Thrifty Thursday: Reward your kids with free Chuck E Cheese tokens!

Are you looking for a fun, free and motivating way to reward your kids for their accomplishments?  Chuck E. Cheese offers free printable rewards calendars! 

Here’s how this works:

1.  Download and print out the calendar

2.  Mark the days off with a pen or sticker as your child accomplishes their goals

3.  Bring your completed calendar in to Chuck E. Cheese and your child will get 10 free tokens as a reward!

My kids love Chuck E. Cheese, so the incentive of ten free tokens is great for me and for them, too.  (Here’s my “tip” ~ we go early, when they first open and then we have the place pretty much to ourselves!)

(Note:  A pizza purchase is required, but it doesn’t specify a size, so you should be able to order a personal pizza, which my kids could share)

Here are some of the rewards they offer:

*Active Kid Rewards (two weeks straight of physical activity)
*Clean  Your Room (two weeks straight with a clean room)
*Getting Dressed (two weeks straight of getting dressed independently)
*Good Night’s Sleep! (two weeks straight of getting a good night’s sleep)
*Good Patient Award (making it through a doctor’s visit!)
*Homework First (two weeks straight of completing homework before anything else)
*Magical Manners (five straight days of “good manners”)
*Potty Perfect (two weeks straight of no accidents!)
*Reading Rewards (two weeks straight of reading)
*Sports Awards (Best Attitude, Best Team Spirit, Best Improvement, Best Sportsmanship)
*Stop Thumb Sucking (two weeks straight of not sucking thumbs)
*Teeth Brushing (two weeks straight of brushing teeth independently)
*Tooth Fairy Award (just for losing a tooth!)

Chuck E. Cheese also offers “Tokens for Grades.”  Have your child bring in their most recent report card and they will receive FREE tokens for good grades (this offer is valid for 15 tokens, with a food purchase only)

Don’t forget to join their e-mail list to register for “hot” coupons!

Do you have a Thrifty Thursday idea to share?  Don’t forget to link up below!

 For more Thrifty Thursday ideas, check out Coupon Teacher, Madame Deals, and Life as a Mom

Thrifty Thursday: Spring Break Dave Ramsey Style

My husband and I started the Dave Ramsey program about a year ago and as I have mentioned many times before, it has been life-changing for us.  One question that I get a lot from people who are just starting the program or who are thinking about starting the program is “Isn’t it hard?  Don’t you just wish that you could just have fun sometimes?”  We still have “fun” but we have learned to get creative and we’ve also learned to think about things a little bit differently.

Last summer, we actually were able to take a small vacation that we paid for completely using cash and gift cards.  We had a lot of fun, but when we got home, we also had peace of mind in knowing that we wouldn’t have credit card bills haunting us in a few weeks from the “fun” we had. 

Last week was spring break and I would have loved to take a little vacation, but budgetwise, it just wasn’t in the cards for us.  If you take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class, he will tell you over and over again that if you will live like no one else, then later you CAN live like no one else and I think about that all the time!

So, before the week started, we sat down and explained to our kids that we weren’t going to be able to “go away” anywhere but that we still wanted to have a fun week and we told them that we wanted to come up with a list of ideas of fun things that we could do together as a family.  The list ended up being so long that we now have a good jump start on fun things we can do together this summer, too!  I loved, too, that a lot of the things that they came up with didn’t really include things that would cost money and focused more on just being together as a family.  Sometimes as parents I think we feel like we need to give, give, give to our children and I think we forget that it’s the little things that count.

We budget from the 15th of the month through the 14th of the next month.  This might not work out for everyone, but it worked out for us.  So, our budgeting period had just ended and we actually had about $90 left in our envelopes, so I took half of that and put into an envelope for my son’s birthday, which is coming up, and put the other half into a “Spring Break Fun” envelope.

Here are some of the things that we did as a family during our Dave Ramsey Style Spring Break:

*Arts and Crafts Day ~ This was my daughter’s request.  We had so many other things going on that we didn’t have time for an entire “day” but we did spend a few hours throughout the week doing different arts and crafts activities.  There are some great free sites out there with a lot of great ideas.  One of my favorites it Make and Takes because there are a lot of fun ideas using things that you already have around your house.

*Chuck E Cheese ~ We have been to a number of parties at Chuck E Cheese and each time we go to a party, the kids get a certain amount of tokens.  We never seem to use all of our tokens when we’re at the actually party, and so we bring them home and keep them in a cup and then we have a supply of tokens for the times when we want to go and play on our own.  A lot of times, there will also be a coupon or sticker for 10 free tokens in the goodie bags at the birthday parties, too.  Our Chuck E Cheese also has souvenir kids cups with a straw and you get free refills when you buy the cups.  I bought the cups at some point (they weren’t very expensive) and it has been a great investment!  So, we took our cup full of tokens and our drink cups and went early one morning and spent NOTHING!  We basically had the place to ourselves.  The kids played for almost two hours and we cleared out just around the time that it started to get crowded.

*Cici’s Pizza ~ My kids love Cici’s.  In the Entertainment book, there are coupons for a free child’s buffet with the purchase of an adult buffet.  Kids 3 and under eat free, so we only had to get one child’s buffet, which was free with the coupon.  So, the three of us were able to eat for $4.24 including tax and then I got an extra $1 in tokens for them to play the ball game and the crane game.

*Family Game Night ~ Thanks to the Amazon deals during Christmas, we have a well-stocked game closet.  We play one or two games here and there as a family, but the kids wanted a “Game Night.”  So, we pulled out a bunch of games, let them stay up later than usual, and had a blast during our “Family Game Night.”

*Family Movie Night ~ This was another request from the kids and we actually ended up having two family movie nights.  We let each kid pick out a Redbox movie and used free codes to “rent” them.  We bought some ice cream and everyone in the family got to pick out their own toppings.  We had two ice cream sundae nights to go along with our family movie nights!  (The total cost for the ice cream and toppings was $12.59)

*Pump It Up ~ Our local Pump it Up offers a “Pop in Playtime” where the kids basically get to play for two hours.  The price for this is $6 per kid, but I had a Buy One, Get One Free coupon from our Entertainment book, so it was $6 for both kids and they had a blast!

*Red Robin ~ My kids love Red Robin and they recently opened one up in our area.  We don’t go there often because it is a bit pricey, but we had a gift card I’d earned and there is a $5 off $20 purchase in the Entertainment book, so we ate for free and we have enough left on the gift card to go back and eat again another time!

*Story Time at the library ~ My kids love the library, but we don’t get to go very often during the school year because the story times are usually during the day and I’m working during the day.  So, we went to the story time, which included a movie, books, songs, dancing, and a craft, and the kids had a blast.  Plus, it was completely free!

*Swimming ~ There is a community center in our area that has an indoor pool and free swimming!

So, when all was said and done, we had $21 left (there was some change, but I put any change we have into the change jar).  We used $7.40 to do the Princess and the Frog/Toy Story deal at Toys ‘R Us (that’s how much we spent on all 3 movies because they didn’t have the “right” Toy Story movies with the pre-order).

So, we had $13 left, which went into our “eating out” envelope.

I realize that I have young kids and that what “works” for us will not work for older kids, but I think it’s really important to be realistic about what you can and cannot afford no matter how old your kids are because you’re teaching them a lesson that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.  My point, too, is that a little creativity goes a long way when you’re living on a budget!

Also, if you haven’t invested in the Entertainment Book yet, it really is “worth it”  Right now, you can get them for 50% off and they are offering free shipping.  The prices vary by location (in my area, they are $17.50).  Ours has more than paid for itself already.

And….if you’re trying to get out of debt, but haven’t jumped on the “Dave Ramsey Bandwagon” yet, you can register to check out a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class for free!  The classes will be held the week of April 5-12th.

Do you have a Thrifty Thursday tip to share?  Feel free to link up below!

For more Thrifty Thursday ideas, check out Coupon Teacher, Madame Deals, and Life as a Mom.

Thrifty Thursday: Clothing your kids on a budget

It’s amazing how quickly kids grow and how fast they outgrow their clothing!  Buying clothing could easily be a budget buster.  Here are a few things that I do to help cut down on our out of pocket clothing expenses:

*Sign up for mailing lists and “rewards” cards ~ Most companies have links right on their website where you can join their mailing list and then they will notify you by e-mail of upcoming sales and sometimes send you coupons, too!  When companies offer “rewards” cards, it is typically free and you can often earn cash back on your purchases.  JC Penney, Gymboree, and Babies ‘R Us all offer free rewards cards!

*Match coupons with sale prices ~ I almost never buy anything without a coupon and I usually use a coupon and then a gift card that I’ve earned from a rewards or survey site such as MyPoints or Epoll.  When I shop online, I also use Ebates to earn cash back!

Here are a few examples:

*Target currently has a printable coupon for $5 off a kid apparel purchase of $30 or more.  Target has mix and match separates for infants and toddlers (0-6 months through 5T) on sale for $3 each and mix and match separates for “big” kids (sizes 4-14) for $4 each.

If you have an infant or toddler, buy 10 of the mix and match separates priced at $3 each and use the $5 off $30 coupon.  You end up spending $25 out of pocket, or $2.50 per item!

If you have a bigger kid, buy 8 of the mix and match items and use the $5 off $30 coupon.  You end up spending $27 out of pocket, or $3.37 per item!

I lowered my out of pocket even more by using gift cards that I had on hand from various promotional offers (buy X item, get a gift card and from filling prescriptions).

Last week, I bought each of my kids a pair of sandals online because they were buy one, get one 50% off.  I also bought my daughter two pairs of shorts and two shirts because I had a 20% off online code, they were offering free shipping, I had an e-gift card I had earned from Swagbucks, and I shopped through Ebates, so I got cash back, too!

*Crazy 8 – their Friends & Family sale started today – you get an additional 25% off everything in store and online.  Buy items that are already marked down and you end up saving even more!

*Gymboree has Spring Break Deals where items are priced at $10 and $12 each.  In some cases, this is already 50% off the retail price.  You can use a 20% off coupon (from the April Parents Magazine or from home mailers) and save even more!

*Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic – their Give, Get, and Give sale started today – if you are subscribed to their e-mail list, you should have received a code for 30% off your online purchase (this is a one time use code).  Everyone else can print a coupon for 30% off your in store purchases through Sunday, March 21stThis is a multiple use code and they will donate 5% of the amount you spend to the Leukemia and Lymphona Society.  If you shop online, don’t forget to shop through a cash back site such as Ebates to get 2% cash back!  Also, use your coupon to buy items that are already on sale, so you save even more!

*JC Penney – They are having a huge sale, plus you can use the code BREEZY7 to save $15 off your purchase of $75 of more or $10 off your purchase of $50 or more online (if you are shopping online, don’t forget to use a cash back site such as Ebates to get 3% cash back) or print coupons for $15 off a $75 purchase or $10 off a $50 purchase in store.

*Kohls – Take an additional 15% off online using the code SHOP15 (plus get 2% cash back from Ebates) or print a coupon for 15% off in store.

*Payless – If your kids need shoes, you can print a coupon to save 15% off your entire in store purchase or get $10 off a $50 online purchase using the code EASTER at check-out.  If you are shopping onling, you can also take an additional 15% off using the code 30576 at check-out (shopping through a cash back site such as Ebates will get you an additional 3% cash back)

*The Children’s Place – They are currently offering $5 tees and $10 shorts during their Spring Break sale.  Save 15% off your online purchase using the code C99AA at check-out (get an additional 3% cash back if you shop through Ebates) or print a coupon to save 15% off your in store purchase.

*Carterssave 20% off your purchase of $50 or more using this printable coupon.

Do you know of any other great sales or printable coupons?  Please comment and share!  Do you have another money-saving tip to share?  Feel free to link up below!

For more Thrifty Thursday ideas, check out Coupon Teacher, Madame Deals, and Life as a Mom.

Thrifty Thursday: Five easy ways to get Amazon gift cards!

Last year, I “paid” for most of my family’s Christmas using Amazon gift cards that I earned throughout the year.  This year, my goal is to have another 100% cash Christmas and to use Amazon gift cards to fund a large portion of our Christmas.

Here are five easy ways to get Amazon gift cards:

1.  Coinstar – I posted earlier this year about starting a “change jar.”  When you visit a Coinstar machine, you have the option of “cashing out” but then you have to pay 9.8 cents per dollar. They also have an option where you can get “free coin counting” if you opt for a gift card or gift certificate instead. Amazon is one of the choices and the e-certificates you get for Amazon never expire! They also offer gift cards for Albertson’s, Borders, Cabela’s, CVS, Eddie Bauer, iTunes, JC Penney, Lowe’s, Old Navy,, Regal Entertainment Group, and Starbucks.  We started filling a change jar at the beginning of the year and it’s already almost full.  I’m looking forward to cashing it in for an Amazon card and finding out how much money we’ve saved so far!

2. is a survey site that I have been with for several years now.  The surveys are typically fairly easy and usually relate to TV shows.  I usually get 2-3 surveys each month.  You earn points for completing the surveys which can then be exchanged for gift cards to Amazon and a number of other retailers including Best Buy, Target, Home Depot, and Red Lobster.


3.  My PointsMy Points is an easy way to earn gift cards for Amazon or a number of other retailers.  All you have to do is read the e-mails they send, print and redeem coupons, shop through links on their site, or submit Bzz Agent reports.

4.  Opinion OutpostOpinion Outpost is a survey site that I just joined recently.  You earn points for completing surveys and for every 50 “opinion points” you earn, you can choose to cash out for a $5 Amazon gift card.

5.  SwagbucksSwagbucks is one of my favorite “rewards” sites.  You earn points just for searching the web, which is something you do are probably doing on a daily basis anyway!

Also, check with your bank to find out if they offer rewards if you use your debit card.  We recently found out that we can earn points from our bank for using our debit card and one of the retailers when we cash out points is Amazon!

Do you know of other ways to earn Amazon gift cards or do you have another thrifty tip to share?  Feel free to link up below!

For more Thrifty Thursday ideas, check out Coupon Teacher, Madame Deals, and Life as a Mom.

Thrifty Thursday: Spring Break fun on a Budget

Spring Break is approaching quickly. In the past, we have always taken some sort of family vacation, even if it was only for a day or two, but that is not in the budget for us this year, so we’ve been brainstorming budget-friendly family fun ideas.

Here are a few that we’ve come up with so far:

*Free family night at the Children’s Museum ~ Check out your local zoo and Children’s Museum.  Our local zoo has several free family fun days and our local children’s museum has a free family night once a week!

*Family game night ~ Between the big Toys ‘R Us sale and the Amazon sale, we stocked up on family games during December.  We’ve had a few game nights here and there, but I think a big family game night is in the works and the kids are super excited!

*Family movie night ~ We’re going to pull out the pillows and blankets, pop some popcorn, and let each of the kids pick a favorite movie.  We’ll either raid our movie collection or use a free Redbox code. If we go to Walgreens to use a free Redbox code, maybe I’ll use some of my RRs and let everyone pick out a “movie theater” box of candy, too!

*Treasure Hunt ~ Have you heard of Letterboxing or Geocaching?  Essentially, it’s like a game of hide and seek.  People hide a letterbox or cache and then post clues (in the case of Letterboxing) or GPS coordinates and clues (in the case of Geocaching) online and you try to find them.  You can enter your zip code and find locations that are near you.  We’re excited to go on our first treasure hunt!

Do you have a tip for family fun on a budget or another Thrifty Thursday tip?  Feel free to link up and share!

For more Thrifty Thursday ideas, check out Coupon Teacher, Madame Deals, and Life as a Mom.