5 Easy Tips to Save Money Right Now

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We are way into summer and some of you are probably getting ready to start school soon. It’s amazing how fast memories of laughter, lazy days and margarita lunches fade. As I cleaned out my wallet the other day and realized it was empty, I decided it would be a good time to attack the financial health of our home. This is something I’ve been avoiding. I pay the bills each month but don’t really have my arms around our financial health. This is such an overwhelming project to me so I am going to break it down and start small…where can I save some money.

Chances are if you have children, you are always trying to figure out a way to save money and cut costs. I don’t remember anyone ever telling me how expensive these little monkeys were going to be EVERYDAY.   I bet I save $30 if I don’t take them to Target with me!  Here are a few quick and easy ways to cut costs right now.

  1. Make a list of any subscriptions and memberships you have. Cancel what you are not using. My list is at 35 and counting. I am sure there is something I am forgetting. To date, I will save over $500 a year. I had an old email address was costing me over $250 a year.
  1. Call your cable company. They don’t advertise this but they change promotions every 6-12 months. You have to put it on your calendar and remember to call. I just called mine and reduced my bill by almost $35 a month…a savings of almost $420 a year.
  1. Clear the clutter! Sell your stuff on ebay, craig’s list, nextdoor, let go. I am sure you have lots of stuff around the house that you are not using. LET IT GO! Not only will you have some extra cash and you will feel lighter! So far this year I’ve made over $1,000 and I have a lot more stuff the sell.
  1. Shop your auto insurance. I have to be honest. This is one that I’ve been putting off but I am going to tackle it this month.
  1. Acorns! I love Acorns. It’s an app on my phone that I have set up to save $5.00 a week. You can also do round ups if you link your credit cards if you want to save a little more. It’s amazing how all the little bits really add up when you don’t pay attention to them. I set it and forget about it and now I have $536.77. That’s not too shabby.

If you found these tips helpful or can share some other money saving tips, please leave a comment!

The Ultimate Guide to Summer Road Trip Packing

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This is not our first rodeo. In 3 days (yikes) we are hitting the open road on our fourth summer road trip. After years of working out the details of what to pack, I’d like to share it with you. It may seem like a long list but that is the beauty of a road trip…you can bring more stuff! We like to be prepared and we like to have fun.  Plan to do laundry so you don’t overpack.  I usually do laundry every 3 or 4 days depending on where we are staying.  It’s not like doing laundry at home.  After all the time together, It’s actually a nice little escape to the hotel laundry room.

We each back our clothes in individual bags or suitcases. The rest of the items on this list go in laundry baskets, milk crates or duffel bags. Remember that your list may be different from our list. Every year we make changes to the list and how we pack the van.  One year we went to Yellowstone National Park. I read that you need to be very aware of grizzly bears. So on the list that year was bear spray. You can get it on Amazon. And yes, I carried it on every walk in Yellowstone but never needed it. In the section labeled Fun Stuff, this is what our family finds fun. Think about what you and your kids like to do and that’s what you should pack. You get the idea, tailor the list to your likes and your destination.

 

Clothes

Each person packs his or her own bag. The kids lay it out on their bed for final approval

___6-7 pairs of underwear/bras

___6-7 pairs of socks

___5-6 t-shirts or tank tops

___3 shorts

___1 jeans

___1 yoga pants or sweatpants

___2 bathing suits

___2 pairs of pajama

___1 pair of running/athletic/hiking shoes

___1 pair of water shoes

___1 flip-flops

___1 nice sandal if you want

___1 sweatshirt

___1 jacket

___1-2 “Nice outfit” sundress with light sweater for girls or shorts and collared shirt for         boys

___2-3 Exercise outfits (Ha! Just in case)

___Sunglasses

___Hat

___Belt (if needed)

___Eva’s volleyball bag packed with all her uniforms, shoes and knee pads (we hit a                 volleyball tournament during our road trip, go Tstreet!)

Toiletries

Each person packs their own.  I double check the kids items before it goes into the suitcase.

___Toothbrush

___Toothpaste

___Dental Floss

___Lip Balm

___Moisturizer

___Hair Brush

___Shampoo and Conditioner (Mom packs big bottles for family for the trip)

___Face wash stuff

___Razor and extra blades

___Shaving Cream

___Deodorant

___Hair Gel

___Soap

Food

This is what I like to start trip with and we replenish along the way. We usually make sandwiches out of the cooler during the trip and sometimes breakfast and then we will go out for dinner.

___1 case of water

___1 case of special drink (Gatorade, IZZI, etc.)

___Fresh Fruit (washed and ready to eat in plastic storage containers in cooler)

___Fresh Veggies (cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, snap peas, yellow peppers washed and ready to eat in plastic storage containers in cooler.)

___Sandwich makings (cold cuts, condiments, bread)

___Healthy Snacks

___16 bottles of wine (This number varies based on how many days we are on the road and how much fun we are having.)

___Tiger’s Food (18 individual baggies)

___Tiger’s food and water bowls

___Peanut butter and Jelly

Car Supplies (accessible)

___Maps, travel books and hotel confirmations (I like to print these because sometime on the road you end up someplace with without internet.)

___Tiger’s leash

___Tiger’s poop bags

___Snuggle Blanket for each child

___Giant Cooler

___ Cooler to fill with wine

___Tiger’s kennel

___Trash bags

___Wet wipes

___2 Rolls of paper towels

___1 box of Tissues

___1 Box of Large ziploc bags

___1 box of sandwich size ziploc bags

___1 large plastic cutting board (I use this to make sandwiches in the car)

___box of plastic silverware

___paper plates

___ziploc Tupperware containers

Other

___AAA & AA batteries

___Wine bottle opener (very important to be easily accessible for the first night’s stop)

___Two wine glasses/ or package of plastic glasses/cups

___Flashlights

___Emergency Road Side Kit

___Tiger’s vet records (In case we board him one night)

___Laundry detergent (I like the pods)

___Stain remover

___Laundry bag for dirty clothes

___Rolls of quarters (this is for the laundry)

___Lysol Disinfecting Wipes

___First Aid Kit

___Sunscreen

___Bug Spray

___5 Beach Towels

___Small table (the one from Costco)

Electronics

___GoPro

___Selfie stick

___Tripod (We never would’ve gotten that photo in front of Devil’s Tower without it.

___iphone and iPad chargers

___DVD’s (kids choose and pack)

___Camera, lens, and chargers and extra memory cards if needed

___Computer & Charging cord

Fun Stuff

___Fishing gear

___Volleyball

___Soccer ball

___Frisbees for Frisbee Golf

___Cards (and book on card games)

___Scrabble

___Liars Dice

___Baseball gloves and baseball

___Golf Clubs for Rob and Bob

___Football

Personal Backpack

This is basically your carry on bag. Each person packs the things they may need in the car in their  personal backpack that stays within their reach in the car.   This includes all personal electronic devices, book, notebook, headphones, small toys, ect. This bag also includes a bathing suit and a change of clothes. Sometimes we pull into a hotel just to sleep and we don’t want to get all the bags out of the car. This way, each person walks in with what they need for the night.

Please leave a comment and let me know if you are headed out on the road and what you like to pack or how you pass the time on the road. And follow our family along the way on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate The Father In Your Life

You are not my father…but you are the father of my children! Sorry Rob, I couldn’t resist.  So this is an inside joke between my husband and me. One mother’s day many years ago, my sweet husband dropped the ball. I mean REALLY dropped it.  I was so upset. There was no special breakfast, no card, no flowers and no gift. I was hurt and beyond pissed off. When I confronted him about it, he said, “You are not my mother.” We had a nice long discussion and let’s just say my mother’s day celebrations are much better today.

When you have small children, the responsibility of celebrating Father’s Day and Mother’s Day falls on the parents. The kids aren’t capable of organizing it. As the children get older, they begin to engage and most are excited to celebrate their parents. Rob and I usually sit down and discuss what our expectations are for the day each year. For me, it’s usually a day that I do not have to cook, plan a meal, clean or grocery shop. For Rob, it’s often spending time with the kids. My best advice to you is to have an open discussion. Don’t make each other guess what the other one wants. And whatever you do, do not forget to thank and wish your spouse a happy day. They are the father or mother of your children.

 

So with Father’s Day this weekend, have that conversation with your husband. If you don’t have time for that, here are a few simple and low cost ideas:

 

  1. Stock the fridge and pantry with HIS favorite drinks and snacks. Our kitchen is usually filled with the things the kids and I like.

 

  1. Does he have a hobby or something he likes to do? Let him do this today without any complaining or asking how long he will be.

 

  1. Is there a big sporting event he wants to watch that day? Get the sofa ready and let him watch it and even take that afternoon nap uninterrupted if he falls asleep.

 

  1. What does he like for dinner? Make a reservation. Cook his favorite meal. Buy meat for him to BBQ if that’s what he likes to do.  Just have a plan.

 

  1. Make sure the kids make cards and to top it off, you write a letter telling him why you think he’s such a great dad.

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Remember what goes around comes around. Pay it forward Moms!

I’d love to hear how you will celebrate Father’s Day this year?   Please leave me a comment and share your plans for the day.

 

 

20 Facts About Me That May Surprise You

 

  1. I’ve tried many different hairstyles over the years and want to love my hair long but I LOVE IT SHORT!
  2. I love my nightly glass of wine. I’ve tried to give it up and it never works. I like the taste. I like the ritual. I like wine.
  3. I love the ocean. Growing up in New Hampshire, I was only an hour drive to the ocean and don’t think I could ever live somewhere that I couldn’t get to the ocean within a few hours drive.
  4. I was invited to and attended George H. W. Bush’s inauguration in 1989.
  5. I am my husband’s first and only wife. He is 14 years older than me and I have a stepdaughter.
  6. I love food. I mean REALLY love food. I always search out where we are going to eat when travelling.
  7. I have a tattoo.
  8. When I was a young girl, one of my goals was to travel to every continent and to visit every state in the United States. I am extremely embarrassed to tell you that my passport has expired!IMG_2764
  9. I was Miss New Hampshire Teen USA a very long time ago.
  10. We own a condo in China. Which makes number 8 even more embarrassing.
  11. I need to exercise. I am not in amazing shape. But as I said in number 6, I really love food. It is also a mood stabilizer for me. Over the years I’ve played soccer, beach volleyball, been a member of many gyms, walked, hiked, ran, and now I am loving Orange Theory Fitness.
  12. I started running 3 years ago (I couldn’t even run one mile before…seriously) and have now completed two half marathons and two 200 mile relay races.
  13. My family always comes first.
  14. I was engaged to another man and called off my big, traditional; parents are paying for it wedding two weeks before the wedding date.
  15. I had two miscarriages.
  16. I LOVE movies. I could snuggle up and watch a movie everyday. I have a lot of respect for actors and the way they bring characters to life on the big screen.
  17. I am a closet young adult fiction lover. I loved the Twilight and The Hunger Games series.
  18. One of my big bucket list items is to spend a month in Tuscany. Not like in the movie Under The Tuscan Sun, I’d like to be there with my family.
  19. I have a few great fears in life that I do not want to pass onto my children; flying, sharks and snakes.
  20. I love self improvement and business books.  I’m always listening to one on audible.IMG_1588

So now you know me a little better. What do we have in common? What shocks you? What do you want to know more about? Please leave your comments and let’s start a conversation.

10 Ideas For Your Teens/Tweens This Summer That Will Blow Your Mind

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I wasn’t ready for it.  It happened so fast.  It feels like yesterday that I was just drowning in the chaos of life with my 3 kids under 5.  And then it happened.  Last spring as I was trying to figure out how the heck I was going to survive the summer with the kids.  My 12 year old declared that she would not doing any camps this summer.  She felt very passionately about it.  She said that camps were for little kids.  I saw a vision of her sleeping in and laying around all day and that scared the crap out of me.    I told her that she had to do something.  She needed to give me a few reasonable ideas…and that did not include sleeping until noon and binge watching Once Upon A Time.  I said I would consider letting her out of camps if I liked her ideas.  She came to me with a plan and  I accepted.  She spent the summer volunteering as a  junior swim coach for our neighborhood swim team, babysitting and dog sitting for multiple families, and completing her required summer homework.  She set everything up herself and managed her schedule all summer.  The result was a happy mom and a happy daughter.

Here is a list to get you thinking.  I do believe in lazy days and late nights so be sure not to over schedule.

  1. Have your tween/teen create a list of goals.  Does she have a summer bucket list?What does he want to improve on?  What has she always wanted to try?  What makes him happy?  There are so many cool journals if they need help getting started.  Check out this  Journal.
  2. Find a home project you can do together.  Does she want to paint her room?  Plant a garden?  Build a lending library?  Check out these blueprints.
  3. Start a business.  This could be babysitting, pet sitting, starting a youtube channel, becoming an Instagram brand influencer, starting a car wash, a blog, selling stuff on eBay.  The options are endless.
  4. Volunteer.   You can use your network.  Ask friends for ideas.  Ask around at your local school, library, church, and hospital.  Here is also a great website that focuses on opportunities for kids and teens www.kidsthatdogood.com.
  5. Do something new together and let them pick the activity.  Check out your local community center or college.  Many have fun classes over the summer.
  6. Hold a family night once a week and take turns planning the activity or outing.
  7. Spend time outside.  Beauty is all around us.  Do they like to walk, hike, run?  Sit on a beach or in a park and read?
  8. Have them research your summer vacation.  Is it a big trip, an overnight or a series of day trips?  You pick the destination but ask them to help find activities, restaurants, and other cool spots.  As they get older, they may begin to resist these family trips.  By letting them get involved in the planning, they feel invested in the vacation.
  9. Surprise them.  You trust them.  You are teaching them values and responsibility.  What are they asking for that you keep saying no to?  Is it a different haircut or hair color?  Dying the tips of their hair with kool-aid?  Is it a cell phone?  A second ear piercing?  Is it walking downtown with friends to shop, is it wearing a certain item of clothing you don’t love.  The bottom line is, sometimes when you give a little, the reward is great.
  10. Recharge your battery.  Make sure they have downtime.  It is summer.  There should be days to sleep in, binge watch your favorite show, eat ice cream for breakfast.
  11. Learn a new life skill.  Check out this list put together by Thriving Family.

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My daughter read this article and told me that she is not going to let me forget about #9.  I cannot wait to see what she has in mind for this summer.   I’d love to hear what your tweens and teens are up to this summer.  Please leave a comment and let me know!