CouponKatie.com

Screen Time Issues Solved : Our Summer System

Post may contain affiliate links, read Coupon Katie disclosure policy here.

Screen Time. 

It is a whole thing in this house.  

During the school year it is not that big of an issue because we are busy but then summer…..

I have been reading a lot about kids and video game/ screen time addiction. I am a believer. We are three days into summer break and I just cannot take anymore asking, arguing, whining, fighting, eye rolling, zoning out.  I. Cannot.

Ultimately THE HUSBAND and I are to blame because we allowed the Xbox, Kindle, iPad, computer, TV etc into our home.  So I solved it with the token system. 

My hope is that their brains don’t turn to mush this summer, that they realize playing outside or with friends really is more fun and a little responsibility and work along the way is a good thing.  This should help us get all the rewards from summer reading programs. 

I cannot take total credit for this system. My bother-in-law has used it for a while and shared the details with me, then I customized it to our house.  

 

The Rules

Everyone gets 5 tokens for the week.

Each token is good for 30 minutes of screen time. (ANY screen)

You get new tokens every Monday.

If at the end of the week , by some miracle, you have tokens left over you get $1 per token.  The do not roll over.

Using your Tokens

You are responsible for setting your own timer, or asking me to set one.  If you do not, or you go over your time you lose the rest of your tokens.  (It’s also about personal responsibility and integrity. Plus, you have 3 brothers ready to throw you under the bus at any time. 🙂  )

You  do not have to ask to use your tokens, you can use any screen you want to play approved games etc.  Just put your token in the jar.

Earning Tokens

You can earn extra tokens for reading and math

Oldest Son (11)- 3o  minutes of reading and two math pages from the books his teacher sent home= 1 token

Middle Sons (7-9) 20 minutes of reading and one math page /or 10 minutes on with multiplication flash cards= 1 token

Youngest Son (5)- 15 minutes “reading” , working on his letter sounds or looking through books and one math page=1 token

Special Rules

Help me, they have already thought us so many special scenarios where they do not have to use tokens.

Family movie nights

ABC Mouse or Relfex Math on computer

Of course the play room has to be picked up in the morning and all chores have to be done before any screen time.

What is your system for electronics?!  I always love hearing how you guys manage things.   Feel free to try any or all of this, change it to fit your household and let me know how it goes!

School is Out & So Is The Chore Chart + Harvard Proves I’m Right

Post may contain affiliate links, read Coupon Katie disclosure policy here.

School is out Tuesday, at 11:15.

Summer.

We have a lot planned for this summer, lazy days, pool days, camping, traveling, bike riding, friend days, family events and so on. But you know what else this mamma has planned for the summer- The Chore Chart.


It is back. It worked really well last summer AND if anyone gives me any attitude this year I can say Harvard is backing me up.

There is a thorough ongoing experiment called the Harvard Grant Study that has followed the lives of Harvard University graduates since 1938 in order to figure out why some people are more successful than others.

According to the findings, young people need two things in life from a young age in order to be happy and successful: love and work ethic.   I pray everyday I show our children how loved and valued they are.  Also, I make them clean their bathroom.

The study followed the lives of 724 high-achievers (including the likes of President Kennedy and Ben Bradlee) in order to see what is the easiest way to become a successful adult, and here’s what Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen at Stanford University, explained during her recent TED talk:

“[The study] found that professional success in life, which is what we want for our kids … comes from having done chores as a kid. The earlier you started, the better. [A] roll-up-your-sleeves- and-pitch-in mindset, a mindset that says, there’s some unpleasant work, someone’s got to do it, it might as well be me … that that’s what gets you ahead in the workplace,” said Julie.

The chore chart stays.

I did want to answer a few questions about chores at our house.

No, we do not pay for chores.
Yes, we pay for jobs.
Putting away your own laundry is considered a chore, it is just not on the chart.
Yes, there are several other things like  helping clean up after dinner, picking up the family room, taking out trash, etc that are not on the chart but are expected around here.
Mowing the lawn is a paying gig.
There are lots of other “jobs” our kids can chose to perform to earn money. Sweeping the driveway after someone mows, washing windows, washing cars, sweeping front porch are just a few. No one is assigned these jobs, they are just listed and if you want some money you can do them.

How do chores work around your house? Do you distinguish between chores and jobs?  What chores do you assign?  I’m always looking for ideas. 🙂

How I Got Transfer Stains Out of My Beloved White Jeans for $2

Post may contain affiliate links, read Coupon Katie disclosure policy here.

I have a new pair of white jeans that I love.

Not paying attention I washed those white jeans with regular jeans.  I still didn’t pay attention when I threw them in the dryer.  But then, I paid attention and almost cried. My new white jeans had blue streaks All Over Them.   I was sad over being careless, missing my jeans and not wanting to pay for another pair. 🙂

I panicked slightly, asked for help , and got lots of great suggestions and tips.  In my research I also learned that you should not us bleach, at least on all over stains,  unless the fabric is 100% cotton.  My jeans ware not and bleach can cause other fabrics to yellow.  Because the dye was all over I went with Carbona Color Run Remover.

I also bought some Rit Color Remover just in case this did not work!

I filled my kitchen sink and soaked the jeans in cold water and Carbona. The directions called for one to three minutes, I soaked for 7 just for good measure. (I have not idea if this is wise or not, but I really wanted the blue streaks out of my jeans.)

 

I then washed them ALONE in cold water.  I am happy to report that it totally worked! My white jeans are as good as new!

A few other popular suggestions were to soak over night in Oxi-Clean or Oxi-Clean and vinegar, Fels Naptha bar and Grandma’s Secret Stain remover from JoAnn’s.

Whole30 on a Budget: 7 Ways I’m Saving Money And Doing Whole30

whole-30-la-croix

I posted a pic of me trying to fall in love with La Croix water and asked for advice.  While I received tons of great ideas I also got a lot of questions about how to do Whole30 on a budget.

I am 15 days in and here is what I have learned about staying Whole30 compliant AND saving some money.

1.  I started shopping at  ALDI.  For produce, organic meats and organic nuts, spices, eggs etc. ALDI has had the best prices by far.  It is a little out of the way for me but I make it buy about once a week.  You could also price match ALDI at  Walmart.

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 8.04.04 PM

2.  I still use the Buy Ahead Principle. When something you know you will use is on a great sale or/and you have a coupon stock up!  I stocked up on olive and coconut oil from Vitacost.com  before starting. They have  great prices, frequent sales and usually Free shipping on their brand.   (By the way if you are new to Vitacost and click thru this link you’ll get a free $10 credit!)

RXBar3.  I have price alerts set up on Amazon. Compliant Larabars and RX bars are about the Only way I have survived thus far.  So I set up a price alert for when they go on any kind of sale.

4.  I menu plan like a crazy woman It is a major step up from my former minimalist planning. Now all the produce and meat that makes its way into our house is planned for, so it does not go bad before I use it.

target-organic-beef-coupon-katie

5. I have scored some surprisingly Great deals on organic and natural meats at Target.  Who knew?  If I hit my target at just the right time they have marked down meats considerably.  Like today for example, organic grass fed beef for $4.99/lb.  It was on sale for $7.99, then they had $3 off coupons attached.

6.  I don’t buy everything organic. I buy what I can and what is on sale or close in price to non organic. If the organic alternative is not on sale or just too much I buy the best I can and don’t worry about it. 🙂

7.  I buy a lot less “stuff”.  Shopping just the outside aisles you buy a lot less other stuff. No creamer, no chips, no crackers, no cheese sticks, no yogurt, no honey, no tortillas…. you get the point. 🙂  This diet cuts out a lot of our regular items and that frees up some room in the budget.

This is how I am making Whole30 happen in our house.  If you are or have been on it what are you best money saving ideas? I would love to hear them!

Ibotta Rebates Paid For Our Camping Trip!!

Post may contain affiliate links, read Coupon Katie disclosure policy here

Smores

We have one particular camping trip that is a tradition for our family. We go every year. Same weekend, same place- tradition.

We usually have our reservations by now but for some reason we have been slackers this year. Looking at the calendar last month we agreed we had to make reservations or we would miss our trip.

Then, some very unexpected and crazy expensive issues came up with our house. The kind that wipes out your vacation and emergency funds. The kind that makes you super sad you have to spend all that money but also thankful that you have just enough to fix the problem.

There was nothing left over for our annual camping trip.  I was sad.   I started brainstorming creative ways to fund the trip, or at least make the reservation.

We keep a pretty close eye on budgets around here so I knew none of our accounts had “extra”.  Lucky for me Kroger had  several good Ibotta deals this week, and it gave me an idea.

I have been a member or Ibotta since it started.  It is by far my favorite cash back app.  I use it,  but I don’t check my balance that often. It is like a savings account I kind of forget about. 🙂

This week when I was redeeming offers I checked my balance. Guess what- just enough to cover our lodging for the camping trip!!!   You guys- just enough. How awesome is that?!

My frugal efforts will pay for our annual family camping trip. Not in an I saved enough so we can go way, but in a real, tangible transfer the money and pay for it kind of way.

It if FREE to sign up for Ibotta  , FREE to use it and it will provide a way for us to keep up our tradition! It will provide another year of fun family time and memories.

Sometimes I get discouraged with coupons and apps and deals. It takes time and effort and planning. In the busyness of five young kids there are days I don’t want to plan and make the effort. BUT then there are days like today, where that hard work pays off. And there will be days soon when we are camping that the little effort will be so, so worth it.

Be encouraged money saving mommas! Be encouraged to find the money saving ways that suit your life best and know that they are making a difference, even on the days you don’t see it!

ibotta

If you are not a member of Ibotta  here is how to join and how it works:

Download the Ibotta App on your Apple or Android device. Before you go shopping, unlock cash rewards on products by completing quick simple tasks like watching a commercial, learning a fact about the product or completing a survey .

Next, go shopping at your favorite store. Ibotta works 100’s of chains including CVS, Kroger, Target, Walgreens, Walmart, Publix, Whole Foods Markets, Sam’s Club etc.

After you shop, take a photo of your receipt with the app and upload it. Your account is credited with the money you receive within 24 hours, and you can withdraw it to Paypal or choose from a selection of gift cards.

To make this even more useful you can use Ibotta in conjunction with other store and manufacturer deals. For example, you can use paper or digital coupons  at the store during check out, then receive money back from Ibotta  too!

Also for a trip down memory lane here are 8 Things I learned on Our Family Camping Trip from six years ago.

One of our earlier camping trips. We only had three. :) Look at those babies!!!

One of our earlier camping trips. We only had three. 🙂 Look at those babies!!!

Summer Chore Chart, Summer Schedule & How We Make It Work

boys-summer-chore-chart

The summer chore chart. One little chore for each boy, each morning. It should take them 2-10 minutes. And yes, the brush your teeth, get dressed etc has to be on there or they will forget. 🙂

I shared my summer chore chart on Facebook last night and received A LOT of feedback.  Some encouraging, some wondering why I would make my kids work so hard in the summer, some asking how old they are, if I have a summer schedule….

So here is the truth.  I love, love, love when my household just clicks along and things are ordered and done on time.  I don’t really love, love, love schedules and planning.  This is a problem.  Keeping a big family running and relatively happy requires logistics matched only by Amazon or FedEx.     Enter chore chart and summer schedule. It is the only way.

It was not fancy.

If it were fancy and detailed it would never work around here.

For those of you who asked why chores in the summer. Because I think kids should do chores.  I just do. I want my kids to be appropriately self-sufficient, to understand there is a time to work and to learn to care for their things.  They are 10, 8, 6 and 4 so they have different, age appropriate chores.  For example, my 4 year old moves the mats in front of the sink and shower so my 8 year old can sweep. Also each chore takes only 1-10 minutes.

Another great question was how do I get my kids to do this without complaining.

They don’t always.

The first week is the hardest, then they just sort of settle into the routine.  Also, there is a little bit of bribery. If you look at the schedule below you will see “Free Time” from 7-8 in the morning. This free time includes being allowed to play X-Box, only if your chores are done for the day. They also know fun like the pool, splash pad for play dates do not happen if chores are not done.   **You have to be willing to stand firm on this, but in experience only once. They have to know mamas not playin’ when it comes to chores.  🙂  In our family peer pressure comes into play too.  They all work together to get their stuff done so we can go have fun.

(If you don’t think your kiddos should have to do chores in the summer that’s cool, we can still be friends. It’s your house, you are the boss.)

Our just enough structure summer schedule

Our just enough structure summer schedule

As for a schedule. Yep. We have one.  I have been working on it for a few days.  I could not decide what was going to be best and I made the nearly fatal mistake of looking on Pinterest.  Oh. My.   It had me doubting my laid back, written on notebook paper schedule in about 2 seconds.

But then I decided  it is my schedule, I can do what I want to.  Blocks of time work better for me. And this is more for when we are hanging around the house all day.

Here is the basic breakdown

You cannot get out of your bed until 7. (my boys are early risers)

7-8 Downstairs chores and free time

You can come up for breakfast

8-noon NON-electronic free time. Play outside, downstairs, do art, ride your bike, read, play with your baby sister etc.  (If you complain you are bored during this time you are referred to a chore for $ chart)

noon-ish Lunch

after lunch– Math flash cards or reading time then Free time again

4ish You are free to play electronics while I work on dinner

5:30ish Dinner

after dinner– 10 minute family pick up time

Free time until bed

If you have been considering a schedule or a chore chart I hope this post has helped you. It doesn’t have to be fancy and to the hour.  I would encourage you to try it. I truly believe my boys function a little better with a little bit of structure to their day.  I know it keeps me less stressed and more able to enjoy them while they are home.

If you are a mastermind at schedules and chore charts share your ideas!  I love learning ways to improve this operation.

 

10 Things You Need To Know About Yard Sales

We did it! We survived a yard sale, and we had so much fun. I totally understand one yard sale does not an expert make but here are ten things I learned at my yard this weekend that you should know if you are having a sale.

  1. You should have a yard sale. Seriously, you should. They are a lot of fun and you will get rid of SO much stuff you don’t need. It is very freeing to be rid of “stuff”. I am so happy when I look in closets, playrooms dressers and they are less crowded.  Have one, you will love it.
  2. If your sale starts at 8, it really starts at 7. I was unprepared for this. Our neighborhood yard sale started at 8. At 7 when we opened the garage door and started to organize stuff people came.  All of THE HUSBAND’S big tools were gone by 7:20, before the sale “started”.
  3. Pricing Doesn’t have to be hard.  I know some people have little price tags on everything. This was the part of the sale that had me the most stressed. SO,  I didn’t price everything. I put little tags on everything I wanted more than $1 for then made two big signs that said “EVERYTHING $1 ***unless marked” . It worked out so well! If the prep and pricing makes you crazy or is keeping you from having a sale, then try this.
  4. Be ready to deal.  Be ready to make a deal. 🙂  People will ask what you will take or bundle things. I was surprised by this (but I have learned it is super common at yard sales so don’t be put off by it.) Some deals I took, some I countered and some I just said no to. Know ahead of time the lowest you will take on things, especially big items. Don’t worry if someone says nevermind, we had several people come back and buy things. It is also a good idea to tell people to check back at the end of the day. If you haven’t sold it and you are ready to be rid of it you can take their low price then.
  5. Display kids’ clothes by size, and don’t fold them. I had the kids clothes folded and neatly placed on tables. That lasted about two minutes. The tables were crazy so I ran inside and grabbed some laundry baskets and labeled them with sizes. 2T, 3T etc. Then I just pushed all those sized clothes in the baskets and set them on the table. At first I thought, is this tacky to just have baskets full of clothes. Then I thought if it works at Victoria’s Secret during their annual bra sale it will work here. 🙂  And it did. People know what size kids’ clothes they need and this made it easier for them to find and buy.
  6. Hang up adult clothes and more expensive kid clothes. I don’t know why it mattered but it did. Hanging our clothes made them sell much faster than when they were on tables.
  7. Save your grocery bags and give them to shoppers. No joke some shoppers came with their own bags, those were the experts. 🙂  About an hour into our sale I noticed some people were having a hard time carrying all their treasures around so I ran in and grabbed some plastic grocery bags that I keep in a drawer. It was a huge help and people shopped more/longer when they had bags.
  8. Involve your kids. This is a huge part of what made the sale so fun. The boys were involved in cleaning out toy room and their clothes. Today they had a concession stand. They gave away popcorn and sold water, cookies and brownies. They learned about cost of goods, profits, sales, greeting customers, making change and getting paid for a hard days work.
  9. People may steal. This is sad but true. Someone stole an expensive pair of THE HUSBAND’S cowboy boots. 🙁  We had several people asking about them, then both got distracted.  When I looked up again the couple interested and the boots were gone. I asked THE HUSBAND how much he sold them for, he thought I had sold them.  SO, try to keep an eye on expensive items or keep them close to you.
  10. Don’t be clingy.  When you sale is over don’t be too clingy. Have a couple tubs that can be easily stored that you can load up with items that don’t sell.  You can pull these out for your next sale. Consider donating the rest of your items. You  don’t want to move it all back in to your house!

I would love to hear you thoughts and tips on yard sale selling or buying!  I am hooked and will definitely do this again next year!

boys-yardsale