Thursday, June 30, 2011

Beginner's Guide to Couponing

Since I have started couponing, I have had many friends ask for pointers in how you get started. It's really pretty easy and it's alot of fun! Plus, you save money which is always a good thing!

To start off, any couponer should know 'The Coupon Lingo.' There is a bunch, but instead of overwhelm you with a whole list, I'll give you the most frequently used.

BOGO or B1G1- Buy one Get one Free
CAT- Short for Catalina coupon that prints at the register after your purchase
DND- Do not Double
IP- Internet Printable
MQ- Manufacturer's Coupon
MIR- Mail in Rebate
PG- Proctor and Gamble Insert
RC- Rain Check
RP- Red Plum
SS- Smart Source
STACKING- Using a store specific coupon with a manufacturer coupon. (For example a Target coupon with a manufacturer coupon.)

These are the coupon abbreviations that you will see the most, however if you would like the full list let me know and I'll be sure to post it!

When you're ready to start couponing, I suggest getting a zip up binder with baseball card or business card clear inserts. I started with a three ring binder that I quickly outgrew and I also ran the risk of if it was ever dropped, all my coupons falling out....not a encouraging thought! I am now using a five star zip up binder that I have separated into sections.

You can separate your coupon binder any way that works for you. Some have done it by food/product type, while others have their books organized by a specific store's aisle layout.

Personally, I separate mine by product type instead of a specific store layout. The downside of using a store aisle layout is that your coupon book will really only work at that one store. I can take my coupon book to any store, and find the coupon that I need quickly and efficiently. Efficiency is a good thing to have when there are plenty of other couponers at the same store, all going for the same sale items! There are also a few basic supplies you should keep in your binder. For starters, a pair of small scissors. You never know when you might find a coupon that needs clipping! Also, you should pack a calculator, pen/pencil, small notebook, and I like to keep one of the older small adjustable coupon packs with me.

The notebook is great for when I do my Farm Fresh shopping trips. One of the great thing about Farm Fresh is that they have no customer loyalty program. Many see this as a downside, but I have made it work to my advantage. Farm Fresh allows you to double up to twenty coupons each Wednesday per transaction. So when I find a really great deal, I split up my transactions so I can exceed the twenty doubling coupons without violating their store policy. When you have a basket (or two!) filled it can be very easy to lose track of what is supposed to go in each transaction with the right coupons. My notebook allows me to keep track of exactly what needs to go where and the adjustable coupon book helps me to organize my coupons for checkout. For example, as I am couponing, all my transaction one coupons will be in the first section, transaction two coupons in the second section, and so on. This has saved me so much of a headache in my checkout--and believe me, I learned this the hard way!

Now that you have your coupon binder and supplies, you need to get some coupons! There are plenty of places to find coupons! For starters, it is usually a great idea to get a subscription to your local paper. I have a Wednesday and Sunday subscription of two papers. This gives me double coupons on Sundays, and on Wednesdays my sale ads are in so gives me the morning to plan my trip. Other places you can find coupons are magazines. The 'All You' magazine has coupons in it each month, and although I don't have a subscription to it yet, I am looking to sign up soon! Many times you can find some coupons on actual products themselves that you can peel or cut out later. Also, you can ask your friends and family if they wouldn't mind sending you some coupons. There are coupon clipping services, but the downside is you have to pay for them, and if you're anything like me, I love what I can get for free! Coupon Groups are great in exchanging coupons with others. On Facebook, I have started The Coupon Corner where you can trade and exchange coupons, and there is even a few couponing trains showing up. Facebook has been great in finding coupons! Many companies are on Facebook and if you 'like' their page you will be in the first to know for coupons or promotions they are having. There are also many great 'deal' sites on Facebook that will let you know of free samples, coupons, and promotions. One of my favorites on Facebook is Freebies for Friends and The Coupon Consultant. Freebies for Friends is great at putting the word out for the latest freebies and occasionally takes parts in giveaways! The Coupon Consultant is my go to guide for my weekly Wednesday Farm Fresh Trips! I love that she is local so her prices are exact! She gives me a rundown on what's on sale, which coupons to use, and what my final price should be. The Coupon Consultant has made my shopping trips so much easier!! If you're not a Farm Fresh shopper like me, she does cover other grocery stores as well!

As you get into couponing, you may find some couponing phrases that are pretty confusing. The first is the DND or Do Not Double (or Triple.) When I first started couponing, I hated Do Not Double coupons until I learned a trick. If the UPC starts with a '5' the register doesn't know that it's not supposed to double so many times it will still double. However, if the UPC starts with a '9' the register will not double the coupon. Most times, when you hand your stack of coupons to the cashier they aren't checking ever single coupon, but still take it with a grain of salt--this might not always work!

The next phrase that can be confusing is One Coupon per Purchase. Many people think that this means they are allowed to use only one coupon per transaction. Not so! It means you are not allowed to use more than one manufacturer coupon per item. You can still stack your coupons with one store coupon and one manufacturer coupon, but you cannot use two manufacturer coupons on the same item.

Lastly, the next most common phrase that causes confusion is when dealing with 'like coupons' Many stores have restrictions on how many 'like coupons' you can use. This means how many duplicate coupons you can use. For example, let's say I have several coupons for French's mustard. I have four .50 off one bottle of French's mustard. I can use two of my .50 off coupons in one transaction. To use the other two French's mustard coupons I would have to start up a separate transaction.

When you begin couponing, I suggest picking out one to two stores at most to start off because it can be overwhelming. Many stores have different policies so in the beginning you will want to start small. Make sure you print out your coupon policies, and have them with you when you shop, that way if there's a problem, you have the policy at hand.

Next, make sure you have a list! When I first started couponing, I was not good with making lists, so I would spend way too much time in the grocery stores without a clear plan of what I was getting. I just knew I had coupons and I wanted to save! Now, thanks to The Coupon Consultant, I am able to get my match ups Wednesday mornings before I go to the store so I have a pretty good idea of what I'm getting. There will always be some things you find at a great deal that weren't on your list and that's ok, but it is very important to have a list to at least start.

As your shopping, you will occasionally come across products that are out of stock. If the item is listed in their sale paper and is out of stock, you are able to get a rain check. Rain check's can be a couponers saving grace! Rain checks allow you to lock in the price of the sale for you until they are back in stock. Check your store's policy as some stores rain checks expire while others do not. Farm Fresh rain checks are good for one month. I love rain checks because although I didn't get the product I wanted that day, I know I am most likely not going to have to rush to beat someone else out to get it as I have a whole month to get it. Rain checks can be obtained through the customer service desk---which by the way they will become your new best friends at your grocery store!

The more I couponed, the better I got at it! Remember, any savings is a WIN! Don't be discouraged if you are not pulling off great hauls like you have seen on Extreme Couponing, that is not reality. (See previous blog for more info on this)

Most importantly, have fun, be courtious to others, and if you happen to get a ton of an item, don't be afraid to be someones blessing!

Acts 20:35- In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Friday, June 10, 2011

Farm Fresh Trip 6/8/2011

Just about everyone has seen the TLC show Extreme Couponing and has an opinion on it. Personally, I love the idea, but the show really isn't true to reality. The couponers on Extreme Couponing walk out of the grocery stores with gigantic hauls and pay literally nothing. The downside is they end up hoarding tons of things, clear the shelves, and give other couponers a bad name.

The reality is, we will never be able to coupon like they do on the show. The reason for that is they are able to use coupons in a way that is against most of America's store coupon policies. Each store has their own coupon policy that limits consumers to how many coupons that you can use that will double or triple and how many like coupons you can use.

For instance, at Farm Fresh, my local grocery store, I can double coupons up to $1.00 on Wednesdays but not to exceed twenty coupons that will double. Also, I can only have two like coupons. That right there puts a very big question mark on the validity of the Extreme Couponing Show. Many of their couponers will buy hundreds of the same product with a coupon for each one. Again, most stores have a policy of only two or three like coupons.

I have come to believe that although the Extreme Couponing show is interesting and it did get me into couponing, it really sets people up to fail. I have found so many people that started couponing and are saving 50% off their grocery bill each visit upset because they are not in the 90% range as shown on TV. In my opinion, if you are saving anything, it's a blessing! I generally save in between 30% to 70% each trip. Sure, I would rather see the higher percentage than a low one, but any savings is helpful! My biggest advice for anyone who is new to couponing or discouraged is to be proud of yourself no matter what the percentage is on your receipt. You're working hard to provide extra savings for your family and that's a win! You will get better the longer you coupon so let it be something you enjoy!

My most recent trip to Farm Fresh on June 8th, I was able to do pretty well. I had 19 doubling coupons and 1 $5 off coupon just for signing up for the Farm Fresh email newsletter. I also utilized the $5 off promotion if I purchased an assortment of any ten products they had on sale.

Here's the breakdown of what I got during my first Farm Fresh trip:

2 boxes of Cheerios
2 boxes of Reeces Puffs
2 boxes of Fruit Roll Ups
1 box of Fruit by the Foot
2 boxes of Duncan Hines cake mix
2 cans of Duncan Hines frosting
2 Duncan Hines brownie mixes (free)
2 tubes of Crest toothpaste
6 boxes of Hamburger Helper
4 bags of Quaker Rice Cakes
1 bottle of Garnier Fructis Shampoo
4 bottles of Kens Salad Dressing
2 bottles of Kikkoman Soy Sauce
2 bottles of KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce (free)
2 boxes of Ronzoni Pasta (if my store allowed overage this would have been .31 credit per box)

My total before coupons was $67.36. After my coupons, I paid only $23.38 out of pocket. My savings were $43.98 which is a 66% savings. I ended up going back later that day since I had a surplus of coupons for items on sale so by the end of the day my total savings for everything I bought that day came out to be $201.99 before coupons and I finished the day spending only $97.85 which saved me $104.14.

It's not the 90% that you see on television, but for me it's a success! I'd love to hear how you guys are doing couponing and what your tricks of the trade are! Feel free to share your experiences!

Happy Couponing!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Find Your Staycation!

As a follow-up to The Era of Staycations, here is a list of other bloggers across the country that participated in this year's Staycation challenge. Be sure to check for your area and see what great ideas we have come up with! If your area wasn't covered, no worries--the challenge is up to you! You might be surprised at how many amazing and affordable adventures you can find in your city! Be sure to check back with us and let us know what great staycation ideas you come up with!

Happy Travels!

New England

Connecticut - Parenting Miracles
Boston, Massachusetts - ‎ Maven of Savin'
Manchester, New Hampshire - Common Sense with Money
Western Maine - Bubblegum and Lollipops


Erie, Pennsylvania - Growing Kids Ministry
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania - Somewhat Crunchy
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - Family Balance Sheet
Buffalo/Niagara Falls, New York - Coupons, Deals and More
New Jersey - Oh! Diane


Cedar Rapids, Iowa - Indoor Garden Musings
Mansfield, Ohio - Live the Adventure
Cincinnati, Ohio - Savings Lifestyle~Cincinnati
Mount Vernon, Ohio - Living Better One Day at a Time
Dayton, Ohio - Savings Lifestyle~Dayton
Grand Rapids, Michigan - Kitchen Stewardship
Metro Detroit, Michigan - "Cents"able Momma
Oakland County, Michigan - Bargain Shopper Mom
Warren, Michigan - Saving Dollars and Sense
Grand Forks, North Dakota - Frugal Front Porch
Indianapolis, Indiana - Bargain Briana
South Bend, Indiana - Excuse The Mess
Kansas City, Kansas/Missouri - Kansas City Mamas
St. Louis, Missouri - The Pickledpigsfeet
Branson, Missouri - Getting Freedom from Debt
Springfield, Missouri - I Think I Can
Rochester, Minnesota - Everyday Notions
York, Nebraska - Heavenly Homemakers
Omaha, Nebraska - Mom Endeavors
Madison, Wisconsin - Many Little Blessings
Oshkosh, Wisconsin - A Little Bit of This and That
Chicago, Illinois - Chicagoland Homeschool Network
Champaign, Illinois - Chambanamoms
Black Hills, South Dakota - Little House on the Prairie Living

South Central

Checotah, Oklahoma - Blessed With One Income
Tulsa, Oklahoma - Lynn's Kitchen Adventures
Gadsden, Alabama - Aint Mimi
Dallas, Texas - Funky Faith Girl
Dallas, Texas - Grocery Shop For FREE
East Dallas, Texas - Surviving The Stores
Fort Worth, Texas - Smockity Frocks
Austin, Texas - Stetted
Houston, Texas - Moms Travel Tales
McKinney, Texas - Wisdom Begun
East Texas - The Full Pantry
Murfreesboro, Tennessee - Life in a Barn
Nashville, Tennessee - The Country Chic Cottage
Mobile, Alabama - A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned
Birmingham, Alabama - iGoBOGO
Brunswick & the Golden Isles, Georgia - Teri Lynne Underwood
Alpharetta, Georgia - Cuponeando
Atlanta, Georgia - See Jamie Blog
Augusta, Georgia - Hyperactive Lu
Athens, Georgia and Mississippi - Tractors and Tire Swings
Little Rock, Arkansas - It's Real Life

South Atlantic

Ft. Bragg, North Carolina - Military Wives Saving
Charlotte, North Carolina - The Carolina Clipper
Charleston, South Carolina - The Tween & Me
Greensboro, North Carolina - Mrs. Happy Homemaker
Jacksonville, Florida - Saving The Family Money
Orlando, Florida - Orlando's Best Deals
Virginia Beach, Virginia - The Singley Fam Blog
Richmond, Virginia - Daily Dwelling
Hampton Roads, Virginia - A Home Made by Kiki
Charlottesville, Virginia - How to Have it All
Blackwater Falls State Park/Davis, West Virginia - Holy Spirit Led Homeschooling
Treasure Coast, Florida - The Cardamom's Pod
Saint Augustine, Florida - Jypsie Visions
Lake Norman, North Carolina - Stretching Pennies Saving Dollars
Washington, DC - The WiC Project
Baltimore, Maryland - The Happy Housewife
Brunswick & Golden Isles, Georgia - Terri Lynne Underwood


Tucson, Arizona - Saving with Pam
Phoenix, Arizona- Mom Endeavors
Albuquerque, New Mexico - The Chou Life
Kalispell, Montana - Our Family Adventures
Salt Lake City, Utah - Just the 2 of Us
Thermopolis, Wyoming - The McDonald Family
Denver, Colorado - Denver Bargains
Colorado Springs, Colorado - Colorado Springs Bargains


San Diego, California - Life As Mom
Yosemite National Park, California -Handbook of Nature Study
Seattle, Washington - Queen Bee Coupons & Savings
Whidbey Island, Washington - Manning the Homefront
Olympia, Washington The Coupon Savant
Portland, Oregon - Frugal Living NW
Willamette Valley, Oregon - An Oregon Cottage

Frugal Vacation Tips

Vacation or Stay-cation: Eating without Busting the Budget - Eat at Home

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Staycation Era

Summer is only about a month away and you know what that means---Vacation Time!!! To children, this is just another wonderful perk of being off school and getting to travel and see new places. For parents however, this can be a pretty stressful time. With today's economy, many parents are having to adjust to living on a budget and some families are facing unemployment.The last thing on many families minds is trying to plan out a vacation. Taking a vacation requires alot of work after all right? There is finding a travel agent and going over the many pricey, although fun options they offer and booking everything in time. Maybe you're the more super organized type and have researched, planned, and made all the preparations yourself for a fun filled and memorable vacation that still will ultimately be costly.

If the current economy crisis has taught us anything, it's that we as parents have to be thrifty, and the best way to be thrifty is to get creative! Savvy families all over the country are entering the Era of Staycations! Staycations are mini vacations in or close to the area you live. Many cities have plenty of attractions that are free or inexpensive and center around family fun. One of the bonuses of staycations is generally you can enjoy visiting more attractions than you would on a typical vacation since your budget isn't largely consumed with hotel and food costs.

To give you a better idea of how you can make staycations work for you, I'm going to give you an overview of a possible staycation for my family. We live in Suffolk, Virginia which is about 30-40 minutes away from Virginia Beach. Virginia Beach is a definite tourist attraction during the summer and the hotels along the boardwalk are filled with families on vacation. We'll eliminate hotel costs completely since we are so close so that frees up a large portion of our staycation budget.

Virginia Beach is best known for their popular boardwalk and fourteen mile long public beaches. Tourists flock to these beaches every summer to soak up the sun, fish, or maybe just take a stroll or a bike ride down the boardwalk. The boardwalk is lined with hotels, restaurants, beach shops, and night clubs. There is definitely something to cater to everyone's needs!

If the beaches aren't your thing there is a wealth of historic points of interest. History buffs will enjoy checking out the Adam Thoroughgood House, The Lynnhaven House, Ferry Plantation House, and Francis Land House. Each of these historic homes have very reasonable admission rates that range from $4 for adults and $2 for children/students. Another great option is the Virginia Legends Walk. The Virginia Legends Walk is located directly across from the 13th Street Park and honors Virginians that have made contributions to our country. Some famous honored Virginians include Patsy Cline, Pocahontas, Edgar Allen Poe, Thomas Jefferson, and Ella Fitzgerald. Admission is free, and this will certainly be a great experience diving into Virginia's rich history!

Virginia Beach also boasts many wonderful museums that range from art, military history, and bird watching. The Contemporary Art Center of Virginia not only offers regularly changing exhibits but also studio art classes as well. Whether it is glass, photography, sculpture, or painting you'll be sure to find something to satisfy the creative artist in you! Admission is affordably priced at $7 for adults and $3 for children.

For those interested in military history, be sure to check out the Military Aviation Museum and the Old Coast Guard Station. These are sure to be a big hit especially with the boys in your family and a great opportunity to step back in history! The Military Aviation Museum offers the largest collection of World War II and Korean War aircraft. Admission is only $10 for adults, $5 for children, and preschool aged children are free! The Old Coast Guard Station is located right on the oceanfront if you want a break from the surf and sun. Here you can learn about the Coast Guards life saving history as well as several shipwrecks that occurred off the Virginia Beach coast. Admission is $4 for adults and $2 for children.

For the nature lover, Virginia Beach offers a wide variety of parks and outdoor activities. Whether you're interested in hiking, bird watching, fishing, or even just taking a leisurely stroll and getting back to nature, Virginia Beach has parks to fill every need. First Landing State Park is by far one of the best stops in Virginia Beach. First Landing State Park sits on roughly 2,800 acres of hiking and biking trails, picnic areas, swimming, and even campgrounds! Their campground area offers water/electric hookup for your tent or rv, but if you're anything like me and enjoy the camping experience without being too close to nature, they also rent out cabins! Other great parks that offer plenty of wildlife and trail opportunities are Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park. Whichever park you decide to visit, you'll be sure to have a wonderful time immersing yourself in Virginia's natural beauty!

A great stop that your children will be sure to appreciate is the Virginia Beach Amusement Park. Admission is free and tickets for the rides are very reasonable priced ranging from .70 to $1. The amusement park is conveniently located right off the boardwalk and is a great way to take a break from the sand and sea! Another great option the whole family is sure to love is Ocean Breeze Water Park. They have everything you could possibly desire in a water park from wave pools, to kiddie sections, water slides and everything in between! Tickets can be a little pricey ranging from $21 to $28 a piece but if you live local you may find that a season pass is a great investment and will be sure to keep your children occupied all summer long!

Virginia Beach also hosts a number of festivals and cultural events throughout the year. Past festivals have included the Latin Festival, Blues at the Beach, Panorama Caribbean Music Fest, Festa Italiana, and plenty more!

Virginia Beach is a excellent location for a staycation since it has many options that will be sure to please even the pickiest member of your family! Staycations are becoming increasingly popular with families who still want the vacation experience without the vacation price. And if you're worried your children will be disappointed that you didn't travel for vacation, you can rest assured that they will still have a fantastic time! Many children tend to get restless and bored during the actual 'travel' of vacations so by the time they get to the destination they are more likely to be burnt out and exhausted. Staycations have significantly less travel time so everyone is sure to arrive rested and ready to enjoy spending time together as a family.

If you are looking for a great way to enjoy 'getting away' this year without breaking the bank, I encourage you to look into creating a staycation for your family in your local area. You'd be surprised at all the great opportunities that you can find with just a small amount of research. Chances are you'll discover hidden adventures that you weren't aware of in your area and create memories that will be sure to last a lifetime!

Happy Travels!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Ultimate Sacrifice

The Easter Season has arrived and for many that involves Easter egg hunts and baskets, cooking the perfect meal for family, photos with the Easter bunny, or somehow managing to get each member of your family impeccably dressed and keeping them that way long enough for church or other activities. Easter can be a fun season, but we need to stop and remember what Easter is really about.

Today is Good Friday. For many years, Good Friday didn't mean much of anything to me. I knew what it was about, but to me it was just some story in some ancient book that had no relevance to my life today. Thankfully, Jesus is ever patient and He never stopped calling me, even when I chose to ignore Him and live my life the way I pleased. He led me to the church I'm currently at even when in the beginning I had every intent of just going to make new friends. Around the time we first started going, our Pastor had a 21 day Bible reading challenge. I thought I would give this a shot, I mean it couldn't hurt right?

Let me tell you that my life was changed in those 21 days. I found myself looking forward to reading and learning more about the things Jesus had done for me and others. Jesus took my small step of reading a chapter or two a night and turned it into a need for Him, a desire to put Him first, and ultimately my choice in giving my life to Him for His purpose whatever that may be. I am so incredibly grateful that God is patient and kind and loves me so much.

So this year as I reflect on Good Friday, I think about the sacrifice that He made for me. God gave his only Son to take my place and die for me on a cross. He did this for me, before I was even a thought. He did this knowing that I would reject Him and everything He stood for. He died for me when I didn't love Him. This is what I call Great Love.

As parents, could you imagine giving away your only child to be beaten, tortured and murdered to save someone else? I know I could not do that. But that is what God did for us. There are no words to even begin to thank God for what He has done for us. All I can do is keep drawing to Him, keep reading His Word and learning to be obedient to Him, and sharing His love with others.

Please know that if you are reading this, it is never to late. No matter what you may have done or where you are in your life right now, He is waiting for you. He has great love for you, love that is far deeper than any other love you will ever know. Take time to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice He made for us. I challenge anyone who reads this and doesn't have a relationship with Jesus to make one small step towards Him today. I promise you, He WILL meet you where you are in your life. It can be committing to reading a chapter a night, going to church, even just saying a prayer to Him. In 1st John 1:9 it says,"But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away."

1st Peter 2:24 "Christ carried the burden of our sins. He was nailed to a cross, so that we would stop sinning and start living right. By his cuts and bruises you are healed."

Remember that Jesus promises will never fail and if you take that step toward Him, you will never regret it. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with me. I'd be more that happy to help answer anything I can, and if I don't know the answer, I'll find out or put you in touch with someone that does.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Extreme Couponing: When Saving Money Goes Too Far

Great article on the new show Extreme Couponing. I was going to write a blog on this, but this article really sums it up pretty well so I thought I would share it instead. What are your thoughts on this? When is the line drawn from saving money to an addiction? Please click on the link below to check out the story and then let me know how you feel!

Extreme Couponing: When Saving Money Goes Too Far

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Infrared Photography - Life Near the Water

My Dad is a very talented author and photographer. He recently sent me an email of a video montage that he made from some of his photographs. He is really talented and I wanted to share it with anyone who happens to come by my blog. Be sure to check out his website when your done!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Welcome 2011!!!!

The holidays have past. Thanksgiving is just a distant memory and Christmas which was so anticipated and planned for is done. The tree and decorations are put away, the presents that your children 'had to have' are stuffed in a toy box somewhere and to your chagrin announce they are bored. The celebration of New Year's is done and it's back to work.

Many people find that January is a bit of a let down after all the celebration and festivities of the holidays. I have to admit, I used to be one of them. Instead of looking at January as a month that you just have to get through to get to the next holiday and festivity, embrace it! A New Year is all about change and having a new beginning!

Maybe 2010 was a rough year for you. Many families across the country were unemployed and just barely making it. Maybe it was a hard year emotionally. You might have had a great year and wish you could do it all over again. Whatever the case may be, remember that the New Year brings a fresh start, a chance to make things better and accomplish anything you set you mind to.

So as you sit down and make your New Year's resolutions this year, don't just go through the motions because it's tradition. Make a resolution for YOURSELF! Challenge yourself to be free of negative thoughts or anything that will pull you down. Surround yourself with people who will uplift you and not drag you down. It's a New Year, a new beginning. What are you doing for yourself this year?