A Practical Guide to Setting A Budget (Part Three)

The first two parts (Part One, Part Two) of this series talked about the essentials of how to budget. This third part is for those of you who are having a difficult time making the ends meet to get your needs met.

I’m talking about when cutting cable and going cash only for groceries isn’t enough. When you need help. When there isn’t much (or anything) to eat. When the power might be shut off. When there isn’t money to put gas in your car to get to work or job interviews.

This is the most important thing to remember: It is ok to ask for help. It is ok to seek out services and take advantage of programs. Do not worry about what others will think- This pandemic and all of the fallout that has happened has affected so many of us. So many hardworking families and individuals need a hand up right now. 

A lot of the services and programs listed below are specifically for San Diego County. If you live outside San Diego County, I recommend that you call 211 anywhere in the US. They can help you find resources- all judgment free!

So when I talk about needs being met, I mean:

  • Shelter (Rent/mortgage assistance/utilities)
  • Food (Healthy food for you/your family and pets)
  • Comfort (Clothing, healthcare, medication)

Shelter:

  • If you have a mortgage, contact your lender for a forbearance. You may have to provide them with proof that you are unable to pay.
  • If you are a renter in San Diego, here is the County Rental Assistance site.
  • If you require assistance with your utilities, SDG&E has many programs and assistance available.
  • For your water/sewer bills, you will need to contact them directly. There are so many water municipalities in San Diego County.

Food: Food insecurity is a cause near and dear to my heart, so I have all kinds of resources to share!

Many food banks give out pet food as well- don’t forget to mention your furry friends when you complete your intake paperwork (which is oftentimes to find out demographic information to obtain additional funding from the government or private grants). Some do not require any paperwork at all.

Comfort: Being housed and fed is important, in addition to this I’ve added the comfort category. This includes clean, well fitting clothes, access to health care, and prescription medicines.

  • There are many resources for no and low cost clothing (besides thrift stores, which have become increasingly higher in cost in the past year). Naomi’s Closet, Closet on 54th, Charity’s Closet at Sonrise Church, Sharia’s Closet are all San Diego resources. I’ve been told that some Salvation Army churches offer free clothing vouchers to be redeemed at their thrift shops. Don’t forget your local Buy Nothing Group too! So many of your local neighbors are cleaning out their clothes and purging while they are stuck at home, you’d be surprised what your neighbors are will to share with you.
  • If you are in need of healthcare, there are several options. Medicaid/Medi-cal may be available for some. If you have had a “life event” (job separation, birth of a child, death of a spouse, marriage, etc.) you can look for health insurance in your state’s Health Insurance Exchange. Here is a link to California’s Exchange. There are frequently lower rates or discounts for those with certain income limits.
  • If you or family members take prescription medicines, look into discount programs like Singlecare (which you can access via the Fetch Rewards App and earn cashback/points), or GoodRX. Some pharmacies have their own discount programs too. Make sure to ask the pharmacy staff. Another option is to ask your doctor for medication samples when you are visiting them. Many doctors have medication samples in their offices, and most doctors are willing to help you when you tell them you need assistance with medication costs.

 

 

 

Healthy Swap Recipe: PB Chocolate Malts!

This is a family favorite, and I’ve been making this shake recipe for almost 10 years.

I’m linking to most of the items on Amazon, so if you don’t want to leave home to try this recipe, you won’t have to. As a reminder: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

This recipe all started back when I was doing medically supervised weight loss and we had to drink 5-9 shakes per day, so adding in low-calorie flavor options was a must. A few of the “approved” options were peanut butter powder, malt powder, and in phase 2, frozen fruit (in the case of this recipe, frozen bananas). Now that I’m no longer on the program, I still have a shake once a day, usually to curb cravings for sweets.

Feel free to use whatever type of protein powder you like. I use the HMR brand. My kids love these shakes. In fact, the big kiddo has one a few times per week for breakfast.

I use a Calphalon Active Sense Blender, but any blender or immersion/stick blender will work.

Mrs. Bear Special –  PB Chocolate Malt

serves 1 grown-up, or two kiddos

Ingredients:

  • 1 Scoop Chocolate protein powder
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter powder
  • 2 tablespoons malt powder
  • 1 frozen banana, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1-2 handfuls of ice
  • 8-12 ounces of water (If you want it creamier or are not calorie conscious, you can use fat-free or plant milk)

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients into the blender.
  2. Blend on smoothie or ice breaker mode until smooth.
  3. Serve with a milkshake straw.

 

Depending on your protein powder, the completed shake will have 25-30 grams of protein per shake.

 

Staying Healthy This Fall and Beyond!

Fall and Winter are the prime time for illnesses to go around, especially the flu. While the flu shot isn’t effective against all strains of influenza, it does help to keep those to receive it safely again many strains.

Most insurance companies offer no or low-cost flu shots, but if you are uninsured and facing financial difficulties, even $20 for a flu shot can be out of reach. Thankfully there are organizations and resources to help keep you healthy and safe.

If you are in San Diego County, Champions for Health offers free Flu shots, PCV13 shots for those over 65, and Tdap shots for those between the ages of 10-64. They have opportunities all over San Diego County throughout the fall.

If you or your children are in need of vaccinations (flu and beyond) but are without insurance, the san Diego County Health and Human Services Agency offers no-cost vaccines. More information can be found here.

In addition to vaccines, there are a lot of other ways you can stay healthy this fall and winter. Most of us are already doing them!

  • Wash your hands frequently- use soap and water and scrub for at least 20-30 seconds.
  • Try not to touch your face.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when your sneeze (either with a tissue or cough or sneeze into your elbow).
  • Use hand sanitizer when you cannot wash your hands with soap and water.
  • If you are wearing re-usable/cloth masks, make sure to wash and dry them frequently. Disposable masks should be used once and thrown away. Please remember to clip the elastic ear loops before throwing the mask away- animals can get caught up in the loops.
  • Avoid sick people, and if you aren’t feeling well yourself, do not go out in public.
  • Eat well, include lots of vitamin and mineral rich foods.
  • Stay Hydrated. This is my favorite water bottle.

Apply for a Chatterbox for Dove Beauty Bar

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The Dove Beauty Bar does more than clean your skin – it gently but effectively cleanses and cares for skin, leaving it soft, smooth and radiant. It’s time to say goodbye to that dry, tight feeling that ordinary soaps can leave behind and make the switch to Dove Beauty Bar! Incorporate the #1 Dermatologist and Pediatrician recommended bar into your family’s daily cleansing routine and #ShareDoveLove.

This Chatterbox is only open to residents of the contiguous US.

If you’re selected as a Chatterbox, you’ll get a great Chat Pack:

  • 1 Full-sized Dove White Beauty Bar
  • 1 Full-sized Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar
  • 1 Full-sized Dove Purely Pampering Mango Butter Beauty Bar
  • 1 Full-sized Dove Pink Beauty Bar
  • 1 Full-sized Dove Gentle Exfoliating Beauty Bar
  • 1 Full-sized Dove Go Fresh Cool Moisture Beauty Bar
  • 1 Dove Beauty Bar information card

NOTE: If you’re selected as a Chatterbox, you will be receiving 6 Dove Beauty Bars in your Chat Pack. Please try your favorite variants and share the others with your friends!

Apply now and if selected, they will deliver a Chat Pack right to your doorstep. You don’t have to throw a party, but you’ll want to celebrate when it arrives! After you try Dove Beauty Bar, chat about your experience, share your opinions and post a review on the site. That’s it!

Get the chatter started! Apply now.

unnamed.pngIf you are new to Chatterbox or Houseparty by Ripplestreet, learn more here. Houseparty by Ripplestreet is one of my favorite Word of Mouth marketing companies!

Recipe: Refreshing Cranberry Kale Salad

kalecutI know, KALE. It’s weird and has that super crunchy stem. It’s really good for you, but it gets a bad rap.

This salad recipe is dead simple and is so good that you will fight over the leftovers (if there are any).

I like making this in the morning and letting it sit in the fridge all day. That gives the ACV in the dressing time to mellow out and all the flavors to mingle.

I like starting with a bag of triple-washed chopped kale, since it’s usually the same price as whole kale, and it saves me time, but you do what works best for your family and budget.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package triple-washed chopped kale, or 6 cups of kale, washed and chopped into bite sized pieces.
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cide Vinegar, with the mother (I like Bragg’s)
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite oil, we prefer avocado oil (like this one)
  • 1 t. honey or agave
  • dash kosher salt
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • 1 T. fresh, chopped rosemary, or 2 t. dried rosemary (whichever you have)
  • 1/2 c. crumbled herbed feta or goat cheese (your choice)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds (you could substitute sliced almonds or almond slivers if you prefer)

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix oil, vinegar, honey, rosemary, salt and pepper. set aside.
  2. In a large salad/mixing bowl, add kale, cheese, almonds, and cranberries. Dizzle over oil/vinegar dressing and toss gently.
  3. Store in Fridge 4-6 hours minimum before serving.
  4. This is great as a side dish, or top with a grilled chicken breast or steak for a great main dish.
kalechips
Yum!  Kale!

Serves 6-8 as a side or 3-4 as a main dish.

If you are vegan, substitute honey for agave and use vegan cheese crumbles of your choice.

What I’ve Been Up To…

_DSC2099As some of you may have noticed, I haven’t been posting a lot lately, either here or on Social Media. I’ve been busy. Distance learning is coming to a close for the year, so we’ve been doing a lot of meetings and paperwork (I’ll be glad when the mountains of homework packets stop).

In addition to supervising all of the learning (for both kiddos), I’ve also been taking a more active role in helping my big kiddo find behavioral therapies that will work well on his journey through life. My big kid is on the Autism spectrum (ASD) and that means that we do behavioral therapy a few times a week in addition talk therapy. So lots of time helping process feelings and emotions, and that leaves this mama bear feeling tired.

I (try to) get up early about 6:30 each morning, make coffee, do emails, and work on getting stuff set up for the day before the kiddos wake up. Sometimes I’m super successful and get it done. Sometimes I’m lucky if I get a shower.

Successes for the days are measured so much differently now. Did we make it through a day without tears? Missing friends, regular routines, going to the gym, extracurricular activities- all of these weigh heavy on the kids, and grown-ups.

We’ve also been trying to get our home more organized, and we’ve been getting some help from a family friend who is a Konmari guru. We’re about halfway through the process, and it’s been super liberating to get rid of stuff that no longer serves us. We sold all of the DVD’s/video games that we no longer wanted, and raised over $200, that we’ll put towards family fun (maybe sock it away for a 2021 vacation?). Thankfully our local thrift shops are accepting donations at this time. We’ve been loading up the back of my car weekly to donate goods.

In an attempt to wear the kids out physically, I’ve been taking them out for a walk a few times a week with my parents at a local park. Social distancing and masking occur- Also a liberal application of mosquito repellant is applied- The kids and I are very tasty according to the local ‘squito population. We also picked up a small pool for the patio- We are on our second. The first was not heavy-duty enough. This is the one I recommend. We also put tarps under it to protect it from the textured decking. I also use this solar fountain to keep the water moving all day, and we cover it with a tarp at night. I usually dump the water and refill it 2-3 times per week.

downloadSaving money has been a challenge as of late- There aren’t as many deals as supplies aren’t being delivered to stores regularly, less staff to stock shelves, etc. And really, who has been shopping lately for fun? Not many of us. I’ve been using coupons when I can find them, but what I have really found useful is Honey. Honey is a browser extension that helps you find coupon codes and sale prices on items that you are shopping for online. I used it to save over $145 when we bought the big kids new bed a few weeks back.

And I’ve been making masks for family and friends- I made some especially for the kids this week too.

kalecutI’m here y’all! I’m up to my eyeballs, but I’m here. And of course, I’m doing the Always Eat After 7pm program, so I’ll be posting about that. There are so many good recipes I am excited to try (dark chocolate dipped PB cookies, uh, yeah). and I’ll be posting some recipes this weekend- I’ve got a killer Kale Salad recipe that is so tasty and easy (and it keeps in the fridge for a few days too).

I’ll be hosting an Amazon Gift Card Giveaway soon! I want to spread the love with you!

 

Talk Back: What have you been doing lately? 

Always Eat After 7PM Book Challenge: It Starts Now!

This post is brought to you by our sponsor, “Always Eat After 7 PM”. The opinions expressed below are my own.
AlwaysEatAfter7PM_FrontCoverRecently I was offered the chance to check out Joel Marion’s new book: Always Eat After 7 PM: The Revolutionary Rule-Breaking Diet That Lets You Enjoy Huge Dinners, Desserts, and Indulgent Snacks—While Burning Fat Overnight.  Since we aren’t able to hit the gym and we still want to stay on our journey to health, I decided to read the book and give this program a try.

We are still going out for walks several times a week, but I am not able to get the same level of exercise as I was pre-quarantine. And this is in no way a complaint- just a fact of life.

After reading the first few chapters of the book and browsing the recipes, I was hooked. So many parts of this program resonated with me. Here are a few excerpts that got me excited:

 “So, despite all the bad press over the years, certain carbohydrates play an important role in balancing your hormones and regulating your metabolic rate, while avoiding the dreaded weight loss plateaus that accompany conventional mainstream diets. Furthermore, when you eat these carbohydrates, you’ll feel much better than you would if you were following a traditional diet.”


“In general, healthy fats can also help increase feelings of fullness and satisfaction because they regulate appetite through a number of mechanisms, including the release of appetite hormones. What’s more, combining fat with fiber has been shown to further increase the satiating potential of fat. The satiating power of fats is often one explanation offered to describe why some weight loss trials have shown that low-carbohydrate (and higher-fat) diets tend to lead to greater weight loss than low-fat diets.”

We’ve been traditionally taught to avoid carbs, have an early dinner, and never eat before bed. But the fact is, the latest scientific research shows us this earlier model is not the most ideal. I’m excited to try out this program! Joel Marion is a fitness expert and nutritionist debunking the myths underlying traditional dieting and offers a simple, highly effective weight loss program.  This program is easy and eliminates 90% of reasons for resistance.

One thing that has stopped us in the past is snacking. With kids and a busy life, we don’t always have the time or ability to sit down and eat mini-meals or spend hours cooking recipes with strange ingredients. Always Eat After 7PM offers some really great snacking and meal options! All the recipes that I’ve looked at so far actually look tasty and are family-friendly.

If this sounds like something that interests you, I encourage you to follow my blog- I’ll be posting weekly updates with my progress and more tips and tricks from Always Eat After 7 PM: The Revolutionary Rule-Breaking Diet That Lets You Enjoy Huge Dinners, Desserts, and Indulgent Snacks—While Burning Fat Overnight by Joel Marion. Learn more about the book and how to purchase here.

This post is brought to you by our sponsor, “Always Eat After 7 PM”. The opinions expressed are my own. To learn more about how and why I partner with brands, check out my disclosure page here.

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Personal Care in the Time of Covid-19

**This post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

If you’ve seen some of my Instagram posts lately you may have noticed my greys. Yeah. I’m sporting almost 2 inches of roots/re-growth, and I’m feeling kinda shabby.

Now that most of us are settling down in our weird “New Norm” and are getting settled into a new (and weird) routine we are starting to notice that our regular personal care rituals have fallen to the wayside. It’s healthy to do self-care in whatever form you prefer: Hair color, painting your nails, doing a cleanse. Whatever you need to do to help yourself feel better in this strange new time.

Madison Reed has come to my rescue! I’ve used their service off and on for the past 5 years, usually when I couldn’t get to Sally Beauty to pick up my favorite Ion hair color. I ordered my kit on last Friday, it should be arriving this week.

Besides selling hair color kits, Madison Reed’s website has some of the best articles and tips on their blog.

deadlynightshadeIf you are a little more in the know or want more of a DIY experience, man Sally Beauty locations are offering curbside pick up.  You can order hair color, developer, shampoo, conditioner, spa stuff, nail stuff, even waxing stuff if you are feeling up to it online, and then pick it up at your local Sally Beauty location. Pretty sweet, right?

I was at the drugstore yesterday (getting our rX refills), and I happened down the hair color aisle and it looked picked over. Lots of blues and greens available, but nothing in tamer colors.

The CEO of Walmart has commented that we are Hair Color phase of panic buying (source), and I 100% agree. Cruising the HBA (Health and Beauty Aids) aisles of CVS, it’s pretty barren. Most of the nicer/pricier brands of shampoo and conditioner are sold out, there isn’t much in the way of DIY facial supplies (Secret Tip: Dollar Tree sells name brand skincare masks. I’ve seen the same masks at Walmart for over $3 each).

Remember:

  • Wash your hands
  • Cover Your face
  • Flatten The Curve
  • Take Care of Yourself

Keeping Kids Active During the Quarantine!

There are all kinds of ways to get your kids active during the best of circumstances. However, life during the quarantine has proven challenging for all of us.

Chuze-RECT-rgb.jpgThanks to the awesome people over at Chuze Fitness, we can get our wiggles out as a family on the daily.

 On Chuze on-Demand new videos are posted each day, so the whole family will be able to break a sweat without breaking out of the house. This workout series was made in an attempt to bridge the gap when it comes to family-friendly workout videos by providing 20-minute classes designed for both big and little Chuzers to get their wiggles out.

On-screen, instructors lead their kids in stretches and fun movements that feel like a throwback to your own P.E. classes growing up – all you need to participate is a big room and a WiFi-connected device to follow along with. To access these Family Workouts, you can find them either on the Chuze on-Demand website or the Chuze Fitness YouTube page.

b0e5d5e05457e2c8a12dc87c9b6eafc7If this isn’t your cup of tea, or your kids need something that’s just for them here are a few other exercise options:

Go Noodle: Either from their website, or their YouTube Page. There are lots of fun videos to dance along to- we like Kitty High Five, Cat Party, Pop See Ko, and Run the Red Carpet.

Cosmic Kids Yoga: Jaime is a fun Yogini! She leads kids on fun asanas that often follow themes of their favorite movies, TV shows, or games. It’s a great way to make Yoga accessible to kids. We love Star Wars Yoga.

Dance Party: I’ll put on fun, funky, or silly music and the kids and I will dance for 20 minutes. Family favorite songs to shake our tails include anything by Grand Funk Railroad, Thrift Shop by Macklemore, Last Friday Night by Katy Perry, Rock Party Anthem, Uptown Funk, What does The Fox say.

Talk Back: How are you keeping your kiddos active during this tough time? 

Keeping Sickness at Bay & $5 off Mucinex Coupon!

I haven’t been posting a lot of coupons lately. Either they are low value, or they aren’t for products that I think y’all would like. But, check out what popped up in my inbox this morning: Mucinex $5 OFF Coupon here.

A lot of people are battling the winter ickiness, and that includes mucus (eww). When you join Mucus Fighters Plus, Mucinex® will email you an exclusive $5 coupon and other special offers, plus tips for putting mucus in its place.

Here are a few tips to keep sickness at bay:

  1. Wash your paws! Seriously. Soap, warm water, 30 seconds of vigorous rubbing, rinse, dry. Sing Happy Birthday or count to time yourself.
  2. Throw away your used paper towels, used tissues, and put dirty dishes that have come into contact with your mouth into the sink. Don’t leave your germs around to share. In this case, sharing isn’t caring.
  3. If someone in your home is sick, wipe down surfaces they touch one a day (or more frequently). We use Clorox wipes. you can also use Lysol Spray.
  4. Change out your toothbrush! Bacteria can live on your toothbrush. Change it out once you are feeling better.
  5. If you don’t feel well, it’s ok to take it easy. Skip non-essential obligations. Your friends and family will thank you for not spreading illness.
  6. To piggyback on #5- REST. It helps you get well faster. Sleep. Take a shower. Read a book. Have a low key movie night with the kids and serve a dinner of snacks on a blanket in the living room.

Talkback: What are your tips to recovering from the winter sickies?