Archive for the ‘guest post’ Category

Guest Post: How to stretch your Food Stamp dollars further.

February 23, 2010

This is a guest post from Carol who is a blogger at Coupon Crazy Carol. I originally saw it on Couponing to Disney the other day. I was intrigued and thought it took tremendous courage for Carol to write this post, I wanted to post it as a guest post here so that it may help anyone else in the same situation. 
It is said “Into every life some rain must fall.” but I would like to know exactly who’s definition of “some” we are working under and exactly where is this rain gauge we are using because heavens to Betsy there seems to be a ton of rain on my porch!
Without creating a snooze fest of a post, 2009 brought lots of changes to my family and financial situation.  My children’s father, my husband, chose to “opt out” of fatherhood and our marriage because we were cramping his style.  I took my children and we moved in with my father, 200 miles from my husband. I have two very small, very wonderful children.  As I type this, my beautiful 2-year-old daughter and my amazing 11-month-old son are asleep on the bed beside me. .
Being a single mother is an extremely hard job.  Especially when you go 8 months with no child support.  As a result, I have had to educate myself extensively on social services and low income programs available to me and my children to survive and provide them with a quality of life that they deserve.
When you end up on your face outside of the DHS office there isn’t a whole lot of help or guidance offered here in TN.  I am lucky enough to have friends “in the system” both as recipients and as “The Man” (HAH!)  So I have more knowledge about resources than most.
I know that I am NOT the only person out there who receives benefits for food and wants to stretch them as far as possible! So here is a guide to help you stretch your benefits!!
Budget your FS each month as other folks budget their cash.**Very few people receive their benefits on the first of the month.  Know yourstate’s rules for benefits distribution.  Your benefits could be on your card any time between the 1st and the 10th of the month.  I receive my benefits on the 9th day of the month. so my monthly budget goes from the 9th to the 9th
**Example of budgeting: Peggy Sue receives $400.00 a month for her family of 4. (herself, her husband and her two children) This means she has roughly $92.31 a week to spend on groceries for them. ($400 * 12 months) / 52 weeks = $92.31 weekly
**Plan your meals.  I will admit that I struggle with this but it is kind of necessity! Be sure to plan your meals around the sales.  Find some local blogs that match coupons or use Kristin’s amazing low cost lists to help you plan meals!!! Here are some recipe resources for you:
Menu Plan Monday
A Few Shortcuts
Be sure to use coupons to buy your items each week to drive your cost as low as possible.
If it is convenient for you (or only slightly inconvenient) I recommend that you shop many different stores to get the very lowest prices! If you normally shop Publix but Chicken is on sale for $1.99 / lb at Kroger then WHY would you pay $3.99 / lb at Publix?!
Remember that if you live in a state that has a food sales tax (Tennessee does) that you will have to pay a slight amount for the tax on the coupons so bring some cash to the store with you.
Planning, Planning, Planning!
**One of my biggest pitfalls is not sticking to my list!! Make a list and stick to it!! If your list says 4 of the BOGO fruit cups because that is all you have coupons for then stick to 4!
**Try to grab ALL of the free items available each week.  As many as you have coupons for.  If you have a publix near you i recommend you print, beg, borrow, clip ANY Muir Glen Product coupon you can find and use it to buy the 8oz size of tomato sauce.  You should get around 11¢ of overage for each can but there are so many recipes you can use that stuff in and it’s handy to always have it on your shelf!! (Remember – YMMV when it comes to overage at Publix. Some WILL allow you to get Overage and some won’t. Mine will.)
**I plan my meals around my grocery list.  If chicken is on sale then we have chicken this week, not steak or roast unless I have it in my freezer!
**If you have planned your list out for the week and have money left over it’s okay to save that as a surplus for the following week or month. Your EBT/Food Stamp Benefits ROLL from month to month!!!
**Be sure you are stockpiling at the rock bottom prices so that you don’t have to buy items at full price!!
Know the store’s policy on EBT cards/Food Stamps!!
Walmart handles food vs. non-food with coupons fine.
Kroger handles the food vs. non-food fine.
Harris Teeter also handles it fine BUT their system has definite weirdness going on.  A few times my total should have been like $2-3.00 in cash after I paid with my EBT card and instead it came out to them owing me $5.00….It was very, very weird and I made them keep the money and I have run some numbers but have yet to come out with an explanation for the balance due to me…
Publix is a different animal.
I found out the hard way that Publix coupons all come off of the food stampable total…Even non-food coupons.  I bought a whole bunch of clearance stuff (Shampoo and razors and such) that should be free and I should only pay $3.00 in cash for.  My foodstamp total should have been around $9.00 . My total in cash came to $14.00
I was very confused.  i went to the customer service desk and the manager explained it to me.  He fixed everything for me which was terrific.  Apparently my cashier was new and didn’t know to just automatically have me separate nonfood & food items when using EBT cards.  Now I know and I automatically right away separate my order out.  I’ve been known to go through Publix with 6 orders.  That is the major reason why I try to stick to one or two cashiers who know me well and who don’t mind me or my coupons.
You don’t have to sacrifice your cost of living just because you are having a hard time right now!!
Here is the reality of my situation: I am a single mother. It is not fiscally possible for me to go to work in this economy.  If I were to get just any-old job I would end up further in the hole than I am….day-care, gasoline, wear-&-tear on my car, new clothes, new shoes, and that doesn’t count health insurance premiums and co-pays and the diapers and OTC medication etc for my children. (We are a sickly people.  I single-handedly keep the makers of Tylenol, Motrin and Benadryl in business with my kids home with me – when my daughter went to daycare she was sick 3 times the amount she is now – and she is sick at least twice a month as it is!!!)
There are a LOT of people angry at me because they look at me as a lazy leach on society.  They seem to forget that I worked for 18 years before I EVER drew $1.00 out of “the system.” When I was working for those 18 years I paid into the social services programs like everyone else and LIKE everyone else I have just as much of a right to use these services when I need to as anyone else!!! I refuse to make excuses or apologies or anything to anyone.
Some other tips to help out if you are in the boat with me:
Look for other low-income programs:
The YMCA offers low-income programs that are income-based and I believe they offer scholarships or grants so that you can attend without having to pay anything if you qualify.
Your local museum may offer a low-income program.  In Tennessee the Science Center (formerly the Cumberland Science Museum) offers a yearly membership for $20.00 with an EBT card.
You can get a free cell phone to keep you safe if you have an EBT card. Check outSafelink Wireless if you need a cell phone.  They are pre-paid track phones and someone (I don’t know who but I think it’s a tremendous idea!) pays for a certain number of minutes per phone a month.  It is only offered in certain states and that part of their website is down right now so I can’t tell you which ones 😦 To see if your state participates go to the link and put your zip code in and see if you could qualify if you are in need of a phone!! (And yes, it really is free!)
Check into state supported/paid for insurance programs for your children if you are unable to provide them with insurance.  Your state may have a reduced cost (or free) health insurance option.
If you have small children (5 and under) or are pregnant or nursing PLEASE check into your state’s WIC program (Women, infants and children.) They provide you with food vouchers for your children that can help out tremendously.  If you are unable to nurse and your baby has to use formula they help you out with formula for the first 12 months of a childs life and provide essential foods for your child such as whole grains, eggs, juice, milk and fresh fruits and vegetables each month!! (This program is very easy to qualify for..a LOT of the enlisted folks in the military qualify for WIC….)
If you have small children, and a washer at home, swallow your “ick” factor and check into cloth diapering.  Each disposable diaper costs 41¢ that you are throwing into the landfill. (This is an average number averaging the cost of a newborn diaper and the cost of a stage 5 diaper).  The average child will wear 7000 diapers until they are potty trained (Assuming complete potty training by age 3)  I cloth diaper my youngest.  That reminds me – I need to write a post about that 🙂 So many posts, so little time.  So many whiney children in this house! 😉
Huge very special thanks to Kristin who asked me to write this post three months ago and has patiently waited for me to write it!!! Things are SO CRAZY at my house with two so small as a single parent!!
Please feel free to visit me over at Crazy Coupon Carol or email me at nosunshyne (at) gmail (dot) com if you have questions or need some additional help 🙂

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Guest post "Guardian Soldiers"

August 14, 2009

I have heard about the Guardian Soldiers project before but wasn’t sure what it was. I have asked Pam at Mrs. Buys More and Mr. Saves A. Lot to tell us about it.

Here is her post!

I was asked to do a guest post for “My Litter of Six”about the “Guardian Soldiers” project so thought I would pass this on.

Guardian Soldiers Inc. is a non profit organization that sends care packages to our troops overseas. They would like to start collecting more of the items that soldiers really WANT and NEED. The military does not supply a lot of items the soldiers like to have.

For example, sometimes soldiers are a long distance from a base which means no showers, so “Wet Ones” or any kind of body wipes are something they really like to have.

Food wise, Sunflower Seeds and Jerky are often requested so they can really use a lot of those. You can CLICK HERE to view a list of many, many items wanted.

You can also sign a soldier up for a care package on that page. While your there, sign up as a follower to show your support.

If you have coupons for FREE items you would like to donate, they do have a store that will honor them. They also want pens and such, well, with the “hot” bic coupons right now maybe some folks could send them some coupons in the mail so they can be on the look out for FREE after coupon deals!

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Are you ready for a Throw Down??

August 14, 2009

My Sister in law and I love the Food Network. Who doesn’t? I personally like to torture myself when I am on a diet and watch Paula Dean, butter anyone? How that Woman does not weight 587 pounds I have no idea. I watch her show and gain 5 lbs. Anyway, my Sister in law did her own throw down with Bobby Flay and made his chocolate chip cookies. Here is her post!

Throw Down Cookies

Ben and I were watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay the other night on TV and decided to try the delicious cookie that almost won. I am really into cookies. My favorite recipe has always been the Nestle Tollhouse. The Bobby Flay cookie looks pretty flat and pathetic in my opinion but everyone was saying how buttery, chewy, and delicious it was. I am all over buttery and chewy.
The verdict:
Nestle Tollhouse Cookies: Are delicious when they turn out. Soft, chewy, and perfect with milk. For some reason when I make them they only turn out about 85% of the time.
Bobby Flay Cookies: Yummmmmm. Totally different than Nestle. Just as good. I guess it all depends on what you are in the mood for. These are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. Will have to try them again and see if the recipe is foolproof.

Because it is Bobby Flay the recipe had some brand name recommendations that I haven’t added and I did have a substitutions but here you go!

Recipe:

2 cups plus 3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (what is kosher salt? I used salt from my salt shaker)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks of butter softened (ten seconds in microwave, flip 10 more seconds in microwave)
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar (didn’t have so I did light brown and added 1 tsp. molasses with the eggs)
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 ounces semi- sweet chocolate chips
5 ounces milk chocolate chips (I divided my dough in half and instead of milk chocolate added dark chocolate. I liked the dark chocolate ones, Ben liked the milk chocolate ones)

Bake at 375 degrees for 11 minutes (I would watch the cooking time)
Suppose to make about 2 dozen but we got about 3 dozen out of the recipe.

P.S. I have not been posting due to the fact that I cannot find our camera. It has been missing since before we left for Utah. It is new and I am sick over losing it. If anyone finds it at their house can you please let me know? I will trade you some cookies for it 🙂

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Guest post from TewCute!

August 13, 2009

This is a picture that I took while we were putting in our garden. It is my most favorite picture in the entire world, I love it even more than the picture from 2003 with 3 kids screaming on Santa’s lap. It was such a random photo, but tells such a story!
This is from my sisters blog TewCute!
Uncle Jeffy’s Babysitting Service

I’m pleased to announce that we are now offering….
Uncle Jeffy’s Baby-Sitting Services
Jeff’s Baby-Sitting Service provides the best, all around experience for your child! As cuddly as a giant, bat-wielding teddy bear can be, you will not find a better trained individual. Slightly expensive but well worth it! Your child only deserves the best and you won’t find a better baby-sitter for a better price.
Packages Available:
[Spinach] $100
Up to 2 children, $20 per hour per child after
3 hours of babysitting, each additional hour $150
You pick him up
1 Diaper changing (no dirty, wet only, $15 per diaper after)
Standard TV watching
Warming the dinner you left
5 Page bedtime story
1 glass of water
[Mac and Cheese] $175
3 children $20 per hour per child after
4 hours of babysitting, each additional hour $150
You pick him up
4 diaper changes (1 dirty, 3 wet, $15 per diaper after)
Hot Dog dinner
1 Movie brought by Jeff
10 page bedtime story
1 glass of water
[Pizza and Ice Cream] $500
6 Children, $15 per hour per child after
8 hours, each additional hour $100
Drives self, honks specialty horn just for your children
Unlimited diaper changes
Board, card and outdoor games, no TV
Hand painted crafts by your children
1 piggy back ride per child
1 horsey ride per child
Children’s favorite dinner, prepared by Jeffy
Homemade ice cream using Jeffy’s hand-crank ice cream maker
Short bike ride, small children in trailer
3 books read at bedtime, child’s choice
1 20-minute customized bedtime story, told by Jeffy
(involves make believe stories about your children)
Bedtime hot chocolate
Extra tucking-in
Cleans kitchen and playroom after kids are in bed

OUT OF TOWN TRIPS
Call for pricing.
If you’re my brother Ben-double all rates.

Cash only!
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Repost Oldie but Goodie!

August 13, 2009

I originally posted this a few months ago, but I always need the laugh!
I had children to keep me humble.

I have just enough self esteem left to share this story with y’all. Then after this I am done, no one look me in the eye I am just too embarrassed! The thing that I love the most about 3 year olds is their honesty. They don’t lie or beat around the bush, if they have something to say, they say it.
The following is a true story, it happened to me yesterday morning…
Because I am a Mother and have no privacy, as I was getting out of the shower my favorite 3 year old walked into my bathroom. I was drying myself off with a towel when I noticed her staring at me with a questionable look.
“What’s going on Storie?” I asked.
Staring straight at my breasts she says, “why are they so long?”
Speechless, I manage to mumble, “because I am a Mom.”
Without hesitation she replies, “you look like an elephant” and walks away.

So thats it. I look like an elephant and I have long breasts. I wanted to scream down the hall at her… “yea well, hey there little girl, I just got done nursing for 11 years in a row, sometimes two children at a time and a few of you ungrateful children till you were two!”But I didn’t think she would care. The damage is done, I have no self esteem left!

Does anyone know a good plastic surgeon?
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