Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Paying 100% down on first home is possible

Following is a post from Crystal at about their journey saving to pay 100% of buying a house with cash.

Celebrating a Major Financial Milestone!
Early tomorrow morning our family is flying to California to visit some special friends of ours.

We're very excited about this trip for many reasons: we're looking forward to a vacation as a family; we can't wait to hang out with some incredible people; and we're anxious to get to introduce our children to what a real beach is.

But this trip is about much more than family, friends, and fun; we're taking this trip in celebration of reaching a huge financial milestone in our family.

If you've been reading my blog for more than a few months, you know that we got this weird idea to pay cash for a house and we set a big goal at the beginning of 2009 to have fully-funded our house fund by the end of the year. We started the year at 33% and it seemed very far-fetched to think we'd actually make our goal.

But God had other plans. He worked some miracles, moved some modern-day "mountains", and by His grace and enabling, I am thrilled to tell you that we are ending 2009 at our 100% goal! We're already seriously pursuing house-hunting and hope to have purchased a home debt-free by the end of April 2010, if not sooner.

Truly, "with God, all things are possible!"

This huge financial milestone did not happen instantaneously. It was not something we just up and decided to we'd aim for a few weeks or months ago. In actuality, our journey towards saving to pay 100% down for our first home began before we were even married!

On Thursday, I'm going to be sharing the nuts and bolts of our story and the struggles, lessons, difficulties, and victories we've encountered along the way. No matter where you are in your financial journey, I hope and pray our story is an inspiration to you to dream big dreams, set audacious goals, work hard, and not give up when the going gets tough. You just never know where it might lead!

Monday, December 28, 2009

9 cent prints at Walgreens

Walgreens has digital prints for $0.09 each on more than 50 prints until Jan 2. if you order online the code is 9CENTS.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

After Christmas Sales

One of the best times to stock up on sale items is after Christmas. Most stores have items marked down, especially Christmas items. It is a great time to stock up on wrapping paper and other decorations for next year at a fraction of the regular price. Also, you can start finding gift ideas for holidays and birthdays throughout the year. If you can find wrapping paper that is not necessarily Christmas themed you can use it for birthdays, etc throughout the year.

Also, if you get in the habit of putting some extra money away each month and designate it for next year's holiday expenses it can take some of the burden off of you next Holiday season.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Free Movie Tickets with Gift card purchase


Celebrate the holiday season with entertainment gift cards for friends and family!

For the 2009 season, Holiday-themed cards are available, and purchasers of gift cards for $25 or more are rewarded with a Buy One – Get One movie ticket and a coupon for two free movie tickets to Marcus Theatres Frosty Flicks family fun series beginning February 6, 2010.

Monday, December 7, 2009

24 days of Giveaways at Dave Ramsey

One of the financial experts I follow is Dave Ramsey. From November 30th to December 23 you can register for giveaways, cash, gifts and tons of "Dave Stuff", Today they are giving away $3,000. Register at Dave Ramsey

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Saving Money using a Crockpot

One way to save time and money on meals is using a crockpot. When you have a meal in the crockpot it can be ready when you get home and it is flexible so you can eat at different times if your family members are on different schedules. Some ideas of things to make in a crockpot are roasts, chicken, pork chops, chili, soups, etc. You can find many cookbooks for crockpots or search online for recipes.

When you know you have something ready in the crockpot it saves you the possibility of stopping for takeout or going out for dinner. In most cases you can put most ingredients together in the crockpot the night before and store in the refrigerator until morning, then just turn it on and it works for you all day. Some of the newer models have a timer so you can set it to start at a later time, if you are going to be gone longer and don't want it cooking the whole time you are gone.

Below is a review of a crockpot cookbook from another blog.

From a post at
In December 2007, Stephanie O'Dea made a New Year's Resolution to use her slow cooker every single day for an entire year.

And she wrote about it - complete with all of the successes and failures in her blog A Year of Slow Cooking.

Now O'Dea has taken her experience and written a fabulous new cookbook called Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking.

And for those of you who love your slow cooker, this book will not disappoint. There are more than 300 tasty, easy-to-make recipes your family will enjoy. All of the recipes are gluten-free and don't cost a lot to make.

I love to use my slow cooker - it is a lifesaver to me on those days when I'm running the kids to various school functions and appointments. It's so easy to just throw the ingredients in my slow cooker and come home 8 hours later to a great home-cooked meal. I also love that I can use cheaper cuts of meat and have them turn out beautifully in a Crock-Pot.

I've got a collection of cookbooks, and a few slow cooker cookbooks, too, but they all seem to be the same collection of soups, stews, and casseroles.

Make It Fast, Cook It Slow is different. O'Dea shares some ideas for your slow cooker that I would never think of doing: Chex Mix in the Crock-Pot? Creme Brulee in a slow cooker? Barbecued Shrimp - really? She's got receipes for them all!

This cookbook has a lot of depth - something I found refreshing for a slow cooker cookbook. For those of you trying to eat out less ( see me frantically raising my hand in the air), she's even got a section called "Takeout Fake-Out." She's got chapters dedicated to vegetarian dishes, baking and beverages. And she also includes a "Fun Stuff" section that shows you how to make play dough, Shrinky Dinks, and even glycerin soap in your slow cooker.

O'Dea gives easy-to-follow instructions for making all kinds of great family meals in the crockpot, including helpful tips for both beginners and slow cooker veterans. She also shares her family's responses to some of the recipes.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Saving Money of Phone Service with Ooma

Following is a post by Michelle from about the Ooma phone system. I am doing more research and considering trying it. Right now has it on sale for $150 (reg. $199)

I am really liking our new Ooma phone system. We ordered ours through Costco, as it was the best deal for us. The system generally costs $200 and it costs $40 to have our phone number ported (so we did not have to get a new phone number). We have been using it for about a month now.

My favorite things about Ooma:

:: You NEVER have to pay for phone service again! Ever.

:: And you can take the Ooma with you when you travel or move and just hook it up to the internet and use it anywhere.

:: The system comes with six free months of Premier subscription services (2nd line, call waiting, etc.), but you certainly can live a full life without the Premier service (keeping your monthly cost FREE). The basic system includes voicemail, caller ID, call forwarding and blocking calls, so we do not intend to pay for the Premier service once the free trial has ended. If you chose to subscribe to the service beyond the free trial, it costs $9.95 a month.

:: Ability to Screen Calls: When a caller is leaving a voicemail, you can hear it so you can pick up during their message or screen your calls.

:: With the Premier service, while you are talking to someone, you can also send them to voicemail, so if our 13 year old cannot take a reliable message or find a pen, he can send a caller into voicemail to leave a message for my husband or I. This is cool, but I can't see myself paying for this feature when the free subscription period is over.

:: All Ooma users have access to the online Ooma Lounge, where you can access your voicemail visually (you can also listen at home on the Hub or Scout), make changes to your preferences and changes to your account.

:: With Premier service, you can opt to enter numbers you want to block or automatically send to voicemail. To be honest, this is the only reason I would consider subscribing to the Premier service. We'll see if I dislike the telemarketers more than spending $10 a month. It has been nice and quiet lately...

:: Our US calls are free (so, yes, long distance is free within the US). Ooma proclaims that it has low international calling rates, but I honestly have not a clue about international calling rates (thankfully).

:: 911 service is supported (although you have to keep your address updated with Ooma in order for this to be effective - basically, they route the call based on where you live, it is not automatic like with other traditional phone service).

:: I avoid all those pesky taxes and fees that the phone companies tack onto each bill every month. I *hate* paying those fees and taxes.

:: Saving monthly phone service costs: Our most recent phone service before Ooma was with our cable company. It was bundled for a year and was about $25 a month, then after the year the special rate was offered, it jumped to $47 a month with all the taxes, yadda, yadda, yadda. Basically, for traditional service to our area, we are looking at $45 a month total after taxes and fees. At those rates, we make our investment back in just 5.33 months. After that, we are saving 100% each month, and over $540 a year! That is an amazing number, especially when you consider that we really are not giving up anything for the savings. Even if we opted for the Premier service, we would STILL save just over $420 a year.

:: Easy set up. It was very easy to set up and there are plenty of video tutorials online if you are a visual sort of person.

Things to know before buying Ooma:

:: Your phone system needs to be plugged into the Telo, the Hub or a Scout. So, if you have a phone that has three handsets, they all would work if the base is plugged into the Ooma. The scout would allow you to plug in another system or individual phone. This works for us because we have a phone system base with 5 handsets and then one phone in the garage hooked up to the scout. That is the thing to consider though, if you have four different phones, you would either have to buy 3 scouts, a new phone system or learn to live with one phone plus however many Scouts you choose to purchase. One phone needs to be plugged into the Hub and the Hub needs to be plugged into your router. So, if your system is completely wireless, your Hub may not be in the most convenient location. However, the Scout is smaller and has access to voicemail, etc., so you can just use that on a daily basis.

:: Porting your number. You can usually use your existing phone number (if you go to the Ooma website, you can check if your phone number can be ported), but it costs $39.99 to do so. Another thing to consider is that it takes about 3 weeks to port your phone number, so you cannot use the system right away when you receive it unless you are getting a new number through Ooma.

:: If you have a security system, it will need its own Scout. Luckily, my husband just worked this issue out before we had to cough up a service call fee from our security monitoring system. The scout is about $65 discounted online, but I am hunting one down on ebay as I write this very post (multitasking). Update: I was able to get it off of ebay for $32.95 including the shipping. I still say it is worth it - but judge for yourself. It does push us out to about 7 months before we can realize our investment back in savings. Still, in any market, a 100% return on investment in 7 months is impressive.

Save even more:

:: sells the Ooma (Telo, Hub or Scout) and you could pay for it entirely with SwagBucks if you are patient and save up those $5 gift cards you can earn for with SwagBucks. It usually takes me a 7-10 days to earn enough SwagBucks to get a $5 giftcard, but I was earning them every 2-3 days for a while - it all depends on how much you share SwagBucks with others.

:: I recently received a promotional email from Ooma, offering up three promotional code emails to save $50 on the Telo. If you are purchasing an Ooma Telo and want me to send you one of the emails with the $50 promo code offer, please leave a comment and I will send it to you. There are only 3 emails, so please only request one if you are serious about purchasing the Telo. The code is good through 12-31-09. The Telo is currently $197.85 at, with the additional $50 off, you would pay $147.85.

Full disclosure: I would also receive a $25 gift card when you used your $50 Telo coupon as a referral incentive. However, I would NOT endorse the Ooma if I did not like it and I have been honest in my post about things you need to consider when moving to the Ooma system. And you are welcome to buy your Ooma any old place - just email me if you can use the discount to your advantage.

We have the basic Ooma system and a Scout (I am not being paid or given an Ooma to review, this was bought on our own). The new Ooma Telo looks pretty slick, but I was happy with the deal I found on my older Ooma Hub and Scout. I found our deal at Costco, where I paid $189 for the Hub and Scout together (it was a special purchase).

I wish I could say we are pocketing that $45 a month phone service savings, but since my husband decided to get an iPhone, we are now spending most of that a month for his service. I will say that at least we have more overall service now without any additional cash outlay. (That is my attempt to look on the bright side. How am I doing?)

So, if you have are considering Ooma, I will tell you that although I wondered what the catch is, I have not found it yet and have been very happy with our Ooma system. So, for what it is worth, you have my recommendation.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

18 days, 18 video game deals at Amazon

18 days, 18 video game deals at Amazon. Are you planning on giving some a video game for a gift? Then you will definitely want to check out Amazon's 18 Days, 18 Deals. Each day there will be one game that is deeply discounted as well as other video game deals. 18 days of deals

25 days of Free Music from Amazon

Amazon is offering a MP3 download of a different Christmas song each day until Christmas, 25 days of Music

Hallmark Coupons

Be on the lookout for a coupon to save $5 on any purchase in TEN of your favorite magazines. No minimum purchase requirement. You'll find this coupon in the December or December/January issue of the following magazines:

-Better Homes & Gardens
-Country Living
-Family Circle
-Martha Stewart Living
-O, The Oprah Magazine
-Real Simple
-Southern Living
-Taste of Home
-Woman’s Day

If you've found any Hallmark $5 off $5 coupons in your magazines or email inbox, you might want to consider buying some wrapping paper with them. Right now you can get gift wrap for $4.99 per roll. When you buy a second roll, you'll get it for $.98. Buy both, use your $5 off coupon, and you'll get wrapping paper for $.50 per roll!