10 Ways to Save Money Around the House

Everybody wants to save more money. Most of the time, though, we look for ways to save money when we go out. We look for discounts on movie tickets, we buy second hand clothing to wear to work and out for evenings on the town. But what if we told you that there were lots of things that you could do to save money right in your own home? It’s true!

Here are the ten best ways to save money around the house:

  1. Turn Off the Lights!

This is particularly easy during the spring and summer months, when it stays light out late into the evening. Just open your blinds and let the natural light do the work for you! Beyond that, only turn on a light when you are actually using it. Leaving the lights on when you leave the room is a huge energy (and money) drain on your wallet!

  1. Unplug Everything!

Did you know that, even when appliances and machines are turned off, they can leach power from the grid? Over time those little amounts of power add up! You can save money by simply unplugging everything that you are not actively using. You can make this even simpler by plugging everything into a power strip.

  1. Bundle Your Services

Television, cable, internet, phone, DVR–these services become much cheaper when you bundle them together. For example, it’s possible to get DirecTV packages that include hundreds of channels, internet service, DVR service, and more, starting at around $50. Even if you can’t get DirecTV in your neighborhood, we’re willing to bet you can cut your bill by at least a third if you bundle everything together under one service plan.

  1. DiY Fix-It

While, yes, you want to leave the major repairs to the pros, you can fix a lot of little stuff yourself. You can fix loose handles, doorknobs and even minor plumbing repairs all for the cost of a screw driver or maybe a few small parts.

  1. DiY Decorating

Never hire someone to paint the inside of your house for you or decorate for you! You can paint and decorate yourself, for a fraction of the cost of hiring a pro. Thanks to sites like Pinterest, there are now tutorials for how to create any look you want with just a few bucks for supplies and a weekend’s worth of free time! Plus, getting crafty is good for the soul.

  1. Grow Your Own

Why are you spending major bucks in your grocer’s produce section? You can grow your own fruits, veggies, herbs, and spices yourself in a few containers. Even if you live in an apartment, you can grow a few herbs and spices in a window box! Pro tip? Use the seeds you find in the produce you’ve already purchased to help get your garden started!

  1. Shorter Showers

Even if you aren’t living in a drought-stricken area, taking the shortest shower possible is good for your water and your power bill. The best way to shower is to turn on the water to wet your skin, then turn it off while you’re soaping up and shampooing your hair. Turn it back on again to rinse everything off and viola! You’re done! Look at all the free time you have!

  1. Collect Rainwater

While we’re on the subject of saving water, setting up a rainwater collection system is incredibly easy and reduces your water bill by quite a lot. You can use collected rainwater (for a really robust supply, hook your collector up to your gutter system) to water plants, and for things like washing cars and the outside of your home. There are lots of great uses for gray water!

  1. Potlucks

Instead of going out for a meal with friends, why not have a potluck and stay in? Have everybody bring a dish to share and then settle in for a friendly movie night or game night. Plus, since it’s a potluck, everybody will take their dirty dishes home with them afterwards (save for whatever plates, cups and cutlery you provide) so cleanup shouldn’t be too terrible.

  1. Go out!

Wait, what? We just told you to stay in! In this instance, though, we’re not advocating expensive nights out on the town. Instead, get out during the day for family bike rides or to go hiking with friends. Go for walks or short road trips. Your town probably has way more free stuff to do than you know about. This way you’ll save money on power, water, etc while also getting in some free entertainment!

Have we missed something? What are your favorite methods for saving money at home?

Are you one of 7% who cannot access a short term loan?

Are you one of the 7% who may no longer be able to access a short term loan? If you are, what is your best way forward? Just because you can no longer get a loan doesn’t mean that the need goes away – far from it. What it does mean however is that you may need to try and make some adjustment to your financial status in an effort to improve your rating; even if only by a small degree, and then talk to one of the more responsible lenders, to see if you can qualify for one of their short term loans.

According to information on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website, the new caps they introduced earlier this year have resulted in 7% (approximately 70,000 people) no longer being able to access short term loans. This figure is down on the original 11% they estimated when they floated their proposals in July last year. This group of consumers is an unfortunate by-product of the new rules and regulations that have been brought in to help the majority of borrowers, at the same time as regulating lenders.

Summary of the new caps

The caps that the FCA introduced in January 2015 can be summarized as follows:

  • An initial cost cap of 0.8% per day has been introduced on interest repayments. This should lower the cost of short term loans for the vast majority of borrowers.
  • The total repayment amount of any short term loan cannot exceed 100%. This has been brought in to help to stop a number of borrowers getting into increasing debt.
  • A maximum default fine of £15. This is aimed at helping those people who are struggling to keep up with their repayment.

Repeat borrowing under the microscope

Repeat borrowing is a known feature of the short term loan industry. The FCA will be carrying out some studies in the near future in order to properly assess the feature of repeat borrowing with particular regard as to whether or not lending companies are carrying out adequate checks to assess its ongoing affordability to clients.

These new rules and regulations apply to all HCSTC (High Cost Short Term Loan) agreements. There is also a new ruling about debt reinforcement on all HCSTCs. The new ruling says that any UK based debt collection agencies must refrain from chasing debts on behalf of any Electronic-Commerce Directive (ECD) Lenders where their charges are in excess of the capped rates.

Closing down the loopholes

The FCA has also looked into any potential loopholes, such as UK companies setting up operations abroad, and directing their main business to focus on UK borrowers, utilizing rates over and above the newly capped UK rates. They have been given authority in any such cases to take appropriate action against said lenders.

Before the new caps were introduced the FCA consulted with many industry stakeholders. This group included various professional and academic bodies as well as lenders and consumer groups. At that time, the FCA also forecast that they expected 90% of lenders to freely take part in what is called real time data sharing. This they said would enable the industry to work with current data on the state of the industry. Progress in this area is as expected, so no further consultations are planned at this time.

With complaints about short term loans down by 45%, the new caps appear to be having an effect. It does mean however that the unfortunate 7% of people who cannot access loans are going to have to try and put their houses in better order.

Three Simple Ways To Make Your Home More Aesthetically Appealing

Coming home to living space that looks incredible is relaxing and comforting. Yet in many cases, residential property owners feel that they don’t know what tips and tricks to put in place to keep their homes looking absolutely amazing. If this is the case for you, try incorporating one or all of these home decor strategies:

1. Update Your Furniture.

Oftentimes, furniture can make or break your residential property. More specifically, having the right sofa, chairs, cushions, beds, and other furniture can contribute to the aesthetic appeal, spaciousness, and symmetry of your living space. And if you’re like most homeowners, there is at least one piece of furniture that you can replace with something more visually compelling. As you start the process of deciding which pieces to replace, consider the value of investing in wicker furniture offered from companies like Wicker Paradise. This type of furniture is inexpensive and gives your home an eye-catching rustic look that you’ll love.

2. Be More Eco-Friendly.

These days, the word “eco-friendly” has become increasingly prevalent as more and more people express concern about protecting the environment. Although being eco-friendly is important because it prevents the natural setting from the misuse of humans, it’s also important to note that going green is a great way to improve the visual appeal of your home. Luckily, there are several simple ways that you can start making your home more eco-friendly. One is to replace traditional lighting with LED bulbs. You can also replace artificial lighting with natural light from the sun, which increases the aesthetic appeal of your home while simultaneously helping you attain valuable nutrients that can optimize physiological function!

3. Create The Illusion Of Space.

One of the biggest complaints that homeowners have about their living space is that it looks cramped. If you’re attempting to cultivate a more spacious look, know that there are numerous ways that you can do so. One effective strategy is to exchange your dark fabrics and prints for lighter ones. This works because lighter colors create the illusion of a more spacious home.

If you’re trying to whip your home into absolutely amazing condition, you can get started right now by incorporating the home decor strategies outlined above. Whether you opt to update your furniture, go eco-friendly, or create the illusion of space, you’ll likely be amazed with the results you get!

Parenting Teenagers: Tips on How to Give Your Teen Freedom (But Not Too Much)

Once your child has reached their teenage years, parenting them becomes more of a challenge. Sure they’re pretty self-sufficient by this point and the various things they once relied on you for, they can look out for themselves.

However, with parenting teenagers comes a whole new topic of discussion – finding balance. It is during these trivial years that your teen will push the envelope as much as they can to learn who they are and how they identify with their peers. While on one hand you want to provide your teen with the freedom to explore themselves and new relationships, you don’t want to be so loose in your parenting that they end up making poor decisions and heading down the wrong path.

So how does a parent find a successful way to manage their teenagers while also allowing them the freedoms to “be who they are”? I will say that it comes with a great deal of patience, practice, and prayer…. If you set the foundation now, it should be a lot easier to deal with along the way. Below are some suggestions on how to do this effectively.

1.  Give Trust Until They Give You a Reason Not to – As hard as this concept may be to tackle, we have to give some form of trust in order to see what type of people our teenagers really are. If we act as a prison warden early on, they will feel as if there is no trust and begin pushing the limits. By the time your child is a teenager, you already have some basis for how trustworthy they are. Using this baseline, you should trust your teen to do things (within reason), without excessive restrictions and limitations. Now I’m in no way saying that you allow your teen to hang out with their friends at their house unsupervised doing heaven knows what. However, what I am saying is that you set the guidelines, give your teen permission to hang out, and see how they do with this bit of freedom.

2.  Establish the Rules – Once your child has reached that age where they want to hang out with friends more than with you (I know it’s sad to think about), this is the time to set down some ground rules. You must let them know right away what you expect of them and what the consequences will be if they don’t follow through. Setting a curfew, ensuring that all teen activities are supervised by an adult, and getting pertinent information about their whereabouts are some of the most common guidelines you want to have in place.

3.  Stay Involved – This one might prove to be challenging as most teens are not “open” with their parents about their lives and would probably prefer us to just butt out. However, you must stay connected and involved in your teen’s life on every level possible. Ask about their day, attend school functions and events, and even get to know your child’s friends (and their friend’s parents). If you’re consistently involved in the life of your teenager, then it seems less intrusive to them and they will be less reserved when it comes to telling you things.

4.  Reward Responsible Behavior – When your teen is following the rules and putting forth their best effort to be on their best behavior it is imperative to reward this behavior. Whether you take them on a shopping trip to the mall, give them extra spending money for the movies with their friends, or cook their favorite meal for dinner, the reward system still works for teens. Rewarding them for positive behaviors lets them know that they’re doing a good job and when making responsible decisions they will receive reward (just as it often is in the real world)

5.  Correct Negative Behavior – It can be pretty easy to dismiss negative behaviors as “typical teenaged behavior” however, letting things slide can ultimately make parenting your teen a lot more challenging. They essentially assume that you’re a joke and what you say does not have as much impact. When your teen is “testing the limits” with poor behavior, they are looking to see what they can and cannot get away with. As such, when they do something outside of what you expect, consequences should follow. This in turn lets them know that you’re watching them, and that you’re serious about your rules.

6.  Pay Attention to Signs of Trouble – You know your child better than anyone else, and as such you should be able to pay attention to the warning signs that there is trouble lurking. Parents often wonder if their teens are drinking and using drugs, and while teens do a good job of hiding it, you can ultimately see when there are signs of trouble. Pay attention to your teen’s behavior patterns at home, school, and with friends to ensure you can stay on top of any changes. Tucson Transitional Living, a facility offering drug rehab programs for young adults, gives information for parents on confronting teens about addiction. Educating yourself and communicating effectively with your teen can ultimately prevent them from making poor choices (or get them early help).

7.  Intervene When Necessary – Yes, it would be nice if we could be labeled as cool parents, however, our jobs are not to be as cool as their friends, but to provide them with a solid foundation and understanding of life. As such, when you see trouble on the horizon, don’t wait until it is too late to say something. Intervene when necessary so that your teen understands that you mean business and that what they’re doing is not acceptable. Whether it’s talking to a teacher, your spouse, or the parents of your teen’s friends, doing what you have to do to make sure that they’re safe first and foremost is necessary.

Parenting teenagers will certainly require a great deal of balancing, but by setting the proper foundation, you can save yourself a lot of stress later on. We must allow our teens to get older and learn a sense of independence and responsibility; however, it must be done within reason. The above suggestions are not the end all be all, but they are certainly important factors to consider as you learn how to give your teen more freedoms in the years to follow. Whether we’re monitoring their video game usage or deciding whether they can hang with friends it is important to remember we are their first example of how to behave.

4th of July Fun!

I hope everyone had an amazing 4th of July celebration!

V spent the day/night with her dad, and E and I hung out … staying up until 11:30 last night!! I can’t believe he lasted that long, to be honest. And the worst part was, he would’ve stayed up later but I was exhausted and insisted that we went to bed! 🙂

We had a great time hanging out with friends — doing sparklers, playing tag, and making s’mores.

Here are a few pictures from last night 🙂 (Sorry if they are a little grainy — they were all taken outside in the dark with a smartphone)

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I’d love to see some of your fun pictures from your 4th of July celebrations — head on over and post them on my Facebook page!

Getting in Shape with PiYo

So as many of you know, my weight has been an on going struggle for me. Recently, I have gotten it much better under control, and after going from eating too much to not eating enough due to stress — I am finally at a healthy place with food.

Now I just want to get everything toned up and perfect my version of a bikini body. I am fully comfortable with the fact that I will never have a models body. And to be honest – I don’t want one. Each of my stretch marks shows the amazing things that my body has been done. And I have finally  accepted that a thigh gap doesn’t really suit me.

But I still want to be in shape, and I still want to feel confident in whatever I chose to wear.

So to tighten everything up I have decided to do PiYo from Beachbody.

piyo

I got the program a few months ago, and I have been using it on and off. I do really love how I feel when I am doing the workouts. They don’t really feel like intense workouts while you are doing them, but man do you sweat and feel them the next day! They are quick and fun, something that I need in my workouts (its really no secret that I don’t really like to workout).

So I have started doing them more regularly again, and I am excited to share my progress as it occurs. 🙂

I’d love some challenge buddies!! Send me an email if you’re interested in some additional information about Beachbody and the programs they offer– and we can keep each other motivated!

BELLAMI 6 in 1 Complete Curler Set Review

I am the first to admit that I can be a bit lazy when it comes to my hair. I wear it very long, so it tends to find itself pulled back into a ponytail much more often than I really like. Lately, I have been trying to switch it up a bit and actually wear a style.

My cousin really got me into curling my hair. I always loved how my hair looked pin straight, and until about 6 months ago, that was the “style” that I could really do myself. When I wanted curly hair, I had to have her come do it for me. This worked out okay when we were going out, but most people don’t want to curl your hair at 8am before you head into work while they are trying to get ready for work themselves.

So I finally learned how to do it myself. (Thank you YouTube video tutorials!)

And I am so happy that I did!

A big part of making the learning process easier was the tools that I had to work with. The Bellami 6 in 1 Complete Curler Set is beyond amazing.

6-in-1

It’s exactly what is sounds like — 6 amazing curling wands in one. So basically, its 6 different sized, clip free curling barrels that attach to one single handle. They come in a variety of sizes (19mm – 19mm, 25mm – 25mm, 32mm – 32mm, 9mm – 13mm, 25mm – 18mm, Pearl Wand) guaranteeing that you will find a few favorites.

I love the largest barrel — the 32mm gives me the perfect, big, loose curls that I love. But I have also used the smaller sizes for more defined curls. And the Pearl Wand gives a really fun, messy, beachy look.

My favorite feature is the ability to adjust the temperature. Most of the other sets that I looked at only had a high or a low setting. The temperature shows up as a digital reading, and is easily and quickly adjusted. This curling wand also heats up very quickly, meaning that it doesn’t take me too long to get it all set up for last minute curls in the morning.

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As for the curls — you are going to love how your hair looks when you use this wand. The tourmaline barrels are fused with ceramic, and in just a few seconds you have beautiful, silky smooth curls. Most of the time, I don’t even use hair spray — the curls just stay on their own and look fabulous. I even like how they look the next morning; still bouncy and defined, with just a hint of a messy look.

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All and all, this 6-in-1 set is an amazing value and a must have for anyone looking for the perfect curls. I absolutely love it, and I have recommended it many people. Plus, Bellami is always running special discounts for it, meaning that you will be able to get this set $300 set for much less (there is currently a $160 off coupon code available on the website!)

Head on over and check it out! If you already have one, let me know what you think of it or share some pictures of your fancy hair -do’s 🙂

Bowling!

Just wanted to give share with you guys …

My kids love bowling, and I just found out about a website that gives your kids free bowling games all summer long!

kidsbowlfree

Register at KidsBowlFree.com and each child you sign up will get 2 free games a day all summer long. This doesn’t include the shoe rental fee, just the games. You simply print out the pass before you head into the bowling ally and you’ll be good to go.

So check it out 🙂 Hope you guys have as much fun with it as we plan to!

The Last Day of School and 1 Year Work Anniversary

I cannot believe that today was the last day of school for my kids. It feels like this year flew by. I had such a hard time on E’s first day of kindergarten and now he is officially a 1st grader — crazy! And V is a 4th grader. That seems impossible to me.

My kids have learned so much this year. I feel like that is completely cliche, but it is so true. E started school not being about to read or write much more than his name. Now he is sounding out words, reading and writing us all little notes that we don’t need him to translate for us. V has excelled in Math this year, and continues to amaze me with the stories that she writes, and how quickly she reads! She is a total book nerd like her mom (something that makes me very happy).

While I am excited that the summer is finally here, I am also a little sad that this year has flow by so quickly. Not only is the school year over for them, but this week marks 1 year since I have been back to work.

I have spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on this last year, and a few things really jumped out at me. It is so easy to be bitter and depressed and unhappy. I don’t want to focus on the negative. I spent a lot of time doing that, and it did nothing but make me more miserable. So I have been focusing on thing that I am thankful for, and surprisingly enough, this year has given me multiple things to be thankful for.

I’m so thankful for two healthy, smart, happy children. Watching my kids grow this year has been amazing. They have adapted to new situations with ease (school, teachers, me working, a new sitter) and taught me a few things about dealing with change in the process. They know how to keep me grounded, focused and motivated, and always give me a reason to smile.

I’m also very thankful for my job. I somehow managed to land a job where I get to work people that I truly enjoy being around, and doing some that I love to do. I was so nervous when I went back to work. I was originally trying to find a front desk job at a dental office — something I did for many years before having V, but I couldn’t find one. I was, however, offered a job as a dental assistant. I agonized over whether or not to take the job. I was so scared I wouldn’t like it and that I wouldn’t be good at it, and it was a huge relief (and a bit of a surprise) to find out that I not only liked it, I loved it, and that I was good at it. Who knew?! 😉

I truly am thankful for my struggles this past year. This has been one of the toughest years of my life… emotionally and financially. I have gone from being a stay at home mom to a full time working mom. I have spent many nights laying awake stressed over how I would pay our bills, worrying that I wasn’t being a good mom because I was so busy, and feeling bad about all the things I couldn’t afford to get or do with my kids. I have cried myself to sleep many nights, and struggled to find the motivation to even get out of bed some mornings. There are still days when the weight of it all overwhelms me and I am not sure how to shoulder it all. I have a good cry and just keep going when this happens. The silver lining? Looking back on my darkest days shows me how far I’ve come, and how strong I really am. And as weird as it sounds, I’m thankful for that self-knowledge.

For the time being, I am trying to live in the moment. I struggle to let the past go, and I constantly stress about the future. I miss a lot of the great things going on in the present because of this. So I have been making a more conscious effort to be present, to not worry about things I can’t change, and to just do the best I can day to day.

With that being said, I’m looking forward to a great summer filled with love and laughter, and many special memories 🙂

Just a Little Update

Hey all.

I feel like it has been a long time … a very long time … since I have written a personal post. Or any post for that matter.

Life has been crazy.

Honestly – that is a bit of an understatement. There have been a lot of big changes that have happened in my life in the past year and a half, and for the most part, they were not the positive, happy kind.

I am currently going through a separation, and it has been a very rough time for me and the kids. Of of the result of this was I neglected my blog, and kind of closed ranks around the kids.

We have been focusing on healing as a family, and as individuals, as we each processed the new changes in our daily routine and lives, and the reasons that we ended up here.

I have gone back to work full time … which has been a huge adjustment in itself. That was always the plan once both kids were in school, but it happened a lot sooner than I had anticipated. Both kids are in school now; E is finishing Kindergarten in two weeks, and V will be a 4th grader soon. Time flies.

Healing is a slow process. I’m not really ready to put it all out there yet. I’m sure I will be at some point, but it’s all still to new and raw and much to painful to fully dive into right now.

I mainly just wanted to say that my site will be switching gears a little bit. I’m planning on doing more personal posts — and hopefully it will be not only therapeutic to me, but helpful for someone else going through a similar situation.

Thank you all for hanging in there with me.

With love,

Jessie