Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Saving Grace

It fascinates me how grace prepares us for things even before they happen. A couple of years ago, I decided to take a community education class or two to get out and learn new things.  I wanted to try yoga, so I signed up for that, and I noticed a couponing class that looked interesting. I didn't want to become an extreme couponer, but I wanted to learn how to save some money.

The class was excellent. I learned how to get organized, couponing policies, different types of coupons and how to get some good deals. Less than a month later, I lost my job. I really believe that the help we need is always there, we just need to quiet all the chatter circling our brain and notice. I am grateful for what I learned, and for the communities, websites and apps that are out there to help people save money. I wanted to share some of it with you because I know I'm not the only one out there who has had to work with reduced income, kids in college, car payments and more.

I don't spend hours and hours couponing, and I don't buy multiple papers. I also am not a mega-stockpiler (although admittedly, I do have a ridiculous amount of shampoo and conditioner right now).  I am the self-proclaimed Queen of Tiny Purchases! I buy when it makes sense, and when there are deals on items that I know I will use. I spend about an hour and a half every Sunday clipping, pulling out old coupons (you can donate expired coupons to the military to save them money too), looking at the deals on the savings apps I use, checking the savings blog I follow (it is written by the wonderful person who taught the couponing class!) and making a list of where I will shop that week.
My $0.27 purchase using one $3 Dollar General coupon!

I do have a coupon binder, it just helps keep me more organized than those small-sized organizers that I used to carry. I bought a cheap white binder, added some plastic sleeves (I found some at Walmart in the baseball card section just for couponing, but regular baseball card pages with compartments work the same), divider pages that I labeled with categories, and I'm ready to roll! (I also spiced it up with some inspirational stickers too!)

Here are some helpful sites, apps and rewards programs to save you money:
  1. Here is the blog I follow from Jennifer King. It is updated constantly with savings from stores such as Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and more: Spend Less Shop More
  2. Facebook has tons of couponing groups. Here's two I follow: Saving Pennies Nickels Dimes & Dollars and San Antonio Budget Grocery Examiner
  3. SavingStar app: Dowload the app and check it for deals. I usually check before I go shopping, because I can save on an item with the app, and also use a regular coupon in the store. After you buy your items, pull up the item on the app (example: $.75 off Hamburger Helper), scan the items and then submit the receipt by taking a picture of it. It's very easy and the app with guide you through the whole process. You can cash out your savings through your bank account, Paypal, donate to American Forests, or to a Upromise account. They also have a free Friday item, so make sure to check every week.
  4. Ibotta app: Similar to SavingStar, receive money back for purchasing items. They provide a list of available stores, and the items available for the extra discount. You shop, then click on the item and perform a very short task (watch a quick video, answer a survey, etc.), scan your items barcode and take a picture of the receipt. When you've accumulated $10 or more, you can cash out through Paypal, Venmo, or get a giftcard to BestBuy, Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, Express, Aeropostale, Regal Cinemas or iTunes. This app also includes savings at restaurants, automotive, apparel and more.
  5. Walmart Savings Catcher app: If you are a regular Walmart shopper, this app is great. Just scan your receipt and they will look for other stores that are advertising lower prices on the items you bought. If they find anything, they will refund the difference in price to you. Then you can load the amount onto a Walmart e-card. You can keep adding to it or use it whenever you want.
  6. Shopkick app Shop in particular stores and get points for doing so. Redeem points for gift cards to Target, Starbucks, iTunes, Old Navy and many more.
  7. Jingit app Earn cash or gift cards by shopping in stores, redeeming offers or watching videos.
  8. Print coupons on your home printer to use in-store. They also have an app.
  9. Target Redcard: Get the Redcard debit card. It links right to your checking account, and it will save you 5% on every purchase when you use the card. And it's free! Also use the Target app and their Cartwheel app. Add the coupons to the cartwheel and show the barcode to the cashier to apply the discount. You can combine the cartwheel with Target and regular coupons too!
  10. Google: If you are an online shopper, this is a great help to finding the lowest price. It usually doesn't show Amazon, so check there too. If there is a particular item you want, do a price comparison by typing it in on Google search, and selecting "shopping" on the top bar of options. You can sort by "list" and if there is a list of stores, you can click on "total price" and sort by lowest to highest price. 
  11. Groupon: Shop local deals at a discounted rate as well as national items. You can pull up your favorite stores, restaurants and more for great deals.
  12. Living Social: Same concept as Groupon. Plus these sites give you fun, local ideas including skydiving, painting, wine tours and more.
  13. CVS ExtraCare Card Provides extra coupons in-store and online. Receive emails with extra discounts too. 
  14. Walgreens Balance Rewards Card Same as CVS, but you can also rack up points to use as cash towards future purchases.
  15. Offers online cash back shopping. Shop your favorite stores through them and they will send you a refund check (or through Paypal) 4 or more times a year.
  16. Brand sites: Make a list of your favorite items and check out their company sites. Many times they offer coupons just for signing up for their newsletters.
Feel free to post any questions you have, I will gladly answer. Would you like more couponing ideas? What categories: apparel, home decor, children's items, gifts, books, movies? Let me know and I will put together some thoughts and links for you in an upcoming blog!

In Gratitude,

Monday, March 9, 2015

Book Review: Love Never Dies by Dr. Jamie Turndorf

Love Never Dies: How To Reconnect And Make Peace With The Deceased  is really two books in one. The first part of the book reveals the love story of Dr Jamie Turndorf and her husband Emile Jean Pan, and the devastating loss of his physical body. Soon she is able to reconnect with her husband while he is in the spirit realm, and together they teach how to connect with those no longer with us in body. 

The reason I chose to read this book was from listening to Dr. Turndorf's (aka Dr. Love) weekly radio show on Her stories of communications with her beloved Jean through dialoguing, open vessels (Jean's spirit working through animals or people), and more are beautiful and inspiring. The book goes into even more detail, highlighting Jean's manifestations and miracles. 

Dr. Turndorf reveals techniques that she uses to dialogue with loves ones that are in spirit form. She provides connection, relief and closure. She believes that we don't need to ever say goodbye to our loves ones, because they are always with us, and want to communicate with us. There is incredible peace in this way of thinking.  There can also be people in our life that have brought harm to us. I feel grateful that someone has finally talked about this. There are some people who have died, that maybe we don't feel so good about, or that we may feel afraid of. She discusses how to dialogue with these spirits as well to bring serenity to our lives.

As I was reading this book one evening about how spirit comes to us through animals, electronics and even butterflies, my mind started to wander.  I thought about this beautiful large, black butterfly that visits our backyard. My husband and I always talk about it and joke that it is the same butterfly year after year. We get tons of monarchs and snout-nosed butterflies every year, but this one particular lone butterfly always gets our attention. It's just beautiful.

So I was thinking as I was sitting with this book, was it really a spirit? Could it be my grandmother or my husband's mother, or someone else showing us a sign of their presence? I have been going through a challenging time, which I will discuss in a later blog. In the evening I went into the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror and asked "Is this happening because I'm not living in faith, that I'm not connected and believing as I should be? If this is why, then I will let go and trust and know that all is well. All is well."

An hour later, it was bedtime and my son came in the room and laid down on my bed. It was dark and I had my laptop on the floor. It was casting a glow on the ceiling. He was staring up at the ornate metal frame that criss-crosses the top of the bed posts and said: " Have you ever noticed that before? It's looks like a butterfly. A beautiful butterfly." Woah! The words didn't even completely sound like him, even though he is a loving, sensitive young man. I felt assured that I had the answer to the questions I asked in the mirror. 

I highly recommend this book. It provides love, comfort, new ways of thinking, and the possibility of opening a door that you may have thought closed. There is joy and comfort in knowing that we aren't alone. For me, to feel open enough to receive the butterfly message, was reason enough to read this book. I can't wait for what happens next!

*I am blessed to receive this book free from Hayhouse for participating in the Hayhouse Book Nook program.

In Gratitude,


Monday, March 2, 2015

Coming Out Of The Spiritual Closet

What you seek, is seeking you. -Rumi

I know in my heart that it is important to be yourself. I have often expressed that to my sons, especially when fitting in at school has been a challenge. I realized as I have continued on my spiritual path, that I was not being authentic with others. I was hiding who I was becoming, because I was afraid of what others would think. It is time to come out because I know that my children are learning from what I do, not what I say. If I'm not being myself, why should they?

I tried to be a part of a formal religion, but I always felt like an outsider looking in. I felt as I had much of my life, that I wasn't good enough. I really wanted to feel closer to God, but I wasn't sure what that meant.  I felt like a failure, I felt apart from it all. I remember going to a communion preparation class for one of my sons and was told that because I was divorced and remarried, I couldn't receive communion. I would have to have my first marriage annulled. This was a "What Would Jesus Do?" moment for me. Would that be what he would do to me? The Jesus that I resonate with is all loving and kind. And what was this teaching my children? I wanted them to have a love for God, a connection to the divine, but I didn't want them to feel that they had to be perfect. I feel that religion can be a beautiful thing if it feels right for you, I see the joy and connection that it gives to many. I love Saint Pio and Saint Francis, and so admire who they were and still are. I believe there are beautiful aspects and also similarities in many religions, and I have a respect for them all. 

I also had a misconception about spirituality. I thought it meant I would be getting to God the easy way, without all of the rules. I felt like I would be getting away with something, calling myself spiritual without the suffering for my sins and required rituals to prove my devotion. Well, it isn't like that either. I feel closer to God and to all living things since I started walking the spiritual path. I don't feel bad about myself or unworthy of God 's love as I did in the past.  For the first time, I feel like I belong. We are all connected, every single one of us. I see God inside of us, not apart from us. I value all of life, all of Earth, all of the universe, all that is seen and unseen. My mind is more open than it ever has been. I am more positive, grateful, kind and giving.  I appreciate all of the miracles that happen every day. I see the synchronicities and am more in touch with the flow of life. I am happier and I don't fear death anymore. I pray, meditate, talk to the angels and keep myself open to learning new ways of connecting with the divine.

Before I decided to let myself out of the spiritual closet, I am not really sure what I was expecting. I suppose a part of me was worried that I would be judged, and maybe it would take a piece of the joy that I was experiencing away.  I think part of me was also unsure of my new journey, not feeling completely confident in it myself. 

But I started to let the real me seep out little by little anyway.  And what I found out, was that more goodness came to me. I found people that I have known for decades that were on a similar path to mine.  I had no idea. I became more connected than ever before. Closing the door on fear, opened so many beautiful ones.

New people have and continue to come into my life. My small business is about kindness and love. Through social media, I am connecting with so many wonderful people on the same path. It has been comforting and joyful to share some of the same feelings and ideas with people who understand. And through them, I learn more and grow more.

Fear can create so many ideas that aren't the truth. They can even bring something into reality that you really don't want. I keep pushing against the fear, because my soul is insisting. I listen to my soul's voice more than my ego now, and it has much better advice for me! What I found when I decided to let go of fear and be who I am, is that I finally feel like I am home. Trust is everything. Trust in the divine and trust in yourself, because you are divine.

Tear off the mask, your face is glorious.-Rumi

Be yourself, you are even more amazing than you are letting everyone see.

In Gratitude,


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