Friday, November 25, 2016

Clean And Organize Your House For The Holidays

We all want a cleaned and organized house for the holidays.  Here is my four week list to organize and tidy up your home.  When you see it, your first thought might be to flip out at the amount of work involved, but it is an entire week's worth of work.  I do this list every month of the year and it takes me less than 2 hours per day with six people in my home.

The list runs monthly, but this list is meant so that you can spend time with your family, never putting your housework in front of your family.  It is meant to relieve stress and take some of the burden away from cleaning your house.  If your kids are sick, skip a few days.  If it's a holiday...relax.  Enjoy the holiday and save the cleaning for another day.

If you don't have enough time, try to do something that will stay done.  Washing your dishes will get you nowhere, they will be dirty again tomorrow!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Cleaning list week 4

Daily list:
Take out trash
Make sure all items for dinner are available and make a list of anything needed
Clean up all breakfast dishes. Wash them and put them away
Quick clean main bathroom: Wipe off counter and sink, wipe off mirror. Put anything away that was left out. 
Make beds 
Start a load of laundry
Fold and put away a load of laundry
Wipe off kitchen counters and sink after each meal
Sweep kitchen floor after dinner
Scoop litter box 
Go through mail and either throw it out, deal with it or put it into the decision file
Run the dishwasher
Unload the dishwasher
Close the kitchen at the end of the day
What does close the kitchen mean? Click here to find out: Close The Kitchen

Weeklies this week:

Clean out the fridge before you grocery shop
Write your menu if you do it weekly
Grocery shop
Clean out the car
Deep clean your main bathroom and change the towels out
Wipe inside and outside of garbage can
Water plants
Wash bedding
Deep clean kitchen
Dust house
Pay bills
Vacuum entire house

Monthly or more list:
Remove cushions from sofa and vacuum under them...vacuum under sofa
Organize Bookcases and dust as you go
Organize Entry (any winter stuff gets put away)
Organize Family Room
Organize Office Space or Room

Friday, October 28, 2016

Being a Good Steward as a Stay at Home Mom

Some of us have to be really frugal if we want to stay home with our kids.  It meant losing an income and trying to make up for that loss of income by being a good steward with the money our husband makes.

I am going to start a series on Money and the first topic I would like to talk about is the lottery.  Bill Nye has an excellent video up on YouTube which I have placed below that explains why we should refrain from playing the lottery when money is tight (or for me any time, I have never played the lottery).

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

How to add a navigation bar to blogger

1.        Log into your blogger blog

2.       Come up with heading titles you want and edit posts.  Use “Labels” on the right hand side to make sure you have made at least one post for every heading you want to use on your blog.  You can add more later, but the process is different.

3.       Now you have posts with labels.  If you go to your posts page, you can see the labels after the titles

4.       Under my blog, click on Layout, then click Cross Column and click ADD GADGET

5.       Click LINK LIST

6.       Title the list Navigation

7.       Under name, Type in a label

8.       In the URL box, Paste the page with that label

9.       Save


You now have one item in your navigation bar.  If you want to add more, go to the settings bar on your blog to the right of the Navigation bar and click it.  You can add and delete more Navigation pages from here. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Make your recipe printable in Blogger

1.  Go to Google Sites and log into your account.   Google Sites
2.  Click on the red CREATE Button on your left
3.  On the Blank Template, where it says site name, type in your blog name
4.  Confirm that you are not a robot
5.  Click on the big red CREATE Button at the top of the page

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Best Birthday Gifts on a Budget

If you're a parent or relative to young children, then you've got birthdays to attend. For me, it's almost every weekend these days! Finding the appropriate gift can be time-consuming, and a bit stressful- whether it's coming directly from you or from your child to their pal.

I am one of those aunts that lives 600 miles from my nieces and nephews, and I have quite a few of them.  I want to buy them all age appropriate gifts on a budget but since I only see them a few times a year, that can be difficult.  I am also really busy with getting my kids back into school, so I don't have a lot of time to shop for all those fall birthdays.

 Never fear! I created a gift guide so you can focus on enjoying time with loved ones (and getting on with your day!) rather than hemming and hawing at all of the options. And while Fall birthdays have been top of my mind, the gift guide is appropriate for any time of year so you can bookmark this page as your gift that keeps on giving. The gifts are organized by age group from toddler to teen, and all of them are under $40. Happy gifting!

For giftees ages 3 to 5

Geometric Building Set tegu Tegu Blocks combine fun colors, geometric shapes, and a magnetic snap to create a playtime experience that's fitting for the living room or the classroom. Parents (and littles!) love this toy because its production has positive environmental and social impact. get-it-now-200x60   Make a Match Game mama_may_i_make_a_match_dino1_large_9117 This game helps children grow memory skills with adorable dinosaur chips! The beautiful design is a treat for parents and kids alike. Perfect for picnics, play dates, and rainy games, this game is small enough to carry in your pocket and hip enough for the coolest of pre-k birthday parties. get-it-now-200x60  

For giftees ages 6 to 8

Animal Charades Game mama_may_i_mamamayianimalaction5_fd5e Get kids on their feet and brimming with ideas! This high-quality wooden game is a perfect gift for outgoing children and to create an atmosphere of fun and creativity. get-it-now-200x60   Pirate Adventure Board Game grouchy-dog-llc_box3drm3_c2be This board game is cleverly disguised. Kids will be having so much fun that they won't even know that they were learning math from an award-winning program. get-it-now-200x60   Squishy Science Experiment ss-worldwide_screen_shot_20160616_at_43240_pm_5e55 The Slimy Squishy Polymer Bucket is the perfect gift for budding scientists who aren't afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty in the name of...scientific learning! But they'll too be busy having fun to realize they're learning the basics of chemistry. get-it-now-200x60   Garden Flowers Coloring Book garden-flowers-coloring-book-9781632205247-1459709691.3733.3088 One great idea for a gift is coloring books. These garden flower coloring books are perfect for child and parent, and can make a great group activity. get-it-now-200x60

For giftees 9 to 10

Food Fighter 2-Player Game kids-table_fdf_box_top_jan_5daa Food Fighter is a board game that has two children face off in a kitchen-themed battle. Children will have fun while developing higher-order thinking skills, mathematics, literacy, and executive functioning skills. get-it-now-200x60   Dream Catcher Kit the_happy_trunk_dreamcatcher2_f343 Building dreamcatchers is a classic crafting activity - this colorful kit has everything kids need to make something unique and beautiful! get-it-now-200x60   Just Add Milk Experiments griddly_games_outofboxjustaddmilk_62e8 I love these experiments - little parental oversight is required, and they're so easy to do right at home! Girls and boys, readers and scientists, alike will love this colorful kit. Not to mention parents! get-it-now-200x60

Gifts for Ages 11 to 13

Pairs in Pears pairs-in-pears-lr1998-1460411317.7972.3088 Whether or not they love this pun as much as some of us, this game gets kids flexing vocabulary muscles while having fun with a little challenge and competition. Players build pairs of connecting words in matching patterns, like Scrabble 2.0. Best of all it's portable - a perfect gift and activity to bring along on sleepovers or for parties. For a little more "pearity," pair with two more pears! get-it-now-200x60   Rainforest Biome rainforest-biome-discovery-kit-lr2993-1460412048.0125.3088 Budding scientists and tweens who like hands-on fun will love this all-in-one Rainforest Biome - they get to start a whole ecosystem right at home! The biome includes cacao beans (a favorite), clay, an apple snail shell, and more to create a full-on biofeedback loop. Super cool! get-it-now-200x60   Math & Science Mystery Books slack_for_ios_upload-3 Who doesn't love to solve a mystery?! The One Minute Mystery series takes a simple concept and turns it into an awesome book. Kids will read mysteries, then use their powers of deduction and knowledge of math and science to find the solution. Each is as satisfying as the next! get-it-now-200x60

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Is Amazon Your Cheapest Option for Homeschool Supplies?

I admit it.  I tend to be lazy.  When it's time to purchase homeschool supplies, I run to amazon and just click and it's at my house in 2 days.  Amazon used to be cheaper than other places on nearly everything.  Now that I am in the habit of not checking prices anymore, I got suspicious.  I heard rumors of amazon raising prices and decided to have a look.  I found quite a few things that are actually MUCH more expensive on amazon.  

Free Shipping on Educents with code AppleCider16 through Sept 30.

THE best Learn to Read kit by Hooked on Phonics is $190 cheaper on @Educents than Amazon. Plus free shipping with AppleCider16! #reading #learning

My analytical mind tells me saving $19 on this Analytical Grammar Set @Educents vs. Amazon is correct. :) #HS #saving #grammar

Save almost $50 on this #Minecraft coding program @Educents v Amazon. #STEM #Learning

Calling all Pre-K teachers and big families - save $45 on the classroom edition of magnetic Tegu Blocks @Educents. Free Shipping with ApplieCider16 #learning #building

Teach the 5 Paragraph Essay AND good price shopping - save $42 at Educentsv Amazon. #budget #learning #writing

Ms. Frizzle is my favorite co-conspirator for science learning - and Educents is the best for saving! $42 less than on Amazon + free shipping with AppleCider16! #STEM #learning #HS

Get ahead of the rest and don't break the bank with this amazing Chinese Language Program at @educents! #learning #language #chinese

Tegu Blocks are my (and my kids) favorite!! Save $28 on @Educents v Amazon! #learning #hs

Time for mom to sit back and watch the kids cook! Save $21 on this great kids cooking program @Educents versus Amazon.

Stickers make learning stick, and great prices keep me coming back toEducents. Check out the Human Body Wall Set! #STEM #HS #Learning

Save $19 on Magformers at Educents v Amazon. Such a great set to keep the kids active! #hs #learning

Take the Life of Fred Elementary Math plunge at #Educents and save $14 vs. Amazon. That's good math! #STEM #Math #learning

My little readers love these just as much as grandma for reading time - makes reading easier and more colorful. Save 25% at @Educents v Amazon. #reading #learning #HS

Calming classical music plus lessons to learn - the Maestro Classics set is amazing! The best deal I've seen is @Educents. #music #learning #hs

Stick the re-stickable stars on your wall and let the learning begin! Save 25% onEducents plus free shipping with AppleCider16 #learning #hs #STEM

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Math Made Easy for Kids

Math can be quite the 4 letter word, but with the right curriculum it becomes an amazing tool that unlocks the world around us. Whether you want to admit it or not, we all use math in our everyday life. We can’t even cook a recipe without math; check a bill for accuracy or many other everyday tasks. I am a nurse as well as a mom, and I use math at work. Simple math can become second nature for a lot of us and a good foundation is the key. 

 During the summer when my kids are at home, I plan lessons for them so that they do not get rusty and forget their math skills, so you don’t have to be a homeschooling mom to check out the link below. Looking for a comprehensive homeschool math curriculum catered to your child's learning style? I've got the Fab 5 of tried-and-true homeschool curricula for beginners up to college, and from mastery to story-based. Now it's just a process of elimination.

Homeschool Math Program

Multiple Grades

aplus           Want to integrate blended learning into your homeschool math curriculum? This program allows the learner or teacher to print certain lesson plans, access online videos and tutorials, and the program even provides assessments and grading for student work. One of the beneficial features of the A+ platform is the user-friendly dashboard that enables parents/teachers to monitor the learner’s progress. A for EASE!
Check it out.

Mastery Based Math Program

1st to 7th Grades

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

You can leave your shoes on at my house

Today I have a rant.  I am always surprised when I to go someone's home and I am asked to remove my shoes.  I have a foot problem that requires me to wear inserts in my shoes in order to walk better.  Without them, it's painful to walk and I limp very badly.  While I am sharing this with all of you, it's not something I tell my friends.  I figure friends are for fun and not problems, so I do not discuss my feet issues with them.  When being told that I need to remove my shoes, I am then met with a dilemma.  Either explain why I cant take them off and stand out, or leave.  I usually leave because I am too embarrassed. 

If you come to my house, we do not worship the god of all floors.  Our floors are not sacred and you do not have to remove your shoes to walk on them.  Please come on in and feel welcome because we love people, not things. 

*end of rant*

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Yes, I had a Narcissist for a mom. My story.

I started this blog because I want to help support and encourage moms and women who want to be moms.  I had to learn to be a mom by myself and it was a hard skill to learn when I had no real role model.  Growing up, I didn't realize my mom was a narcissist.  She is not the flamboyant type to throw me into the public eye and want me to be a star.  She is what I would consider a covert narcissist who likes to hide in the shadows and observe without being seen (so she can talk badly about people).

My mom is the kind of person that gets what she wants at all costs.  If you do something that she is not please with, she will withdraw from your life as punishment.  This is punishment because in her mind, everyone wants to know her and be close to her.  Pushing people away is a game.  I saw her cut off relationships with her best friend and her sister with no remorse.  She felt that both women were in a competition with her and they were winning, so they had to pay by not having her in their life.

Growing up, I knew that I had to do everything my mom wanted to or pay, but I never once suspected she was so evil and could cut her grand kids and me out of her life so coldly.  It all started one fall.  My mom watched my nieces every weekend, even though she never once babysat my kids even for an hour.  In my mom's world, there was nothing wrong with this.  Playing favorites is how a person gets what they want.  The least favorite has to work hard to gain approval and feed the ego of the narcissist.  My family was planning on making the 600 mile trip when she informed me that having my three kids in her house was too much, that we needed to find a hotel.  I reminded her that she has three kids at her house every weekend and I guess it made her mad.  We decided to spend Christmas at our home instead and we didn't make the trip back.  Having all the kids in a hotel room was more than I could handle.  No place to nap, two beds and a crib in a small space.  We decided we should stay home.

I honestly don't know what happened next.  I found out from someone that my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  I called the house and left message after message.  She never returned a call.  I knew she felt it was powerful not to answer my calls.  I could feel her smirking as I spoke to her voicemail.  At first, I called her voicemail daily.  Then I started leaving her voicemails on Saturdays.  Eventually I gave up.  I phoned her and said that for me to continue talking to an answering machine was pitiful, and that she would need to call me back.  She didnt.

I don't really know what I did.  I guess I never will.  Two years later, I was in my hometown for Christmas.  I was shopping and ran into someone from my parent's church who asked me how my dad was doing.  I decided to be honest.  I said I did not know how he was doing, that I had done something to upset them and they had not spoken to me in over 2 years.  I said I didn't know how someone could call themselves a christian and not talk to their own grand kids.

Big Mistake. Calling out a narcissist who believes themselves to be perfect is the worst thing I could have ever done.  From that point on, I was a liar.  They were not talking to me because I lied to people about them and I needed to apologize (to their answering machine).  I live 600 miles from my parents and they took "the entire family" on a last vacation with my dad and drove within a mile of my house.  I still cry when I think about that.  My family were posting pictures all over the internet. They knew it was the last vacation they would ever take and they chose to shut us out.  There was no forgiveness in their heart, there was no willingness to talk.

I did give it one last try.  I spoke to a family friend.  She gathered a group of people who knew my parents and prayed.  She said they all prayed for days before she phoned my dad.  Knowing my father to be a christian, I just knew she could get through to him.  I knew he would listen to someone from my childhood church, but my hopes were smashed. She phoned me in tears.  She said she spoke to my dad on the phone and did not even recognize him for the hate in his heart.  She said she tried to talk to him about me, but that he kept saying he refused to talk to me because I was a liar.  She asked him how someone could be a liar by speaking the truth, but she said he kept insisting that I lied to make them look bad to their church.  She said she had never known him to be so unforgiving, so hateful and so mean.  She said she finally decided to try to stop making him see that he was the one lying and asked, "What would your daughter need to do to make you love her again?".  She said that before he slammed the phone down, he said, "Nothing she can do".   Now when people say prayer works, I don't believe them.

A few nights later, I got a call from my sister.  She reprimanded me for involving an "outsider" in a "family" fight.  She said I had no right to involve someone else.  I asked her what I was supposed to do since it had now been nearly four years since our parents had spoken to me and our father was DYING.  She said he was not dying.  She was in total denial and said that she only wanted to hear sunshine and rainbows from me if I ever spoke to her again.  I still don't understand how she could be angry at me for wanting a relationship with my parents.  I knew how my parents felt through my sister's words.  They felt ambushed.  They did not want to talk to me and were not ready, so my effort was met with hostility, not forgiveness.

I was crying one day when I realized something.  If my dad died, my narcissist mom was going to expect me to be at his funeral.  She would decide that I had paid enough for whatever it was that I did to offend her simply because she didn't want people talking about her.  I decided that if my dad was able to talk to me when she made her realization, that I would be open to a reconciliation.  I also made the hardest decision I ever made in my life.  I decided that if she waited until my dad could no longer speak, that I would not acknowledge her or go to his funeral.   It had been over four years and my kids wouldn't even know them if they walked up to us.  How could I point to a dead man and say, "That is your grandpa who wanted nothing to do with you".  I couldn't.

I decided I would only be open to talking to my parents again if BOTH of them could talk and if they wanted to put my kids in their life.  I didn't get a call from my mom.  I got an email.  The day before he died.  Her email to me said, "We aren't mad, but you can apologize now".  It didn't say for what.  I pondered it for a bit, then deleted it.  If they weren't mad, then why had my kids lost a relationship with their grandparents?  Why would I need to apologize if they weren't mad?  It made no sense.  My niece phoned me that night to say that my dad had died.  I didn't call, I didn't send flowers and I didn't answer the mass email my mom sent telling people what time to be there for the funeral.  My sister said, "He made peace with god".  I never told her how hurtful that sentence was.  She said my dad could leave me here on earth crying and hurting, but since he made peace with a god, it was all OK.  My feelings meant nothing to his god.  My God would have said to make every effort to make peace with your family before dying.

I waited a month, then I made the second biggest mistake of my life.  I emailed the woman who gave birth to me and said that I would not be accepting calls or emails from her again.  I told her that what she did was called stonewalling and it is a narcissistic trait and that I would not talk to her or read emails from her again.  I decided that it had been over four years and my kids had mourned their grandparents already.  Why allow her back into my life now?  She stole the last four years of my dad's life from me and my family.  The price I had to pay was too much.  How long before I would have to pay again?  Looking back, I should not have emailed her.  She never bothered to tell me what I had done that so offended her that she cut me and my kids out of her life completely so why would I think that telling her was a good idea?    She shot back an email with "DRAMA QUEEN" as the title, but I didn't read it.  I kept my word and deleted it and blocked her email.

I thought very hard about telling my story and I am crying as I type.  I grew up in a house where you did what my mom wanted to do or you paid the price.  There was abuse, isolation and I lived in a closed off, small world.  I decided to tell my story to encourage other women to be good moms.  I grew up with a bad mom. Not the worst mom ever, but there was no joy in my life. I didn't want that for my kids.  I wanted to be a good mom who brings joy to their lives and who coaches them to be the best they can be.  I had to learn how to be a good mom.  I had to learn to cook and clean and to teach my kids.  I had to learn to raise a family without the abuse that I was subjected to...and I did.  I want that for each and every mom out there.  I want you to grow as a mom.  I want you to enjoy caring for your family and to love each other.  Where you came from is not important in your ability to be a very good mom.  You only need to want to learn to be a good parent and to be willing to put effort into it.  You need to love your kids for who they are and not try to change them.  To help them develop their skills and interests and to help them become successful in finding their path in life. I hope that I can encourage you on your way.

I hope you enjoy my blog and I hope you are able to learn from it.

But remember:

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

8 Recipes for Bunco or Book Club That Are Easier Than Buying Boxed Cookies

We have all been there.  After a long day of work or taking care of our families we realize that we have Book Club tonight and we are supposed to bring a snack.   One night, I was pressed for time and I ran to the store, grabbed a box of cookies from a display case at the front of the store and when I got to Book Club, everyone there had purchased those same cookies from that same display.

That night I decided that from now on, I would plan ahead for Book Club and shop on my weekly grocery trip.  Then instead of spending time in line at the grocery store, I could make something simple and easy that isn't a box of factory made cookies.  I have been very surprised that some of these recipes take me less time than the trip to the store to buy those cookies, and I am pretty sure that my girlfriends do not miss pre-made broken cookies.

Here are some fast and gorgeous recipes that I have found.  They are fast and easy and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Recipe #1
Quick and Easy Antipasto Skewers
With four simple ingredients and 10 minutes of prep time you could impress your friends with Kat and Melinda's Recipe on their website called Home Made Interests.  These look spectacular for such a small effort!

If you want to indulge your friends with rich cheese and Prosciutto head over to Home Made Interests for their recipe.  Quick and Easy Antipasto Skewers

Recipe #2
What would a recipe list be without bacon?  This recipe may take a little longer to prepare (35 mins), but it is well worth the extra time to serve wonderful crisp cheesy bacon flavored bites.  This recipe is very similar to a savory cream puff and definitely worth the effort.

Tiffany from Living Sweet Moments posted this recipe on her blog at Cheese and Bacon Gougeres

Recipe #3
When I first saw this recipe for Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes, I was not exactly sure about the tuna and cheese combination, but I had to make them a second time before I got to try one.  I made them, took them to Book Club and they were GONE before I got one.  They were SO good!

Head over to An Italian in My Kitchen to try this recipe out for yourself.  Tuna Stuffed Tomato

Recipe #4
What could be better than 3 recipes in one?  Nettie Moore of Moore With Less Cooking has come up with a recipe for Savory Mini Cheese Balls made three ways in the time it would take to make one recipe.  What a time saver!

If you want to impress your friends with these Cheese Balls head over to Nettie's site for the recipe.  Cheese Ball Recipe Link

Recipe #5

These watermelon mozzarella bites are so colorful and pretty.  Guistina from Domestically Blissful posted this simple, colorful recipe that is very easy to make.  I do not add dressing to them and I have never missed it because the watermelon is so sweet and juicy.

You can find her recipe here:  Fresh Watermelon Mozzarella Bites

Recipe #6
Roasted Raspberry Crostini is another great recipe that can be found on Domestically Blissful.  What could be better than bread, the saltiness of cheese and the sweetness of raspberry?  These are so easy to make that your friends will keep asking you for the recipe.

You can find the recipe on Living Sweet Moments here:  Raspberry Crostini

Recipe #7
This recipe for Bacon Cheeseburger Meatballs, posted by Michaela Kenkle, uses pre-made meatballs making it a recipe you can whip up in a flash as you are dressing to head out the door.  Tell your vegan friends to eat before they come because no one can resist a bacon cheeseburger on a stick!

You can find the full recipe on Michaela's site, An Affair from the Heart Cheese Burger Bites

Recipe #8
In the mood for a special treat?  Try these shrimp avocado puff pastry shells made by Janette, The Culinary Ginger. This one will really impress your friends and it is made with frozen puff pastry shells so it is quick and easy and gorgeous.

Head over to The Culinary Ginger to see how quick and easy this recipe is to prepare.  Shrimp and Avocado Puff Pastry

Why rush to the store when you can spend that time planning and making something that will really impress your friends.  No more boxed Cookies!

Which recipe do you like best?

View a list of all my recipes here:  Recipe Index

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sneak Peek of This Week's Chore List

Remember:  You are not a martyr...You have a family and they can do chores too.  If you cannot complete everything, pick a chore that will stay completed longest when you finish it.  Sure you can clean out a sink every day,but in a few hours, it will be dirty again, but if you organize your master bathroom drawers, they will stay organized a month or more.  Work smarter, not harder.  

Daily list:
Take out trash
Make sure all items for dinner are available and make a list of anything needed
Clean up all breakfast dishes. Wash them and put them away
Quick clean main bathroom: Wipe off counter and sink, wipe off mirror. Put anything away that was left out. 
Make beds 
Start a load of laundry
Fold and put away a load of laundry
Wipe off kitchen counters and sink after each meal
Sweep kitchen floor after dinner
Scoop litter box 
Go through mail and either throw it out, deal with it or put it into the decision file
Run the dishwasher
Unload the dishwasher
Close the kitchen at the end of the day
What does close the kitchen mean? Click here to find out: Close The Kitchen

Weeklies this week:

Clean out the fridge before you grocery shop
Write your menu if you do it weekly
Grocery shop
Clean out the car
Deep clean your main bathroom and change the towels out
Wipe inside and outside of garbage can
Water plants
Wash bedding
Deep clean kitchen
Dust house
Pay bills
Vacuum entire house

Monthly or more:

Organize a drawer or shelf in your house (the worst one)
Organize your main bathroom
Organize all other bathrooms
Organize the master bedroom
Organize your Bonus room.  If you do not have a bonus room, work on a room you did not finish.

Want to
How to clean your glass top stove here:  STOVE

How to get the musty smell out of your washing machine here:  Washer

Organizing your fridge here:  Fridge

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Six Key points to paying for your kids’ college

College tuition is expensive and paying for it may seem nearly impossible.  Parents can send their kids into the world straddled in debt and possibly stuck in a dead end job due to the need to pay back loans or parents can save for their kid’s college and give them the gift of starting life on their own debt free.  I successfully send four to college without ever taking out a loan and did it on an average income.  I did not work until my youngest kid entered high school, and even then I only worked part time.   I needed 168,000 to send myself and my kids to college.  I received no help from the government; I did not take out any loans.  I saved every single dollar.  How did I do it? 

Start Early
Let compound interest work in your favor.   You will need this compounding to work for you if you want any hope of paying tuition in full.  It is great if you can start when your child is born, but even if you can’t, the earlier you save the better off you are.   If you wait until your child is in high school, you would need to save over $1250 a month to pay for a college costing $15,000 per year. 
I invested in two different ways.  I gave each of my kids a 529 plan, with the youngest one’s plan not well funded.  I didn’t fund the youngest child’s because he had siblings and if they had anything leftover, it was going to be rolled into his account anyway.  I also decided to save money outside of the 529 plans for them in case they needed things a 529 would not cover.   I saved money for my own college expenses outside of a 529 plan, because I was over 30 years old, I had to put my money into a mutual fund. 

Save consistently
Save something from every paycheck.  If you can get an automated investment, you won’t be tempted to not save.  Automated savings is a great thing.  No need to think about it because the money automatically goes into the account.   You can also use unexpected money to fund your kids’ college account.  Get a refund from a doctor or dentist visit?  Pop it right into the 529 plan. 
Give grandma and grandpa the 529 accounts and allow them to help you save for your kids’ college.  My parents could not care less that they had grandkids, so I was not lucky enough to have grandparents that would help, but if you are lucky, take advantage of it and allow the grandparents to help. 

Take advantage of compound interest
Why is that important?  Because $20 a week invested at 5% for 18 years is $30342, but $20 per week invested at 16% is 107,988.  That could be the difference between living at home and going to community college and going to a good public school and living on campus.  Think you can’t make 16%?  According to the average rate of return for the stock market for the 20th century was 10.4% and from 2010 to 2013 the stock market averaged 16.74%.  (I receive no benefit from linking their website, just giving credit to them for their research)

Keep an eye on costs to make sure you are on target
Tuition costs do go up and they tend to go up every year.  The first and second semester my son was in college, his tuition bill was about $7500, but his second year came in at over $8000 per semester and food costs went up as well and his tuition has continued to go up each year.  Luckily we made sure we had a cushion outside of the 529 for just in case tuition increased more than we had anticipated. 
As your income increases, save more money
I went to school and got a two year degree for about $30,000.  I worked full time for a year while getting a bachelor’s degree online for an additional $13,000.  During this time, I set aside my net income for tuition, but after a year, I dropped to working one day a week to supplement three kids going to college. 
Continue to save until the last child graduates
Yes, with three kids who were close in age, we did not have the tuition fully saved by the time the first kid started college and we continued to save as all three take classes.  You will have a better idea of how much more money you need when it is time for your kid to start college.  Be wary of over saving inside of a 529 though.  Money in a 529 has to be used for college tuition and certain college expenses.  Money that is not used before their 30th birthday either needs to be given to another beneficiary that meets the requirements (a family member) or penalties are paid if there is no qualified beneficiary to designate the account to go to.  Once my youngest started college, we send the remaining 529 money to him and when that was gone, we started using money we had saved outside of the 529.  We will not have to worry about leaving money in a 529 plan. 

Let me know how you are doing with saving for your kids college in the comments below.  

Want to read more?  Click my link to see how to feed a family on $70 a week.  70 a week

© Emma Francis and, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Emma Francis and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Grilled Corn and Tomato salad

Moved recipe to here

Grilled corn and tomato salad

Paprika grilled shrimp

This shrimp is so tasty and easy to make and is perfect for summer grilling.  It goes really great with my recipe for tomato and corn salad which you can find here:  Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad

First soak some skewers in water

To your peeled and deveined shrimp, add paprika, salt, oil and the juice from 1/2 a lemon.  Toss shrimp in mixture then skewer shrimp.

Grill Shrimp for 2 minutes on each side until cooked through.  

You will need:
1 lb shrimp peeled and de-veined 
4 wooden skewers soaked in water
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp minced jalapeno pepper

View all my recipes here:  Recipe Index