TODAY ONLY: $5 off $15 Amazon Book

I love to both give and receive books and because I’m a living with less girl, I also love to pass along a good deal.

I just learned that Amazon is offering $5 off any print book purchase of $15 or more by simply using the promo code: GIFTBOOK.  Today (Sunday) is the last day for this deal so I’ll be taking advantage of it for some Christmas gifts and I wanted to make sure you knew about it too!

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If you’re thinking about picking up a copy of No More Perfect Marriages when it comes out, you can go ahead and pre-order it and use this coupon! (The book under $15 so you’ll need to package it with another book purchase.)

If you’re looking to purchase for a special mom in your life, you can also check out my Hearts at Home books!

While we’re talking about books, here are some of my favorite reads this year:

Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud
How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich (I read it at least once a year!)
Invitation to Silence and Solitude by Ruth Haley Barton
8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids by Dr. Todd Cartmell
Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst

And here’s one on my list to read in the future:

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Love Does by Bob Goff (he’s going to be one of our keynote speakers at the 2017 Hearts at Home mom conferences!)

What about you? What were some of your favorite reads in 2016?

Some links are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. It’s important to me that you know, however, that I only recommend products and services I love and personally use! Thanks for your support in this way!

Living With Less So Your Family Has More

Peer pressure.

Those two words are usually associated with the teen years.

living with less cover with black edgeYet you and I face peer pressure everyday.

When you see your neighbor’s new minivan, does it make your old beater look even worse?

When you hear all the activities your best friend has her kids involved in, do you feel like maybe you’re a loser parent because you don’t have your kids involved in any activities?

Do you struggle when you hear about how the family down the street went to Disneyworld during Christmas vacation and you can’t figure out how to afford a camping getaway for three days?

Have you decided to limit the number of activities your kids do, but question if it’s really the right decision?

Do you say no to volunteering more often than you say yes, but feel guilty doing so?

If so, you have come face to face with adult peer pressure.

Several years ago, I had the privilege of interviewing with Dr. James Dobson on the Living With Less So Your Family Has More book Mark and I wrote.

I just learned yesterday that they are re-airing the interview today and tomorrow!  Need some encouragement on standing up to adult peer pressure?  You can listen online today!

10 Savvy Ways To Save Money

2015-NC-ONLY-Conf-Mini-PosterToday’s post is from Hearts at Home speaker Marianne Miller. Marianne is the author of The Gift of Enough: Raising Grateful Kids in a Culture of Excess.

Marianne loves to teach about finding financial freedom. I asked her to share some wisdom that would help a mom on a tight budget have some practical strategies for saving to attend a Hearts at Home conference ($98 registration).

So if you’re looking to make a Hearts at Home conference part of your continuing education as a mom and finances are tight, tap into some of Marianne’s strategies below! You can also download this FREE poster of 10 Savvy Ways To Save For Conference!

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mariannemillerI live on a budget. Sure, lots of people do, but what makes my situation unique is that I LOVE living on a budget. It’s freeing. It’s empowering. It brings me security. Certainly things come up during the year that I didn’t plan for, but the budget enables me to “find the money” and minimize the potential stress of this unexpected expense. Here’s what that might look like:

My friend from MOPS tells me about a life-changing conference she just returned from called Hearts at Home. I’m immediately interested as she rambles about how God used the weekend to refresh, renew, and equip her as a wife, mother, and woman. I ask about the cost and she explains that it’s only half the price of the MOPS convention but it is still around $150 with travel and a hotel room.

I begin to brainstorm how I’ll find the money for this event that I had no idea about when I created my monthly/yearly budget. Here are just a few ideas:

*I decide to not stop at Chick-Fil-A even though there is whining in the backseat. I save $14 by tossing a box of Cheerios into the backseat instead.

*I thank God that I didn’t get pulled over when I drove through a speed trap (net $150)

*I remember the conference at the checkout line in Meijer, and I remove the box of cherry Poptarts from my cart. No one will die without their Poptart snack. ($3) That was so easy I leave the Poptarts on the shelf the next three weeks as well. ($9)

10-Savvy-Ways-Graphic-2*I commit to only spending $50 a week in gas so I fill up on a Wednesday with exactly that much and I watch the tank all week. I omit a couple frivolous trips as I stretch the tank for the full week rather than the tank demanding a refuel on Monday. ($12)

*The circus is in town but I realize the kids and I don’t need to attend. No lives will be altered by not seeing a tiger jump through a hoop or a man walk on a wire. We Youtube circus videos and eat popcorn. ($75)

*The new Disney movie comes out and we decide to wait until it comes to Redbox. Kids learn the lesson that going to the movies is a special treat so we don’t see every movie when it comes out. ($30)

*I skip Kohls even though I have a 30% off coupon AND it’s Kohl’s cash week. The kids actually have drawers full of clothes already. ($50)

*I skip buying a half-gallon of ice cream once a month until the conference. No one will notice and they will appreciate ice cream more than ever before. ($50)

*My MOPS table is having dinner at a nice restaurant. I eat before I go and just order dessert instead. ($15)

*My son is invited to a birthday party for a boy he barely knows. We decline the invitation. ($15)

*My car is dirty but I wait for the rain. ($10)

*Girl Scouts descend on my house and I only buy one box of Thin Mints this year. ($15)

*The Scholastic Book order comes home and I realize that my child has enough books already. ($15)

*I commit to collecting spare change in a jar until the conference. ($56)

*I add a week between haircuts or have boys’ hair cut shorter. ($12x 4 boys)

*I take $40 off my grocery budget one week and get creative with food in my pantry and freezer.

You don’t have to have a budget for this method to work. You just need to be purposeful and actually place the “saved” money in one place. Then feel the power that you have by “earning” money simply by not spending it!

A second bonus is that you’ll enjoy the conference thoroughly knowing that you saved the money purposefully for the event. (And you might even have some extra to pick up books and other resources to keep you encouraged after you go home!)

Remember taking care of YOU is taking care of YOUR FAMILY! Take care of your family today by putting one of these Hearts at Home conferences on the calendar and starting to save towards it!

  • North Central Conference, Rochester, MN, November 13-14, 2015
  • National Conference, Peoria, IL, April 21-23, 2016
  • North Central Conference, Rochester, MN, October 14-15, 2016
  • Southern Conference, Chattanooga, TN, November 11-12, 2016

What about you? How do you save purposefully?  Do you have a budgeting strategy that helps you get to a Hearts at Home conference each year?

The Gift of Enough

It all started with a picture and comment my friend and coworker, Connie, put on Facebook.

car

Every time I pull in parking lot at work and see this car, I just smile. Why? Because it belongs to our CEO who speaks to 10’s of 1000’s of women each year and has written many successful books. But no matter how big her following, she’s never lost her “real.” And she not only shares that real but lives it. So here’s to Jill Savage!! Who has made it safe for all us moms to just be real.

living with less cover with black edgeI like my little “Living With Less So Your Family Has More” car, but honestly I get razzed about it all the time.  “What CEO drives a 23 year old car?” I’ve been asked dozens of times, along with other comments and questions like, “Don’t you think it’s time for you to get a grown-up car, Jill?”  or “If you add water, maybe it will grow!”

The other day at a speaking engagement, my assistant and I pulled the boxes of books out and didn’t shut the back hatch. We noticed it when we got inside the church. Someone said, “Don’t you have a button on your keychain to close it?” My assistant Mel said with a smile, “There’s nothing automatic on that car…you even have to crank the windows up and down!”

So in the midst of being teased about my little old Mitsubishi Mirage, you can see why it was nice to read Connie’s positive comment.

I’m also fine with the green gingham wallpaper I hung in our kitchen in 1997. It’s not falling off the walls. There’s nothing wrong with it.  It covers the rough plaster walls in our 100 year old farmhouse we live in.

Then there’s the bathrobe I had for nearly 30 years. No holes. It wasn’t even threadbare. But my family insisted I needed a new one.

My ability to be content with what I have is most often seen as something bad.  Something negative. Something that indicates that I’m not “up with the times.”

But last week when my friend Connie put the above post on Facebook, it was my friend Marianne Miller’s comment that just blessed my heart in a huge way.  She said, “Someone gave Jill “The Gift of Enough.”  She was actually referring to the title of her new book, but I read it in a different way.  I read it as “Someone gave Jill the gift of enough.”

When I read those words that way, I wanted to cry. Happy tears.  Tears of relief that my old car, my dated wallpaper, and my purple bathrobe were okay. They were simply representative of something inside of me that says that “enough is okay.”  And I can tell you who gave that gift to me…my mom and my dad.  I grew up with “enough.” Not more than enough…just enough.

Marianne also indicated that it was her father who gave her the gift of enough when she shared this story in her comment, “My dad’s car got towed once from the vice-president’s spot because no one thought his rusted car could be a vice-president’s car.”

I. LOVE. THAT.

Years ago when I traveled to El Salvador with Compassion International, our trip leader asked the question, “What is the opposite of poverty?” Most of us in the group answered, “Wealth.” The tour leader corrected us that actually the opposite of poverty is “enough.” Enough food in your tummy that you don’t go to bed hungry. Enough healthcare that you don’t have a family member who dies of a disease that could have been prevented.

Honestly, we all live with more than enough.  Even those of us who were given “the gift of enough” and drive old cars and lived in outdated furnishings. We even have more than enough.

Now don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying it’s bad if you’re driving a new car or just redecorated your kitchen (we actually are planning on stripping wallpaper and painting our kitchen this summer).  That’s not the point.

Today I just want to affirm others who are content with enough and withstand their fair share of criticism for not having “up-to-date” items.

Today I want to affirm those parents who are concerned that they can’t give their kids a trip to Disney or the opportunity to go to any college they want. I want you to know that you are giving your children “the gift of enough” and that is powerful.

book-coverAnd I want to encourage us all to consider what “enough” looks like and recognize that we really live with “more than enough” each and every day.

Do you have something you live with everyday that is not the latest and greatest but is simply “enough?”  I’d love to hear about it!

I’m giving away a copy of Marianne’s book The Gift of Enough: Raising Grateful Kids in a Culture of Excess.

Leave a comment before noon on Friday 5/29/15 to be entered into the drawing!

Six Reasons I Love Online Savings Accounts

142088184Several years ago I discovered something that transformed the saving habits of our family: online savings accounts.

Initially I was drawn to the accounts because their interest rates were better than any brick and mortar bank.

However, now I’m sold on them because they have transformed the way Mark and I manage our money and how we have taught our kids to manage their money.  We use Ally.com for our accounts, but there are many options available these days.

Here are six reasons why I love using online savings accounts:

1) The accounts are easy to open.  I can open an account online in a matter of minutes.  When I have a new category I want to save for, I simply open a new account online.

2) The money is accessible, but not too accessible.  It usually takes 3 days to transfer the money from one of our online accounts to our primary brick and mortar bank account that we use.  This keeps the temptation at bay to tap into the money for everyday spending.  It’s kind of “out of sight, out of mind.”

3) You can have as many accounts as you like.  Currently Mark and I have 8 Savings Accounts: Emergency Savings, Vacation, Self-Employment Income Taxes, Future Car Fund, Property Taxes, Christmas, Special House Projects, and Medical.  I prefer this to having one savings account that is used for saving towards multiple goals.

4) Multiple accounts help teens learn to manage their money.  We’ve taught our kids to manage their money by using a paycheck worksheet.  Each time they get a paycheck they divide the money up based upon pre-determined amounts or percentages for what they need money for now or in the future. In addition to his primary brick and mortar account, our youngest has four online accounts: Million Dollar Account (This is the beginning of learning to invest–when it gets to be $500, it’s put in a mutual fund), College, Christmas, and Music Gear (because that’s important to him!).  Every paycheck, after he tithes and pays for his phone, he deposits some percentage into each of those accounts.  (For a sample paycheck worksheet, check out my free Financial Notebook for Parents and Teens.  It’s an accompanying resource for the Got Teens?: Time-Tested Answers for Moms of Teens and Tweens book.)

5) It’s easy to set up recurring transfers so you automatically save without having to think about it. Most of our savings accounts are growing because we have the deposits automated.  Determined by our budget, most of the accounts have preset amounts that are moved automatically within a day or two of payday. Sometimes the preset amounts aren’t alot, but over time they add up.

For instance, when I had all five kids at home, August was a budget buster for us with school fees, back to school supplies, and school clothes.  I usually needed about $1000 just to get everyone back to school.  One September, I set up a new savings account that I called “Back to School.”  Since we got paid every other week, I set up an auto transfer for $40 of every paycheck to go to the “Back to School” account.  The next August, I had my $1000 (25 paychecks) cash to use for back to school and August never again was a budget buster for us.

living with less cover with black edgeIf you set up accounts like this, don’t forget to set one up for attending the Hearts at Home conference once a year!  If you save a little out of each paycheck, it makes it much easier to go! Just $5 out of a bi-weekly paycheck from one conference to the next will cover your conference registration and give you a little spending money!

6) It’s fun to watch your money grow. We’ve learned that money can grow even when you’re only throwing small, but regular deposits into the accounts. We’ve never made more than an average middle-income budget. With seven members in our family, money has always been tight. However, the more we used the “paycheck worksheet” strategy in our family’s budget, the better we were at being good stewards of the money God gave us.

What about you? What strategies do you use to save? 

 

Living With Less: Save Money by Paying Attention to the Details

With my cancer journey, we’ve obviously had quite a few medical bills landing in our mailbox.  Three times in the past three months, I have discovered mistakes on our EOB–Explanation of Benefits that are sent to us on each claim.

In each case I had received a bill from the medical provider that indicated we owed more than we really did.  Had I not paid attention to the details and just blindly paid the bills, we would have paid more than we really owed.

Sometimes saving money isn’t about clipping coupons or finding great sales.  Sometimes it’s about being a savvy consumer and paying attention to the details.

Here are some steps I’ve found to be helpful:

1) Look your bills over in detail.  One time I found that our satellite television company was charging us for HD television when we didn’t even have a high definition television!

2) When you talk with Customer Service, write down the date, the name of the person you are talking to, and the basic information they gave you.  This helped me greatly yesterday when I found out that a customer service representative at my insurance company had given me wrong information about what hospital was in-network. Thankfully the wrong information had been notated and the company found the note on the date I said I had called.

3) Be kind to whoever you speak to when resolving issues. You’re more likely to get their help when you’ve treated them with respect.

What about you? When have you saved money by paying attention to details?  Is there another strategy you would add to this list? 

Living With Less: Use Coupons Wisely

living with less cover with black edgeEver since I’ve began super couponing a little over two years ago, I am always looking for wonderful deals to take advantage of using coupons.

Yesterday I was able to order a $30 (plus shipping) photo book from Shutterfly for just $10 (plus shipping) using Groupon.  But even better than that, I had “referral bucks” from sharing deals with friends so the book cost me nothing when I actually bought the certificate from Groupon!  I just paid $9 for shipping and got the book for free!

A couple of weeks ago, I received a flyer from Beauty Brands that included a $5 coupon on anything in the store for $5 or more.  I don’t usually buy anything at Beauty Brands, but I decided that it was free money so I would just drop by and see what I could find.  I walked around the store for just five minutes and then I found an incredible deal.

photo2On an endcap there was a hair care product similar to one I like to use.  It was like a wax that I use for my short hair.  It wasn’t a brand I was familiar with, but it’s description indicated that it would do the same thing as what I was currently using.  Here’s the best part, though: It was regularly priced $14.98 but was marked down to .98!  Now that’s an incredible deal, but it gets better!

photoRemember that $5 coupon I had? Yep, I used that.  I bought six of the hair products normally priced at a total of $89.88, sale priced at a total of $5.88,used the $5 coupon, and after adding .07 tax, paid just .95 for all six of them!

I have enough hair product to last me two years and I paid a whopping .95 for all of it!

Do you want to use coupons more effectively?  Here are some strategies to do just that:

1) Take advantage of “free money” whenever you can.  When a store offers “$10 off anything $10 or more” this  is free money! The key is finding something you really need and keeping your purchase at the $10-$12 range.

2) Make sure your coupon SAVES you money.  Beware of coupons that COST you money. If you use a $10 off coupon to buy a $40 dress you weren’t planning on buying, then that coupon just cost you $30.  However, if you find a $12 cami in a color you’ve been looking for, your coupon just saved you $10 and you bought the cami for $2!

3) Know where to find coupons.  When I buy anything online, I use www.retailmenot.com to find promo codes.  I also subscribe to Shutterfly.com to receive alerts on when they offer their free photo books (several times a year).  I make my photo books, save them as a project, and wait for their offers for a free book to actually order them.  I subscribe to Groupon and Seize the Deal in my area too.  (I subscribe to Groupon in both St. Louis and Chicago–I live two hours from both cities and would rarely use their local business deals, but I often use their deals with national companies like Shutterfly,  Old Navy, and JC Penney.)

4) Use a calendar to keep track of deals, deadlines, and expiration dates.  When you buy a Groupon certificate or a deal on Seize the Deal, you need to use it by it’s deadline.  Coupons like my “free money” coupon from Beauty Brands also have an expiration date. I put a note on my calendar two days before a deal/coupon expires as well as noting the day it will actually expire.  This reminds me to use my deals and high value coupons and not lose them!

What about you? How do you use coupons wisely?  What’s one of the best deals you’ve ever found with coupons?