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I never learned the art of couponing, so I have asked TJ from Measuringflower.com to share this very useful tip for saving money.

Hi! My name is TJ. I am the author of MeasuringFlower.com. I am very excited to share a guest post I have written for Lisa of Life of a Happy Mom!

Let me begin by telling you a little bit about my couponing experience. I began to coupon in December of 2009 out of necessity. My husband and I had been married for only three months and, in spite plans of not having any children for several years, surprise! I was pregnant with our adorable son! And since my husband and I had decided before we were even married that I would be a stay-at-home mom once children entered the scene, this meant I would soon have to quit my job as a chef. Which also meant a decrease in income. Thus, I turned to couponing as a means to remain a stay-at-home mom. And I began my website, Measuring Flower, to help others learn the art of couponing.

Now let’s go over the basics of couponing. There are two different kinds of coupons: manufacturer coupons and store coupons. Manufacturer coupons are found in Sunday coupon inserts and through various other sources; store coupons are most commonly found in the store’s ad or in a store-distributed booklet.

When you go grocery shopping, you can stack coupons. Let’s use a toothbrush as an example. Say you have a manufacturer’s coupon for $.50 off a toothbrush that costs $1.75 full price and a store coupon for another $.50 off. Use the two together (i.e. stack them) and you receive $1 off, which puts the price of the toothbrush down to $.75, a savings of 57%.

You can also stack coupons and use them in combination with a sale. Say the $1.75 toothbrush is on sale for $1.25. Take advantage of the sale and use the manufacturer’s coupon and the store coupon and you get the toothbrush for $.25, an 86% savings.

Even better, lets say the $1.75 toothbrush is on sale for $1.25 at a grocery store that doubles coupons. Use your $.50 off manufacturer’s coupon which doubles to $1 off and the price drops to $.25. Use your $.50 off store coupon which usually doesn’t double in its own store and the price drops to -$.25. You just got a toothbrush for free (sorry, the surplus $.25 disappears), a 100% savings!

Using coupons strategically like this, I save anywhere from 40 to 90% each time I go grocery shopping. Unfortunately, the misconception about this is that it takes a ton of work in order to save this much. This is not true! Utilizing deal sites such as CouponMom.com significantly cuts the work out of couponing. These sites match the sales and the coupons for you so all you do is pick which deals you want to use, gather the necessary coupons, and go shopping.

What about all the clipping? Well, if you use a site like Coupon Mom, there’s no excessive clipping involved. You simply save the coupon inserts from the Sunday paper and date them. Then check your local grocery stores on Coupon Mom and it tells you which inserts contain the coupons you need. Therefore, you clip only the coupons you need when you need them. No extra clipping! Using this system, I only spend about 15 to 20 minutes a week planning my grocery trip (including clipping coupons).

Now that you know the basics of the art of couponing and how to do it quickly and easily, I hope you’ll give it a try! Oh, and for more information and for more ways to save, please read my article How to Coupon and my various posts on savvy saving.

Thank you for letting me write a guest post, Lisa! And thank you for reading, Life of a Happy Mom followers! Have a great day and God bless!

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Have you ever opened the storage room door and felt your heart sink as you looked at the pile of boxes and wondered which one was the one that holds what you are looking for? Or what about when someone else helps you unpack and makes a big pile of boxes and you just can’t seem to figure out which one has the kids nighties that they need to wear right now!

To find out a simple solution to this problem, head on over to Measuring Flower to read the guest post I wrote. While you are there, take a look around her blog. She has a lot of resources to make running a home just a bit easier. And watch for her guest post right here on my blog this coming Thursday.

Here is my first guest post for a long time. They very graciously tweaked the post to reflect my passion for homeschooling, which I know many of my readers share. Please give me your feedback; if you enjoy this post, I may have more from them in the future.

The ABC, 123 exercises are wrapped up, the children are napping and you’re wondering, “What else needs to be done?” These moments are perfect for stealing a little time just for you. Pick a 5, 10 or 15 minute solution or create your own.

  • In five minutes, you can wipe off a small to-do list item and get real gratification and calm knowing it’s complete. For example, as thank-you notes or birthday greetings pile up, steal five minutes to write your loved one a nice card. Doing this will remind you of what really matters and at the same time relieve some of the pressure that can come with a growing list of to-do’s.
  • Stealing 10 minutes to catch up with a friend on the phone can be very relaxing and give you a chance to feel connected, understood and considered. Be sure to manage expectations among your family members and let them know in advance that you are taking a private phone call with a friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile.
  • 15 minutes of me-time can do a whole lot of good for the mind and body. Try escaping to a quiet room and read your favorite book. Make this time truly special, nurture yourself with a cup of your favorite tea and snuggle up in your favorite chair under a warm light.

It might not sound like very much, but taking an “all-about-you” timeout from deadlines and activities will give you more energy when daytime routines demand your full attention. Remember, taking care of yourself is taking care of your family too. You will feel relaxed, refreshed and ready to help your children with any challenges they are having, personally or with their homeschooling activities.

This is a guest post from Kumon, the world’s largest after-school math and reading enrichment program that unlocks the potential of children so they can achieve more on their own. Connect with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kumon or Twitter at www.twitter.com/KumonNAmerica.

Halloween

I just read this post on another blog, and I must say it summarizes my thoughts on the topic perfectly–probably better than I could do. I would encourage you to take a look at it!

Halloween – Trick or Treat?

For a year or two after I was married, I had access to a TV, and I watched entirely too many of it. I regret that now. It affected me negatively in so many ways, and never really did anything positive for me at all. I think anyone that has watched a lot of TV will agree.

Now, I am at the almost opposite side. Not only do I not watch a lot of TV anymore—I don’t even own one! At some point, we might get something so that we can watch some of our videos (things like sermon videos, exercise videos, our wedding video—stuff like that). And occasionally (and I’m talking about 2 or 3 times a year) we might watch a select movie (something like “Fireproof” or “Most”). But I really don’t want to watch anymore Hollywood productions.

The other day I was listening to a sermon on the Holy Spirit by Mark Finley, one of my favorite preachers, and he made a brief comment about movies. It’s only a couple of minutes long, so listen to what he had to say:

The Problem with Movies 

Wasn’t that a powerful illustration? Those people spend $120,000,000 to “rape the brain.” That is the best illustration of a Hollywood movie I’ve ever heard. I especially liked the part where he talked about the great controversy theme in movies. You know, the controversy between Christ and Satan. It’s been going on since before this world was created, and it won’t end until hellfire wipes out the last traces of evil in the universe. But that theme is what makes the plot of a great many movies today. Good and Evil. Light and Darkness. I’m not going to start naming movies, but if you’ve watched any movies lately I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

I haven’t seen a movie of any kind since we moved into our new house, and the only media I’ve been exposed to has been the alarm (playing the classical station) in the morning, some sermons I have in mp3 on my computer, and the Christian music CD in the car. I feel like my life has been slowed down, and I am feeling a desire to follow God more fully. And I don’t miss Hollywood. I really don’t.

You can listen to the rest of the sermon, or even the whole series***, if you wish. I would highly recommend it. It has been a real blessing to me.

Last week I posted an article by L. Elizabeth Krueger of Raising Godly Tomatoes called Teaching Children to Be Helpful.This week I want to share the second part of that section of her website. The topics were posted on the same page, but since they are two very different topics, I wanted to share them separately. I am by no means suggesting that the following method is the only right method of teaching financial responsibility, and I do not think the author would either. This is what they do. My kids are still too young to understand money yet, and I don’t know how we will handle it when the time comes. I share this for your consideration, and would appreciate your feedback.

By nikkinoguer on Flickr

None of our children have ever been told they had to work to earn their “own” money. We never gave allowances either. Actually, they really don’t have their “own” money period. I don’t have my “own” money either. All our money belongs to all of us. Yes, my husband and I are in authority ultimately, so we control the money to an extent with the younger children, but as our children get older, that authority (to handle money) is turned over to them more and more. For example, the younger ones may get a few dollars for their birthdays that they are allowed to keep in their drawers, but if I need it to buy a birthday card or whatever, then they gladly donate it to the cause. Later, if they need new pencils or a notebook, I give them money to buy it and don’t make them take it from money they’ve saved. With the older kids, we give them money as needed and sometimes a little extra in case of emergencies. As they get older, we are less and less controlling about this, and don’t really keep track of what they have or don’t have. They are never allowed to just spend money for anything they please. They are always taught to spend wisely. That’s a prerequisite. This method will not work unless you teach your child to be good steward and spend wisely.

I often borrow from the kids to pay the music teachers and may or may not pay it back. If the kids do jobs for the neighbors, they do not accept money. Same if they baby-sit for a relative or something similar. Occasionally if they do a bigger job (like watch the neighbor’s dog for 2 weeks while they are on vacation), then they are allowed to accept payment, and they don’t have to share it with the family, but yet they can’t spend it on just any old thing either. We teach all our children to spend wisely from the time they are small.

So far this method (which I haven’t explained very well) has produced very fiscally responsible teens and young adults. Our 21yo is doing very well at managing his own internet business, our 19yo does all my shopping and does a better job than I do. Our 17yo does all my personal bookkeeping, including paying my bills and balancing my checkbook and even keeping me supplied with cash as needed. All three of our oldest kids have their own credit cards which are on our account, and we can trust them not to abuse them. I never have to even check on their spending because I can see that they are handling money very well. They keep the family cars full of gas and they take on many of the family responsibilities (like car repairs) that most parents do instead.

I should add that our oldest 2 boys now work at my husband’s office and are paid a salary (for bookkeeping reasons) which they just put right in the bank and we continue on as before. We’re not sure what this money will go for, but at this point it doesn’t matter. If they needed it individually it would be there, and if the family needed it for something, it would be there. This is part of the family farm concept.

Proverbs 17:17 – ” A true friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” (TLB)

This article is taken from the Raising Godly Tomatoes website, written by L. Elizabeth Krueger. It is not part of the book. You can find the full article here. Here is what she says about involving the children in your day. That way they won’t have time to think about being bored (see yesterday’s post).

By laurelbethyw on Flickr

Rather than trying to keep my children entertained all day, I believe that I should be training them on a minute-by-minute basis toward the goal of becoming godly adults. What better way than to include them as much as is possible in whatever I am doing, so they will learn to live as I do? I try to find ways so that even the little ones can help me, but it is also good for them to learn to just watch and listen, as well.

Sewing is a good example. I often sew or type with a baby on my lap and a toddler playing with my button box on the floor next to me. Slightly older children can help by cutting out patterns or they can play with my scraps. At eleven years old, my daughter could do much of the actual sewing and ironing, and we would be able to finish a dress in half the time by working as a team. It was also a lot more fun than trying to give her a “sewing lesson”. We just treat sewing like any other chore we need to get done, and we try to enjoy all our chores.

I try to treat everything else similarly. As I go about my day, I try to especially include the younger children in the things I am doing. If I’m in the kitchen, I will call the six year old to unload the dishwasher and the eight year old to help with the actual cooking and clean up. The two and three year olds climb up on the stools at the counter and watch (I never have to call them). They love to lick bowls and munch on scraps of things I am making.

Same thing when I’m working in the yard. I might give the younger ones a garden tool to dig with, or I’ll set them to work collecting the weeds I’m pulling, and throwing them out for me. Of course there’s always lots the older ones can do.

Dad does the same thing. He includes the children in his office work by giving them any job they can handle, often with the older ones teaching the younger. All except the babies are taught to run the fax machine, make copies on the copier, work the computers and calculators, type, file, etc. ( Our oldest, Shane, at thirteen, handled all the computer support work for our in-home office as well as our out-of-home, five-person business office.) This is all done informally by simply including them in Dad’s work. The children take turns accompanying Dad to business meetings whenever possible. If Dad is not home all day, as is the case in most families, he can include them in what he does when he is home; mowing the lawn, taking care of the car, fixing things, handling the family finances, etc. In everything we do, it is an opportunity to teach godliness to our children.

BEWARE of doing all the work yourselves and letting your kids play all day so they can “enjoy their childhood.” This will only result in a adult who is self-centered and lazy, and has a “the world owes me a living” attitude. When people hear the term “spoiled” in regard to a child, they often laugh and think of it as a temporary thing that can be sort of cute at times. Nothing could be more backward. When I used to own and ride horses, I often heard the term “spoiled” in regard to a particular type of animal. In the horse world, this was never cute. A spoiled horse was one whom BAD TRAINING HAD RUINED PERMANENTLY!

Deuteronomy 6:7   –  “And you shall teach them (God’s laws) diligently to your sons, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

By 55Laney69 on Flickr

One thing I have realized as a parent is that having your child’s heart is essential. You can train them until you are blue in the face, but if you don’t have their heart, you just breed rebellion in them. I recently read a post on this topic on another blog that I keep up with, and I want to share with you a short excerpt from the post Do You Have Your Child’s Heart:

The answer to nearly all child training questions is, you must have your child’s heart.  What exactly does this mean and how do we gain our child’s heart?

Proverbs 23:26 says it most like I’ve worded it,

My son, give me thy heart; And let thine eyes delight in my ways.

. . . This concept of having your children’s heart is vast and complex and I don’t pretend to have or know all the answers. . . . I believe the rewards of faithfulness in this area are most evident as your children get older and become more independent, but there are signs of success or failure early on.  A parent who is paying attention will know if they have their child’s heart.

Please go read the whole article. You will be blessed!

This article was first posted on The Modest Mom blog. I thought it was very insightful.

Adorned in Modest Apparel: It Begins with the Heart

by Mrs. Crystal Paine
A few years ago, my goal in life was to fit in with the world. I didn’t want to look different or be dubbed “weird” by society. I fought against my parents’ wishes and desires for me…not always outwardly, but inwardly I very often resented the restrictions they placed upon me. Was I happy?
No.
The Lord began working in my heart little by little. After months of cutting and pruning away the dross in my life, He brought me to the place where I purposed I was going to honor Him in every area of my life—-no matter what. From that point forward, my life changed dramatically. No longer did my heart desire to follow the ways of the world. I wanted more than anything to please the Lord. I spent much time in God’s Word and in prayer. In doing so, the Lord convicted me of my need to examine every area of my life and hold it up against the penetrating light of Scripture. I realized there were many areas of my life in which I was walking contrary to Scripture. One of those areas was the way I dressed.
About this time, I was listening to a Bible tape while vacuuming the house. As I ran the vacuum back and forth over the carpet, I heard a familiar phrase from 1 Timothy, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing Godliness) with good works” (1 Timothy 2:9-10). Although I had heard this passage numerous times before, I was struck with it in a new light. The phrase, “…that women adorn themselves in modest apparel…” kept ringing through my ears. In studying the original Greek meaning of this word, I found it meant, “orderly, decent, a citizen who is quiet in the land.” Thus, I concluded that adorning ourselves in modest apparel would be apparel that does not draw great attention to one’s self. I am not saying we are to dress in black all the time (that could draw great attention to ourselves too, you know!), but that we not dress like we are going to a fashion show. Rather, we should dress in a quiet, neat, and inconspicuous manner. As Timothy Titcomb so poignantly expressed in his book, Titcomb’s Letters (©1858), “A woman was made for something higher than a convenient figure for displaying dry goods.” In reality, clothes are only a reminder of our sin (Genesis 3), so we don’t have anything to be proud about in wearing them.

On the flipside, I believe Christians are ambassadors of the Most High King to the world. Would you expect someone who represented the highest-ranking official of a country to come dressed as a ragged pauper? No, they would be dressed in a neat, orderly, and professional manner. In the same way, our outward appearance is a reflection of Christ to the world.

I do not believe there is anything wrong or ungodly in taking the time to “beautify” ourselves in order to be a God-honoring representation of Christ to the world. But beautifying the outward appearance must never, ever become one’s focus or chief end in life. We must seek first the Kingdom of God…not seek first how we can become outwardly attractive. 1 Samuel 16:7 drives this point home: “…For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” We need to always cultivate first beautiful inner character before we seek to improve our outward man. God is much more concerned with the heart. “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:3-4).

Ask yourself, “Why am I wearing this? Does this outfit glorify God and honor my authority’s wishes for me?” If you do not know what pleases your authority, ask them! You may be surprised to discover there are many things in your wardrobe that are not their first choice.

In further investigating the roots of the word “modest” I found it meant being sensible and self-controlled and voluntarily placing limits on one’s freedom. That hit me. How often, in all areas, am I pushing the limits of my freedom, instead of setting a higher standard so as not to be a stumbling block?

My wonderful husband, Jesse, told me after we started courting how much he appreciated the way that I dressed and how that actually was one thing that attracted him to me. He said he realized I was different, and he appreciated my willingness to stand alone. Then he looked at me and said, “Crystal, a girl can never dress too modestly.” I want to encourage you girls with that. You can actually earn a young man’s respect by your modesty.

I am not going to come out and condemn or condone any clothing in particular in this article. I don’t feel that God has called me to do that. Rather, I challenge you to question yourself, “Is the way that I am dressing in accordance with the Biblical mandate that women are to be adorned in modest apparel?”

We are so influenced by society in this day and age. We nonchalantly accept what our forefathers would have blatantly protested against as “wicked.” Let us not measure our lives by the world’s standards. If we do that, we will usually always come out all right. Let us be willing to measure our lives by the standards set in God’s Word. In eternity, we won’t regret it.

Crystal Paine is a homeschool graduate from Topeka, Kansas. She is the blessed wife of Jesse and joyful mother of four children. Visit her site, MoneySavingMom, an upbeat and encouraging blog dedicated to helping you find great deals, stretch your hard-earned dollars, and live on less than you make so you can save more and give more.

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win one of the items in my store! Multiple entries allowed! Click here to find out more.

Every Thursday I want to have a guest post. It might be a post someone wrote specifically for my blog, or it might be a post that I found on another blog. Today it’s the latter. I found this post a week ago on a blog I’ve been following, and I found it very interesting.

Why nagging doesn’t work

Growing up I was homeschooled using the Charlotte Mason method. Now that I’m starting to homeschool my own children, I have explored all the different curriculum out there, and much to my Mother’s delight I’m coming back to Charlotte Mason. :-) Recently I have been pouring over the Simply Charlotte Mason website, there is way to much good information there! This is a free e-book entitled “Smooth and Easy Days” that they put out. I have copied just one chapter of it, but I would encourage you to go and download all of it and read it! You can do so here.

Why Nagging Doesn’t Work

I nag them and I nag them, but it does no good.” Most of us can testify to the truth of that statement. But I never understood why nagging doesn’t work until I started to study Charlotte’s habit-training principles. Now it makes sense. Let’s say that you’re trying to teach your child to hang up her coat when she takes it off. In order to make that action a habit, she needs to repeatedly and consciously think through the hang-up- my-coat-when-I-take-it-off neuron route. (Remember the neuron routes we talked about in chapter 6?) Now, let’s say you come into the room and trip over her coat.

The easiest thing to do is to call her into the room and say, “I’ve told you before, hang up your coat when you take it off!” She obediently picks it up and hangs it in the closet, but . . . and here’s the key . . . her brain didn’t initiate the idea, so you just reinforced the wrong neuron route.

You just reinforced the do-what-mom-says-to-do neuron route. That’s a completely different route from the one you want her to mentally travel. And that explains why once we start nagging, we find that we’re always having to nag in order to make something happen. We are reinforcing the do-what-mom-says-to- do route, which means the child will constantly wait until mom says what to do!

” ‘I’m sure I am always telling her’––to keep her drawers neat, or to hold up her head and speak nicely, or to be quick and careful about an errand, says the poor mother, with tears in her eyes; and indeed this, of ‘always telling’ him or her is a weary process for the mother; dull, because hopeless” (Vol. 2, p. 1734).

So, let’s say you just came into the room and tripped over your daughter’s coat . . . again. You call your child into the room, and you say something like this: “I promised I would help you remember.” That’s all. If she still doesn’t understand, you can pointedly look at the coat on the floor. Little hints might be needed at first. But you wait until the mental lightbulb goes off in her head and that will start those neurons traveling the hang-up-my-coat- when-I-take-it-off route. Do you see the difference? She thought of it. She made the mental effort.

Yes, it might be faster to nag. Yes, it sometimes seems easier to nag. But think of the long-term effects. You will have to continue to nag whenever you want something done.

“But, perhaps, even his mother does not know how unutterably dreary is this ‘always telling,’ which produces nothing, to the child. . . . As for any impression on his character, any habit really formed, all this labour is without result” (Vol. 2, p. 174).

Nagging doesn’t work. Stop nagging and start forming habits.

I really liked that. But I thought, “What if the child is young and totally clueless?” That can happen sometimes, you know. So I thought if they don’t get it, that you could always do something like this: Tell them to put their coat back on, then remind them what they are supposed to do when they take it off, and have them do it. You could practice two or three times in a row, just to reinforce it. This could really help, I think, and you can make it fun for the kids, so that by the end of the third time they are laughing, which would help deepen the impression.

So tell me about how this helps you, or share your own ideas!