Couponing for the Rest of Us

Shell Fuel Rewards Network Program‏ and $25 Gas Card Giveaway

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by my on behalf of the Fuel Rewards Network. All opinions and text are my own.
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Recently, I told you that I was currently in a season where I haven’t been couponing very much lately. Pregnant with a broken foot, I’ve been on crutches the past eight weeks which makes grocery shopping very difficult. As a result I’ve really had to slow down and depend on my husband to help me things I usually take care of. Not wanting to add anything else to his plate we’ve just put coupons on the backburner. But, that doesn’t mean that we stop saving money or making wise financial choices instead we focus on other areas. I was super excited to find Shell’s fuel rewards network, especially since I drive a gas guzzler. It’s so simple to use and can really help you save money on gas. Who wouldn’t agree that saving money on gas is FABULOUS??  As always our goal is to simplify the money process of saving money for you, so I have outlined the most important aspects of the Shell fuel rewards network below. Also, I am giving away a $25 Shell gas card!

The Fuel Rewards Network™ program offers you real savings at participating Shell stations:

  • Simply earn Fuel Rewards savings when you purchase the items you normally buy like groceries, clothing and household goods and redeem them for cents per gallon savings at participating Shell stations.
  • For a limited time, new members of the Fuels Rewards Network program can get a 25c/gal sign-up bonus when they join the program.
  • To qualify, you must purchase at least 8 gallons of fuel on your first fill-up using your Fuel Rewards Network Card, while enjoying at least 3c/gal savings. Then, the 25c/gal will be credited to your account for your next fill up.
  • Signing up is simple! You can request your free Fuel Rewards Network Card online at FUEL REWARDS DOT COM or pick one up at any participating Shell.
  • Savings can be redeemed on any grade of Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasoline including Shell V-Power Premium Gasoline as well as Shell Diesel, up to 20 gallons per purchase! Simply swipe your Fuel Rewards Network Card at the pump before you pay and watch your price drop instantly before your eyes.

 How to earn Fuel Rewards savings:

  • Shop online with your favorite online brands through the online mall at Fuelrewards.com. More than 700 online merchants offer at least 5 cents per gallon for every 50 dollars spent.
  • Earn rewards from dining out and purchasing groceries
  • Earn rewards at select Shell stations on items like your morning coffee or weekly car wash.

 Also, you can receive an additional 5c/gal every time you refer a friend or family member to join the Fuel Rewards Network program!

How would you like to win a $25 Shell Gas Card? Follow instructions below to enter! Most importantly, don’t forget to sign up for Fuel Rewards Savings, go here to get started!

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Summer Fun with a Great Deal on a Nerf N-Strike Elite Stongarm Blaster! “#KmartSummerFun

“This is a sponsored post, I am a Kmart blogger, though all opinions are my own.”

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I don’t know about your kids, but I want my kids to have an incredible summer. I want us to make memories and have fun together. Unfortunately three days into our summer break I broke my foot and have been on crutches ever since. So, we have had to adjust our summer fun a bit. I usually take the kids to the Y to swim a couple of days a week, but I’ve been looking for a good deal on outdoor toys that will keep their attention for a while on days we don’t make it to the pool.

Kmart has a great deal for outdoor Summer fun with your family! TODAY ONLY 25% Off a Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm Blaster and Dart Refill Pack Bundle. Originally $13.99, now you can get it for only $10.49. Plus, you can pick it up at the store and save on shipping. I’m super excited about being able to order online and pick up at the store. After walking on crutches for 6 weeks I am super thankful not to have to walk around in the store to shop! 

Head on over to “#KmartSummerFun and take a peek at this deal!

Mall of America: Favorite Stop on our RV Trip

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Mall of America. All opinions and text are my own.
Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America

A couple of weeks ago, my family and I participated in the All America RV Blogger tour along with 16 other bloggers and their families. We traveled across country from Indiana all the way to Utah.  My kids favorite stop on the entire trip was at Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. After traveling 14+ hours the day before, a day of fun was exactly what we needed! Since then, my kids have asked 50 times if we can go back.  I think we will plan a return trip, maybe a weekend getaway. In case you aren’t aware of all that Mall of America and Bloomington, MN has to offer I thought I would share a couple of highlights.

Facts about Mall of America:

  • Since opening in 1992 it has changed America’s shopping experience by combining amazing retail stores with entertainment and attractions.
  • 4.2 million square feet, the largest shopping mall in the U.S.
  • Over 500 retail stores, if you spent just 10 minutes in each store it would take you 86 hours to experience them all.
  • Houses amazing attractions, fun for the entire family.

Mall of America Attractions:

  • Nickelodeon Universe®
  • SEA LIFE Minnesota® Aquarium
  • LEGO
  • Theatres at MOA
  • American Girl
  • Barbie The Dreamhouse Experience
  • Star Trek The Exhibition
  • CSI: The Experience
  • House of Comedy

 

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First up, Mall of America, graciously gave us unlimited ride tickets for Nickelodeon Universe. Getting my kids to stand still for this photo while surrounded with amazing rides was no easy feat. We also received complimentary passes to all the attractions the mall had to offer such as SEA LIFE® Minnesota Aquarium, Moose Mountain Adventure Golf, and the Ghostly Gangplank high ropes course. My kids were absolutely enthralled with Nickelodeon Universe, the Lego Store and Moose Mountain Adventure Golf. Even though I couldn’t personally experience any of the rides due to my pregnancy I had so much fun enjoying the day through my children’s eyes. It was so easy and relaxing to follow them around from ride to ride and watch them squeal with joy.

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I could barely watch my babies riding the Sponge Bob Squarepants Rock Bottom Plunge. My daughter and one of her friends rode it over and over. I just had to look away.

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My husband and son happen to be a little scared of heights. So, we stuck to all the amusement park rides and skipped the Ghostly Gangplank high ropes course. Non-pregnant me would have definitely been up for the challenge.

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My husband and son had a fantastic time playing Moose Mountain Adventure Golf while my daughter and her friend rode roller coasters over and over and over and over.

Water Park of America

The biggest question for us in considering going back to Bloomington for a weekend getaway is are there other things to do in the city. My favorite attraction is the Water Park of America! Located close-by it is connected to the Radisson Hotel Bloomington. I was happy to find out that the Radisson offers bunk beds for families. In addition to Mall of America and Water Park of America Bloomington has many other attractions that my family would love. In fact, to make it more affordable, Bloomington even offers the Big Ticket, a 3-day bundled attractions pass much like a Disney Park Hopper Pass with a 30% savings on the top six Twin Cities attractions. You can’t beat this deal. You can choose from the following attractions:

  • Nickelodeon Universe®
  • SEA LIFE Minnesota® Aquarium
  • Water Park of America
  • Science Museum of Minnesota®
  • Minnesota Zoo
  • Great Clips® IMAX® Theatre at the
  • Minnesota Zoo

All in all, we loved Mall of America. It’s the only stop on our RV trip that our kids have continued to ask when we can go back and visit.

 

The House We Didn’t Buy……..Thankfully

Home sweet home

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a story with you about that time our realtor assisted us in selling two spec homes. If you recall, this realtor did nothing short of saving us our sanity during a very difficult season in our family. On the flip side of that, over the past 17 years my husband and I have purchased three homes, all with the help of our realtor. And so today, I would like to come full circle and share with you the story of the house we didn’t buy, thanks to our realtor.

Last year, we found a home in foreclosure that we thought was perfect for our family. It was in a great neighborhood, had four bedrooms, a partially finished basement, and even a swimming pool. We thought we had found the perfect home for our family at a great price. Although it needed lots of work, we weren’t bothered at all. We had experience with putting elbow grease into our homes, since we completely remodeled the house we live in now upon purchase.

Since we had built spec homes before we had a great list of contractors, we knew we were more than capable for the job. As we walked through the house full of excitement, our realtor began to point out things that in our excitement we were blinded to. With years of experience, he quickly recognized areas of concern that warranted our attention. Evidence of a previously flooded basement, mold on the wall, and a cracked foundation were just a few of the issues mentioned. Even though the house was priced considerably lower than market value, the needed improvements just to make sure that the home was safe for our family were significant. Thankfully our realtor had our best interest at heart; it wasn’t just about selling another house to him. He suggested we get bids from professionals to give us a better idea of how much the repairs would cost.

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We knew that waiting for estimates to determine the  cost of the needed repairs could potentially cost us this house, but we trusted our realtor. Turns out, the needed repairs would have cost us close to $50,000! That didn’t even count the cosmetic upgrades we wanted to make; this was just to make sure the house was safe for our family to live. Nevertheless, had we not trusted our realtor’s professional opinion and years of experience, we could have gotten ourselves into a very difficult financial bind. This wasn’t our dream house after all; in all reality it was a huge money pit. In this case, we are thankful for our realtor’s expertise in a real estate transaction that didn’t come to pass. We love our home and are very content staying right where we are.

Besides our personal experience in buying and selling homes, my husband Gary is a Mortgage Loan officer who works with home buyers on a daily basis. Because of his line of work, he understands how much smoother the entire process can go when a real estate professional is involved. Now that you have heard our personal experience in home buying, he is going to share from his professional expertise.

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Gary:
As a professional who works in the real estate market every day, I have seen and come to appreciate the importance that realtors play in working through a real estate transaction. My job is to help families find the right mortgage that will allow them to purchase a home. I have worked with clients who did not have a realtor representing them when they initially came to me for a mortgage. In many of those cases, the client was asking me questions that I am just not qualified to answer. I had to complete many hours of class work and pass a state and national exam, as well as be licensed with credit and background checks. The State of Tennessee says that I am qualified to answer questions that deal with acquiring a mortgage on a home, NOT the process of selling or buying a home. Yes, I have sold and bought many houses through the years, but that does not make me an expert in the field of real estate.

So what can a realtor offer you? The realtor is an extra layer of protection for you. Your realtor will be out in front of your transaction speaking with the mortgage broker, title company and listing agent (as well as many others), ensuring that the transaction is moving along and on schedule. Typically, the realtor has relationships with all of the involved parties and can communicate effectively to ensure the closing is on target. By enlisting the help of a realtor, you can rest assured knowing you have a trained professional who knows what they are doing and can proactively navigate the buying or selling process.

Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you will ever make in your lifetime. I don’t know about you, but if I am dealing with a legally binding transaction, I don’t want the best opinion of someone not trained in the business. I want a professional who deals with this every day! Using a real estate professional can be the difference in selling your home or purchasing your dream home. They serve as the protective and helpful barrier between you and the other party. Let a licensed professional represent you, and thus ensure that your transaction will run smoother.

Now that you have heard both our personal and professional experiences, the next step is finding a fabulous real estate professional. Dave Ramsey offers an Endorsed Local Providers (ELP) program. The ELP program is a super simple to use, trusted program. You can even find recommendations specific to your local area across the country. Rest assured that those included in Dave Ramsey’s ELP program have passed stringent guidelines to be included in the program. In fact, each real estate ELP professional is evaluated monthly based on their performance. Having that extra layer of accountability can make a huge difference between finding an average real estate agent and getting matched with the best real estate agent in your area.

Water Balloon Flip-Flops: Summer Fun at Dollar Tree

Disclosure: I’m thrilled to be partnering with Dollar Tree to share their new Summer Fun products with you! All opinions expressed are my own!

Dollar Tree has a brand new line called Summer Fun, which is a NEW collection of colorful flip-flops, summer tableware, party supplies, toys and more created to launch you into a fun-filled summer. I was especially excited to see their selection of flip-flops. Does anyone wear anything but flip-flops in the Summer? We spend so much time at the pool, or out playing in the sprinkler in our backyard that flip-flops are our regular attire. For a crafting project, I thought it would be fun for my daughter and I to decorate a pair of flip-flops. What better place to go shopping than Dollar Tree, where we can take advantage of their incredible already low prices during their Summer Fun flip-flop frenzy?

Flip-Flop Frenzy Details:

  • Flip-flops are available in solid colors (blue, black, pink, lime, turquoise, yellow, purple, and orange), as well as colorful patterns and styles. Colors and styles vary by store.
  • Flip-flops are available in men’s, women’s, and children’s sizes.
  • Also check out colorful Summer Fun housewares, party supplies, and toys.

After seeing so many different fun flip-flop crafts on Pinterest, my daughter and I settled on water balloon flip-flops. I’m not super-duper crafty, so I wanted to make sure we didn’t bite off more than we could chew.

Water balloon flip-flops are fun, easy and inexpensive to make. I’ve included the supply list and details below.

What you need:

  • flip-flops
  • 1 to 2 packs of water balloons

You’ll want to begin on one end of the flip-flop. First, gently stretch the balloon, then tie tightly in a double knot. Alternating the direction of each balloon, continue until the straps are covered. Make sure to tie balloons closely together. You can follow a color pattern or change it up, depending on your preference.

You’ll have lots and lots of water balloons left over for fun summer water balloon fights. You could probably get away with one pack, however I went ahead and grabbed two just in case. Even so, I ran out of green balloons quickly. My kids are already planning a water balloon fight this afternoon after they finish their school work.

Stay in the Loop:

  • Have you signed up for Dollar Tree’s free loyalty program, the Value Seekers Club? You’ll get access to exclusive crafts, recipes, and tip ideas every month. Visit www.ValueSeekersClub.com.
  • Learn more about new Dollar Tree products and contests as an email subscriber. Sign up for weekly emails here:
  • Follow Dollar Tree on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Dollar Tree via Burst Media. The opinions and text are all mine.

Mt Rushmore KOA Review: Tons of Family Fun

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. All opinions and text are my own. Visit my full disclosure policy here.

Mt Rushmore KOA

Recently, my family joined 15 other bloggers and their family on a cross country RV trip. We started our journey in Middlebury, Indiana and ended 7 days later in Salt Lake City, Utah. On the way to Salt Lake City we stopped for two days in South Dakota at the Mt Rushmore KOA, also known as Palmer Gulch.  This was my family’s very first RV trip. In fact, I don’t think I had stepped foot on a campgroup in 20 years, since I was in Girl Scouts. I really didn’t know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised at the amenities that the Mt Rushmore KOA offered. The bathrooms were very clean, the restaurant was delicious, and it was very family friendly. In addition to RV sites, there were exclusive cabin accommodations as well as tent sites. A couple of my blogger friends won a night/nights in the exclusive cabins and said they were amazing!

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My kids had an absolute blast on these “banana bikes” as they called them. In the afternoon and evenings many of the kids would ride around together.

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When the kids weren’t riding bikes, they were enjoying this amazing playground.

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On site mini golf made a great afternoon adventure for my husband and my kiddos while this mama caught up on some much needed sleep.

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The Splash park wasn’t open yet, but it looked super fun!

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Who doesn’t love water slides? Water activities are always fun and family friendly. We were just a couple of weeks too early to take advantage of any water fun.

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There was even a Palmer Gulch Mining Company. I would really like to come back when all the activities are available.

Unique Amenities

Camground activities from Memorial Day to Labor Day 
  • Free horse-drawn hayrides twice a week
  • Two different free movies each evening
  • Free musical entertainment three nights a week
  • Shuttles for a nominal fee to the Lighting Ceremony at Mount Rushmore
  • Sunday Worship Service – non denominational
  • Breakfast trail rides
  • All day rides to Harney Peak
  • Pancake breakfasts

Just a note from experience, DO NOT follow GPS directions to Mt Rushmore KOA. We found out the hard way late at night when we were directed to a dirt road with no outlet. Thankfully, the KOA is aware of the problem and has the correct directions posted on their website.

That Time our Realtor Saved our Sanity……….

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Our story began nearly 8 years ago. At that time, I was pregnant with our second child and desperately wanted to leave my job when the baby was born. My husband had experience in the construction business from when he was younger, and we had contracted out our home several years earlier. With this in mind, my husband got his contractors license so that we could build spec homes on the side to supplement my income. Our first experience went beautifully, we sold the house before we finished it. In fact, we even netted enough profit to pay off my car. We were in a great place financially, had learned a great deal following Dave Ramsey’s debt elimination program, and felt like we were ready to take the leap for me to stay home.

After such a smooth experience the first time, we decided to build two spec homes in the same neighborhood. We placed them just a lot down from each other. We decided that with the proceeds we would be able to pay down our mortgage and put extra away in savings. From our standpoint, our plans were perfect. At least they seemed that way to us. Then, right after we broke ground on those two houses the real estate market began to crash. My daughter who had just turned 3 was diagnosed with type I diabetes, and 3 months later we discovered my father had incurable brain cancer. With all of this on our plate, did I mention we were right smack dab in the middle of building two spec homes in a housing recession?

Life was very stressful during this season. Between taking care of a newborn, learning a new way of life with my daughter’s diabetes, and trying to visit my daddy as much as possible, marketing our homes was impossible on our own. Over the next 10 months we made the three hour trip to visit my dad as often as we could. At first, we tried to sell our spec houses by owner. It cost more to build the houses than we originally anticipated so we were hoping to bring in a larger profit. Do you know what happened? Those houses sat, and sat, and sat some more. No one looked at them, no one noticed our beautiful bright for sale sign in the yard, no one answered our ads in the newspaper. If we ever did get a call, either they didn’t want to make an appointment to see one of the houses or if they did, we were out of town with my dad and unable to show the houses.

As my dad’s health continued to decline we knew that the added stress of trying to sell the houses on our own wasn’t worth it. Not only were our houses not being exposed to buyers, but every month they didn’t sell meant two additional mortgage interest payments for us. So, not only were we not saving money by trying to sell them ourselves, it was actually cutting into our potential profit month after month. It didn’t take us long to realize something had to change.

I can tell you I breathed a huge sigh of relief when we signed the contracts with our realtor to list the spec homes. No longer were we solely responsible for marketing, showing, negotiations, contracts, etc. Although we had used a realtor to sell and buy houses before, I never understood their role and appreciated it as much until this moment in our life.

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Here is what we learned:

  • Our realtor helped us determine a competitive price for our spec homes so that they would be looked at more favorably by buyers. Since there were several other houses for sale in the same neighborhood, our realtor could look at both current listings and sales history to make the best recommendation. Plus, I recently read that people who use a realtor sell their home for 16% more than those who don’t. We could definitely use that additional 16%.
  • By hiring a realtor our house was instantly in front of thousands of customers on realtor.com, and in the Multiple Listing Service. Having more than a sign in the yard and an occasional newspaper ad was key in getting our house in front of our target market.
  • Open Houses – Our realtor scheduled open houses during strategic weekends. Even better, we didn’t have to spend our Sunday afternoon in the houses hoping for customers. This was more time we could spend with family.
  • If you have ever tried to sell a house by owner then you know how awkward it can be to show a potential customer your home. When they were for sale by owner, often times potential buyers were reluctant to schedule an appointment for a showing when they called. Having a realtor meant that buyers were more comfortable taking the time to look through our spec homes with their realtor, someone they trusted.
  • Once we had a buyer (hallelujah) finalizing the contract as well as the details needed for closing were all taken care of by our realtor.

As you can see, during this period of our lives a realtor was the key to selling our spec homes. We were able to focus on our family and the issues we were facing, while the realtor was able to help us get top dollar for our properties. We learned a very valuable lesson through this process, trying to sell our houses by owner ended up costing us more in the long run than we could have ever saved by not hiring a realtor.

Now, the most important task is finding the perfect Realtor. Did you know that Dave Ramsey offers an Endorsed Local Providers (ELP) program? The ELP program is super simple to use, trusted program. ELP’s are chosen based on the following criteria:

  • Have the heart of a teacher
  • Put the client’s needs first
  • Have proper licensing and active license in good standing
  • Agree to help clients based on Dave Ramsey’s principles

Real Estate ELPs must:

  • Be licensed and practicing real estate full time for at least five years
  • Be a high producer in their particular market (i.e. 40-120 transactions a year)
  • Have the heart of a teacher and be willing to take time with clients to explain the process
  • Be committed to service (i.e. will return phone calls promptly, show the house, advertise it properly, etc.) and have a record of demonstrating this service over time
  • Be willing to provide real estate advice based on Dave Ramsey’s principles
  • Be willing to work with anyone, regardless of financial

Our realtor, truly saved our sanity.  Getting our spec homes in front of thousands of potential buyers was key. We’ve learned our lesson, and won’t make the the same costly mistake again.

Ebates.com: Spring Fashion Giveaway & Double Cash Back!!

I was compensated by Ebates to work on this campaign, however as always opinions and text are my own. Visit my full disclosure policy here.
ebates
I don’t know about you, but with a change in season I am ready to go shopping for new Spring clothes. Since I homeschool my kids and run two businesses at home it’s not always easy for us to make it out to the stores. Personally, I prefer to shop online. Not only is it stress free, but I can also rack up extra savings by shopping online through ebates.com. And, ebates.com has generously offered to sponsor a giveaway exclusively for Time 2 $ave readers!! Before I give you details – let’s review what Ebates is and how it helps you earn money.

By going through Ebates on your way to an online merchant – your purchase is tracked and you earn a percentage back in cash!  Who doesn’t like to get cash back from something they already intended to buy? This percentage  back is on top of sales and coupon codes!

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It really is easy to join free. I recently received a check back for right at $15 for online purchases that I made last year at Old Navy.

 

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First, sign up for an Ebates account. Then, you’ll get your $10 Giftcard as soon as you’ve made a $25 purchase by going through Ebates. In addition to the regular cash back amount, right now many stores have doubled their cash back for the Spring Fashion Sale. The Double Cash Back runs April 8 – 21.

Spring Fashion Sale Stores and Double Cash Back

  • EXPRESS – Plus 5.0% Cash Back
  • American Eagle – Plus 4.0% Cash Back
  • Neiman Marcus – Plus 8.0% Cash Back
  • Rodale’s – Plus 10.0% Cash Back
  • Nordstrom – Plus 6.0% Cash Back
  • Fossil – Plus 10.0% Cash Back
  • Magazines.com – Plus 40.0% Cash Back
  • The Limited – Plus 3.0% Cash Back
  • Saks Off 5th – Plus 6.0% Cash Back
  • Lucky Brand – Plus 5.0% Cash Back
  • Neiman Marcus Last Call – Plus 5.0% Cash Back
  • eBags – Plus 12.0% Cash Back
  • Ulta – Plus 8.0% Cash Back

Now, for the awesome giveaway!! Ebates is giving away $100 in Ebates credits to (2) Time 2 $ave readers to use towards their Spring Wardrobe!! Follow the instructions below to enter!!

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