Friday, January 24, 2020

How I Make Money Using Swagbucks!

I started using Swagbucks in 2015 but really didn't jump into working hard at it until later in 2016.  I started tracking my gift cards purchased with my free points to see how much money that was adding back into our budget.

In 2015, I only earned one gift card in the amount of $25.  By 2016, I realized that I could do this and used points to buy 16 gift cards equaling $381. My goal was to work harder and smarter in 2017 and I earned $505 and got 20 gift cards.  I realize that this might not seem like a lot but it costs me nothing and I get a lot of money to add back in to our budget that I don't have to spend.  I knew that I could do a little better.  2018 brought 26 gift cards with $795 so I knew that I made it and finally figured out how to use this for the best.

I bet you want to know how 2019 turned out!  I did so I decided to add up the gift cards.  I earned $750 and bought 28 gift cards.  I did great with team challenges and getting lots of bonuses.  I also tried to up my usage of My Points in 2019 which I haven't used much in the past or tracked but I earned $120 on 15 gift cards.  The great part about working both systems is that My Points often gave me the gift card to finish paying for things that I already got gift cards from Swagbucks so that last $3 or $5 I needed so I didn't spend as much out of pocket.

Want to know how you can earn $870 in one year to add into your families budget, join Swagbucks and My Points and join the adventure with me!!  If you are interested in joining, check it out Swagbucks here and My Points here. There are people that earn so much more then I do but I am grateful that the work I do gives me money to add into our budget every year and get things without spending anything.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Year End Reading 2019

I set a goal every year to read 100 books.  I used to do really well tracking and knowing where I am but this year went off the rails because I didn't track it monthly.  I had no idea where I was year to date and it was near the end of the year.  I may have missed posting reviews of some books but I counted up the book review posts of the year and I got my grand total.


To the best of my ability and hoping that I posted all the reviews on my blog of the books that I read, I read 104 adult books and quite a few more children's books that weren't counted.  Do you have a goal to read a certain number of books or certain variety of books??

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Christmas Keeper Book Review

I got The Christmas Keeper (Happily Ever After) by Jenn McKinlay on my reserve list and I think it was the last book I finished in 2019 and then it took forever to post a review.  I am a little behind..okay a lot behind on blogging.  I put it on reserve after reading the first book in the series and it took awhile to come in.  I was glad to see it come on the shelf.  This says it is the second and final book in the series so I can't wait to see how it ends (and hope that they add another book).

True love and holiday cheer combine for an unforgettable romance in this second Happily Ever After novel featuring a North Carolina bookstore from the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Ones.

All he wants for Christmas…
The second Joaquin Solis saw Savannah Wilson, he knew she was destined to be his wife. Unfortunately, Savannah’s sights are set on a happily-ever-after of another kind: skewering the boss who got her fired. Until then, she won’t act on the scorching sexual chemistry that is brewing between them, leaving Joaquin scrambling to find a way to capture her heart.

When the opportunity arises to use his ranch to boost Savannah's publicity career, Joaquin doesn’t hesitate to invite her into his world at Shadow Pines and woo her with all of his Christmas loving mojo. It’s a gamble since the holidays aren’t really Savannah's thing and helping her might also mean losing her as she plans to shake the dust off of their quaint town in North Carolina and head back to New York City the first chance she gets.

But Joaquin believes in the magic of Christmas and he knows with a little help from his friends at the Happily Ever After Bookstore, he can convince the woman of his dreams that he’s a keeper…

I thought that this was a great book and enjoyed getting back to the  series.  Joaquin was in love with Savannah at first sight but she wasn't convinced.  Savannah was working in her friends book store to help her make it a success.  She left her old job under what seems like mysterious circumstances that she doesn't share with anyone.  Savannah worked hard to make the place a success because she was looking to make her name back after her past scandal.  Her name in the publishing world isn't great and she is trying to make her move back to the big city.  Although she feels the pull towards Joaquin but is trying to ignore it.  Until she can't ignore him anymore!!  Pick up the book and find out what happens to the small book store and the relationship.  I hope that you enjoy the book and the series.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Word Gets Around Book Review

I was excited that I got the second book in the series at the same time so that I could read it as soon as I finished the other book.  The first book was a little slow to start but by the time that I finished, I was ready to find out what happened next.  Word Gets Around by Lisa Wingate was the second book in the series of three books.

A tragedy chased Lauren Eldridge from her hometown of Daily, Texas, two years ago, but she can't say no to helping her father after a risky film investment. She returns to train a skittish racehorse for the big screen and runs into the movie's handsome screenwriter, Nate. Both doubt the project can get off the ground, but does the attraction between them stand a chance? It would force Lauren to face the pain and guilt of her past, and learn not only how to accept forgiveness but also to forgive herself.

Although I was worried about the slow start to the first book and how the second book would play out, I was ready to jump in and read the second in the series and see how this wacky town would embrace the next set of problems.  Lauren is returning to the small town after avoiding it for two years but only because her father needs her.   She is working with the race horse that her father and friend are trying to get into a movie.  The horse is not ready to work with people let alone be in a movie but her father might loose everything if this doesn't go well.  She is staying in town and doing the best that she can to make the movie a success.  Nate is the screen writer who is trying to re-write the screen play which was previously a failure.  He has a lot of things to overcome in trying to make this play a success.  The amazing thing is that the town also comes together to make it work.  You have to pick up the book and find out what happens but I promise that this book is filled with crazy antics and more town craziness then the last book.  I hope that you enjoy this one more then the first if you checked them both out.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Menu Plan Monday 1/20/2020

Chicken Paninis with French Fries and Sweet Potato Fries
Rosemary Chicken with egg noodles and sweet potato veggies mixture
Pasta with garlic bread and sauce
Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken Nuggets with mac and cheese
Breakfast for Dinner
Chicken Fries, Chicken Wraps and homemade french fries

Oops!!  I didn't post on the 13th but I wrote it on the calendar.  I did Pasta Monday before the boys ran to basketball. Tuesday was Pork Chops and mac and cheese.  I made on Wednesday Sweet and Sour Chicken with white rice.  Thursday was Philly Cheese Steak Pasta which was a nice fast dinner.  Friday was Leftover Night which was pretty much everything in the fridge.  Saturday was Fried Rice and Egg Rolls. Sunday was my son's birthday party so we got Pizza for lunch and had it for dinner too because we were all exhausted.

I am hoping for a good week this week too and trying to get a better handle on what is in the fridge and the freezer because my inventory was never completed when I started before.  I might make that my mission of the day but of course I didn't accomplish it!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Talk of the Town Book Review

I saw the first two books in the series at the library so I grabbed them.  I decided that I would want to check out this new series for myself.  Talk of the Town by Lisa Wingate was the first in the series so I started there.  I had read something by the author but I really couldn't remember what but I decided it looked like a great story in a small town.

Daily, Texas, has never really been known for much until Amber Anderson becomes a finalist on a television singing show. The producers want to stage a surprise concert for one of the final episodes--only everyone in town seems to know the secret. And paparazzi are arriving. And word from Hollywood is that Amber has disappeared with a bad-boy actor. Can anything go right in this tumbleweed town?

Widow Imagene Doll loves her town, but without her beloved husband, life seems lonely--and a bit dull. At least until that fancy-dressed television producer pulls into town, looking terrified and glamorous all at once. Soon life's not the least bit boring as the town finds itself at the center of a media maelstrom . . . with a young girl's future on the line.

It was off to a slow start but it was interesting to get to know the small town and the characters Once I was started in the book, I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen with these characters and the quirky small town charm.  Amber has the small town charm but has starting showing the whole world because she is on a singing show (think American Idol) and it brings question to whether she is really as naive as she seems.  The reporters and many others are showing up in the small town and meeting all of the people who are like family to the members of the small town community.  The small town hotel opens and the town chips in to help paint and remodel when they know people are going.  They also open a store so that people can get Amber Anderson goods.  The town is pulling together around the members of their small community and supporting them with everything that have.  You have to pick up the book to find out all of the funny stories that happen because of this support.  I hope that you check out this book and the rest of the series and enjoy the funny town of Daily, Texas where you feel like you have visited even without leaving your house.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

December Month End Budget Update for Groceries and Eating Out

I maintain a budget of $160 monthly grocery spending and $40 for eating out or take out.  I try to use coupons, sales and any other means to make my budget.  Below are the things that I got for the month and how much I spent.  At the bottom is my eating out totals as well.  Check out how I did for the last month of the year.  I will post the year review soon so stay tuned.

Harris Teeter $1.25

Super confused but I don't see a picture of this shopping trip but I have these two pictures from the store.  I got four oatmeal and two Aunt Jemima pancake for free.  I got one Buffalo and one Garlic Parmesan pretzel crisps.  I also got my free Taste and Tell Oat Milk.  

Aldi $19.16

I went for milk and they were out of the big milk so I got the smaller one which was $1.21.  I said that I would stop getting the big one because we aren't doing the best job at getting them finished before they go bad.  I got three more cheese because we were low.  I got bananas and turkey for my husband.  I got another bag of pepperoni because ours was really low.  I got three more bags of popcorn because we use them a lot and they are seasonal at Aldi. I got a bag of mini marshmallows because I asked my son about making a special green tree out of cheerios and he seemed on board but then he said he didn't want them after I got these so they weren't made.

Wegman's $2.03

We got a few of the new package last time and we were excited to find that they changed the recipe a little again and it was better!  I went back to grab a bunch more.

Harris Teeter $29.91

I went to get the Pillsbury Bread flour which was on sale for $1.97 limit 4.  I also got the Cran Grape because I wasn't sure if we were getting low and it was on sale for $2.14 and I probably should have bought some more.  The peas were on sale for $2.49 on the big bag which made it cheaper then the smaller bag per ounce so I got that to add to my fried rice.  I got the Mueller's Egg Noodles for $.075 per bag.  My husband said that he wanted some Rosemary Chicken and Egg Noodles so I grabbed these because they were on sale.  There was some clearance ground beef so I got them and started making chili and we ate some and froze some which we just got to eat in the new year.  I love having those emergency foods to have when we need something fast which is made even better when I get it for $1.99 per pound.

Giant $2.39

I got a freebie on the Country Crock from Giant so I went in and tried to see what other deal I could get and I got the Gerber on sale and used a coupon and electronic coupon and got an overage from the Country Crock so it was a great deal overall.

Aldi $13.07

I went to get the milk because my mom was coming.  I also was almost out of stick butter so I grab them for baking.  I also got two more bags of popcorn because they still had them.  I got another bag of chicken fries so that I could take some on our trip for my son.

Aldi $5.10

Look at the sale ad after checking out and ran back to get the potatoes that were on sale so that I could make some yummy potato dishes with these sale potatoes.

Total Retail $149.81
Total Saving $76.90
Total OOP $72.91

Eating Out

Spending was a little high this month but it is the time of year that we celebrate and get together with friends and family to have special meals.  The amazing thing is that we cut out the money from groceries because we still had lots of things in the house to make our meals for the rest of the year.  I also was working for the whole month so it was hard to make trips to the store with everything else going on so I didn't get in as many trips as I normally would.

I took my parents to First Watch at the beginning of the month because they bought Chinese at the end of November but I used a gift card so I didn't spend anything.  We got Pizza Hut in the middle of the month for $8.47.  My sister in law took us out of dinner at Delia's, my son's favorite restaurant, because we were going to see Christmas lights together.  We had my sister in law over for Chinese food on Christmas Eve which was $71.82 which we picked up since they got last time.  I voted for Lasagna but they voted for Chinese so I got a break from cooking and being in the kitchen.  We were out of town at my cousin's house and we got a pizza for my son because we were having yummy pizza from the local pizza place and he decided that he wanted his normal Pizza Hut which there was a free cheese stick promotion so I got them for $8.63 because there is higher tax in New York.  Total spent on eating out or take out for the month was $88.92. We passed on a few more more times eating out while traveling so it wasn't as bad as it could be.  We were $48.92 over budget for the month but I was under the grocery budget by $87.09 so I didn't feel extremely bad because I balanced the spending to put the priority on what we wanted to