Friday, July 6, 2018

Making Date Night Possible/ Why I Love Rebates

   There are a lot of things in life we make sacrifices for. 

     If something is important to you, you sacrifice for it. Sometimes we get to a point in life where we are sacrificing so much for so many different things that there's nothing left. My marriage is what grounds me. When I've been chasing little ones all day and have sacrificed every thought that isn't associated with the diaper that needs to be changed, or that cup that just spilled on the floor, or what they need to learn today, or who needs to be corrected, or making breakfast/lunch/dinner, or is that tantrum because they're tired, hungry, lonely, hurt, or scared, my husband helps me pause; He asks me how I'm doing. It doesn't sound like much but it shifts my thought process even if just for a minute. He hugs me in a way that reassures me (rather than the reassuring hugs I'm giving out all day) and then he takes over some of the craziness. He isn't perfect but life is easier when we are "us" because that partnership is what turns chaos into fun. 

    I've heard it said that the plant you water is the plant that will grow, and after we have been compromising all day, it's all too easy to sacrifice spending quality time alone together. Relationships can be fragile, and dry out quickly when you don't water them, so finding the right balance when trying to keep all of your relationships watered can be tricky.  With 5 kids, our first reaction to the idea of a date night is "How?" The herculean task of bending and contorting our daily lives to allow for a calm, quiet (emphasis on quiet!) night out is challenging enough, but the problem of Money will kill the prospect of dinner and a movie faster than you can say,"quick! sneak out the back so the baby doesn't see you!" The how problem is the money, but money doesn't just appear out of thin air and the extra funds can always be used for the next looming bill. Yet another entry on the list of things we have to sacrifice for. 

     I've tried so many different avenues for a little extra money, and my first reaction is always to go out and get a job. I love working but my kids need me and because of the schedule I'm restricted to, it is not worth it. One way I've found to get around this is by being a smarter shopper. I have lowered my food budget drastically by getting the best deal possible. There are so many ways to do this but I would like to specifically focus on rebate apps because my husband and I have an agreement that rebate money is our entertainment budget, which means that rebate money is date night money (I even used my balances from all my apps to fund part of our anniversary trip). A friend of mine uses this as her "frivolous budget" to buy the luxuries, or anything she wants, but isn't a necessity. I love rebate apps, I have tried quite a few and won't step foot into a grocery store without checking each one first. These are the ones I like and what my experience has been.

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Sign Up
  •  Ibotta is king. I have made more with this app than all the other ones I have, combined. The amount of stores, apps, and websites that they work with is great. They have every major grocery store I shop at (with the exception of Aldi) and a wide selection of products, Not to mention the layout is very user friendly and coupons used at checkout don't void your rebate. I've been using it for 3 years and I got a pretty slow start (including forgetting to use it with most online purchases) but I've earned just under $1,300 on it and my husband got excited about it too and got his own account which has reached $500. It's not like a second income but you can cash out with gift cards. We usually get a Regal gift card for a movie and a restaurant gift card for dinner. Nothing big, not too fancy but a wonderful evening out. Sign up here for a bonus once you've redeemed your first rebate.  

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  • This is my second most frequently used app. It's pretty good. It's a little more particular (like you can't use coupons with most of their rebates) and the variety isn't great but you can use it at almost any store (including Aldi) I'm just under $300 with this one but my favorite thing to do with it is stack the rebates with other apps or justify some ice cream that I was on the fence about. To cash out, you need to order a check, which just means it helps to encourage you to wait for a larger balance.  Sign up here, there's no bonus but it's still worth it.

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  •  I like the versatility with this one. You can print coupons, link your loyalty cards, or with a few stores, get rebates which are deposited directly to your paypal account. I know that my rebates have reached just under $100 but the coupons (printed or digital) are far higher. The selection is ok but stacking with paper coupons isn't an option. Sign up here

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  •  I haven't been using this very long, but so far, I really like it, and I've only been scratching the surface. What I like the most is that I don't have to search out the rebates I want or perform some sort of task to unlock a rebate. I just scan my receipt and it picks out what it will give me credit for and usually it's a percentage of what I spent on a sponsored item but sometimes there's a bonus for certain products and sometimes they'll give you points just for scanning a receipt, even if there's nothing to match on it. To cash out, you select a gift card, the minimum is $3 which is nice. I haven't made much yet, I'm still new to it but I did cash out $10 during a date night on a restaurant gift card which was quick and easy.  Sign up here and use promo code KY4HQ to get bonus points

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  •  I'm on the fence with this one. I don't dislike it but I haven't made more than about $5. There isn't much of a selection, but I can usually find something I'd buy on it but that doesn't mean I actually need it or can find a good enough deal. It also has accumulation rebates like "$5 back if you spend $20 or more" and that can be on multiple receipts, which is great for products that you buy regularly . It's good in theory, I still have it on my phone, I just haven't found it useful yet. Sign up here

   There are more, I've cycled through a few that either just don't have a lot of products I use or are overly complicated. Either way, I love saving money and will continue to try new apps. None of these require any kind of membership fee, the downloads are free, the only thing you're sacrificing is a little bit of time finding the rebates you want to use, so I figure why not give them a shot!  There is so much stress with all the normal things in life, but I can't even put into words how nice it is to just go on a date with my husband, and not fuss about how we are going to pay for it. We just to decide where to go! Until next time...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Getting My Feet Under Me

     You know how you have those mornings, where you are wrenched from sleep by someone knocking on the door, or the dog has escaped from yard, or some other manner of untimely catastrophe interrupts the daily routine that your subconscious heavily relies on to function?  Then once you regroup and cover all the basic procedural necessities, it occurs to you, around lunch time, that you never grabbed your phone.    You fantasize about the joyful bliss you will feel when you have no notifications or missed calls, only to have reality slap you in face after you see that the school has called twice, there are a dozen texts from your bestie describing in great detail, the manner of chaotic emergency that happened to her after breakfast; the subsequent emotional turmoil, and the ultimate resolution. Oh, yeah, and you have to be at a doctor's appointment in 45 minutes.

     I sometimes feel like this is how God answers my prayers.  Almost like he left his prayer phone in the other room, and didn't get my prayer texts right away, and then sent an avalanche of answers that had been backlogged for about 10 years!  It never occurred to me when I was planning my wedding, or the rest of my life for that matter, that my earnest prayers would be A) Answered to the fullest or B) answered in a way and with timing that was not only completely off of my radar, but so far from the norm, it would be rejected as the plot of a Lifetime movie of the week because it's too far fetched

     Of course, God's timing is perfect. I can't argue with that, even in this crazy ride I'm on. I prayed whole heartedly for kids; lots of kids, and after having 1 child in 9 years of marriage, God answered!  2 kids in a year (an adopted 6 year old and a newborn) exacerbated by my body's violent protests to being pregnant, almost sent me over the edge; but once our newest little one (#4) was born, things weren't so bad.  It took a little while to figure everything out, but even though she has her moments, she's such an easy baby, and I felt like I had a good grasp on things.  Davis loves attention, so there's still a lot of work with him but the transition from 3 to 4 kids has been the easiest yet, and I had it covered.

      When the need arose for us to take in our niece and nephew, to perfectly honest, I wasn't exactly jumping at the opportunity.  We talked about it, made sure we were on the same page, we prayed about it, made sure we were on God's page. We knew that this is what we were suppose to do.  The idea of family members languishing in foster care was just terrible, and the kids were so close in age to our 2 youngest that we were already set up for them, sounds easy enough.....

       In reality, we're talking 4 bulky car seats, 4 cribs, 4 kids in diapers, 4 kids that can't dress themselves, 1 nursing, 1 on a bottle and baby food, 2 constantly needing their shoes taken off and put back  on (once said shoes are recovered from which ever abyss they were tossed into), 6 kids to wrangle, 6 kids to bathe, and 6 kids to get in bed every night.  I'm grateful that the 6 we have are good kids; they really are.  In fact, having these extra kids has actually cut down on the number of tantrums and meltdowns that we usually have because there's not enough time to think about yourself. There are too many distractions, and when 1 of mine has to have his tantrums in stages before it escalates to full meltdown, he just can't focus long enough with so much going on. When they do happen, we just deal with it like we always have.

     I've realized that when you have children, you just find a way to get things done.  Whether you have 1 or 6, you will always be busy, not to mention that kids are like a huge magnifying glass to your idiosyncrasies.  I've never been a great housekeeper, but now my house is never clean.  I don't have the best sense of time, but now I'm always late. It's always loud, We're always busy, and someone is always poopy. Actually, I feel like my hands always smell like poop, no matter how much I wash.  It's what I imagine running a Sanitarium would be like if I was the only member on staff.  On a positive note; freshly bagged poopy diapers make excellent projectiles when your husband's off-handed insensitive comments require a plethora of ammunition!

     I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining, but these are just the facts of our new life. After all is said and done, I'm actually ok. Everyday, I find some way to make life just a little easier; I have wipy containers everywhere so that a wipy is never out of arm's reach; I taught Alex how to make a bottle, I have an extra, fully stocked diaper bag in the car at all time, and I am enjoying all the children.  The issues we've always had are still there but we are also (essentially) teaching 2 little ones to cuddle, which is wonderful because every time they lay their head on your shoulder it's like you won some awesome award.  Our kids have these new playmates and enjoy getting them to come out of their shell, I keep catching these sweet moments and you just can't be upset about anything when it happens.

    I keep comparing our little 2 1/2 bedroom house to a clown car, things are a bit snug, but we are all having good time. I pray, all the time, but specifically, I've been praying for my kids, that this will give them a real life lesson on Mathew 25:40, what does it look like to care for "the least of these"?  What does it mean to live for something bigger than yourself? What does it look like to step out of your comfort zone and obey God? I also pray for these 2 new additions, I don't know how long they'll be with us, what issues we'll have to deal with in the long run, how it's going to hurt when/if they leave. We can't plan for next month let alone next year, we just have to have faith that God will take care of us and that He will point us in the direction He wants us to go, open the doors that he wants walk through, and light the dark paths that our logical mind would tell us to avoid.