November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for you!

Happy-Thanksgiving-Queen-Bee

My sweet friends, Happy Thanksgiving. I hope today is a stress-free day of thanks. I’m so thankful for you!

May you be blessed today and always.

Just for fun – want to leave a comment and tell me something you’re thankful for? 

December 29, 2016

Top 10 reasons why people take dietary supplements #LifeSupplemented #ad

life-supplemented
This is a sponsored post on behalf of Mom It Forward Media and the Council for Responsible Nutrition. All content and opinions are my own.

Do you take a dietary supplement on a regular basis – like a multivitamin or a supplement for a specific vitamin? If you do – you’re not alone!

According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) more than 170 million Americans take dietary supplements – that’s about 71% off American adults. According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition the five most popular supplements are the multivitamin, vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium and vitamin B/B complex.

Living in the Northwest where the sun is a bit more elusive than other areas in the country – our doctor recommends a multivitamin for us and our kids – to help out especially with Vitamin D levels. And every time we start to feel a cold coming on we usually grab our Vitamin C supplements to help our immune system. Perhaps you can relate?

According to a recent study done by the CRN, the top ten reasons for why people take supplements are :

  • Overall health/wellness benefits
  • Energy
  • To fill in nutrient gaps in my diet
  • Immune health
  • Bone health
  • Heart Health
  • Healthy Aging
  • Skin, hair and nails
  • Digestive/gastrointestinal health
  • Joint health

Do you take a supplement for one of these reasons? Since there is no such thing as a perfect diet (and since we can’t control environmental factors like a lack of sunshine!) – dietary supplements can help fill nutritional gaps and promote overall health and wellness. When combined with a healthy diet they can work together to make sure we’re giving our bodies what they need to be healthy.

There are countless options for dietary supplements – many available at your local grocery store or vitamin shop. But before selection a supplement – it’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor or health care practitioner to find out what dietary supplements are right for  you.

For more information about health supplements and overall wellness, visit Council for Responsible Nutrition. You can also find them on Facebook here or Twitter over here.

What are your favorite supplements or multivitamins? Do you have a favorite brand? Leave a comment and let me know – I’d love to hear!

Sponsored post – This post is sponsored by Mom It Forward Media and the Council for Responsible Nutrition. All content and opinions are my own.

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December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas from my family to yours. . .

clarke-family-merry-christmas

I’m stepping away from the bright computer screen to soak in the bright lights of the Season with my sweet babies and family. With my kids being nine (9) and six (6) years old, these are the holiday memories I want to freeze in time.

Tonight we celebrate with family. We eat too much. We love and laugh a little more. We have the privilege of singing Happy Birthday to Jesus and remembering the reason for the Season. We soak in the smiles from the kids – who believe in the good and magic of the season with the youthful innocence that seems so rare these days.

I’ll be back tomorrow, December 26. But will be posting minimally until the New Year. Because I want to soak this in, my friends. Because the best things in life are free – but not from any coupon or sale. They are these blessings we have around us – the people, the memories, the love.

Hoping you’re surrounded by love. Hope you’re soaking in the Season. Hope you’re surrounded by hope and light and love.

Merry Christmas. May all BEE Merry and Bright with you.

April 15, 2016

Changes to grocery match-ups and posts – QFC, Fred Meyer, Safeway, Target

Store-match-ups

Some of you may have noticed we have made some changes to our grocery match-ups. Specifically we have removed QFC coverage and unadvertised deals for Fred Meyer, Safeway and Target.

I’m going to be completely honest and transparent with you – and explain why this had to happen.

Couponing has changed so much since I started this site in October 2009. . . for a long time couponing was a popular trend and people were saving some serious cash by printing coupons and matching them up with sales. We were all getting multiple Sunday papers and the coupons inside provided REAL VALUE for savings – we were saving so much every time we hit the grocery store.

Then Extreme Couponing came around and excessive abuse of the couponing “system” caused manufacturers to rethink coupons as a marketing tool. Coupon values dropped, the fine print increased, store coupon policies became stricter, store promotions decreased and the couponing community found ourselves really struggling to save with coupons in late 2014 and 2015.

As couponing got harder and less worthwhile people dropped off the couponing bandwagon – the savings didn’t justify all the effort we were putting in. I saw a strong trend in my traffic – with less interest in grocery match-ups and more people wanting online sales – an easy way to save BIG with minimal effort.

I’m so good at finding online deals that I was drawn to posting these more as well – I enjoy them!  Traffic swelled every time I posted an Amazon deal – and people raved about the savings they were getting from shopping online.  But I knew I still had a loyal following of Northwest grocery store couponers who wanted that local coverage – so I continued to provide it.

For a LONG time the commission I earned from the online deals FUNDED the unadvertised grocery deals that I was paying to provide. I had an amazing team of ladies who went into the stores every week at QFC, Target, Fred Meyer and Safeway and I paid them well for finding those deals. I believe we had the BEST unadvertised deals for Northwest stores.

Amazon-logo-small

But then in 2015 I had some MAJOR changes happen. . . .

Amazon dropped my commission rates in February 2015. Like big time. I haven’t talked about this but while most Amazon affiliates make 8.5% on a sale, they dropped my commission rates to 1-3% on an Amazon sale. That means if I post a deal for a $10 item, I was now making 10 cents per sale instead of the previous 85 cents. They did this because they said I wasn’t profitable. I was posting too many “good” deals. If I wanted my commission rates restored back to normal rates, I’d have to post more full-price items (not deals) to offset the savings I was delivering to my readers. I couldn’t in good conscience do this and my rates have stayed at this lower rate for the last 15 months. I still post Amazon deals because I know how much my readers love them, but this drop in commission has been a major game changer for me.

My traffic became more national. Because I was posting so many online deals – my readership went from being very Northwest-based to nationwide. Readers from Florida to New York to California were coming to my site, not for grocery deals, but because I was finding the best online deals. The demand for Northwest grocery content dropped substantially and my traffic on these posts did as well.

People stopped printing coupons. A big part of my revenue used to be from printable coupons. But people seem to be printing fewer and fewer coupons every month. And companies like Coupons.com are paying pennies per print (it used to be more like 10-15 cents!). This also caused a major drop in revenue.

Facebook decreased my reach. The final blow was in November 2015 when Facebook dropped my reach. With 188,000 Facebook “likes” I could post an online deal and reach thousands. So even though I was earning a 1% on the sale, I was still earning enough to cover the costs of the unadvertised grocery deals. But in November when Facebook dropped my reach to 1,000 – 2,000 people . . . my traffic dropped considerably and so did my affiliate sales. . . . which means my INCOME dropped significantly.

I had to make a choice. The income I earn from the blog is our ONLY family income. And the unadvertised Northwest grocery match-ups were costing a lot – money I wasn’t earning from coupon prints or affiliate sales. My ole “business model” of using affiliate sales to cover the cost of grocery deals (which don’t bring in revenue) wasn’t working anymore. Many of the last months I couldn’t even break even, let alone provide a sustainable income for my family. I know I have a small group of loyal readers who LOVE those match-ups and I used money from savings to supplement them, hoping something would change. But it didn’t and I had to make the difficult choice to drop them. 🙁 I hope you understand why I can’t provide them at this time.

I’m not complaining. These trends have happened to nearly ALL “coupon bloggers” nationwide and I’ve been so blessed that I’ve been able to make a living from this blog as long as I have. Other bloggers haven’t been so lucky and have had to completely shut their sites down. But I wanted to be completely transparent with you – so you know there are lots of factors involved in my decision to remove the unadvertised deal coverage.

We still have Northwest grocery store coverage!  Every store but QFC will still be covered with our full coupon and ad match-ups. The VERY BEST deals are starred already for you – so this is essentially the highlights post that we were hand-typing and publishing before. Previously we had physically typed out the BEST deals (which cost money) but they are still there, just look for the starred deals in the match-ups ::

Plus we have weekly match-ups for these stores :

smores-Airstream

I know some of you think I’ve “checked out: since I started traveling. I get comments about how my content isn’t as good now that I’m living in an Airstream and traveling with my family. You are 100% right. Before we made the leap to traveling I used to work 60-80 hours a week and I was a ball of stress. I worried every minute about the status of my site – if it hadn’t been updated in the last hour I seriously would WORRY that I was losing readers and I wasn’t doing my best. I was a workaholic, I really was. While my blog was spot on and over-the-top-awesome for the first 5-6 years that I was blogging, my personal life, family and my well-being suffered. I was pouring my heart and soul into a website instead of my family and my kids. They suffered, I suffered. I needed balance and I needed to work less. That’s why traveling has been such a blessing for me – it has forced me to seek balance and invest more in my family. Although I wish my site could be as awesome as it was before I traveled – I know I can’t do it all – and so my focus right now is to take a balanced approach with both family and work.

Queen Bee Coupons is still a priority for me. I love helping people save money, I love sharing our lives with you, I love finding online deals and I love YOU – the community that we have built here. This website is not only my passion but it’s my livelihood and I am COMMITTED to delivering real deals and content that I believe are truthful, helpful and genuine. That has never changed and even if companies like Amazon cut my commissions because I’m not posting full-priced “deals”  – I’ll always put the needs of my readers first and follow my heart when creating content.

Moving FORWARD I have BIG PLANS for this site, my friends. We are going to be changing things up this summer and I’m working fervently on bringing this to fruition. My goal is still to save you money but it will also focus on a more well-rounded lifestyle. I’m working on a way to better deliver online deals (simplify things) but still also write more about downsizing, meal planning, traveling and things that make me HAPPY. Because life is more than busting our butts to save 10% on your grocery bill – it’s about the big picture of a happy life and I’m seeing that now more than ever.

Please stick with me. The next couple months I’ll be working on creating a platform that I believe serves us all better. We’ve come a long way together and I see great things for this community moving forward.

Thank you for reading this lengthy post. I welcome your feedback and thoughts about site content and what you’d like to see in the future. 

December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas! Blessings to you and your family

Merry-Christmas-from-the-Florida-keys

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas! 

I hope that you are having a wonderful Christmas. We are sending our love from the Florida Keys where we are spending the holidays. Last night Santa came through our state park on a fire truck singing Christmas carols and tossing out candy canes. The kids were so excited.

The kids woke up to find that Santa did, in fact, find us on the road and we’ve spent a quiet day on the beach, playing together and soaking up our quality time together.

I hope you have the opportunity to spend quality time with those you hold dear. . .
Full of love, your family traditions and holiday cheer.

Merry Christmas. May all BEE Merry and Bright with you.

June 8, 2015

Welcome News Tribune, Olympian, Columbian, Bellingham Herald readers!

Airstream-Family-Travel-Olympianphoto credit: Tony Overman

If you missed my June 1 announcement – we are planning to move into a 30-foot Airstream trailer and travel the country for a year. We leave in a week! Read the announcement here.

If you read about our journey in the Tacoma News Tribune – Lacey-area family of four hits the road with Airstream and a dream (also included the Olympian, Columbian, Bellingham Herald papers) – WELCOME! 

So fun to share our story – I hope it inspires other families to go after their dreams. If you want to follow along with us during our journey, I’ll be blogging extensively along the way over at TakeThatExit.comI’ll be sharing things like campground reviews, national parks we visit, homeschooling tips, budgeting on the road and all the ups and downs that come with the journey.

Here are a few other ways you can follow our journey:

I’ve already been posting over at TakeThatExit.com and if you want to learn more, here are some good posts to read:

June 1, 2015

Ditching mainstream for an Airstream – our quest to simplify

Family-map-photo-2015-550We’ll be bumping this post up throughout the day, if you’re already read it, scroll down for the latest deals!

Dear, sweet, friends. I’m so excited to tell you about this big change in our lives. You are my people, my community and I’ve been bursting to tell you . . .

In just a couple weeks my family and I will say goodbye to our traditional home and move into a 180-ish square foot Airstream trailer. Not just for a weekend camping trip – but for a year. And we’ll take that shiny, tiny home all around this beautiful country.

Airstream-home-May-2015-550

That’s right. We’re ditching mainstream. . .for an adventure in an Airstream.

I know this sounds crazy. Let me explain. . . .

[Read more…]

May 26, 2015

United Roofing Solutions (Olympia) – Replacing the roof on our house

Roof-BEFORE_replacement

The past few months we’ve been preparing to sell our house. Last month, our realtor, Eric Hjelm (who I adore and wholeheartedly recommend), suggested we have a few roof companies come out and look over our roof. Although we didn’t have any leaks, our roof was looking worn and I thought a good scrub and repair would get it ready for the next owners.

I had four local roofing companies come out and every company recommended it be replaced. It was nearing the end of it’s 30-year-life and all of them said the same thing, that they couldn’t issue a 5-year certification for the roof (which is generally what buyers want on a roof when they buy a house).

We were faced with the choice to replace it or wait until the house sold and negotiate with the buyer a price reduction for a roof replacement.

I opted to replace the roof before listing the house for sale – and I chose this for a couple reasons:

  1. Curb appeal – The way our house is built, the roof is a focal point. It’s VERY visible and a huge part of how our house presents itself. Replace the roof before listing would really improve the way she looks from the road. Curb appeal would hopefully help sell the house faster, which was our goal.
  2. It was on MY terms – If we didn’t replace the roof we would have had to negotiate with the buyer about the cost of a new roof. Even if we listed the house for a lower price because of the roof, I didn’t want the buyer to come back and ask for more to replace the roof. By replacing the roof before listing, I was able to shop around for the best price and best company – then price the house with full confidence that we wouldn’t have to negotiate any roof repairs.

I contacted four local roofing companies and one easily stood out from the rest – United Roofing Solutions (Olympia). I was instantly impressed when I called United Roofing Solutions and Jenn answered the phone. She was so friendly, helpful and I found out later – that the company is owned by her and her husband, Derrick!

[Read more…]

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