, and really has nothing to do with weight loss, although I know that will be a good side effect of this treatment. I will likely chat with you more about that next week... it should definitely make for an interesting 6 weeks around these parts!

Today I wanted to touch base on something I've talked about before, something that I think about a lot in regards to this whole weight loss journey, and that topic is health. Of course we all want to lose weight to be skinny but my overall goal is to be healthy. That's my focus and will continue to be. The more I read on different blogs, websites, magazines, etc. it really astounds me how choices people make may fit a certain plan and may help with weight loss, but have zero value to your overall health. I know we're all doing the best we can for our own bodies, but I just wish the focus overall would shift from being skinny to being healthy.

I saw this trailer for Fed Up last week and I can't wait to sit down and watch the whole documentary...

Now, after watching that, don't you agree that we need to shift focus back to being healthy? I'm not trying to be all preachy here on my blog, God knows I've made a lot of poor choices myself... but this just reiterates to me why our health is most important. Sure, it's nice to look hot in a pair of skinny jeans, but if we don't have our health we don't have anything!

Let me know your thoughts... do you focus on strictly counting calories and losing weight or do you look at the overall picture of your health? I know we're all doing the best we can... I'd just love to chat and open some eyes to look at your health instead of just the size of your clothes!

 

Monday, September 15, 2014

"I Had the Best Day With You Today... "

When I was a kid, I had friends that went away in the summer to a 2-week sleepover camp called Camp Nellie Huckins. It was, what I imagined, a quintessential all-girls summer camp. I can still remember one of my friends telling me I should go with them one particular summer and begging my parents to let me. They said no, and although I have just about the worst memory in all the world, I can still remember sitting in my room being upset that I couldn't go away to summer camp. Life is funny sometimes; if only my 6th-grade self would have known that some day she'd still get to be a "Nellie girl," maybe she wouldn't have been so upset.

This past July, Emily spent her second summer making memories on the shores of Lake Ossipee at none other than Camp Nellie Huckins. I certainly didn't grow up thinking that some day I'd send my daughter to Huckins but as fate would have it, that's exactly what I did. Huckins remains as pure and simple as I imagine it was when I was a kid and I couldn't be more thankful to have it as part of Emily's childhood.

This weekend was the annual Mother / Daughter Weekend at Camp Huckins and so, at 35 years old, I finally got to be a "Nellie girl." It was just as perfect as I'd imagined, and quite honestly, it was one of the best long weekends I've ever had in my life.

Just like you do when you're a camper, we stayed in a cabin...
There were meals at the dining hall filled with singing lots and lots of camp songs. Pure joy. There were new friends, all brought to mother-daughter weekend to share the Huckins' love with the people they love most in the world. There were camp fires and s'mores...


There was the waterfront, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, the water trampoline, and the beloved water mat...
There was archery and tennis and mountain biking and the ropes course and a mother-daughter kickball game...
There was arts & crafts, there were loons out on the water, there was the rock-climbing wall, and there were 200 mothers and daughters who barely changed out of their pj's all weekend.

Just like at regular camp there was a Vespers ceremony and Candlelight... 
I'm not sure if there was a dry eye in the room when we all sang Taylor Swift's "The Best Day"...
And then, most importantly of all, there was the best little camp friend that I could ever have...
Spending the weekend with her, completely disconnecting from the outside world and fully connecting with her, was so incredibly special. It was a gift to me, to share these days with my daughter, and a gift that I'm so thankful I could give her, a weekend making memories with her mother. Just like she does when she leaves camp in the summer, I'm already counting down the days to when we head back to camp for Mother/Daughter Weekend next year.

 

Friday, September 12, 2014

40% Off American Girl!


I wasn't planning on posting today but I can't pass up the opportunity to share another great sale with you guys! I'm all about getting a bargain and love it when I can pass on the savings to other people as well! Zulily, who is absolutely killing it this week with their sales, is now having a sale on American Girl dolls and accessories with up to 40% off!! Christmas is just around the corner and this is the perfect opportunity to get the American Girl doll crossed off your daughter's Christmas list all while saving yourself a good chunk of change! Like their other great sales, this will likely sell out and won't last long. 

Happy shopping!

 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Weigh-In Wednesday - If You're...


Truthfully, it's hard for me to put into words right how I'm feeling on this whole weight loss journey. There are so many pieces to this and sometimes it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Some days I'm motivated, some days I'm lazy... some days I'm succeeding, some days I'm failing... some days it's easy, some days it's hard. I could go on and on and give you a million and one different words to describe how I'm feeling but it probably would be just a whole lot of jumbled words on a page. Some things I'd love to share, but today is not that day. Today the words aren't so easy to come by, so I'll leave you with these thoughts for the day...

If you've fallen off track, get back on
If you're not sure which weight loss method is right for you, listen to your body
If you're hungry, eat foods that fuel your body
If you're bored, drink some water and then drink some more
If you're tired of sitting down all day, get up and move
If the scale is frustrating you, put it away
If you need to stay motivated, track your food consistently
If you don't have enough energy, eat closer to the Earth
If you don't like vegetables, try cooking them in new ways and eat them until you do
If you're tired of being unhealthy, stop making poor choices
If you feel alone in your journey, you're not


 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Huge TOMS Sale!

If you've spent any time in blogland today than you likely already know this but I just had to go ahead and share... Zulily is having a huge sale on TOMS for very a limited time only. TOMS are 35% off and if you spend $65 or more you'll get free shipping! If you're a TOMS lover or someone in your family is, now is the perfect time to stock up for everyday wear or Christmas gifts! You can browse the sale here

Let me know what TOMS you're eyeing... I'm trying to decide between a few different pairs right now!

 
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