Archive for the ‘Money & Finance’ Category

Freebie Friday October 31, 2014

Friday, October 31st, 2014

freebie friday Welcome to a Halloween edition of Freebie Friday! We hope you have a great holiday – and wouldn’t some freebies get it off to a nice start? As always, we would like to thank Couponing 101 for assisting us with our freebies each week for loads of deals, savings, and freebies!

This week on MomAdvice we have a thoughtful article from Kelly Whalen discussing college costs and if you really need that degree. I’m also sharing a review of Empowered Safety, including a giveaway for a free membership to this service that alerts you to product and food recalls. You’ll also find a super easy craft project that makes me so happy – Gold Thumbtack Pumpkins – as well as a new Sundays with Writers interview with Kathryn Craft, author of The Art of Falling. On this week’s edition of  It’s the 3 Little Things I’m sharing what’s making me happy and hope you’ll share yours, too!

Our regular feature,  Amy’s Notebook, is of course filled with lots of inspiring DIY, food, decorating and craft ideas, and be sure to check out all the contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Health & Beauty
Food & Drink
Entertainment
This Week’s Freebie Events: November 1 - 7
1st - Home Depot: Build a Pallet Coaster, 9 am – 12 pm
1st - Lakeshore Learning: Create a Scarecrow Puppet, 11 am – 3 pm
1st - Pottery Barn: Join the Pajama Jam, 5 – 9 pm

 

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Apron Full of Giveaways 10.28.14

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Green Chevron-Polka Dot Kid's Apron via Etsy

Source: Kelleen Kreations,  $23.00

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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Do You Really Need That Degree? College Loans, Options, and Savings

Monday, October 27th, 2014

From our money & finance contributor, Kelly Whalen.

College debt has reached an all-time high in the United States. Collectively, we owe over a trillion dollars in student loan debt. Yes, trillion with a capital T. It’s actually over $1,200,000,000,000. Ouch.

Is that degree really worth it

Student loan debt is unlike most other debts though in that it is nearly impossible to get rid of, known as forgiveness or discharge. This means even if you fall on hard times, lose a job, or your life circumstances change drastically it’s extremely uncommon to have that debt wiped away – you’re pretty much stuck with it. For some adults this means they will be carrying debt from choices made in their teens and twenties well into their middle age and often they’ll still be paying off those debts while paying for their children’s education.

When considering our finances it’s important to look at the impact student loan debt has since many readers are impacted by college debt. It’s likely you still owe for your college education if you have one (and often even if you don’t have a degree!). Others may be considering college costs for their children whether they’re toddlers or getting ready to head to college. Finally, there are many adults who go back to school when they change professions or need additional education to improve their earning power.

Since there are a lot of scenarios to cover here I’ll break them down, and you can head to the subsection that applies to you.

Already in Student Loan Debt

You already have a degree and the debt to prove it. While you may owe anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands the advice to not get into debt doesn’t apply. You need solutions and advice on getting out of student loan debt.

Consolidate

If you have multiple loans look into consolidation. You can consolidate loans with your spouse as well. This may allow you to get a lower interest rate or lower monthly payment, but it also makes it easier to manage than several loans.

Pay More than the Minimum

While it’s common sense, paying more than the minimum means you will pay it off sooner. Some ways you can ‘find’ more than the minimum in your budget include: slashing expenses (like dropping cable or getting a cheaper cell phone plan) or adding any pay raises to your loan payment.

Work a Side Gig or Second Job

Need to earn extra money to meet your loan payments or increase your payments to pay it off quicker? Get a side gig or work a second job to earn extra money to put towards your college loans.

Investigate Options

If you’re really struggling financially like having no job call your student loan company before you skip a payment. They may be able to hold or defer payments or offer some other options to help keep you from defaulting on your loans.

Getting Ready or Going to College

If you or someone in your family is headed to school or back to school for a degree it’s the perfect time to consider all the options.

Do you Really Need That Degree?

While a college degree is still statistically going to increase your earning ability over time it’s not always a necessity in every profession. Some professions simply don’t require a degree, and many trades are desperately seeking qualified and well-trained individuals.

Additionally, the job market has changed drastically to allow small businesses with little overhead to thrive. In an age of consulting, freelancing, and startups a degree is nice-but it’s not exactly a requirement. Depending on your skillset you may not have the need for a traditional college diploma.

Check Pay Rates and Rental/Home Prices

Whether you’re going back to school or headed to college for the first time you need to consider the cost versus the income you will earn in the future. While we all know there are no guarantees of future income checking pay rates in your area and investigating the cost of housing will help you get a general idea of what you’ll have to spend on student loan repayment.

For instance, it doesn’t financially make sense to spend $150,000 on a degree if the average entry-level earnings are $35,000 per year and average rentals cost $750/month.

The math would show you it would take an awfully long time to pay back your loans, and in the end it’s unlikely to be worth the added stress and costs when you could get a solid education and degree for 1/4 that cost.

Exhaust Scholarship and Grant Options

Grants and scholarships are plentiful, but it takes some hunting and some time to getting the most money you can for school. If you dedicate the time upfront though you could end up saving thousands of dollars. There are scholarships and grants that are high value and competitive, and there are smaller scholarships and grants that are for less money and more obscure.

Consider Starting Small

Instead of diving into a 4 year college with big expenses consider a local, smaller school to get your initial credits out of the way. You could even consider an online education if you’re an adult or need to work full-time to fund your education.

Saving for Future College Costs

Saving for your children or family members who you hope to help go to college is a great gift, but you have to consider all the options before you start saving.

It’s vital to be sure you aren’t locking up money that is needed for an emergency fund or for retirement first and foremost.

However, if you have a healthy emergency fund and are (mostly) on track with retirement savings here are come options to consider:

529 Plans

529s are a great option since they offer no taxes when withdrawn for qualified education expenses like tuition. Many states also have no tax on withdraws.

There are two types:

  • Pre-paid plans: You pay for college costs at today’s rates even if costs go up when your student goes to school.
  • Saving plans: Savings plans are based on the stock market with a mix of investments that get more conservative as your child nears college age.

The downside: Funds that aren’t used for college are taxed fully and a 10% penalty is tacked on. While it’s hard to tell when they’re infants, it’s not exactly ideal if Junior decides not to go to school or ends up with a full scholarship.

Roth IRAs

Roth IRAs are a retirement savings vehicle, but they also offer the option of withdraw for college expenses. This can offer the best of both options for families who need to get the most out of their long-term savings.

With a Roth IRA you can use funds for educational expenses OR retirement meaning if your child doesn’t need all the funds you can continue to grow them for retirement without paying penalties.

The downside: Current Roth IRA limits mean you can only save $5,500 each year or $6,500 if you’re over 50 in these accounts.

Note on investing for college: You can encourage family members to add to your little tyke’s college fund (for instance in lieu of gifts for the holidays or birthday presents). For instance grandparents can gift funds to each child, currently you can give $14,000 per year without penalties. 

When Should You NOT Save?

If you’re in debt or struggling financially saving for college shouldn’t even be a consideration. High interest debt (i.e., not your mortgage or your own student loans!) should be tackled before you consider saving for college. If you’re paying 14.99% on your credit cards the math is against you saving for college costs…for now.

Parents often make the mistake of saving for college funds over retirement thinking they have less time to ‘catchup’ on college education costs, but if they aren’t maxing out their retirement savings they could be in major trouble later in life.

While it is a great goal to make sure your children enter adulthood debt-free it shouldn’t come at the cost of your own savings and financial stability-that will impact your children now.

What it comes down to is this–take care and consider all your options whether you’re paying off college costs or saving for your children’s future.

What are your thoughts on student loan debt and college savings? Do you still owe for your education or are you worried about financing your children’s education?

 

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It’s the 3 Little Things (GIVEAWAY!): New Glasses, Apple Scented Luxuries, & Fitbit Glam

Friday, October 24th, 2014

It's The 3 Little Things

Happiest of Fridays, friends! It is a happy Friday, indeed, because I get to share a giveaway today of one of my favorite things! I have been hearing a lot from people that this is their favorite feature. I am so happy that this is loved by you as much as I love sharing it.

Here is what is making me happy this week!

Method Honeycrisp Apple

Honeycrisp Apple Method Fun

I don’t know how I got on the magical Method mailing list, but I am always so excited when I spy one of their boxes on my front step. This week’s mailing included some items from their new Honeycrisp Apple line of products for the Fall season. I can’t tell you how good these smell and, as always, they look beautiful on my countertops and sink too. You must find this and then spray everything in your home with it. In typical Method fashion, it smells delightful, but isn’t overpowering.

DIY Fitbit Flex Bracelet

My New Fitbit Leather Cuff

Ask anyone that has seen me this week and they will tell you that I have been wearing this cuff every single day. I REALLY did not like the look of the plastic bracelet and had been searching on Pinterest for something that I could use to hide my Fitbit away when I wanted to look a little more polished. On a girl’s trip to Chicago with my friends, we started brainstorming an idea for this and then my friend, Andy, offered to help me create this project and let me photograph her tutorial.

First of all, it was a crafting match made in heaven although such hard work. It is really terrible to go to your friend’s house, drink coffee, take pictures, and craft together. What a DRAG! Secondly, I came home with my bracelet and haven’t taken it off unless I head to the gym and need my utilitarian version.

I told you how crazy I am about my Fitbit, but I am afraid I am taking it to another level. If you haven’t read David Sedaris’ essay on the Fitbit, I am pretty much like that. I even demonstrated to my husband how I can loop around our house three times while I microwave my lunch for a few extra steps. I started walking on the dusty old treadmill to catch up on my shows and get in my steps- no more couch potatoing over here. If I feel like the number should be rounded up, I might pace a bit in front of my bed.

One more thing for me to get obsessed about. Yay!

Coastal Derek Cardigan Glasses

New Glasses (For Me AND You)

I absolutely love Coastal and shared how much I love my frames that I snagged from them earlier this year. You can always spy them in our Sundays With Writers series as my header.  They saw that they were on the happy list and asked if they could send me another pair of my choosing and wanted to give away a pair to one lucky reader. I got to select one pair from their Exclusive Collection (and you can too!) to update my look. I settled on these Derek Cardigan 7039 Glasses in black. I love the bamboo arms on these, that adds a unique modern touch. I have gotten so many compliments on these and they couldn’t have fit my face better.

The company always includes a really nice case and a little eyeglass kit to care for them. I am, most of all, impressed by their affordability.

Scroll down below to enter to win a pair from Coastal’s Exclusive Collection and see for yourself what a treat their glasses are!

Three Things I Wore From My Fashion Capsule. I will unveil the next capsule on November 3rd to hopefully inspire you on your own fashion capsule journey. After going through my stuff, I am debating on the number of items I will have in this one since it is just one cold season- stay tuned.   Did you read what I am learning from this project? You must!  Grab more inspiration on my Fashion Capsule Pin Board.

stripes + moto jacket + scarf + boot socks + brown boots

H&M Black & White Striped Top (owned- Goodwill)/ Seven Skinny Jeans (owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Brown Belt (owned- Maurices)/ Brown Boots (6PM- Naturalizer/ Subtle Chevrons Scarf in Rust (purchased- Flourish Boutique)/ Faux Leather Jacket (purchased- Marshall’s)/ Love a Little Lace Boot Socks in Mustard (purchased- Flourish Boutique)

stripes + belt + utility jacket + rolled jeans + booties

H&M Black & White Striped Top (owned- Goodwill)/ Seven Skinny Jeans (owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Brown Belt (owned- Maurices)/ Eyewear (Coastal)/ Black Suede Booties (Madden Girl- DSW Shoes)/ Utility Vest (owned- Groopdealz)/

green loose cardigan + black dress + tassel necklace + burgundy tights + camel colored booties

Forest Fairy Cardigan (owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Little Black Dress (owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Burgundy Tights (owned- Target)/ Tassel Necklace (owned- Groopdealz)/Leopard Print Belt (owned- Target)/ Camel Suede Booties (Madden Girl- DSW Shoes)

3 Things YOU Loved This Week (you, lover of MomAdvice things, you!)

Homemade Playdough Recipe

14 Free Home Management Binder Printables

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipe Series

Giveaway

Enter below to win one pair of glasses from Coastal’s Exclusive Collection of frames. One lucky winner will receive a free pair of glasses. This giveaway ends on October 31st! Happy browsing!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Freebie Friday October 24, 2014

Friday, October 24th, 2014

freebie friday Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! We would like to thank Couponing 101 for assisting us with our freebies each week for loads of deals, savings, and freebies!

This week on MomAdvice you can learn how to make a homemade pumpkin pie spice from Diana Bauman or diy a fantastic leather cuff to hide your Fitbit bracelet! You will not want to miss my Sundays with Writers interview with Andy Weir about The Martian – it may just make you a new fan of science fiction if you’re not already! And did you see this adorable felted mini pumpkin tutorial? They add such a unique fall look to your decor and would make sweet gifts, too. On this week’s edition of  It’s the 3 Little Things I’m sharing what’s making me happy and hope you’ll share yours, too!

Our regular feature,  Amy’s Notebook, is filled with lots of inspiring DIY, food, decorating, craft ideas, and fun reads, and be sure to check out all the contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Health & Beauty
Entertainment
This Week’s Freebie Events: October 25 - 31
25th - Barnes & Noble: Halloween Storytime and Hands-On Learning Events, times vary
25th - Lakeshore Learning: Create a Spooky Sweets Holder, 11 am – 3 pm
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Last Day: Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap + $10 Credit

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

ePantry

I am so thrilled that so many of you have taken advantage of the offer through ePantry I offered this week! Today is the last day you can take advantage of this offer through MomAdvice.

Use this link to get a $10 credit to shop and a free bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap.

Sign Up

Simply sign up for an account with ePantry using this link .  ePantry is giving all new customers a $10 credit + a bonus FREE Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap. Take advantage of this offer through today only.

Answer A Few Quick Questions

These questions help them to know what types of products you love, how many people are in your home, and what scents you love.  This helps give a rough estimate to how often they need to ship your favorite items right to your door.

Fill Your Cart

You can add your favorite items to your cart or allow ePantry to make some selections for you based on the questions you answered.

Check Out

Just for this first order, your order must be $30 or more (but that includes the $10 credit), so that is basically saving you more than 30% on household products you use every day!

Here is what I put in my cart as an example of how much you can save!

ePantry

Once you use my referral link you will see a FREE Mrs. Meyer’s  Scented Hand Soap, a holiday exclusive,  with your purchase. You do not need to add this to your cart, as my link will automatically do that for you!

Here are a few of my favorites I chose (just as an example- choose whatever you like!). I have a Method Clementine Dish Soap, a Method Lavender All-Purpose Cleaner, 3 Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soaps, 1 Mrs. Meyer’s Lavender Toilet Cleaner, 1 Mrs. Meyer’s Bathroom Cleaner, a 2 piece Reusable Kitchen Wipe Set, & 1 Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap. Total cost just… $23.25

That is  NINE household products for just over $20 out of pocket, which works out to roughly $2.58 a piece. What a steal! 

I hope you won’t miss out on the savings- happy shopping, friends!

 

 

Apron Full of Giveaways 10.21.14

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Linen half apron via Etsy

Source: Boheme Decor,  $30.00

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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Freebie Friday October 17, 2014

Friday, October 17th, 2014

freebie friday Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! We would like to thank Couponing 101 for assisting us with our freebies each week for loads of deals, savings, and freebies!

This week on MomAdvice you have the opportunity to score 9 green living products (like Mrs. Meyers hand soap!) for just over $20 with our exclusive code! Click here to get the details. Mary Carver is sharing some great tips for planning kid’s parties and I’m catching you up to date on my fashion capsule project and what I’ve learned so far. Oh, and you do not want to miss the Sundays With Writers interview I did with Anthony Doerr, author of All The Light We Cannot See (and recent National Book Award finalist- yeah!). On this week’s edition of  It’s the 3 Little Things I’m sharing what’s making me happy and hope you’ll share yours, too!

Our regular feature,  Amy’s Notebook, is of course filled with lots of inspiring DIY, food, decorating and craft ideas, and be sure to check out all the contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways for a chance to score more freebies!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Food & Drink

Health & Beauty
Entertainment
This Week’s Freebie Events: October 18 - 24
18th - Lakeshore Learning: Create a Bunny Reading Pointer, 11 am – 3 pm
18th - Toys R Us: Join in on the Bricktober Build Activity and make a Lego Bat Signal, 12 – 2 pm
18th & 19th - Michael’s: Create a Duck Tape Halloween Shirt, 1 – 4 pm
21st - Barnes and Noble: Storytime and Activities with Horton and and the Kwuggerbug
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3 Benefits of Household Subscription Services + Free $10 Credit for ePantry

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

3 Benefits of Household Subscription Services + Free $10 Credit for ePantry

I consider myself to be pretty forward-thinking when it comes to online shopping and embracing the time-saving it offers for my family.  I really, really, really hate shopping in stores and prefer to spend my time wisely price-checking and window shopping online instead of in stores. Today I wanted to share with you about a new subscription-based service I discovered for our household needs called ePantry and my experience using their services. They gave me a $30 credit to try out their services and I wanted to offer an exclusive to our readers to also try the services too.  I learned about this service from one of my favorite money-savers, Crystal from  Money Saving Mom, and I knew if she recommended it, I had to try it for myself.

Who Can Benefit From Household Subscription Services?

In my opinion, everyone. Here are 3 benefits that I have found, in general, with subscription based services and what they have offered my family.

Does Your Dish Detergent Cost $100?

Maybe it is because I have zero self-control, but I can’t make a quick run into Target for dish detergent and walk out with dish detergent. Inevitably, I end up filling my cart with a lot of random and unnecessary things that I don’t need and approach the cashier with a dazed and confused look on my face about what in the world I just brought up to check out. Don’t even get me started on that convenient Starbucks on the way out. Having household items shipped to my door saves me a lot of money that is spent on impulse purchases.

Do You Forget to Keep Items Stocked?

I am generally really good with keeping our pantry and fridge stocked with what we need thanks to my Grocery IQ app on my phone. When it comes to household items though, I am THE WORST. It is usually when some poor family member is on the last roll of toilet paper or when I am ready to finally tackle that mountain of laundry that I remember that I don’t have what we need to… ahem…get the job done.

With a household subscription service, they can figure out what you need and you can modify/adjust that list as needed.  Instead of running out of items, they can automatically ship it right to your door so that you don’t have to make that late night toilet paper run.

Do You Hate Hassling With Coupons?

I have admitted to you over and over again that I am no coupon clipper. I admire people that do this, but I just can’t make the time for deal-hunting with two busy kids and my work.  You do know though that I love to save our family money so that is why I shop for our groceries at Aldi, where coupon clipping just isn’t an issue, and I love shop offerings that are competitively priced that don’t require coupon clipping and I have found that ePantry offers lower prices than I was getting in my store, they have free shipping, and they save me from impulse purchases.

How Does ePantry Help?

According to their website, ePantry customers save 26% vs. their local grocery store. There are no service or maintenance fees and you’ll be charged only for the products you buy. Based on the information you provide, ePantry is able to predict how much and when you need each product. They do understand though that there are countless variables in life (vacation, house guests, an addition to the family, etc.), so we made it incredibly easy to make changes on your personal dashboard, or via their mobile app. A week before any shipment is scheduled to go out, they send you a reminder email and a text message for you to make any changes.

What I love the most about ePantry is there are no commitments or fees to use their services. The products are all focused on green living so I can be proud to use them in my home. They also will only charge you once items are shipped. You can cancel at any time, and if you don’t like a product, they will refund you.

3 Benefits of Household Subscription Services + Free $10 Credit for ePantry



Currently, ePantry is offering a MomAdvice exclusive offer which I am so excited to share with you. You can  get a free $10 credit to use on their site when you sign up to try their service + a FREE Mrs. Meyer’s Cranberry Scented Hand Soap for the holidays (retail value $5.59) with every purchase.

ePantry-Review

Just for this first order, your order must be $30 or more (but that includes the $10 credit) so you can spend just $20 and get several natural home cleaners with my referral credit for a lot less than you would ever get in the grocery store.

Here is what I put in my cart as an example of how much you can save!

ePantry-Cart

Once you use my referral link you will see a FREE Mrs. Meyer’s Cranberry Scented Hand Soap, a holiday exclusive,  with your purchase. You do not need to add this to your cart, as my link will automatically do that for you!

Here are a few of my favorites I chose (just as an example- choose whatever you like!). I have a Method Clementine Dish Soap, a Method Lavender All-Purpose Cleaner, 3 Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soaps, 1 Mrs. Meyer’s Lavender Toilet Cleaner, 1 Mrs. Meyer’s Bathroom Cleaner, a 2 piece Reusable Kitchen Wipe Set, & 1 Mrs. Meyer’s Cranberry Hand Soap. Total cost just… $23.25

That is  NINE household products for just over $20 out of pocket, which works out to roughly $2.58 a piece. What a steal! 

Just as I stated above,  shipping is always free and for all future orders, there’s no  minimum amount to purchase.

I hope you enjoy the savings and convenience as much as I have and I am so excited to get to share this exclusive offer with you! This offer WILL EXPIRE on Tuesday (10/21/14) so I wouldn’t delay if you are considering trying this service. 

I love it and hope you do too! Happy shopping!

*This post contains affiliate links! I promise to only link to things I love.

 

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Apron Full of Giveaways 10.14.14

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

sheep apron

Source: Quince Pie,  $19.79

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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