5 Brilliant Ways To Save Money This Summer

Today was the last day of school for the Elliott’s and we are officially happy dancing our way into summer!

Summer for most people brings with it a lot of fun, but that can also mean a lot of extra expenses. Those vacations, road trips, summer camps, and celebrations add up faster than you can say “How is it already June?” So today I decided to bring you some brilliant ways to save money this summer. The best part about them? Any busy-crazy parent or working professional can do them! No complicated schemes or cutting coupons or figuring out things (( #aintnobodygottime for that))

Continue reading 5 Brilliant Ways To Save Money This Summer

Why I Decided a Pet Was Worth the Trouble…Again

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MorrisKnowsBest #CollectiveBias

If you ask my son about his siblings, he’ll tell you he has two sisters and two brothers. The sisters are both regular human girls, but the “brothers” he’s referring to are our cats, Edmund and Phil. And the funny thing is he isn’t the only one who thinks of the cats as important members of the family. We all love these little guys more than I ever dreamed possible. I never knew I was a cat person until we rescued Edmund from a shelter two years ago.  He was a sweet, playful little kitten and we all loved him from day one.  He brought so much fun and joy into our household.  It left us wondering why we hadn’t adopted a pet years earlier.   But we were perfectly content with one pet and never even considered adopting another.  We had no idea that it wouldn’t be long before we took the plunge again.

One day, we were outside and a tiny gray tabby cat just wandered over to us looking completely adorable.  He was friendly and affectionate with beautiful green eyes and the softest fur ever.  The kids were all so excited and begged to keep him.  I was certain my husband wouldn’t want to mess with adopting another pet, so I dismissed the idea and started asking around the neighborhood to try to find his owner.  After all, we already had a cat.  What if they didn’t get along?  And adopting another pet means vet visits, added expenses, more responsibility…It just seemed like too much trouble.

No one claimed him, and he took up residence on our back porch and made himself right at home, while we were still trying to find him a home somewhere else.  Thinking he was a girl (we hadn’t bothered to check), my son named him Phyllis.  My kids would call him and he would jump right up on their laps and purr like crazy.  My youngest would pick him up and he would just stay on her lap looking absolutely content.  He never scratched or snapped at anyone.  He would playfully chase strings as long as someone wanted him to, keeping my kids entertained for a long time.  Everything about this cat was wonderful.  After several days of this, my husband and I both agreed that he would be worth whatever it took to make him ours.   And we’re so glad we did!  He loves everyone in the family and appreciates all the affection we can give.  We weren’t sure how Edmund would handle it, but after the first couple weeks, Phil (as he is now more appropriately called) and Ed became best buddies. They play together, eat together, and follow each other around.   Edmund actually seems happier now that he has Phil around.

But aside from the fact that they look very similar, they are as different as can be in every way.  And that’s one of the best things about Phil!  He’s not just another cat like the one we had, he’s a completely different cat with his own personality and habits.  Edmund prefers to relax in quiet places, while Phil loves to play with balls, string, or anything he can chase around.   Ed finds a hiding place when he’s had enough attention, and Phil never seems to get tired of being around people.   Having two cats that are so different is a tremendous blessing.  While one is sleeping next to my daughter as she reads, the other is playing with my super energetic son.  Phil’s playfulness is the perfect complement to Edmund’s seriousness.

Even their taste in food is different. That’s one reason 9Lives® wet and dry cat food varieties are just right for our cats. For wet food, Edmund prefers the Meaty Pate selections, with smooth ground meat, fish or poultry, while Phil devours the Hearty Cuts made of tender, meaty morsels with rich gravy, flakes of fish, and savory shreds.

Check out DollarGeneral.com to find coupons and save on 9Lives® wet and dry cat food for your own feline family members! You’ll find great savings through 5/31/18, and there are so many varieties your cats won’t be able to resist. They also offer specially formulated dry food to meet the nutritional needs of cats in every stage of life. Plus Care helps support digestive health and a strong immune system for older cats like Edmund, while Daily Essentials provides nutrition to support heart health, vision, strong muscles, and healthy skin and coat for cats of all ages.

We love to support companies that give back in some way, and the 9lives spokescat Morris has visited countless schools to promote kindness to animals.  He also launched an initiative to save animals in need of homes.  Check out his Facebook page here.  These are causes our family can feel good about supporting every time we purchase 9lives products.  Our local Dollar General Store carries a great variety of 9Lives cat food, so I can always find all the wet and dry food types that both of our cats love.

We’ve only had Phil for a few months, but it’s hard to imagine life without him.  He’s not just another cat to us, he’s really become a treasured member of the family.  Now the reasons we had for not wanting to take on another pet seem trivial as we watch how much our kids love Phil and how much joy he adds to all our lives.  Just look how adorable he is!

If you’re considering adopting a pet (or like us, another pet) I can tell you it’s worth the trouble.  The little bit of extra work and cost it takes to have him is nothing compared to the joy, excitement, affection, and comfort that this little guy brings to our family.  Plus my son is pretty happy to have as many “brothers” as sisters now 🙂

Have you recently adopted a kitty of your own?  Tell us about it, or share a photo of your sweet new family member.  And don’t forget to go to DollarGeneral.com to find great savings on the 9lives wet and dry food your cat will love.

How Much Does It Cost To Get A Dental Crown Fitted?

How Much Does It Cost To Get A Dental Crown Fitted?

There is no pain quite the same as that caused by your teeth. Whether you’ve cracked a tooth, developed an abscess or your tooth is simply eroding.

The fact is that you are likely to need a crown at some in your life. According to recent research there are 11 million newly decaying teeth every year!

A good dentist will fit a permanent dental crown; this may feel a little weird at first but it should last a lifetime. Of course you’ll need to care for it in the same way that you do your other teeth.

What It A Crown

In short a crown is a cap that is placed over your tooth. It is uniquely shaped to fit your mouth and match your current bite / tooth line.

It can be undertaken to restore the look of your tooth and its strength. You will usually have to visit the dentist twice to have the procedure completed.

The first step is to ensure your damaged tooth can support a crown. This means verifying the roots are strong enough. At this visit it is common for the dentist to file your tooth; ready for fitting the crown.

If you have a lot of damage to your tooth it is possible they will fill it before shaping it.

You then have a dental imprint undertaken to get the exact profile of your teeth.

The second appointment is after the lab has used your imprint to create the crown. The dentist will then use special adhesive to join the crown to your tooth. After a short period this should feel and behave like any other tooth in your mouth.

The Cost Of Your Crown

The average cost of a crown in Australia is between $1,000 and $2,000. This is not a cheap option!

Fortunately there are options that can make this affordable to you:

  • Finance

Most dental practices will offer a finance arrangement to allow you to have the dental work done but pay for it in a set number of installments. This can help to ease the burden when you really need a procedure completed.

It will not reduce the cost of your crown but it will make it affordable.

  • Insurance

The better alternative is to have dental insurance. There are a variety of companies which can offer you competitive dental insurance.

A good scheme would be one that offers you approximately 40% of the cost of your dental work while keeping your premiums for the year under $100.

You can pay more and get complete cover but this could be considered a waste of funds if you don’t need any treatment for several years on the trot.

40% of your $1,000 bill makes it a more attractive and affordable $600.

The real answer to how much does a dental crown cost is actually how much are you prepared to spend each month on dental insurance. The higher you premium the more complete your policy will be and the cheaper the crown; at the point of purchase.

There are also exemptions if you are a low earner; you’ll need to check with the health authority in your area.
By James

Things To Be Aware Of As a Homeowner In the South

 

Legalese Disclosure Nonsense: This post on Things To Be Aware Of As a Home Owner In the South is brought to you today by Terminix a great company for commercial pest control services as well as homeowner services in a wide range of areas including san antonio exterminator services. As always, all tips, tricks, and soggy neighborhoods are my own!

As you might remember, we purchased our very first home a few years ago. The experience was an eye-opening one, especially after years of apartment and condo renting. Thankfully, we were able to be alongside my in-laws for their most recent home purchase and were able to learn some valuable things from their experience before we signed the dotted line on a home of our own. Coming from Wyoming, I never would have thought about their being southern specific items to consider when being a homeowner. Maybe you never have, either, so today I’m running down my list of top things you need to be aware of as a homeowner in the south.

#1 Make Sure To Stay on Top of Pest Control

We actually learned this in North Carolina where I saw my very first cockroach *shudder*. When it comes to living in the south there are more creepy-crawly critters than you can shake a bluebonnet at. While most of these are harmless (like the ones above that Tyler gleefully collected #suchaboy ) others are not so nice. Keeping your home clean, all food secured, and on top of a normal pest control maintenance system is crucial to a happy, healthy home down south. Often checking for pests will be a part of the home inspection before you purchase, but in the South, bugs are just going to happen. Keeping a list handy of treatment for cockroaches, fire ants, and wolf spiders is essential.

#2 Pay Attention to Drainage

This is really more one that you should really know about *before* you purchase a home, but there are ways to help it after. When you’re not somewhere like Wyoming, like the south, it happens to rain, and when it rains, it tends to DUMP rain. While the ground is good at soaking it in, it does mean that if your neighborhood isn’t designed with a well thought out draining system, or you’re somewhere like the bottom of a hill, come fall & spring your yard is a swampy, soupy, muddy mess. This is one of those things that you wouldn’t think about when you’re house hunting unless you’ve dealt with the problem of a soupy, muddy, flooded yard.

#3 Home Warranty Insurance is Worth It

When you’re shelling out for a mortgage and utilities, and everything else life throws at you it’s tempting to skimp where you can. Home warranty insurance covers things that typical Homeowners insurance doesn’t–usually your appliances, air conditioner, etc. In the south, having the ability to call up a repairman when your AC goes out in July and have them out within in a few hours and only paying $60 out of pocket is worth its weight in gold. It’s up to your budgeting style if it works better to put money into an emergency fund each month to cover these homeowner associated costs, or if it might be worth it to pay the money to have it taken care of when things come up.

These are just a few things to consider whether you’re a first time home buyer or have been in your home for awhile! Do you have any southern living tips and tricks? Leave them in the comments!

Why You Need to Think About Summer Camps Now

It’s spring break this week here in Texas and it just hit me that means that we only have a few months left of school! (Woo hoo!) With that revelation, it also hit me that it’s time to start planning for summer vacation & summer camps. After all, it was *just* Christmas, (right?!) so that means that it will be here before I get a chance to catch my breath.

This spring we’re doing the exactly the same thing as last year and opting out of sports for now (missed my mentality behind that? Go read Why It’s Better to Do Sports in The Summer (even in Texas).

You might remember that Amber did British Soccer Camp last summer and she absolutely loved it! It’s no surprise since British Soccer Camps are the most popular soccer camp in the US. This year I can’t wait to have her and Tyler enjoy it again thanks to the folks over at USFamilyGuide. Thanks to them, I also get to share a great offer with all of you, too! Here’s the scoop:

REGISTER FOR CAMP & GET A JERSEY, BALL, T-SHIRT & NEW SKILLS APP AND 20 FREE VIDEOS!
Enroll in the most popular soccer camp in North America! British Soccer Camps have programs for all ages and abilities and feature an innovative curriculum full of skills, drills, and thrills! Register now and you will not only get your free British Soccer game jersey (value $34.95) shipped to you for free immediately, but you will also get our brand new skill development App and 20 videos to help your child practice at home. Your soccer ball, T-shirt & poster will be given out at camp. USE CODE BSC18 at check out to get free shipping.
Click Here To Enroll

 

Easy Ways To Fill Your Holiday With Warmth & Joy

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone. #LayerOnLove #CollectiveBias

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!!!

Right???

While this month *should* be filled with warmth and joy, it can easily spiral into stress, discontent, and exhaustion. So today’s post is all about taking just a few moments to re-align your focus onto what really matters. This includes making sure that your family is filling your month with that warmth and joy that truly bring the most wonderful time of the year.

As we get started we’re going to focus on the word Easy. For so many people work this month is at its all time busiest thanks to retail, marketing, and year-end scrambles. After you clock out don’t forget to throw in the programs, the purchases, parties, traditions, expectations, travel, doing good, a sickness or two, (are you getting exhausted just reading that list???)

Well, the last thing I want to do is make you feel like you need to add one-more-thing to your schedule. Also, quite honestly, the fact is that adding warmth and joy is often found in embracing things the easy way!

So now that you can take a deep breath and let it out, here are my best ideas!

Start a new holiday tradition of giving back

This is the best time of year to focus on what we’ve been blessed with, and to pour that blessing out towards others. However, even giving back can quickly become all too easy to get overwhelmed with. On top of everything else that is going on, doing good can become something that’s another complicated, expensive “to-do” list item. Which means that it’s no longer about helping others, it’s about getting unhappy and stressed.

This year I’d love to share an amazing option to give back in a way that is meaningful, affordable, AND easy! Last year Coca-Cola worked with One Warm Coat to provide a layer of love for over half a million people in need. This year, they’re doing it again and want to make it easier for you to get involved.

So what is One Warm Coat? For most of us, when the temperatures drop too low for short sleeves and sweatshirts, we solve the problem by tossing on our heavy jackets. But for the nearly 15% of Americans living in poverty, a winter coat is something “extra” that isn’t in the budget.

Growing up in Wyoming with the brutally cold winters, I cannot imagine anyone going without a heavy winter coat. I was very surprised, however, when we moved to the south at what a necessity having one still is! During the winter months, the weather fluctuates wildly, and the added humidity makes it feel like those lows cut right through to your bones without a warm coat.

One Warm Coat’s mission is to provide anyone in need with a warm coat free of charge. They are doing all they can to make sure that this necessity is no longer something those in need have to try to make due without! This year there are two amazing and easy ways that you can help Coca-Cola at Walmart’s “Layer On Love” program!

The first brings joy to you and others! Because, after all, holiday surprises don’t always come in big boxes with bows.

By purchasing Coca-Cola™ products at Walmart during your holiday shopping trips you help support the company that supports this amazing cause and program!

I picked up Coca-Cola™ Classic. It’s a treat that I always love to enjoy during the holiday season, and knowing I’m helping do good just makes it that much sweeter!

You don’t have to stop there, though! There’s another easy way to give even more warmth and joy. Coca-Cola at Coca-Cola at Walmart is already getting the snowball rolling by helping to donate 500,000 coats, but you can help them to donate even more! You don’t even have to leave your house, just follow these simple steps!

Text “LOVE” to 501501 to donate $5 to One Warm Coat

With just a few moments of your time you can help donate to this awesome cause. It really doesn’t get much easier than that! I’m always amazed at how much joy giving back brings my entire family. It is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season the right way and really does add such warmth to our lives!

Another way to add joy and warmth to the holiday season is by creating and celebrating yearly traditions. In this social media age, it’s so fun to find out what other family’s traditions are, and get inspired by new recipes and ideas that can add even more fun to your holiday.

Now here comes the however…(are you sensing the theme of this post yet?!) While so many of these things are good and amazing, at a certain point having too many takes away the joy.  It can be so easy to get caught up in feeling like you HAVE to do ______  to make the season magical. Because if you don’t it’s going to be an epic #momfail, right?! After all, *everyone* else is doing it for their families.  So you shoot for the stars and do all-the-things. So what happens when you’re worn to a frazzle and all your time, money, and efforts meet with a lukewarm response from your over-booked-and-over-holidayed family? Well that, my friends, is the recipe for how NOT to have a holiday filled with warmth and joy. That’s why my next big point is to:

Only Do Traditions You All Love

This year take a deep breath, step back, and take a quick look at your current tradition list. It might even help to jot them all down quickly. Once you have, as you look over each one pay attention to your initial gut reaction. Does it make you excited? happy? eager? Does it put that merry little twinkle in your eye just thinking of how your family is going to respond? Or does it fill you with an overwhelming or exhausted feeling just looking at it?

I now give you permission to cross out each item that fills you with those negative feelings. Pow-wow with your family after you’ve done your initial list to get their feedback on what they’re most excited about this year. Is one of the crossed off items on your list one that your family does love even though you don’t? There’s probably a way to tweak it so that it’s simpler or less expensive. Just by talking you might be surprised at what they have the best memories of, and what things no one really enjoys.

Soon you’ll have a manageable list of easy traditions that everyone can love and appreciate. Also, scaling back also gives you a schedule that is not so overfilled so you have time to anticipate and savor them!

There you go! I promised it would be easy! Add these steps and actions into your holiday this year to help make a real difference, and to fill your lives with warmth and joy!

Don’t forget to help Coca-Cola™ at Walmart’s “Layer On Love” program by picking up your favorite Coca-Cola drink for all your holiday occasions!

Make giving back easy this year when you Text “LOVE” to 501501 to donate $5 to One Warm Coat!

What She *Really* Wants For A Gift (You might Be Surprised)!

Legalese Disclosure Nonsense: In exchange for the roses of my dreams, I agreed to bring you this fun and handy post! Also, if you get blessed with roses from one of these specific links, I get a weensy bit of the money from that sale!

Tis the season for gift giving! This year I decided to do a little “independent research ” so I asked around to find out what women REALLY want for gifts from the most important people in their life for those big occasions, you know–Christmas, but also those other “biggies” like Valentine’s Day, Anniversaries, Birthdays, really anytime someone might want to treat them!

What they answered might surprise you, and for the “classic” gifts that were mentioned, they had a twist!

If you’re a frequent reader of mine, chances are good you’re a woman yourself! This is a great post for you to get inspired to ask what you *really* want for this year, or, if you’d like to be a bit more subtle, feel free to send this link to the special people in your life with a *hint hint*.

Maid Service

I mentioned before that when I asked what 1 luxury service women would choose if they had the money for it, the overwhelming majority said maid service. While that was not surprising, just how MUCH they want it really is! In fact, a huge number would love to receive even just a few visits from a maid service as a gift!

Create Memories

Another top winner was being gifted something that would create memories, or as I like to call them Experience Gifts. Many ladies would love a night or weekend away with their spouse, others wished for a getaway just them. Some wanted to go to a concert or an event with the gift giver. Time together while doing something fun was very popular.

Get Pampered

The next request on the list was to get pampered! Whether it’s a mani/pedi or a full spa day getting the chance to get away, relax, and be pampered is something many women crave.

Something Unique, That Shows You *Really* Know Her

This includes *everything* above and all the other items on the list that people came up with. There was an overall theme in or behind each item mentioned. They wanted a unique, gift that showed that the gift giver really knew and cared about them. To help you out with this, and to give you something that you can physically gift if you’d like to include one of the others as well, I’m excited to introduce you to VIVAROSES today!

When it comes to unique presents, this one tops the charts! Roses are a classic gift to give someone to show that you love them. And VIVAROSES has a bunch of classic beauties to choose from as well!

But, remember, I mentioned that most of the women aren’t necessarily *looking* for a classic gift. They want something that shows how much you know them.

For me? That would be blue roses.

I’ve had an obsession love with the color blue since the time I was a young teen. (Maybe my hair color of the past clued you into that?) So when I was planning out my wedding, I told the florist that I wanted blue roses. It was before ordering on the internet was much of a thing, but I had done searches and found photos of blue roses, but nowhere that actually sold them. She laughed at me and told me that those photos were photoshopped, and my gorgeous blue flowers didn’t exist. And so my dream died.

Until VIVAROSES. As I was browsing their site–THERE THEY WERE!!!! Gorgeous Blue Farm-Fresh Roses

and on top of that–the prices were crazy amazing. Starting at $70 for 24 roses, you can up the game and receive 100 Blue Farm-Fresh Roses!

Finally, I really did have the roses of my dreams. I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing and stunning present!

But maybe you or your lady is not *gasp*  that into blue? They actually carry a crazy amazing variety of roses from Black, to Orange, to Lavender, to Rainbow, to mixed bouquets! You would absolutely wow the lady in your life when you deliver a bouquet in her very favorite color! I would gush about how amazingly gorgeous these are, but I’ll just let the pictures in this post say a thousand words!

Go browse all the gorgeous roses on the VIVAROSES website!

Were you surprised that all of these ideas are “consumable”? Part of me was, but really I think that these days we so often want memories, experience, relaxation, and beauty–not more clutter! I also love how you can see how the different love languages and personalities weave their way through these gifts. It would be easy to see an Acts of Service really wish for Maid Service, while a Quality Time person would prefer the tickets to a concert. If you’re a Words of Affection person these gorgeous roses with a heartfelt letter would make your day!  Hopefully, this list inspires you to ask for whatever version of that is uniquely you, or inspire you to gift that to the lovely lady in your life!

Ladies, do you see the idea that you really want on this list? Leave me a comment and let me know which one it is, or if it’s not here let me know what YOU really want.

5 Ways to Make the Most of Fall with Your Family

#advertisement I received compensation from Dr. Scholl’s® to write this post. All opinions are entirely my own. #CustomFitRelief #DrScholls

Is it just me or is fall the BEST season of the year? The air is crisp, the leaves are turning gorgeous colors, and the holidays are just around the corner. Something about this time of year just makes me want to be outside enjoying the beautiful weather all the time. Maybe it’s because we’ve just come out of months of heat here in Texas, but autumn somehow makes me feel energetic and ready for anything. There are so many opportunities to get outside and enjoy the season, but most of them involve being on my feet for long periods of time.  Sadly this can be a real problem for people like me who often suffer from aching feet or pain in the lower back and knees, both of which can originate in the feet.

I have a really hard time finding shoes that offer the right amount of support for my feet so I pretty much gave up on finding shoes that would work for my feet and decided to just live with the pain. But then I found Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit® Orthotic Inserts.  Oh my goodness!  Who knew a cushiony little insert could make such a difference?  These things have four different layers, each serving a different purpose in supporting your feet to relieve the stress that can cause foot, knee, and lower back pain.

Dr. Scholl’s® experts in biomechanics have developed an incredible Footmapping®  Technology that evaluates arch type, pressure points, and foot length using over 2,000 pressure sensors, which then recommends the inserts that are right for you.   All I had to do was find the Custom Fit® Kiosk in my local Walmart and follow a few simple instructions to get my personalized recommendation.

Here’s how easy it is.

Step 1: Remove your shoes.

Step 2: Step on the mat.

Step 3: Touch the screen to begin.  Follow the prompts on the screen and in under 2 minutes you’ll know exactly which Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit® Orthotic Inserts are right for your feet.  I had no idea I had high arches, and it was great to have a custom recommendation just for my feet!

Thanks to these inserts I can truly enjoy my favorite season!  If you experience pain in your feet, knees, or back from being on your feet for long periods, give Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit® Orthotic Inserts a try and start moving around comfortably!  To find a Custom Fit® Kiosk near you click here.  And right now you can even get a $10 rebate at the Custom Fit® Online Rebate Center right here!

The season has so much to offer and I don’t want to miss out on any of it.  Here are some of the beautifully simple ways I like to make the most of fall with my family.

  • Take a nature walk.  This can be as simple as a trip to a local park or even a walk around the block.  No matter where you live, a new season always brings with it changes in nature that your family can enjoy together.   Slow down and really enjoy the beauty of the season.  Stop and look up at the trees and the clouds.  Keep your eyes open for acorns, pine cones, pretty leaves, or any other signs of Fall.  Gather special finds in a basket and make simple crafts out of them, or simply display them at home for a free seasonal decoration.  Need a way to get the kids interested?  Make up an age-appropriate scavenger hunt using local plants and animals and see how many you can spot.  You might even make a habit of taking an evening walk together because it’s such a pleasant way to end the day. Just being outside in the fresh air is a great way to slow down and reconnect with your family!

  • Have a family work day outside.  Outdoor chores have to be done anyway, so why not make it a fun family experience?  Turn on some music and get to work raking, gardening, pulling weeds, organizing the shed…whatever needs to be done to make your outdoor space enjoyable for the season.  Just remember to keep it fun! Let the kids rake up a big pile of leaves and jump in it (and then rake it up again, of course :).)  See who can pull the most weeds.  Make a leaf maze or obstacle course.   Keep some cups and a thermos of apple cider outside for breaks.  Snap some photos of everyone working hard and having fun!

  • Dine al-fresco.  Enjoy the results of all your hard work by eating outside.   Bundle up and enjoy a steaming bowl of soup out on the patio while the sun sets, or take your morning coffee outside and listen to the birds singing.  Here in Texas we can be outside most of the day in the fall, but if you live somewhere that’s much colder make the most of the sunshine in the middle of the day by enjoying a picnic lunch.  Having a meal outside somehow makes it feel special and memorable, so make a habit of dining outside as a family once in awhile during the pleasant autumn months before winter sets in.

  • Take advantage of local seasonal activities.  Most cities have certain activities that are only open for a few weeks every fall.  Pumpkin patches, apple-picking, hayrides, corn-mazes…these won’t be available for very long, but the memories can last a lifetime,  so check to see what’s available near you during this season.   We’ve gone to a local pumpkin patch for the last few years and my kids always look forward to spending the day running around, climbing on hay bales, and having a picnic there. And don’t forget your Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit® Orthotic Inserts so foot, knee, or lower back pain won’t cut your experience short.  Get clinically-proven all-day relief so you can keep moving and make the most of the season!

  • Hunt for treasures at flea markets and yard sales.  I love finding unique things that people are getting rid of and giving them a new home.  Autumn is the perfect time to spend a day at the flea market or checking out garage sales.  You might even find some perfect Christmas gifts for people who are difficult to shop for.  I have a friend whose family decided one year that they would only give each other gifts from flea markets or yard sales.  They all had so much fun Christmas shopping, and there were some unforgettable gifts that year!  My kids often want to buy gifts for people at Christmas with their own money, but they don’t usually have much money to spend.  So I love helping them find just the right thing at a garage sale that hardly costs anything.  This way they’re learning smart spending while we shop together!

What are some things you do with your family in the fall?  Share your ideas with us for making the most of the season.  Don’t let foot, knee, or lower back pain keep you from enjoying everything this beautiful time of year has to offer.  Try Custom Fit® Orthotics risk-free, with the Dr. Scholl’s® Money Back Guarantee and experience all the fun of the season pain-free!

Ways To Track and Save During the Holidays

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SaveWithHopster #CollectiveBias

The holidays should be full of joy, happiness, time with family and friends, and the creation of precious memories.

Often, though, the busyness and strain from added expenses and to-dos turn them into anything but the most wonderful time of the year. Recently I shared a post with you on how important it is to step back and realign with what really matters during this busy season.

Today I’m tackling the other half of the problem by sharing how to track and save! Once you get your holiday budget under control it’s a lot easier to enjoy the season.

First off, let’s start with the saving–because once you get a good handle on that you’ll have more money to put back into that gift budget you’re tracking!

For savings I’m sharing a great app with you that you might not already know about! It’s Hopster Mobile Rebates! One of the best ways to get more money for holiday fun is by saving on the items you already buy. You can download it here and start saving because it’s super simple to use! You just follow these steps:

Step 1: Choose your rebates from a large selection of brands

You’ll find rebates for your favorite groceries, beauty essentials, pet supplies, plus new products you’ll want to try.

Step 2: Shop at your favorite store — most of the rebates you can redeem from *any store* or you can pick from a list of your favorite retailers!

Step 3: Take a picture of your receipt showing the items you purchased–it walks you through exactly how to do it!

Step 4. Rebates will be redeemed and the cash credited to your PayPal account as soon as the redemption is validated. That means you don’t have to wait to reach a certain number or value of redeemed offers!

You can see for yourself how simple and great this is for saving! As you make your shopping list it’s so easy to hop on, scan for items you can take advantage of rebates on, and then scan in the receipt right after you put the items away! All those rebates can add up to a nice little chunk of change to roll into your holiday budget. Which brings us to the tracking part!

The best ways to track your holidays and helpful tips before you dive in!

I’ve mentioned this to you before, but it really is such a lifesaver each year! This year I’ll also cover a few things you’ll want to do in case you’ve been using this or a different system before!

Set A Budget

I know, I know, but trust me, knowing how much you *can* spend actually frees you up to enjoy it and not stress out. Sit down with whoever else is involved in the money situation in your house and come up with a budget to stick to.

(Tip: Start using Hopster and also think outside the box for ways to save on normal things during the holiday months. Maybe you can cut back on a service or plan. Take your extra savings and put it right into your holiday budget!)

Make A List & Check It Twice

Growing up and getting married and all having babies is super-ly amazing and fabulous!!! It does make for a long, long, long  Christmas list after just a few years, though! And things can get awkward when you keep buying presents, and they stop, or vice versa. This year have a pow-wow with your extended family. Often you might find that they’d prefer one family gift they all can enjoy, they just want gifts for the kids, or you might discover it actually blesses everyone the most if you no longer exchange gifts. Just like the budgeting thing, it’s far better to clarify in advance, then to be disappointed when reality strikes.

Make & Track Using a Spreadsheet

As you can see I’ve been using this system for over 5 years now because it’s that awesome! I put in everyone on my list, put in ideas for gifts before I buy them and then fill in the prices when I actually purchase them, and fill in the slots so I know what has been purchased, wrapped, and shipped for our out of state family. At the bottom I have formulas that automatically add up the totals for each column, and also show my savings.

This is super easy-peasy to create for yourself–but I’m making it even easier for you!! Here is a blank gift tracking sheet just for you!

So, to use this you’ll want to go up to where it says File at the top menu bar. Click on it then go down to “Make a Copy”  here you can name it, and save it to your drive. Then it is private to you and you can customize it for your own personal holiday tracking! If you have any questions about how to tweak it further just drop me a comment and ask!

By putting these simple steps into practice this year you’ll save money and sanity this holiday season! Don’t forget to get started by downloading the Hopster App here!

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