Teach your child to read for free in 3 months

Teach your child to read for free in 3 months – Did you know it is possible to teach your child to read in about 3 months, and for free? Being a Money Savin’ Momma, I was excited to read what one of our readers, Kerrie, had to say about this topic! Kerrie recently shared her experience with us. I hope some of you will be able to incorporate these techniques with your children too!

Guest Post by Kerrie Koupon Kueen: I bought the Hooked on Phonics system for Pre-K and I just didn’t like it. A friend of mine posted a picture of her four year old daughter (who is only a few months older than my daughter) reading a 3rd grade level book. She recommended Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. They claim it only takes 20-30 minutes, but as we got further along in the book, sometimes it would take an hour to get through a lesson. I think I struggled with it because I’m a horrible teacher. I tell people, “It was a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Maybe not blood, but almost!” But everything is scripted out (no guessing!) and once I figured out how to tweak it to my daughter, we got through it.

Teach your child to readI was amazed what she was reading in about lesson 20. The book guarantees that your child will be reading on a 2nd grade level, but I think it’s when you finish the recommended reading list. My daughter started Kindergarten this year and she tested on a 1st grade reading level! We finished the lessons in May, but had to put a hold on the reading list because we ended up moving. If I had more time, I might have finished the list. But she’s reading! I love that the book shows children how to sound out. She will see a word that she has never seen before and she’ll try and sound it out. It uses the SRA system that is taught in some schools. It is the same system that is being taught in my daughter’s school. The best part about this book is that I only paid $18 for it. All I had to buy after that is a dry erase board and marker for writing. Yes, they also teach your child how to write the letters. And now I have everything I need to teach my other two. They claim you can teach a very bright 3 1/2 year old and any average 4 and 5 year old. I recommend this book to all my friends.

  • You can get it at Amazon.com new for less than $15 new and much LESS if you buy used. (MSM here: If you use the FREE Amazon gift cards you get from searching online with Swagbucks and rating websites with iRazoo, this book can be totally FREE!) Amazon also has a scanned page of a lesson so you can see for yourself before you buy.
  • Barnes & Noble has it for around $15 and you can have it shipped to a store for free. (If you go through a cash back shopping site like Cashbaq, Ebates, Shop at Home, or Mr. Rebates you can get cash back on your purchase, plus you get $5 free to sign up for any of these sites.)

About Kerrie Koupon Kueen: At the beginning of 2009 my husband and I started looking for ways to save money. I don’t claim to know everything about being frugal or couponing, but I’m learning. I originally started my own blog to post my showoffs for my cousin and sister in-law, but was quickly inspired by CAFM and their goal for a debt free life which has been one of my goals since March of this year. You can read my complete story at my blog, Kerrie Koupon Kueen.

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New Swiffer wetjet – coupons, $10 rebate, & money back guarantee

Swiffer Wetjet KitDid you know there is a new Swiffer wetjet? I didn’t know it, but MyBlogSpark & Swiffer sent us the new Swiffer wetjet to try out, along with a product CD & information kit! And, even if the Swiffer wetjet is sometimes out of your budget, this is also a great time to buy Swiffer products because Swiffer is offering a $10 or $5 rebate through 9/15/09, in the form of a $10 or $5 rewards card. You can get more info on these Swiffer rebates here. (Thanks Carrie!)

You can also get some Swiffer coupons for various products (including $7 off Swiffer Wetjet) here: Swiffer coupons

Also, if you buy a Swiffer product and are not completely satisfied, you can take advantage of Swiffer’s full money back guarantee. Read more about the Swiffer full money back guarantee. We did buy another Swiffer product in the past that we were simply not satisfied with, so we did take advantage of the money back guarantee, so I can verify that this money back guarantee is truly legitimate.

Swiffer Wetjet Removable Scrubbing padI must say I love the new Swiffer wetjet! One of my favorite features is that the little white scrubber pad on the top is BIGGER and removable. Also, the dual nozzles that spray the cleaning fluid are also an improvement. It seems like the product sprays farther than before, so one spray covers a larger area than it used to. As usual, I love the fresh clean smell of the Swiffer cleaning fluid. You can find out more about the new Swiffer wetjet here.

Also, if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to refill your Swiffer wetjet and save money on the refill fluid, check out our post here: How to Hack a Swiffer Wetjet

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And the verdict is… a big hit to the emergency fund… *OUCH*

Last Wednesday Momma was in a town 40 miles away and had her suv break down, leaving her stranded. Great, especially since I was at home with a twisted ankle trying to get some bedrest. So I arranged a repair shop, arranged a tow truck and drove down to pick her and my son up and brought them home. I started hunting and pecking to see where we had any extra cash sitting around that could be used in addition to the emergency fund knowing things could be bad. The SUV in question is a 2000 chevy blazer with almost 100k on the odometer. So far it has been a great little SUV, very utilitarian, decent MPG, reliable and best of all, for several years now… owned free and clear.

I grew up around cars and worked on them for years, my gut is telling me based on the symptoms that it is either a bad torque converter (bad, expensive) or a blow tranny (really bad, horribly expensive).

I am really happy we set up the emergency fund (Learn how we make money online to help build our emergency fund here). In the beginning, I thought it was a waste of time, that the cash would be better spent paying down debts. Now because we socked some cash away for this kind of thing we at least have a healthy majority of the repair cost saved up. In the past we just would have slapped it on Amex and paid the minimums.

So the estimates have come in and the verdict is that we need to replace the transmission. A rebuilt unit with 3 year warranty and all the labor and fluids comes to a grand total of $2400. OUCH. I called around to 3 separate shops for quotes and they are all within about 100 dollars of each other. So it looks like the emergency fund is going to be drained and then some. I guess that’s life… manure happens.

Guess the extra principal payments/snowflaking to the mortgage is just going to have to wait a couple months until we build the E-Fund back up again.

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Does it really save electricity to turn off the lights when you know you are coming back shortly? An age old question. Here is the proof!
Warning: My inner geek may bore you, LOL. I’ll try not to be overly technical.

As many of you know I am an engineer by trade, my disciplines are in both mechanical and electronics. I spend most of my days knee deep designing, developing and troubleshooting electrical systems, specifically in the lighting industry. One thing that I have seen many people talk about (and have had many emails about this myself) is whether it really saves electricity to turn off the lights when you leave the room, especially if you know you are coming back in a minute or even a couple minutes. Read: many people talk about it and speculate… but how many of them can prove it?

When I am cleaning house, I bounce around room to room like a chicken with my head cut off trying to pick things up, sometimes I leave the lights on merely for convenience… but still one has to wonder about the old wives tale that it uses less electricity to leave the lights on.

The train of thought that most people have is that when a light bulb (incandescent, florescent, CFL, neon, LED) is turned on, it draws more current when first powered up.

Is this true? Yes and no.

Allow me to explain. Some light sources do indeed draw more current when first powered on, this is technically known as inrush current. Incandescents are probably the worst for this. From experimenting, most modern CFL’s, florescents with electronic ballasts, neon and LED lighting does not have an inrush current (at least not measurable). Most modern CFL’s and electronic ballasts (florescent and neon) have a bit of a soft start involved, meaning in order to illuminate and complete the circuit it must ignite the gas into plasma. This is not an instantaneous process, so it is inherently slower starting.

So even in the worst case scenario, using incandescent lamps, we know that there is indeed an inrush current involved. But does this inrush current make it cheaper to leave the lights on for a minute while you grab the phone?


Here’s proof: I took a 60W incandescent light bulb and monitored the current on my oscilloscope (an instrument that takes measurements vs time), here is the results. Notice the large spike of current when first powered on? This is the inrush current. Nominally this inrush current is about twice the steady state current.

But notice how short the inrush current is? If we zoom in and measure this time you will understand. See that time on the side (delta t) 48.00ms. That’s 0.048 seconds. That means as long as you are out of the room for for more than about a 1/10 of a second, it does indeed save money to turn the lights OFF!

I don’t know about you guys, but I usually leave the room for more than .1 seconds at a time… Usually… LOL.

This is worst case scenario. What about best case? Best case, the most efficient lighting is LED’s. Here is the overshoot in LED lighting. NONE. Period.

This means that it always saves money to turn them off when leaving the room, even when it is for 0.10 seconds.

Hope you found this informational. As a science dork, I just thought it would be fun to prove this myth either way.

Don’t forget to turn out the lights!!!

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How to stretch your budget and get free groceries!

Times are tight, and everyone is trying to stretch budgets farther these days! An easy way to stretch your budget is by getting your groceries for FREE!

Did you know you can get free groceries? If you use Swagbucks to get paid to search online, you can get free Amazon gift cards and then use those Amazon gift cards to get groceries totally FREE! (We earned enough Amazon gift cards on Swagbucks in two months time to get a free laptop through Amazon! Read more about it here!) It’s a great way to stretch your grocery budget each month! And to top it off, Amazon also has grocery specials and sales every single month.

  • Are you new to Swagbucks / Swag Bucks, a site where you can get paid to search online, for the Google searches you already do? You get paid 3 bucks just to sign up! Read more about Swagbucks here!

You can see this month’s grocery sales at Amazon here. Some of the sales this month include Quaker, Gatorade, Lipton, Kashi, Hormel, coffee, tea, and baby foods (just to name a few!).

Many people are pleasantly surprised to learn Amazon sells groceries, and the fact that you can get free groceries through Amazon when you use Swagbucks makes the deal even better!

One thing I like is that there are groceries you can buy on Amazon that are not easy to find in some grocery stores. In addition to “regular groceries”, Amazon carries specialty grocery items and various organic/health foods. So be sure to check out this month’s grocery specials to see what free food you can get this month!

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Guest post from Frugal FairHope : Couponing Strategies

Who doesn’t love coupons, especially the really good ones that save you a ton of money… or better yet the ones that get you freebies. But where you draw the line at how much your time is worth? This is something I often struggle with myself. Hopefully today’s guest post will shed some insight.

Today’s guest post is from Frances at Frugal Fairhope, be sure to stop by sometime and check it out!


I don’t know about you, but I get access to hundreds of printable coupons every day. I use to print almost all of them. Then I found out I was tossing more coupons than I used.

The debate in my mind is if you don’t print now who is to say it will be available to print later when the deal comes up? When it comes to printing it is a personal time management choice. How much time do you really have to print twice, pull them off the printer, cut, and file? Not to mention if you have problems printing, like I do most of the time.

First, let’s step back and take a look at what you are trying to accomplish. We have three general strategies in the FrugalFairhope household about grocery shopping:

1) We only buy what we need or will use.
2) We only buy what we can give away for a good cause.
3) We only buy what we can get for absolutely free (no RRs or ECBs).

By using these strategies it helps me avoid the shopper’s fever and buying too much. Just because dog food is on sale for $0.10, do I really need to stock up on dog food when we don’t have a dog? Yes, I could give it to the Humane Society, but wouldn’t my time and money be better spent by volunteering to walk a dog a couple times a month, donating used towels, sheets, or blankets, or even writing them a check for a donation? Could I also send that coupon to the military families overseas?

In fact, our animal shelters in Fairhope would prefer to have money or volunteer work in lien of food. I think they try to keep all the animals on the same diet? As you know mixing brands of food could be upsetting to a dog or cat’s stomach. I know this example is a little extreme, but think about it. We have all done it, bought something we didn’t use.

I am committed to our family using everything we buy for the stockpile or on sale. Throwing away a grocery stockpile item is not only wasteful, but that item that cost time, money, and storage room was not a successful deal. It was not a bargain, and we avoid this at all costs.

Another debate that I have is the last strategy. Do I waste my precious time printing or clipping a coupon that I may never need as a freebie?

For printed coupons, I only print items that fit in the first strategy. I take the risk and hope that the coupon will be around when I need it. If not, it was not meant to be. Such is life.

Still following the first two guidelines, I do however save most if not all the Sunday coupons. How do I organize them? I don’t clip it, I save the page and store it in my Only in Case of Free (OCF) file, or if I have to clip the coupon (already have the page cut into pieces), I place it in a small index box that I keep with my other coupons. These OCF coupons are filed by company name (for example Glade goes under “G”, Suave lotion would be filed under “S”). We wouldn’t have a use for scented products or lotions in our house but if it was a true freebie, we can sell it on eBay or give it away in a gift bag at Christmas.

To learn more about how we do things in Fairhope, check out my site at www.FrugalFairhope.com.

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Do you ever feel like you have hit the wall (frugally speaking)? ? ?

I have been challenging the limits of our budget lately, wondering… what else can we cut back on? What else is there left to not spend money on? It’s got me thinking about things… as I stare at the excel spreadsheet that is our budget, I see very little waste. As an engineer I would say that I have officially leaned out that process. But anyone who knows anything about lean, knows that if you step back and look again later you will see things differently again.

My point is that this is truly a journey. There are three fundamentals to our core success in getting out of debt.

  • The first is the income. I can’t do a whole lot about my income other than do my best at work and be happy to have a job in these economic times. Wifey and I do all that we can to do extra surveys, trials and money making things like selling on eBay and cash4books and stuff. Since I can’t change my income from my job, this helps supplement things.
  • The second is debt. I can’t do a whole lot about our debt other than put every penny we can towards it and follow the debt snowball and pay the suckers off. We have made tremendous progress on this so far, but again, I can’t really change this.
  • The third is expenses. This has been the area of the largest focus on our part thus far. We have cut out everything we can think of, dropped services, gone to bare bones plans, changed providers, you name it. I think we are about as cheap as we can be right now. At first it seems like there isn’t much more we can do here, but looks can be deceiving.

So that gets me thinking about frugality again. I have come up with all kinds of great frugal solutions to things around the house to save money and also keep from having to buy things (such as home made alternatives or freebies). I have also done wonders to our grocery budget with bulk cooking and frugal planning. I keep trying to think of new ways to save money or do things cheaper… but for some reason lately I have been coming up empty.

I can’t help but feel like I have hit a frugal wall, even just temporarily. I need inspiration… I need some great frugal motivational tips… So with that said…

I need your help… What are your favorite or best frugal tips…

Please leave me a comment, I would love to hear from you all…

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Frugal Tip: Save money on your utility bill: Cleaning the fridge for efficiency!

In most households, one of the biggest energy “hogs” is the trusty refrigerator. The older your fridge is the more likely it is that it’s an even bigger hog, mostly due to the constant improvement in designs for energy efficiency, but also because efficiency drops over time. The good part is this can for the most part be recouped… with a little elbow grease and determination.

Your fridge is basically and air conditioning system just like the one in your central heat/air or in your car. You probably change your HVAC air filter every couple months (if you don’t, you really need to, but that’s another post for another day) … when was the last time you checked your fridge’s a/c system??? If you are like me and most other people your answer is either never or HUH… what are you talking about?

Your fridge’s a/c system operates by moving ambient air across a set of coils to get rid of heat into the ambient air in the kitchen. If your coils are covered in dust/dog hair/spiderwebs/whatever the air can’t as efficiently flow across the coils. When this happens the fridge will have to work that much harder and run that much longer and more often to keep your fridge cold. A simple cleaning only takes a short time, but can increase the efficiency of your fridge 10 fold. The more efficient your fridge is, the less it has to run and the less it has to work… which means it uses less electricity. Best of all, by doing this periodically (annually or so) you are greatly increasing the lifespan of your appliance!

Simple cleaning instructions: How to style:

OK. This is a really simple task, perfect weekend cleaning house type work. The worst part is just pulling that sucker out from the wall. Most fridge’s these days have wheels and roll pretty easily once you get them started.

  1. Pull fridge out from the wall and UNPLUG IT, SO IT IS OFF WHILE YOU CLEAN IT!! Try to get it out far enough to get in behind it comfortably.
  2. Notice all the nasties under the fridge… vacuum that up so you don’t step in it!
  3. There are 2 typical types of coils on a fridge, the first is the flat kind that runs all the way up the back of the fridge, these are easiest to clean as everything is exposed. The second type is what we have, where the coil is literally coiled up on itself into a tube in the bottom. In either case, just use a vacuum and a brush to sweep off the dust as best you can. In our case we had to remove a simple metal cover to get to it with 4 screws. Again, really simple… nothing really difficult. So worth the effort.
  4. Ensure you brush down the coil/vacuum as best you can, the more dust you fetch off it, the better off you are. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just as best as you can.
  5. Voila! All clean. If you had to remove a cover like us, you can put it back on now.
  6. Last step is to push that sucker back into place. If you have a flat style coil set it is imperative that you keep it out from the wall a bit. If you push these kind into the wall the air does not circulate and you are costing yourself money. A coiled up version like ours is meant to sit right against a wall. With either style, keep in mind that airflow is king, so you want to try to maintain a little bit of clearance on the sides and top for the air to flow.

I hope this helps you as much as it has us. I was going to grab a watt meter(kill-a-watt) from work and show the difference but I forgot to grab it. I can tell you that right away it sounded different, like it could breathe again. You will also notice that it runs A LOT less. Quiet means saving money (Chaching!)

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