Monthly Archives: July 2015

Cell Phone Plans for Kids

It’s a highly debated topic – should your child have a cell phone? If so, should there be limitations on it? What age is appropriate for a child to own a cell phone? How much should you be paying for this cell phone, depending on what you intend for them to use it for? I decided to compile some options for you so you can figure out what is best for you and your family.

I want to divide this into two separate thoughts. I think that younger children and older (preteen, teens) should be treated as different entities here. My own personal thoughts lead me to believe that younger children should be using cell phones for emergencies and calls to family only. More of a safety precaution than a social tool. Older kids will want to be texting and calling friends.

Younger

gizmopal

GizmoPal [mobicrunch.com]

I think that the most appropriate phone for a younger child is probably what is called an ’emergency cell phone’. Emergency-cell-phone-review says that emergency cell phones are a great option, designed for those who aren’t necessarily ready for a full-fledged cell phone. This way, your child can have the means to reach out to you or to first responders in an emergency. They recommend Verizon’s GizmoPal as a top choice. It is advertised as the perfect companion for kids aged 4 and up. It is rubberized, water-resistant, and durable, and even fits around your wrist, kind of like a watch. The device pairs with a primary number (parents) and the child can call with just the push of a button. Additional numbers can be added, but the child is only able to receive calls from these numbers, not call out to them. There’s also a GPS component to the phone, which will allow you to know your child’s location at all times. The device has a very strong battery life and is a solid option as an emergency phone for your small child.

Older

There’s a few more options when it comes to older kids, depending on limitations that you want to set regarding what the phone is used for, how much it is used, and what you want them to be able to access.

preteens_and_cell_phones

Preteens and Cell Phones [michelleinthemiddle.com]

1) Prepaid

Prepaid phones are great options for pre-teens and teens to teach them the value of money, and even have them pay for their phones themselves. You’ll never have a shocking bill at the end of the month, since calls, texts, and data are hard set limits. Whistleout.com notes that prepaid plans start around $10/month, more top tier plans closer to $80/month. Many prepaid offers are bring your own phone/SIM, so most times, you can simply use one of your old cell phones for this use. Tons of options here.

2) Adding to family plan

Adding your child to the family plan is generally going to be inexpensive. T-Mobile’s Simple Choice family plan allows  up to 5 devices, Verizon Wireless allows up to 10 devices, AT&T allows up to 10 devices, and Sprint allows up to 10 devices. You’ll have the capability to limit your child’s access to certain data, websites, etc. Examiner.com provides links for each cell phone provider on what your options are:

AT&T click here

Verizon click here

Sprint click here

T-Mobile click here

3) Kajeet

Wanted to also show you all Kajeet. Kajeet is ‘designed for kids by parents’ and offers plans specifically aimed at parents wanting to  monitor their child’s cell phone use. All plans are prepaid with unbeatable levels of parental control (whistleout.com). You can control when your child uses their cell phone, which contacts they can communicate with, and what websites and applications your child can view.

kajeet

Kajeet [razoo.com]

Figure out what’s best for you, and please, feel free to reach out with any questions! I have tons of resources that I have been sifting through this morning trying to compare all of these options 🙂

Freezer Meals of the Week!

Happy Wednesday, All!

First and foremost, I wanted to make sure that you all know that I have a Pinterest page. Here is where I draw so much inspiration for my inexpensive lifestyle for my family! I have tons of boards and pins from tips to making money, to DIY, to Freebies & Coupons. My personal favorite board is my ‘Cheap Recipes’ board – go figure. So many of my pins lately have been freezer friendly meals that not only make life cheaper but so, so easy. I want to share some of my favorites with you today, and hopefully in future blog posts as well. The sky is the limit with these!

Without further ado….FREEZER MEALS OF THE WEEK!

1) Mom On Timeout’s Breakfast Burrito Bonanza

burrito_bonanza

Mom On Time Out’s Burrito Bonanza [http://www.momontimeout.com/2011/08/breakfast-burrito-bonanza/]

Not only is this recipe super easy and delicious, but it’s so, so versatile to all of your personal tastes. Their recipe calls for 3 types of meats, eggs, cheese, and potatoes. I know this is right up my husband’s alley, but personally, I’d love mine to be chock full of veggies. Just as easy! Fry up your meat or veggies, roast potatoes, scramble and season eggs, and wrap your ideal burrito up! Put them on a tray and flash freeze for an hour, and then plastic wrap each individually and place in a ziplock bag and pop in the freezer for the long term. To heat these up, wrap in a wet paper towel and heat for 3 minutes on 50% power. Great for an on-the-go quick breakfast!

Have some extra time? Serve with sour cream and salsa for a full meal. This is sure to please everyone.

2) Fabulessly Frual’s Cheesy Stuffed Shells

This is a staple meal. I ate this growing up, my kids will eat this growing up, and hopefully their kids too. Stuffed Shells is the ultimate comfort food for the Anders and Fabulessly Frugal has a great recipe for it that’s very freezer friendly.

cheesy_stuffed_shells

Cheesy Stuffed Shells [http://fabulesslyfrugal.com/freezer-meal-recipes-cheesy-stuffed-shells/]

 The recipe they prove makes 6 8×8 pans of stuffed shells. Each pan holds 12 shells and serves about 6 people. Meals for days!

The recipe is incredibly straightforward and is exactly how I like my shells, chock full of cheesy goodness + lots of spinach!

To prepare for the freezer, all you need to do is cover with a layer of plastic wrap, then a layer of foil. You can freeze up to one month!

To prepare for cooking from the freezer, you remove the plastic wrap and replace the foil cover. Preheat the oven to 350 and bake for about an hour and 15 minutes. Remove the foil + bake an additional 15-30 minutes and you should have a warm, bubbly dinner all good to go!

3) EatGood4Life’s Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

This is an awesome meatless freezer meal option. Though this recipe does not describe this as a freezer meal, generally any casserole can be stored and frozen, ready to be reheated at any time. This one in particular is incredibly easy, as you don’t even have to pre-cook the quinoa! In the comments, there are some seriously awesome ideas on serving and tweaks to the recipe. One user suggests adding additional veggies + chicken, some suggest adding additional garlic.

broccoli_quinoa_casserole

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole [http://www.eatgood4life.com/broccoli-quinoa-casserole/]

If you choose to freeze, baking time just needs to be increased by 10-15 minutes. Another protip would be to defrost in the fridge before freezing instead of placing in the oven frozen. Give this one a try, and leave any tweaks or tips you have in the comments!

I’ve got tons more, but I’ll leave you guys with 3 awesome recipes for this week. Stay tuned next week for more goodies!

Read on the Cheap

If you’re anything like me, you’re a reader. My favorite part of the day is getting into bed and relaxing with a book. I have always been a really quick reader, so I drill through books so fast that buying them is simply NOT an option. I wanted to share with you some of my greatest tricks of the trade on how to get very discounted or even FREE books.

1) The Library

This may seem obvious, but as I transitioned from hard copy to e-books, I had NO idea that there was such thing as an e-book library. There really, really is. Join your local library and get a login for their e-book collection. There are a few pros and cons here. Pros: FREE, quick and easy download so long as  you are connected to wifi – immediate! Cons: Some libraries have larger collections than others, you can generally only ‘take out’ an e-book for 2 weeks (sometimes long books take longer than that!), popular books often have waitlists.

That being said, this is my mainstay for reading for free. I want to read so many books that waitlists don’t bother me (there’s always SOMETHING available that I can read while I wait). It’s truly so easy and gratifying.

2) Book Clubs

Book clubs are great ways to find likeminded readers that enjoy similar literature to you. Not only is it social and you can read books together, but between books, you can always lend out other books and circulate them amongst friends. Don’t forget, you can also lend books to friends via your Kindle!

3) Free Kindle Books

In an article on quickenloans.com, I learned that you can search for no-cost Kindle books by typing 0.00 into the search bar. There are thousands of free e-books out there – a lot of ‘classics’ are FREE!

4) BookBub

BookBub is a free daily email that notifies you about deep discounts on acclaimed e-books. It compiles all limited-time offers into a daily email, showcases the best deals from retailers like Amazon Kindle store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, Apple’s iBookstore, and others. Often times, book publishers offer deals at these sites for promotional purposes. You may have to search around, but when you hit this right, it can be really awesome.

Try some of these out, or, better yet, leave your tips and tricks in the comments!

Goodnites $4 Off Coupon

So I just had a pretty awesome first “Twitter Party” experience for #ConfidentKids promoting Goodnites Tru-Fit machine washable underwear. These are for older kids who are still having bed-wetting issues, as they use absorbent inserts for outstanding nighttime protection.

Honestly, I’ve experienced delayed potty training once in my family, and I can tell you it’s tough. Tough for both me as a mom in terms of maintenance and exhausting efforts to stop it, and tough for my daughter as she struggled with confidence issues, delayed and avoided sleepovers and any overnight social event. Crippling for us both!

Goodnites are discreet and look just like real undies – the other kids won’t know, and your kid won’t feel like a baby having to wear diapers or pullups. Definitely an awesome option for bedwetters.

goodnites_tru_fit

Goodnites Tru-Fit [goodnites.com]

Click here for a $4 off Goodnites Starter Kit coupon!

Similac® Strong Moms®

Hey everyone!

This is a really legitimate promotion from Similac®. They offer a free membership to Similac® Strong Moms®, a club that gives users nutrition guidance and feeding help for every week of your pregnancy all the way through your baby’s first year. I so wish I had this as a resource through my pregnancies.

They advertise that you can receive up to $329 in benefits, from free formula, to messenger bags, to trimester gifts!

similac_strong_moms

Similac® Strong Moms® [www.similac.com/formula-coupons-free-samples]

 In addition to all the free swag, you get nutritional guidance, tips to get ready for child birth and breastfeeding, emails about baby growth and development, and live nutritional support from their FeedingExpert team.

Sounds like an incredible resource for mommies to be!

Sign up here to be a part of this community!

Nonstop Deals from Joe’s Crab Shack

I recently attended a family wedding in the greater Philadelphia area. Our hotel happened to be right next to a Joe’s Crab Shack – we checked it out for some appetizers, and while we were there, we were encouraged to join the email list.

Just for joining the list, we were given a complimentary appetizer, on the spot.

Since then, I get awesome daily emails, from discounted specials, to $10 off, to complimentary drinks or appetizers, just for coming in and being on their list. Unfortunately, I don’t live nearby a location, but if I did, I’d be going in all the time!

emails_from_joes

Emails from Joe’s

I think Joe’s is an awesome option for a fast casual restaurant. Being that I am a huge seafood fan, I may be a little bit biased, but I think that they have great options. You can get seafood boils, peel and eat, etc. – so many options that don’t require deep frying. For the non-seafoodies, plenty of options as well.

That being said, check out their signup for the newsletter here. You won’t regret it!

FREE Cooking Salts!

I’m getting pretty into flavored salts as of recent. I’ve found that they make marinades, pastas, potatoes, dressings – ANYTHING more exciting and flavorful.

As I was looking around for a nice set to purchase for a gift, I stumbled upon these free samples!

flavored_salts

Rosemary, Lemon, and Garlic Salt! [www.gourmetsaltblends.com/free-sample.html]

Owner, Tess Geer, wet-cures her salts with fresh garlic, rosemary, lemon peel, shallots, and other ingredients. Salt is then dried at a low heat for several hours to make the final product. The concentrated flavor in Gourmet Salt Blends’ wet cured salts means that you can use less salt and get more flavor. Sounds like a win-win to me!

You can buy them from her website, but try them first with the free sample, where you get to try 3 different types: Rosemary, Lemon, and Garlic Salt.

Get cookin’!

Buying in Bulk

Good morning! Happy Tuesday!

As promised yesterday, today I wanted to kick off blogging with a buying in bulk tutorial. Is it worth it? Are there items worth buying in bulk? Are there items you should never buy in bulk? Are you actually saving by buying in bulk? Let’s get some answers.

In a US News article, they highlight 3 huge sources of “bulk-buying failure”:

1. Perishable items

2. Unnecessary items

3. Items you don’t have room to store

These are all pretty sensible. Perishable items you’ll have to make absolutely sure you can finish before they go bag. Personally, I find that sometimes I have trouble finishing normal sized perishable items, so bulk perishable is simply not on the table for purchase, unless there’s a party to plan for. Unnecessary items are exactly as they seem: unnecessary. Buy items in bulk that you regularly use and KNOW you will use. Otherwise, you’ll be finding yourself trying to take hundreds of Tootsie Rolls to the face, just because. And, of course, always make sure you have room to store bulk items, otherwise they are just a hassle.

“Good” bulk items:

1. Bathroom items: toothpaste, toilet paper, paper towels, soap, shampoo&conditioner, etc. These are items that you use daily and always find yourself running low on. You’ll never be upset to have extra of these things.

2. Household items/cleaners: trash bags, detergents, etc. Same story as bathroom items – you’ll always need these things!

3. Dried pastas, beans, rices: these will never go bad, and you will always find use for them. Great to have on hand.

4. Household and office supplies: notebooks, pens, lightbulbs, etc. These things never get old and always need to be replaced.

Now let’s get to a price breakdown for the top bulk stores. This should help you figure out what option is your best!

Costco

costco

Costco [costco.com]

Executive Membership: Executive Membership is our highest level of membership. All Executive Members enjoy a 2% Reward (up to $750 per year) on most Costco purchases, as well as additional benefits and greater discounts on our suite of services.

Business Membership: Business Membership, available for business owners and managers, allows the purchase of products for business, personal and resale use. Business members may also add up to six additional card holders to their account for an additional $55 each, includes household membership.

Gold Star Membership: This option is mostly for individuals. Gold Star Membership is available for individuals who want to purchase products mainly for personal use.

*An article by twocents.lifehacker.com notes that Costco is an incredible source for saving money depending on what you buy, and compiled a list of Costco items whose items will single-handedly pay for your membership fee. Tires, wine, and rotisserie chicken. Good thing we love rotisserie chicken!

Sam’s Club

sams_club

Sam’s Club [www.samsclub.com]

Sam’s Plus: Cost is $100. This membership allows Cash Rewards ($10 for every $500 spent, up to $500 annually), Extra Protection Service Plan (additional year of coverage), Early Shopping Hours, Extra Value Drug List for Plus Members, Optical Plus Member Benefit, Optical Discount RX Eyeglasses, Sam’s Club Mastercard, Instant Savings, Tire & Battery Center Access, Club Pickup, and Add-On Memberships up to 16 people.

Sam’s Business: Cost is $45. This membership allows Early Shopping Hours, Optical Discount RX eyeglasses, Sam’s Club Mastercard, Instant Savings, Tire & Battery Center, Club Pickup, and Add-On Memberships up to 8 people.

Sam’s Savings: Cost is $45. This membership allows Optical Discount RX Eyeglasses, Sam’s Club Mastercard, Instant Savings, Tire & Battery Center, Club Pickup, but no Add-On Memberships.

*An article by WCPO notes that Sam’s Club is a worthy membership if you shop at Sam’s Club at least 9 times, depending on how much you spend during each trip.

BJ’s Wholesale

bjs_wholesale

BJ’s Wholesale [bjs.com]

BJ’s Perks Rewards™ Membership: A business card option, you can earn 2% back on most BJ’s in-club and online purchases. $100/year

BJ’s Business Membership: A business membership for any size business that comes with a FREE second membership card. Enjoy tax-exempt or resale options for business or personal purchases. $50/year

BJ’s Perks Rewards™ Membership: A personal version of the business option – 2% back on most BJ’s in-club and online purchases. $100/year

Personal Membership: For individuals and families with a FREE second card for a household member. $50/year

*An article on timesunion.com notes that BJ’s is totally worth it, especially if you buy certain items (diapers, formula, gas, and pet food are specifically mentioned)

forum on community.babycenter.com notes that you can often times get a free 30- or 60-day membership to any of the clubs. Check out your local bulk store and see if they can work with you so you can give things a trial run and see if it is worth it for you and your family! Hope this helps 🙂

Make RetailMeNot A Habit

Wanted to share a habit that is so ingrained into my online shopping habits that I hardly think twice before doing it: RetailMeNot coupon codes.

retail_me_not

RetailMeNot [retailmenot.com]

Whenever you purchase ANYTHING online, from clothes to a pizza, there is almost always a special field for ‘Coupon Code’ or ‘Coupon Promo’ – this is not for special people. This is for everyone, if you play your cards right!

Go to retailmenot.com and search for whatever site you are purchasing something from. I’ve found that about 75% of the time, I can get whatever I’m purchasing for cheaper, or get free shipping. I can’t imagine how much money I wasted before I made this part of my routine!

You can even visit their site before you shop to see where the promos are, they present their trending deals and can direct you to where you will find what you need for the cheapest. ADDICTED.

Not only can you find coupon codes, but I LOVE that they show you how many people used the coupon today, as well as the success rate – you don’t have to waste your time trying knowing other people have already tried and succeeded or failed.

For example, today I decided I wanted to try Peapod home delivery groceries. A friend told me that it makes her life significantly easier. As I loaded up my cart, a quick search  on RetailMeNot before checkout yielded SO many deals, some for new customers, some on your first order, some on pick up orders – deals for every person interested in Peapod.

peapod_retail_me_not

Peapod on RetailMeNot [retailmenot.com/view/peapod.com]

Here’s the one I ended up using. It worked and I saved $20 off of my usual grocery price. Not too shabby! I encourage you all to make RetailMeNot a habit in your life 🙂

FREE Breathe Right® Samples

During a busy week, nothing is worse than being woken up by a snoring spouse. I’m willing to try anything and spotted this awesome deal today.

breathe_right_samples

Breathe Right® [breatheright.com]

You can try Breathe Right® strips for free simply by filling out this form.

You can choose between:

  • Breathe Right Extra® Clear – 50% stronger than the original strip
  • Breathe Right® Lavender – nasal congestion relief + the calming scent of lavender

Check it out! No harm in trying 🙂