Important Lessons Learned From Hurricane Matthew


Our family had to evacuate for Hurricane Matthew, as did many other families in the Coastal Empire. We returned to Savannah on Oct. 10. Being 150 miles from our beloved city and home was hard. I can only imagine what it was like for the officials and workers who stay behind ready to get to work as soon as it was safe.

I first want to say thank you to the officials who did their best in updating those who live in the Coastal Empire. I posted and shared updates (there were many) from a hotel room 150 miles away for readers of Savannah Savvy Shopper (owned by the Savannah Morning News), which I write for. I have seen a few very selfish and immature individuals who were complaining about lack of information. Officials and several agencies were working together to make sure Savannah and the rest of the Coastal Empire was safe before residents were allowed to return. I know you were worried about your house and property. So was the rest of the Coastal Empire, my family included. However, I also know officials were worried about residents’ safety, which they repeatedly said was top priority.

To the workers who are working around the clock to restore power and utilities to those affected by Hurricane Matthew, thank you! I have personally gone out, where it was safe and where I would not be in the way, to deliver bottled water to these men and women. I cannot say enough about the conditions these power workers are working in. If you see them out working, do not ask them when you will have power; they are working on it! What you may not realize is that many of these workers do not have power in their own homes. I personally know two of them who have wives and small children of their own. Trust me when I say, they are working on it. I have seen power trucks from several states in this city. We have opened our house for anyone still waiting on power, for showers, a hot meal, charge electronics, etc.

To our emergency workers, I cannot say thank you enough, instead of getting out, you all rushed in! You jumped in fire trucks, police vehicles, EMS vehicles, first responder vehicles. Many nurses, doctors and ­hospital personnel rushed to hospitals to take care of those who were injured and to prepare for the influx of people that would be taken to the hospital needing help. Once again, the majority of these people have their own homes and families that they are worried about.

To the many businesses who jumped into action to help those without power, by providing meals, showers, charging stations, and more: thank you! These may seem like small actions, to many providing the service, but they mean the world to those who have been without power and water for a few days.

We consider ourselves very fortunate. We only lost a huge tree in our front yard (lots of smaller limbs in the back yard). Thankfully the tree fell sideways and not backward. If it had, we would no longer have a roof, and it would have gone through my little boy’s room. After a long day and amazing neighbors helping us take care of the tree, we went around and made sure all of the wonderful power workers in our area had cold bottled water to drink.

The Coastal Empire is strong, but we are stronger when we work together! God Bless all of the Coastal Empire and all of her residents!


Creative Ways to Save On Meat


Purchasing meat to finish out those meals can be one of the biggest budget killers for frugal shoppers but it doesn’t have to be. There are multiple ways to be flexible and creative in order to save money on your meat purchases. When you plan your grocery budget keep these money saving tips in mind while making your lists and shopping. Remember that any savings you bring your family on the grocery shopping is SAVINGS and be proud that you are making the most of it.


Buy Livestock
Now this may not be available for everyone but if you live in a farming community or know someone who raises livestock, this may be a great idea for your family to be able to stock up on meat. Many people will go in half with another family on a cow or pig and then split the cuts of meat. It’s not uncommon to fill a deep freezer with your share.


Shop the Sales and Clearance Markdowns


Many grocery store chains will mark select meat cuts down every morning. If you have spare time in the mornings stop by your local grocery store and shop the meat department for markdowns. Talk to your butcher, and those that work in the meat departments. Simply ask them if they have a certain day or time that they mark items down.


In most cases, the meat markdowns are items that just aren’t selling and they need to make room or that are quickly approaching their “Sell By” date which works in your wallets advantage. You can buy these marked down meats and freeze them for later use.


Eat Cheaper Versions/Let the Store Do the Work

These days there are so many different cuts of meat let alone the sources for those meats. Have you tried ground turkey or ground chicken yet? These are both great ground beef substitutes and are often cheaper than the ground beef option.


Another easy way to save on your meat cuts is to buy your large pieces and have the store butcher cut them down (for example buy a chuck roast and have it ground down or do it yourself if your store won’t do it).


Stretch the Meat Further


Making the meat you do get for your meals stretch is another key way to save money on meat. You may never have thought about adding items to your hamburger/ground beef as you’re cooking that spaghetti or chili right? You can add a wide range of items as a filler that will take up that space and use less of your meat stretching your budget even further.

Here are some great filler items to add to your ground beef:

  • Lentils
  • Oatmeal
  • Cooked Rice (white or brown)
  • Ground/Grated Veggies (sneak those in for the picky kids)

If you are afraid your family won’t like “this weird looking stuff” try adding it in small amounts at first.


Avoid the Fancy Packaging


When shopping the meat department you may have noticed all the different kinds of packaging available. If you look further you may notice the same exact cuts may cost more if they are in a more appealing looking package. For example ground beef can usually be seen in “tubes” or in the more appealing Styrofoam plates. Another example is chicken, you may have seen those bulk bags of chicken thighs, legs, and breast pieces that often get skipped over. Those bags are often the best bang for your buck but it does require some work and getting dirty to clean it up and separate it out for meals.
Compare the packages and you will find you are paying more per pound for the fancy cleaner packages. Opt for the bulk packages of meat like the 5-10 pounds of ground beef you can find at Walmart and then break it down into smaller portions to save yourself money in the long run.



While they may be far and few between coupons for meat do actually exist. You can routinely find coupons for items like lunch meat and deli choices, but the elusive ground beef coupons are rare beyond means. If you have a certain name brand meat that you use exclusively like Oscar Mayer it never hurts to email them directly and just let them know how much of a loyal customer you are to their product. Companies have been known to send customers coupons just for writing them!


Stock up for holidays:


Around Thanksgiving and Christmas hams and turkeys are in abundance and on sale almost every week at local grocery and big box stores. We tend to also get coupons to help save for those as well and it becomes one of the best times to buy an extra ham or turkey and freeze it for after the holidays. Often times after Christmas you will see the same hams and turkeys being marked down which makes it an even better time to stock up!


Meal Plan:


Making a plan for your weekly or monthly meals helps your grocery budget in so many ways. If you make a plan of what meats you actually need for all of your meals you can buy those select meats/cuts in bulk and separate them out in your own storage methods. You can also plan your meals around what meats you can find marked down, so always be willing to be flexible in order to save money on your meat.


Do It Yourself: Fall Decor Ideas


Fall is a great time to decorate around your home because your decorations can stay around for more than for a short holiday. Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. Here are some great projects that you can put together easily to start your fall festivities:


Couponing Ethics 101

Everyone likes to save money. There is a feeling of accomplishment when you know you have paid the best price possible. The money saved on one purchase can be applied to the next purchase or add the money you saved to a savings account. The savings add up, and vigilant shoppers are able to realize significant bargains. There is a great satisfaction that comes from knowing you have done your best and that you are getting the most out of your money.
In this day and age, many paychecks do not seem to go as far as they used to. The rate of increase in prices has outpaced that of earnings, resulting in a lower standard of living for many. One effective way to help compensate for this is through the use of coupons. Through careful planning, couponing can help you save money, particularly at grocery stores. It is not uncommon to save 50 to 70 percent on your shopping trips. This does require discipline, planning, and practice, but it can be done, and done consistently. More and more people are realizing this, and are taking advantage of these savings.
The primary purpose of using coupons is, of course, to save money. These savings allow you to increase your purchasing power and allow you and your family to live more abundantly. Manufacturers and retailers realize this, and they actually encourage the use of coupons. The majority of consumers appreciate this and are happy to get these savings.
There are some consumers, however that will abuse this practice. There are people that will buy things they do not need, want, or will ever use. There are people who will deplete a stores supply, leaving nothing for others. Some will even resell their purchases, or even their coupons. This practice is unethical, immoral, and in some areas illegal, but it does happen.
As a result of these activities, many retailers have revised their coupon policies. These changes are not directed against the normal individual consumer, but are an attempt to curb these unethical practices. The average customer will be minimally affected by these changes, but all shoppers should be aware of their stores coupon policies and should practice couponing in an ethical manner.
Every person that has taken my Grocery Savings workshop, hears me talk about how to coupon ethically, while still saving up to 70% on their grocery bill. 
Remember, there is nothing wrong with strategic couponing. In fact, such use of coupons is the key to maximize their effectiveness. However, there are certain ethical aspects to consider. 
Here are a few guidelines:
  • Don’t sell or buy coupons and or inserts: The FTC says “Selling or transferring coupons to a third party violates most manufacturers’ coupon redemption policies – and usually voids the coupon.” Companies are starting to crack down on this as well! There have actually been arrests made of people selling coupon inserts!


  • Don’t sell your stockpile: This goes back to buying only what you need. Coupons are intended to give an individual customer a good deal, not to start a for-profit business. Reselling of these purchases usually violate the terms of the coupon, and in some cases, can violate local health codes.


  • Don’t copy coupons: Most coupons state that only originals are valid. Copying coupons is not only unethical, is it illegal and punishable by law. Printable coupons will usually allow you to print each coupon twice (per computer), but you can not make extra copies of these coupons. Saving a few cents is not worth being accused of fraud.
  • Don’t clear shelves: Let me say that again: Do not clear the shelves! You may have 10 coupons to get a really good deal on an item, but leave some for others! It is very disheartening to go to the store for a great deal, and find nothing left on the shelf. While some stores do offer rain checks, you still may not get the same price overall. Just play nice. Follow the golden rule.
  • Don’t take whole tear-pads of coupons: Sometimes you find those nice tear-pads of coupons on the shelf, or the dispensers in the grocery stores that are located near the item with the coupon. Again, be nice and do not take them all, even if it is for your favorite thing to buy. Some stores have started zip-tying them to the shelves, because people have been taking the entire pad of coupons.
  • Don’t buy things just because they are free: If you won’t use it, do not  buy it. Almost everything expires, and think how wasteful it would be if you ended up throwing it out! If you know a friend or a charity could use the item, then by all means get it. Just don’t forget to make the donation!
Following these guidelines will promote the ethical use of coupons and will help ensure fairness for all. These practices will enable consumers to use coupons to their fullest potential with integrity and respect for others.

Georgia Bucket List Must See Places

Georgia Bucket List

Georgia Bucket List

Ah, Georgia! We’re more than just peaches. This Georgia Bucket list is just as sweet, though. There are so many wonderful “hidden” gems in the state of  Georgia. If you are headed to the beautiful state of Georgia, and you are unsure of what to see and do, take a look at this list. If you are a resident of the state of Georgia, how many of these places have you been to?

The Great Outdoors

Lane Southern Orchards – I think it goes without saying that you must get peaches while visiting Georgia. You can find them on roadside stands pretty much anywhere in the state, but my favorite spot to get peaches is at Lane Southern Orchards. They’ve been growing peaches and pecans for over 100 years. Visit the packing plant and see how they inspect and sort their peaches, and if you stop in during pecan season you can grab some of those, too! Bonus: free admission!

Amicalola Falls – If you’re looking for an outdoors adventure, you’ll find it here! Take a hike and explore a series of waterfalls and rapids that descend a total of more than 700 feet. Amicalola Falls Park offers guided hikes, fitness trail runs, and more.

The Golden Isles – Located off the southeastern coast of Georgia, this stop is great for the whole family. Jekyll Island is part of The Golden Isles, and is rich in both history and charm! Tour the Historic District, the Jekyll Island Museum, and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. If you’re looking for the perfect spot to take pictures, head to Driftwood Beach.

Cloudland Canyon – You can enjoy the typical hiking and fishing experience at this park, located at the edge of Lookout Mountain, and have a great time! But why stop there? You can also sleep in a yurt, be brave while taking a wild cave tour, take a sunset stroll, and of course take photos of the amazing scenery. Check the official website to plan your trip. There’s so much to do!


Tallulah Falls – Home of the famous Tallulah Gorge, Tallulah Falls was once a bustling resort town that rivaled Niagara Falls, according to their website. Tallulah Gorge is an ancient 1,000 foot chasm that’s been carved by the Tallulah River over millions of years. Located less than 2 hours north of Atlanta, it’s definitely worth the drive.

Oddities and History

Savannah Historic District – Voted the #1 place to visit in Savannah, the Historic District is one you could explore all day and still not see everything. There are many tours available, and while the walking tour is fun, I love the trolley tours! Remember to bring your camera to capture the breathtaking scenery.

The Southern Museum – A visit to the South isn’t complete until you visit The Southern Museum! Learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the Civil War – and more – at this museum located in Kennesaw. They have several educational exhibits about locomotive history, but be sure to visit their website to see current exhibits in case they change. There is an admission fee, but kids under 3 are free and they do offer AAA, military, and senior discounts.

Oversized Rocking Chair – Dwight Oliver said he originally built this giant rocking chair as a place for children visiting the farm to use for pictures. The chair can hold about 30 kids at once! Now, tourists stop in from all over the country to stop and take a picture.

See this complete list of roadside attractions for our state at Roadside America. Don’t forget to check Yelp for more oddities and unique stops in Georgia!

Where’s your favorite “off the beaten path” spot to visit in Georgia? Let me know in the comments!