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With Spring on the way, the weather is starting to improve and people everywhere are starting to think about how to prepare their home for some spring fun. Spring can be an extremely enjoyable time of year, but you’ve got to know how to plan for it in order to get the most out of the season. There are plenty of small upgrades you can make to your home, especially if you live in a warm-weather climate. The more time and money you can put into the project, the more enjoyable spring is likely to be for you and your family.
Here are just a few upgrades that you can make to your home in order to get the most out of spring this year.

Install a Basketball Hoop

There’s nothing better than spending a warm spring day outside shooting hoops. Not only does playing basketball serve as a great way to keep your family in shape, it can also help to foster teamwork and togetherness. Installing a basketball hoop outside doesn’t have to be costly, especially if you’re sure to stick to a budget when making the purchase. You might also want to look for used basketball hoops, which is a great way to save money in the process.

Consider Indoor Activities

Just because spring weather can be warm and enjoyable doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of things for you to do within the confines of your own home. One great way to make your home more fun to hang out in is to install an indoor shuffleboard, which you can even add to a section of your living room if it’s big enough. Shuffleboard Federation Store is a great resource for those who are looking to make this upgrade, which can be completed for far less money than you might think.

Build a Tree House

Years ago, it seemed like every block had at least a few tree houses, some of which were probably built mainly to compete with the neighbors! While tree houses seem to be less common than in the past, they still make for a great spring upgrade to any home. Building a tree house is a great project for the spring, and can be fun to get the whole family involved in. Since the Internet is rife with tree house plans (many of which are free), you can customize your project as much as you might choose to.

Upgrading your home for the spring can be a great way to add excitement to the lives of you and your family, and doesn’t have to be costly.

 

*Thank you for the great tips!

Self-guidance, with personal finance, can be a challenging task with so many elements in motion whether it’s stress brought on through your job’s pay or managing your taxes. There are plenty of tools and services that will aid your progress through the financial “muck” but the best beacon of clarity comes from your personal choices for managing (and getting out of) debt.

Education is the Light

Education is the key component to surviving financial insecurity.

You can’t predict life and the wild curveballs thrown at you but you can certainly prepare for the worst – especially in your finances because all it takes is a little education on your part in order to gain a better command over your money.

You could go to a tax professional or you could grab the bull by the horns and take control:

  • Know your income – Know how much you’re actually bringing home after taxes
  • Know your debts – Know each and every expense that’s leaving your account
  • Set a schedule – Plan when you will pay each bill, on time, so there’s no overlap
  • Choose a method – Find a system that works for you in paying off your debt
  • Stay motivated – Learn how to entertain yourself and feel comfortable with sacrifice
  • Seek support – Lean on friends and family for support through the rough times

One of the best investments you can do, right now, is to take the afternoon to read through as much financial advice that you can handle. Consider purchasing a few of the best-selling, top-rated books on Amazon, talk to friends about finances, go onto forums and ask for suggestions about debt, or call government helplines that will give you traction toward debt-free living.

Your financial education will give you a guiding light from the darkness that is debt; tap into the wonderful, free resources plentifully available through this amazing tool we call the Internet and make the decision to escape the dark waters this very moment.

Financial Goals … the Direction

Understand that the path to a debt-free existence comes from making hard sacrifices to your everyday routine. Yes, you will need to give up on many a vice, cut back on expenses, cancel subscriptions, and remove those financial ticks that are sucking at your wallet.

Set a financial goal:

  • Decide when you will be completely debt-free (the exact day)
  • Break down how you will achieve this goal
  • Write it down and stick it to the wall for a constant reminder

What you may want to consider is going through the tool provided by MyMoneyCheckup which is a free service offered by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling that will give you a realistic examination of your current standing with finances (and sensible actions to escape debt).

Go over to MyMoneyCheckup.org and proceed with the following:

  1. Sign up for a free account (make sure you set a strong password)
  2. Work your way through each of the questions on the “quiz” and answer truthfully or as close as you can (this would be a good time to dig out your financial records)
  3. Allow the tool to run the report and spend 30 minutes to 1 hour to examine the resources for those areas marked in red (the most important items) and then through the yellow.

If you’re a Spanish speaker, they just released a new version for your language.

Word of the wise: download and share the PDF-version of the report with your closest friends and family as they may have a wealth of wisdom to offer to handle these financial downfalls.

After you’re doing with the report, you should begin forming your budget with your new found education in finances. Lay out the important details of your income, savings, and expenses; use the financial calculator (presented after the report) to make appropriate changes to the budget.

From there, just keep working at it. Contribute a little more each chance that you can toward knocking down that debt. The first month or two will seem like hell because you’re missing out on so many fun activities but think of what will come about after the debt has been completely eliminated … that’s right … financial freedom.

Shopping online can really save you a lot of money. You’d be amazed at what you can buy online these days. Anything from clothes to groceries to medicine; all at the tip of your fingers. While we’re not advocating becoming a hermit and never leaving the house, we do aim to make life a bit more convenient when possible. You may not always have the time to get up and go get that toilet paper, or baby diapers. In addition to making life a bit easier, shopping online can make life a bit cheaper too. Here are some tips to save money with shopping online.

Check Out Store Websites
A lot of stores will offer discounts and deals on products online that aren’t offered in stores. Stores like WalMart offer so many variety of goods online from groceries to furniture. It’s always worth checking the site before you leave the house to see if you can get what you need at a cheaper price. Some things are also only sold online, and not in the stores. It could definitely save a lot of gas money buying online rather than checking store after store for that one special items.

Free Shipping
A store like WalMart has such a huge inventory, and many of those items qualify for free shipping. Even the items that don’t automatically qualify for free shipping, you can often find a free shipping coupon from WalMart. The coupon usually requires a code that can be used multiple times, and can be found at a site like savings.com.

Ship to Store
Another option is to have your items shipped directly to the store. This is usually a free option for many department stores. Many goods offered online are not carried in the stores, or maybe sold online and are out of stock at the store site. Simply order your goods, check to see if they qualify for ship to store site and wait for an email letting you know that your order is ready for pick up.

Calculate Before You Go
If you’re not sure whether saving the money on shipping could really make up for the gas money you would spend driving around, calculate your shipping. Most shopping sites will let you enter your zip code, and they will calculate shipping costs for you online. Any online coupons you use can easily make up for any money you end up spending on shipping costs. Sign up for enewsletters from specific store or couponing sites that will inform you about daily deals, weekly specials and when things go on clearance. You could really end up saving yourself quite a bundle.

 

*Thank you for these great tips.

With the wedding only 8 months away, I am starting to realize I will have to pack up my house and get ready to move.  Yea!  Moving …. AGAIN!  At time of the wedding lil c and I will only have been in our house for 2 years. And I hate to say it but I still have yet to fully UNPACK.   This time we are going to be moving IN with someone, who already has a furnished house.  Now it is going to be time to actually go through ALL my stuff and decide what is worth keeping and what I can just get rid of.  I have TONS of stuff to go through,  and I am pretty sure that I wont be keeping a lot of it… So I will be on the search for a company like  http://www.anyvan.com/removals to help me with my needs.  Hopefully There wont be TOO much for them to have to take…. But with having a 3 bedroom condo, you never know!

Lil C cracks me up.  He is sitting there and worrying about moving.  He’s worried that we wont take his things – poor lil guy.  That’s the only thing that he is worried about when it comes to mommy getting remarried.  He’s worried that his clothes wont go to the new house… or his dresser.. I keep trying to reassure him that nothing of his will be left behind (Not saying that I may not weed out some of his old toys/clothes and give them to someone in need)

This move is going to be nerve wrecking.  Like Lil C,  I am looking forward to it, but in the same aspect I’m not.  I don’t want to have to unpack, repack and unpack again!  Do you have any suggestions for combining two houses?

Planning a birthday party for your kid doesn’t have to be a daunting task. It can be exciting in every sense of the word. However, in order to plan a good party, you need to get everything in the right place. In this article we shall be discussing how you can go about throwing an enjoyable party for your child.
Set the Foundation for a Great Party

In order to make your kid’s birthday party successful, you need to first get these basics right.

1. Choose the Theme - The party’s theme is important because that’s what ultimately sets the mood. Take some input from your kid and consider his favorite hobby, story or movie and decide a theme around it.

2. Prepare the Invites – Once you’re done deciding how many guests you’ll be inviting, create or buy invitations for the party that goes along with the theme you chose. Include all the relevant details and the RSVP information too.

3. Decorate Right – Even though your decoration depends on your party theme, you should try to keep it simple. Be creative in your approach and coordinate paper plates, tablecloths and napkins with your theme. You can buy these and many other birthday party items at PartyProducts.com.

Have Kid Friendly Party Foods

When it comes to birthday party food, children want the tastiest stuff, even if it’s unhealthy. However, you should not only aim at the taste, but also the health factor too by choosing foods like…

#1: Sandwiches – Children don’t like proper meals and small, tasty sandwiches are a great way to get them to have one. You can fill the sandwiches with nutritious fillings like cheese, turkey or plain old peanut butter and jelly.

#2: Kebabs – Kebabs work great because they can be eaten on the go. Since they contain fruit, vegetable and meat, they make a healthy snack. Kids who don’t like eating their green peas can get their serving of vegetables and fruit this way.

#3: Cheese & Crackers – Get a large plate and nicely arrange various types of cheese such as cheddar/mozzarella and place crackers around it. The kids can then create their own cheese & cracker sandwiches or eat them individually.

Arrange for Fun Birthday Party Games

While there are many different games you can try your hand on, here are a few popular ones…

1) Pin the tail on the donkey
2) Musical chairs
3) Treasure hunt
4) Bobbing for apples
5) Piñata

Regardless of how different you plan your birthday party, the above tips will definitely come handy when it comes to make your party successful.

If you’ve purchased enough toys and are instead looking for some good educational gifts or stocking stuffers for your kids this year, there are a bunch of great things out there that can help even little ones get a head start on learning one of the most important life skills — managing money. It’s something they probably won’t learn in school but that they will absolutely need in life. Some of these gift ideas can make learning about money pretty fun for everyone!

Monopoly. It’s a popular board game that almost everyone has played, but there are some really great opportunities for learning about money in Monopoly. There are lots of real estate concepts involved, such as mortgages, deeds, and rental charges, and whoever is the banker must count and keep track of money being transferred in and out.

The Game of Life. This is another great board game that allows kids to realize how various choices they make throughout their lives will have a direct impact on their financial well-being. Your kids will get to make decisions about car and home purchases and will see how going to college can often lead to more career options.

A Piggy Bank. It’s not as technologically updated as some of the gifts that may be on your kids’ wish lists, but a piggy bank is a great way to start to teach them about the importance of saving. There are tons of fun ones out there and even the littlest of kids can start to get excited about putting birthday money and found change away to use for something special in the future.

A Coin Sorter. A coin sorter may encourage your kids to start keeping a closer eye on change they find lying around, giving you an opportunity to teach them that a penny saved is worth even more than a penny earned (because of taxes). They can then roll the coins, bring them to the bank, and get dollar bills to stick in their Piggy Bank!

Anne Perkins is a freelance writer focused on how to live large on a little living. She writes financial savings tips for QuickQuid, the UK cash advance provider, and enjoys taking any idea and making it easier or cheaper to complete.

This year is going to be one of the first years that we are planning on entertaining for the Holidays.  So we have been going around the house trying to get everything to look the best that we can.  The kitchen is fully cleaned – and organized in a way that is functional and very simple looking.   The living room is arranged where we can entertain all our friends and family.  The kids rooms are tidy and organized (lets hope they can stay that way).  Our Family room is set up – awaiting the weekend so we can put up and start decorating our tree…

Everything is just about set – except for one or two rooms in the house.  Both of our bathrooms do need to be made over before our Christmas Guests arrive.  They are very basic and have only the necessities – shower, sink and toilet. There’s not much useful space for storage.  I have been searching for places that have a Variety of bathroom furniture.  Bathrooms tend to be the hardest place to keep looking “Pretty” as well as Functional.  I have been looking at corner shelving units so I can throw a little Holiday Spirit – like a little Santa or Small tree – along with places to put our typical bathroom stuff.  I have also been on the look out for a new Towel Rack.  Just something so I can hang cute little Holiday Themed Hand towels on.

After the 2 bathrooms get their holiday make over, the House will be complete. Well at least for now they will. I’m pretty sure that my guy will find something else to do to improve our house.  Then on to next summer – when we decide to redo the back yard.  There’s Plenty to do there… Hopefully we will be able to get that all done in time for our summer time gatherings and bonfires.

 

Dating is never easy and it the cold weather certainly doesn’t make it any easier. You can’t go to a movie in the park, out to dinner on a nice patio restaurant, or get ice cream on the pier. However, with the right research, you can plan the perfect date on a cold winter night. First of all, do some research about the local outdoor activities in your area. Many cities offer carriage rides through downtown to see the snow-covered trees and decorated storefronts, all ready for the holiday season.

Another option is to take your date ice skating or skiing. Try to figure out if he/she knows how to do either of these activities and go from there. If they’ve never skied before, maybe sign up for a beginners lesson or do a few rounds on the bunny hill. Ice skating is always a great option for a winter date as it sparks conversation and often a few laughs when you first hit the ice. If these types of activities aren’t your fancy, try doing some research about the best places in town to get winter drinks (hot cocoa, eggnog, even 21+ options) and do a tour through these restaurants or cafes. It’s a great way to explore your area, walk around and try new drinks. Bonus points if you find one where you can enjoy your drinks by the fire! You can also do this with desserts or appetizers, but whatever you choose, it’s a great way to impress your date!

If staying inside in the warmth is more your scene, there are tons of options besides the old dinner-and-a-movie plan. Try looking ahead and seeing what shows, plays, concerts or anything of the sort is coming up in your area. These types of activities demonstrate your ability to plan ahead and that you enjoy broadening your horizons a little bit.

Another great activity to do inside during the winter is a make-your-own dinner date. It’s too cold to go wandering around the city, trying to find a place to eat so why not bring the meal to your house? Plan ahead and buy everything you need to make lasagna or ham, something warm, and invite your date over for drinks and a meal you make together. This casual date allows for great conversation and a good laugh.

When you’re getting ready for your date, make sure you pick out something appropriate to wear if you opt for an outside option and let your date know if she should wear something warm. On the men’s side, try some nice pants and a warm but nice looking jacket for your date outside. Wear comfortable shoes if you plan to walk around town, but make sure they still fit nicely with your outfit.

If you plan to stay inside and warm up with your at-home meal, try to look classy with a nice pair of slacks and shirt or sweater. On the woman’s side, you should wear something warm and comfortable for an outside date and something a little more sophisticated for your dinner-at-home date. Tons of online stores and little boutiques sell great women’s dresses for the winter, and could be perfect for your winter activities!

Most families don’t take the time to calculate how much they spend on entertainment each year. However, concerts, movies and other events tend to become expensive, and they can put a strain on any budget. Fortunately, there are free and low cost alternatives out there that allow families to spend quality time without spending a ton of cash.

Movies may offer great entertainment, but they are hardly good value for a family’s hard earned dollars. Wait for films to come out on DVDs in most instances. Renting a DVD is far cheaper than theater tickets, and homemade snacks always taste better than theater food. For those movies that simply have to be seen in the theater, consider smuggling in candy and drinks in a purse. Also, wait a few weeks after the movie’s release and then look for theaters that show second run films. Admission prices can be slashed in half this way. Keep in mind that matinees are always cheaper and that some movie theaters even offer extra discounts for kids, particularly during the summer months.

Taking the whole family to concerts or other live performances is always fun, but it’s usually also expensive. Seek out high school and college play productions and musical performances. While some of the performers may not be as polished as professionals, these are often surprisingly fun shows that foster community involvement. On top of that, families can gain admission to these shows by spending just a few bucks. When a professional concert is necessary, visit Stubhub to look for a discount. Reduced prices on Sensation tickets make taking the whole family to a concert a reality instead of a dream.

Both big cities and small towns typically sponsor a broad range of community events. These could be founder’s day celebrations, music festivals, agricultural fairs, craft shows and more. Families can sign up for a community newsletter that contains festival and event information so that they are always aware of fun, and often free, events for the whole family. To save money on buying food at these events, pack along a picnic lunch or eat before leaving home. These alternatives probably also offer better nutrition than food picked up at festival booths.

Schedule a game night with friends that is fun for every family member. Invite a few other families over to share in the festivities. Consider having a potluck meal, and ask each family to bring a favorite board game. With a minimum outlay of cash, it’s possible to have an entertaining night without even leaving home. Families that don’t have board games can scour yard sales and second hand stores to find inexpensive alternatives to brand new games.

Museums are fun and educational entertainment. Most of them offer at least one day or afternoon a month when admission is free. Contact individual museums to see if they offer such a program and plan to show up early on that day. These are usually popular events.

litenfit

Ever since trying  Dannon’s Light & Fit Greek Yogurt at BlogHer, I have now found my new favorite mid-day snack. Everyone  always told me that yogurt is good for you.  So over the years, I would try a yogurt or two – trying different flavors… but none of them ever seemed to agree with me… until I tried Dannon.  I love the flavors that Dannon offers – but the only line of yogurt that I have been able to hold down is their Light & Fit line.
Now that Dannon has come out with a NEW Light & Fit product – I am hooked!  Their Light & Fit line has a great new line of Greek Yogurt.  This yogurt has a ton of great features and benefits such as:

  • 80 Calories per 5.3oz
  • 0% Fat
  • 2X the protein of regular lowfat yogurt (Contains 14% more of the DV of protein (7g) than regular lowfat yogurt)
  • Available in Strawberry, Blueberry, Cherry, and Vanilla
  • 4-pack MSRP: $3.99

The past few months I have been able to lose weight – 20lbs to be exact.  Now my goal is to keep at my weight  - and NOT gain any back.  Having a great tasting,  healthy snacks is KEY in weight management.  Now I am looking forward to eating foods and snacks – especially when I know that I will be getting more proteins, 0% Fat and only 80 calories per serving!   I CANNOT wait for my next grocery trip!  I am defiantly going to stock up on some  Light & Fit Greek  nonfat Strawberry Yogurt!  I’ll leave the cookies that I had stashed for Lil C  - and trade it for A serving of Light & Fit Greek.   And if you are curious about my weigh management… yes, I am doing good at keeping my weight in check!

One of my new favorite recipes is the Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt Market Berry Muffins.  I know it doesn’t feature  Light & Fit Greek, but it is STILL A DELICIOUS Breakfast.  And a great way to start your day!

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup Dannon® Oikos® Greek nonfat vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup market berries of choice

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Line a standard size muffin pan with paper liners
  • Combine all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl
  • In a small bowl combine Dannon Oikos Greek nonfat vanilla yogurt, milk, vegetable oil, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla and blend well
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until barely combined
  • Add the berries and stir until just combined; batter will be thick
  • Scoop or portion muffins into prepared muffin pan
  • Top with crumble if desired
  • Bake until pale golden and center is set, about 15 minutes.  Enjoy warm!
    (Recipe created by Amanda Cook)

If you don’t believe how GOOD Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt is… Then try it for yourself!And if you’re like me and love coupons, make sure to print out the $1.00 off coupon before your Light & Fit Greek Yogurt purchase.

I have partnered with Dannon to help promote Light & Fit Greek.  I have been compensated for my time commitment to review the product.  However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

Supposedly this is suppose to be the last year – according to the Mayan Calander.  But Do I believe that?  No, Im pretty sure that we will see a 2013.  But what will the end of this year and the begining of next year bring?  That I can not be to certain about.   Even over the past year or so, I have noticed many changes in the world.  I have noticed that people are starting to prepare “Bug-out” kits (Was completely confused what they meant by that when a customer came up to me and asked if i had supplies for one).  The weather is acting a little different.  So something may happen.  And I am trying to find a good start to being prepared.    First place to start preparing – getting a good food storage set up.

(boy I wish I had a pantry like that one )

What is food storage?  Food storage is a great way to prepare your house and family incase of any natural disasters.   In my house we have a very light food stockpile.  It is just my son and I – so we keep plenty of the basics  (like peanut butter and Mac and Cheese).  But I havent thought about any of the other foods – like what I can freeze and for how long before it goes bad. Or proper storage of these foods.

In the next few months I plan on geting together a good food storage in my house.  What will it contain?  For starters – Bottled/jugged water. I remember when we lost power for a couple days a few years back.  Every one was rushing to get jugged water – just in case their faucets started pouring out yucky water.   Another thing I am going to make sure to have is a good stock of Canned soup.  I know it may not be the most healthy of meals – a home made soup is much better for you, but I know that canned soup has a long shelfdate – and if you need to, you can cook it in the microwave, on the stove or if you have to do it by campfire.

What are some suggestions you may have to help me create a safe and healthy food storage for my son and I?

Life NEVER seems to go as planned.  There is always something that seems to get thrown into the mix that no one is expecting.  I have come across those times – many a times.  That is when i wish that I had a Coach for my life! That is why I did a quick Search  - life coach detroit .  I figured I needed a life coach – and I am from the detroit Area.  It had to bring up people… Right?

What is a life Coach:  Coaching is all about you and your goals. People who look for coaches come from a variety of backgrounds, but they all have in common a desire to achieve more in their personal or professional lives. Whether you’re a college student looking to improve your grades, or an aspiring artist trying to make your mark in the art world, you’ll benefit from having a coach by your side to help you see turn your vision into reality.

I never realized that there were so many people out there willing to help coach you on your life.  Now I just need to find someone who is Compatible with my lifestyle.  There are so many to choose from.  Do I choose from someone who is Near my home town?  Or Do I try to find someone who may be a little further away – but has a better understand of what I am looking for out of a coach.    So Many Decisions.  I wonder if there is a coach for that?

 

 

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