Sunday, January 31, 2010

Savvy How To: Social Media Savings

Savvy How To: 
Social Media Savings
As I sit here in my office typing, a coupon for a FREE package of Golden Double Stuffed Oreos (not chocolate! – thus my New Year’s Resolution of no chocolate for a year is safe!) is literally being mailed to my home!  FREE I say – FREE!!! How did I do it?  I simply became a fan of Oreos on Facebook!  A few clicks of the keyboard were all it took for my at-home cookie delivery. Networking sites like Facebook, Twitter etc… are an easy and unobtrusive way to share opinions and experiences all from the comfort of your own home. If you haven’t joined in, Social Media Networks are definitely a must in the next wave of retail savings and relatively simple to navigate. Granted, I am somewhat new to several social media networks and all the slang that accompanies them, but the savings I’ve seen can be tremendous!  Here’s a few of the ways I save money with Social Media:
Facebook:  It’s easy to be a fan of this friendly blog-style network.  You can add friends, post pictures and videos, chat with long lost classmates and save BIG on Facebook!  Once you set up your personal profile, making sure to update security settings as to who can view your information, you’re on your way to thousands of manufacture websites full of free products and coupons.  If there’s a product you love, chances are it’s got a Facebook page.  Use the search function to seek out the brand and click to become a fan.  All manufacturer Facebook printable coupon offers and product samples require you first become a fan before the appropriate links can be activated.  Check the top button bar for coupon or promotions tabs and enable live news feeds if desired.  You’ll be kept up to date on the latest and greatest for your favorite brands.  You can even share your coupon and free sample finds on your personal Facebook page with friends and family.  You can become a fan of at
Twitter:  While at first I admit I found this network frivolous and silly – posting 140 character or less updates called “tweets” – I’ve since found it a useful tool in my savings repertoire! One of the things I love about Twitter is the ability to research hot topics by following other good deal bloggers. You can even set up a favorite tweets lists and follow your favorite deal finders all in one tab. Sharing your ideas with others in this streamlined medium allows you to instantly connect with other bloggers and websites that share your love of savings. Searching for keywords like “coupon” or “saving money” will lead you to a myriad of tweets overflowing with money saving tips and ideas.  Twitter couponing sites like @redplumeditor or @allyou regularly update their profiles with printable grocery savings and even money management articles bound to stretch your spending budget. One caution, “tweets” spread quickly, or as some say, viral – so once a great deal has been posted, your best bet is to jump on the bandwagon immediately to capture all the possible savings.  Connect with at
Survey Websites:  Survey/research websites are popping up by the minute.  These sites allow you to communicate with other users in blog style posts to share your opinions on specific brand name products and campaigns.  The best part?  You get to try the products for FREE through coupons, samples and other exclusive offers.  A few of my favorites survey sites are and  New trial offers are posted regularly with free product coupons sent to your home, plus extra high value coupons meant to be shared with friends and family or even samples in the mail! The catch, and it’s only a small one, they ask you fill out a brief survey after trying the product and share your experience through trys and tells.  By helping spread the word about new products and brands you’ll be the first to taste test new products and all at no expense to you!  Signing up for these community trial programs is a savings worth trying!  With hundreds of savings offers, freebie finds and grocery savings forums, is the place to maximize your savings! We work hard scouring the sale ads and internet compiling savings data for thousands of brands and products all to save you time and money. Whether interacting with local shoppers to post hot savings deals or signing up for email savings alerts and Friday Freebies emails, you’ll find social media at it’s best at SavvyShopperDeals!  Search our forums for Grocery deals, product samples, amazing recipes, preparedness tips, entertainment savings and free meal offers and more.  For all the best deals and savings value, visit, your source for savings!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Two Cents: Recyling Makes Cents

My Two Cents:
Recyling Makes Cents

I know, I for one, throw away a large amount of packaging, whether from groceries or other goods on a weekly basis (and even more over the Christmas holiday)! After having my kids jump on the top of the bags of garbage in my trash can, so as to fit even more trash in over Christmas weekend, I pondered how the recycling process works and how it could benefit my family and my community.
Beyond recycling all my extra newspaper at my children's schools and having my home insulated with recycled newspaper, I wanted to find out where all that packaging goes and how my family and community could benefit from recycling. So, I recently toured the Waste Management recycling facilities in West Jordan, Ut. where they ask consumers to “reverse the way you think about waste”.

“What is waste in reverse?” asks Waste Management. “It is waste given a renewed purpose as a resource. It is a recycled aluminum can that can power a laptop. It is a pear that turns into energy as it biodegrades. Putting the four R's - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover the resource into action is what Waste Management is all about.” -

Looking Savvy in my hard hat and reflector vest.
As I walked around the facilities I was amazed to see literally tons of trash being sorted for recycling. Bull Dozers scooped material and packaging into specialized state-of-the-art sorting machines carefully watched by the skillful eyes of Waste Management employees. I was surprised to learn that Waste Management recycles up to 100 tons of raw material and packaging daily. Each ton of fiber recycled helps to conserve 17 mature trees, 463 gallons of oil, 24 gallons of gasoline, 7,000 gallons of water and 3.5 cubic yards of landfill space by avoiding their manufacture and disposal! Add that up over a years span and you conserve enough fresh water to meet the daily needs of 2.6 million
Americans and enough fuel to provide heat and cool more than 65,500 homes for one year!

One thing I noticed as I watch the material sorting on the conveyor belts was the plethora of non-recycle products being pulled aside. There were lawn chairs, keyboards, Christmas lights and even full size recliners that had to be discarded as they would bind up the machines and could not be recycled. On a side note - I was a little upset about all the coupon inserts I saw discarded - you're throwing away money people!!! If you're wondering what you can recycle to help reverse the way you think about waste here is a list of do's and don'ts for recycling curbside:

It's just my two cents, but it pays to recycle and it's starts with us. Americans throw away 474,949,019,204 pounds of water a year before recycling. Where there is waste there is opportunity! To find out if recycling programs are available in your community visit and reverse the way you think today!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cooking With Coupons: Cake Mix

Cooking With Coupons: 
The Sweet Savings of Cake Mix

Sunday night, with only an hour before our scheduled dinner at grandma’s house, I received a phone call some might dread, “Can you please whip up a dessert with something from your pantry – not chocolate – to bring tonight?”  In accordance with my New Year’s ban on eating chocolate, the quick options like walnut brownies or chocolate decadent crockpot cake, were severely limited.  Fortunately, I always have a staple in my pantry that an on-the-go chef should never be without … Cake Mix!  Boxed cake mix varieties are almost limitless and can often be purchased in bulk at huge price breaks.   Add a coupon into the mix and we’re talking pocket change for ooey-gooey-goodness at your fingertips!  With an ample supply of cake mix on hand, the world is your dessert bar!  Here are a few of my favorite cake mix recipes:
Peanut Butter Chip Bars – Adapted from: 101 Things to do with a Cake Mix, Stephanie Ashcraft (My Sunday night rescue recipe! This book, as well as volume 2, is a cookbook must have!)
1                yellow cake mix
1/3             cup vegetable oil
2                eggs
1/2             cup smooth peanut butter
1 ½             cup peanut butter morsels
Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together cake mix, eggs and oil.  Mix in peanut butter.  Stir in peanut butter morsels.  Pat the mixture into an ungreased 9x13 pan. Bake 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges.  Let cool 30 minutes before serving. Store covered.

Honey Bun Cake (I won 1st place in the family dessert bake-off with this recipe! Thanks Lisa!)
1            Betty Crocker yellow 
              cake mix
2/3         cup vegetable oil
4            eggs
1            container (8 oz) 
              sour cream (1 cup) 
1            cup packed brown sugar
1/3         cup chopped pecans
2            teaspoons ground  cinnamon
1            cup powdered sugar
1            tablespoon milk
1            teaspoon vanilla
1.            Heat oven to 350 . Lightly flour and grease 13x9-inch pan, or spray with baking spray with flour.
2.            Beat cake mix, oil, eggs and sour cream on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Spread HALF of the batter in pan.
3.            In small bowl, stir together brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon; sprinkle over batter in pan. Carefully spread remaining batter evenly over pecan mixture. (Doesn’t have to look pretty!)
4.            Bake 44 to 48 minutes or until deep golden brown. In another bowl, stir powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until thin enough to spread. Prick surface of warm cake several times with fork. Spread powdered sugar mixture over cake. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Store covered at room temperature.

Best Cookies in the World! (My sister Lisa’s recipe!)
1            french vanilla cake mix
1/2         cup butter softened to room temp. - not melted
2            eggs
1/4         cup brown sugar
1            teaspoon vanilla
1           12 oz. bag of chocolate chips
Mix cake mix, butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla.  Stir in chocolate chips.  If batter is too sticky (because your butter was too soft) add 1/4 c. flour if needed for consistency.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-13 minutes or until golden brown.

“If any leftovers make it past the initial baking, save in an airtight container as they do tend to dry out quicker than other cookies”, says Lisa.

Boxed cake mixes cost pennies but certainly add up to great savings.  Pull a mix off your shelf and try some sweet savings tonight!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pantry Potpourri: Salt

Pantry Potpourri:
Saving With Salt

Whether used as a seasoning, in lieu of money or immortalized in superstitious lore, salt has been productively utilized around the world even before it was first referenced in the Book of Job thousands of years ago. It's likely you presently have more than a pinch of salt in your pantry, so open a container and check out what else salt can do:

Clean Vases: "Mix 1/3 cup salt and 2 tablespoons vinegar to form a paste. Apply to inside of vase. Let stand 20 minutes, scrub, and discard paste. Rinse vase and dry. For a large vase, double or triple the quantity of paste."

Boil Eggs: Adding salt to a pot of boiling eggs helps the proteins in egg whites coagulate faster to stop a cracked egg from leaking. (Hint: Gently tap each boiled egg with the end of a butter knife approximately 3-5 minutes before fully boiled to create a slight crack in the shell. This makes the eggs super easy to peel. - Thanks Grandma Floss!)

Disposal Odors: To help remove odors from garbage disposals, pour 1/2 cup of salt into the disposal. Run the disposal following the manufacturer's directions, and eliminate unwanted smells!

Air Freshener: Need an air freshener in a pinch? suggests cutting an orange in half, removing the pulp and filling the peel with salt. "It will provide a pleasant, aromatic scent anywhere in your home." (My home office does smell refreshingly good!)

Sore Throat Relief: First, let me say that I have been made to use this home remedy more times than I'd like to remember, and every time I wanted to gag! But, even the American Academy of Otolaryngology (ENTs) recommend its' use, so I won't disagree! Mix 1/4 tsp. salt with 1/2 cup warm water and gargle several times a day to relieve mild sore throat discomfort.

Christmas Ornaments: Oh, the 70's! C'mon, your family had some of those cute salt dough ornaments hanging on your Christmas tree too, right? Well, maybe I'm dating myself, but I vividly remember begging my mother to personally hang the turtle salt dough ornament every year! If you've never made salt dough creations, or want to "feel tha funk" all over again, try this great recipe from Morton Salt:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water
To make the dough, mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add a little water at a time, mixing as you pour, to form a ball. Knead 7-10 minutes until the dough has a smooth, firm consistency. To prevent drying, place the dough in a plastic bag. Sculpt your design and let air dry for 48 hours or bake at 325-350 for 30 minutes or until the surface turns a light golden brown.

 Download a FREE PDF of the Morton Salt Dough it Yourself Handbook at:

Play Dough: If you're looking for a reusable craft project to spice up a rainy day, try this Morton Salt Klaymates recipe for softer play dough:

Mix 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, 2 teaspoons cream of tartar, 1 cup water, and a few drops of food coloring (optional). Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and lumpy. Cool slightly and then knead in 1 or 2 drops of vegetable oil. Store in a sealed container when not in use.

Salt is definitely worth its' weight as a multipurpose household tool and you just can't live without it! Stock up on this pantry staple the next time you find a great sale!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Savvy How To: Cleaning Organization

Savvy How To:
Be Resolved to Not Be Perfect!

Well, I made a horribly difficult New Year's resolution for 2010 in addition to the American standard of losing 10 pounds: NO CHOCOLATE for an entire year! I mean it! No dark, rich and mouth wateringly exquisite chocolate nor any artificially flavored imposter shall pass my lips for 365 days! Absolutely CRAZY, I know. But, it's the point of it all: to prove my resolve and let my will control my wants. Plus it helps with the first goal and is the only way I could keep myself from eating it everyday!

You may have set an outrageous goal for yourself as well and now, after only a few days in, are wondering how you'll ever make it.

It's just my two cents, but I believe one of the biggest problems with goal setting is being overly critical of our perceived failures no matter how grandiose the objective. Setting difficult goals should inspire us to try harder, do better and reach higher. There should be bumps along the way! It's moving past those stumbling blocks that make us stronger and more determined in our resolve.

BUT, no one is perfect! While I can be a bit obsessive in my quest for perfection, the weight of trying to be perfect wastes time, saps strength and is simply depressing. There has to be room for error and credit for partial successes!

As a mother of young children I've found that setting smaller goals, and using them as stepping stones is essential for long-term success. Being organized in our homes is likely a goal most of us share.
I, too, wanted a perfectly clean house, but it seemed perfectly impossible. So I developed a schedule of short-term daily goals about eight years ago to help organize my time and achieve my objective while still allowing time with my children. I laminated this list and hung it on the fridge as a constant visible reminder. Note: I NEVER get everything perfectly done every day, but as long as I get something done - even one shelf in the refrigerator wiped down on Monday or 20 undistracted minutes with the kids, I've succeeded in my goal! Any success, no matter how small, is ALWAYS a win in my book! Try writing down your daily goals and you might find some of them getting done more often! One step in the right direction is still a step and as an old Chinese proverb says, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Daily Goals:

    - Clean Kitchen
    - Song Day (Sing or listen to music with the kids.)

    - Bathrooms
    - Book Day (Read books or be read to.)

    - Paperwork
    - Game Day (Play a game - indoor or outdoor.)

    - Bedrooms
    - Kids Craft/Cook Day (Try something new or an old favorite.)

    - Laundry
    - Computer Day (Explore outer space or just space out!)

    - Vacuum & Dust

    - Cut Coupons, Rest

Being perfect would be awesome; oh I relish that thought! And, though I do scrub my tile floors with a toothbrush on occasion, I can't be Super-Mom all the time! Organization in life comes in spurts, a little at a time. Take it when you can get it and relish those moments too!
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