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You know that saying, "There's no such thing as a free lunch?" It's wrong! Read Mama Money Bags to find out why.

On Tuesday, July 10, you can eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner for free (well, the entree at least!). All you need to do is wear something cow-themed. Since my family has been going to Cow Appreciation Day for at least a decade, we have an entire bag of goodies set aside for the big day.
Here's my kids from a couple years ago. The visors are handmade--I drew on cow faces after turning over free visors we got who knows where. The necklaces are just stuffed cows held together by rubber bands, and another is pinned to my son's hat. And my youngest is wearing a swimming cover-up with black spots taped to it.

I've seen some amazing cow costumes over the years, but since I don't want to buy things we rarely use, we make do with creating our own. I even have a shirt with a cow on the back that I wear on Cow Appreciation Day year after year. You only…
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Do you watch how much you spend at the food store? I know I do! Meat is especially pricey, but Mama Money Bags can help you learn how to cut back.

Probably the easiest way to save on meat is to buy in bulk and then divide the meat into separate meals at home. Why buy in bulk? It's cheaper per pound! I buy a large pack of boneless skinless chicken breast at Wegmans, which I then prep immediately into different dinners (for example, marinated meat, sliced chicken for fajitas, and smaller chunks of chicken for pasta). Then, I stick what I can't use right away into the freezer so it's ready for when I cook. Doing this helps cut back on take-out, too!

Sometimes, though, I am super lucky at one of my local stores (usually Wegmans, Target, or Acme) and I stumble upon what my husband calls "scratch and dent" meat--aka, meat that's close to its sell-by date. It usually has a sticker or coupon attached to the packaging. Here's one from Target (similar ones have als…
It's the last day of school over here. The big kids are already off to their last day of sixth and seventh grade, while the kindergartner and I are chilling this morning until it's time to get ready. So, what does all that mean for my Mama Money Bags?

Let's be honest: summer is an expensive time. Thankfully, the kids are home with me because I usually transition to second shift at work. That saves a TON on camp fees. The big kids are doing one week of camp for just $65--and that includes lunch and breakfast--but it's a subsidized program through the county's intermediate unit. And my youngest may go to our local bible school with my eldest as a teen volunteer--another $20.

Overall, I'll try to keep spending low, while still incorporating fun. We have some passes lined up through the local library's Museum Passport Program. Our YMCA membership starts up again soon, so that means lazy days by the pool. I usually make a calendar of fun stuff for us to do by ch…
Just like almost every other woman I know, Target's red bull's eye draws me in. I've been trying to resist lately and just not go--to cut down on my spending--but it still feels like a home away from home. The red carts, the bright white floors. I can see it now...
But what I love the most is the 90% off clearance that happens after most holidays or big occasions (typically Valentine's Day, Easter, summer/school, Halloween, and Christmas). I usually go with a cart--the only time I use a cart--and peruse the aisles, putting in things I'm interested in. Then, I scan to check the price before deciding what to buy.
The past couple years, I've also followed All Things Target on Facebook to find hidden items included in the clearance. Like this table I picked up after Christmas one year for $9...

Or this one for $8...

They aren't even holiday-themed and we use them all year round! Just another way to fill your Mama Money Bags!
I thought it might be helpful to talk about no-buy months. It's discussed in detail in Mama Money Bags, but in case you didn't get a chance to read it, or just want to learn more, here's a brief synopsis. The first step is to:

Think before you buy. Do you need to buy that item or will something at home be almost just as good? Did you check your stockpile? Have you used up all those tiny shampoo bottles squirreled away from your last vacation? Is there a cheaper option? Instead of getting take-out for dinner, do you have something you can make quick at home?

I usually try to not spend for three to four days during the week. It's easier than it sounds, as long as you have your stockpile--items you bought beforehand on sale or steeply discounted--to back you up. For no-buy months, I do not include bills, doctor's appointments, or gas. I do include food shopping and all "stuff."

It helps to plan out your week a little, too. I went food shopping on Monday. But…
I went into Lilly Pulitzer yesterday, primarily because I saw they were giving away Duck Donuts. Anyway, while walking around with my free donut, I spotted this visor. So pretty! And I love visors! But at $38, it's a little steep for this Cheap Mom.

Then I saw that items in the Tennis Collection got a free towel (not that I need another towel...). My internal debate grew strong, but so did my resolve to not buy anything. See how they did that? Lure me in with the promise of free donuts, tempt me more with a free promo...

Only when I looked up the special on my phone as I walked away, I saw they excluded the "less expensive" visor from the promo.

Touche Lilly P! Touche!

If you want to find out more money saving tips, check out Mama Money Bags, my e-book on Amazon Kindle. It's just $2.99 and you'll learn so much about being frugal.
I did some Cheap Mom shopping yesterday. You see, I had the $10 CVS coupon that I got from taking a survey (previously mentioned in this post about "making up" money). Since it expires in about a week, and because I noticed our shampoo stockpile was getting very low, I stopped at CVS on my way home from work.

I bought three bottles of Pantene and a bag of Tide Pods--I'll be sure not to eat them. All that right there retails for almost $20 at CVS and I spent $1.06!

How? Here's a quick rundown so you too can learn how to fill your Mama Money Bags:

- Pantene was on sale for $4 each with $3 ExtraBucks when I bought three. I looked in the ad and on the signs in front of the product.
- There was also a $1 Pantene coupon that I loaded onto my CVS card via their app.
- Making it $11 minus my $10 ExtraBucks, for a total of $1.06.
- The three bottles resulted in $3 ExtraBucks being printed out.
- There was a $2 Tide coupon that I also loaded onto my CVS card via their app. I s…