Free and Fun Family Activities in Your Local Area 2/28 – 3/2

Each week I’ll post links with fun and inexpensive (or free) things to do in your local area and national deals that everyone can enjoy!

National Activities:

American Girl: March In-Store Events (Events vary by location and minimum age. Find events specific to your area online. Reservations required. For girls ages 8 and up.) This weekend includes: Isabelle’s Paper Doll Fashion Craft, Embroidered Card Craft and other events.

Barnes and Noble: The Lego Movie Building event is Saturday March 1st at participating stores. Kids can make a scene from the movie. Check if a local store is participating and RSVP because space is limited.

Guitar Center: Free Classes through their Music Mentor Series.  Register online. No age restriction.

  • Saturday, March 1st: 10 AM - Recording Made Easy for Garage Band
  • Saturday, March 1st: 10:15 AM – Group Guitar Lesson

Kindermusik: Try a free class (see all the information here). Kindermusik ~ Where Music & Learning Play!

  • Classes for children from newborn to age seven
  • Child development through music and movement
  • Immerse your child in a musical atmosphere of play, song, and dance – while developing fundamental skills
  • Connect with other moms, dads, and families

Lakeshore Learning: Saturday, March 1st from 11AM-3PM ~ Wheels and Wing Note Clip. Kids can make and take home a transportation themed note clip.

Michael’s Kids Club Workshops: Kids create a bookmark for Read Across America. Suitable for kids ages 3 and up ($2/child).  Starts at 10 am and runs every 30 minutes on Saturday (3/1).  You can shop while they create.

Williams-Sonoma Free Technique Classes (for kids and adults): Saturday, March 1st at 9:30 AM~ Junior Chef Classes where kids learn baking basics. Make a reservation.

Thanks, More with Less Today! 

Local Activities:

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Military Commissary Prices to Increase: How You Can Still Save on Groceries

The good news: Your military commissary won’t be going away.

The bad news: You will probably be paying a lot more for your groceries if you shop at the military commissary.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed Monday that commissary funding will be slashed by $1 billion over the next three years. Most experts predict this funding cut will lead to a price increase of up to 20% at your local commissary.

I’m not going to argue that a 1% pay raise, changes to Tricare and BAH, increased commissary prices, as well as the constant threat of retirement changes are good for our military, because no matter how the DOD tries to spin it, they aren’t.

I know many people who drive up to an hour to shop at the commissary because the savings justifies the trip. With increasing prices, it might be better to stay home and shop your local stores to get the most savings.

While I enjoy the low prices of the commissary, it is possible to save on groceries no matter where you shop. I find it easiest to save at the commissary because the prices are consistently lower than other stores in my area, but you can beat the commissary prices (and you will beat them when they rise 20%) by shopping savvy at your local stores.

Several years ago I wrote an article sharing how to make the most of your military commissary benefits, and many of those tips still hold true even with the proposed budget cuts.

how-to-save-on-groceries

So how can you save on groceries when/if your military commissary prices increase by 20% over the next few years? Here are a few tips for saving on groceries, no matter where you shop.

Keep a Price Book

With a price book you can track prices of items you buy on a regular basis to make sure you are always buying your staples when they are at their lowest price.

Most items go on sale at the grocery store every 6 to 8 weeks. Keeping a price book will help you track prices for those items so you can buy when they are on sale.

Shop at Multiple Stores

I realize this is not possible for everyone, but if you can, shop at a few stores so you can also get the lowest prices.

Sign up for loyalty programs at your stores so you can take advantage of special savings and coupons. Many stores have apps that give you personalized coupons for even extra savings. The best part is that you don’t have to clip any coupons- they are loaded directly to your loyalty card!

Use programs such as CVS’s ExtraCare and Walgreens Balance Rewards to purchase paper products and personal items at greatly discounted prices. These programs have a bit of a learning curve, but once you figure them out you can pay pennies for items like shampoo, soap, deodorant, and toilet paper.

Download the app Favado to compare prices at all your local stores in one place. Instead of spending time going through every store’s circular you can check out prices of all the items that are on sale in one handy app, then create your shopping list based on those sale items.

Use Coupons

I realize it takes time to clip and sort coupons, but if you spent 30 minutes a week clipping/ printing coupons and you could save $25 would you do it? I would!

If you don’t want to mess with clipping you can simply print the coupons you want directly from your computer.

Even if you don’t want to clip a coupon, remember to look for coupons on the shelf (tear pads and blinkies) as well as directly on the product when you are shopping.

Menu Plan

I’ve always said that menu planning changed our family’s budget, because no matter where I shopped I always spent less on groceries during the months we had a menu plan.

Why? Because we have a plan I’m able to shop strategically and we spend less on last minute trips to the store which inevitably lead to spending more on things we hadn’t planned on buying.

Menu planning also allows me to shop for items that are in season and typically cheaper.

Shop the Alternatives

When was the last time you stopped at your local produce stand or Farmer’s market? Many times you can find great deals at smaller local stands on seasonal produce. This is a great way to include healthy foods in your family’s diet and save money.

Have you shopped the grocery section on Amazon? If you buy a lot of organic or specialty items Amazon can be a great place to shop. Remember to use your price book to track prices to make sure you are getting a good deal.

Co-ops are also a great way to save on items that have a long shelf life. Items like oats, rice, and beans are much cheaper through a co-op in my area, than purchasing at the commissary or grocery store even with a coupon.

Increasing commissary prices is definitely a financial blow to our military families, but you can still save big if you are a savvy shopper. Check out all my tips for saving on your grocery budget, no matter where you shop.

 


This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Free and Fun Family Activities in Your Local Area 2/21 – 2/23

Each week I’ll post links with fun and inexpensive (or free) things to do in your local area and national deals that everyone can enjoy!

National Activities:

American Girl: February In-Store Events (Events vary by location and minimum age. Find events specific to your area online. Reservations required. For girls ages 8 and up.) This weekend includes: Doll Pampering Spectacular, Isabelle’s Paper Doll Fashion Craft and other events.

Guitar Center: Free Classes through their Music Mentor Series.  Register online. No age restriction.

  • Saturday, February 22nd: 10 AM - Recording Made Easy for Pro Tools
  • Saturday, February 22nd: 10:15 AM – Group Ukulele Lesson

Kindermusik: Try a free class (see all the information here). Kindermusik ~ Where Music & Learning Play!

  • Classes for children from newborn to age seven
  • Child development through music and movement
  • Immerse your child in a musical atmosphere of play, song, and dance – while developing fundamental skills
  • Connect with other moms, dads, and families

Lakeshore Learning: Saturday, February 22nd from 11AM-3PM ~ Jester Hat. Kids can make a cap that is sure to bring out their inner joker.

Lowes: Saturday, February 22nd at 10am kids can build and take home their very own claw game. Limited space available so RSVP on the website.

Michael’s Kids Club Workshops: Kids create a craft foam and felt butterfly. Suitable for kids ages 3 and up ($2/child).  Starts at 10 am and runs every 30 minutes on Saturday (2/22).  You can shop while they create.

Williams-Sonoma Free Technique Classes (for kids and adults): Saturday, February 22nd at 9:30 AM~ Junior Chef Classes where kids learn how to make a Kebab. Make a reservation.

Thanks, More with Less Today! 

Local Activities:

If you are a blogger who posts a local round-up of family activities, then feel free to fill out this form to be considered for future posts.


This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Tips for Savers with a Spender Spouse

By contributing writer Laura

You’ve heard it said that opposites attract, and this is true of many married couples I know. Among those opposite pairings, I’ve seen many married couples that include a spender and a saver.

Maybe he loves eating out all the time and buying all the latest tech gadgets, but she loves to clip coupons, search thrift stores for second hand treasures, and nabbing the best deals. He loves things that are shiny and new and doesn’t think twice before buying a “good investment” product at full price and bringing it home to surprise his spouse. She shudders at the thought of dropping hundreds of dollars on a new fancy purse when she can wait and find it at the outlet store, on eBay, at a consignment store, or just buy a knock-off brand at Target.

Tips for Savers with a Spender Spouse | The Happy Housewife

Does this sound familiar? Fights over money are reportedly the leading cause of divorce in America.* Studies have revealed that it takes a couple longer to recover from a fight about finances than any other fight.

So what can you do to ensure better communication and strengthen your marriage when it comes to money issues? Here are some tips for all of you savers with a spender spouse.

Please note, I realize that the woman is not always the saver in a relationship and can often be the spender. But for the sake of this blog post, I’ll be referring to the spender as a he and the saver as a she, since I’m sharing from my own experience as a saver wife married to a spender husband.

Share Your Goals

Having your spouse on the same page when it comes to finances can help a spender & saver marriage not just survive but thrive. The saver may feel like she’s constantly battling the spender and is a broken record with phrases like “you bought what?” “Why didn’t you run that purchase by me first?” and “How much did you actually spend?”

Sitting down and setting a budget and long term goals together, as well as establishing the reasons why you want to save up — whether to pay off debt, save for a big family vacation, save for your child’s college fund, or build up a nest egg — it can put you both on the same team. This can also help you establish a game plan for what types of purchases you would like to discuss as a couple before the spender decides to make an impulsive buy.

Be Willing To Compromise

Your frugality and tendency to save may be something ingrained in your personality, whether from how you were raised or lessons you’ve learned through life, but that doesn’t mean your spouse thinks the same as you. Be willing to compromise and find middle ground on financial decisions that don’t make you bankrupt.

Also, be willing to accept feedback from your spouse and see things from his perspective. Look at your own saver mentality and ways you may be a stickler on issues that aren’t worth fighting over, such as abandoning all non-essential purchases, never eating out at restaurants, getting rid of all paper products in your home, and other issues that may seem intolerable to your spouse.

Verbalize What Bothers You

Resentment can start to build up if you don’t voice your concerns. Each time he spends or makes big financial decisions without talking about it with you can feel like a wound that keeps getting salt thrown on it. If something is bothering you regarding the way your spouse spends or the process in which big purchases for your household are made, don’t keep it bottled up.

It’s always better to open the line of communication, as often times a spender spouse sees what they’re doing as helpful and taking initiative, rather than hurtful.

Extend Grace

When you voice concerns, be sure to do so in a loving way. Choose to love your spouse for who he is, flaws and all. Focus on all the wonderful qualities that first made you fall in love with your spouse and aim to communicate with him in a way that does not belittle his financial skills but that seeks to bring restoration to your marriage and your financial state. Focus on grace and be mindful of all the grace others have shown you in your life.

Are you in a spender/saver relationship? What are your own tips for making marriage between such polar opposites work?

*References
Dew, Jeffrey, Sonya Britt, and Sandra Huston. 2012. Examining The Relationship Between Financial Issues And Divorce. Family Relations Volume 61, Issue 4, pages 615–628.
Washburn, Carolyn, and Darlene Christensen. 2008. Financial harmony: A key component of successful marriage relationship. The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues, 13 (1).
Andersen, Jan D. 2001. Financial Problems As Predictors Of Divorce: A Social Exchange Perspective. Family and Consumer Sciences Department California State University, Sacramento.

Photo Credit: OhioBankruptcySource.com, cc license

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