• Tips to Win Big Prizes from a Sweepstakes Addict

    by Reruns blogger | Aug 12, 2013

    I have a confession to make. Late at night when the kids and husband are in bed and I’m all alone, I enter sweepstakes online and I win amazing prizes. Just this year, I won an iPad, a $500 gift card to JCPenney’s, several free movie passes, $150 cash and my daughter won $1,000 (in a custodian account). Now, those are the big prizes. During my quest to win a grand prize, like a new car or free vacation, I’ve won many small 2nd, 3rd or even 4th place prices. The smaller prizes are fun stuff, like board games, cooler, blankets, t-shirts or Amazon gift cards.

    I know what some of you may be thinking – ‘Nicole must be the luckiest person ever.’ Honestly, I’m not that lucky, but I am persistent. If you enter enough sweepstakes and enter consistently, you will win. I guarantee it. It’s about law of averages. I only win once every 15 to 30 times I enter, so a lot of ‘sorry, you didn’t win this time’ and a few ‘congratulations, you have won.’

    Sound exciting? Do you want to win cool prizes and start sweeping? It’s very easy to do, absolutely free and can even be an income supplement. There are lots of sites with links to the various sweepstakes online that can get you started. Before you start, here are some tips about sweeping:

    1. Never enter any credit card or bank information. Sweeps will only ask for name, address, phone, age and possibly gender. They are always free to enter and no financial information is required. (Note: if you win a big prize, you will be asked for your social security number to claim the prize.)
    2. Enter consistently to win. Most sweepstakes allow you to enter daily and your best odds to win are if you enter regularly. Even if you can’t do it every day, make a habit to do it a few times a week regularly to see results.
    3. Use a form-filler to auto-fill your basic information on the sweeps form. There are several you can download free or it’s included with Google Chrome. This saves a ton of time, because you don’t have to type your personal information over and over again and can enter more sweeps in less time.
    4. Use a separate sweeps email account. If you decide to enter sweeps regularly, my recommendation is to start a new email account just for sweeps and check it regularly. You will be getting more email entering sweeps and you don’t want to miss important emails from your friends or family or have a full inbox every day. On the same note, make sure to check your sweeps email because sometimes you will receive emails that you won and may need to respond to claim the prize.
    5. Enter sweeps with prizes you want to win. If you really want to win an iPad, enter sweeps that are offering them. I enter sweeps hoping to win prizes that I can give my friends and family for gifts. Several years now, I’ve won a ridiculous amount of toys and goodies for my kids’ Christmas presents.
    6. Don’t give up. If you’re not winning immediately, don’t give up. Many of the sweepstakes don’t draw winners until the end of the promotion which may be several months from now. Keep entering regularly and you will win. You may not believe me now, but when you get your first prize, you will be hooked for good.

    Now that I’ve confessed my secret obsession, I’d love to hear if you are a sweeper. What prizes have you won?

    Author: Nicole McDonald, a stay-at-home mom to three kids, age 7, 4 and 2. She teaches coupon, meal planning, frugal fun with kids and freebies classes and blogs atwww.momsavesmoney.net. Her e-book ‘The Extraordinary Art of Couponing’ is available onAmazonBarnes & Noble and Smashwords.

  • How to Save and Earn Money with Smart Phone Apps: My Top Five Apps

    by Reruns blogger | May 09, 2013

    I recently got a Smart Phone and I’m already earning money and gifts for free with apps.  There are so many apps and sometimes it seems too good to be true to actually earn something free using these apps.  These are my top five favorite apps that I personally use.

    1. Pinpoint Rewards – This is my favorite app that is for the Omaha area only. It’s a loyalty rewards program featuring local merchants. When you join and on your birthday and anniversary, you receive special offers from these merchants. Some rewards are $5, $10 or even $20 off any purchase (freebie alert) and others are buy one get one free deals. Just to give you an idea of what to expect, when I joined, I redeemed free smoothies at The Juice Stop, two free pizzas from Fill R Up in Council Bluffs, $10 off our meal at La Mesa and several other great offers.  Plus, when you shop at the participating merchants, you receive points that will earn you free gift cards when you meet the redemption levels. It’s a great program that gives you extra incentive to shop and dine locally.

    2. Wrapp – Send free gifts to your friends and hopefully, they will reciprocate. Recently, I received $5 gift cards to Sephora and Office Depot and scored freebies at both stores. Simply show the cashier the gift card you received on your phone at checkout. It’s a fun and easy way to shop for free. There is an option to purchase higher value gift cards, but they offer a nice selection of free gift cards.

    3. Endorse – Earn cash back on select purchases at any store when you simply upload your receipt. Recently, I earned $5 back on any brand diapers and $3 back on any brand coffee. These are items I already planned to purchase, so it was nice to get a little extra.

    4. Ibotta – Earn cash back on select purchases at select stores. You must upload your receipt and scan the barcode from the product. It’s a little more involved to receive the cash back, but it’s worth it to get money back on items you purchase regularly. This week I received $1.25 cash back on shampoo that was free after coupons, meaning I actually made money shopping.

    5. Jingit – Earn money by watching short videos or checking in at select stores. This is a super easy way to earn some extra money.

    These are my top five apps to earn freebies and make money using your Smart Phone. I hope you will score some great rewards like I have. What other apps do you use and love to save you money?

    Author: Nicole McDonald, a stay-at-home mom to three kids, age 7, 4 and 2.  She teaches coupon, meal planning, frugal fun with kids and freebies classes and blogs atwww.momsavesmoney.net. Her e-book ‘The Extraordinary Art of Couponing’ is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

  • Share

    by Reruns blogger | Mar 13, 2013

    “This is my room not yours.”

    “I was born first. Not you.”

    “I’m 4. I’m the biggest; you’re the littlest.”

    “You need to share.”

    Here we go again.

    My girls are feuding. This time it’s over a toy spoon. Really, why? * Forehead slap.*

    Sure, I could drop into the conversation or separate the two so my house could go back to a peaceful state — but I’m not going to do that. That, my friend, is the easy way out.
    Share
    They need to learn how to work through their conflict.

    Children are not developmentally designed to share. Young children are naturally ego-centric. Oh, that’s Gabriella all the way. She’s 2 and in the “Mine” stage. Giving up something makes her weak. She seeks power… control… independence. She hasn’t quite developed the social skills that her older sister Alejandra posses.

    And so the power struggle begins.

    “Mine,” Gabriella shouts.

    “I had it first,” Alejandra tries to reason.

    “NOOO. MINE.”

    After a few minutes of “mines” pass, I intervene.

    “What’s going on?”

    Alejandra blurts out the situation. Gabriella lowers her head admitting submission.

    Instead of taking the spoon out of anyone’s hand, I ask them how they can resolve the situation.

    Sometimes being the parent means that we have to gently teach them over and over to recognize and value the feelings of others. Also, help children recognize the power in sharing.

    Sharing requires practice, which always includes mistakes along with the successes.

    That day we started with a positive experience. I asked for the spoon.

    “I’m happy when I have this spoon because I like to pretend it’s a microphone,” I said, and then proceeded to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

    After squawking the tune, because I’m not much of a singer, I then handed Alejandra the spoon.

    “I’m happy when I have this spoon because I like to pretend I’m baking cupcakes,” she said. She then spun the spoon around as if she was mixing batter in a bowl.

    Now it’s Gabriella’s turn.

    “Spoon. MINE!!!!”

    OK. So we haven’t gotten her impulses under control quite yet. But not all is lost.

    After banging the spoon on the hard wood floor in her bedroom for a few seconds, she handed me the spoon.

    She’ll eventually get the hang of this sharing thing. Slowly, but surely. I hope.

    Bio: Josie Loza is a mom to three young children. She blogs about parenting issues, lifestyle and and her family’s quirky adventures on www.momaha.com.

    Go comment!
  • I Knew This Day Would Come…

    by Reruns blogger | Jan 21, 2013
    I knew I’d someday be sitting across from my 4-year-old daughter, kissing her forehead and wishing that she’d stay young forever.
    As I sat among a group of parents at our neighborhood school’s kindergarten information night, I realized that day had come.

    My stomach was in knots. Why am I so nervous?  

    Words

    She’s ready to go to school. She knows her ABC’s. She can count to 30 and beyond. She can write her first name. She knows her address. She knows her mother’s and father’s names. She can dress her self and is a self-starter in social settings.

    We’ve prepared for this day. So why are my knees buckling as I fill out her school registration form?

    Everyone tells me she’ll be fine when she enters school in the fall. She’s independent. She’ll forget all about missing you.

    But it’s not her that I worry about as much as it’s me.

    What if I’m not alright? What if I can’t stop missing her?

    Is it wrong of me to say that I’m not ready to let my piggy-tailed little girl go.

    It’s the real world out there.

    I won’t be able to kiss boo-boos, tie tennis shoes or cut her sandwiches into shapes. At least not during school hours, I won’t.

    I won’t be able to hold her hand and leave wet kisses on her cheeks as she walks into the classroom because — let’s face it — “it’s not cool.”

    Someone else will be responsible for the love of my life every day, and letting go will tug at my heart… just a little bit.

    Sigh.

    I guess it’s that thing we all do as moms. You know, worry about everything.

    Realizing she’s growing up is so hard.

    Letting go is even harder.

    After leaving the information night, Alejandra held my hand.

    “It’s OK, mommy,” she said. “I’ll have lots of friends to play with, and when school is over we can play too.”

    Josie Loza is a mommy blogger and the editor of Momaha.com, a site operated by the Omaha World-Herald. Momaha is an online community for moms to share ideas through blogging. Loza is a mother of two girls and a boy, and she brings her experience and quirky family adventures to the site.

  • My Little Girl, Gabriella

    by Reruns blogger | Dec 21, 2012

    I’m a firm believer that art is in the heart of every child.

    It starts with the first soothing sounds of a mother’s lullaby to brightly colored toys and the comforting touch of a favorite blanket.

    Early exposure to the arts lays a complex groundwork of mental, physical and emotional connections that opens the door to a lifetime of curiosity, learning and creativity.

    During a recent visit to the Omaha Children’s Museum, my 22-month-old Gabriella was fixated on painting. I tied an apron around her to protect her clothes.

    After the first three projects, I tried to move her into a different area to explore. She wouldn’t budge.

    Instead, she handed me a paint brush.

    “You want mommy to paint?” I asked.

    She nodded.

    So there we were painting all sorts of random shapes and swirls. Paint speckles landed on my boots. Globs of yellow paint were on Gabriella’s hands. She didn’t mind as much as I did.  We both looked at the now polka-dotted floor littered with paint droppings. Gabriella placed a piece of paper over it and continued painting.

    Smart girl, I thought. 

    Gabi and Mom

    On that day, she was post-Impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh. She was making a masterpiece, one that was bold in color, a bit rough in design, but beauty nonetheless. I yanked that painting from the artist easel and placed a new blank sheet in front of her.

    She became Pablo Picasso. She painted shapes, I defined their edges and she slapped more globs of paint on top.

    New sheet. She was Alejandro Obregon. No, Georgia O’Keeffe. No, Arshile Gorky. NO! Willem DeKooning.

    I turned to hand her a new sheet, but she didn’t need one.

    She had yellow-ish, brown paint smeared across her face. She cracked a smile.

    No, she was my little girl, Gabriella.

    Here are three ways you can honor your child’s masterpieces:

    1. Have a place to immediately post the pictures. Your special place could be on the fridge door or hanging for a clothesline in a child’s play area.
    2. Store the artwork in a shelf, closet or drawer. Save the work for some time before going through which pieces you’d like to keep in a scrapbook.
    3. Preserve the artwork by scanning, saving and print it like a photograph.

    Bio: Josie Loza is a mom to three young children. She blogs about parenting issues, lifestyle and and her family’s quirky adventures on momaha.com

  • The Box

    by Reruns blogger | Nov 15, 2012

    I came home to find one of the largest boxes I’ve ever received on my front porch. My middle son, full of excitement, immediately asked to have the box.  He waited as patiently as a four year old possibly can as I unpacked all the items from within this ridiculously huge box.

    Just to get an idea of the massiveness of this box, all three kids and the dog could fit comfortably inside it. They had to put the box against the couch and jump in from there, because it was too tall to step inside easily. The box started as a simple jack-in-the-box with kids popping out and saying ‘boo’, then it became a cave. The kids even took in flashlights to find the buried treasure. They read books in their box, created a little house for their stuffed animals and even let our little Rat Terrier dog join them for cuddle time.  When dad came home, he rolled the box with the kids safely inside, all around the living room.  They loved it, but soon their box was really taken a beating.

    As the box started to break, I panicked. This new toy has created an entire day of fun, imaginative play and it was breaking! What would I do now? I mean, the kids have tons of fun, educational toys that cost lots of money, but nothing has entertained them like this simple box.  My sanity NEEDS this box!

    Luckily, my innovative six-year old daughter re-worked the broken side of the box and made it the new door. She drew on a window and furniture inside. It was now a functional little house that they colored inside and out for several hours. It pains me to think how much I paid last year for a cardboard house that was designed to color. I could have saved a ton of money and just stuck with a plain box.

    The poor box is now on day three and it has lost two sides and is now a little nook with a pillow. My kids sit inside this colorful, broken, piece of cardboard box and read their books or play with other toys. I know it will have to eventually fall apart completely, but I am grateful for the hours of play it created.

    The beauty of this simple box is that something that I consider plain and boring has created hours of entertainment for my children. I realize that they don’t need fancy and expensive toys; they just need something that allows them to use their creativity.  Because this box was so versatile, the kids were able to use their imagination and make it what they wanted it to be at that time. It provided so many more options than many other toys my children have and it didn’t need batteries. I loved watching the evolution of the box and will never again see a box as just a box. It is hours of entertainment and fun for my children.  Oh, and the few hours of quiet time for mom to get dinner on the table is just a bonus.

    Author: Nicole McDonald, a stay-at-home mom to three kids, age 6, 4 and 2.  She teaches coupon, meal planning and freebies classes and blogs at www.momsavesmoney.net.