How To Save Money On Groceries Without Using Coupons

How To Save Money On Groceries Without Using Coupons

Suck at coupons

I suck at using coupons.  I never remember to clip them or if I do manage to clip them, I leave can you make money from binary options trading them at home or in the car or in my purse.  I don’t have anything against coupons and by now  you know that I love saving money, so it’s not like I’m trying to be a spendthrift.  I just suck at couponing.

To make matters worse, I am not motivated to use coupons because, frankly, very little that I buy falls into the “has a coupon” category.  I mean, if lettuce had a coupon or asparagus, count me in!  But they don’t.  And I know that a lot you experience the same thing.

You want to save money,  you’re willing to use coupons, but there aren’t any coupons for what you buy.  So, how do you save money on groceries if nothing you buy has coupon?

[Read more...]

Talk Money To Me, Baby

Talk Money To Me, Baby

Money is a really personal topic for a lot of people.  It’s almost like talking about sex.  Or politics. Or religion.  Actually, it’s a lot like sex, politics, and religion.  The way we feel about money has everything to do with how we grew up and how we make sense of the world around us. And amazingly, the less we talk about something the more difficult it is for us to understand and control.

Money is a tool.  That’s it.

It doesn’t mean that you matter.

Or that you’re better or worse than someone else.

It doesn’t really mean anything at all.

Say it with me, “money is a tool.”

Think about it this way.  Let’s pretend you have a hammer and you don’t know how to use it. Chances are you’re gonna use it every which way but the right way.  You might kind of figure out how to get to do what you want, but it’s not going to be as efficient at using it until you learn the proper technique.

Money is no different than a hammer.  You have to know how to use it to get what you want from it. (As a matter of fact, I bet some of you own a hammer and don’t really know the proper way to use it.  Thank you, 4 hours of roofing with Habitat for Humanity.  Turns out I didn’t know how to use one either.)

Don't Be Afraid to Talk About Money!Some of us don’t like talking about money because it makes us uncomfortable.  Maybe you were told it’s rude to talk about money.  Well, I’ll tell you what…it isn’t.

It isn’t rude to talk about money.  Maybe it’s rude to pry about how much money someone makes, but talking about how to save money or invest money or buy a home isn’t rude at all.  How are you going to learn how to make the most of your money, until you ask what others are doing?

You know who talks about money?  People who have money.  Wealthy people.  And you know how they got wealthy and plan to stay wealthy?  By talking about money.

So don’t be shy.  Talk money.  Talk money with me.  Talk money with your honeyTalk money with your children.  Whatever you do, just talk money.

 

Mom Skill to Master: The Reverse Tantrum

Mom Skill to Master: The Reverse Tantrum

There is nothing more terrifying than witnessing tantrum onset: a sharp inhale followed by an intense flood of tears spilling out of glazed over eyes that have you questioning how much it would cost to hire an exorcist to compel the power of Christ to save your child.

Forget waterboarding….let’s work out a toddler-leasing program with the CIA and FBI.  We’ll get our answers and we’ll get them NOW.

Tantrums never happen when you have a wide open day with little to nothing to get done.

No, silly mommies, no.

They don’t.

They don’t happen when Daddy is spending the day laughing and giggling and tickling and doing all the other fun stuff mommy “never” does.  Who hasn’t wanted to deck their spouse when they have the audacity to say “but they never do that with me”?

As if.

You see, tantrums are strategic events that systematically render the target (read: mommy) defenseless and desperate for immediate appeasement.

Think about it.  Most tantrums happen when you’re…

- on the phone for an official/important reason

- running late

- sick or have a headache

- on a deadline

- frustrated or stressed out with fiftymillion other things outside of mom-dom

Am I right?  Am I right?

So check this out.  I came across this cool commercial I saw when we lived in the UK:

Reverse tantrumSee?  Now that’s a mom that has mad mama skills.

The next time La Rubia (or, heaven forbid, La Grande) attempts a temper tantrum, I’m seriously considering unleashing the ultimate tantrum response tool: The Reverse Tantrum.

How do you deal with tantrums?  Have you ever thrown a reverse tantrum?  Would you consider throwing a reverse tantrum?

17 Reasons My Husband Has It Easier

17 Reasons My Husband Has It Easier

That’s right.  I said it  I’m calling him out.  He has it easier.  He has it freer.  He’s…well…he’s in deep doo-doo.  I’m putting this out for the world to see, and I bet my sisters-in-arms will see it just like I do.  Get this…

Hubby gets home from work and scoops the girls up to hang with him while he changes out of his G.I. Joe gear.  I always appreciate the 10 minutes of golden silence I get to put on my ‘spouse hat’…it’s like a mental commute. A-MAZING.  As I’m having a calgon-take-me-away mental break, I hear him call out, “Hey, Hon?  Can you come grab La Rubia?”  My answer: an incredulous “Why?!”

Him: “I have to go to the bathroom.”

Me: “So, go.”

Him: “I can’t.  I have to GO.”

Me: “Just leave the door open.  Let her go with you.”

Him: <offended and slightly put out> “I can’t do that!  I’m a man!”

Me: <annoyed and on the brink> “What do you mean you can’t?  I haven’t seen the inside of a bathroom without an audience in almost 6 years!  Plus, you’re sitting.  You won’t scar her.”

Him: “Come on.  I have to go and I’m not going with an audience.” <closes door>

Me: <like Krakatoa> “Are you kidding me?  This is a horrible double standard!  You will pay!”

And pay, he will.  I  mean, he is.  I am putting this out there for all the stay at home spouses that don’t get a break while holding down the fort, grappling with the kiddos, and making it look easy.  Your other half has no idea.  No.  Earthly.  Clue.

 

My Husband Has It Easier

 

  1. Childbirth (this is a lifelong trump card that I will exploit shamelessly for the rest of our lives).  Did it twice even though I knew the price.
  2. Vasectomy vs. Episiotomy.  Sewed up my nether-regions with souchers that rival nautical rope.  Exact words of my OB w/ La Grande when I asked how many stitches: “Oh, it’s not stitches, honey.  It’s more like a hem.”
  3. I comb three heads of hair…daily.  Him? Zero.  He’s bald.
  4. Bill paying.  He may earn it, but as far as he knows the cable fairy brings us DVR service and the credit fairy granted us killer credit scores.
  5. Laundry.  He must think his dresser is a friggin’ cornucopia of Under Armor underwear and clothing.
  6. Food.  Living in our house for him is like an extended stay at posh B & B.  He shows up and there’s food in the cabinets and on the table.
  7. House cleaning.  Him: “Where do we keep the vacuum cleaner again?”
  8. Activity and vacation planning.  A cruise director has nothing on me.  NO-THING.
  9. Undivided attention.  I don’t even know….(one second, kiddo asking a question)…what that is.
  10. Adult interaction.  Does he have to sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” to his coworkers?  I didn’t think so.
  11. The ability to fall asleep in 5 seconds.
  12. The ability to do any activity while totally tuning out the bloodcurdling screeching of La Rubia Peligrosa.
  13. The ability to not “see” messes.
  14. The luxury of being able to not be thinking of anything.  HOW IS THAT HUMANLY POSSIBLE?!?!?!?!
  15. The ability to not hear a child wake up, even briefly, in the middle of the night (so he says).
  16. The comfort of knowing his children are clean, well loved, healthy, and well disciplined.
  17. Going to the bathroom ALONE.  ALONE!  No questions, stories, or children disclosing the intimate details of what is going on in the stall.  Nobody talking about your business at a volume that doesn’t even qualify as a whisper at a rock concert.  Nobody unraveling the toilet paper like its a NYC ticker tape parade.  Nobody knocking on the door to request a snack, drink, activity to do, or request a status update every 15 seconds.  Nobody trying to hug you, or sit on your lap, or better yet, you sitting them on your lap because they aren’t old enough to stand.  Or going to the bathroom with a baby in one arm while unbuttoning your pants and sliding them down with the other hand.  Or shoving two children and one adult in a standard size stall so that no one abducts or molests said children…

Okay, okay.  Woosah.  That was cathartic.  Isn’t it amazing what a good ole’ fashioned vent will do for you every now and again?

So, who has it easier in your house?  What is your number-one pet peeve?  Share them below!

 

Are You Wasting Money On Your Picky Eater? 3 Ways Parents Can Save Money & Frustration

Are You Wasting Money On Your Picky Eater? 3 Ways Parents Can Save Money & Frustration

La Rubia is a ridiculously, aggravatingly, annoyingly picky eater.  I am convinced that her finickiness has absolutely nothing to do with food and absolutely everything to do with power.    And let me preface this by saying that I know it’s a phase and one day her palate will expand and we will laugh merrily and hold hands and sing Kumbayah around the dinner table, but we aren’t there yet.  Not by a long shot.

As self-professed foodies, our favorite indulgence is definitely going out to eat.  As a family of four we’re typically spending somewhere between $30-40 bucks a meal.  Not cheap.  And certainly not worth it if the meal is wrought with aggrivation and chants of “I don’t ‘yike’ it” or “I’m not hungry (but I really am, but I don’t want to eat what you ordered so I’m being diplomatic).”

I’m not sure if it’s our naivete or wishful thinking -probably wishful thinking- that has us wasting money on La Rubia left and right when we’re out on the town and it’s finally hit a breaking point.  We finally found our common sense parenting (and budgeting) and are re-committed to making these three changes stat.

Picky Eater

Picky Eater Rule Number 1: Forgo the Kids’ Menu and Have Your Child Share with Mom or Dad (or both)

First of all, I hate kids’ food menus anyways.  Who goes out for Japanese to order some chicken nuggets?  Perhaps if it’s served as Chicken Katsu, cool, but nuggets are nuggets, no matter how you slice it. Also, I won’t feel obligated to snatch food off of her plate and add to my own calorie count, thankyouverymuch.

Did you know that grazing off of kids meals contribute to parental weight gain.  True story.

Our best bet is just sharing with La Rubia rather than ordering her her own meal.  I’m sure this will reach a point of diminishing returns, but for now it’s the smartest choice we can make.

Picky Eater Rule Number 2: When In Doubt, Pack A Meal

If I pack La Rubia a meal I don’t have to feel the aggravation of paying anywhere between $4 and $7 for her to NOT eat it.

I might as well set my money on fire, right?

And for some reason, she gets off on carrying her own lunch box.  Weird kid, I know.  I’d rather pack her a cheese stick, bread cubes, a squeezie fruit thing, and a sippy cup filled with water and see her eat it all than watch her pick and staunchly not eat what we bought.

Don’t worry about restaurants regulating on you bringing outside food into the establishment…most won’t even question you based on your child’s age, especially if it’s a toddler or preschooler.  If you’re feeling like you’re breaking the law, just ask and make sure it’s okay.  Chances are they’ll accommodate you.

Picky Eater Rule Number 3: Always Check Kids Eat Free Specials.

If all else fails, I can always pull up my free Out to Eat With Kids App to see local kid’s eat free specials.  At least if I’m not paying for it, it feels a little less painful if she doesn’t really eat her food.  Granted, I’ll feel guilty about the wasted food, but at least my money won’t be self-combusting in front of my face.

How do you save money with your picky eaters?  Are your picky eaters driving you batty?

It’s Here, It’s There, It’s High Fructose Corn Syrup, It’s Everywhere #nohfcs

It’s Here, It’s There, It’s High Fructose Corn Syrup, It’s Everywhere #nohfcs

Do you ever wonder what all the fuss is about high fructose corn syrup?  I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials pumped during prime time television sponsored by the Corn Refiners Association that aim to reassure America’s moms that it’s okay to say “yes” to high fructose corn syrup, right?

After all, at least according to these tv moms, high fructose corn syrup is no different than any other sugar.  As a matter of fact, HFCS, a  is often said to be no different than table sugar.  So what’s the big deal, right?

Well, that’s only partially right.  A study carried out by Princeton University in 2010 examined the effect of the consuming HFCS versus table sugar in lab rats.  As it turns out, rats that had access to HFCS gained significantly more weight than their sugar-water drinking counterparts.

What is even more alarming to that study is that HFCS seems to be in EVERYTHING.  And if you’re curious as to why it’s so prolific, I have two words for you: agricultural subsidies.

Right now, corn is a commodity crop and corn growers  are eligible to receive subsidies for these types of crops.  In simpler terms, America grows an ass-load of super cheap corn.

“Cheap corn has also become a staple in highly processed foods, from sweetened breakfast cereals to soft drinks, that have been linked to an increase in the rate of type 2 diabetes, a condition that currently affects more than one in 12 American adults. Between 1985 and 2010 the price of beverages sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup dropped 24 percent, and by 2006 American children consumed an extra 130 calories a day from these beverages.” Scientific American

Before you go thinking I have it out for corn, I don’t.  I do love corn.  What I have it out for is processed foods. High fructose corn syrup is exactly that – processed.

When I had La Grande, 7 years ago, I’ve been on a mission to really cut down on how much processed food we consume because I noticed that it is really difficult to control the amount of sugar, salt, and fat that goes into our bodies.  Part of my personal awareness campaign really started when I started doing the one thing I always found super obnoxious and extremely pretentious: reading food labels.

I can’t tell you how shocked I was to find HFCS in so man different things!  It’s not just sodas, friends.  Salad dressings?! Yogurt?!  Ridiculous.

I’m a busy mom.  I get it.  There are days I would just rather answer the age old question “What do you want on your Tombstone” than try to conjure up a time consuming meal from scratch (in the event you were wondering about my Tombstone, pepperoni, of course.  Gold star if you got my commercial reference).

I know what you’re thinking. Ditching processed foods is going to be time consuming and expensive.  How are you going to find the time to cook from scratch and keep your grocery bill in check?

I’m not going to lie to you, you’re going to spend a little more time in the kitchen. But not much. You may feel like you’re not saving money at first, but I promise, once you build your pantry, you will. Plus, the more you’re cooking at home, the less you’re eating out.

And I’ll do you one better -  when you’re controlling how much salt, how much sugar, and how much fat you and your family are consuming, it’ll save you money by keeping your body running at optimal performance.  Put junk in, get junk out.  Right?

Ditching (or minimizing) processed foods is the ultimate investment in you and your family’s health.  Bar none.

Looking for fun recipes to help you ditch some processed foods?  I’ve got a few of my favorites here!

5 Ways to Honor Love, Sleep and Play With Your Children Every Day + Pamper’s Prizepack Giveaway!

5 Ways to Honor Love, Sleep and Play With Your Children Every Day + Pamper’s Prizepack Giveaway!

This is part of a compensated campaign with Latina Mom Bloggers and Pampers.  However, all opinions expressed are my own.

I have to constantly remind myself to unplug from my world and plug-in to my children, which is one of the reasons I’m so glad to be a part of Pamper’s Love, Sleep, and Play Campaign (I have a really cool baby-centric giveaway at the bottom, so keep reading).  It’s so important that we remember to celebrate those little moments in our children’s lives and truly be present with them because you can’t ever get that time back.

To honor these priceless love, sleep and play moments, Pampers hosted a special event on the evening of August 21st in New York City’s iconic Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal along with celebrity mama-to-be Jennifer Love Hewitt and celebrity parents and Mexican actress and TV host, Jacqueline Bracamontes, to reveal a stunning 3-D photo installation  that celebrated unique ways babies experience love, sleep and play.

LSP Collage

My babies might not be so small anymore and maybe yours aren’t either but that doesn’t mean that just because our babies are big kids now we can’t celebrate love, sleep, and play too!  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get sucked into the day-to-day not-so-exciting tasks of life.  I can get so busy trying to get through all of my daily tasks and chores that sometimes La Grande and La Rubia are more like obstacles to productivity than my sweet little girls.

One mantra that I strive to tell myself every day is that just because my universe doesn’t exclusively revolve around my children, my childrens’ universes revolve entirely around me and my husband. 

Here are five easy things you should incorporate into your day that make a universe of difference to your children:

1. Do take time to unplug from the screen and plug-in to your child’s life.

I get it. I’m social media junkie and am constantly tied in online.  When La Grande gets home from school, I force myself to shut the screen and sit down, just the two of us, to catch up on her day, her friends, and discuss her homework assignments.

2. Don’t be afraid to get down and play!

Everybody has 20 minutes to play a game or do a puzzle.  My favorite quick games that the girls love are Memory or Old Maid or Go Fish.  It’s a crowd pleaser and a time pleaser!

3. Bedtime stories are way more fun with voices.

The goofier your voice, the better!  Other great ways to take a story and spice it up are to ask questions and engage in “what comes next” prediction games with your audience.

4. Find  a game in the mundane.

Who said you can’t spend quality time with your child during a car commute or errands run?  Kids love making a game out of anything!  We often play count how many ____ color cars you see on the way to the store.  Feel free to take that one!

5. No matter what kind of day you’ve had, always have a hug and kiss ready to go.

My children are amazing and awesome and can drive me totally insane.  No matter how disappointed I might be in their behavior, I never withhold a hug or a kiss.

Win with Pampers Love, Sleep, and Play Giveaway!

I have a fabulous giveaway for all of my readers as part of our Love, Sleep, and Play Celebration!  Watch the Pampers Love Sleep & Play NYC Video below and  leave me a comment below with the unique ways that your little ones (or big babies) express love, sleep or play.

The Pamper’s Prize Pack Includes:

  •  A lovie blanket – for wonderful LOVE-filled moments
  • “Buenas Noches Luna” book – to prepare baby for a great night of SLEEP
  • Cloud B Sleep Sheep – to help lull baby to SLEEP
  • A Playskool toy – to help baby enjoy moments of PLAY
  • Coupon for a pack of Pampers diapers and wipes – to help baby make the most out of Love, Sleep & Play

Please join Pampers and Latina Mom Bloggers for the Love, Sleep & Play Twitter Party on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 9pm ET. To be eligible to win prizes you must RSVP at Latina Mom Bloggers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Intervention…Barbie Edition

Intervention…Barbie Edition

Hair fried.

Clothing strewn across the house.

Ariel passed out on the floor.

Pediatrician Barbie left the baby in the tub…unattended.

Every time I entered La Grande’s room over the past few weeks, the dollhouse was an eyesore.  It always looked like her dolls had just wrapped up a rave and an orgy the night before.  The girls looked tore up.  Scratch that.  To’ up.  From the flo’ up.

I kept asking La Grande to kindly dress her Barbies- after all, the neighbors <read: me> were complaining.  They can’t just sit there letting it all hang out.

And why on Earth was Jasmine wearing Rapunzel’s clothing?  And Ariel? She opted to wear nothing but fin.  Shameless, I tell you.

But worse than the clothing is the hair.

First of all, what weird-ass material are these companies using to make this hair?  How is it that the hair comes beautifully smoothed and after a few hours of play looks like someone who’s experienced hours of shock therapy?

Rapunzel has had two, read it TWO haircuts since she moved in.  Bitch has got to get that hair under control.

Well, I just reached a point that I couldn’t take it any more.  I had to do something.  The girls couldn’t live in this kind of abject squalor any longer.

It was time for an intervention.

barbies intervention sq

I grabbed my best hair products, de-tangling comb, and pony tail holders and got to work.

By the time it was all said and done, the girls were cleaned up, dressed up, nicely styled and lounging comfortably in their newly cleaned dream home.  It was like express rehab at a meth-infested whorehouse.

Now, from all my stints watching Intervention and Hoarders, I know that the girls have a strong likelihood of a back slide and relapse…but for now, I’ll just bathe in the afterglow.  I mean, it should last at least a week or so, right?

Barbie image from Emily Schrek’s Flickr Feed via CC by SA 2.o.

A New School Year is Better than the New Year

A New School Year is Better than the New Year

I love school.  Even though I’m no longer a student or a teacher, I find that the beginning of a new school year is magical, even more so than New Years.

New clothing.  Sharp crayons.  A snazzy new backpack.  Unsmudged erasers.

New friends. New attitudes. New adventures.

A return to routine.  Yes, this.  A return to routine.

Everything is so fresh and new and exciting.  Even the painfully early mornings are beautiful.

New Year’s is kind of a cliche “fresh start” but a new school year?  That’s as fresh as it gets. You know?

You can reinvent yourself.  Recommit yourself.  And I find that, as a mom, a new school year is a fresh start for me too.

Both girls are in school this year and to be quite honest, I really needed some time to get my head on straight.

Between opting out of the traditional work force, the lazy crazy meandering non-routine of summer, and Homeskillet’s outrageous unavailability, I haven’t been very kind to myself…unless you call snacking, grazing and generally not-working-out being kind.  Which I don’t.

The worst part is that I know EXACTLY what I have to do in order to get it back together.  Isn’t that the pits?  When you’re the only person standing in your own damn way?

If you’re anything like me, you just need a push sometimes.  That catalyst that jump starts awesomeness.  That I AM AWESOME HEAR ME ROAR stuff, ya know?  And for me, that’s the start of the school year.

I’m shaking off my literal and proverbial pajamas, becoming one with the sun (and an earlier bedtime), and am ready to get my girls through this school year with a healthy mom pushing them from behind.

Here are a few things I need to focus on this school year:

- Beating my kids awake…woah, not like that. Talk about a poor choice of words. I have to wake up BEFORE them….at least 20-30 minutes ahead of them.  I bet I have your attention now.

- Making lunch the night before…for ALL of us.

- Working out…no excuses. 4 days a week at least.

- Keeping up with my weekly menu…with minimal lapse…so we don’t order out because I am weak…and lazy…and weak.

- Setting real work/life boundaries…and sticking to them.  “Mommy time is mommy time, not working mommy time.” <repeat>

I think this is a pretty tall order by itself.  Do you set goals for the school year?

How are you taking advantage of this new school year?  Any new routines, tips, or techniques you’re implementing this year?

When Does School Start Again?

When Does School Start Again?

Toast.  I am toast.  My summer fun goals are out the window.  If I play another board game thanks to the rainiest summer ever on record I think I’ll have a stroke.

Beach…pool…summer camp…fort building…fairy tea parties…painting…car trips…we did it.

If I have to hear “Mom, so what are we doing today” one more time, I think I’ll jump out of the window…and it’s totally drama worthy because I live on the second floor, so I’d surely break or bruise something.  Anything.

I have constant dialogue that just wont stop.  From the moment I wake up, pre-coffee mind you, to the moment they go to sleep, my entourage follows me.

square mom toastQuestioning me.

Quizzing me.

Interviewing me.

Staring at me.

Leaning on me.

Sitting on me.

Begging me… to see the latest drawing, invention, creation, or disaster…depending on your perspective.

I think it started out as the former and became the latter.

Whatever.

I just need a moment…alone.  A moment where I can string two thoughts together seamlessly or have a phone conversation without having a pantomime of “can-I-have-some-ice-cream-play-outside-I’m-bored-she-hit-me-in-the-eye.”

And before you tell me I should be more patient, more present, more of a mother.  Just stop.  I don’t want to hear it.

This is where I am and I am just going to sit in it for a moment.

Just a moment.

There, that’s better.

Time to breathe, shake it off, and get back in the game.

5 Easy Steps to Makeover Your Budget

5 Easy Steps to Makeover Your Budget

Are you looking for a down and dirty guide to help you build a budget?  I’ve got 5 steps to get your budget built and on track.  Download my MS Excel version or printable budget worksheet and make your budget happen!

Step 1: Figure out how much money you really make.

You’ll need to grab your most current pay stub, if you’re salaried or have a regular, predictable hourly schedule.  If your hours vary, you work on commission, or you earn overtime, you might want to grab 3-6 months worth of paystubs to help you get an accurate picture of your income.

Check out my step-by-step guide to figure out how much money you make each month.

Step 2: Determine how much it costs you to be you.

Everyone has three types of expenses in their budget: fixed expenses, flexible expenses, and periodic expenses.

  • Fixed Expenses stay the same every month.  Examples: mortgage, rent, cable bill, insurance premium, savings deposits, retirement contributions, loan repayment
  • Flexible Expenses…yep you guessed it, they fluctuate from month to month.  Examples: Gas, groceries, clothing, electricity
  • Periodic Expenses happen annually, quarterly…you get the idea. Examples: holidays, car maintenance, property tax, birthdays, car registration

Check out my step-by-step guide to determining your monthly expenses.

square makeoverStep 3: Get a grip on your debt.  Know how much you owe and who you owe it to.

Regardless the type of debt that you carry, the most important thing you can do is execute a plan to get out of debt in the smartest, quickest, cheapest way possible.

Quick tips for paying down common types of debt:

  • Credit Cards & Personal Loans: Pay off high interest credit cards first.  Or just go visit my favorite smart, quick, cheap, FREE debt repayment calculator at PowerPay.
  • Car Loans: Make extra car payments or send a little bit more in each month to bring down the interest costs.
  • Mortgage: If you can make an additional mortgage payment each year, you can save yourself a substantial amount of money on interest.
  • Student Loans:  If your loans create a major burden on your wallet, see if you qualify for an income based repayment plan.

Step 4: Start looking at ways to cut back on your monthly expenses

Here are some resource to help you save money on your housing, food, utilities, and other monthly expenses:

Step 5: Plan your budget with savings in mind.

Every solid budget has emergency savings at its core, along with other short and long-term savings goals.  Here are a few resources to guide you on developing your savings plans:

Once you’ve got your budget down on paper, the next step is to monitor your spending and keept it

What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to your budget?  Do you have any budgeting tips to share?  Leave a comment below!

 

Military Money Chica Mamiverse Feature by Diana Limongi

Military Money Chica Mamiverse Feature by Diana Limongi

Thank you so much to Mamiverse and Diana Limongi (check out her blog, LadydeeLG and follow her on Facebook), for interviewing me and sharing my story.  I am honored.

For Adrianna Domingos-Lupher, aka Military Money Chica, the Armed Forces have always been a part of her life. She declares herself an Army brat; it’s all she’s ever known. Domingos-Lupher married her high school sweetheart (they even went to prom together!), who is in the Armed Forces. She is mom of two beautiful girls, whom she sweetly refers to as “La Rubia y La Grande.” Today, after years of working at many different types of jobs, Domingos-Lupher uses her skills to provide opportunities for military spouses and their families. Not only is she giving back to her community, she is helping build community.

The Military Money Chica-MainPhoto

MILITARY SPOUSE TO MILITARY MONEY CHICA

Being the spouse of an active military member is hard on many levels: just imagine all the things non-military couples deal with, and then think about your spouse being deployed, possibly to dangerous parts of the world, for months at a time, leaving you in charge of everything. Maybe you’ve got kids to take care of; maybe you have to move frequently depending on where your spouse is stationed. Domingos-Lupher was additionally frustrated at having an MA in Education but no job where she could use her skills. Since she had always loved writing, she began blogging as a way to vent. In less than a year, all the stars aligned, and she went from blogging on Tumblr to creating Military Money Chica, a blog about finances, the military spouse experience and relationships…

Read more at Mamiverse…

Imaginary Friends Are Normal, Right?

Imaginary Friends Are Normal, Right?

La Rubia has a new friend named “Baby Bird” and I’m trying not to allow the small corner of my brain that is flashing “danger, Will Robinson” to cause me to panic.  Imaginary friends are totally normal.  I get that.  But it’s still kind of weird.

This is what I see…

imagination

But I think this is what she sees…

baby bird

Even though I pride myself on applying the CTFD (Calm the F Down) approach to parenting most of the time, I sometimes I can’t help but be a little paranoid.  I mean, one friend is cool.  Maybe a second wouldn’t be so bad, but if it turns into this…

menagerie

I might be singing another tune.

For now, I’m trying to CTFD and have fun with our new housemate.

From what I’ve learned so far, Baby Bird doesn’t like taking naps.  Nor does Baby Bird like to stay put.  He/She flies all over the place and is often found resting in the most interesting places.  Baby Bird loves snacks and sometimes doesn’t share with La Rubia.  Baby Bird is a great influence on La Rubia and when I ask Baby Bird  to clean up, La Rubia always insists on helping, too! <insert devilish smile here>

Did your children have imaginary friends?  Did they name them?  When did they outgrow them?

5 Ways Your Military Family Can Save Even More With Disney’s Armed Forces Salute

5 Ways Your Military Family Can Save Even More With Disney’s Armed Forces Salute

We are in full Disney vacation planning mode in the wake of Disney’s Armed Forces Salute Renewal Announcement for 2013-2014 and I’m preparing to make sure we get the most Mickey we can get with the least amount of money…and this is how we do it!  (Go ahead, channel your inner Montell Jordan.  I know I am.)

armedforces

1. Pick the Right Disney Parks Ticket Option

Our Armed Forces Salute Ticket of Choice? 4 Day Military Promotional Tickets with Water Park Fun and More Option.  This gives us 4 days of parks AND 4 days of water parks resulting in 8 days of Disney awesomeness!  Don’t forget to buy it at your installation’s ITT office!

Why?  We are park monogamous.  We don’t park hop because we’d rather not go through the park-to-park transit in the middle of the day.  We are also hard core park goers…we stay from open-to-close on most days.

We love Disney in the Fall!

We love Disney in the Fall!

2. Visit Disney Off-Season

Summer means hibernation for Floridians and I’m still pretty scarred from childhood summer trips to Disney.  The crowds!  The heat!  The mid-day thunderstorm!  Oh, and most importantly, the higher prices!

Disney has pricing seasons.  Any money savvy vacation planners, should definitely take note of when they are.

Check out YourFirstVisit.net for an awesomely detailed price season analysis.

3. Stay at the Walt Disney World Resort

Yes.  Just do it.  As a child I never stayed on resort so it was always my dream to see what it was like.  Our first full resort/park vacation in 2009 sealed the deal for me for life.  Not only are you conveniently located on Disney property, you have the option to use resort transportation or you can drive your own vehicle without having to pay additional for parking…it’s a resort perk!

You have several pricing options when it comes to finding the right hotel, but if budget is driving your decision…

4. Pick A Disney Value Resort

The way we see it, we’re hardly spending any time in our rooms.  We’re not there to chill out in our four walls…we’re at Disney to hang with Mickey!  We’ve stayed on resort twice, both times at value resorts (Pop Century & All-Star Movies) and it was fabulous.

Did you know that the resorts are offering military discounts, too?  You can save 30, 35, 0r 40% on rooms booked at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL or 40% off rooms booked at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA.  I always call direct to (407) 939-5277.

5. Add the Disney Dining Plan

Homeskillet and I opted to add in the meal plan as an experiment during our 2009 trip and it more than paid for itself!  As budgetistas, we opted for the quick-service dining plan and then studied the hell out of the menus of all of the participating restaurants.  At that time the plan allowed for two quick service meals and two snacks per person per day (way too much food, in our opinion), but now is 2 meals and 1 snack per day…much more our speed.

Fun foodie fact? Wolfgang Puck Express in Downtown Disney offers a fabulous 15% military discount all the time.  It’s our fave stop.  We never miss it.  AND it’s considered a quick service meal.  Bonus!

So what are you waiting for?!  Let’s start planning and saving for our next Disney vacation right now!

Are you planning on heading to Disney?  What’s your favorite thing about visiting?

Disney Armed Forces Salute is Renewed for 2013-2014!

Disney Armed Forces Salute is Renewed for 2013-2014!

I am so excited to share the news about Disney renewing its Armed Forces Salute through September 2014 (big thanks to Military Disney Tips for the scoop…go like them on Facebook)!  Since the military saw fit to make Florida our semi-permanent state of residence since 2007, we’ve taken major advantage of the fabulous discount programs available to military families via our installation ITT specifically this one.

Here’s what you need to know about Disney’s Armed Forces Salute program for military families for September 1, 2013- September 28, 2014:

 Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, FL

Ticket Options:

  • 4 Day Park Hopper ($169)
  • 4 Day Park + Water Parks & More ($169)
  • 4 Day Park Hopper + Water Parks & More ($198)

 Related Resort Discounts:

  • 40% off Deluxe Resorts
  • 35% off Moderates and Fort Wilderness Cabins
  • 30% off Value Resorts including Art of Animation

 Block Out Dates:

  • December 20-31, 2013- No Theme Park or Water Park Use
  • April 13-20, 2014- No Theme Park or Water Park Use
  • July 4, 2014- No Magic Kingdom Use
  • November 28-30- No resort room discounts

Eligibility:

  • Current military members who are active duty, reserve, or national guard
  • Retired military members from active duty, reserve, or national guard.
  • 100% Service Connected Disabled Veterans
  • Spouses and unremarried widows of above

Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, CA

Tickets:

  • 3 Day Park Hopper Pass ($129)

Resort Discounts:

  • 40% off Resorts

Military Disney Tips has a fantastic comprehensive page about restrictions and uses for Disney’s Armed Forces Salute Program, do check it out!

I’ll be sharing my best tips for making the most of your military family’s Disney vacation tomorrow!

ent.getElementById('fb-root').appendChild(e); }());