A couple of weekends ago, I had the great opportunity to attend a conference focused solely on single moms. One of our speakers really gave great advice on how to save money, especially in the expensive world of grocery shopping.
She is based in Oklahoma and her name is Sarah Roe, aka the “Money Saving Queen.” And she deserves every bit of that royal title.
She is an expert on all things coupons, deals, freebies and how to get groceries at a fraction of their listed price. Have you heard those stories about moms going to the grocery store and buying $400 worth of food for $30? Those stories are true, and Sarah tells you how to do it.
There’s a definite method to the madness of couponing, price matching, store deals and much more. Here are just a few of the many tips she shared with the conference attendees:
1. Clip coupons - manufacturer’s coupons, store coupons, and get coupons off the Internet. Find coupons in Sunday’s Oklahoman, manufacturer’s websites, store websites and even eBay. You can use manufacturer’s coupons in conjunction with store coupons for extra savings.
2. Keep track of prices. Take the 20 most expensive items you use regularly in your household. Go to the one store you shop at most often and track their prices for 6-8 weeks. You’ll notice a “sale cycle” when prices are at their highest and lowest and you’ll know when to stock up. Use your coupons on the rock bottom price. Stock up while you can, or wait until you can get it at that lowest price.
3. Shop around. Start planning your menus at home based on sale cycles and when stores are having the best weekly deals.
4. Know store policies. Many big drug store chains offer rewards for simply shopping there. Same is true for grocery store chains. Find out what they can offer you. It may not be something they advertise, but chances are there’s something.
I get a “Daily Deals” e-mail from the Money Saving Queen. And they really are filled with terrific discounts, free items and store sales. She even has links to coupons you can print off and store circulars for your area. I highly recommend signing up for these free e-mails and also joining the website forums. It’s all free and well worth it.
Go to www.moneysavingqueen.com and learn all you can on how to save the most you can at your next grocery store trip. I know I will!
My mom, “Gwennie,” comes into town about twice a year from Connecticut. While here, she usually packs in a few trips to the local country western outfitters, a visit to a BBQ joint and, of course, enjoys some Mexican food.
For putting up with the craziness her trips usually entail, I’m entitled to some gift … usually of the purse variety, and of a brand I wouldn’t be able to afford for myself.
So there I am last week, searching for my perfect new bag. Alas, I find it but the store is down to two.
Can they hold it for me? Of course – but only until the end of the day … a full week before my mom’s arrival.
Can she charge it over the phone? Of course! So my mom ensures I have my dream bag and charges it over the phone for me. Here’s how that went …
Saleslady: “Ma’am, would you like us to send the bag home with your daughter or would you like it held in customer service until your arrival?”
Me: Super excited to take home my bag.
My mom: “Leave it customer service. She can wait.”
Me (to the saleslady): “Is she serious?”
Saleslady (to my mom): “Ma,am, are you serious?”
My mom: “Yes. I’m absolutely serious. Please box it up and we’ll pick it up Friday.”
After the disbelieving salesgirl shared this with her fellow salesgirls and they all expressed their sympathy for me, I called my mom back and asked “how could you??”
The explanation is this:
My mom wanted us to go pick it up together. She knew how much I wanted it and she wanted to be there to see my excitement to pick it up. She didn’t want it to be “old hat” by the time she arrived a week later. Part of the fun in getting for me was seeing my reaction to having it in my possession.
Three years ago, I wouldn’ t have had an ounce of understanding about this, and thought it was just plain cruel. But being a mom, one of the greatest joys I have is seeing my boy happy. I treasure those moments – the ones of utter surprise, of excitement, of bliss. And I probably will still treasure them when he’s my age. I guess some things never change.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
I don’t have an iPhone, but I have an iPod Touch. With both, you can buy or get free applications that allow you to simulate feeding a dog, touching a waterfall, playing a piano and so much more. You can also check calories, movie reviews, breaking news and the weather.
They’re interactive and fun.
But what was Apple thinking with its latest app?
Apple is in the news now for offering a “Baby Shaker” application that allows users to simulate shaking a crying baby until it quiets and has red Xs over its eyes.
This new “game” has angered parents, child welfare groups and organizations that work to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome.
The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation has demanded an apology and e-mailed press releases, asking the public to contact Apple about their disappointment in this product.
As a result of public outcry, Apple has pulled the app.
– Linda Lynn
The oldest has researched on the Internet. The youngest has had deep discussions with classmates. Some of the comments they’ve made at home have been “very interesting.” Their father and I have explained that you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet, and sometimes people make incorrect statements about candidates.
But, overall, I’ve been impressed. I’m very proud to hear them talk about current events and show an interest in our nation’s future.
I remember a ride on a dirt road, sitting beside my dad in our pickup. As he drove past the peanut fields, I asked him, “Daddy, what does impeachment mean?”
I had spent many an hour watching Watergate hearings on TV. Yet, in my mind, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the politicians’ discussions had to do with PEACHES!
I’m sure my daughters’ newfound interest in politics is influenced by several things: TV news reports, their parents’ conversations, friends’ comments and school discussions. Katie, who is in a middle school yearbook class, has been assisting her classmates with short, informational election videos called “The Election Minute.”
I think Katie and Kaci’s interests in the presidential election have caused me to be more thoughtful about the candidates, their values, their goals if they become president. I still think what you read and hear can be confusing, but this national event has spurred some amusing as well as thought-provoking conversations in our home. — Linda Lynn
I’m a fan of reality TV, I’ll admit it. I’ve been avidly watching this season of America’s Got Talent and I must say, the talent does not disappoint.
There is one talent act that has bothered me though, especially lately. It is that of 4-year-old singer Kaitlyn Maher.
The premise of this show is to find a talent that can sustain an audience in Las Vegas as a headline act, along with a considerable cash prize. I understand the novelty of having a 4-year-old sing for a national audience, but I really do think America (who keeps voting her back) doesn’t quite get this premise and I think if she wins, it will be a hard lesson to learn.
Realistically, having a 4-year-old sing for a 90-minute show for a Las Vegas audience is asking for failure. It may sound harsh, but I don’t see droves of people lining up, paying to see her sing. Not only do I think she can’t keep up a show that long, but Piers Morgan, the only judge who has given a reality check about this act, is pleading to America not to put her through, and not to put her through that.
As novel as it is, we must remember this girl is only 4 years old. She doesn’t belong on a Vegas stage, she belongs in pre-school, singing children songs with her friends and family, watching PBS Kids, eating graham crackers and goldfish, and learning to read.
And I don’t believe the judges are blameless, either. After all, they did know the winning act gets a show in Vegas and they could have cut her before the live shows.
So now it’s in America hands. We’ll see tonight if they did the right thing and sent this little girl home.
If it’s a TV show that has parents and teens talking on the subject, so be it.
“Hopefully the talk will lead to some positive discussions for some young people because we have been ignoring them for too long,” Rodine said.
Some critics have jabbed at the new ABC Family show “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” saying that it focuses on sex too much and that it plays a lot like a soap opera parody, but others, like Rodine and leaders with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, say it has folks talking and that’s worth a lot.
Rodine said it’s often hard to get people in Oklahoma to see how much teen pregnancy has become a concern.
“Between 2005 and 2006, and that’s the latest data we have, the births to teens in
“It’s an alarm bell going off because, in so many ways, we’ve become complacent.”
Rodine said it’s sometimes hard for people to relate to numbers so she found another way to describe the problem.
“How do we help the public understand what this means? To help put this in perspective I tell people that the number of teens giving birth in
“We need to say ‘diplomas before diapers’.”
With that said, here are some national statistics from the National Campaign to ponder:
– The teen pregnancy and birth rate has declined dramatically since the early 1990s (down 38 percent and 32 percent respectively), driven by decreased sexual activity and increases in contraceptive use. Even so, recent data shows that the declines in teen sex and improvements in contraceptive use have leveled off. And the teen birth rate is on the rise for the first time in 15 years.
It’s not too late to visit Grandma, Mee Maw or Granny to tell her you’re thinking about her.
It’s not too late to make a phone call and send Papa or Gramps a hug over the phone lines.
I know people sometimes argue that special designated days like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Grandparents Day are irrelevant when we should all be appreciative and loving of Mom or Dad or Grandma everyday.
But these family roles are so important that I believe we can’t laud them enough, appreciate and celebrate them enough.
So take the time to honor your grandparents. Many have invested much in their families and are now looking to see some of that time, energy and love come to fruition in the next generation.
Teach your children the value of respecting and appreciating the older adults who were paving the way for them long before they were even thought of.
The payoff is huge.
One day, if you are lucky, you’ll be a grandparent too.
P.S. Maybe you’re already a grandparent. If so, happy Grandparents Day!
Today the film “Tropic Thunder,” opens. The New York Times reports that the Special Olympics along with various other disability organizations will be boycotting the film due to its derogatory use of the word retard.
I get it. I get satire. I get that the point was to make fun of the lengths that Hollywood will go to win awards, the boundaries of exploitation they do not respect for a statuette and the insane tactics to win roles. I get it. And it is a good point.
And I really want to not be disappointed in Ben Stiller, who I once was willing to convert to Judaism in order to marry. And if you’ve started rolling your eyes already at this post, I’m not an oversensitive or easily offended person. I was on a cheerleading squad (a detail about my life that I don’t let slip often) for five years with girls whose grossness knew no boundaries and defied imagination. If you don’t believe me ask your friendly neighbor cheerleader.
What I think Ben and apparently every other person who made the movie, and many people who don’t have someone with a disability close to them, fail to get is the power of the word retard.
I hate to ever compare anything to the n-word because I don’t think that any other word in the history of words has been filled with as much hate. But if you ever saw my brother’s face when someone called him a retard, you might understand how close the word comes. His little face emblazoned with all of the characteristics of Down syndrome cringe in pain .
So justify the use of the word in the name of satire all you want, it will never be funny to me. I get satire. But I’ve also got an understanding of how deep the word retard used in certain context can cut.
So while this is in the news it is a good opportunity for parents, if they choose to take it, to explain how painful words can be.
- Lindsey Johnson
I often think of the myth of Sisyphus that I read about in school sometime years ago.
He was the man whom the Greek gods condemned to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to see it roll down when he reaches his top. He then has to trudge back to the bottom to do it all again. Every day for all of eternity.
I can’t remember what Sisyphus did that was so bad in the Greek legend, but I think of him when I do the laundry. The laundry is my boulder.
When (if) I get it completely washed, folded and put away, I feel like I’ve accomplished a major feat, only to open the laundry hamper to see it already full again. With clothes from the swimming pool, the playground, sports games, the park or elsewhere and with towels from the pool as well as from the kids’ three baths each night.
I know I’m not unique.
I also know that we can find Sisyphus anywhere, in the little things like dishes and laundry and in the big things like child rearing. We get up every day and do it all over again.
Philosopher Albert Camus once suggested that Sisyphus was smiling as he faced his momentous task again each day, and in doing so, he had beaten the gods.
“One must imagine Sisyphus happy,” he wrote.
I like that. I also like what the apostle Paul wrote to the early Christians once:
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-3 NKJV)
It’s hard to remember to smile in the nitty gritty daily grind of whatever my boulder is that day. I often have to remind myself to “count it all joy.”
But each day is a new day, and I am thankful for the chance to try again with my children, my family and friends whom I love. And with the laundry. And unpacking from our move a year ago. And the dishes. And the cleaning. And …
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning.(Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV)
OK. So here’s my keep-it-all-together trick. My secret sauce. It’s actually a little trick I learned in Lamaze. And I’m glad I got something out of that because once the contractions kicked in, that breathing bologna went right out the window. Hook me up and let her drip. Although I did get a few massages from my husband during the help-her-relax-through-the-most-excrutiating-pain- a-human-being-can-feel-without-going-into-shock-and-dying portions of our classes. And it was also during this portion of our weekly class that I learned my little trick. Our instructor would turn down the lights, we’d close our eyes and she’d give us the description of a serene locale.
“You’re walking on the beach,” she’d say. “You can hear the crashing waves. A gentle breeze is blowing on your face.”
Then all of the sudden I could taste the salt in the air and feel the sun on my shoulders. I could hear that crunching squeak the sand makes when it slides under your feet. The way the sand feels cold between your toes but hot on the soles of your feet. The squawk of seagulls. This was powerful stuff because we were in the community center in Durango, Colorado.