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Culturelle® Kids & Coupon Katie $100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway

culturelle-kids-regularitySummer is over. School is back in session and that means everything changes. New bedtime routine, new morning routine and varying new lunch schedules. Even our dinner after school routine looks different depending on day!

My boys deal with being tired or stressed from change differently. I won’t tell you who is who, because I would like them to take care of me when I’m old. 🙂 Buy, one gets headaches, one falls apart over everything (no joke, yesterday the his socks were too “lumpy” and he could. not. deal.) and two have tummy issues.

Not being able to help with the lumpy socks issue Culturelle® decided to help with tummy issues. They created new Culturelle® Kids Regularity Gentle-GoTM Formula to gently yet effectively restore the natural balance of good bacteria in the digestive tract and promotes daily regularity to help your child go easier.* Each flavorless packet contains 2.5 billion active cultures of the probiotic Lactobacillus GG and 3.5 g of dietary fiber from inulin; a prebiotic vegetable fiber sourced from chicory root, and kiwi fruit. One serving contains as much dietary fiber as five prunes. It helps restore regularity, keeps their digestive systems running smoothly and promotes healthy digestion and bowel function.* Culturelle® Kids Regularity is both drug and stimulant free, sugar-free, gluten-free° and dairy-free. It’s a drug-free way to gently encourage natural bowel function.* You can view for more info  and reviews on this product here.

If you have been wondering how to help your kids with tummy issues or just wanting to add a probiotic now is a great time to try this one out. Why? Because you can get a $5 Coupon HERE.

Culturelle® Kids Regularity Gentle-GoTM Formula is available at all major retailers, including Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid.

The awesome folks at Culturelle want both your kiddos and YOU to have a great back to school season, so they have given me one $100 VISA Gift Card to give away to one lucky Coupon Katie reader!  You can use it for back to school supplies or whatever else you need!

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Camping Out West Part 4: Spontaneity Time

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You’ve arrived safely, the groceries are bought, and you are set up at your first campsite. Now, it’s playtime. First, stop at the visitor center. A few minutes through their exhibits and talking with a ranger will help you zero in on what makes that park special and what activities are realistic for your family.

They have maps, program guides, and Junior Ranger books. Some JR books are free; some cost a few bucks each. They are great summaries from a kids’ perspective of what you should be looking for and doing in each park. And at the end, your kid earns a cool badge to keep. Our friends picked up one in Muir Woods made of reclaimed redwood. The ones in Zion and Yosemite are laser printed wood; some are plastic, but they’re good reminders of previous trips to pin on camelbacks for years to come.

margaret-grand-canyon

As for family suitable hikes, I recommend:

Grand Canyon (north rim): The Rim Trail from the campgrounds to the lodge and back

Zion: The Narrows (full day’s hike through a river canyon—so cool!) and Lower Emerald Pool Trail (one hour)

Bryce Canyon: The Navajo Loop trail: from Wall Street to Queens Garden Trail, Sunset to Sunrise Points

Sequoia: Moro Rock, Crescent Meadow Trail to Thorp’s Log, General Sherman Tree (the largest tree in the world)

Kings Canyon: General Grant Grove, Zumwalt Meadow, horseback riding near Cedar Grove

Yosemite: Lower Yosemite Falls, Mirror Lake, rafting along the Merced, the top of Vernal Falls via Mist Trail, Half Dome for those seeking a challenge (must get a permit– competitive).

Death Valley: Drive to Badwater (the lowest point in the US and a giant salt flat) and Artist’s Drive (beautiful). The visitor center at Furnace Creek has a temperature gage outside. Our high was 133, yes 133!!!!!

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The unpredictable surprises that come from just being present in a national park are what make your trip memorable: a herd of bison as you’re driving into Grand Canyon, the refreshing river rushing by your ankles as you maneuver through breath-taking canyons in Zion, a mother and her fawns traipsing by any given campsite at dusk, the falling stars you witness from the meadows in Yosemite. Getting in touch with the earth enlivens you and your kids. Use all five senses. Look out the window. Take time to play. You’re making memories worth every penny.

If you missed Part 1- The Budget you can read it here or Part 2- Planning you can read it here, and Camping Out West Part 3- Buying Food here.

Margaret is a freelance writer in Knoxville, TN. She writes and produces for HGTV and has been couponing since 2009.

Tax Free Weekend: Eight Shopping Tips To Maximize Your Savings

Tax Free Weekend is almost here! Starting Friday , at 12:01 a.m. through Sunday at 11:59 p.m., you’ll save 9¾ percent on clothing, school supplies and computers!

You will not pay state or local sales tax on clothing, school and art supplies that cost $100 or less per item and computers that cost $1,500 or less. Here are eight tips to help you maximize your Tax Free Weekend savings!

  1. Get organized before Friday. Take an inventory of what you have and what you need. Look through clothes, shoes and  school supplies. Make a list of what need and set a budget.
  2. Plan ahead for big purchases. If you are considering buying a computer or tablet, this is the time to do it since the tax savings can be more than $100 in some cases.  Items like computers  with a purchase price of $1,500 or less, including laptops and tablets (iPads, etc.) are tax free! Do your research ahead of time. Look through sale ads now and find the computer you want to purchase, then get to that store early.
  3. Make sure you look for coupons!  Stack coupons and in store promotions with tax  savings to get some great deals. Many retailers will put out coupons either online or in their print ad for this weekend.
  4. Online Retailers will participate in Tax Free Weekend too.  Historically several of them offer sales and free shipping deals.
  5. Do Not over buy.  This is especially true on school supplies. Buy what you need to take the first day but save the major stocking up until after schools starts. Stores will clearance all their supplies and you can get a better deal then.  Same goes for clothing. Buy what you know is a good deal or what you need, then watch for clearance.
  6. Families with young children not in school can save too!   Diapers are tax exempt this weekend. So grab you diaper coupons and look for a sale. Clothing and shoes for all ages  and things like art supplies are also tax exempt.
  7. Read over the list of tax exempt items.  You might be surprised what all you find included!  Also, it will help clear up any questions like: computers are included but smartphones are not. Backpacks are included but briefcases are not. Cowboy boots are exempt, but ski boots are not.
  8. If you want to save time and money- Price Match.  Staples has a 110% Lowest Price Guarantee They will matches any competitors’ prices, plus gives customers an additional 10 percent of the difference between the Staples price and the competitor price at time of purchase. Target will also price match items you find for a lower price in a competitor’s local print ad.   Look through your ads and find all the best deals on the items you need. Then head to a price matching store with your ads and get everything you need at the best possible price!

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!!!

Easy, Yummy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Bites

energy-balls-ck

Four boys eat a lot of food when they are home for the summer.

This is a fact.

I was running out of options yesterday after karate so I threw together a bunch of stuff from our pantry and made some really yummy energy bites. Here is what I did, but know you can throw all sorts of things into theses babies and they will still be good.

energy-ball-mix-ck

1/2 c Peanut Butter
1 Ripe Banana smashed (not banana bread ripe, but close)
3/4-1c Oats (I didn’t want to dirty another measuring cup, that’s why the range)
1/4 c Milled Flax seed (again approximate, and not essential if you don’t have it)
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 c Mini Chocolate Chips

Mix all this together in a big bowl.

Place bowl in the fridge for about an hour and it will form into balls with out sticking to your fingers (as much).

Taste your creation, because it is yummy.

Form into balls then, throw them back in the fridge if you’re eating them in the next day OR place them on a cookie sheet and freeze for an hour before putting them in a ziploc bag OR if you don’t care that they stick together place them in the freezer in a ziploc bag and be done. 🙂

These are great to eat out of the freezer or fridge. They are good, full of some good stuff (and some chocolate) and you know exactly what is in them. You can substitute or add things too. I have a friend that adds sweetness-to everything- with pitted dates.

Try throwing together some energy bites and let me know how it goes. Share your recipes, I’m always looking for good, easy snacks for this crew!

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The Day I Tried To Steal My Son’s Shoes & Macy’s Shoe Sale This Weekend

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

You have through May 29th, to head to Macy’s.com where you can find 20-50% off shoes in the FinishLine Sale!

nike-boys

I bought my 10 year old the Nike Boys’ Prime Hype DF II Basketball Sneakers from Finish Line (reg.$79) that are on sale for $27. They fit great and he loves them. In an effort to try to talk him into wearing something other than high top tennis shoes, EVER, I also bought him a cute pair of Converse casual Chuck Taylors for  $19.98.

chucks

He was like, yeah, they’re OK. Then I tried them on. Number one, we wear the same size shoe and he is 10!! What? Number two, these things are super cute and super comfy.

So I said- That’s cool buddy, you don’t have to like them. I’ll just wear these.

He freaked out. No, he loves them. They are his. I tried for ten minutes to talk him out of keeping them. I walked around showing him how cute they looked on me. He could not be swayed.

I consider this a fashion win. He now has shoes that are not high tops or flip flops. But honestly, I might order a pair for myself and just never wear them when his friends would be able to see me. 🙂

If you need any shoes, this is a great sale just keep in mind that shipping is free with a $99+ purchase OR get free shipping when you add select beauty items to your order .  For example, grab this Burt’s Bees Lip Balm for just $3.30 to get free shipping. Or, choose free in-store pickup if available near you.

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.