May 29, 2013

Storm Precautions



Preparing for a storm
As most of you know, a little over a week ago the town of Moore, Oklahoma (and other neighboring towns) suffered a devastating blow when an EF-4 tornado ripped across the plains. Many people lost their homes and everything in them and some even lost loved ones. This has had me thinking about how many people, regardless of where they live, are unprepared for severe whether that threatens to take away everything they hold dear.

As a native Oklahoma girl, tornados are just something we deal with every spring/summer. The majority of us have a plan for when severe weather rises, but many people don’t. This is especially true for people who live in states that don’t see much tornado activity. However, over the past few years, tornado has appeared to be shifting as more tornados have occurred in other states across the Midwest. States like Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Nebraska and several others have seen an increase in tornados.

Since a lot of our customers from Kids Formal reside in states other than our “home” state(s), I thought it would be beneficial to go over a few basic storm precautions to help ensure you and your little ones are prepared in case a life-threatening storm ever comes your way.

1. Have a plan. This is something that you can do right now. Formulate a plan for where you and the kids are going to go if a super cell storm is approaching. If you have a storm shelter, basement or an above ground safe room, this is where you and your family should go. However, if you don’t, go to an interior room that’s centrally located and doesn’t contain any windows…bathrooms are generally the best choice. Get in the bathtub and cover yourself and the kids up with a blankets, pillows and/or a mattress to protect yourself from flying debris. Generally, it is not recommended that you try to outrun a tornado, but in the case in Oklahoma last week, the weathermen were actually advising people without underground shelters to run because “you will not survive if you are above ground.” So, if you have enough warning and have a friend or relative with a storm shelter, it may be a good idea to leave your house.

2. Stock the essentials. Nobody ever wants to think about losing their house and everything in it, but it’s always a risk when a severe storm/tornado is on the way. This is one reason, my family always kept a few essentials stocked in the storm shelter. Things liked bottled water, canned food, flashlights/batteries, lanterns/oil and even a plastic urinal are all good ideas. If you have a baby, consider keeping an “emergency” bag ready to go that contains extra diapers, baby food, wipes, pacifiers and anything else that you may need if you get stuck down there for several hours.

3. Buy a weather radio. One of the most beneficial things you can have on hand during storm season is a weather radio. These things are great because they don’t rely on electricity and can often pick up signal in basements and storm shelters. When you know severe weather is possible, make sure you are constantly checking the weather. You don’t want to get caught off guard by a tornado that quickly forms.

4. Tell family and friends where you will be. Always make sure someone outside of your household knows where you will be in the event of severe weather. That way if anything does happen and they can’t reach you, they will know where to look for you!


In the Face of Disaster

May 28, 2013

It’s All about Planning

girls dress shoes
Through my couponing research I’ve found that there are a lot of ways to save with coupons, but it’s really all about the preparation. The couponers who save the most are the people who spend time creating a plan and sticking to it. Now that you know the basics about coupon collecting, organizing and how to maximize your savings with them, you need a plan. Below are the tips you need to know when formulating your coupon-executing plan.

1. One store at a time. It is easy to get ahead of yourself when you first start couponing, which can cost you time and money. The most confusing thing you can do when you first start is try to save money at all the stores. Every store has different policies in regards to how they accept coupons. Therefore, start with one store. Learn that particular store’s coupon policy well before you start shopping (with coupons) at another store. It won’t take you very long to learn the various store policies and then you can start shopping and saving at them all. Until then, take it one store at a time. It’s also beneficial to print off each store’s coupon policy to take with you. Then, if there is a discrepancy at the register you have the policy in hand. It’s also nice to have the policy with you to refer to when needed.
 
2. Set time aside for couponing. Those who are serious about saving money with coupons have to set time aside for couponing. Cutting coupons and finding the best sales all takes time. It’s not something that can be done twenty (20) minutes before you go to the store. Serious couponers spend several hours a week preparing for their store visits. You will need to set time aside to clip and sort your coupons, as well as, additional time designated to reading the weekly sale ads so you know where the best place is to use the coupons.
 
3. Find the best time to go shopping. This one may take a little practice to perfect, but it will be worth it in the end. There are days of the week/month when it just isn’t a good time to go to the store when you know you’ll be there a while. For instance, the 1st and 15th of the month aren’t the best time nor are weekends or weekdays from 5-8 pm. Generally the best time for serious couponers to shop is either early in the morning or late at night. Another thing to think about are the stores that offer double coupon days. If you have a local store that doubles/triples coupons on a certain day, say Tuesdays, then it’s the most beneficial to shop at that store on Tuesdays. Timing really is everything for serious couponers. 

4. Make a list. Always make a list before you head to the store! This is true for all shoppers, but especially extreme couponers. Creating a list will save you time in the store and help you stay focused and not get sidetracked with additional items that you don’t need. When you create your list, try to break it up according to aisle as well as transactions. And, keep your coupons sorted according to the order of your planned transactions as well. This will save you loads of time at the register.
Once you are able to come up with a good coupon-shopping plan, your trip to the store will be a success. Just remember that no one ever started out as a pro in couponing…it takes practice and lots of planning!
 

May 23, 2013

Couponing Works: My First Experience

Alright, so for the past week I have been researching and writing about how we can all save money with coupons. Well, today I decided to put my newfound knowledge to the test just to see how much I could save. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was…and I did save money! Here’s my results and what I did to get there.
 
I know you can’t really tell with the way I have the cereal boxes, but there are a total of six cereal boxes there (two of each type of cereal). Okay, so here’s the “skinny” on my savings today. I purchased a total of 15 items (16 if you count the $1.00 March of Dimes donation) at Kmart. My grand total was $31.79, but with my coupons I saved a total of $36.29!! I’m pretty excited about this because I actually saved more than I spent!
All I did was follow the advice I have shared with you over the past week. Since I didn’t get last week’s Sunday paper, I went online and printed off manufacturer coupons for the things my family uses. That took a little time – visiting the various coupon websites and clicking the coupons I wanted, printing them and then clipping them. This step was probably the most time consuming for me.
Next, I went to Walgreens and Kmart and picked up copies of their weekly fliers as I had decided early on that I didn’t want to start off my coupon shopping at Wal-Mart. I then came home and browsed the weekly specials. Since I’m not a member of the Walgreens reward program yet, I decided to go with Kmart.
All of the items I bought were already on sale (except the Suave body wash…that was just something I needed and didn’t have a coupon for…it was $1.99). The toothpaste was on sale 2/$6 and I had two $1.00/1 coupons making the actual price 2/$4. The cereal was on sale 2/$4 and I had two $1.00/3 coupons bringing the total price for the cereal $10 ($1.67 per box). The Fruit Rollups were on sale 2/$4 and I had two .75/1 coupons, making that total $2.50 for both boxes. The shampoo was on sale Buy 1 Get 1 50% off and I had a $2.00/2 coupon, dropping the price to $6.00 for both bottles. Finally, my greatest savings was on the women’s razors. Those Schick razors were $12.99 a pack, but were on sale for Buy 1 Get 1 Free…I had a coupon for $6.00/2 boxes – making my total $6.99 for both boxes!
Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about my savings today. I know it isn’t as great as some, but considering it was my first time and I saved more than I spent, I’m pretty excited.
I wanted to get out and try the couponing for myself so I could share my results with you to show you that couponing really does work! If you take the time to follow the steps found in the previous posts and plan ahead, you can save a considerable amount of money on the items you and your family use on a regular basis!


Related Articles:

The Smart and Savvy Mom
Preparing for Coupons
Around-the-House Savings
Traveling for Less
Saving in the Pantry
Laundry Room Savings

May 22, 2013

In the Face of Disaster

The horrific thing about this tornado is that it was basically a repeat of the
 tornado that passed through the samearea 14 years ago on May 3, 1999.
The ’99 tornado demolished much of the city, just like it did yesterday…
only they are saying yesterday’s tornado was worse.
 - Moore Oklahoma Tornado Monday May 20, 2013.

If you have been following our blog for long, many of you know various things about my family and I. You know that I am married, have been blessed with two little boys, enjoy saving money and several other small details that I’ve scattered here and there within the blog posts that I’ve written in the past. However, one thing that I have never shared with you is where I’m from.

Believe it or not, I was born and raised in Oklahoma. I know a lot of our customers haven’t ever been to Oklahoma before and honestly, probably have no desire to come to visit. If I’m being honest, when I was growing up, moving out of Oklahoma was one of my top priorities. Not because the state isn’t a great place to live or the people are rude, but because as a young kid, I felt like Oklahoma was boring and there was absolutely nothing interesting about the state.
It’s funny how you don’t appreciate things until you “grow up.” Oklahoma may not have all of the attractions that other states boast of, but it does have a lot to offer. The state is full of people who genuinely care about their neighbors like they’re family and treat strangers like friends. In fact, a few families that I know who were transplanted in Oklahoma from the East coast admitted to me how hard it was to get used to shopping at the grocery stores because everyone waves and says hello when you walk in (the cashiers) and it’s impossible to make it through the store without someone starting a conversation. Apparently this is out of the ordinary for people on the East coast? It’s all I’ve ever known… And, about not having anything to do…there are plenty of things to do, you just have to know where to find them. Now, that I’m 30 I can say that I’ve grown to love my home state of Oklahoma.
With all of that said, yesterday I sat in shock as I watched the news coverage regarding the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma. Tornados are definitely something that I know a little bit about. I can’t tell you the number of times my parents and I spent an evening in the storm shelter praying that the nearby tornados would pass without hitting our house. However, I’ve never experienced anything like the poor people of Moore did yesterday. And, the horrific thing about this tornado is that it was basically a repeat of the tornado that passed through the same area 14 years ago on May 3, 1999. The ’99 tornado demolished much of the city, just like it did yesterday…only they are saying yesterday’s tornado was worse.
My heart literally breaks for those people. So many of them lost their homes, but many others lost family members – children, husbands, wives, parents, grandparents, etc. I know that I’m not the only one out there who feels like they need to do something to help those poor people. It doesn’t matter if you live in Oklahoma or have never been to the state before…there are things you can do to help. Here are a few ideas.
1.      Donate items. Many communities, all over the nation, are organizing donation drops where people can bring non-perishables, toiletries, diapers and clothing to be sent to those affected by the tornado in Moore. It doesn’t take much to help out as most of us have clothes we have outgrown or don’t wear anymore. If you just cleaned out your closet, then go to the store and buy a case of water…every little bit helps. For those of us with kids, donating items like this shows them what it means to “help thy neighbor” in times of need.

2.      Give blood. Tragedies like this quickly drain the local blood banks of the blood they have stored. If you are able to give blood, then I encourage you to go to your local blood bank and give a pint today. You can specify that you want it to go to the people in Moore, Oklahoma and they will see that it helps the victims in need.

3.      Go shopping. Sounds kind of dumb, but a lot of places have already pledged to give a percentage of their sales to the Oklahoma Red Cross. This includes online retailers too! All it takes is a little research and you will be able to find the stores donating money from their sales to Oklahoma…in fact, Twitter is abuzz with all kinds of offers today! You can easily use these promotions to help families in need while getting a jump start on your Christmas shopping.
While no one ever wants to see tragedies like this happen, they do happen and one of the cool things that comes out of them is witnessing the amazing people who work together and reach out to those in need. Whether we are talking about a hurricane, tornado, wildfire, tsunami, earthquake or some other horrible natural disaster – it’s the love and compassion of those who reach out to the victims that gets makes the search, rescue, recovery and rebuilding a success.
Therefore, I encourage you to ask yourself what you can do to help when disaster strikes…no matter where it is. Why not use these tragedies as a way to teach your kids what it means to be compassionate and help those in need? Like I said before, all it takes is something simple like donating a case of water to help.

May 20, 2013

Preparing for Coupons

So, you’re interested in learning how to save a substantial amount of money with coupons? Well, before you start clipping the coupons and heading to the stores, there are a few things that have to be done first. At least if you like organization, anyways.

1.      Coupon Organization – The first thing you need to do is decide how you want to organize your coupons. There is no way anyone can save a lot of money with coupons if they don’t have an organizational system in place for the coupons they collect. A simple way to organize coupons is to get a large binder with clear organizational sheets, like those used for collecting baseball/football cards. Then, as you clip various coupons you can organize them in a manner that makes sense to you – by food type, store, aisle, etc.

So, why do you need to organize your coupons? You will have a lot of coupons that won’t get used right away because you want to wait until items go on sale. Therefore, when an item goes on sale, you will need to have the coupons organized so you can find it right away and not have to dig through hundreds of coupons.

2.      Storage – Couponing and stockpiling go hand in hand. At least for the hard-core, maximum-saving couponers they do. In order to save the maximum amount of money, you will have to buy multiple quantities of the same item at the same time. Obviously, you won’t use all of the items at once so you will need a place to store the excess. For instance, let’s say Crest toothpaste goes on sale at Walgreens for Buy 1 Get 1 Free, but you have four coupons for Crest toothpaste that are Buy 1 Get 1 Free. Well, with those four coupons, you will be able to get 8 tubes of Crest toothpaste…all for free! Since you don’t need all 8 tubes of toothpaste right away, you’ve got to have a place to store them.

If you are just getting started in couponing, then a large cabinet may be the best place to start stockpiling. Once your stockpile grows, you may move it to the basement or garage. However, for now, a large cabinet or unused coat closet will work until your stockpile grows. 

3.      Finding Coupons – Obviously, before you can save money with coupons you have to collect them. So, where do you find coupons? The best place is the Sunday paper. You will want multiple copies of the coupons you collect in order to save the most. This is why some couponers subscribe to several  copies of the same paper. You can also ask friends and neighbors for the coupon inserts they don’t use. There are also a lot of great coupons that can be printed online, as well. Some people even go to the extreme and raid their local recycling center and/or buy coupons on ebay!
If you have tackled the three things above, then you are ready to move on in your couponing adventure!

May 13, 2013

Around-the-House Savings

Lavender Flower Girl Dress
You may think that you are saving as much as you possibly can right now, but I imagine there are at least one or two things that you are overlooking. I know that I’m always looking for additional ways that I can save money and I’m usually able to find them, when I look…even when I think I’m doing everything I can to save money. So, for the last few blog posts, I’ve shared tips for how you can save more on your food, laundry and travel expenses. Today, I’m going to help you save even more money around the house!

1.      Create a Budget – This may sound silly but creating a household budget really does save families a lot of money. Dave Ramsey and other financial experts all agree that if you don’t control your money, it will control you. This means that if you don’t decide where you want your money to go before you get it, it won’t get spent on the right things. Therefore, sit down and figure out how much money you have to have to cover all your expenses for the month (utilities, mortgage, vehicle payments, groceries, gas, credit card bills, etc.). Divide the total monthly costs up between the number of checks you receive each month and deposit appropriately into each “account” when the paychecks arrive. Make sure to put money in savings and allow some for entertainment. You will be surprised at the amount of money you can save when you create (and stick to) a budget.
 
2.      Do-It-Yourself – Another great and easy way to save money is to do things yourself. For example, do you really need to pay someone to come out and do your landscaping? Do you really need a housecleaner to come once a week? You can do things like this on your own and save a lot of money in the process. Additional do-it-yourself things include simple around the house projects (painting the eves of the house, cleaning the gutters, fixing the wood fence, etc.). You can also save money by making your own weed killer instead of buying the expensive stuff. Spraying for insects isn’t something only an exterminator can do either. If you buy the product yourself at the store and apply it yourself, you’ll save a lot of money too!

3.      Take Advantage of Reward-Offering Cards – There are a lot of people that disagree with using store cards because they affect your credit and increase the chances of incurring unpaid debt. However, if you are disciplined in regards to your finances and use store cards and credit cards like you do your checkbook (i.e., you subtract the money from your checking account when you charge it so you can pay the balance in full when the statement comes.) then don’t be afraid to take advantage of the cards that offer rewards. Regardless of whether it is a store card or a credit card. Sometimes the rewards offered are worth it. For example, my husband and I use a credit card for the gasoline we put in our vehicles. That adds up and the card we put it on pays us a portion of every dollar we spend, giving us a free tank of gas every so often. If we were to start using this card for our groceries and other regular expenses, we would earn even more quicker.
 
4.      Use Coupons – I am not saying to get into the extreme coupons like a lot of people do as that take a lot of time to master. However, I am telling you to take the time to use the coupons for items you buy on a regular basis. It may on be $.50 here and $.50 there, but that add up over time. 

5.      Consider Shopping Online – Finally, consider shopping online for some of the common household items. One of my favorite websites is soap.com. I’ve found a lot of things here for cheaper than I can get them for at the store. Things like paperclips, paper towels, deodorant and vitamins are all things I have saved on. The best part is that they are shipped right to my door, saving me time and gas!

May 11, 2013

Traveling for Less

One of my favorite things to do is travel. I grew up in a home where we weren’t able to travel a lot, so taking family vacations is something that is very important to me. As you know, the economy hasn’t been the greatest for a while now, which has made it harder on families to take nice vacations together. In fact, many families have opted to take “stay-cations” where they take off work for a week but explore the local area instead of traveling and incurring the expenses associated with lodging and food.

Even if we aren’t talking about a week long vacation, the cost of traveling is expensive nonetheless. Below are a few tips to help you and your family travel for less. 
1.      VRBO.com – One of my favorite sites to use when booking lodging for a family getaway is vrbo.com. It stands for “vacation rentals by owner.” While I love the priceline.com for hotels, I’ve found that the best deals for lodging can often be found on vrbo.com. Why? The listings you will find on this website are apartments, condos, houses, etc. listed by the owners themselves. Often times, you can get a two bedroom condo for the same price as a one bedroom hotel room. For a family with kids, this is a better deal as everyone has more room to spread out…especially for those week long (or more) vacations. And, since they are listed by the owners themselves, they are often used by the owners too...meaning they are often well taken care of. 

2.      Credit Cards – This year my husband and I have planned a 7 night Disney cruise for our vacation. We’ve been saving up since last November and it will be our first big vacation in a year and a half. Since we have been planning it for so long, we had the opportunity to take advantage of some pretty good credit card offers. First of all let me say that I am not a fan of credit cards. My husband and I keep them for emergencies and usually have a $0 balance on them. Anyways, American Express sent us an offer for their Sky Blue card that basically gives us $400 worth of redeemable travel points if we put $500 on the card within the first three months.  

We used the card for gas and paid the balance in full every month. Once we reached the $500 requirement, we stopped using the card. When we book our airline tickets for the cruise, we will basically get one round-trip ticket for free thanks to this offer. Therefore, if you are able to plan far enough in advance for an upcoming vacation, it may be in your benefit to take advantage of credit card offers like the one we received. I mean, who doesn’t want a free airline ticket? That’s $400 we don’t have to spend now! 

3.      Eat In – My priority when taking a vacation (aside from a cruise) is to explore the area. I love to get out and do things. In order to afford the price of some of these activities, my husband and I choose to eat most of our meals at the condo. I make it a priority to book rooms that either have a kitchenette or a full kitchen so that we can make sandwiches for lunch and prepare dinner at night. Yes, we do go out to eat a few times while on vacation, but most of the time we eat in. Food didn’t used to cost as much when it was just the hubby and myself, but now that we have kids…the food bill has risen substantially. We can easily save $300 or more just by preparing our own food!
 
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May 10, 2013

Saving in the Pantry

How often do you find yourself going to the grocery store? Personally, I hate going to the grocery 
store. I know my family (and I) need food to survive, but with the cost of food today I literally cringe at the thought of my total grocery bill. The sad thing is that I’m only feeding a family of four. I can’t imagine those of you who have five, six, or more family members all living under one roof!
Aside from the normal bills (mortgage, car payment, utilities, etc.) food is one of the highest expenses for most families. While I can’t eliminate the food bill completely, I can help you save a little extra with the following tips.
1.      Keep Inventory – I can’t tell you the number of times that I would go to the grocery store, list in hand, and come home only to discover that I had purchased several items that I already had in my pantry. I finally decided to keep track of the things I had in the pantry and my spice rack to eliminate this needless spending.

This short dress definitely
makes a statement with
the beautiful swirls of sequins
featured throughout the
entire dress.

2.      Use What You Have – Have you ever went through the pantry only to find a lot of the items out of date? I’ve had that happen too and it’s irritating because I have to throw the food away which only wastes more money. I’ve started to plan meals around the items that I have in the pantry. For instance, if I have a couple cans of cream of mushroom soup and some angel hair pasta, I’ll put chicken tetrazzini on the menu for the week because there will only be a few additional items that I need to buy to make the dish, saving me money.

3.      Be Creative – If you aren’t careful, you can spend half your paycheck on groceries every two weeks! The cost of food is on the rise, making it even more imperative to look for ways to make your dollar stretch. When I sit down to plan my weekly meals out, before hitting the grocery store, I try to be creative with the ingredients I am going to buy. For example, if I’m going to make chicken tetrazzini one night, I make sure to have tortillas on hand for chicken wraps the next day for lunch. If you can find a way to turn one meal into something a little different, it will make eating leftovers interesting for the family, saving you even more money!

4.      Buy Extra – When you can, go ahead and buy a little extra at the grocery store. Don’t buy extra “junk” but instead, buy extra of the foods you and your family eats on a regular basis. For instance, if you are going to use the last can of cream of mushroom soup for an upcoming meal, buy an extra can to have just in case you need another can of it before your next trip to the grocery store. If you find some meat on sale that you regularly cook with, buy extra and freeze the excess. This saves money as you’re getting it at a discount already, but it also saves later when you need the meat because you already have it. There’s no need to go out and buy it!

May 8, 2013

Laundry Room Savings

Flower girl dresses by Kids Formal
What is it about kids and clothes? I swear, it seriously feels like I can never get ahead when it comes to the mountains of laundry that seem to fill up the dirty clothes baskets in each of my kids’ rooms! Keep in mind that my youngest is only nine months old…and, I honestly think he has more clothes than the rest of us combined!

Again, I know that I’m not the only woman out there who feels this way, regardless of how many children you have. In fact, for a long time I felt like I was the only mother who tumbles clothes at least two or three times because I either don’t have time to fold them right away or forget about them. Then, one day I shared my secret with a couple of my close friends only to discover they do the same thing. Now, while I can’t help you stay on top of the laundry in your house, I can help you save a little money in this area. Below are a few tips:
1.      Regularly sort clothing. I’m not talking about sorting the dirty clothing into whites, colors, socks, towels, etc. I’m talking about regularly going through the kids’ clothes and removing the clothing they have outgrown (or ruined). This will save you time in the long run, because it will minimize the number of clothes the kiddos have in their closets (reducing your work load on laundry day). It will also save you money, because you can either sell or store the good articles of clothing that have been outgrown. This is especially true for outgrown formalwear!

2.      Make your own laundry detergent. Laundry detergent is expensive. Believe me, I have done the math on this one. I have a recipe for homemade laundry detergent that fills a 5 gallon bucket and will last my family at least three months! The amount of Tide laundry detergent that I would have to buy to fill the same 5 gallon bucket would cost me about $500. The cost to make my own? About $10! Here is the link to a comparable laundry soap recipe.

3.      Homemade fabric softener. While you are making your homemade laundry detergent, why not go a step further and make your own fabric softener? When I checked into making my own fabric softener, I was shocked at how easy it was. It’s actually a lot easier to make than the laundry detergent but still saves my family a lot of money! Here is the link to the homemade fabric softener recipe that I use. 
The tips above may not seem like much, but they will actually save your family a substantial amount of money in the long run. The money you save can go a long way in funding some of those additional child-related expenses such as vacations, sporting equipment, private lessons, etc.

May 7, 2013

The Smart and Savvy Mom


Free Shipping on all children's formalwear
I love being a mom. I never question whether or not I would choose another path if I had it to do all over again, when it comes to my kids. However, that doesn’t mean that, from time to time, I envy the people out there who made the decision to wait before having kids. My husband and I were 23 when we got pregnant with our first son (I was 24 when he was delivered) and, yes, he was planned. We had been married for three years and thought that we were ready to become parents.

For the most part, we have done a great job. The only thing we would have done differently is wait a little longer. Instead of having our first kiddo at 24, we probably would have waited until we were 25 before we started trying (if we could do it over). Neither one of us were prepared for how expensive kids really are before we had our first.

Yes, we knew that the little bundle of joy would cost us some money for nursery furniture, baby gear and all of that stuff. But, I didn’t think about the fact that babies grow up and turn into little people, requiring more space and more money. I know, kinda dumb not to think about that, right? But, I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one out there who didn’t think that far ahead when the “baby” talk came up the first time.

Babies do cost money and it doesn’t stop as they get older. In fact, it just gets more expensive. Think about the cost of clothes, groceries, toys, electronics, extracurricular activity fees and equipment, daycare/babysitting costs, college funds, new car (at 16), etc. The list just goes on and on. As I previously mentioned, I wouldn’t trade my boys for anything or chosen not to have kids, but I would have waited just a hair longer so we could get our finances in a little better shape. But, that’s not what happened. As a result, I have learned how to stretch the dollar and save money in a number of areas in order to afford the necessities that my family needs.

In the next few blog posts, I will share with you how you can save money in these areas too. You may already be familiar with some of the tips I am going to share, but there may be some new ideas that you can save with. Therefore, I encourage you to either follow our blog or keep checking back so you don’t miss anything. I think you will find that the timing of this series is perfect considering summer vacation is about to start, which is typically a time when families see an increase in overall spending!


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Laundry room savings
 
   

May 5, 2013

Tips for Keeping Stress Away from Kids

Someone once told me that young children are a lot like sponges because they soak up everything that goes on around them. This statement wasn’t something I thought much about until after I had children. It’s true. Kids really do pay attention to the things that happen around them, even when we don’t think they are listening (and watching), they really are.
 
girls pageant dress
girls' tiered-ruffle halter dress
from Kids Formal

You may think I’m trying to make the point that we should start being more careful with the things we say and do around our kids, but that isn’t necessarily the point I’m trying to get across either. Yes, I do think it is important for parents to be careful when talking around their kids, but I really wanted to get the point across that kids not only pick up on language and actions, but they also pick up on stress.

Believe it or not, kids can feel when their parents are stressed out and it really does affect them. Young kids may not be able to verbalize the fact that they are “stressed” but that doesn’t mean that they don’t feel stress and get stressed as a result. So, how can parents keep their stress away from their kids?

1. Pay Attention when Arguing – It doesn’t matter if you are in a heated argument with your spouse at home or an argument with your mother on the phone, when little ears are around, these arguments do affect them. Therefore, pay attention to who is around you when you are arguing. If the little ones are around, it may be best to put the argument off until they aren’t present.

2. Talk to Your Kids – It’s impossible to keep everything hidden from your children. Therefore, when your kids do overhear things and/or pick up on the negativity, explain to your children that sometimes arguments do happen and then reassure them that everything will be okay. Talking about these things does a lot for young children and their sense of security.

3. Remain Calm – When parents are under a lot of stress it can be difficult for them to continue acting as if everything is fine. Some parents have a tendency to take their frustrations out on their children. All this does is send the message to the kids that there is something wrong, causing them stress. Therefore, do whatever you can to remain calm around your kids when you’re under a lot of stress. This may mean that you need to hire a sitter for a couple hours so you can leave for a couple of hours and regain control.