San Diego, CA area Residents: Save on your SDG&E bill!

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 9.37.22 PMLooking for more ways to saving money on your power bill without doing crazy stuff like turning off your water heater when you aren’t home and unplugging everything (including your fridge) during the day? Ok, so I’ve been watching episodes of Extreme Cheapskates on Netflix (and it’s scary what people will do to save a few bucks), but I did find out about a great legit program that can help San Diego, CA area residents!

The Energy Savings Assistance Program can help lower your monthly bill, while making your home more comfortable.

We had SDG&E come out when we lived at our last home, and  they replaced our lightbulbs, checked our fridge and microwave to make sure they were energy efficient. They also gave use low flow shower heads, sink nozzles, and they are sent out a contractor to do some landlord approved improvements (replace the worn weather stripping) to make our home a little more energy efficient.

You may rent or own, and if you qualify, SDG&E’s authorized contractors will come to your home and may provide a variety of services. Apply Online or schedule an appointment at 1-866-597-0597. If you are eligible for the Energy Savings Assistance Program, you are also eligible for a CARE savings of 20% on your monthly bill.

If you don’t qualify for that program, you can also check out other ways to save on the SDG&E website, such as changing you plan (yes, there are various plans and pricing structures), and there is a “My Energy Overview” where SDG&E will give you realistic suggestions and tips on how you can lower your electricity and gas consumption to save money.

I went through it today, and made an action plan based on how much I want to spend out of pocket, how much time I have to invest, and how handy we are.  As you can see, none of the stuff is too expensive our crazy, and if i do all of it, we’ll be save up to $771 per year!

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As you can see, I’ve already done some of the items on the list, some will take getting used to- including leaving reminder notes in areas (I’m putting a sticky on the washer to remind myself to switch the water level/washer setting and water temp as needed).

And one thing that I find super helpful- We signed up for Ohm Connect a few years ago and it texts and/or emails you when you should conserve more power due to the demand on the power grid. It’s a win-win situation: You save money on your power bill, and you earn points from Ohm Connect that you can cash out for Paypal, Amazon or Target Gift Cards, OhmConnect store credit (to buy energy efficient thermostats, smart plugs, etc.) You can learn more about OhmConnect here.

What are your tips for keeping your power bill low?

 

**Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission if you click on links or make purchases. However, I only post about stuff that I like and use for my family.

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San Diego Families: In Need of School Supplies?

apple and books.jpgBack to school approaches! For us, school starts on August 23rd. For some families, back to school is a hard time because the cost of backpacks, school supplies, new clothes and shoes can really add up.

For those in need, the SMOAC (That’s Santee Mobilehome Owner’s Action Committee) is helping out families in need. On August 19th at the Santee Library, starting at 10am, SMOAC will be handing out backpacks with supplies to families in need.

SMOAC is looking for donations too- if you aren’t in need and want to help, there are lots of ways to help out!

Screen Shot 2018-07-25 at 8.32.01 AM.pngOn August 11th from 5-9pm Chipotle in Santee is hosting a fundraiser.

Screen Shot 2018-07-25 at 8.21.30 AM.pngDonations of items such as: backpacks, #2 pencils, paper, pens, glue sticks, rulers, pencil sharpeners, white glue, notebooks, scientific calculators, crayons, safety scissors are requested. Most of these items can be picked up at Target, Walmart, Office Depot, or 99 Cents Only fairly cheap.

Donations can be dropped off at Santee Library, Cameron YMCA, Mission Realty Group in Santee, Santee Lakes General Store, El Cajon Toyota, Oggi’s Pizza in Santee, and the Santee Chamber of Commerce. If you are busy and can’t make it to the store and drop off locations, You can buy a gift card for a teacher or send a check to SMOAC.  The mailing address can be found in the photo above.

The goal this year to to help 1500 East County families in need!

No Proof of need is required, just show up at the Santee Library on August 19th. The event starts at 10am, but you may want to get there a little early to beat the rush.

6 Tips for Combating the Mid-Year Frugal Slide

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It’s July, and for most of us, Our New Years Resolutions are a thing of the past. Mr. and I were talking today about ways we could reign in our budget. We’re not making it rain by any means, but… we could make a few changes. Here are my top ten tips, and trust me, I’ve already started incorporating some of these. I’ll have all of them back in the works by weeks’ end.

  1. Back to meal planning and sticking to it. No more trips to Denny’s when I am feeling lazy in the morning, or Mondays after group therapy.  That means I’ll be back to meal planning posts and new recipes too. And I’ll have several “back up dinners” on-hand in case the day gets away from me, or it’s too hot to cook the original meal. I took advantage of the sale on chicken breasts at Smart & Final the other day, and picked up 10 lbs. I came home and cut up the whole half breasts into more manageable sizes, and marinated some of it with different spices and put it in ziploc bags in the freezer. 10 lbs of chicken should get us 5 dinners, plus leftovers from each meal.
  2. Back to maintaining a robust snack bag in the car, refilling it daily, and remembering our water bottles when we leave the house. I fill our water bottles (we have these for the kids and these for the adults- in 40 oz) with water and ice before we leave in the AM and refill them as needed throughout the day in various places.
  3. In conjunction with #2, start taking surveys on receipts for deep discounts and free stuff again. I am Sonic’s text list, so when they have a daily deal that I have change in my car for, the kids and I stop for .50 ice cream cones, 1/2 price drinks (cherry limeade!). Frequently when you check out, there is a survey on the bottom of the receipt that will score you an XL (Route 44) size beverage for free! I really need to get back into stretching the buck.
  4. Check all my apps before I go shopping. I’ve been bad about this over the past few months. I’m sure I’ve missed out on Ibotta deals, Checkout 51 offers, and Cash Dash promos. No More! I’m back, baby!!
  5. Allowance. Yup, just like a teenager, I’m putting myself on an allowance, and Mr. is going to as well. I’m sticking to $40 in the summer, and $25 once we are back to school. This will just be for “fun money”. I still shop around for gas to stay within budget for gas each week. Costco is usually the cheapest.
  6. Keeping eyes open for cheap entertainment. Big Dude is in ESY (summer school) for the next few weeks, so a lot of the traditional summer things that are fun and cheap we haven’t been able to do (like Regal Summer Movies). We’ve mostly been doing fun stuff at the library, which is free, but I think we need to look beyond that. It’s starting to get too hot for park play dates!

I’d love to hear from you about how you combat the frugal slide. What do you do when you feel yourself slipping off your track?

Why I am not a “Pinterest Mom”

I am creative. I can bake, cook, sew, paint, craft, do calligraphy, garden, and decorate a home on a budget, however, I am not a “Pinterest Mom”.   I have a Pinterest account, but I use it more as a link repository for stuff that’s cool. I do not make Pinterest worthy stuff.  I don’t take Pinterest worthy photos. And, ya know what? I am more than ok with it.

I know there are a lot of people (not just moms) who pour over Pinterest and try to emulate the stuff they see, thinking that you need 5 craft stations, a candy bar (which is a buffet of nothing but candy), a full themed catered meal, and designer goody bags for an event. I hate to break it to you- Little kids don’t care! A lot of the stuff you see on Pinterest has been done by party professionals- Not your average mom with kids running around, a busy schedule, a house to take care of, errands to run, appointments and rehearsals/practices to shuffle kids to…..

Bitty’s third birthday is today, and yesterday was her birthday party.

Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 3.14.41 PM.pngAbout a week ago, she saw the purse cakes at Baskin-Robbins. She asked for one, but she doesn’t really like ice cream.

I looked at it for a few minutes and figured I could make her one out of regular cake and frosting.

I am no means a professional baker, and I hate fondant (it tastes so gross to me and the kids). So I used cream cheese frosting, some decorator frosting, sprinkles, and icing roses.

And the handles were made from licorice. She was so happy, and the cake was delicious. My only tip is not to try and frost a cake when it’s 90+ degrees in your kitchen.  The cake was cold, but the white decorator icing did not want to cooperate.  The cake was pink inside, I made a butter cake and added pink gel food coloring to the batter.

Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 3.13.19 PM.pngIn addition, I also made cupcakes! Henry helped make the cupcakes, and Margaret helped decorate them. I figured the cake wouldn’t be enough for the hungry little faces I was going to feed.

No candy bar- Instead I took a lucite bowl that I had painted with faux stained glass paint and filled it with Ring Pops.

And no goody bags- Bitty picked out these cute little Frozen necklaces to give to all her friends who came to the party.

Oh, and no catered fancy meal! We ordered 2 Giant pizzas.  We had bottles water and Honest Juice Pouches.  And because we has a loose Frozen theme, we also had little red apples (because we all know that Sven eats apples- Margaret told me).

I know that there are people out there who love putting out a perfect party that looks great on Facebook and Instagram, but if that’s not in your heart (or budget), BREATHE… Give Yourself some GRACE. Do what you can, what you love, what is in your heart and what is good for your family.  

And I want to especially thank Christine Boyce from Clicks by Christine for taking some incredible candid shots of the party. Her littlest is BFF’s with Bitty.

 

 

Talk Back: Are you a Pinterest Mom? Why or why not? What is your greatest crafting strength?

Top Ten Must Haves for Your Summer Swim Bag!

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We braved the very very cold pool at our HOA today, which prompted me to go through our Swim Bag and make a list of new Pool Toys that we “need” (according to the kiddos).

I usually replace the pool toys once every 2-3 years. We swim 5+ days a week in the late spring and summer, that means our pool toys and swim equipment gets a lot of wear. I tend to buy a lot of the items on the list below at Dollar Tree or 99 Cents only. The quality is usually the same as what you find at Target at the Dollar Spot area, or at Wal-Mart in the seasonal area. The main reason we’re doing an overhaul or our pool toys this summer is it has been 3 years since I’ve bought new ones. Some of our current pool toys will be kept as they are in good shape, but some of the older toys (mainly the squirt guns) are starting to fall apart or have developed extra holes.

Here are the Top Ten things you need in your Swim Bag:

First off, you need a good bag! I like the All Purpose Utility bags, like these. They’ve got pockets on the outside. Roll up your towels and stuff them into the pockets, or use for SPF, bottles of water, or snacks- You can’t forget the snacks!

    1. Goggles. We go through a lot of goggles, mostly because my kids are clumsy, or they share them with friends and they disappear. I usually pick some up at 99 Cents Only to keep just in case, but we have several pairs of these Aegend goggles and they are excellent.
    2. Floaty toys- Like Inflatable Rings, or animal shapes. We’ve got a giant shark that lives in the garage in the off-season (November-May).  I like picking up a handful of inflatable rings at Dollar Tree and stashing them in the closet. If I need extras when friends swim with us, we won’t be short. I like these rings. I ordered 8 online for store pick up. Kick boards and arm floaties also fall under this category. I usually keep a few of each in the arsenal, just in case.

3. Fun Toys. Henry enjoys playing frisbee in the pool, so we’ve got a couple. Margaret likes trying to swim after an inflatable ball, so we’ve got a few of those. They both love the diving sharks. They are big, and they glide like a torpedo under water. The weighted diving toys like dive rings and the little ribbons with the weight attached are nice too.

4. Squirting Toys. Squirt Guns are a favorite. Not Super Soakers, but regular, old fashioned small squirt guns. Another favorite are the water squirters that look like long, giant pencils.  I usually get them at 99 Cents Only. Our rule is: No squirting people in the face!

5. SPF- Ok, this should really be #1. A good SPF. Water proof, sweat proof. You want a broad-spectrum SPF that protects against UVA (the rays that age skin) and UVB (The rays that burn skin). I like mineral sunscreen. And remember to reapply as needed!

6. Good Towels. I’m not talking about Egyptian Cotton, plush, fluffy towels that cost a fortune, but good, durable towels. I like to get white ones, since the chlorine from the pool can bleach the colors out. We tend to get the larger towels, or bath sheets. We have these from JCP. They were around $7 each.

7. Extra sunglasses. I don’t know what it is about my kids, but they lose sunglasses ALL THE TIME. I pick up a fistful at the beginning of the summer at 99 Cents Only or Dollar Tree, and dole them out. I keep 2 pairs in the swim bag.

8. First Aid Kit. Seriously. Kids get hurt all the time. It doesn’t need to be a fancy one. You can get small first aid kits with everything you need for less than $8.

9. Reusable water bottles. It’s hot and you are in the sun playing. Hydration is important. We have an Extreme Canteen, and it’s really awesome. I fill it with ice and water, and it stays cold all day with minimal ice melting.

10. A waterproof sealable pouch or bag to keep your keys, phone, and other important stuff in (Like snacks). We usually use a large ziploc bag (or two and double bag).

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Henry age 3, swimming with Mommy.  I’m pretty sure the pool was freezing then too. 

Now a few bonus items that Henry told me to mention (we may have a guest writer on our hands soon) include a swim mask (like this one), a shark fin and tail (like the one he got for X-mas), and diving fins. Those are all items that he uses regularly in our swim time.

Talk Back- I’d love to hear what’s in your Swim/Pool Bag!

I’ve included many links for reference. Please refer to my disclosure policy regarding possible bounties or compensations I might receive.

 

LEGOLAND® Castle Hotel opens tomorrow (and a deal)!

The kids and I are so excited! In just a few hours, we’ll be headed up to Legoland California for the opening of the Castle Hotel. We’re getting a sneak peak today, and the hotel opens officially tomorrow!

The kids are excited because the Hotel featuring more than 2,000 LEGO models made out of three million LEGO® bricks, a Knock-knock Joke Door (Henry is big into knock knock jokes), LEGO play pit, interactive play structures and themed entertainment each night. Oh, and the pool.

LLstatueInstall_0152.JPGThe pool has two interactive features: a water fountain and two tipping baskets which will splash guests in the pool from above.

The Royal Courtyard also features a picnic/cinema area with a large movie screen and seating, a stage for daily performances, a DUPLO® play area for toddlers and a Knight Training interactive playground for those children ready to balance, climb and play.

So, be expecting a lot of photos and posts on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I can’t wait to show you all of the awesome stuff going on up at Legoland and the new Legoland Castle hotel.

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 8.33.29 AM.pngAnd if you are looking for a deal on Legoland Tickets, Don’t forget to check your local Denny’s location for a Kid’s Go Free Coupons! I found these at our local Denny’s!

I spied a fresh new pad of these coupons out at our local Santee Denny’s last week!

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Find (Frugal) Family Fun in Your Community

xmas eve 013.JPGSummer vacation is on the horizon, and that means that there will be choruses of, “I’m bored!”

Having a kid who has ADHD and ASD, I frequently hear that lament after school (like, before we even pull out of the school parking lot in the afternoon) complete with body slump and flailing of arms.  To combat this, I’ve assembled a list of events that can keep kiddos entertained with little to no cost.

Everyone knows about their local, neighborhood parks for free fun outside, but don’t forget your local libraries and community centers for sources of free fun!

Our local library has events after school (starting at 3pm) for kids grades K-3, including:

  • Read with Grandma Marcia ~ Every Tuesday
  • Kids Exploration Day ~ 2nd Wednesday of the month
  • LEGO Club ~ 3rd Wednesday of the month
  • Creative Play ~ Each Saturday from 10:30-11:30 am. Children learn through play! Meet new friends and have fun while developing early learning skills. Geared for ages 5 and under (but they are not strict with it- as long as the kids behave).

With all of these activities, a responsible adult must be present and participate.

Check out your local library’s website.

San Diego County Libraries

San Diego City Libraries

Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 6.38.53 PM.pngIf you have a Starwood Mall nearby you (Here in San Diego, Parkway Plaza is a Starwood property), check out their kids club called MallStars. From the Parkway Plaza website, “MallStars Kids Club offers exclusive kid friendly events in a safe, community environment, throughout the year. MallStars Kids Club is a FREE kids club open to kids 10 years of age and younger.

The program features exclusive, kid-friendly events for its members throughout the entire year. MallStars members also receive free giveaways; a quarterly newsletter with upcoming events and special offers; as well as priority registration and exclusive invites to mall events.”

Last Month we got to make pizzas, and learn how to roll out dough with friends at Fuertes NY Pizza!

My kiddos love the beach- I know not everyone has the beach near them, but if you do- take advantage!  Google your favorite beach and Tide Chart and find out when low tide it. Low tide is the perfect time to hunt for shells. If you are in San Diego, or will be visiting this summer, check out Coronado for the SS Monte Carlo. It’s a sunken ship that is visible and explorable at low tide.

If you have a YMCA membership, check out their free programs for members. Our local Y has Open Gym three times a week, plus a mommy and me craft time for little kids, and lots of other fun programs that are included in our monthly dues. If you are interested in checking out the YMCA but are lacking funds, I encourage you to visit your local Y and ask about scholarships or financial aid.

I also find lots of local events and free fun stuff by checking the “Events You May Like” section on Facebook Events.

Talkback: I’d love to hear what kinds of free (or cheap) fun stuff your family does!