29 April 2011


Couponing to the Max!

I had recently gotten into the swing of couponing. Not to say that I never used a coupon before, I just never really took the time to do it consistently, until now. I do understand that couponing has gotten a bad rap. Couponers are sometimes seen as hoarders. Sometimes to get a really good deal, you'll have to buy more (or in bulk) However, you won't have to go back for the item for a good while (unless you have like 8 kids). If you're interested in saving money (especially on things you have to buy all the time), then I would encourage you to look into clipping coupons.

I registered for The Grocery Game after a friend of mine from high school posted pics on Facebook of her savings. I was amazed. I knew that great discounts could be had if one took the time to prepare and plan, but since I've never really known anybody to do it...I guess I never really knew, did I?

Simply put, to get the most out of your coupons, shop the sales and use your coupons during that time for even more savings. Teri's List (AKA The Grocery Game) will compile everything for you; even telling you where to find the coupons. It makes it very easy when you can sit down and plan. I have yet to post my savings. I've been on 4 trips so far and did alright. Nothing extreme like $1,000 worth for only $100, but I did manage to save $100 on one trip to Bloom, rather than spend $300. Since all of my food is paid for with foodstamps, it's nice to be able to get the most out of what I have.

I would encourage you to give TGG a try. You get 3 weeks to try it out. It only costs $10 every 8 weeks for the first store and $5 every 8 weeks for each store thereafter. Currently, I get Giant, CVS, and Bloom (which includes Food Lion). My first trip, I stocked up on food and toiletries at CVS. Would have spent $80 but spent only $50.

I have added a button to The Krazy Coupon Lady's page. I stumbled across it while looking for craft ideas, believe it or not. There are some great tips to using coupons and even some krazy savings to take advantage of. I'll have to add a button for The Grocery Game as well.

If you have any ideas to help coupon organizing easier, let me know. Currently, I have a tabbed folder in my file cabinet for each Sunday's coupons. I've been lurking around the World Wide Web, looking for ways to cut down on clipping time, while keeping everything neat. The Krazy Coupon Lady has some ideas for making coupon binders.

18 April 2011

Working on it...

I've been in my home for a year and a month now and I'm finally getting back into the "I want to redecorate" mode. I've been looking for all kinds of ideas that would not only be cheap, but would work with what I have. I've always wanted to paint my home, but never really had the opportunity. Every place I've lived was rented. Even now, I could paint...but I would have to paint it back the way it was when I moved in. I've explored many options as far as wall coverings go. Fabric wallpaper, vinyl decals, paint, etc.

I first thought about using fabric and starch to add a non-permanent texture to the walls. It's pretty simple and all you have to do is peel the fabric when you're ready to take it down. Of course, you'd have to wipe down the walls, but it does kinda beat painting them white again.

I thought vinyl decals would be cool. They would take less time to install and uninstall and usually come with markings to make sure you don't put them up crooked. However, they can get pretty expensive when you have to consider how many you need to buy for whatever effect you're going for. Also, once you take them down, you may not be able to reuse them.

I thought about painting...it would certainly be cheaper, but the overall labor would be more than I'm willing to do (especially knowing I'd have to paint the walls white again). So...that was out. I also thought about maybe just painting a border around either the top or the middle of the wall. That wouldn't be as bad to have to cover up later...and paint really isn't that expensive.

I recently found a book called "Paper Magic." It really inspired me to think more about the things I could do.

I decided on a couple of things to cheaply add some color to my walls. First, I've found an image that I will use as a wall border, using my good old-fashioned printer.

Those puppies you see on top of my laptop will be going up on the walls. In search for the perfect border, I Googled several free-use images and stumbled across a way to create what is known as a block poster. There is a website where you can upload your own photo and it will print out a poster in whatever size you want, based on regular sheets of 8.5" x 11". Pretty cool huh? You can put that inkjet to use more often that just term papers or directions. There is even freeware you can download. I stumbled across The BIG Picture and have yet to use it. I'm still trying to figure out which photo I will use for my wall.

That blank space behind my desk is where I would want it to go. I've measured the area to see how big a picture I would want to go there. The only thing I have left to do (besides pick a picture) is figure out how I will put the paper up.

16 April 2011

It takes a village...

...to raise a child.

This saying is so well-known. When it comes to raising children, we understand that there are more influences than just the parents and the immediate family. People from everywhere will directly and indirectly add input to help mold the values in a child's life. Sometimes intentional, other times unintentional.

Whether or not you realize it, everything we do affects everyone else and vice versa. Remembering this can sometimes be hard. I would like to jog some memories with the making of this blog.

Meet me. Monique Charles. I am a divorced mother of three. During the last 2 years of my marriage, I was a housewife. I was separated from my husband and two older children while eight months pregnant. In the last three years, I have lived with various families, in search for financial stability. Currently, I'm living in public housing. I have recently been promoted to supervisor at my job and I continue work for complete independence from government aid.

For a long time, I've felt alone. God has been the single factor that held me together. He has placed people in my life as a reminder that He's looking out and taking care. This village He placed me in consists of family, friends, church family, and even complete strangers.

I hope to inspire those like me (or perhaps in a worse situation) to keep going. Sure, sacrifices have to be made, but the reward will be great if you can keep moving in the right direction. I would also like to inspire those who don't know what it's like to be so fricken dependant. There are so many people abusing "the system." They take advantage of programs designed to lend a helping hand, so that those who don't have a chance, can have a chance.

Currently, I am enrolled in a program with my housing authority called the Family Self Sufficiency program. It's designed for those of us who want an escape plan. It's a five year program, that I would like to get out of in less than 3. My goals are to build emergency funds, get a better paying job, build savings accounts for my children, and buy a house.

Let's follow this road together to see where we'll end up!