20 October 2016

Ways to Save Money While Shopping for Your Kids

There's no two ways about it – kids cost a lot of money! Your family is worth every dollar you spend on them, but if you're like most parents, at some point you've wondered if there's a way to cut those expenses back a little. Whether you need to put aside a little more for bills, save for a family holiday, or set up a college fund for your kids' future, we all need to save from time to time.

One of the easiest places to make savings is the toy budget. Children's toys can quickly rack up into the hundreds of dollars, especially if your little ones want the latest, trendiest toys and games. Here are 6 ways you can cut back the toy budget without cutting back on fun:

1. Look Around The House

Children, especially young ones, don't need hundreds of dollars’ worth of expensive toys to have fun. Raid the kitchen for pans and utensils for an impromptu percussion session, or grab some empty paper towel rolls to use as horns, building blocks, telephone receivers or whatever else you can dream up. Household items cost nothing and encourage imaginative play into the bargain.

2. Opt For Gently Used Toys

Used doesn't have to mean tatty. There are lots of gently used toys out there that look next to new – you just have to keep your eyes open and see what you can find. Yard sales and thrift stores are great places to start, and you can snag some great used toys online. EBay offers a huge marketplace of used items. If you're shopping for toys on Amazon, don't just hit “buy now” - check to see if there are used items available. When you shop second hand you can grab toys that look as good as new, without paying new prices.

3. Buy New Online

If you want to buy new, or there's something you just can't find second hand, you'll often make a better saving by shopping online instead of at the store. Check out sites such as eToys or Kids Woot for discounted toys, or take advantage of loyalty purchase schemes. Keep an eye out for coupons too – printable coupons and coupon codes can save you a lot of money. Just be sure to check the shipping costs and make sure they don't push up the price of the item.

4. Try Yard and Garage Sales

You'll be amazed at what you can pick up at a yard or garage sale. One kid's trash can definitely be another kid's treasure. Go prepared to spend a bit of time sifting through the items for sale – you'll find some trash, but you're also likely to find some real treasure in the form of toys that look nearly as good as new. Check local listings or watch out for signs in your neighborhood.

5. Find Toys For Free

It sounds too good to be true, but you can find some excellent toys for free when you check out Freecycle or the free section on Craigslist. You'll often find freebies listed in good condition. The only snag is that you'll most likely have to collect, so you'll need to factor in gas costs.

6. Check for Sales and Use Coupons

If you are shopping online, most retailers offer coupons that can be applied on most items. All you have to do is look for them. Coupon search engines like Mamma are great for finding deals on your favorite brands. Get into the habit of looking for a coupon before you buy anything online! You can usually find a coupon code that can be applied to whatever toy your child wants.

Toys don't have to break the budget. By setting a spending limit ahead of time and searching carefully for savings, second-hand items, and freebies, you can keep both your kids and your bank account happy.

Disclosure:  This is a guest post.

12 October 2016

Easy Kid-Approved Granola Bars Recipe

This past weekend I baked up some tasty kid-approved granola bars that I think you will want to try!  What I love most about this recipe is that it is easy to make with only five ingredients, it is ready in only 20 minutes, and you can play with the recipe a little to make it your own.  I hope your family loves these as much as mine does!

What You Will Need

3 cups oats
12 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini marshmallows (you can also substitute for almonds, dried cranberries, etc.)


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine all of your ingredients together until they are mixed well.

Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking pan

Press your combined mixture into the pan and bake for 20 minutes.

After removing from the oven let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting your bars.


Tips to Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Flu season is upon us, and knowing how to protect your family from the dreaded virus is half the battle!  As most families know, germs have a way of spreading around to everyone in your entire household.  Build your best defense against the flu virus with the following tips.

Make Sure Those Hands are Clean!

One of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of the flu virus is through good hand hygiene.  Practicing good hand washing techniques with your children, as well as ensuring everyone in the household is on board, helps keep those pesky germs away!  The CDC (Center For Disease Control) recommends 20 seconds of vigorous hand washing, or the length of time it takes you to sing "Happy Birthday".

Disinfect Household Surfaces

Another great tip for avoiding germs is by disinfecting your common household surfaces.  You can disinfect with bleach wipes, spray disinfectants, or a bleach and water mixture.  Apply the disinfectant to common household areas like doorknobs, counter tops, television remotes, phones, and bathroom handles such as the sink and toilet.

Get Your Annual Flu Vaccination

It is very important to safeguard against the flu by getting your annual flu vaccination.  Young children and adults over 65 are at risk of serious complications from the flu, so vaccinations for these groups are especially recommended.  Getting your whole household immunized is a great defense from the flu virus.

Germs Are Everywhere!

It is also important to note that germs are literally everyone.  While the above tips definitely give you a good start for protecting yourself against the flu, germs in public places are also challenging.  Shopping carts and public restrooms pose a risk for coming in contacting with germs. Always wipe down shopping carts before use, and it doesn't hurt to carry your own on you in case the store doesn't provide any.  Travel sized hand sanitizers are also a good thing to have on hand while out and about to protect yourself!

Strengthen Your Immune System

Strengthen your family's immune systems with the daily recommended dose of Vitamin C.  If you are unsure of the correct dosage you can consult your doctor or pharmacist.  Another great way to boost your immune system is by eating probiotics which are found in yogurt or over the counter supplements.  Yogurt helps give your immune system a healthy boost to help prevent illness.