Monday, February 19, 2018

5-Minute Project: Share Gratitude

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading about a kiddo who was struggling with some major health concerns. In that moment I was reminded of how much I appreciated Pip's pediatrician, who helped me find the answers I was searching for when I knew my child was ill.

I immediately posted this on Facebook:

This morning I am feeling especially thankful for our pediatrician, [I included her name and practice]. She listened to me and my concerns about P's health when we were brand new patients. After two others asked me to "wait and see," she's the doc who pursued testing, found the markers for P's celiac disease, and referred us to a pediatric GI for diagnosis. She never seems to be in a hurry, and I mean that in a good way. She hears everything I am compelled to tell her when we're in her office. She's calm when I am worried. I am so grateful she is here.

It took a couple of minutes to type, but the post got quite a few responses; all were positive. My comments seemed to encourage others to share their good experiences, too (in this case, appreciation for this particular doc).

This got me thinking... every November, as we approach Thanksgiving, I see and hear people sharing things they're thankful for, and it's inspiring. I realized how much more pleasant daily life (and social media) could be--for me, anyway--if it were peppered with more "hey, check out this good thing!" I mean, who doesn't like to hear about good things?

So the next week, I posted a quick "Thanks, fellas!" directed at a local automotive parts store. Again, people chimed in about how great the shop was and how helpful the employees were. Happy. Uplifting.

This is fun. I encourage you to give it a shot.

There are many ways to go about it, and none of them have to take much time or be a chore; choose the one that fits your lifestyle. Or try out a combination of them. Whether you post about your thankfulness on social media, or hand write a thank you note, or type an email, or send a text, or say so face to face or on the phone,  please take a few minutes this week to share your gratitude. And maybe do the same the next week. And the next. See if it doesn't give you a little boost to let people know that their efforts don't go unnoticed. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

40/40 Challenge

We moved into our new home in December. Although I had every intention of streamlining our belongings before the move, we got involved in repairs and painting and cleaning and holidays and travel, and that decluttering just didn't happen. We packed up and relocated everything to the new house, and every bit of it was unpacked alongside the items that we use and cherish.

Now, it's February, and although the house feels more like home every day, there is still clutter lurking in most corners. I am not talking about trash here; I define clutter as anything that we don't use or love. And there's plenty of that in dresser drawers and on toy shelves and mixed into our school books and (perhaps in the greatest quantities) in totes in the basement. I'm beyond ready to move it out so that we can enjoy the things we DO use and love, without having to wade through all these other items to find them.

One of the most overwhelming areas: a corner of the basement. Sob.

So... There's no time like Lent, right?

Many Christians of various denominations observe Lent--those weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday--by giving up something as a reminder to pray; popular choices among my friends in recent years seem to include alcohol, social media, and chocolate. This year, I am giving up clutter. And regardless of your belief system, I invite you to join me.

Some of this "clutter" will go straight into the trash, and some will be recycled. But most items--those in good condition--will be shared with friends who would like them or taken to charitable organizations in my community. Which means that while I'm moving something out of my life, and giving myself a little more breathing room, I'm moving it into someone else's. Someone who, I hope, will enjoy it. During the sorting process, I will also be tidying up what's staying, so not only will there be more space, but what remains will be neater, too.

The 2018 Lenten season begins on Wednesday, February 14. I challenge you--as I am challenging myself--to clear some of the clutter from your home. My goal is at least one item per day between now and Easter. My ideal is more like one bag or box full of items per day, but I recognize that that won't be doable every day, and I want to succeed. This will give me 40+ (emphasis on the +) items to share (or recycle or throw out) in the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter. 

I can work through many areas during these coming weeks, and since I'm committed to it for a while, there's no need to try to do it all in a day. I'll spend just a few minutes a day on this project. I probably won't finish my task of streamlining my home, but it will give me a great start. I'd love for you to join me and use this time to simplify your surroundings while blessing others along the way.

Who's in?

Friday, February 9, 2018

15-Minute Project: Coinstar

Today I used technology that has been around for a while, but I had never tried. Today I dumped a bag of change into the Coinstar machine at the grocery store.

Photo from

We don't have a central coin collecting spot at home, so Pip and I gathered up change from the car, from around the house, and from my wallet. We didn't count it; we just dropped it all into a bag that would seal and took it with us when it was time to run errands.

Step by step directions on the machine walked me through the process. I opted to receive an eGift certificate and avoid the 11.9% fee of claiming my money in bills. A half-full sandwich bag of coins that weren't going to be easily used otherwise turned into nearly $12 in Amazon credit in about 2 minutes. Which I can easily spend in 2 minutes.

Boy, was that simple. And that bag was worth more than I estimated, which was fun. We usually spend our coins when paying with cash; I know not everyone does, so you may come out much further ahead than I did. If you have a change jar--or have loose change jingling around in different places in your house or car--and a Coinstar nearby, this might be a fun little rainy day activity for you!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

New House!

Our Little Budget Big Life family bought a house at the end of 2017! I look forward to sharing our DIY projects with you in the future, as we work to make it our own, but for now, here's a peek at it (as depicted by Chris).

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Find Money at

Several months ago I was made aware of the website It is a database of unclaimed property records. According to the website, common types of unclaimed property include bank accounts and safe deposit box contents; stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends; uncashed checks and wages; insurance policies, CD's, trust funds; and utility deposits and escrow accounts.

I shared it on social media, because I was so fascinated with the idea. I have since had several friends claim records that belonged to them. They simply had to verify their information, and the money came to them from the various state treasuries where it was sitting.

I check my name periodically, because the information is updated regularly. I have yet to find any records in my name in any of the states in which we've lived, but I think that's because I've always been careful to redeem all discounts and reclaim any deposits that were mine.

Not every state currently participates, but every state should have an "unclaimed property" database; if a place where you live or have lived is not linked to this site, you can search for your state's name and "unclaimed property" and it shouldn't be difficult to find.

I encourage you to check your name in any state where you have lived, and see if you might have a little surprise bonus sitting in a treasury, waiting for you. Let me know in the comments if you find anything!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Save the Celery

Any time I see a prepared veggie tray marked down to half price at the grocery--the kind that's all veggies, because we don't use the dip anyway--I buy it. Nearly 2 1/2 pounds of fresh produce are washed and ready to eat (or cook) and delivered to my fridge for under $5.

I picked one up this week. Pip ate the peppers, and I enjoyed the snap peas. The tomatoes went into salads. I cooked the broccoli as a side for one meal and I tossed the carrots into the slow cooker with another meal. And then there was celery.

Sometimes Pip likes to snack on raw celery, but this wasn't one of those weeks. Chris and I usually don't choose it, either. Rather than watch it wilt in my fridge, though, I went ahead and chopped it up.

I put it into an zip top bag and tossed it into the freezer. And now it's prepped and ready for the next time I make soup. I won't even thaw it out; I'll just throw it right in.

Ready ingredients can make meal preparation easier and less daunting. What items do you like to prep in advance? 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New Grocery: Price Less Foods

I had the opportunity to step into a Price Less Foods for the first time this week (this one was in Owensboro, Ky). I had heard about their pricing concept, and wanted to see it for myself. I'm glad I took the time to check it out!

- The store was clean and well-lit.
- The workers were friendly.
- The everyday prices were good, and the sale prices were better.

To take it a step further, beyond advertised sales, we snagged some premium orange juice on manager's special for 1/3 of its "regular" store price.

Based on what I saw in that short visit, I will be going back. I want more time to explore. But I can safely say that Chris and Pip were big fans from the moment we entered the first aisle and found huge packages of some of their favorite specialty snacks for not much more than an average bag of chips.

Do you have Price Less Foods in your area? What are your favorite things to save on there?