Tag Archives: tips

More Money Saving Tips & Tricks

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This is a follow-up to my original post “Money Saving Tips & Tricks”. You could say that I’m addicted to saving money, I’m also addicted to spending money….hmmm…..isn’t everyone? I almost enjoy spending money to see how much money I can save. I challenge myself to new saving habits all the time, I research ways to save money and I reward myself with expensive items that I pay next to nothing for. My original money saving post was about cutting costs, clipping coupons and finding ways to save in your daily spending and shopping habits. This post will be about long term savings options for you and your family. Ways to reduce your monthly or yearly costs. I’ve implemented all of these in my life and have reaped the biggest reward of more time with my son, I can work part time and enjoy more of these years with him that are flying by too fast.

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Here are some ways to save hundreds of dollars each month……

  1. Refinance your home. Interest rates are at an all time low right now, talk to a mortgage professional today to see if refinancing would be in your best interest. This is a great option for those who plan on staying in their home long-term. If you plan on moving soon, the cost of refinancing will probably not be paid back in your monthly payment savings before you move. If you do qualify this could save you hundreds of dollars each month!
  2. Adjust your insurance policies, all of them. Shop around, I found better coverage for our automobiles at a lower price. More coverage and less money, that was a no brainer. I picked one company for our auto’s and home and received a multi-policy discount too. Don’t over purchase insurance, buy as much as you need with a little help and guidance from your insurance agent, but be careful not to over-insure which costs you unnecessary money.
  3. Adjust your cable, internet and phone packages. Do you really need HBO, Showtime, etc? If you don’t, cut your cable package down to what you need. Reduce your internet speed to save between $10-15 per month. Get rid of your home phone (unless you need it for your home security system), how much do you use it anyway? Also reduce your data package on your cell phone and connect to wifi when you are at home, work, etc. Cut your minutes if you can too.
  4. Cut your grocery spending in half. Get creative with your menu, clip coupons, shop sale ads and DON’T WASTE! Use up all of the food in your house before you go buy more. Reward yourself with a nice dinner out once a month, it’s something you will look forward to and the rest of the month you will enjoy the extra money in your pocket.
  5. Transfer credit card balances to a low or no interest introductory credit card. You can pay them off faster if you aren’t being charged interest.
  6. Conserve energy and water. Run the dishwasher and washing machine only if they are full. Line dry your clothing. Set a timer for your shower so you don’t waste unnecessary water. How long does it really take to shower? Not 30 minutes……Unplug items that you don’t use daily, turn off lights when leaving a room, turn off the tv and computer when not in use. Open your blinds to naturally heat your home from the sun during the day and turn your thermostat  down or up when you leave. All of these things can reduce your water and energy costs by $5-$50 a month!
  7. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle……EVERYTHING……I’m not just talking about recycling cans, glass and newspaper, I’m talking about recycling and reusing things. Those glass jars that spaghetti sauce and pickles come in make great storage containers for the bathroom and garage. Coffee containers make great storage containers for Lego’s and small toys for children. Milk jugs make great watering cans, poke holes in the lid. Diaper and shoe boxes can be transformed into decorative storage bins with some cheap fabric and spray adhesive. You get the idea……get creative and reuse and recycle items you already have instead of going out and buying new.
  8. Did you know you can grow many herbs and veggies from plating the leftover root and it will re-grow? I haven’t tried this yet, but I will when I plant my garden this summer. You can re-grow celery, green onions, herbs, etc from keeping the root end and re-planting it. Google this for specific instructions. This goes along with re-using and not wasting anything. Re-plant it if you can and continue to reap the rewards of ONE PURCHASE!
  9. Make toys for your kids from empty tissue boxes, paper towel and toilet paper rolls, construction paper, egg cartons, etc. My son loves things he’s not suppose to have so when I give him a paper towel roll or an empty water bottle to play with he thinks it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Kids don’t need expensive toys to be happy, they need love, affection, attention and an imagination. Let their imagination run wild with unconventional and FREE toys. Toys are expensive and kids have a short attention span, I have a living room full of toys and my son would rather have an empty box and a paper towel roll.
  10. Make as many things as you can yourself. Life doesn’t have to be so complicated. Take a minute to get back to the basics. It’s so easy to go out and buy things these days, and we pay a pretty penny for those conveniences. Don’t get me wrong, I love the modern-day conveniences that we have today, but I also enjoy making things for myself. You don’t have to be crafty or creative, you just have to believe in yourself. Make something you’ve been wanting to try instead of buying it. You will save money and you will be doing something for yourself. Cook more dinners at home, try making your own household cleaners and detergents, re-use, recycle, up-cycle, conserve, create and believe in yourself.
  11. Put yourself on a budget. It’s as easy as writing down your income, then your set expenses, then your adjustable expenses and then what you wish to save every month and figuring out where you can cut costs. Challenge yourself to save money and reward yourself with that pair of shoes you’ve been eyeballing if you meet your goals. Make sure you find a coupon though 😉
  12. Bring your lunch, make coffee at home, pack snacks to avoid the vending machine. I can easily spend $10 a day on lunch at my favorite restaurant, Panera OR I can spend about $2 a day on lunch by packing it myself the night before. That’s $8 a day I’m saving by putting forth a little effort and making my own lunch. My favorite coffee from Panera is $4 a cup. I estimate that a cup of coffee from home with a delicious creamer I might add is probably about $0.10 a cup. I bring pre-portioned snacks to work to avoid overspending on carb and sugar filled snacks from a vending machine. This saves me money and unnecessary carbs!
  13. We all love to do activities, go to the movies, tour a museum, do a sporting adventure or attend a sporting event, but all of those activities can add up. Think about a matinĂ©e instead of an evening show. It’s less money and you are less likely to spend money on concessions because it’s right after lunch or right before dinner. Find free activities and museums in your city. St. Louis has a beautiful, huge and FREE Zoo! That is one of my favorite places to go, right in the middle of Forest Park which has many other free activities and the animals are always doing something new. It’s great for the whole family and FREE! We pack a picnic and make a day of it. Find Groupon’s or saving certificates for sporting adventures or events. Look for discounted sporting tickets on Stubhub.com or buy them on a promo day.
  14. Try the 52 week money challenge, see my original post. It’s not too late to start…..what will you do with your savings?
  15. Do yard, home and auto maintenance yourself. I’m very lucky to have a handy husband who can do oil changes, who takes care of all the home and yard maintenance and saves us tons of money by doing the not so fun homeowner chores himself. Get out there and get your hands dirty, cut your own grass, landscape your own yard, build yourself something. Change your own oil (if you know how) instead of paying someone else to do it. Clean out your gutters yourself, maintain your own lawn instead of paying a company to do it. Fire the maid and get your kids to help clean. Teach them responsibility and pay them to help with chores. Teach them how to spend and save their money wisely. Win/Win!

All of these ideas might not work for you, but I urge you to try some of them. It’s amazing how much money we throw away each month until we step back and look for it. A happy family doesn’t consists of riches, it consists of love, memories, laughter and fun. All of which can be created without a single penny! Challenge yourself to live more frugally and then reward yourself with the savings if you wish. Take that vacation you’ve been dreaming about, you’ve earned it! Combine these tips with my original money saving tips post and you have many options to help you save money!

Have Toddler Will Travel – Tips for traveling with a toddler

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Thinking about traveling with a toddler can make your nerves/anxiety shoot through the roof!! Having flown four times so far with my son at 9 months, 18 months, 23 months & 26 months and anticipating another flying adventure in our near future, I thought a “refresher” with tips when traveling with a toddler would help calm my already increasing nerves.

  1. First tell yourself that all of the bad, worst case scenario’s floating around in your head will NOT happen.
  2. Then tell yourself that you aren’t the first person to ever travel with a toddler and that some people do this ALL THE TIME.
  3. Start preparing a list (that’s the OCD in me) with everything you wish to bring for your toddler on the trip.
  4. Then cross out HALF of what’s on the list, you don’t really need it and it’s a waste of precious carry-on or checked luggage space. Less is more in this case!
  5. I start packing early, I make sure all the outfits I wish to bring are clean in advance and I pack everything we can do without until the trip as early as possible.
  6. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT bring your child’s loud and obnoxious toys on the plane. Simple toys that make no or minimal noise, books, coloring books and small items are best. The other passengers on the plane are already thinking in their heads “great, a baby, this is going to be a long flight”. I know this because I use to be one of these people, but proper preparing is key to proving them wrong!
  7. Make sure your carry on diaper bag is packed only with necessities and a few play items. You need to be able to access diapers, a paci, snacks/drinks, etc easily. If your child needs a blanket or something special to sleep, that would be considered a necessity. You want them to sleep! A change of clothes for the child, yourself and your spouse might not be a bad idea either……accident’s happen!
  8. Try to plan the flight around your child’s nap time (I know this is hard). A sleeping baby is the best baby on a plane ride.
  9. SIT IN THE BACK OF THE PLANE – You get to board first, do yourself and everyone else a favor by sitting in the back. If the flight isn’t full, you just might get the whole back aisle to yourself!
  10. Try to make the flight fun, talk about the airplane, the people, the clouds, the sky, and your surroundings. Engage your child in learning something new.
  11. Ask for help (especially if you are traveling with a child alone). In my experience of flying with my son, I’ve had my husband with me, but the flight attendants have still been very receptive to our needs, often asking if we need anything extra and allowing us to move seats to be more comfortable.
  12. Be very careful what you bring in your carry-on luggage. The 3oz rule does not apply to baby formula or breast milk, but you will be taken to the side and it will be screened. When my son was on formula, I pre-measured the formula in the bottle’s we needed and then bought bottled water at the airport after we went through security. Now that he drinks plain milk or juice, I bring an empty cup and buy the item after I pass through security. This way I don’t have to be pulled aside for screening. The 3oz rule does apply to diaper cream, toiletries, lotion, etc. Purchase a small set of the trial size stuff and save yourself some room and a headache at security!
  13. While waiting for your flight, let your child roam (with you right next to them of course). They will be sitting for an extended period of time, let them walk around with you, talk to them about things they might see, wear them out so they will sleep 🙂
  14. What to bring; a diaper bag with what you consider necessities for you/your child, an umbrella stroller (you gate check this for free), car seat and pack n play (if needed these are checked at the counter for free), I combine my son’s clothes with ours. Surprisingly, I can fit all 3 of us into one checked bag. Like I said before, less is more. If you have a washing machine where you are going, plan on using it and pack less. How many times have you overpacked and then not used half of what you brought?? I know I have and I learned the hard way.
  15. RELAX….your child can sense tension in you and may act out because of it, the airport is a stressful place for most people, try to remind yourself that things will be out of your control and go with the flow. Remind yourself of where you are headed, why you are going there, and the reward once you get there. In my experience, I stressed so bad about my son’s behavior on the plane, and he’s always proved me wrong and was an angel. That doesn’t mean there was the occasional cry or struggle in our seat, but overall he was great. He slept the majority of the time and by following the suggestions above, we were prepared and ready to meet his every need. We’ve had fellow passengers telling us how good he was and that they were surprised at how quiet he was. I couldn’t help but smile and give myself and my husband a pat on the back 🙂

Tips:

Instead of liquid hand sanitizer, bring hand sanitizing wipes. I sanitize the area my son will be touching on the plane as soon as we sit down. No, I’m not a germ freak but think of how many people have touched those area’s and how quickly planes are cleaned…..yeah….gross!

Download children’s books/games on your phone/tablet and have your child try them before the flight. I don’t know a toddler that doesn’t want to play with anything techy!

Change their diaper right before you get on the plane (if possible), the changing tables on the planes are a joke! Overnight diapers are great for long trips/overnight.

Keep them happy! Whether it be snacks, games, toys, etc…..keep them happy! The plane is not the place to suddenly start disciplining your child. I’m not saying you should let them get away with things, but don’t make a scene.

I bring an empty ziplock bag for trash and stick it in the back seat pocket, this makes it easy to hand to the flight attendant. We usually have quite a bit of trash.

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Here’s our little frequent flyer!

These ideas are based on my experience flying with my child who is now 2 1/2. Cade now sits in his own seat and no longer takes a pacifier so suckers are great for helping him pop his ears. He loves to look out the window and talk about the clouds, the plane and anything else we come across in the sky. I’ve updated this post several times, adding new things I’ve learned. I’d love to hear your suggestions. Does anyone have tips about traveling while potty training? I’m sure that will be a hurdle for us to jump here very soon!