Sunday, December 27, 2020

No Spend January Challenge


Can you believe it is almost January!!! Hopefully 2021 will be a much better year than 2020! Today I am going to share with ya'll a great way to save some extra money during the month of January! The idea is to practice saving and making better spending choices that will help you throughout the entire year. A no spend January challenge is meant to help you save money and avoid making unnecessary purchases. 



  1. Only spend money on your absolute must have's such as weekly groceries, prescriptions, pet food, gas
  2. Buy the bare minimum groceries (no splurging)
  3. No eating out, ordering take out or delivery
  4. No purchasing things that are not groceries, prescriptions, pet food, gas (No shopping!!)
  5. Pay your monthly bills but pay the minimum for any credit cards
  6. Save Save Save!!
*Now there are some exceptions to this no spend January challenge* For example if your child has a birthday in January, obviously please celebrate your child's birthday and spend money on their birthday presents, cake, etc. Another exception would be if your child is invited to a friend's birthday. Obviously purchase the friend a birthday present. 

Other Great Ways To Save Money All Year Long:

  • Start setting aside $10 to $20 per week for your future Christmas fund. You could set up a free savings account linked to your checking account. This way you could transfer the money each week or each paycheck.

  • Sit down with your spouse and review all of your monthly subscriptions. Decide if there are any that you can cancel.

  • Turn down your heat by 1 to 2 degrees. You'd be surprised at how much money you could save by doing this!

  • Take a good look in your pantry, toss expired items, organize your pantry to really get a good idea of what you are in need of. I have caught myself purchasing items at the grocery store that I thought I needed only to discover I already had it buried in my pantry! 

  • Start meal planning each week. This has really helped me to save money on my weekly groceries. I sit down every Sunday evening (or Monday morning if I am procrastinating) and I make a list of what meals I am going to cook for the week. I write it all out so my children can see what is on the "menu" and I put it on our refrigerator. I try to stick to the "menu" and this also helps me to not overspend at the grocery store. 

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

My Favorite #Christmas Cookie #Recipes + Free #Printable

                              

                                  

These Oreo truffles are SO easy to make and super delicious! Perfect for the holidays.
Ingredients: 
36 Oreo cookies
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 package cream cheese (softened)
1 cup dark chocolate melting wafers
1 cup white chocolate melting wafers

Instructions:
Place Oreo's in a food processor. Blend 2-3 minutes. Set aside. Save 2 tablespoons for later.
In a separate mixing bowl beat cream cheese. Add Oreo's to the cream cheese and vanilla extract. Mix.
Scoop Oreo mixture into 1 tablespoon size balls and place on a lined cookie sheet.
Place cookie sheet with Oreo balls in the freezer to chill for 15 minutes.
Place dark chocolate melting wafers in a microwave safe container to melt. Repeat for white chocolate melting wafers.
Retrieve Oreo balls from the freezer and dip truffles into the melted chocolate. Sprinkle with Oreo crumbs that you saved.
Allow chocolate to harden. Tip-place Oreo balls in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to allow the chocolate to harden faster.
Enjoy!!

Andes Mint Cookies

Ingredients:
1 package Devils Food Cake
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 bag Andes Chocolate Mints

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350. In a mixer combine cake mix, oil and eggs. Mix until combined. Drop by level tablespoon on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat mat. Bake for 8-9 minutes, remove from oven and immediately place an Andes mint on top. Let sit for 5 minutes and gently swirl the mint just enough to spread it out. Cool in refrigerator until set. Makes approximately 36 cookies.




M & M Cookies (Or can be made as a cookie bar)

My little helper enjoyed making this recipe almost as much as she enjoyed eating it! This is such an easy recipe ya'll! You can bake the M&M cookie bars in a 8x8 casserole dish OR you can use a 9 inch pie plate if you want to make a cookie cake instead.
Ingredients:
1/2 Cup butter (melted)
1 Large egg
3/4 Cup brown sugar
1/2 Cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup M&M's
6 mini peanut butter cups (if you prefer)

Directions: 
1. Melt butter
2. Add egg, sugars, vanilla & whisk
3. Add flour, salt & stir gently
4. Add chocolate chips
5. Add M&M's
6. Smooth batter into a 9 inch pie dish (or small casserole dish)
7. Add remaining M&M's & push gently down into batter
8. Back at 350' for 25 minutes
9. Let cool for 30 minutes


FREE printable for your little's Christmas lists


Be sure to get your free Christmas printable here


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Thursday, December 10, 2020

Christmas #Gifts Guide For Tweens & Tweens


Today I am going to share with you some gift idea's for tweens and tweens between ages 11 and 16 year olds.

  • Color Changing LED Strip Lights My daughter absolutely loves her LED lights. They are so easy to install and they come with a remote so you can change the colors anytime you want. They are available in various sizes but I would recommend at least 65 feet so the lights can stretch across most of your bedroom. Price: $41.99 on Amazon

  • Hydroflask  insulated water bottles are super popular among the tweens and teens. These range in price depending on what size you choose. They have a range of colors and many teens put stickers all over their hydroflasks. You can find sticker packs on Amazon. The 18 oz. Hydroflask cost $29. You can also find Hydroflasks at Dicks Sporting Goods.


  • Apple Airpods are super super popular among pretty much all teen's. I constantly see kids with these little white things in their ears! There are various types of Airpods and you can purchase online, in Walmart, Target, Best Buy, etc. I've seen them on sale for as low as $129. 


  • *Image courtesy Apple*

  • Fluffy Blankets  are a hit with most tween and teen girls! My daughter steals all of my fluffy blankets so I finally got her a fluffy blanket of her own! You can find these at Target, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond and Wayfair. Prices range. Check out this super cute 50 x 70 faux fur throw from QVC.

  • Gaming Keyboard Any gamer will love this gaming keyboard! Available on Amazon.com for just $43.99


*Image courtesy Amazon*

  • Golf Net Perfect for practicing your golf swing in your own backyard! This golf net is $78.99 on Amazon.com 10 feet x 7 feet. 


  • *Image Courtesy Amazon*
  • Dipping Powder Starter Nail Kit Perfect for the nail lover! This is a great starter kit complete with all the supplies you need to get started doing your own nails from home! Perfect during Covid-19 when the salons may or may not be open. Plus saves a lot of money. This kit cost $28.99 Various colors available in various kits. 
*Image Courtesy Amazon*

  • Nike Joggers I'm sure this is already on the list of hundreds, probably thousands of tweens and teens this Christmas. Perfect for comfy days at home. Various colors available. Price $60.
*Image Courtesy of Nike.com*
  • 32" HD Smart Roku TV My daughter has this on her Christmas list this year. I'm pretty sure most teen's would love a tv! On sale this week at Target.com for $129

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Friday, December 4, 2020

Holiday Gift Guide 2020 For Kids Under 10


Today I am going to share with ya'll some great Christmas gifts for kids this holiday season! 

For the little one's under age 10:
  • Barbie Dreamhouse Measuring 3 feet tall and 4 foot wide this is a huge Barbie house complete with furniture! My 9 year old loves her Dreamhouse. $179 at Walmart.com
                              *Image Courtesy Target*
  • Electric Hoverboard is perfect for kids 8 years and older. Complete with LED senor lights, LED wheel lights, bluetooth speakers built in. This electric hoverboard can go 6 mph and hold up to 180 pounds. $148 at Walmart    I'm pretty sure this will be a super popular gift this year!

  • 4 in 1 Game Table This game table is bound to keep your kids happy for hours! Table includes: pool billiards, air hockey, foosball and table tennis. $79.99 at Walmart 
  • Nintendo Switch Console Perfect for gamers who want to play anywhere they go! Perfect for road trips too!! Cost $399 at Walmart So many fun games available for the Nintendo Switch.
  • Skywalker Trampoline Perfect for outdoor play!! This 15' trampoline has an enclosure. Cost $299 at Walmart Be sure to add on a ladder! My children received a trampoline for Christmas about 5 years ago and they still love to play on it. It has survived being in storage while we built our home and it has held up really well.
  • Razor A5 Lux Kick Scooter Perfect for kids ages 8 and up. Holds up to 220 pounds. This is a great way to get your children outside playing and burning their energy!! Cost $84 at Walmart Many fun colors available! 

                                                                   *Photo courtesy Walmart.com*

  • Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Camera Instant camera's are back and they are better than ever! The Fujifilm Instax mini instant camera is available in many fun colors! They have fun film frames too ya'll! This is the cutest instant camera on the market! $59 at Walmart This is my daughter's Christmas list this year!
  •  
  • Photo Courtesy Walmart.com*
Check back soon for my holiday gift guide for tween's!! 

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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

All About KiwiCo! Crate Review #KidFriendly #Steam

Kiwi Co is such a fun, educational monthly subscription for children of all ages! My son received a Tinkercrate in the mail and was very excited to get to work building the Spin Art Machine. Tinkercrate's are perfect for children between ages 9 - 16 years old. Kiwi Co has various crates for all different age ranges. 

Crates include: Eureka Crate for ages 14 - 104 which includes engineering & design projects
Maker Crate for ages 14 - 104 which includes art & design projects
Tinker Crate for ages 9 - 16 years old which includes science & engineering projects
Doodle Crate for ages 9 - 16 years old which includes create & craft projects
Atlas Crate for ages 6 - 11 years old which includes geography & culture 
Kiwi Crate for ages 5 - 8 years old which includes science, art & more
Koala Crate for ages 2 - 4 years old Play & learn
Panda Crate for ages 0 - 24 months Explore & discover


 How it works: Choose your line on their website. The packages will arrive once a month and you can cancel at anytime. Plans start at $19.95 for 1 month but you can usually find special promo codes to save money. A 3 month subscription cost $19.95 per month with free shipping. A 6 month subscription cost $18.95 per month.




My son enjoyed building his Spin Art Machine. The instructions were easy for him to follow and includes photos. He connected a beadboard to wires and a battery to make the art machine spin! I was pretty impressed with the quality of the product. 


The finished product---pretty cool art work! And the project came with extra paper. 


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Thursday, November 5, 2020

All About The New Aldi Advent Calendars

The new Aldi holiday 2020 advent calendars just arrived in stores yesterday, November 4 and they are SO fun! There's literally an advent calendar for everyone in the family ya'll! Including your cat!! Yes you read that right, they have advent calendars for pets ya'll!! 

Cheese Advent Calendar 
24 days of imported mini cheeses
$14.99

Cat Advent Calendar 25 days of cat treats!
$5.89

Coffee Advent Calendar
Includes 24 Kcups
$9.99

Beer Advent Calendar 
$49.99
*Limit 2*

Hard Seltzer Advent Calendar 
Includes 24 8.5 oz cans 
$34.99

Wine Advent Calendar
Includes 24 187 m.L bottles
$69.99
*Limit 2* These are hard to find and sell out fast!




Paw Patrol Advent Calendar 
Includes 7 pups, 2 pup friends, 15 accessories
$19.99

Cars Advent Calendar
$16.99

Barbie Advent Calendar
Includes Barbie doll, clothes, accessories
$24.99

Disney Storybook Collection Advent Calendar
Includes 24 Disney books. There is also a Frozen themed calendar of books.
$9.99

Premium Chocolate Advent Calendar
$4.99

Chocolate Advent Calendars
$4.99

Advent Calendar Candle
$4.99

Be sure to head to your local Aldi soon because they Advent Calendars tend to sell out fast! 

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Monday, November 2, 2020

Disney Holiday #Giveaway

It's time for a Disney themed holiday giveaway ya'll!! I am SO excited to share with you that I am hosting a holiday giveaway! There will be not one but three winners selected!! Prizes include adorable Disney Christmas plate, Disney Store Santa Mickey Mouse Plush and one lucky winner will win the grand prize $50 Disney gift card! 
*Image Courtesy of Disney Store*
How cute is Santa Mickey Mouse?! One lucky winner will win this cutie! 

*Image Courtesy of Disney Store*
I just LOVE this adorable Minnie Mouse Christmas plate! One lucky winner will win this from shopdisney.com


To enter click the link below and follow the prompts. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Where To Start When Planning A Family Vacation

Many people ask me how long it takes me to plan our family vacations. Today I am going to share with ya'll some super easy ways to get started planning your own family vacation. If you are going somewhere you've been before such as your favorite beach then it should be really easy to get started planning. However, if you are going somewhere totally new that you've never been before then it is does take a lot more time to plan ahead and do some research on where you would like to stay. 

Vacation Planning Details

For starters, before I really dive into planning our family vacation I usually ask my three children this simple question: Where would you like to go for our next family vacation? I will usually give them 3 choices. I asked the kids if they would prefer to go on a cruise or Disney World and they chose a cruise!! Sadly, due to Coronavirus our cruise was cancelled this past May 2020. We ended up going to the beach. 

After you have decided on your destination I recommend doing some research. My favorite website to research are typically www.TripAdvisor.com. You can search your destination on their website and read many great reviews on hotels, restaurants, attractions, etc. Also you can see which hotels are ranked the best and see great photos. Tip: do not stay at hotel that is under construction. This can create many irritating obstacles such as loud noise, closed attractions, limited dining, etc. Tip: Check the resort's website to see if they are offering any promotions/special discounts.



Select your travel dates but before you actually book the resort check around on various websites to see if it is a lower cost to book directly on the resort website or on a third party site such as Expedia.com

Once your trip is actually booked put those dates on your calendar and be sure to let your work know asap. 

Now for the fun part---planning! I really enjoy planning out our family vacations. When we went to Oahu, Hawaii I spent about a month planning our vacation. I did a lot of research on fun family friendly places to visit in Hawaii. I also researched which area of Oahu we wanted to rent a condo at. We wanted to be within walking distance to restaurants, the beach and activities to avoid renting a car for the entire vacation. We knew we wanted a condo with a kitchen so we could avoid eating out every meal. We like having a full kitchen to cook meals and a full size refrigerator is always great when you have 5 people! Read all about our Hawaii adventures here


Just remember to allow time for actually relaxing on your vacation and of course budget for the vacation. I like to create a spreadsheet and budget each meal out, airfare, hotel/condo rental, spending money, activities money, etc. so I know somewhat what my vacation budget needs to be. 

Be sure to check out my post about packing for a roadtrip


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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

5 Budget Friendly Family Dinners #Recipes

1. Aldi frozen lasagna
This is my go to meal if I don't feel like actually cooking! 
Aldi frozen lasagna is one of my kids favorite meal's! This family dinner cost less than $10 total. The Aldi lasagna will feed 4 people and cost less than $5. The canned pea's are 50 cent also from Aldi and the garlic cheese bread is from Walmart $3.


2. Chicken Fajitas
This family dinner cost less than $10 and it is so easy to make! I use Tyson frozen chicken strips from Walmart ($5 for a big bag that will make 2 dinners) and frozen stir fry veggies from Walmart ($1) and I also use Old El Paso chicken fajitas seasoning ($1)  and Old El Paso soft shell flour tortillas. To make this meal I cook the chicken in a separate frying pan and I cook the frozen veggies in a frying pan. *Be sure to drain the water from the veggies prior to adding the chicken* Once the chicken is cooked I add it to the veggie frying pan and I also add the fajita seasoning packet. This takes about 5 minutes to cook. Easy peasy! My kids love this meal also! I also add some shredded cheese to their fajitas.
Chicken Fajitas are so easy to make!

3. Chicken Enchilada's
This family meal is super easy to make also and my kids love it! Very few ingredients and costs less than $10. Ingredients: Chicken breast, soft shell taco's, 2 lb bag of mexican shredded cheese, Old El Paso red enchilada sauce. 
To make this I use a casserole dish. Cook the chicken breast in a frying pan. Then place them in boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove and let cool. Then using a fork pull the chicken apart. Add 1/2 the can of sauce to the casserole dish. Then place the soft shell taco's over the sauce. Add shredded chicken then cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle 2 lb bag of mexican cheese over the top. Bake 350 for 30 minutes.

Delicious!



4. Frozen Crispy Honey Chicken & Rice

Yummy Chinese Honey Chicken & Broccoli & Rice

I purchase this frozen meal for $7 and a box of white rice ($3). This is another super easy meal and my kids love it! Cheaper than ordering Chinese food and you could also add frozen egg rolls to make this a bigger meal. 

5. Spaghetti

My kids absolutely love spaghetti! Sometimes if I haven't had a chance to go to the grocery store and we don't have any ground beef I will just make spaghetti noodles with red sauce and no meat. Either way the kids love spaghetti and this is my go to meal. They could eat spaghetti every single night if I made it! I also usually add garlic bread or croissants and pea's to this meal. Spaghetti is such an affordable budget friendly meal too! I buy a huge pack of spaghetti at Aldi for just $1.50 and it will last for at least 2 weeks.