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Money Saving Tips for Going Back to College!

collegeSo after a few year s(cough cough), I’ve gone back to college to finish up my AA and get ready to transfer to a CA State University.

Like any endeavor in my life, I’m trying to do the college experience on the cheap. Here are a few ways you can save money while going to school:

Start out by completing a FAFSA. That’s a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Regardless of your family income or situation, you should fill it out. You never know what kind of loans, fee waivers, or grants you may be eligible for. I was able to get a Governor’s Board Fee Waiver, which paid for my classes. All I had to pay was the Health Fee (which is $20).

amazonprimeAmazon Prime has a discounted program for students. The first 6 months are free (Courtesy of Sprint, and just $6.49/month after that. That’s 50% off the regular price.

You can rent your textbooks online, Amazon rents textbooks. Your local school library may also have short term checkout of some textbooks. You may have to ask the librarian for more information.

If you need a new computer, Apple offers a discount through Unidays. I’m still in the middle of setting my account up, but it looks like Unidays partners with hundreds of retail partners.

School supplies are always cheaper if you buy them off campus. I like to shop for school supplies at Dollar Tree, they have lots of great stuff all year long.

A list on online retailers offering discounts can be seen here, courtesy of Dealhack.

Once school starts, get a Student ID card.

Beyond saving money at on tuition, books, and supplies, your student ID may give you discounts out in the world! College students who meet some criteria may also receive a discount on your automobile insurance, cell phone bill, even fee free banking products.

Movie theatres, museums, local attractions, and restaurants sometimes give students discounts, make sure to check before you go.

Talk Back: What’s your favorite Student Discount?

 

Women’s Health Week!

Womenshealth.gov - National Women's Health Week!
It’s only fitting that Women’s Health Week starts on Mother’s Day. While not every woman is a mother, everyone has a woman they care about in their life. National Women’s Health week is May 13- May 19, 2018.

The Women’s Health Week website has all sort of great guides and resources all about how women at any stage of life can care for themselves. And they are SIMPLE STEPS!

Here are just a few daily choices that women can make to live a little more healthier:

  • Eat healthy — go to ChooseMyPlate.gov to get started
  • Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity
  • Get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep

See, baby steps!

A few other helpful hints that are good for your body & mind as well as your wallet…

If you have health insurance, don’t forget to get your annual check-up/exam (it’s covered for free under all health insurances in the US)! You can take that time to address health questions with your PCP. If you don’t have health insurance, many Planned Parenthood Clinic offer annual exams (in addition to annual reproductive health exams) for free or very low cost.

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Getting outside with a friend (or pet) is a great way to relieve stress!

If you don’t belong to a gym or health club, many employers offer discounts or work with gyms to offer discounted memberships.  If you aren’t a gym person, check out your local parks. Lots of parks in our local area have special walking loops and even fitness stations (Mast Park in Santee has both!). Other parks in San Diego with fitness/exercise stations include: Mission Bay Park,  Embarcadero Parks North & South, Tidelands Park near the base of the Coronado Bridge as you arrive in Coronado, Hilton Head Park in Rancho San Diego, Chollas Lake Park, and Morley Field (near Balboa Park). If your local park doesn’t have a fitness course, play on the jungle gym or go for a walk!

Taking care of your skin is a great way to practice a little self-care and relax. Here is my DIY Frugal Facial.

And the easiest step I can recommend to better your health: Have a glass of water! We have all sorts of water bottles at home, including infuser bottles like this one. The kids each have a water bottle too!

And if you are a budget, don’t forget to check out freebie sites for health and beauty freebie- I’ve gotten free SPF, skin care products, a pedometer, and vitamins!

I’d love to hear from you: What simple steps do you incorporate into your life to improve your health? Guys, you can comment too!  Better health is for everyone, not just ladies!

 

10 Practical Self-Care Tips

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There are tons of articles about Self-Care on Pinterest and mommy blogs. Having read a bunch of them, I’m lead to believe that all of these people have kids that go to bed on time, never wake up for water, cry out in the night, or may possibly be robots.  Why? Because facials, manicures, pedicures, private yoga sessions, and taking a long quiet bath are usually recommended. I can seldom do any of these after my kids are in bed.

Remember, self-care is more than slapping on a mud masque and shotgunning wine from a can (yes, it exists) on Sunday night while you hide in the bathroom and pray the kids stay in bed. My top ten list is stuff that is practical that will help “refill your cup”- and not with wine from a can.

  1. Go to bed early. Like 9:30pm instead of 11:30pm. It’s all about baby steps.
  2. Drink a glass of water in the morning. Yeah, you are supposed to drink 7 more after that, but, you’ve got at least 10 more waking hours to get that accomplished.
  3. Take your vitamins. They are doing no good in your medicine cabinet. To remind yourself, get an “old person pill case“. My husband and I each have one, and so does Henry. I refill them on Saturday night. I’m such the party animal.
  4. When you are alone in the car each day, do some deep breathing.  I like the Alternate Nostril Breathing (I learned it in yoga- pre-kids). It’s easy to do and just two minutes of it can really help you relax. Bonus: It’s free.
  5. Indulge in a guilty pleasure. Take 30 minutes and do something that you wouldn’t Facebook about- Take a couple Buzzfeed Quizzes, Watch Dr. Pimplepopper videos on YouTube, watch the Kardashians on Hulu. Just disconnect and do something mindless.
  6. Color! I have a bunch of coloring books for adults, but I also like to print off coloring pages too. I have some pinned on my 100 Days of Art Pinterest Board.  Color with what you’ve got on-hand. Crayons, markers, colored pencils. Heck, it’s ok to steal your kids coloring books.
  7. Do a Social Media Purge. I did this at the beginning of January. I unfollowed/unfriended anyone that caused me stress, pain, anxiety, or jealousy. You don’t need to be surrounded with Keeping Up with the Joneses all the time. Your time and family are great the way they are.  Removing these emotions from your daily life will give you relief. It’s liberating.
  8. Enjoy something to eat or drink that brings you joy or is nostalgic. Bonus if it’s something that your kids don’t like/won’t eat. Then there will be no sharing.
  9. Go for a ten minute walk. Outside is best, but a few laps around your office building is ok too. If you are home, grab the kids, the dog, and go outside. Investigate your neighborhood. It doesn’t have to be an Instagram-worthy sunset walk, just get out and stretch your legs!
  10. Power Down- Put down your phone, tablet, turn off the computer for an hour and take a break/nap/shower/bath.

Most of these things can be done with little to no cost. Anyone can do them. How do you make sure that you get enough self-care?

Practical Ways to Help New Parents…

Having had two kids, I can tell you that nothing is more helpful than having food to eat in the first few weeks after giving birth. Having a baby is stressful, especially if it’s your first. You can take all the classes in the world, do as much prep, but when it comes down to it, you spend the first few weeks tired, stressed, and weary.

Having a few extra hands and a hot meal you can eat one handed (especially something you can eat while breastfeeding) is worth it’s weight in gold!

Recently a friend and his wife welcomed their little girl. Hubs made up a batch of his new baby calzones. He makes them for everyone of our friends that is having a baby. They freeze well, re-heat quickly (and well), and you can eat them one handed.

Thanks to Kasandrinos Olive Oil and UsFamily Guide for the opportunity to sample this olive oil for free! I’m not usually a big Olive Oil fan, Kasandrinos Olive oil has a light flavor that works really well in Calzones! I also like that it has an easy to pour spout inside the bottle!

We use the Pizza Crust Recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Anything. You can find the recipe here.  One Pizza Crust makes 4-6 small calzones.IMG_2064.jpg

As the dough rises, we prep the rest of the ingredients. Sauce, cheese, meats, veggies.

I use canned tomato sauce and add Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, a pinch of parmesan cheese, salt, and black pepper. No added sugar.

Some of the most popular ingredients around here: pepperoni, sausage, onions, bell peppers, ground cooked beef, sliced chicken breast, goat cheese, mozzarella, bbq sauce (instead of tomato sauce), cheddar cheese, ham, green chilis, meatballs (I usually make them little or slice them up), pretty much anything in the fridge!

Once the dough is ready, it is portioned out, rolled and then the magic happens!

For small/hand held sized calzones, use 1/2 cup cheese/toppings and 2-3 T. of sauce. Fold over and crimp the edges shut, and place on a cookie sheet that is either sprayed with Pan or use a silicon baking mat. I have these and I love them!

Larger Calzones need almost double the amounts above.

Bake at 450 for 10-20 minutes, depending on size.

Before and after baking!

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Here is the result of a few hours work. They were delivered the next day, ready to be frozen and enjoyed at the new mom and dad’s leisure!

If cooking isn’t your “thing” here are a few other ways to help the new parents in your life:

  • Bring them their favorite coffee drink, and something to eat.
  • Offer to hold/watch the baby while they take a shower/take a nap/have 5 minutes alone.
  • Fold/put away their laundry.
  • Wash their dishes.
  • Take out the trash, or if trash day is the next day, take their cans down to the street (then the next day, stealthily put them back).
  • Be there. Honestly, it can be lonely if you are a new parent. It’s not like you are taking your new baby all over town. You are just trying to get the hang of having a new family member. Sometimes it’s just nice to have someone to come hang out with!

Kasandrinos and Us Family guide provided us with a free bottle of olive oil in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own. I was not financially compensated.

Saving Money When Coupons Aren’t Plentiful…

wallet-money.jpgI’m not sure if ya’ll have been noticing, but the coupon in the Sunday paper and online have kinda sucked lately.

Now that the shininess of New Years Resolutions has worn off, there are no more healthy food coupons, and the Big Game is over, so the snack-y food coupons have petered out too.

Values are lower and lower each week, and coupon redemption has reached an all time low (I read this on Coupons in the News a few weeks ago). So what’s a saver to do when there isn’t much to clip or print?

Don’t fret! There are still lots of ways to save money!

Check out other printable coupon websites. I have my list of old dependables here, but I also like Common Kindness. Common Kindness donates a portion of each coupon amount redeemed to the charity of your choice! At no cost to you! They have mostly Organic/All Natural food coupons. They also have a lot of printables that match up with rebates on Mobisave and Checkout 51.

That brings me to rebate apps! My full list is here. Don’t forget to check those out each week when it’s time to hit the store.

Don’t forget your Price Book, if you’ve neglected it, it might be time to update!

An updated Price Book can help you determine if items are a good deal, and it can also help you with Price Per Unit (This is super helpful if you shop at warehouse stores, like Costco).

Look for deals other places! I love to check out Living Social for discounted deals on fun stuff for family date night, or the occasional meal out with Hubs.

If you need to do some shopping online, try using an online shopping site/cashback site. I like both Mypoints and Topcashback. You can learn more about how we save while shopping online here. And don’t forget to look for coupon codes while doing online shopping.

Lastly, if you find yourself in need of food, and the ends just aren’t meeting like they used to, please do not be too proud to check out local sources for food. An updated list of local San Diego area food resources can be found here.

 

Legoland on a budget: It can be done!

DSC06398.JPGWe love Legoland, but it can get to be pricey. Here are a few tips that we personally use that can keep our trips more affordable!

Tickets:

  • Look for coupons savings. A quick search of Google is a good place to start. Frequently fast food or quick service restaurants will have Buy and adult pass, get a kids ticket free. Recently Denny’s had coupons up front near the register.
  • Sometimes schools and libraries also have these coupons. Our school had some in the front office last year, all you had to do was ask!
  • A few times a year, Legoland will have buy one day, get a second day free for the same price as a 1 day pass. That’s the perfect chance to enjoy two days to play and explore!
  • Don’t forget to check Costco or Sam’s Club! They frequently have discount 1 day, multi-day, or annual passes.

Snacks:

  • Take water bottles or travel cups with straws. Most restaurants with fountain drinks will fill your bottles or cups with filtered water for free. There are also tons of drinking fountains in the park.
  • There are lots of picnic areas, and places to sit and eat. We always bring our snack backpack (it’s this one) stuffed with applesauce cups, granola bars, dried fruit, popchips, 100% juice pouches, and other yummy snacks.
  • 180s.jpgSplurge on one snack or treat. Our favorite treat in the park are Granny’s Apple Fries! They are soooo good. It’s a batter dipped apple slice that’s flash fried and served with vanilla whipped cream. They are heavenly.
  • There are so many places to eat in the park too! Check eat location for specials like Kids Eat Free (last time we were there, the pizza and pasta buffet was having a promo after 3pm).

 

Souvenirs:

  • Our tradition is to buy a new min-figure keychain on every trip. I let Lil’ Man chose. He also gets to spend $20 on whatever he wants in the main gift shop. He earns money helping around the house and also when we do secret shops (he loves it, he thinks he’s being a secret agent).
  • Unlike Disney and other companies with theme parks, you can’t really get deals on Legos or buy them at discount shops and give the kids the goodies once in the park (that’s what we do with Disneyland). You can however bring in your own glow sticks and glow necklaces if you’ll be there after dark to save some money.

Etc:

  • There are tons of play areas in the park. If you are tired from waiting in line for rides, stop by a play and build area. There is a great Duplo themed one in Heartlake, and large play area in Castle Hill, complete with slides and tunnels! Take time to play and let your kids build and use their imagination!
  • Bring towels if you’ll be in the park when it’s hot. There are multiple water fixtures and splash pads for the kids to cool down. No need to pay to get into the water park (which is only open seasonally).
  • Bring a mini-figure or two to trade! Most Park employees have min-figs on their name tags and they will trade.

I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for saving at Legoland!