Back to School Savings Tips | How To Use Penny Pinchin’ Mom to Save Time and Money!

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back to school tips on penny pinchin mom |

Even if you are not yet in Back to School shopping mode, there is a good chance you will be very soon.  This can be not only a stressful time of the year for families, but also is usually very expensive!  That is why we are here to help!  There are tips and resources right at your finger tips to help you save not only money – but time in getting ready for back to school!

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All information can quickly be accessed through the main menu.  If you click on Back to School, you will see a menu drops down.  Under here you will find the following (I will give more details for each category in more detail below):

  • Price Comparisons Database
  • 2014 Tax Free Shopping Schedule – by State
  • Back to School Deals
  • Clothing & Uniform Deals
  • Helpful Tips and Ideas
  • Freebies and Resources




This database is updated each Sunday morning with the current store deals (including coupons).  We list all of the prices for the supplies you need.  You can search by store, product or even price!  The stores include:

  • Target
  • Walmart
  • KMart
  • Toys R Us
  • Staples
  • Office Max / Office Depot (same store now)
  • CVS
  • Walgreens
  • Rite Aid




Many states offer a tax free shopping weekend for your back to school items.  Make sure you carefully review your state’s specifications as there are limits as to the items included, as well as spending limits.




These are the individual or additional deals which are found at various stores (which may or may not be listed on the database).  This is a great way to find those deals which come up after the weekly ad has come out whether it be through an online retailer or due to a newly released coupon!




Wether your children wear uniforms or their own style of clothes to school, you need to save.  We’ve got an entire category dedicated to these deals just for you!  If we share any ways to save on clothes, uniforms or shoes, we will place it here so you can quickly find it.




We’ve got some great articles to help you save money on your shopping.  We also share other tips to help you with organizing, schedules and more!  Refer to this to get some great advice to some of your back to school questions!




This section is just what it says.  If there are any freebies you can use for back to school, we will share them here.  In addition, we share resources such as homeschooling sites, forms and more!


If you have any questions at all, we are here to help!  Just leave us a comment on the site or Facebook.   You can also email me by clicking on the Contact link at the very top of this website!

Our goal is to truly help you with everything you need for back to school – whether your child is entering kindergarten or college.


Paying For College: Beyond the Basics — Books, Laptops and More!

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Paying for College -- Dont forget other itesm |


When your child is accepted into college, your first thoughts are probably tuition. Once that shock wears off, you’ll need to consider the necessary supplies for your student’s success. Save yourself a headache and use a college dorm room checklist to get started. Once you’ve covered the basics, students (and their parents) need to budget for additional, but necessary, expenses.


It’s The Little Things


There are the essentials such as an alarm clock, a desk lamp and maybe even a mini fridge. You can also help prepare your student with a care package or going away present filled with these often overlooked but ultimately highly appreciated items:

Another smart consideration for your student is signing up for Amazon Student. With two-day shipping, subscribe-and-save options, streaming of music and movies and the first six months free of charge, it’s worth looking into.

Also, suggest that your child call their future roommate ahead of time to coordinate some of the bigger items. When I headed to college, I purchased a microwave and futon and my roommate got a printer and mini-fridge that we could both use.


Book Smart


Depending on the course load and how many credit hours a student takes, college textbooks can cost well over $1,000 dollars a year. Due to copyrights, specialized materials and even sheer volume, the cost of textbooks has only increased in recent years. Also, some classes use books that contain removable pages, which double as worksheets. For the courses that don’t require customized books, there are many money saving options.

Around 70 percent of students believe that older editions of their required texts are usable. If there are multiple editions of the book, it doesn’t hurt to send an email to the professor or to their TA inquiring if an older edition will suffice. If this isn’t an option, skip the lines at the bookstore and use the web to broaden your search.

Websites like Big Words and BookRenter are trusted online options for buying (and selling) college textbooks. Big Words does the searching for you while BookRenter provides the service its name implies. Encourage your student to sell their books back at the end of the semester. Many parents mistakenly believe that their student ought to hold on to their textbooks, which quickly depreciate. And, of course, there’s also the growing trend of e-textbooks.


Reliable Technology


With technology so highly integrated into today’s college experience, a student with reliable equipment at their disposal has an edge in the classroom. Granted, there are computer labs and printings stations on every campus, but let’s face it, laptops and tablets have replaced the college-ruled notebook. Professors record podcasts of lectures, provide PDFs of study guides and some even require discussion through online forums.

Spend the money on a dependable laptop or tablet, but take advantage of back-to-school sales. Big Box stores like Sam’s Club and Costco are also worth looking into as well. If you don’t find what you want there, contact your school’s IT department. They can typically provide university sanctioned promotion codes to stores or websites for equipment and for necessary programs, such as Microsoft Office Suite. For peace of mind, don’t overlook purchasing an external hard drive and a USB stick, just in case.


Navigating the necessities to prepare for college is one thing. Preparing your budget for the next 4 (or more!) years is something else entirely. Next week, it’s all about budgeting for parents. For more advice on navigating financials or saving for higher ed, click here for friendly advice from the CommunityAmerica Credit Union Savin’ Mavens. This post was written by Maven Kat Hnatyshyn, a branch manager at CommunityAmerica.


10 Tips To Help You Save Money On Back to School Clothes

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10 Tips to Save Money on Back to School Clothes |  #clothes #backtoschool

10 Ways to Save on Back to School Clothes

It is time for back to school once again.  It is expected that the average family will end up spending around $635 this season (according to the National Retail Federation).  That includes the much needed supplies, electronics and clothing.

You can actually spend less than this amount by taking steps to ensure you save as much as possible.  You can easily save on your supplies by finding the best deals (see our Back to School Database).   You can also save on your kids’ clothes by following a few money saving tips!  Below you will find ten:

1.  Shop Your Closets.  Before you head out to shop, take a look in your kids’ closets and dressers.  Have them try things on so you can see what fits and what does not.  Then, make a list of the things you will need.

2.  Shop Thrift Stores.  Second hand stores often have items which have little wear.  If you look at how quickly your kids grow and the cost of clothes, this is an easy way to pick up new threads which they will wear for only a few months.

3.  Stay at Home.  Oftentimes, you can find online codes to save on your purchase.  If you happen to also get free shipping, that makes for an even better deal.  This will allow you to shop from the comfort of home without fighting crowds.  You can also save time by not driving around as well as fuel costs.

4.  Put your Phone to Work.  There are many great apps you can download to help you find coupons and discounts.   One of my favorites is CouponSherpa.  They have retail coupons which you can pull up right at checkout. The cashier will scan your phone and you can save – without having to clip a thing before you leave!

5.  Shop The Sales Tax Holiday.  Many states offer a sale’s tax holiday to help reduce the burden to families.  We pay nearly 9% for sales tax where I live, so that can add up to significant savings when we shop over that weekend.  Find out if your state is participating by reviewing our 2014 Sales Tax Holiday List.

6.  Clothing Swap.  Find friends who have kids who might be a size larger or smaller than your kids and do a swap!  You can give them the clothes your kids can no longer wear nd and get new items as well.

7.  Recycle Clothes.  Just because you have a short sleeved shirt doesn’t mean you can’t wear it in the winter.  Just add a long sleeved tee underneath and you’ve got something new for fall and winter!

8.  Shop clearance.  It is still warm outside (and will be for a few more months).  You can find clearance deals on shorts and tees, which is what your kids will start out wearing initially anyhow.  This is a great way to pick up a few items to start off the school year.  That also allows you time to see discounts and deals on the other items they might need later in the season.

9.  Always shop off-season.  This is one you might not be able to do right at this moment, however, when you shop ahead for the next season you can save.  For example, winter items are always put on clearance in January (which never makes any sense to me).  If you can find jeans, coats or other items, pick them up one or two sizes larger for your kids and hold onto them for the following winter.

10.  Keep your budget in check.  Sure, your kids might want the $150 sneakers, but if your budget is set at a $50, stick to it.  They might think it is the end of the world if they don’t have the best, but you need to make sure you don’t overspend.  If your child want something at a higher price than what you are willing to pay, you can always allow them to cover the difference.  They might just learn that they really don’t want that item as badly as they thought, when they have to cough up the cash for it.

What tips do you have to save on back to school clothes?


How To Shuck Corn Quickly and Easily!

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How to Shuck Corn on the Cob |

If you are like me, you’ve probably taken the time to shuck your corn before you  cook it.  This usually results in a mess of silk strings and what not ending up all over the counter, floor, etc.  You may also notice that cutting off the ends is pretty difficult to do.  I’ve got the EASIEST tip to make this much simpler!

When you get home with your corn, just take the exposed silks off (they should rip off).  Boil a pot of water.  Place the corn inside of the pan — with the shucks still on!  Cook for around 10 – 15 minutes.  Drain and run the corn under cold water.  Then, take a large knife and cut off one end.  The shuck and silks will slide of easily with much less clean up!  Not only that, it helps to lock in the flavors while cooking, which can result in even tastier corn!  Here’s a short video showing you how this works:

So there you’ve got it!  A SIMPLE and quick way to shuck your corn.  Who knew?!?!

Safety Tip: Use a Stuffed Animal So You Never Forget About Your Child

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Teddy bear sitting on baby seat ready to get a safe trip


It is a sad story we hear on the news far too often. A parent or grandparent has up and forgotten about their child, leaving them alone in a hot car.  The rest of the story is usually tragic.

I, for one, do not judge.  That is not up to me. It is between them, their family, and God.  I never know the situation, what was going on, etc.   My heart does, however, break for them as I can not imagine what they are all going through.

There is actually something that we, as parents and caregivers can do to help avoid this from happening to our kids.  It is as simple as a teddy bear.

Take a bear and put it into the carseat when the child is not buckled in.  Then, when you put your child into the seat, set the bear on the front seat next to you — by your purse or briefcase.  You can even place it in your center console.  Then, when you take the child  out, put the stuffed bear back into the car seat.  This way if you go to leave your vehicle and see the animal is NOT in the seat, you will double check and could avoid tragedy from striking you.

Please, do what you can to make sure that this doesn’t happen to those you care about.  I truly can’t imagine the pain of going through something so terribly tragic.


Sea Life Aquarium Fin-A-Thon to Raise Awareness Against Shark Finning

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KC Sea Life Summer Camp 2014 |

Kansas City Sea Life Aquarium his hosting their first annual Fin-A-Thon, to help raise awareness about shark finning.  This event will be held on August 8th, 2014 at the Henlsey Aquatic Center in Independence, Miossouri.  They will send all proceeeds to WildAid to assist them in their shark fin demand reduction campaigns.

Shark finning is the trade practice where fishermen capture sharks, cut off their fins and throw the rest of the body into the ocean, leading them to a certain death. Shark species around the world have experienced dramatic population declines in the past 30 to 40 years due to the growth in demand for their fins for a soup, considered a delicacy in China. The fins of up to 73 million sharks are killed annually just for their fins, often via this cruel practice of ‘finning’.

To help protect the sharks from this cruel practice that fuels the unsustainable shark fin trade, we are asking interested participants to form a group of five friends and raise a minimum of $250 collectively. To register a team, please visit SEA LIFE Aquarium Kansas City’s website and bring the collected money to the event. The group who raises the most money will receive a grand prize. During the Fin-A-Thon, we will collectively swim 50 miles, the same amount of miles a Blacktip Reef Shark swims in one day. 

Self Defense for Women and Kids

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Self Defense for Women and Kids |

This is not a typical post, but being a Mom (and a woman), I know that there are people in the world who would do harm to me or my children.  I know it is important that I take the steps to know how to defend myself and also teach my children as to what they should do if approached by a stranger.

There are programs all over the country, as well as various videos you can watch on YouTube.  Here are some links you can check out.  If these are not close to where you live, make sure you take the time to find something near you.

Here locally (in Kansas City) you can visit Ali Kemp to find a class near you.
Here are a couple of other sites/classes, that you may be interested in :
Other safety tips for kids:
  1. Come up with a password.  This should be something completely out of the ordinary (not a pet’s name, video game or something).  If a child is ever told that mom or dad sent them to pick them up, they just need to ask them the password and if they can’t give it to them, they can run away.
  2. Teach them to kick, scream, yell and draw attention if anyone tries to grab them.
  3. Don’t allow your kids to wear items with the names on them.  Strangers can easily call kids by name, which distracts them and may make them think they know the person.
  4. Teach your child never to walk up to any vehicle at all – always stay on the sidewalk if approached.  Doing so means that the possible abductor would have to get out of the vehicle and chase them down rather than reach out and pull them in and drive away.

Do you have any other tips you would like to share?  We’d LOVE to hear from you too!!

Stock up on Healthy Essentials from Johnson & Johnson (Get Access to GREAT Coupons)!

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healthy essentials form johnson |

Summer is here and the kids are home.  It is a time for fun, sand and lazy days.  It can also bring with it sun burns, dry skin, allergies and more!  That means it is time to stock up on all of those healthy essentials you need around the home. I recently took inventory of my own home and found that we needed a few of these items ourselves.

Sunscreen.  We were nearly out of our stock from last summer.  Since my kids are in and out of the water all day when outdoors, I decided that I wanted to give the Neutrogena Wet Skin sunscreen a try.  We used it this week when we visited our pool and I LOVED it!  It was easy to spray on and lasted.  You can try it too – and print out a new coupon to save $1.00 off of your purchase!

Lotion.  After spending time outside so much, our skin tends to get dried out (especially our exposed feet).  We used this new coupon to save on Lubriderm and picked up a bottle for our family.

Allergy Meds.  My husband and I both suffer from allergies.  When the pressure changes outside due to storms and humidity, it seems to make them even worse!  I made sure that I had plenty of Sudafed PD on hand – so I could be a fun mom and not one lying on the sofa with a splitting sinus headach!

Eye Drops.  Another thing I noticed we needed was eye drops.  After spending a day swimming, my eyes can be a bit red and itchy.  It’s great to have my Visine handy – gives me so much relief!

With the kids being home and so much time spent outside, it is also great to read up about summer sunscreen and first aid tips, as put together by the Healthy Essentials experts.  I was able to build my own kit, for our family. I actually made a couple of them — one of them is in our tornado shelter area and another is in my minivan – so I am always prepared!

Take a look at Healthy Essentials for these great tips to help keep your family healthy this summer.  You’ll also find some GREAT coupons to print while you are there!

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Healthy Essentials.  All opinions are my own and were not influenced by any parties.


Working Across America: Kids Doing Jobs for Charity (Nominate Someone YOU Know)!

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working across america


I recently met Gregg Murset, founder of MyJobChart.  I’ve shared details about his great website before (where you can have online chore charts for your kids to help them earn an allowance and teach them about responsibility).  He’s a great guy (and a Dad to SIX kids)!  He has decided to take his family across the country and share charitable experiences with others!  His entire family will travel in an RV as part of their Work Across American initiative!

Over the course of 22 days, they will make stops in 24 cities and take care of household jobs for families who are less fortunate, have family members in the military or who may be dealing with health issues.  They will travel more than 6,500 miles — all in the name of charity!!

So, how does this affect you?  Well, you can actually NOMINATE someone to get some help!  This service is only available in select cities, so make sure that the person you wish to nominate lives here.

Albuquerque, NM
Denver, CO
Kansas City, KS
Springfield, MO
St. Louis, MO
Chicago, IL
Grand Rapids, MI
Detroit, MI
Cleveland, OH
Buffalo, NY
Hartford, CT
New York City, NY
Philadelphia, PA
Baltimore, MD
Richmond, VA
Raleigh, NC
Charlotte, NC
Atlanta, GA
Nashville, TN
Memphis, TN
Little Rock, AR
Oklahoma City, OK
Phoenix, AZ

If they do, just fill out THIS FORM and share why you think they are deserving.  I will send this list to Gregg on June 21st, so make sure you get your submission in by then!


Five Tips To Plan For the Unexpected

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How To Plan For the Unexpected |

Life has a funny way of throwing surprises at you.  A couple of years ago, my husband’s father was diagnosed with Lewy’s Bodies Dementia.  Things have gone down hill rapidly and he is no longer of sound mind, leaving financial responsibilities solely upon my Mother-in-Law’s shoulders.  While this is a lot for her to take on upon her own, the good news is that they were prepared.  They had all of their financial records in order. They had already signed all of the necessary legal documents completed.

Watching what they went through made my husband and I take second look at the things we would each have to take care of, should the unthinkable happen.  Fortunately for us, we are prepared.   However, many people are not.  Some don’t know where to start.  Others are not even sure what they should make sure they have taken care of.  That is why I want to help.  Below you will find my tips to help you plan for the unexpected — including forms you can download to help you ensure you take care of the things you need to.

This list is not one that is fun.  It is not one that will save you a ton of money.  What this list will do for you is give you something which is priceless — peace of mind.  Just knowing that your family is taken care of, should something happen to you is a great feeling.




Make sure that you have a minimum of $1,000 cash in the bank.  This will help you if the car breaks down and prevent you from being tempted to accrue debt in order to cover your expenses.   In today’s economy, a fully funded emergency fund should have at least 6 – 9 months of living expenses saved.  That may sound pretty extreme, but if you or your spouse happened to lose your job, this will help carry you through the hurdles.  Finding a new job can be tough.  It can be even tougher if the unemployment checks run out.  This will give you peace of mind to know that you can take care of your family if your financial situation changes.  Read more about Emergency Funds here.




Insurance is something that so many just don’t have.  And I am not referring to health insurance, I am talking about life insurance.  Think about this, if something happened to you or your spouse, could you survive financially?  Could you cover the mortgage?  Could you pay for college for your kids?  Take the time to visit with a reputable agent who can help you determine how much insurance you need.  Make sure that you include contingent beneficiaries, should something happen to the main one listed on the policy.  This is something you do for your family more than you do for yourself.




I hear people say that it is so expensive to have attorney complete one for you, but you can actually do it yourself.  You can find several free resources online to help you complete the forms or you can purchase something (like Willmaker).  Print and take them to your bank to sign and have them notarized. Make sure that you make a copy for yourself and keep your original in a bank vault or safe.

The legal documents you should consider in addition to your will are a Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive (Living Will).  These forms could be necessary in the case of an accident.  Make sure that the original forms can be easily accessible by the Exector.

You need to have a will, especially if you have children under the age of 18.  If something happened to both of you, who would take care of them?  They process could be a nightmare for them.   The greatest gift you can give your children is to know that they will be with someone who can take care of them, should the unthinkable happen.  Just make sure that you review the laws for your state, as they do differ.




The cost of a safe deposit box is minimal.  The annual fees range from $30 – $80 (depending upon the size of your box and your bank). When you set up the account, make sure that both you and your spouse have access.  You will also want to make sure that you allow access to one other person who does not live with you.  That way, if you are both unable to get to the box to retrieve papers or forms, someone else will be able to act up on your behalf.




In many relationships, one spouse usually handles the financial affairs.  What would happen if that person was injured, sick (or worse) and could not be there to address those issues?  Sit down with your spouse or significant other and have a financial meeting.   During this conversation, work together and make a list of all of your important financial information including banks, credit card companies, life insurance, investments.  If any of these are accessible on-line, make sure you include the login and password information.  It might be good to log into each one together to go through the process to ensure you both know how to access them.  Create a list that includes all of the following information:

  • Account and contact information for all financial institutions (include banks, investments, retirement accounts)
  • Life insurance policy and contact information
  • Account information for all credit card companies
  • Contact information for financial advisor, attorney, and CPA
  • Contact information for HR department at work
  • Location of safe and/or safe deposit box
  • All families full name, dates of birth, social security information and driver’s license numbers
  • All login information to all accounts – including lost password information such as maiden names, college mascots, etc.

I have created forms which you can easily print and complete to help ensure that you have all of this information written down and easily accessible by any loved ones.  I highly recommend this even more if you are single person — as you don’t have a spouse to fall back upon to take things over.  This burden will lie on other family member’s shoulders.  These forms really can help.

During this same meeting, discuss the location of important documents.  Ensure that you both have access to these papers should they be needed.  You should also review all of the documents to make sure that the beneficiary information is up to date.  If you have children, you may want to add him/her as a contingent beneficiary as if something happened and they were not listed on the policy, he/she would not have claim to the money.

Like I said, I have created forms, which you can download for free, to help simplify this step.  You can find the following:

Most important of all, talk to your spouse and/or family members.  Make sure that the lines of communication are open and you both know these things.  Knowledge is power and can save so much in the face of emergencies and tragedies.