My Real Life

January 4, 2017

Websites I Loved in 2016

We’ve all got bookmarks on our computers.

The places we go, immediately, when we get online.

If you are like me, yours are probably your email, social media, a news site, any sites you may need for work, and any shopping sites you visit.

Below are two of my favorite bookmarked sites that you might find useful in 2017.


I don’t really know anyone who doesn’t do some sort of shopping online, these days, myself included. Amazon is my BFF and I order from other websites when I can’t find what I want at Amazon. Sometimes, I think I could totally channel my inner Sandra Bullock, from The Net (an old movie that I would DEFINITELY recommend), and never leave the house and do everything online. However, if I can get something for my shopping efforts, other than the thing I am purchasing, I’m on board. So…enter Swagbucks. Swagbucks is a website where you log in there before doing your online shopping.

Then, you search for the online store you need and they will let you know if that is a store that they partner with and how many Swagbucks per dollar you can earn there.

Then, simply press “Shop Now” and it will take you to the site through their site and when you make your purchase, Swagbucks will add it to your “Shop and Earn” section and after 30 days, you will get Swagbucks for it, which you can cash in for gift cards or other goods in their “Reward Store.”

There are other ways to earn SwagBucks, like taking surveys or watching videos, but quite frankly, I don’t have time for that, so I just stick with shopping through the website. I’ve earned many a gift card through shopping with Swagbucks, which, as I’ve said, is always helpful.

If you decide to try it out, here is my referral link:

Frugal SOS Forums

About 16 and 1/2 years ago, when I discovered I was pregnant with Monkey Girl, Real Man and I realized that I was about to be out of work for 9 months on maternity leave and that was going to cut our income in half. We were newlyweds (okay, married three years, but still babies) and living in our first home. Half a salary wasn’t going to cut it.

So, I started reading everything I could get my hands on about living frugally.

I devoured The Tightwad Gazette. I read all three volumes of the book and started doing everything I could to save. I had articles published in couponing and frugal living magazines, and scoured the internet (which was still fairly new) for anything I could find on frugality.

In my searching, I stumbled across a message board that was in it’s infancy…The Frugal Village.  And I quickly began spending the majority of my time after work waiting for Real Man to get home from his job (he worked the late shift in those days) reading posts, joining challenges, and leading my own threads. The Frugal Village became a lifeline for me, and I became a moderator for the site and made many friends, some of whom I stay in contact with today.

Over the past 15 years, I have visited the site, on and off, always going back when I felt that I needed a kick in the frugal pants and some inspiration. However, a few years ago, the site owner, Sara, sold the site, and it didn’t quite feel the same. So, you can imagine my joy when Sara and I were talking, one day, and she told me that she had a new site, in it’s infancy, and invited me to come and check it out.

So, I invite you to come and check it out. Maybe you don’t need to. That’s okay. but, maybe you do. And if that is the case, I’d love for you to come and support Sara and see what it’s all about. As I said, it is still pretty new and there are only a few of us there, but the more the merrier.

Frugal SOS

January 1, 2017

Apps I Loved in 2016

Filed under: Reviews — Amy @ 6:00 am
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My phone is my lifeline.

I keep in contact with my kids and husband with my phone, I get my news on my phone, I check my email on my phone, all of my social media is on my phone, and my music and photos are on my phone.

I’m almost embarrassed to say, I’d be very lost without my phone.

In 2016, outside of the activities I mentioned above, there are four apps that I used consistently.

I’m sharing them with you, below, in case you are looking for an app or two that may help you improve yourself or improve your wallet.


I think everyone is always looking for ways to save money when grocery shopping. For a family of 6 that includes 3 boys who are always hungry, I spend an enormous amount of time trying to figure out ways to make grocery shopping less of a pain in the wallet. I clip coupons and I check sales, but I also use some grocery apps on my phone. iBotta is one of those apps that doesn’t necessarily take money off of the purchases I make, but gives me money back that I can have deposited into PayPal or turned into gift cards for millions of retailers.  All you have to do is check the app before you go shopping, select any items they are rewarding that are also on your list, and when you are done shopping, reopen the app, take a photo of your receipt with your smart phone, scan in the barcodes of the products you purchased that you previously selected and hit submit. Sounds like a lot of work, but the whole thing takes maybe 5 minutes, and I only joined in September and was able to get $50 in gift cards to help with my Christmas shopping by the beginning of December. It’s so easy to use and worth it to let your rewards quietly accumulate until you are ready to cash them in.

If you think you would like to try iBotta, I am going to shamelessly ask you to use my referral code: vgylxjm  I’ve got four children with birthdays coming up in February and I’m not gonna lie…getting credit for referrals would be super helpful in saving for those birthday gifts. 🙂


Another app that I use, which is used in the same way as iBotta, is MobiSave. The difference is, MobiSave deposits money directly in your PayPal account, or I think you can also save it up and have them send you a check when you reach a certain point. While I don’t make as much money with MobiSave as I do with iBotta, I still use it every week because every little cent counts! 

And, as another shameless sharing of referral code, if you decide to try MobiSave, here is my referral code for this app: JFDAGCOO

My Fitness Pal

As I head into the second half of my 40’s which hurtles me toward 50 faster than a speeding bullet, I find the need to keep on top of my health to be a paramount concern of mine.

My early 40’s taught me that I can’t just eat whatever I want and still enjoy good health (and comfortably fitting clothes) so I downloaded the My Fitness Pal app.

In the app, I document everything I eat during the day.

If it is something that I’ve purchased, I can simply scan the UPC code into the app, or I can type in the name and select from a list. It has all of the nutrition information already loaded, and I can keep track of my calories, and more importantly for my diabetes control, the macronutrients, ie: carbs, sugars, protein, etc.

It pairs with my FitBit app (which I’ll discuss in a minute) and gives me exercise credit calories based on the steps I’ve taken throughout the day.

For me, this app is essential. If I’m not holding myself accountable, then I tend to go a little nutty and find myself swimming in a sea of PayDay bar wrappers, buoyed by empty Diet Coke bottles.

If you need to be accountable, then this is the app for you. There are similar apps out there, but this is the only one that I have any experience with, so it’s all I can tell you about.

I do pay for the full version, however, the free version gives most people the support they need.


So, you need to own a FitBit for this app to do anything for you.

However, if you are considering some type of pedometer/watch device, I’d go FitBit.

First, their customer service is amazing.

They have sent me two new FitBits after mine stopped charging, free of charge and just asked me to recycle the old one at my local recycling center.

Secondly, with my FitBit app, I can friend people I know who also have FitBits and we can challenge each other to competitions.

Believe me when I tell you that the teachers at my school are the most competitive people I have ever known.

And it’s fantastic.

Because the FitBit competitions spur me to stay on my feet and exercise, even when I don’t feel like I can move another muscle.

I think there was one week when I had almost 100,000 steps, which is about 20,000 per day.

Not too shabby.

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