From the category archives:

living on less

A week-and-a-half ago, she turned 12... Wasn't it just yesterday that I watched her toddle on chubby little legs after a shiny pink soccer ball, blond curls streaming behind her?

Time changes everything, some things more than others. She still chases after a pink soccer ball, but she's much more sure on her feet these days, with a talent for spot-on passes into tight spaces. Same blond hair, not so chubby legs...

She left the house this morning a middle schooler, and I'm still processing how I feel about that. She also asked me to buy her a razor and shave gel the other day, and that REALLY took me by surprise. My baby girl is growing up before my eyes -- I knew it was coming, but I still feel completely unprepared.

Earlier this week, we did a little back to school shopping at Walmart. In case you're wondering, yes, I did buy her the razor and shave gel she requested... And we also picked up a few new pieces of clothing.

I was pleasantly surprised at her choices: a navy layering cami, a cute striped swingy tank, a graphic owl print tee, and a pair of dark rinse skinny jeans. This is a girl who lives in her soccer gear and refused to wear jeans at all last year. I joke about picking up most of her wardrobe from the vendors at soccer tournaments, but I'm really NOT joking.

So the fact that she was willing to look at clothing beyond a tie-dyed soccer tee tells me that maybe she's maturing a bit. Or maybe not, lol...

Either way, I was very impressed with the juniors selection at Walmart. She's in kind of that in between stage -- she can wear 14s and 16s in girls sizes, but most of them are a little juvenile for her. Extra small and small juniors tops fit fine, but leggings and jeans are often too long.

We did opt for a pair of No Boundaries skinny jeans in a size one, and they fit really well. They're a little long, but she was fine with rolling them, and I'm hoping they'll shrink a bit when I wash them. You really can't go wrong with these at just $7.78 per pair! They're great quality and super comfortable.

All told, we spent under $23 on these four items -- which is a total steal in my book!

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In just 8 days, my kids' summer break will come to an end and they'll head back to school. Summer just flew by way too quickly... I'm embarrassed to say we haven't even begun our back to school shopping, yet, and I am NOT looking forward to the dent it's going to put in our already-stretched-thin budget.

Thankfully, I've got more than a few years of back to school shopping under my belt, so I've learned some pretty good strategies for saving money along the way. I'm guessing many of you could use a little help stretching your Back to School budgets, so I thought I'd share my tried and true tactics, starting with the all-important prep work!

Prep Before You Shop

  • Make a list -- If you create a list and stick to it, you're going to ensure that you get everything you need in one trip. This is especially helpful if you have several students, as I do. Combine all of their lists into one master list, and you'll save yourself a huge headache.
  • Take inventory -- Every year my kids come home at the end of the school year with bags of unused glue sticks, pencils, erasers, scissors, etc. Don't let these items go to waste; take them into consideration when making your list for this year. Likely you'll find many of these items listed once again.
  • Do your homework -- Gather up those current sales ads and see what the prices are like this week so you can plan your trip accordingly.

How To Shop In Store For Back To School

If you prefer to shop in stores, these tips are for you. But by all means, do the prep work above first to get the most for your money!

  • Buy discounted gift cards before you go -- Once you've decided where to shop, check a site like to purchase gift cards for that store at significant savings. Save even more by using the referral code dseeking during registration to receive a $5 credit, and use SAVE5 when checking out for another $5 off a $25 purchase. That's a total of $10 in FREE cash toward your supplies, plus the savings from the discount gift card!
  • Save on gas -- Utilize price matching so you're not running all over town. Carry all of your ads into a store and have that store meet the advertised prices.
  • Don't forget your coupons -- More and more schools are asking parents to supply classroom items outside the traditional school supplies. Items on our list include things like hand sanitizer, Clorox Wipes, Kleenex, and Ziploc Bags. You'll find coupons available for all of these items in the Deal Seeking Mom Coupon Database.
  • Save your receipts -- Many stores will refund the difference if the price of an item you purchased drops within 14 days. Keep the receipts in an envelope in your purse, so you have them handy if you notice a markdown or sale at a later date.

How To Shop Online For Back To School

Just don't feel like fighting the crowds this year? I can't say that I blame you. Luckily, now is a better time than ever to consider shopping online for school supplies and clothing! Let me show you how to save big using a $50 online Kmart purchase as an example.

  • Buy discounted gift cards before you go -- As I mentioned before, checking a site like to purchase gift cards can yield significant savings. Save even more by using the referral code dseeking when creating your account to receive a $5 credit, and use SAVE5 when checking out for another $5 off a $25 purchase.
    Right now, you can purchase Kmart gift cards for use in stores or online up to 4.2% off. So using a $50 Kmart gift card priced at 4% off as an example, you can purchase it for as low as $38 if you use the referral code and promo code above, cutting $12 off your purchase right from the start!
  • Shop through a cashback site -- Start off your purchase by shopping through your favorite cash back site. For Kmart, in particular, you can earn up to 6% cash back depending on which site you choose. On a $50 purchase, that's an additional $3 in savings.
  • Search for promo codes before checking out -- Do a quick Google search for the store name + "coupons" or "promo code" to find extra savings. Typically you can at least find a free shipping code, but many times you'll find money off or gift with purchase codes, as well.
    Kmart actually does some of the work for you, listing some available offers clearly at the top of their site. For example, right now you automatically get free shipping on a purchase of $35 or more. There's also an offer for Shop Your Way members to get $10 back in point when you spend $35 on Back to School items. And when I did a search for "Kmart promo code", I found another code for $5 off a $45 purchase. Combine them all, and that's another $15+ in savings! And don't forget you're saving on gas, too.

All together, this equals a total savings of more than $30!!! Not too shabby for about 5 minutes worth of work. Am I right?! And of course you can use these same strategies to save at any store you like, AND they work beyond Back to School shopping. Discounted gift cards are one of my favorite ways to save year round!

Win a $150 Kmart gift card from!

How would you like to win a $150 Kmart gift card? I want to help one of YOU stretch your Back to School shopping budget even further with this awesome giveaway. To enter to win, just comment below to let me know what back to school deals you're still searching for that could benefit from a gift card. I'll choose a winner from all of the entries submitted!

Disclosure: Sponsored by, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this site!


My Favorite New Summer Beauty Products From Walmart

by Tara Kuczykowski on July 8, 2016 · 2 comments

We've had some wild and crazy weather here in Central Ohio lately... The Fourth of July weekend brought crazy cool temperatures in the 60's, only to be followed up by blazing hot high temps and humidity that makes your makeup melt and hair wilt as soon as you step outside the door...

This kind of unpredictability calls for changes in my usual beauty regime, which means I've been trying out some new products lately. I thought it would be fun to share the best of the best with you all, especially since these four faves can all be picked up at Walmart -- meaning they're very budget friendly!

Eucerin In-Shower Moisturizer Body Lotion, $9.39

If you try just one new product this summer, make it this Eucerin In-Shower Moisturizer Body Lotion! I've tried other in-shower moisturizers in the past with underwhelming success. Either the scent was overpowering or they left my skin feeling slightly sticky and tacky for too long after showering.

So when I recently received a sample of this Eucerin product, I almost tossed it my box of samples to give away... In fact, I did drop it in there. But then a few days ago, after getting frustrated with trying to pull on summer shorts over my legs after just applying moisturizer, I decided to dig it back out and try it. Just one use and I was hooked!

P.S. Looks for bottles with a $2 peelie coupon on them in Walmart stores.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel SPF 15, $16.17

This Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel SPF 15 was kind of a spur-of-the-moment purchase. Normally I use the regular Hydro Boost Water Gel, but the one complaint I have about it I don't like having to scoop it out of a jar. I always feel like I'm contaminating the entire container -- and it's just messy.

So when I saw this new product with SPF 15 that comes in a tube with a pump, I figured I'd give it a try. Normally I can't wear sunscreen on my face because my skin is on the sensitive side, but I was hoping I could tolerate this since the regular product is pretty mild. I'm happy to report that I can actually use this without breaking out! It does have a bit of a sunscreen scent to it when you first apply it, but it quickly disappears. I'm very happy that I gave this a shot!

Simple Micellar Cleansing Water, $5.37

I mentioned this Simple Micellar Cleansing Water a few months ago when I saw a good sale on it, but I feel like it's worth of another mention. I'm lazy about washing my face at night, but this stuff makes it super simple to remove dirt, grime and makeup with just a swipe -- while still being gentle enough to remove my eye makeup, mascara and all!

I caught my girls using it, so I bought them each a bottle of their own. It's never too early to start teaching good skincare habits!

Batiste Clean & Classic Original Dry Shampoo, $5.94

To be perfectly honest, my FAVORITE favorite dry shampoo is Living Proof -- but who can afford to use it as often as I need to during the summer? I'm pretty sure that Batiste Clean & Classic Original Dry Shampoo has been around in the UK for awhile, but it's new to me and I adore it, so I'm including it.

Previously I shared that Schwarzkopf Styliste Ultime Dry Shampoo was the best drugstore dry shampoo I've tried, but my store never has it in stock anymore. So I've been forced to branch out once again... I recently tried the Dove Dry Shampoo and was not impressed. I have to admit, I was a little put off by the retro look of the Batiste brand, but I grabbed a bottle on a whim -- and I LOVE it! The fresh, clean scent is great, and I prefer the rice starch used in it to the usual talc that so many brands use. Definitely a keeper!

Now it's YOUR turn... What new beauty products have you tried lately that you LOVE?

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Disclosure: Sponsored by Mirum Shopper, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this site!

If your little one is a big fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you're going to LOVE this quick and easy idea for TMNT drinks! They're perfect for parties, after sports snacks, or just for no special reason at all, because they're really simple to make.

(BTW, if you're going the party route, check out these adorable and FREE custom Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles invitations from Evite.)

I've seen these cute Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bottles done before with felt for the masks, but I want to super simplify it, so I cut colored strips of orange, red, blue and purple sheets of construction paper instead. Measurements for each strip should be 8" long by 3/4" wide.

Simply remove the labels from any soda beverage that comes in a green plastic bottle. Tape the colored strips around each bottle, and then using either hot glue or craft glue, add two google eyes on top of each of the "masks". Easy-peasy and SO cute!!!

You know what pairs perfectly with these drinks? Teenage Mutant Ninja Popsicles! Of course, my kids love pretty much any kind of popsicles... But these come in their favorite fruity flavors, AND they're on sale at Target right now at 2 for $7.

Add a box or two of these Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Popsicles to your cart at Target, along with the supplies for these party drinks and you'll be the coolest mom around! Together, they're a party all on their own -- I surprised my kids with them when they came home hot and sweaty from soccer camp yesterday, and their eyes went wide with excitement.

Even my oldest daughter was thrilled to find this refreshing treat waiting. Although, I had to laugh when she asked if there was a pink turtle... Go figure, this girl is ALL about pink! But she was more than happy to settle for the Blue Raspberry Blast Popsicle and a blue Leonardo drink instead.

Win a TMNT Prize Pack!

How would you like to win a TMNT Prize Pack that includes a $35 Fandango gift card and a $25 Target gift card?!? Just head over to the Deal Seeking Mom Facebook page through Saturday, July 16, 2016 at 11:59 pm ET to enter -- one lucky reader will win!


Though we own several really nice pieces of clothing from Walmart, it's not typically the first store I think of when I need to pick up a specific item. More often, it's a happy accident encountered on my way to grab some fresh greens for the evening's dinner or the like.

And so it was the case last week. I needed to pick up a few items for Father's Day dinner, and on my way back from tracking down the prepared horseradish, I spied this adorable little black dress. Recalling that my oldest daughter had recently mentioned needing a new dress for our upcoming beach vacation, I pulled my cart off to the side for a closer look.

Imagine my delight when I realized that, not only did they have one size small left in stock, it was marked down to just $11! It's like it was meant to be... So I tossed it in the cart, hoping that it would meet with her approval -- because you know a preteen's taste in clothing changes with the breeze.

Luckily, she loved it as much as I did! It's fun and flirty, feminine without being too revealing, and loose enough that she can still wear some shorts or leggings underneath. 'Cause if there's one thing I know for sure, there's never a soccer ball far from this girl's feet!

And did I mention it was only $11??? You know my budget looooovvves THAT.

We did a little trial run to show it off, even curling her hair with this awesome curling wand for the occasion. I also let her borrow my much coveted Miss Zoe by Calinana necklace and bracelet. I'm telling you -- I have definitely gotten my money's worth and then some from this gorgeous jewelry. And there are still SO many pieces I want to order from the collection!

If you've been hunting for the perfect dress, Walmart has cute summer dresses for all ages right now. Check them out to find your own personal style steal!

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