Monday, October 31, 2011


Yes the most overused pet-play-on-words for "Halloween" ever.  I don't feel creative.

Bear the weenie, dressed up as a weenie!

Here he is in his fabulous purple t-shirt.
"Too Cute to Spook"... that's debatable.
If looks could kill...oh wait, my hair just burst in to flames.
Cap'n River
Say it with me now... Awwwwwwwwwwwww
Happy Halloween!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Monster-in-Laws- Episode 2...kinda 1 though.

No, this is not about my in-laws. 

I already posted about my love of overly dramatic reality shows.   I've been eagerly anticipating the premier of a new show, "Monster-in-Laws".  In this show, families are highly dysfunctional.  An in-law may come to visit and just wreak havoc on the household for days, it may be an all the time problem- anything could happen.

I had two episodes of it DVR'd and silly me, I watched the second episode first, not that it matters.  This episode was about a girl named Kristin, her husband (I think his name was Scott?  We'll call him Scott) and her mother (Susan? Maybe?).  Her mother and her husband fought like cats and dogs.  She was overly demanding, opinionated and demanded that he get a job.   From his side, he informed us that he was some kind of fancy-version landscaper/contractor and because of the economy, times were tough.  Fair enough.

I was very pleased with the first part of the show, then it all went South.  We find out that Susan and Kristin had been estranged for over 5 years when Scott suggested they reconcile.  Big mistake, I'm thinking, as Kristin articulates that same thought.  Kristin is very pregnant and Susan is beside herself with terror that she won't get to see her grandchild in the future.   So they work through some of these issues and Susan learns to sometimes keep her big mouth shut.  Nice.

However, we find out a lot of the tension and the reason Susan keeps hassling Scott about a job is that Scott and Kristin owe her over $50,000 for renovations!  This comes out when Kristin is complaining that Susan refuses to get a job to help them not lose their house.  Hold up there baby-cakes, this is your mother.  She already loaned you $50,000 and bought you hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stuff (as we saw when they went through and put price tags on items in the house that she had purchased)!  Let me say, as well- I don't know what they did with this $50k, the house is unfinished and a disaster.   When the therapist asked the youngish couple to say outloud how much they could pay Susan weekly or monthly towards the loans, they say "Literally, not even $5".  Wait... you have a baby on the way! What?!

 I was looking for 100% in the right or 100% in the wrong.  Instead, I suddenly find myself all up in this couples business, agreeing with the "Monster-in-Law" that Scott should get his lazy ass up and go mow grass if that's what it takes to support his family!  Apparently he is a lazy-good-for-nothing who just lounges around all day while her daughter works.

Overall, I was a bit disappointed with this show.  At only 30 minutes, I don't feel like you really get enough of a sense of the "whole story" and there isn't nearly enough time for the fantastic melt-downs that are the whole reason I watch these types of shows.  The surprise about the couple owing $50,00 came in just the last few minutes.  The reconciliation was a bit quick too- in seconds the mother-in-law is learning to hold her tongue and to date the couple hasn't paid a dime back to her.  She does get to see the grandbaby once every two weeks though.

I'm hoping other episodes will redeem this show a bit, but so far, it's passable.  Something to watch when there is absolutely nothing else on, but not anything to really look forward to.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Hell is the Chipmunks on Endless Loop..."

We helped a friend with a Halloween Party for her daughter yesterday.  D is 9 and she invited over several friends ranging in age from 9-11.

Tim and I are not used to so many little girls running around.  D is often a relatively calm, quiet child.  Last night however, she was a typical, screaming, squealing, bouncing up and down little girl who was amplified times 5.

We all hung out in the basement where frequent cries of "more smoke!" rang out, demanding the fog machine be turned on again.  It choked all the adults but didn't even slow the girls down.  Then we had the pleasure of watching them pick up the bottles from "pumpkin bowling" and beat each other with them.  Then the girls beat each other with balloons.  Then they ran upstairs, back downstairs, back upstairs, back downstairs, then started beating each other with pompoms.  All the while, shrill shrieks rang out over the Halloween music playing in the background.  Even the deaf dog ran upstairs to hide from the noise. 

Then came the various attempts at impaling themselves on any sharp corner that might present itself- the edge of a table, the edge of a fireplace, witch hats... whatever.  It was clear it wasn't going to be a party until there was real blood on the floor.

There were more squeals and pushing, fighting and screams of "ME ME ME ME ME ME" when it came to getting the party snacks.  Every single girl fought tooth and nail to be the first to get a piece of the "brain" (made with jello and suitably gray and disgusting looking).  However, not one single girl ate it.  I watched them- they tried to force all the adults to eat it, then it ended up in the trash.  Why fight over it in the first place? Incomprehensible.

Just as the party reached it's most frenzied pitch, after pin the tail on the cat, a mummy-wrapping game where they wasted three rolls of toilet paper and a failed witch-hat ring toss, someone came up with the idea of playing freeze dance.  This involved watching the children doing highly inappropriate dancing (thank you TV) until the music was paused.  Whoever moved after that was "out".  Thankfully, we were able to the girls they had to quiet down so they could hear the music.  *whew* A break from the constant assault on my ears...right?

Unfortunately, the song they most enjoyed dancing to was the Chipmunks singing some awful Halloween song.  I honestly don't even know what it was.  I don't want to know what it was.  Why we skipped over Thriller and went instead to Chipmunks over...and over...and over... I will never understand.

Thankfully after six rounds of this, the parents started showing up to collect their children.  After finally having to blast the last mom and daughter out the door, we all collapsed upstairs on the couch.  D began to speak, but was quickly shushed.  We all wanted to enjoy the silence for just a few seconds.

Then it was off to home to drag ourselves outside to feed the animals and a very early bed time.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Bank Fees

The newest "cool way to screw people" that the banks are coming up with is to charge you a monthly fee to use your own money in your checking account.  Wow, way to say Thank You for the big bail out, banks! I mean geez- they are already getting free use of our money by loaning it out and getting paid interest on it.  Oh but yes, they do throw us a few pennies yearly in interest paid, don't they?  How generous of them. Now some folks get the opportunity to pay $120 yearly in fees because they have a checking account.  Yeah.  Awesome.

You don't have to take it lying down you know.  Feel free to call your bank and complain about these new monthly usage fees.  Also let them know you will be shopping around to find a new bank and you'd like to know the procedure to withdraw 100% of the funds deposited with them and to close out all accounts.  This gets their attention.

Follow through with that plan! Shop around with various banks.  I am with a credit union and they are fantastic- they don't do gimmicks (no free toasters when you open an account here folks!), but I get the best rate, great service and no fees for using my own money.

If people nip this behavior in the bud now by flocking to those banks that do not charge you a monthly fee, it will prevent all the banks from going to this system.  They are all out to make money and to squeeze us until every little penny is in their pocket.  If we show we're too lazy to switch banks or that $10/month isn't a big deal, soon it will be $15.  Then $20.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Feeling the "eek"

I was letting the dogs out for a potty break when Tim suddenly twitched and yells "Stop sniffing my leg!"  He reached forward and slapped the air near his knee, then looked confused when he didn't encounter anything.  What he didn't know and I had already seen was that there was nothing near him.

It was a haunting.


Or it was a spider. 

Tim is terribly uncomfortable around spiders. I've often had to kill spiders for him, because he couldn't work up the nerve to do it.  Especially the big ones.

Not this time though.

I saw it scuttle away from him, running fast across the carpet.  Rather than make any move to help him or use any one of the 6 shoes near the door to kill it, I did what any good, loving wife would do.

I started jumping up and down and squealing at the top of my lungs interjecting "Get It, Get It, getitgetitgetigetitgetit."  There may be truth to the rumor I was grinning like an idiot the entire time.

He figured out it was just a granddaddy-long leg and it took him several hilarious attempts to catch the spider without having to touch it more than was absolutely necessary.  Then he tossed it outside.  All while I was bouncing up and down, squealing.

It was surprisingly entertaining for me.

Next time, instead of being helpful in any way, stand and squeal. See if it doesn't crack you up!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011


This is an odd time to talk about vacations, but we're about to go to Indianapolis and it's on my mind.  This was written during our trip to Disney World, but I feel it's applicable to any trip and has been updated a bit.

Surely this is a hat for all occasions.
One of the most overpriced things on vacations (other than theme park food!) are souvenirs. Plus, you can't exit a ride or walk 50 yards without seeing entire stores devote to sparkly, fluffy, expensive crap.

A great way to save money is to wait to buy. Don't buy until the last day of your vacation or until the last day you know you'll be doing something like going to a theme park.  This way, you can scope out anything you just can't live without, and in some cases you find something you want more or find it cheaper elsewhere!

We've seen $15 water spraying hand-held fans. The same fans are in Wal-mart for $5, they are just lacking a little imagination. Try buying the fans at Wal-mart and then purchasing a $1 pack of stickers and decorating it yourself. Much cheaper than the anything sold in the park!

You can also do things like buy the Disney trading pins on ebay for a very discounted price.  Then you (or your kids) can trade them in the parks for the newest thing.  No need to spend $50 on the starter kits!

Yum yum! They were $9 though and I suspect they didn't taste very good.

The Wal-mart, Flea Market and pretty much any drug or grocery store in Florida is lined with entire aisles devoted to Disney themed items. We've gone to Disney discount warehouses where items were 50% off. It's awesome! Of course, you will probably be getting more generic Tigger items, but hey if you need to buy a gift for someone at home, that's definitely the way to go. 

Speaking of- don't buy gifts for everyone! I'm sorry, this is your vacation. This isn't buy-something-for-everyone-you-ever-met week. We often purchase a gift for the person taking care of our animals and possibly something as a Christmas gift for someone. 

Also remember- a vacation doesn't hinge on the stuff you buy. I've seen more adorable stuffed animals than I can shake a stick at. In 2 years, that $30 unicorn is going to end up in a yard sale for $1. In 5 years, if I remember it at ALL, I'll remember it as a huge waste of money. Instead, I prefer to collect one small thing- in this case I purchase a small ornament (preferably dated) wherever we go. For $8, I'll have this one small souvenir and at Christmas each year we can relive fun times we had at various places as we decorate the tree! Tim likes to purchase a drinking glass. We both seem to prefer useful items.  I just take pictures of the fun things I'd like to own but don't want to spend the money on.

I wanted this so bad.
My favorite souvenirs are pictures. I take a ton on my digital camera. Funny little signs, cute attractions, whatever catches my fancy. That reminds me much more of things we did than a $7 keychain or a $25 shirt.  I have even started taking pictures of things I kind of want to buy but don't want to spend the money on.

Don't freak out over spending any money on a little something. DO avoid spending $100 on junk though. Set a budget per person and stick to it- don't feel like you HAVE to spend the whole amount though. It'll be okay if you don't. Promise :).


Monday, October 17, 2011

My Husband- Turtle Superman

One thing I love about Tim and alternately drives me insane, is his deep love for turtles. 

He is constantly coming home to tell me about the small miracle he wrought that day- mainly about a turtle that he saw in the road that he stopped to rescue.

Yes.  My husband frequently pulls the car over on the twisty road we live on to get out, grab a turtle that may or may not try to bite his finger off and move it to the other side of the road.

Sunday we were headed out to lunch.  We had very limited time, since we were doing a charity walk at 2pm.  I spot a small round spot of something on the road, right on the double yellow line.  Tim sees it about the same time and immediately tenses and starts to slow.  Then he looks at me and says:

"That was a turtle back there."
- I know, honey.

*The car starts to slow down as if of it's own accord.  He appears to be raging an internal battle.*

"Can I go back to help it?"
- Sure, I figured you would anyway.
"I just hate seeing them smushed on the road."
- I know you do.
"They are just so pitiful."
-Mmm hmm.

*Quick and vaguely unsafe u-turn*
*Tim arrives at the scene of the turtle, pulls over, gets out, shuts the door and picks up his new friend.  Mumbles something unintelligible to it, climbs the bank on the other side of the road (the side the turtle was facing) and places it in to the woods. Gets back in the car and does another vaguely unsafe u-turn."

"The little devil hissed at me!"
"I know!"

*moment of reflection on the attitudes of turtles-being-rescued.*

"It makes me feel good though."
-I'm glad.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Why I need to pay more attention when I read...

I'm hunting across all of the Groupon, Living Social, etc. etc. sites today, trying to find discounted tickets to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (I was just informed I will be stabbed if I call it a race track) Museum.

There it was on Groupon: An ad.  In my quick scan I saw "Ticket, Speed, Indy Speed".  I HAD IT! I had stumbled upon exactly the groupon I needed. 

Then I read it a little more closely. 

One, Two, or Four Tickets to a Speed-Dating Event From Indy Speed Date (Up to 58% Off)  Over 200 bought


This is not exactly what I thought it was.

On a side note, why exactly do you need two or four tickets to a speed dating event?


Saturday, October 15, 2011

River Sickness

River doesn't feel good.  You can tell in part because she's not bouncing around like crazy.  Of course, the crying to go out and potty 4 times last night was an indicator as well.  The vomiting twice in the floor gave us a small hint.   Oh, and the copious amounts of drool.

I think she ate a bug or something else that both tasted bad and has disagreed with her.  I think she's just going to feel sick tonight and will hopefully be better tomorrow.

In the meantime, we're making sure she has plenty of opportunities to go outside, so anything she needs to do she can do out there, whether it be graze on the grass to make herself sick, drool, or whatever.

Actually, it's kind of nice to have her not feeling 100% up to crazy.  She's snuggled on the couch with me now, cuddling my feet and is so gives me hope for the future, when she calms down a bit.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Price of Peanut Butter

I'm sure by now you guys have heard- though for once the internet was a little slow getting the news out.

The price of peanut butter is about to sky rocket.  The hot, dry summer, coupled with farmers switching to more profitable crops, cause the peanut crop to drop by 13% this year compared to last year.  JIF peanut butter is set to go up about 30%, while the new Planters peanut butter is going to be hiked up 40%.  Rest assured, Great Value and the other brands will follow suit.

Companies that package nuts for snacks aren't sure yet whether their prices will go up, but I think we can expect to see a jump.

Scour the internet for peanut butter coupons and stock up now, before the higher prices hit the shelves.  If you know your family will eat a jar of peanut butter a month, why not buy 10-12 jars now, at a discounted price?   Just make sure you don't purchase more than you can eat before it goes bad, otherwise you are completely negating any savings.

Don't be afraid to call your favorite Peanut Butter company and ask for coupons- a friend of mine just called JIF and they are sending her some in the mail!

Here are a few coupons to get you started- I will update as I find more:

$0.60/2 Skippy Peanut Butter
$0.75/1 Planters (Target Printable)
$0/75/1 Smart Balance Peanut Butter
$1/1 Smart Balance Rich Roast Peanut Butter (SS 10/09/11)
$0.75/1 Smart Balance Rich Roast Peanut Butter (SS 10/09/11 RP)


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Freezer Breakfast Burritos

You'll need:

Soft tortillas
Bacon or sausage (or both)
salsa (optional)
cheese (optional)

This is a very short and sweet version that can be modified any which way you like! This is how we did it.

Cook 3 pieces of bacon or 2 pieces of sausage per burrito you intend to make.  I like to cook this individually so I can use the grease from the meat to cook the eggs in.  Hey, I never said this was a healthy recipe.   Set the meat aside on a paper towel lined plate to drain a bit.

Scramble 2 eggs per burrito.  I usually put 4 eggs in the pan at a time, which is enough to make two burritos.  I often crumble the bacon or sausage into the eggs as they cook, then add the cheese on top so it can melt in to the "filling"

After the eggs are done, use your spatula to divide up the filling in the pan so you know how much to put in each burrito.  Trust me on this, otherwise one will be over full and one will be pitiful.

Spread the eggs inside of the tortilla.  Now is the time to add your salsa and more cheese if you want.

Roll your burritos and wrap them in plastic wrap.

Place them in freezer bags, squeeze out as much air as you can and toss them in the freezer.  You may want to write on the bag what kind they are (sausage or bacon) so you don't get set for one kind and realize you grabbed the other in the morning.

Voila, individually wrapped breakfast burritos! You can take one out and microwave it for 2 minutes. Tim likes to put a little hot sauce on them in the mornings.

Really- you can do so much with these and they freeze and thaw really well. You could easily do ham, add some peppers- just have fun with them.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I want a tattoo.  I know what I want and where I want it (ankle, by the way).

I just haven't gone to get one yet.  I keep wondering- what if I change my mind? What if in 10 years I look at it and think "  Why did I waste the money on that?"  Short of spending thousands on tattoo removal, you're kind of stuck with them.

I'm also cheap.  I know most places have a minimum fee- like $50 is the starting point.  The tattoo I want would be very small.  I can't imagine it would possibly take more than 5 minutes to do it.

So, I flip flop back and forth.  My brother had no trouble with this, he actually has three tattoos, two of which are massive. I also happen to think they are all stupid, but what do I know? I'm just the kill-joy older sister.

We'll see.  I guess it won't hurt to wait another year or two and see if I still want it.  I've been saying this for approximately ten years now, what's another few?


Saturday, October 8, 2011

5k for Diabetes and an otherwise lazy day.

Tim woke me up at 7:30 this morning.  My first thought was "Why do I have to get up now? I don't have work and if it's church he has to go..."  Then it hit me.  Today was the 5k for a cure for Juvenile Diabetes.  They really need to start these things later in the morning, I like my sleep!

We arrived early and grabbed a half bagel for breakfast, played a few of the little games (I won a free Chick-fil-a Ice Dream coupon! Yummy...) and lined up for the team photo.  Not long after that, we were off!

I was disappointed that the 5k actually ended up being a 3.5k.  Due to the extremely large crowd walking the narrow sidewalks of a nearby University, we weren't able to do a fast pace either.  We finished the 3.5k in under 50 minutes.  Not that impressive, but what can ya do?

We grabbed hot dogs (keep in mind this is 10am in the morning) and had a Popsicle, then headed out.  On the way home, we found a Fall Festival and stopped in to see what we could see.  I was very disappointed with the craft booths- there wasn't much around and the items that were there were very expensive.  A single pumpkin muffin? $3.00. No thank you.

We headed home to veg out in front of the TV and enjoy some college football.  My Tar Heels won, then we watched a thriller between Virginia Tech and Miami.  Oh, did I say watched?  We slept through about half of it.  I woke up at one point to discover that not only was I the only living being awake in the house, I had also been using Toby the cat as a pillow.

We had happily thrown some ribs in the crockpot, so dinner was a quick affair.  Now there is nothing to do until bed time but veg out in front of the TV or curl up on the couch with a book.  Did I say nothing to do? Oh there is plenty to do, but those are the only options I'm considering!


Friday, October 7, 2011

Christmas Box

I start Christmas Shopping insanely early. For example- I started shopping for Christmas 2009 right after Thanksgiving 2008.  I've definitely continued the trend!

I keep a box in the spare bedroom. When I find something I think someone will like (or a REALLY good deal), I buy it and put it in the Christmas Box. I keep a list of who I've purchased for, that way I don't end up with three times the presents I need. However, I will keep in mind Birthdays too- I'm not ashamed to raid the Christmas Box for a good birthday gift.

By spreading out my shopping, it REALLY reduces the stress of Christmas and the pinch it puts on the bank account. I don't have to worry about needing to charge things on a credit card. In some cases, I've purchased AWESOME 75% off gifts, which allows me to give presents that would have been beyond my means normally, while still saving money! A $50 gift 75% is only $12.50. If I normally try to spend $20, I save $8.50 and the person getting the gift gets one worth $30 more!

Keep in mind though- only buy GOOD stuff. No one wants to received a chipped and broken gift, so you can save money. I try to have someone in mind when I buy, or at least say "This would work for _____, ________ or ____!"

Don't be afraid to make gifts as well! I recently asked a group of friends and it was pretty much agreed that a homemade gift is welcomed (and sometimes preferred) as long as it is well done and shows you know something about the person!

What do I mean by that? Don't give painted bookmarks to someone who hates to read. Don't give a sugar cookie mix to someone that's diabetic. DO hand knit a scarf for someone that loves scarves. DO decorate a framed picture of you and the person.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pumpkin Work

Tim brought home 5 small "pie" pumpkins last weekend.  They were sitting in a box on our dining room table until a certain cat who will remain nameless (Gypsy) jumped on the table where she knows she isn't allowed to be and knocked the box in to the floor.

Way to go Gypsy.

So yesterday I grabbed two and began the long, involved process of turning them in to food.  This is a two day process for me.

I scooped out every.single.seed and set them aside to make roasted pumpkin seeds.  I had the joy of scooping out all the "guts" and tossing them out, then cutting the pumpkins in to large chunks to go in to the crock pot.

I washed off the pumpkin seeds and set them to roasting- they are so delicious, but I wish they weren't quite so time consuming to do.  They came out perfectly though, Tim and I ended up eating about half last night before we forced ourselves to put the container up.

Tonight I'll get the pumpkin "meat" out of the crock pot and set to work making pies.  I like to make little individually sized pumpkin pies, then freezer all but a few of them.  It takes just a few minutes to warm one up in the microwave and it encourages Tim not to gorge on pie.  I don't eat it and he doesn't like to see it go to waste, so one full sized pie tends to be more than we need.

I think I'll also make some pumpkin butter.  I need to get more canning jars- I love to give canned things away as little gifts, but that means I don't usually get the jars back.

If I have as much pumpkin left over as I think I will once all 5 are processed, I may try canning some pie filling for later on.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chicken Nachos

You'll need:

Chicken Breasts
Finely shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Nacho chips
Black Beans

This is one of my favorite recipes, modeled after Chicken Nachos from a place called Cosmic Cantina.  It was cheap and easily accessible in college, so we ate there a lot.

Sprinkle the Season-All over your chicken breasts.  I use two for myself and Tim, so adjust that accordingly to the size of your family.  I have several different spices I like to use for this, but the easiest is just plain old season all.  I like to use a lot on the chicken for more flavor.  Toss your chicken on the grill or the George Foreman Grill.

Start heating up your black beans.  I don't use these, but Tim does.

Lay out your plates and start putting your nacho chips on there.  How many you'll need is really based on how much you eat- this is one of those recipes like "spaghetti" where there aren't really amounts, it is all based on your preferences.

When the chicken is cooked through, take it off the grill and cut it in to small chunks.  Usually I make Tim do this, while I slather his nacho chips with the beans (I prefer to use a spoon with holes in it so the beans can drain before they are put on the nachos). 

Then I put salsa on both of our chips.  Tim likes a LOT of salsa with minimal juice.  I like lots of the salsa "juice" because I enjoy my nachos slightly soggy.  I'm odd. Again, do it to taste, but I like to have salsa on every bite.

Split the chicken chunks up amongst the plates of nachos.  Two chicken breasts for two people are more than enough, if you have a small child two breasts would easily take care of the three of you.

Sprinkle the mozzarella over your chicken nachos!  If I had to guess, I probably use a quarter cup of cheese on mine and a little more on Tim's.

Voila!  Chicken Nachos.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Where is Fall?

I check the calendar and it says October.

For me, October is the quintessential fall month.  Fall produce like pumpkins are everywhere, the leaves are changing on the trees, the days are cool, the nights are crisp and summer's heat is finally only a memory.

However, this year it seems like October is battling the unseasonably warm temperatures of September by dipping down directly into November's chill.  As I told a friend recently "It feels like we went directly from mid-August to mid-November!"

As I sit here in my office, my nose and fingers are freezing.  Refusing to admit it's so cold so quickly, I am of course dressed in a short sleeve shirt, jeans and a t-shirt.  If I don't dress in warm winter clothing, I can deny that we've skipped Fall...right? That's totally how that works, I'm sure of it.

At least it seems that we will be having some warmer temperatures later on in the week.  Maybe I'll get my Fall after all!


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cutting the cost of Eating Out

One of the biggest areas of spending for us is in going out to eat.  Now, I don't mean to say we spend more than our car payment or anything- it's just that in the budget, I have a line item that reads "Fun Money".  Under fun money, 90% of what we spend is going out to eat.

When we go to McDonald's or somewhere similar, we try to order less. For instance- 2 McDoubles and a large fry, to be split between us. This can seriously cut your bill in HALF, depending on what you typically order. We simply drink whatever we have at home (I dislike eating in restaurants).

If we absolutely have to eat out, Tim & I get convoluted. Let's say we each want a combo meal that would run around $6 each. $12 + tax for lunch, right? Instead, I might get the $6 combo and upsize it (around $1 more)... and then Tim orders off the dollar menu. $7+ tax- we eat less because we don't keep stuffing fries "so we don't waste them" and we knock $5 off our bill.  I also ask for a cup of water, since I prefer that to a soft drink anyway.

You often get coupon booklets in the mail, or there are pages in the coupon inserts in the Sunday paper.   SCORE! IF we eat out, I try to make sure it is using one of the coupons. Remember: You don't save money using coupons if you spend when you normally would not have. So using a coupon for dinner every night doesn't save us money- it causes us to increase our spending!

We also started using our one Fast Food meal to go to Subway...sing it with me now... "$5 Foot Looong". One of these things makes two meals for us. Not bad! Again, we eat our own chips and make our own drinks at home! $2.50 a meal a person, and it's a healthier alternative to Burgers and Fries!

Rather than going to Pizza Hut or Dominos we make our own- or splurge a little and get a $5 Hot N Ready from Little Caesar's. It's the best $5 pizza I didn't have to make.  If you don't have a Little Caesar's near you, be sure to ask about specials at the other pizza places.  Even a $10 any way you want it pizza from Pizza Hut will last two meals at my house, knocking down what we spend per meal.

Join "Food Clubs" with your favorite restaurant. We belong to T.G.I.Friday's and Texas Roadhouse, to name just two. Both send coupons through my email and both have rewards cards. Texas Roadhouse relies on how many meals you buy for you to win prizes- I think Level 1 is a T-shirt, while TGIF tracks the amount and awards you "points". $100 worth of points= $8 coupon for free food. I know, not terribly exciting, but if you plan to eat there ANYWAY, you might as well get something free out of it!

Plus, the coupons are out of this world! Buy an entree, get an entree free. Buy an entree, get an entree for $1. They are well worth signing up, neither restaurant is spammy. Check your other favorites to see what kind of programs they offer! If they don't offer a rewards program, fire off an email explaining that you'd love to see it...otherwise, you may have to go spend your money in a place that does.  Also, a little planning goes a long way.  If I know we want to eat at Smokey Bones, I can simply google "Smokey Bones printable coupon".  More times than not, I find something, even if it's just a free appetizer coupon.

Check to see if there is an "early bird" option. Again, Texas Roadhouse offers 10 entrees priced at $7.99 if you eat from 4pm-6pm. Sweet! That saves $2 off my favorite meal, and I only have to eat a little earlier than normal. If Tim and I both take advantage of this offer- that's $4 we save and if we do it twice a month, every month... $96 savings over the year. If someone walked up to you and offered you a free $96, would you honestly turn it down because it was too much trouble to hold out your hand? I didn't think so!

If you want to treat yourself or you have to eat out because of travel, you can at least try to save a few bucks in the process.