2013 Extreme Christmas Savings Workshop

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IT’S ALMOST TIME FOR THE 2013 EXTREME CHRISTMAS SAVINGS WORKSHOP!!!! 

We’ve cut down to only ONE workshop in Springfield this year and it’s GOING. TO. ROCK!!!!

What’s the Extreme Christmas Savings workshop you ask?  It’s the workshop that kicked off Gateway to Saving almost NINE years ago!  I’ve now taught it over FOUR HUNDRED TIMES!!!! 

In this 3-hour workshop, we go over ALL of the hottest deals, store policies, and I even go over the Christmas list of every attendee to tell you where you can find the best deals, what price you should pay, and even details on the items.

Because we’re doing just ONE session, seating is extremely limited!  There’s also an early bird discount going on through tomorrow of just $15 per person! 

WAIT- AND THERE’S MORE!  This year, we’ve got some GREAT prizes to give away!  FREE gifts are even better than discounted ones!

Want to come?  I promise you’ll have a BLAST and learn SO much!  We’ll definitely help you save your registration fee on just ONE item on your list.  Everything else is just PURE EXTRA CASH IN YOUR WALLET! 

BUT WAIT- THERE’ S MORE!  When you register for this workshop, you also get put on the presale list for the Black Friday workshop!  AND, you’ll get a special ticket price!

Registration is required to guarantee a seat- don’t wait, this will fill up FAST!

Here are the details:

  • Friday, November 15th
  • 6:00-9:00 p.m.
  • McAlister’s on West Battlefield (intersection of Battlefield and Kansas)
  • Early Bird Price: $15

Register Here: 2013 Christmas Savings Workshop

Questions?  Email me!  classes@thesensiblefamily.com

Why Skipping School Pictures Was One of the Best Decisions I’ve Made

The decision took weeks to make.  How could I deprive my children of an overpriced packet of terrible cookie cutter photos?  If I didn’t purchase school photos, would everyone think we were poor?  Would I be less of a parent?  Years ago, school photos were often the only portraits a family could afford.  Things sure have changed!

A few years ago, our school photos switched from a national company to a small local company, resulting in great photos at even better prices.  Then they switched back.  It became harder and harder to justify $30, $40, and even $50 for an unopened envelope of photos to sit in the filing cabinet.  The large packets conveniently have 18 ‘pass out’ photos, when most classes have 20 students.  An add-on pack is required to have that extra photo to hand out.  And what happens to those, anyways?  Nothing good at my house, after I end up washing them or picking them up out of the floor a hundred times.  I don’t hang up school photos.  Occasionally a distant relative will ask for one, but at an average of $5 per photo, I cringe at giving them away.  So there they sit, sealed in the drawer.

Some of you may be lucky enough to get away with only fall pictures, some may even feel obligated to purchase spring photos.  Those of you with active multiple children may be in the same boat I was after considering the dreaded sports and club photos.  Often, kids are playing on lottery style times in different cities and may not even know those in the team photos. We bought them all. Dozens and dozens of photos of children we didn’t know.

Last fall, I decided to make a change. After a lot of debate and watching my husband cringe as I asked for advice Just. One. More. Time., I decided to put on my big girl panties and say ‘No’.

I was hesitant to skip school photos, but when we got the proofs back, I sure was glad I did.  They were the worst photos I’ve ever had taken of the kids!  My daughter (9) was a little upset that she didn’t get them at first- until she saw them, and my son (14) was thrilled.

During one year, I skipped five sets of basketball photos, three sets of baseball photos, three sets of softball photos, and four sets of school pictures.  At an average cost of $30 each, I saved $450.  In ONE year! With that $450, I bought a nice DSLR and a lens and still had $150 left to put towards additional lenses and supplies.  I am SO glad I did.  Now I can take photos how I want, when I want, and they look so much better!  Sure, there is a little bit of time spent learning how to operate the camera, but I surpassed the quality as soon as I opened the box- without having a clue how to use it.

The first photo I took looked like this: In addition, I can take photos for other teammates, family members, and friends and save them a fortune, too!  It’s not just about the photos, but each photo session has given me additional time to spend with my family and friends.

Sometimes you feel like you have to find a reason to make time for the finer things in life.  Now I have a new hobby, amazing photos, and spend a lot more time with my family.  Oh, and if you average $225 per year per child, in school years alone we are saving $8,775 on file cabinet decor.

If you’ve had your eye on a DSLR or a higher end point and shoot, do yourself a favor and buy it  now.  You’ll save a fortune in the long run!

What do you think?  Would you ever consider opting out of school photos?

I’d Like to Introduce You to Mr. Evan Bradley

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Last Sunday in the wee hours of the morning, we welcomed Evan Bradley into the world.  He was born on his great grandfather’s birthday (Brad’s Dad’s Dad), and missed my birthday by a day.  Although I would have loved to share with him, I don’t think that it would have been as fun for him.  He was also born at the exact same time as his little sister- and came into the world in nearly the same fashion.

It was a very easy delivery to conclude a long and daunting pregnancy.  After having irregular contractions all day on Saturday, we decided to go in around 10:00 p.m.  After nearly getting taken out (and watching several others) by a drunk driver as soon we hit Springfield, we made it to the hospital at exactly 11:00.  ***Side Note:  Trying to call anything into the Springfield PD is nearly impossible on a cell.  My phone won’t call 911 and their automated system will not allow you to push 1 from a mobile phone (or my iPhone at least).  This matter definitely needs attention.

By 12:30, they were admitting me.   I’d decided that after having the last two naturally and the toll that this pregnancy had taken, I wanted an epidural.  The problem?  The anesthesiologist was in emergency surgery and apparently they only have one.  He did finally make it in around 1:50 (he was born at 2:11), just as I’d convinced the nurse to give me a shot of something.. anything.. It had just started to take effect as I delivered.  One anesthesiologist for an enormous hospital on a full moon Saturday night? 

Evan was taken almost immediately to the NICU for suspicion of aspiration of fluid.  After 48 hours of monitoring and testing, it was deemed that he was extremely healthy and we were allowed to go home. 

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He weighed 7lbs 14oz, and was almost 22” long.  He has enormous hands and feet.  His hands have never curled like most newborns.  They are always moving and grabbing at things.  I tried to show in the photo above how large they actually are.  His feet and are so long that he is wearing some 3-6 month sleepers, which are baggy elsewhere.

I was so worried that I was in for trouble with him- as the other two slept through the night from the day they got home and hardly ever fussed.  It looks like I’m lucky so far (crossing fingers, knocking on wood).  He wakes up once a night to eat.  He sleeps in. He has only cried a couple of times.  He even enjoyed his first bath yesterday.

Of course, he’s spoiled rotten.  Brother and sister are thrilled to have him, they’ve been taking very good care of him.  He’s definitely the perfect addition to our family. 

New E-Book Released! Work In Your Pajamas | Over 500 Companies That Will Pay You to Work from Home

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Work in Your Pajamas

 

I’m excited to announce that the newest book in the Sensible Earnings series:  Work in Your Pajamas | Over 500 Companies that Will Pay You to Work from Home is now available!

This 35 page ebook (.pdf format**) is an expansion of the extremely popular Sensible Earnings workshop and covers hundreds of online employers.  This book details mainly part time ‘gig’ jobs, but also includes a few full time positions.  Not to worry, by working a few gig jobs, you can still generate a full time income.  These are all legitimate sites that are hiring and will pay on time.

The retail price is $18, but you will receive it for just $8 if you order before July 12th!  In addition, if you order before July 12th,  you will receive exclusive invitations to free monthly chats discussing work at home topics.  You will also be added to the pre-order list receive 50% off of all additional books in the Sensible Earnings lineup.

To order your copy today, click here:  Work in Your Pajamas | Over 500 Companies that Will Pay You to Work from Home

*If you’ve already taken the Sensible Earnings workshop, you will notice some duplicate information.  The intentions of this book are to put the workshop in writing and add in more great careers.

**You will receive a link via email to immediately download your copy.  This ebook is currently available in .pdf format only and is designed to use very little ink.  You can also read .pdf documents on most tablets or phones, and can also upload to your Kindle or Nook.  Please refer to your device instructions for additional information. 

Conoco Cares | Treat Your Car Event

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On Sunday, June 23rd, 2013, Conoco set up a FREE car wash event in the East lot of Hammons Field before the Cardinals game to surprise some lucky fans.  I was lucky enough to get to stop by to get my car washed and hang out with the group providing the car washes before the game. 

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My car was in desperate need of a wash, and they had it squeaky clean in no time!

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Even though it was a scorching hot day, there were cheers every time a car pulled into the lot.  Everyone was so enthusiastic about helping out.

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I wish I’d had more time to interact with the car wash recipients, but it was also free Oscar Taveras bobble head day at Hammons Field, and everyone was in a rush to get in line for a chance to snag one. 

 

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There may be an event coming soon in your area!  The only way to find out is to watch #treatyourcar on Twitter and look for the signs pictured above.  There are some great surprises along with the free car wash- make sure you swing by!

I’ve partnered with Conoco to bring you this #treatyourcar post.  All opinions provided are mine.

Our Used Pool Installation | Total Costs + How We Did It

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We’ve always wanted a big pool, but never seemed to have the time or money to have one installed.  Instead, we stuck with the easy set pools that can be bought at almost any retailer.  We had to purchase a new one almost every year because they weathered and cracked or we didn’t have time to get it put away properly.  Don’t get me wrong, they worked very well when the kids were smaller, but they’ve definitely outgrown them.

We went without a pool last year, as it was our first summer in the new house.  We didn’t really have the time or energy to level new ground and put one up.  We decided this spring that we’d like to have a nice, big one, but it wasn’t really in the budget.  Most places quoted between $3,500 and $6,000 to have one installed.  We shopped around and looked at the easy set ones, but one in the size we wanted was over $800- and that wasn’t including sales tax!  We were still going to have to level the spot, and that wasn’t going to be easy to do with a 24’ circle.

I decided to start watching Craigslist for one in a reasonable price range.  I’d always heard that you should never pay for a used one and that they weren’t worth the effort unless they were free.  Well, I’d been waiting 13 years and had yet to have a free pool fall into my lap. I’m pretty patient when it comes to waiting for a great price, but that was a little long for my tastes.

There were several listed on Craigslist over the course of a couple of months, but most were priced extremely high, the owners didn’t have a lot of information on them, or they sold immediately.  I went to look at one and the man swore to me it was a 24’x48’x52” oval.  I’m pretty sure above ground pools don’t even come in that size!

We finally found a 24’ rou nd for $300 in a town just 15 miles away.  It had several accessories that would have cost us a fortune to purchase new.  I called minutes after it was listed, but it was going to be a couple of days until Brad could go with me to look at it.  This couple was SO nice.  They had several calls, but were going to hold it until we were able to make it to look.  When we looked at it, they showed us where it had been, told us everything there was to know about it, informed us how difficult it was to put up, and asked us to think about it for 24 hours before we made a rash decision.  

I knew that we could get our money back out of it if it didn’t work out, so we decided to buy it.  We picked it up, unloaded it, and it rained for two weeks.  When it dried up a bit, our neighbor was gracious enough to come over with a backhoe and level the ground for us.  Then it rained some more.  He brought us a load of sand on a Friday afternoon, and on Saturday, we got to work.  It took most of the day on Saturday and Sunday to get it erected, but by Sunday night, the pool was up.  Dry, but up.  Over the past week, I’ve added water a couple of hours at a time to avoid burning up the well pump.  On Saturday, we were finally full enough to hook up the skimmer and pump and go for the first swim.

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This was definitely not an easy job, but we saved a fortune by putting it up ourselves.  We just had to ask ourselves how much work we’d do for the $1,500 it was going to cost to have it professionally installed. 

Our final costs were:

  • Pool: $300
  • Sand: $136.66
  • Liner: $106 (Liners are about 1/3 the price on Ebay as a pool store, including shipping.  This liner was $298 in store, before sales tax.)
  • Paver Blocks (to support rails): $10.20
  • Grand Total: $552.86- or $300 under what a disposable would have cost (and we’d have still had to level the ground)

There are still a few incidentals to purchase, which are not included in the cost.  These purchases would be required for any pool.  I’m ordering chemicals and a bag for the vacuum today.  Again, Ebay is MUCH cheaper than the pool stores!

This pool is going to save us a fortune this summer!  We didn’t purchase our typical season passes to the water park, won’t have gas expenses driving to a pool, and we’ll hold both of the kids’ birthday parties here instead of renting a pool elsewhere. 

What I’m Thankful For…

For the past few weeks, my Facebook wall has been covered with posts of thanks.  I’m sure yours has, too.  I’d like to take a minute to tell you why I’m thankful.  Of course, I’m thankful for my family, friends, and health, but everyone should be!

I’m thankful that I live a simple life.  I am not obsessed with living the nicest house or driving a fancy car.  I could care less about keeping up with the Jones’.  I cannot imagine missing out on any moment in my children’s (or any other family member’s) life because I have to work a demanding job in order to pay the mortgage.  I’m able to drop snacks off at school, visit a loved one in the hospital, attend every ball game, practice, and event. 

I do work long hours- but those are on MY terms.  I have been extremely lucky to create my own career that not only provides for my family but thousands of others.  Sure, it might not always pay as well as something else would- but I’ve learned to make cuts on everything else. 

I’m thankful that my family is content with living a simple life, too.  No one is upset that our cars are 5-10 years old (and bought at a huge discount with cash), or that our home isn’t 5,000 square feet.  No one notices that my nails aren’t done every week or my hair is trimmed once a year.  They are glad that we are able to be there for EVERYTHING. 

I’m thankful for my readers, without whom I’d never be able to lead such a life.  I only hope that I can  make half as big of an impact on your life as you do on mine.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and a safe Black Friday,

-Alicia

Ultimate Couponing I, Extreme Christmas Savings, and Sensible Earnings Workshops Scheduled

I’m excited to announce that all of the fall workshops for the Springfield area have been scheduled, and there are early bird specials. There has not been an opening in one of our Ultimate Couponing workshops since JUNE, so register quickly if you’d like to attend.

There are only two Extreme Christmas Savings workshops scheduled in the Springfield area this year. Last year, we had over 800 attend the Extreme Christmas Savings workshop, and this year we’ve only got room for 80. This is by far our most popular workshop, as it can help you cut costs on everything. Half of the class is spent teaching you how to shop online, sales cycles of particular stores, earning cash back for your purchases, how to shop (and AVOID) Black Friday, and how to effortlessly find the best deals on common items. The other half is spent analyzing YOUR Christmas list. Simply bring in your rough draft and we’ll go over it, telling you when and where to buy each item to cut the costs by 50%-80%. I bring in my receipts and lists from the past several years so you can see exactly how much I personally save.  I gave almost $5,000 worth of gifts (real stuff) for $360, and I earned and additional $200 back in cash and gift cards!

We guarantee you’ll save the cost of registration on just one item on your list. There will also be lots of prizes and gifts!

**If you’ve taken the Christmas workshop in previous years, it will benefit you to take it again. A lot of stores have changed their policy, there are a lot of new programs in place, and your list is different. Let me help you save!

This year’s Black Friday workshop has been scheduled and registration information will be announced soon.

There are only four openings left for a Christmas Savings home party. Hostesses will earn some GREAT rewards this year. For information, email classes@thesensiblefamily.com.

Ultimate Couponing I

When registering, you are registering for a seat in the workshop. Due to high demand and seating limitations, tickets are ineligible for refunds or transferring. NO children will be permitted without prior authorization.

**Register by October 10th for just $12 (cost raises to $18 on October 11th)**

The first 15 to register will receive a FREE copy of our 82 page Ultimate Couponing Ebook. You will receive your download link immediately after registration.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
6:00-8:30 p.m.
Panera Bread Meeting Room, North Kansas Expressway (adjacent to Library Station)
Springfield, Missouri

Cost: $12 through October 10th, $18 through October 17th, and $25 at the door.

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Christmas Savings

It’s that time of year again! The workshop that started it all and is still the most popular is back!

Our Christmas Savings workshop will help cut your Christmas gift list by at least 50%. We’ll tell you when and where to buy the items on YOUR list- so bring it (or at least an idea) with you! Already taken it? You’re probably looking for different items this year- we guarantee to save the cost of registration on just one item on your list.

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
6:00-8:30 p.m.
Panera Bread Meeting Room, North Kansas Expressway (adjacent to Library Station)
Springfield, Missouri
Cost: $15 before October 16th, $20 from October 17th-23rd, and $30 at the door (if seating is available)*

When registering, you are registering for a seat in the workshop. Due to high demand and seating limitations, tickets are ineligible for refunds or transferring. NO children will be permitted without prior authorization.

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Sensible Earnings

This workshop is ever changing. While some information is standard throughout, most of the information provided is geared to the interest of that day’s attendees. With hundreds of hours of information to present, we pare down each workshop to provide each group with only the most pertinent information. If you’ve previously attended a Sensible Earnings workshop, we urge you to attend again in hopes that you find a job that suits you perfectly.

When registering, you are registering for a seat in the workshop. Due to high demand and seating limitations, tickets are ineligible for refunds or transferring. NO children will be permitted without prior authorization.

Thursday, November 1st, 2012
6:00-8:30 p.m.
Panera Bread Meeting Room, North Kansas Expressway (adjacent to Library Station)
Springfield, Missouri
Cost: $18 in advance, $30 at the door (if seating is available)*

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Christmas Savings

It’s that time of year again! The workshop that started it all and is still the most popular is back!

Our Christmas Savings workshop will help cut your Christmas gift list by at least 50%. We’ll tell you when and where to buy the items on YOUR list- so bring it (or at least an idea) with you! Already taken it? You’re probably looking for different items this year- we guarantee to save the cost of registration on just one item on your list.

Monday, November 5, 2012
6:00-8:30 p.m.
Panera Bread Meeting Room, North Kansas Expressway (adjacent to Library Station)
Springfield, Missouri
Cost: $15 before October 29th, $20 from October 30th-November 5th, and $30 at the door (if seating is available)*

When registering, you are registering for a seat in the workshop. Due to high demand and seating limitations, tickets are ineligible for refunds or transferring. NO children will be permitted without prior authorization.

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Reminder | Ultimate Couponing I Workshop tomorrow night: BOGO Tickets!

Come and join us for the Springfield Summer Ultimate Couponing workshop tomorrow night.  If you register before noon tomorrow, you will get one free registration for each paid registration with the coupon code JulyBOGO

Friday, July 6th
6:00-8:00 p.m.
Panera Bread Meeting Room, North Kansas Expressway (adjacent to Library Station)
Springfield, Missouri
Cost: $15 in advance, $20 at the door (if seating is available)

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Announcement | New ‘Save Like Me’ Series

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If I had a nickel for every time someone told me “I wish I could save like you do…”, I wouldn’t need to save any more!  It’s definitely not hard to save like me, especially when I post most of the tips I do directly on this blog.  The funny thing is, that there are a lot of those things that add up to SERIOUS cash for us that very few even click on.

I’ve decided to start doing a regular recap of things that I do to save, along with a detailed explanation on how and why I do it.  Of course, some things aren’t going to be applicable to you, but many are.

The first post in this series will be debuting this morning.  I hope it helps you sort through the messes that can be found in the world of online deals!

Welcome KOLR 10 Viewers!

Hello KOLR 10 Viewers!

I’d like to welcome you to Gateway to Saving.  This website is chocked full of local and national deals, coupons, and tips that will help you keep more of your paycheck just where it should be- in YOUR pocket!

Here are a few things you might like to check out to get you started:

Printable Coupon Sites (just click on the links below):


We teach over 20 different workshops designed to help you save money on EVERYTHING you can think of!  Our workshops have been featured on all local and many national news outlets, including MSNBC.  You can view them all, along with descriptions here:  Gateway to Saving Workshops

To register for a workshop, please click here:  Register for a Gateway to Saving Workshop

Upcoming Workshops (Springfield Area):

  • May 16th | Ultimate Couponing I

If you’d like to host a workshop in your home, church, or office, click here for information:  Home and Private Parties


ULTIMATE COUPONING SALE

As a welcome gift, Ultimate Couponing | Your Guide to Slashing Your Grocery Bill will be on sale for only $5 (was $12) when using the coupon code KOLR at checkout.  This 80+ page E-Book can be read on any E-Reader or computer and will teach you EVERYTHING you need to do to become an Ultimate Couponer.

Click here to get your copy:  Ultimate Couponing | Your Guide to Slashing Your Grocery Bill


The ‘Stores’ tab will take you to information and websites for all of our local stores.

The ‘Weekly Matchups’ tab will take you to the best deals in our local stores.

Check out the ‘Hot Deals’ page for the best online and offline deals around.


If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or email info@thesensiblefamily.com  We’d love to hear from you! 

Coupon and Stockpile Swap + Ultimate Couponing I Refresher Deal

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Before the Ultimate Couponing I workshop on May 16th, we will be holding a coupon and stockpile swap.  Bring in your extra coupons and items you won’t use (must be new and non-expired) and trade them for ones you will!

The swap will be held from 5:00-5:45 at the McAlister’s on West Battlefield.  Please email classes@thesensiblefamily.com if you plan to attend.

If you intend to stay for the Ultimate Couponing workshop, you must register hereUpcoming Workshops

The Ultimate Couponing workshops changes frequently.  If your couponing is struggling or you’d like to learn the newest information on saving with AND without coupons, sign up today!  If you’ve previously taken a Gateway to Saving Ultimate Couponing workshop, you can refresh for just $4 with the coupon code REFRESH.  (You must have taken Ultimate Couponing I offered by Gateway to Saving to use the coupon code.  All registrants will be verified.  No admittance will be allowed for misuse of coupon code, and no refunds or credit will be given)

Ultimate Couponing I Workshop in Springfield Tomorrow!

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Ultimate Couponing I

Bring 3 Friends, Get In Free!

To take advantage of this offer, simply email classes@thesensiblefamily.com with the names of your friends after they have registered online. This must be done by March 16th in order to qualify for the promotion. (Each registration may only be applied to one promotion.) DO NOT REGISTER YOURSELF USING THIS LINK- we’ll take care of it via email.

Take a class somewhere else and feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, or confused? Get in for half price when you bring your receipt (or other form of verification). Email classes@thesensiblefamily.com for details. We want you to save- not spend!

Registration is required. Registration fees are non-refundable or transferable. If you cannot attend a workshop, you may elect to give your ticket to another person within 48 hours of the workshop. You MAY NOT use the ticket for any other workshop. Please contact classes@thesensiblefamily.com to do so. Due to limited seating and the educational atmosphere of this event, no children will be allowed without prior written consent.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
6:00-9:00 p.m.
Panera Bread Meeting Room, North Kansas Expressway (adjacent to Library Station)
Springfield, Missouri
Cost: $15 in advance, $20 at the door (if seating is available)

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***Please check the website and Facebook page the day of the workshop for any weather related cancellations.