I've been hanging out in random parking lots with makeshift beds in my car, half a week's worth of groceries and luggage strewn from the front seat to the trunk. No, I am not homeless. I'm just a mom who's kids suddenly lead active afterschool lives. And I'm trying to plan ahead, eliminate extra trips around town, and not spend the last of our savings on gas station snacks and overpriced water bottles. I know, I know, I've said it a million times, "Why don't they have drive-through everythings?" And I still believe in that motto....I just don't want to pay for it these days. Instead, I'm packing up piles of tupperware with leftovers and lugging coolers of snacks from place to place. Anyone hungry for a slab of enchilada? Call it an epiphany, call it confession, but I have some serious issues with overusing those handy little plastic rectangles I have bulging in my wallet! John came home the other day and asked me to set a savings goal. "Are you planning on quitting your job?!" I mused. He snickered. I took the bait, just the same, and did a little research. The idea of a well padded savings account gave me a sudden sense of calm, like a good massage, no rainy day could rock my world if I had already saved for it, right? And just like that, I was off on a new mission to "Save and Protect" my sanity and that of my family's. I discovered that my bank offers a Personal Finance Manager on their website and boy does it expose some unholy truths about my spending habits. Don't tell John, but I couldn't believe how often I swiped, charged and debited our account for little things like a trip to the icecream store for an afterschool snack (every day for a whole week in a row!?), an extra spin around Rite Aid for all sorts of fun creams and soaps and new French Manicure polish (totalling $94.67). Not only was I going to make my kiddos fatter than Santa with all that icecream, but our bank account was looking pretty anorexic. So, that's how I found myself in a parking lot living like a homeless person with my kids in our car. No more quick trips to Target to skim the Clearance Aisles, or Costco hotdogs, no more daily Jamba Juice. Nope, we are exercising our right to public property and "spend-safe" parking lots where Mommy can't use her credit cards. The girls think our new "camp" is fantastic. When do we ever get to hang out with the trunk open, curl up together with blankets and pillows and read books, eat snacks and watch movies? Yeah, we look homeless and to be honest, we kind of are during our school days in another town a little too far from home. But, I'm padding the bank account this way, I'm earning my worth as a spend thrift mommy who's actually spending more face time with her kids and less time pushing them in a shopping cart. Tune in next week for my top 10 NEW tips on saving money! And feel free to chime in with any thrift worthy tricks you have, too.