Money Saving Mom’s Budget {a book review and giveaway}

About four or five years ago I was talking with some friends and one was telling us how she doesn’t pay for things like toothpaste and razors.  I was confused, but intrigued.  So when I got home I did a search for how to get free stuff from Walgreens.  One of the sites that popped up was Money Saving Mom run by Crystal Paine.  She had a whole section on how to “play the drugstore game” as she called it.  That day changed the way I thought about coupons. 

I’ve learned a lot from Crystal over the years and her and her husband’s story have inspired me and my family.  They’ve done some crazy things to get where they are today, like living on $1000 a month or saving up to pay cash for their first house.  Very inspiring!

When Crystal wrote on her blog that she was wanting bloggers to review her new book, The Money Saving Mom’s Budget,  I jumped at the chance and was so excited when I got the email saying I would have a pre-release copy in a week or so.  After reading the book, let me just say that it is amazing! Not amazing like the grapefruit cake that you can enjoy and linger on for a few minutes.  But amazing in the sense that if you follow her recommendations you can change your life. 

Some of the recommendations are very basic, like make a budget and stick with it.  But what if you have never made a budget?  Where do you start?  Crystal has a step by step process of setting up a full blown budget – and taking several months to do it.  You see, she believes (and I agree) that when you try to do too much too fast you burn out.  So it’s better to take is slow and consistently. 

She also shows you how to play the “drugstore game” and use coupons wisely.  There’s a chapter on getting rid of the clutter and chaos.  Loved that chapter as we still haven’t gotten into a good groove with our grocery shopping since moving.  I’m still shopping “European style” … and blowing my budget each week. 

Probably my favorite chapter is the last one because it deals with the root of all the clutter, chaos, overspending, etc. and that is lack of contentment.  ouch!!  Crystal encourages her readers to choose contentment and has some great ideas on how to actually do that. 

There are also planning sheets in the back of the book and stories from her blog readers throughout.  This is not a “do these 5 things and you will be set for life” type book.  It is a book that will cause you to search inside to find the things that you and your family really want and what you need to do to make those things happen. 

One last thing that I admire about Crystal and her husband … all of the author’s proceeds from the sale of this book are going to Compassion International. Pretty cool.

My copy is a pre-release copy which means that there are a few typos and the binding isn’t what it is going to be on the real book.  Crystal will be sending me a real book in January when the book gets release to the public.  So, I thought I’d give the real book away. 

To enter the giveaway all you have to do is leave a comment with a money saving idea or budget idea. It doesn’t have to be original or earth shattering, just something that you do that helps you out.  The comments will be open until Dec. 31st and then a winner will be announced.  Be sure that there is a way for me to contact you if you are the winner.  The winner will be picked randomly – hopefully, I can figure out how to install a random number generator, if not I’ll ask one of my children to pick a number.  Also, this giveaway is only open to those living in the US and Canada.  The book will be shipped in January 2012.  (This is the first time I’ve done a giveaway so please be patient with me!)

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As a “Thank You” here’s a link to Farm to Table ebook,

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  1. says

    The biggest money saving activity I do is to stop by a grocery store when I am near one to check out the marked down meats. It only takes a minute to run in and scan the meat counter. My freezer stays packed with beef, pork and poultry. My most recent deal was 80/20 hamburger meat, not marked down but on an unadvertised special, for $1.49 per pound.

    A second tip would be to invest in a freezer; it will pay for itself in no time at all. Just think of the sale and mark down foods a person can stock up on. This time of year turkey is a great stock up item.

  2. says

    Sounds like a wonderful idea for a book. To think you can get things for free at a drugstore. This would be a great jump start to our time back in the US. (Oh, and don’t worry! My mailing address is a US address.) Being overseas, we have been able to save up a very large percent of my husband’s income. When we return to the States, we will be able to pay for a house (or most of one) up front. It will be nice. As for something money smart, or frugal: Hmm….there are no coupons here, so hard to save in that way, but I do try to use generic brands or the cheaper brand. Unless, I know from experience it isn’t a good product.

  3. says

    My money saver is that when I see an item I “want” I ask myself how many hours my husband would have to work to pay for that item. I can say that every time, I realize I don’t really “need” that item. What I need is more time with him!

  4. Kerrie says

    We keep a list of acceptable prices, and do not pay any more than that. It helps the budget and we quickly learned not to miss what we didn’t have. twags999 at msn dot com

  5. says

    Our biggest help when it comes to saving money is our deep freezer that we got for FREE from a local online classifieds site. We are able to store a 1/4 of a beef, lots of chicken bought on sale, and a deer that was given to us by a family member and still have room for other items (like homemade broth)! My son and I are on a gluten-free diet and I’m on a dairy-free diet as well, so this helps out tremendously with our necessary higher food budget.

  6. says

    I spend a few hours a week to keeping my coupon binder in order and following sales so that I can get the most of my grocery budget.

    Kelley Gillette

  7. Anonymous says

    I rinse out and save the plastic bag out of the cereal box and reuse it for storing certain things in the frig. Works very well as most of them are pretty strong.I use a clip of any kind to keep it closed. We recycle what we can.

  8. Dusti Mosher says

    I save money by using power strips for our electronics. Just switch off when leaving the house or going to bed, and save a lot of money on your electric bill!
    dustismosher at yahoo dot com

  9. Peever says

    The biggest way I save money for our family is by stockpiling items at rock bottom prices. I also primarily shop at thrift stores for our clothing.

    jg81796 at

  10. Anonymous says

    Track expenses throughout the year on a spreadsheet to budget and spend below what you make; saving the rest.

  11. Susie B says

    My husband only buys clothes at thrift stores. And I go to consignment sales for most clothing purchases for our 2 young girls. You can usually find some really nice things at great prices.

    susie.bruins at

  12. Missey says

    I have started trying to make my own cleaners and only purchase items on sale or with a coupon. I am on the beginning stages of living frugal going from two incomes to one so taking slow but necessary steps. I plan to start raising chickens for meat and eggs in the spring and will have a full garden again this summer. I find it a challenge to save money and am enjoying the challenge. I can be reached at

  13. Anonymous says

    We buy grass fed beef directly from a small farmer. We sometime split it with our son’s family. We get high quality good for you beef at a much better price than you can ever get at a store.

  14. Anonymous says

    I recently got a discount on our landline (who knew these were negotiable?) by telling them I was trying to find a cheaper plan to save money. I think they were nervous I’d cancel all together and switch to cell phone only (our cells are unreliable in our area so that was not in our plan) so they offered a $5 discount per month for 1 year. $60 in savings for something I didn’t know you could negotiate on.

    Cheryl S at

  15. Anonymous says

    We buy everything second hand. You wouldn’t believe the steals on perfect BRAND NAME clothes I’ve picked up at Goodwill for pennies!! We also hit garage sales and craigslist. We have a little one and this has been a tremendous savings on all the stuff you need for them. :)

  16. says

    We use a coupon for everything possible-groceries, retail stores, restaurants, online stores, gas, etc. If I am going somewhere I look to see if I have a coupon first:)

  17. says

    Other than coupons and sales, we make our own laundry detergent and freeze often used items–meat (I stock up at cheapest price and divide packages), butter, cheese, bread, etc. It saves a lot to get these items at their best price and just go t the freezer for more!

  18. Anonymous says

    To save money we always use discounted coupons for movies or to eat out. Otherwise, if we can’t use a coupon there we don’t eat there. We also take advantage of kids eat free deals.

    one2nvme at hotmail dot com

  19. Anonymous says

    We use coupons, shop thrift stores, and eat really simple dinner sometimes, like cereal, eggs, and pancakes for dinner some nights. We can eat so cheap that way. Also, some nights, everyone is on their own, they just find something to eat and that is dinner. Helps use up some of the stockpiles of extra canned goods and frozen food that we end up with in our extra freezer and our extra refrigerator that we have to help us save on groceries. I try to buy milk marked down, but that is hard to catch at the stores I go to. I would love to win the book.

  20. says

    Same as your first post – we shop the marked-down meat, dairy and bakery items at two local grocery stores. I almost always menu-plan based on what’s on sale or in my freezer, unless it’s my kids’ birthdays and then they get to choose! :) Triple markdowns on meat have saved us a bundle!

  21. says

    I hit up my local grocery store early in the morning and often get the ‘sell-by-that-day’ meat for as little as 50 cents a pound!

    girlalive at gmail dot com

  22. Anonymous says

    My daughter and I both sponsor a child with Compassion International. We make it a math game to see how long we can eat on the monies we that we donate each month for the child. Lets just say we are unable to eat a whole month on what we give. We are glad someone is able to. We are so lucky to be able to help others while we save on groceries by couponing, checking the markdown bins and by eating just a little less.

  23. says

    We use cloth napkins for everyday. I have become a coupon guru much more than I used to be. I like to line dry laundry in the spring, summer, and fall. I do some line drying in the house in the winter, but do use the dryer too.

  24. says

    I go to the library when I need to print a lot of stuff, first five pages are free and after that its five cents, its much cheaper than buying my own ink and paper :)

  25. says

    Menu planning! Mapping out menu options for the week ally helps me focus on what my grocery shopping needs to be! And I don’t have to stick with each day, I can make Thursday’s dish on Tuesday if the mood strikes!

  26. says

    I save money by growing food in our garden and then using our chest freezer to store the extra for winter. I can freeze my organic spinach or collards or swiss chard, which are really really expensive to buy frozen in the winter. Plus we love grazing on tomatoes all summer!

  27. Anonymous says

    We save money by using coupons and not buying non-essentials! We buy used and refinish etc.
    Renee thriftyfam{at}gmail{dot}com

  28. Anonymous says

    I save money by trying to buy only what’s on sale, using a budget, and shopping the grocery store sales. I have also switched to buyingn store brands, particluarly when they are on sale, and stocking up.

  29. Anonymous says

    I save on resources(specifically gas money, my energy and time) by having at least 7 meals planned out ahead of time so I can avoid last minute trips to the grocery store. I have 3 recipe folders in my kitchen: recipes I’ve used, liked, and wrote my comments/variations on, recipes that I want to try sometime, and recipes I have all the ingredients for. This last folder, consisting of many recipes that take things I often always have in the kitchen, is so helpful because I can use it to last a few more days before going to the grocery store or have backup if another meal falls through.

  30. says

    One of the easiest things we do is just to drink water both at home and when eating out. Add a little lemon, lime, raspberries, or even cucumber to a pitcher of water for a cheap flavored drink that is super healthy.

    angela.donner @

  31. says

    My budgeting tip is to cash out categories in your budget that you typically go over in. This has helped us stay within budget in those difficult areas where we usually overspend.

    capolenis22 (at) yahoo (dot) com

  32. says

    Shopping the drug stores and using Crystal’s “formulas” for sales/coupons really allows me to stretch my family’s budget! Thanks for the giveaway!
    lauralu04 (at) gmail (dot) com

  33. keeley says

    I recently discovered our local Bakers marks down food that is getting close to the use by date, I’ve been stocking up and freezing things that way.

    zueblue22 at yahoo dot com

  34. Anonymous says

    I found a local ‘bread store’ outlet. We can buy near-expired bread for more than 50% off! And it doesn’t go ‘bad’ if we freeze it.

    euroduck111 (at) hotmail (dot) com

  35. says

    We save money by buying our children’s clothes at yard sales and consignment sales or on clearance. I rarely pay more than $5 for something new (except for underwear and socks and jackets).

    beitagrubb at gmail dot com

  36. says

    I make homemade bread. I have a nutrimill grinder and buy all our grains in bulk and grind our own flour. Delicious healthy bread, saves us a lot.

  37. says

    Drying clothes without a dryer(lines inside and out, hangers on shower rods, drying racks), washing clothes in cold water, using vinegar as a softener.
    Have my coupons and list with me so that if I am near a store or am in a store and find a deal I can purchase.

  38. says

    I have started using cash when I go shopping. There is something much more real about cash. You feel it when you use it and you see how much is truly left. When you use even a debit card, it doesn’t “hurt” as bad. For me, I wasn’t even looking to see how much money I was spending.

  39. says

    The biggest idea I have about a budget is to HAVE one! We’ve been both on the train and off the train with this, and let me tell you, life is much smoother when we’re ON! :)

  40. says

    I love to make homemade yogurt. For the price of a gallon of milk and a little time and attention I can make 4 2lb tubs of yogurt. We also buy bulk oatmeal from a bakery supply warehouse. It works out around 3cents a serving for the oats. We like to eat the oats raw, Swiss Musli-style, with nuts, raisins and of course … yogurt!

  41. JenMarie says

    We recently invested in a deep freezer. I have already been able to stock up on some meats and cheap veggies and snacks by using coupons. I can’t wait until next summer to be able to freeze cheap summer produce to use throughout the winter.

  42. says

    We try and consolidate trips to save on gas. Turn-off all power strips when not in use. We actually dry our clothes for fifteen minutes then hang dry. I think it makes them less wrinkly and softer, but still saves money and precious natural resources. I also have started turning off the water while lathering and shampooing in the shower. That saves water, but as it is getting cold it is harder and harder to make that choice. Brrr.

  43. says

    Instead of buying cards, I have my 2 year old make them. I bought a bunch of blank cards in bulk at a craft store, and he will paint, color, etc cards for family and friends. Helps a lot considering some Hallmark cards are $5! Also, I decided that for one week out of every month, I wasn’t going to go shopping (except for the essentials, like milk). That forces me to use what’s in the freezer and pantry.

  44. Rebecca Z says

    Hi! Thank you for this opportunity to win a copy of a book that would probably change the way I do everything! Right now, I try to follow the emails and ideas from Money Saving Mom in order to save money on razors, toothpaste, and other grocery purchases, but I am so new at this and get so many emails, I have a hard time keeping up.

    The one thing I do to save money more than anything is keep the A/C and heater set at slightly higher temps in the summer and lower in the winter so that my bill is a little lower.


  45. says

    Budget Idea- At the beginning of the year I budget the whole year in excel by what my pay is (i’m salary) and what my husband’s pay is as he’s a full time student and a part time employee. Then i look at all our bills and whatever is left I budget per necessities I know we have to spend like oil changes and gas… whatever is left I divide by 52 weeks and that’s my grocery allowance for the week. My husband’s job varies on hours depending on the season so I usually estimate a lower amount so that if he does get paid more its more money for our savings or for a small trip.

  46. says

    I didn’t have time to read ALL the comments, so mine may not be original, but one BIG money saving thing for us as a family of 6 (we have 4 boys) is making our own laundry detergent. I do a LOT of laundry so this really helps and its very easy and very inexpensive.

  47. Ashley Godoy says

    I menu plan and follow the plan to a T! I also choose only from meals that are a certain amount and under. That way I know my list will be a frugal one anyway.

  48. Anonymous says

    We line dry out clothes, unplug appliances when not in use, combine trips to town, don’t have TV, use coupons, and walk in the neighborhood instead of pay for a gym membership. :-)

    ~eunice b
    tigergal01 @gmail .com

  49. Anonymous says

    We batch cook and freeze leftovers or use scraps for new meals or broths. We also try to limit our use of the car, and try to go shopping at our house before we add anything to our “needs” list.


  50. Jenny says

    My husband and I are in full-time ministry and have a very limited budget since our salary is paid by donations. We send a monthly prayer letter out to all who give financially or through prayer — about 150 people total. I have asked them all to consider sending me any coupons they don’t use, and I just last week started getting envelopes stuffed with coupons from several donors!

  51. sarah says

    One of the things we do to save money is remember, and live by, experiences are more important than things. We’d rather go free or spend on doing things, than purchasing more clutter!

  52. says

    I think the biggest money-saver we ever did was get rid of our cable. I chopped $100 per month out of our budget with that one. Recently, I also learned how to make my own hair detangler and since my daughter’s hair tangles when you look at it, we go through a lot of that, so making my own will probably save us close $20 over the course of the year. Which isn’t much, but when times are lean, every penny counts.

  53. says

    We installed raised garden beds including one a covered bed that I can grow lettuce, spinach, broccoli and herbs in all year long. I make my own convenience foods by blanching and freezing chopped potatoes, peppers, onions, chives, etc. (from the garden or on sale at the store) that are ready for stews or stir-fry. I freeze my homemade unbaked rolls, biscuits, cookies and pies so they’re ready to thaw rise and bake. I’m also making my own mixes.

  54. says

    We purchase our veggies from the farmers market and freeze for the winter, I coupon at stores that double high value coupons, I watch all sales flyers, price match items that I can’t purchase with a coupon, I turn lights off when we aren’t in that room, keep heat low, drive only when I have too…and never stop looking for more ideas to save money! I am praying for this book!!!

  55. Anonymous says

    I use a cash budget which makes me stay within our set limits for each budget.

    Michelle R
    shelle1379 at gmail dot com

  56. says

    I read money saving mom’s website everyday and learned so many ways to save money. Using coupons matched with sales at the grocery store and drug stores. Shopping at yard sales and at the Goodwill store for gently used clothing. We don’t eat out unless we have a coupon and we always order water unstead of a drink.

  57. Anonymous says

    People will pay over $1000 for their pets. I’m a pet lover, but love to save money too. I adopted my dogs from a local animal shelter. They came fixed, pure bred, microchipped, and with their shots- for $50! As far as keeping up their medical expenses, I bring them to the vet when they have a low cost day. Animal shelters also sometimes have clinics that cost less or you can bring them to a vet school. Plus, it feels good giving two homeless pups a home!


  58. Anonymous says

    Hmm…we got rid of cable which costed $40+ a month and use an antenna and netflix at $8 a month. I make a menu and shopping list for the week and don’t eat out except occasionally. Other that I don’t have many ideas. We are a one income household so that I can stay at home with my DDs and homeschool, so a book like this would be a BIG help!!

  59. says

    Oops forgot my email, this was my original post:

    Hmm…we got rid of cable which costed $40+ a month and use an antenna and netflix at $8 a month. I make a menu and shopping list for the week and don’t eat out except occasionally. Other that I don’t have many ideas. We are a one income household so that I can stay at home with my DDs and homeschool, so a book like this would be a BIG help!!

  60. Anonymous says

    I use my Amazon universal wish list to record things I would like to have. Then I wait. This helps me prevent impulse buys. Sometimes I’ll look at items on the list and think, “Why did I want this so much??” If it is a valid need, then I might ask for it as a gift or wait for a sale.

  61. says

    My husband and I took Financial Peace University at our church and it was such a blessing to us. It has changed our lives. The best tip I can give is to not care what other people think. Otherwise you will spend money on things that don’t matter.

    kelsey (at)

  62. Jessica Tillett says

    I love to shop store sales with coupons and follow sales cycles. Also, love Swagbucks for the points to get Amazon gift cardsfor free to stretch our budget.

  63. Linnea says

    I’d love to win! We save money by buying some items in bulk (wheat, brown rice, honey, etc.). Much cheaper than the grocery store prices and better for you!

    linneabc (at) gmail (dot) com

  64. says

    When shopping for larger ticket items ask to speak with the manager and try to negotiate a lower price by paying cash. We did this at Home Depot when buying a lawn mower. Also, the floor models are often for sale and many discounts can apply.

  65. says

    We use coupons all the time and I love seeing the register go backwards. Our grocery store doubles most coupons, so that saves even more. Plus, we double up coupons and sales to get items for free or almost free.

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