Saturday, February 27, 2010

"A penny saved is a penny earned."

So, everyone knows that adopting costs a BUNCH!  And since we already have 4 kids, we have definitely learned how to live on a budget over the years.  But over the last 6 months or so, I have begun in earnest to do my best to save as much as possible on even the everyday necessities. 

I've learned that a "penny saved" really is a "penny earned".  (Ben Franklin certainly understood that keeping your hard-earned money is a lot like earning it all over again!) In order to truly save money, I have to have a plan and do some good old hard work. 

One of the things I have learned to do is to use coupons strategically by following some really great couponing blogs.  I didn't even know this whole "couponing world" existed before last fall.  I was just clipping a few coupons here and there and hoping for the best.  But by using the tips I've learned on blogs, I have started saving nearly 50% on our grocery bills, AND we have more food in the house than we've ever had!  More food for less money - that works for me! 

If you're interested in learning to use coupons strategically but just don't know where to start, many of the blogs have great "couponing 101" tutorials for beginners.  Try a few tips a week and soon you'll be saving like a pro.  It's addicting!

Here is a short list of some of the savings blogs I check on a regular basis: - give-aways, tips, "dollar deals" (things you can buy for less than $1!) - thorough "Couponing 101" tutorial, freebies, etc. - devoted to Publix deal shopping - just what the name implies! - a mom who is using her coupon savings to take the fam to Disney, great tips for writing to companies to ask for coupons - "Because bargains don't find themselves." - recipes, saving tips, etc.

(Some of these are primarily for certain geographical areas, but you can use the tips they share and apply them to any store you want.) 

My personal top 4 tips would be:
1) to check with your local store managers to find out their coupon policies.  (Sometimes the details change from location to location - even in the same city.)
2) use on-line printable coupons
3) write to companies to get coupons
4) ask friends/neighbors to give you any coupon inserts they do not use

Many people use the argument, "Using coupons takes too much time!"  Well, it does take time, but if you learn the tricks, it IS worth it.  I just think of it as a part time job, because I may spend 4-8 hours a week on couponing.  BUT a great benefit to this part time job is that I don't have to pay taxes on what I earn!  (I average about $15-$20 in savings per hour of work, which works out to about $500 per month savings!)

***Some people in our area even make money by teaching couponing workshops. So, if you become a coupon maven, you could not only save money, you could "make" money.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Home Study … oh, boy. – pt. 2

Okay, we’re learning a lot!

As we have been going through all the stacks of papers that are in our “inbox” waiting on us to read, fill out, copy, and mail in order to get our home study underway, we have noticed how the fees keep multiplying. Every in-state agency we checked into about doing our home study requires an additional application approval and, of course, additional application fees!
To be honest, that just did not sit well with us. We have already applied and been approved by our adoption agency and we’ve already paid application fees to them. And having to be approved by an agency who we just want to use to complete our home study seemed an unnecessary expenditure of money and time. We checked with a few in-state agencies and, apparently, it is standard procedure. We also noticed that those agencies all have several requirements that are not necessarily required by our adoption agency.
Since we’d rather not spend that extra money we don’t have to and would rather not spend extra hours filling out unnecessary papers, we called our agency this morning to ask some questions. (I must compliment them – they are the best.) I spoke with a social worker who very patiently answered all my questions and quieted my concerns. Then we spoke with one of the in-state agencies, and they explained some of the extra fees, legalities, etc. Bottom line is that we just have to do it...
We know God is leading us in this, and we’ll do whatever it takes to bring our children home. Besides, it’s not our money we’re spending – it’s HIS! And it’s not our time we’re using – it’s HIS! So we do what we have to do with JOY in our hearts waiting on the promise of blessings to come!

* * * * * * * *

Also, before dinner tonight we went across the street to our neighbors’ to have him witness our signatures on a form. Thanks, T!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Home Study ... oh, boy.

Since we live several states away from our adoption agency, we chose to have our home study done by an agency closer to where we live.  It seemed like an easy way to accomplish this part of the process, but it is turning out to be more complicated than we expected.

We haven't even actually begun our home study yet - we've just been talking to different agencies about their process (and learning that everything costs more than expected).  For instance, we didn't realize that in order to have another agency do the home study, we have to fill out an application with that agency and pay their application fee as if we were applying to adopt through them.  That's an extra $250-$300 on top of the stated home study fee.  Also, even though our agency gives a refund for the post placement study fees if they are turned in on time, we still have to pay the other agency those fees, so there won't actually be a refund.  It will likely turn out to cost us closer to $3,000 rather than the $1,600 or so we first anticipated. (But we do know that even though we are surprised by this, God is not.)

We met with an agency located nearby on February 12th, but for various reasons we're not sure we're going to use them for the home study.  So now we're looking into a couple of others. We're feeling pretty frustrated right now because it seems as if we are just spinning our wheels until we settle this matter and get the home study process going. 

We are so excited about what God is doing and will do in our family through the adoption process.  We know that our lives and the lives of ALL of our children will be changed forever.  So, whatever we have to do, we'll do....

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"Southern Belle" t-shirts!

The wonderful folks at "Southern Belle" have created a design for an exclusive t-shirt for us to sell as a fundraiser for our adoption.  Below is the preliminary design.  Colors have not been chosen yet, but as soon as we have made a decision we will begin taking orders.  We will get to keep all profits for our adoption fund.  I am so excited about these shirts because this design is exclusively ours!  (If you would like to give a recommendation for a t-shirt color, you may do so below or on my fb page.)   

Monday, February 1, 2010


Last Wednesday night when we got home from church we had a really great surprise on our answering machine.  We've been accepted into the Ethiopia adoption program! We're very excited to finally be on our way.  Our next step was to mail in some agreement forms, which we did today - along with $$, of course! (I think every step along the way requires some sort of payment with it, but I can't think of a single thing I'd rather spend money on!) 

Today I called and made our appointment for our first home study interview.  It will be next Friday, the 12th!  We're excited that we will be doing something that "feels" like action rather than filling out and mailing forms and sending e-mails back and forth.  Can't wait!