Summer Sports Camp Packing Checklist

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

Summer Sports Camp Packing Checklist

If your child is headed to camp this summer, keep this Summer Sports Camp Packing Checklist handy. While this list is focused on camps just for sports, it is also a great place to start for any summer camp your child will be attending. Basic summer camp needs are addressed, as well as those specific to your kids sport needs. Summer sports camps are not only fun, they’re a great way to help build your child’s skill level, introduce them to others who also enjoy their favorite sports, as well as put them on the list college scholarships if they’re attending high school camps.

Summer Sports Camp Packing Checklist

Sunscreen & Bug Spray: These are items not typically provided by summer camps of any kind. Make sure to label and send a bottle of each for your kids to use so they don’t come home covered in bites and suffering from sunburn.

Appropriate Footwear: There will be shoes needed for their sports events and practices, but they also need comfortable footwear for going to and from other camp activities. A closed toe sandal is the most versatile since it can be used for casual wear, hiking as well as around water. If your child has more room to pack, adding in a multi-purpose tennis shoe, a sandal, and then all needs sports shoes is great.

Appropriate Clothing: Not only will they need clothing for going to practices and events, they’ll need swimwear, simple comfortable lightweight pants, and long sleeve shirt should they do hiking of any kind, sleepwear and, of course, underwear.

Bedding & Toiletries: Depending on the individual camp style, the bedding needs may be varied. For ease and comfort, a simple sleeping bag, blanket and pillow is a great direction to go. Sheets, blankets and pillows work as well, but are a bit more work for kids to keep together. Toiletries are a must, but think ahead by sending all in one shampoo & conditioners, or even the 3 in 1 that includes a body wash.

Labels: I mentioned this before, but you’ll want to be sure and label everything from toothbrush and toothpaste to deodorant since multiple kids will be using the same shower areas and it could easily get mixed up. Don’t forget to include feminine hygiene products for girls.  Mabel’s Labels has some wonderful deals on labels that are perfect for camp.

First Aid Kit: While camp will have first aid, you may want to send along things like band aids and antibiotic ointment for things like blisters or small injuries your kids can tend to themselves.

Emergency Medication:  If your child suffers from life threatening food or bee sting allergies, be sure and pack an Epi-Pen twin pack or two.  Just because your child hasn’t had more than a mild reaction before doesn’t mean the next time won’t be severe.  Epi-Pens save lives.  Discuss the allergy with the camp staff and be sure they’re trained and well equipped to handle an allergen exposure using the guidelines provided by your allergist.   Mabel’s Label’s also has fabulous allergy alert labels, too.

Emergency Contact Information: This will be in their information with the camp staff, but including a note inside their luggage is a good idea as well. This helps should they be flying or riding alone to the camp instead of being dropped off.

Shower Shoes: Sweaty kids in and out of communal showers can quickly and easily lead to a bad case of athlete’s foot. Encourage your kids to wear sandals or shower shoes in and out of the shower and to wash well. It may be an extra step they scoff at, but they will thank you later when they don’t have itchy, irritated feet and toes.

Sports Equipment: Every sport is different in needs, but make sure to have appropriate, well-fitting, quality equipment for your kids for their time at camp. Follow camp guidelines on what to send, but make sure to check in advance for anything that may need to be replaced due to wear or ill fit.

This summer sports camp packing checklist is just a guideline to follow. Every camp has different requirements and rules about what can be sent to camp with your child. Make sure to follow their rules, and never hesitate to ask questions as needed about anything that concerns you.

Auvi-Q Recall: Info, $0 EpiPen Co-Pay Card, Reimbursement

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

Capture

 

If you carry the life saving epinephrine injection, Auvi-Q, you need to know that ALL of them have been recalled.  More information about the recall is available here.

Contact your allergist or GP/pediatrician for a prescription for EpiPen replacements.  I’d also like to remind you about the $0 EpiPen co-pay card and free carrying case that’s available.

As noted in the press release, Sanofi US will provide reimbursement for out of pocket costs incurred for the purchase of new epinephrine auto-injectors with proof of purchase.

7 Great Vegan Breakfast Choices

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

7 Great Vegan Breakfast Choices
When you choose to eat only a vegan diet it can be tough to find replacements for the standard bacon and eggs breakfasts of your past. These 7 Great Vegan Breakfast Choices are not only simple to create, they are truly as delicious as all of your past breakfast choices. Being a vegan doesn’t mean you can’t have hearty, high protein delicious meals. Think outside the box, and include some of your favorite classic foods to build a delicious menu plan that anyone would love to enjoy with you.

7 Great Vegan Breakfast Choices

Oatmeal. This standard in breakfast is so easy to enjoy as a hearty vegan meal. If you like your oatmeal made with milk, simply substitute one of the many non dairy milk varieties out there. Coconut milk is one of the most complimentary for oatmeal with it’s sweetness, but almond, hemp and soy milks are all excellent choices. Load in the fruit, nuts and coconut flakes for a delicious treat everyone will love.

Tofu Scrambles. Tofu is a great substitute for eggs when seasoned with fresh veggies, vegan cheese or even vegan chorizo. You can even eat simply the tofu scrambled with great seasoning as a hearty breakfast choice that mimics eggs you may be missing.

Smoothies. Smoothies are typically made with frozen and fresh fruit, yogurt and juice. Substitute an avocado for the traditional yogurt to keep the creamy texture while adding some healthy fats and delicious flavor. A frozen banana, half an avocado and a handful of fresh berries along with a splash of juice create a delicious smoothie that is hearty and satisfying.

Granola Bars & Trail Mix. From your own homemade granola bars to some of the best healthy organic vegan ready made bars on the market this is a classic delicious vegan treat everyone enjoys on the go. A hearty helping of trail mix is a great way to start the day for those who are too busy to make something from scratch every morning. Mix up your own blend to include cashews, almonds, dried cranberries, raisins, apricots and other dried fruits or coconut flakes to nourish and satisfy.

Muffins & Breakfast Breads. Load up your own homemade muffins with things like fresh fruit, hemp hearts and flax seed or nutritional yeast flakes to build your nutrition while enjoying a tasty vegan treat for breakfast.

Sweet or Savory Quinoa. This grain has gained popularity over the last few years as an excellent substitute for traditional grains with a high protein content. There are dozens of sweet and savory recipes with quinoa at the center. Not only will it be a satisfying meal, but it will give you the energy and protein you need in your diet each day.

Pancakes or Waffles. There are many vegan recipes for both pancakes and waffles that will satisfy that sweet treat craving you may have. Find one that you enjoy and make multiple batches to freeze in serving portions for quick grab and heat breakfasts on the go.

Just because you have chosen a vegan lifestyle you don’t have to limit your food choices. There are so many delicious vegan breakfast choices when you think outside the box, or just think about what you have always enjoyed. Making your food from scratch is almost always going to be required, but when you prepare in large batches you can plan ahead by portioning and freezing for future meals.

Educational Resources to Improve Summer Retention – Incentivized Learning 2015

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

Educational Resources to Improve Summer Retention

 

Incentivized learning can be a helpful tool in re-energizing your child’s interest  in a subject and helping curb the dreaded “Summer Slide.”  Of course, if you don’t agree with it, you won’t like this post!  And that’s ok!  But for those of you whose children respond well to reward based learning, particularly in frustrating subjects like reading, these programs may inspire your child to try a little harder.    There are several achievement based reward programs available throughout the summer to keep kids engaged and help them master basic educational skills. Plus, they don’t cost you anything.  Just keep track of your child’s progress and redeem the offer when (s)he’s finished.

Barnes & Noble (Grades 1-6) – Have your child read any 8 books, list them in the printable Reading Journal, and bring the completed form to your local Barnes & Noble store to choose a free book from the selection on the Reading Journal list.

TD Bank (K-5th) – If you happen to live along the eastern seaboard, you’re probably familiar with TD Bank.  They  also have a summer reading program that’s a little bit different.  As a practical saver myself, I like this incentive a LOT.  Have your child read 10 books and keep track of them in the summer reading log. Then,  bring the completed form to a local TD Bank by August 31, 2015 and $10 will be deposited into a Young Saver account for your child.  If your child doesn’t have a Young Saver account, bring a valid form of ID to open one.

Chuck E Cheese – They have reward calendars to download and print.  This is an easy one.  All you have to do is keep track of your child’s goal achievement on the calendar.  When the month is finished (and the achievement is met), bring the calendar to Chuck E Cheese and your child will receive 10 free tokens.

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge  – This is an online reading program.  Have your child read and log minutes spend reading.  Then, complete online challenges by reaching weekly minute milestones, and earn virtual rewards.  There is also an opportunity to win books every time a weekly reading milestone is met.  The program runs from May 4, 2015 to September 4, 2015.

Pizza Hut Book It! Summer Reading Challenge  – Since your child will be doing all of this reading, you may as well double down on the rewards with a possible sweepstakes win!  If your child reads 5 books between June 22 and August 15th, enter her to win great prizes.  For example, the Grand Prize for this offer includes a Tote Bag, $25 Pizza Hut Gift Card, 1 Autographed Diary of a Wimpy Kid Hardback Book, Book 1, 1 Diary/Wimpy Kid Don’t Scramble The Egg Game, and 1 Pre-Order Diary of a Wimpy Kid Hardback Book, Old School.  A total of 24 second prizes will be given away.

Sylvan Book Adventure (K-8) – Kids can search the site for books, read them, then come back to the site and take a quiz.  Upon successful completion, your child can earn prizes for reading as well as comprehending and retaining the book details!

Now, these last freebies aren’t tied to academic performance, but you can use them to your advantage as your child meets his/her target educational goals or simply for exercise!  That’s important, too.

Kids Skate Free – Free rollerskating is offered at select rinks that partner with kidsskatefree.com.  Select and join (for free) a skating rink near you, and you’ll be able to redeem your vouchers for free skate offers on the available days and times listed.  You can use this all summer long.  And if a local skating rink doesn’t participate near you, print this form so they can fill it out if they’re interested.  They likely don’t know this program exists.

Kids Bowl Free – Register your child and receive 2 free games of bowling DAILY (subject to local availability) at participating bowling centers near you – all summer long.

Of course, you can always create your own incentive!  My son is in the middle of a  6 week intensive study of Michigan’s role in the Revolutionary War as we prepare for our trip to Mackinac Island, Mackinaw City, and St. Ignace for July 4th (among other pre-Algebra and Chemistry experiments, of course).  When we return, and assuming he completes his activities, I have promised to buy him Minecraft for the PC.     With this target goal in mind, I don’t have to ask him to do his work each day.   As I said before, though, this technique isn’t for everyone.  Personally, and as I do each year, I have made it clear to my son that this is a summer incentive only.  In the fall and winter, he doesn’t receive any kind of bonus except standard vacation breaks, but that is incentive enough for him!

How We Got Rid Of Our Satellite Service Without Sacrificing Anything And Saved Big

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

How We Got Rid Of Our Satellite Service Without Sacrificing Anything And Saved Big

Have you been thinking about ditching cable or satellite? We did for a long time, but had been hesitant to sacrifice sports and local news. Yep, as a frugal blogger, it’s time for me to come clean.  We continued to pay $175+ a month simply because we like football (college and NFL), didn’t want to stream local news stations on PC or our phones/iPads, and were determined to keep service hooked up in multiple rooms of our home.  Well, we finally reached the point where enough was enough.  In the last few months, I became determined to figure out just how we could keep all, yes ALL of these things, and still save money.   I wanted to give it a few months before I said anything to you because I wanted to make sure it would not only work, but be a truly viable replacement.  Now that we have a little experience under our belt, it’s time to share the results.  So, here’s what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. It is a huge savings for us no matter how we slice it and we don’t feel like we’re sacrificing anything – which has been vitally important to us.  If you’ve been considering ditching cable or satellite, too, you need to bookmark this post.  It has everything you need to help you do just that – and save.  BIG.

Before I get started, all of these changes assume you have a relatively high powered internet connection.  We already had AT&T U-Verse going into this change, and would have had it if we had kept satellite, so I am not including that in the final cost.

Netflix

As it is, my kids don’t watch much TV. They watch YouTubers.  My daughter does like to watch Monster High, Ever After High, and some other kids shows, periodically. Most of them (the full seasons!) are available on Netflix. In addition, we’ve been enjoying Sunday afternoon movie time together since we joined.  It has already become a tradition.  They have an unmatched library that boasts approximately 100,000 movies and TV shows, as well as a few original series like Orange is the New Black.  You can’t get bored here.

What do we pay? $8.99/month because we want to be able to stream on two devices. That way, the kids can stream on their iPads or we can use the TV (via the XBox 360 or Amazon Fire TV) and one iPad, etc. It works well for our family.  If you need more, that option is available at incrementally higher (but reasonable) prices.

 

Amazon Prime

Our Amazon Prime Membership fills in the gaps as far as newer movie releases go and adds some old favorites, too. Current TV seasons are available by subscription and new episodes are available the DAY after they air, which is also nice. I wouldn’t buy an Amazon Prime membership specifically for this purpose, but we use it so often for free shipping that it’s worth it for us. I love not having to meet the $35 shipping threshold – especially when I find an item under $1 shipped after a clippable coupon. It’s definitely a perk, though, as we have access to a huge selection of movies to rent sometimes starting as low as 99¢, or purchase. All purchases are available to watch at any time in the Amazon Library of our account when signed in.  My daughter has some Monster High movies and my son has some Abbott & Costello favorites here.  I have some fitness shows.

We stream it on our XBox 360, Amazon Fire TV, iPads, and even my phone. Sometimes I prop my phone up in the office and watch a movie while I’m working. I don’t keep a TV in here because it hampers my productivity, but I do like to have something to listen to while I’m doing matchups. 🙂

What do we pay? $99/year ($8.25/month)

 

Sling TV

If you haven’t heard of Sling, you’re not behind the times or anything like that. It’s a very new service that just became available in February.  Now, here’s where things get interesting as THIS was the final nail in the satellite and cable coffin for us.  Sling is a no-contract live television service run by Dish Network (like I said, without the strings) and it includes channels like ESPN, ESPN2, AMC (for you Walking Dead fans), The Food Network, The History Channel, The Disney Channel, TNT, TBS, CNN, Lifetime, ABC Family, Cartoon Network, and MORE.  Yes, I said more for $20/month.

Plus, you can add on HBO and other packages for additional monthly fees. We like the Sports Extra and Kids Extra Packages, but there are others – Lifestyle Extra, Hollywood Extra, World News Extra, and Spanish packages. Each features 5 or more additional channels for an extra $5/month.

What can you stream it on?  

Roku LT or higher, Amazon Fire TV (all), Chromecast, Google Nexus Player, ZTE, Xbox One, Android 4.0.3 and higher, iOS 8, RCA, OSX Lion 10.7 and higher, Windows 7 and higher

 

Note: Sling TV does require some patience, as they’re new.  You can currently only stream on one device with one account and it isn’t offered on all platforms.  This is fluid, as are the streaming options, and expected to improve shortly.  Either way, it very likely has big dogs like Comcast and DirectTV sweating quite a bit because a flawless small system has the potential to take out those Goliath’s with one quick shot.

What do we pay? $20/month for base channels and $10 for Sports Extra AND Kids Extra = $30/month.

 

Update 2/1/16:  Sling TV has a new promotion with Best Buy.   Prepay for three months of Sling TV and you’ll qualify for a free $50 store coupon to use at Best Buy to purchase a streaming device compatible with Sling TV.

$50 off the new Amazon Fire TV with 3 months prepayment of Sling TV.

50% off the new Roku 2 with voice search (reg. $99.99) or FREE Roku 2 (reg. $69.99) with 3 months prepayment of Sling TV.

Hulu Plus

Hulu is a TV series junkie’s best friend.  We don’t watch any TV series that we need to keep up with regularly, so this was not a necessary addition to our lineup.  (<— We signed up in July.)   I want to mention it for those of you who do like to see new episodes, full seasons, as well as new series premieres.  If that’s a necessary feature for you, you’ll want to sign up for Hulu.

And if you are going to subscribe to Hulu, I recommend upgrading to Hulu Plus.

Here’s why:

1.) You’ll have access to back seasons.  Hulu only offers up to the last five episodes that aired on TV and Hulu Plus offers all current season episodes.

2.)  Expanded device access.  This is the main reason I would subscribe if Hulu was of interest to us.  Hulu is PC only.  Hulu Plus allows you to watch on TV, Blu-Ray, Xbox, iPads, etc.  This is a critical distinction.  I do not like being tied to my PC unless I’m working.

3.)  Standard definition vs. HD when available.  Hulu = standard def.  Hulu Plus = HD when available.

What would you pay?  $7.99/month.

What do you NEED to stream all of these services?

If you don’t have a gaming system at home or you need additional streaming devices, you have two very solid choices that can stream all of the services I mentioned above.  The Roku 3 or the Amazon Fire TV.

I’ve already mentioned that we stream a couple of these services on our XBox 360. We do this because we already have one.  It wouldn’t be our first choice. It was our least expensive option pre-Sling and it does what we need!  No complaints from us on that front. The only problem is that Sling does not stream on our XBox 360.  If you want something that streams ALL of the services I’ve mentioned above (particularly Sling, which is still somewhat limited), you want an Amazon Fire TV or Roku .  Why?

Amazon Fire TV

What sets the Fire TV apart for us vs. the Roku 3 is the quad-core processor and expandable USB storage.  The kids can play Minecraft, Crossy Roads (and over 500 other games) with no lag.  There is also no wait time for TV buffering.  Although, if you’re in your 40’s, buffering and waiting are old school terms you learned a long time ago.  It’s probably not a huge deal, but yeah, time’s a-wastin’, my friend.  We don’t have to live like that anymore.  So don’t.

Another perk?  If you’re going to be away, either out of town or your kids are away at college, you can access your Fire TV via Wi-Fi.  This is awesome. No two ways about it.

Roku 3

If, for whatever reason, the Amazon Fire TV doesn’t appeal to you, you can get a Roku 3 Streaming device.

What’s the difference?  Well, both the Roku 3 and Amazon Fire TV are $99, so clearly that’s not it, so let me break it down for you.  There are a few major differences that I think give the Amazon Fire TV a distinct edge over the Roku 3.

Let’s just start with the things the Amazon Fire TV has that the Roku 3 does not.  I only really consider one to be major:

1.)  Dolby Digital Plus Surround Sound
2.) Optical Audio Out
3.) Captive Portal (long distance WiFi access – this is major)
4.) Fox Sports GO (may be a big deal to you sports fans)
5.) Twitch
6.) Optional dedicated game controller

Now, the differences in capacity and offering, which is where the rubber meets the road for us:

Amazon Fire TV vs. Roku 3

Quad-Core ProcessorDual-Core Processor
2 GB Memory512 MB Memory
Over 500 GamesLess Than 100 Games

See what I mean?  These are some sizable differences.

Local Channels 

Last, but certainly not least, let’s talk about local channels. Heaven help me, this is a big one for me. The biggest, maybe.  I must see my Wolverines play on Saturday.  If I haven’t impressed upon you my deep love of all things maize and blue in this world, I have failed miserably.  It’s one of my Alma Mater’s, of which I have a few, and it also holds captive the coach I’ve been watching since the early 1980’s.  Think I’m kidding?  You really don’t want me to tell you that my first email address was HarbaughQB and license plate was also Harbaugh4, shortened a bit, but you get the point.    I started driving in 1989 and had my first email addy around 1994ish.  This has been going on for ages with me.   Gold is the best way I can describe Jim Harbaugh coming back to coach my beloved Wolverines.  G-O-L-D.

Now, another reason I need local channels?  If I have to boil water for a water main break, yeah, I want to know it.  CNN isn’t going to tell me unless it’s a national problem.  See where I’m headed with these two things?  I’d need medication to cope without having either and that’s not going to happen.  Thus, we need an antenna.

Now, to figure out which antenna you need for your location, you’re going to have to either actually BE intelligent or pretend you are.  It will require some effort and learning.  Like school.  But not.  Because you’ll actually be able to apply what you’ve learned to something practical….like watching TV.  Ahem, yeah, just go with it.

OK, so there are all sorts of articles out there about uni-directional and multi-directional antennas.  Indoor vs. outdoor.  You can get really bogged down here.  Know what we did?  First, we checked our local reception map to determine what kind of range we needed for our antenna.  Since we’re sandwiched between Detroit and Flint, we knew we weren’t in terrible shape, but we didn’t know if an outdoor antenna might be the best move with woodsy and/or building interference.  In the end, we felt pretty comfortable with our reception possibilities, so we bought this highly rated beast (powerful, not large) of a Mohu Leaf HDTV Antenna for $69.88 over at Amazon.  It’s so easy to hook up.  Yes, you can do it.  We can not only pick up the strong signal channels from Flint, but the moderate channels from the metro-Detroit area (channels 4 and 7).  Yahoo!  We have local TV again!

Other highly rated and lower priced Indoor Antenna options:

AmazonBasics Ultra-Thin Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna $47.99

Amplified HDTV Antenna $29.99

 

For us, this was the end of the line.  We have live TV, local channels, movies, TV series, and current episodes at our disposal if we want them.  However, if YOU still want DVR options, you can purchase one of those (TiVo Roamio, Channel Master, Tablo)  just about anywhere.

Now, you may be starting to wonder about all of these prices because it seems like it may be a lot of money.  Yeah, the startup is where the cost is, but you remember that we were paying $175/month.   It doesn’t take long to get back in the black when you’re paying that each month and Fire TV’s only cost $99.  That’s a one time payment.  So, let’s break it all down.

Cost of Satellite vs. Non-Satellite Startup (first year) vs. Non-Satellite (second year)

Streaming DevicesStreaming DevicesStreaming Devices
included in the $175/month for 12 monthsXbox 360 - already own on 1 TVNone
Fire TV for all other TV's in the house @ $99 = $495 - $50 Sling Discount = $445 (5 TV's)
Mohu Leaf Antenna - $69.88 + $30 in additional accessories
Subscription ServicesSubscription ServicesSubscription Services
included in the $175/month for 12 monthsSling TV - $360/yrSling TV - $360/yr
Netflix - 107.88/yrNetflix - 107.88/yr
Amazon Prime - $99/yrAmazon Prime - $99/yr
Total: $2100/yearTotal: $1111.76 Total: $566.88
Savings SavingsSavings
None$988.24$1533.12

The bottom line for us is that in the FIRST YEAR ALONE we will save nearly $1000.  That total will go up another $500+ in the second year.  This is big, my friends.  It’s a car payment for a small economy car or a vacation or more money for retirement, kids college, and so much more.  So if you’ve been thinking about ditching cable or satellite, think harder and smarter, and make the switch.  With the advent of Sling TV, there has never been a more comprehensive selection of live, as well as local TV, movies, and TV series options available at such reasonable prices.  It’ll take a little time – signup, setup, and installation, but this is the very definition of ‘time is money.’  And for the little amount of time needed to get these up and running, you’re saving money at a relatively rapid rate that’s well worth the effort.

Educational Resources to Improve Summer Retention – Incentivized Learning

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

Educational Resources to Improve Summer Retention

 

Incentivized learning can be a helpful tool in re-energizing your child’s interest  in a subject and helping curb the dreaded “Summer Slide.”  Of course, if you don’t agree with it, you won’t like this post!  And that’s ok!  But for those of you whose children respond well to reward based learning, particularly in frustrating subjects like reading, these programs may inspire your child to try a little harder.    There are several achievement based reward programs available throughout the summer to keep kids engaged and help them master basic educational skills. Plus, they don’t cost you anything.  Just keep track of your child’s progress and redeem the offer when (s)he’s finished.

Barnes & Noble (Grades 1-6) – Have your child read any 8 books, list them in the printable Reading Journal, and bring the completed form to your local Barnes & Noble store to choose a free book from the selection on the Reading Journal list.

Pottery Barn Kids Summer Reading Challenge  (under 10) – Free book when your child reads 8 books from the list by July 17th.  They also have in store activities like character appearances, dress-up events, and Story Time on Tuesdays from 11-11:30am.    Plus, sign up for the book club and your little one will receive a passport at the first story time session.  Attend five story times and your child will receive a special gift.

TD Bank (K-5th) – If you happen to live along the eastern seaboard, you’re probably familiar with TD Bank.  They  also have a summer reading program that’s a little bit different.  As a practical saver myself, I like this incentive a LOT.  Have your child read 10 books and keep track of them in the summer reading log. Then,  bring the completed form to a local TD Bank by August 31, 2014 and $10 will be deposited into a Young Saver account for your child.  If your child doesn’t have a Young Saver account, bring a valid form of ID to open one.  Once your child has reached this goal, (s)he’s encouraged to continue earning, all the way up to $50, with a printable savings chart.  There are three spots on this chart for your child to write in what’s driving her to save.  I can only hope my children would say the #1 item is college and not a Minecraft accessory! Gah.  😉

Chuck E Cheese – They have reward calendars to download and print.  This is an easy one.  All you have to do is keep track of your child’s goal achievement on the calendar.  When the month is finished (and the achievement is met), bring the calendar to Chuck E Cheese and your child will receive 10 free tokens.

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge  – This is an online reading program.  Have your child read and log minutes spend reading.  Then, complete online challenges by reaching weekly minute milestones, and earn virtual rewards.  There is also an opportunity to win books every time a weekly reading milestone is met.

Pizza Hut Book It! Summer Reading Challenge (Spark Your Greatness) – Since your child will be doing all of this reading, you may as well double down on the rewards with a possible sweepstakes win!  If your child has read 5 books, enter her to win great prizes.  For example, the Grand Prize for this offer includes a Tote Bag, $50 Pizza Hut Gift Card, 1 Autographed Diary of a Wimpy Kid Hardback Book, Book 1, 1 set of Diary/Wimpy Kid Hardback Book, Books 2-8 (7 Books), 1 Diary/Wimpy Kid DIY Journal, 1 set of Your Best Ideas Notebook (3 notebooks).  They also have monthly activity calendars on their Instagram Scavenger Hunt where other prizes can be won.

Sylvan Book Adventure (K-8) – Kids can search the site for books, read them, then come back to the site and take a quiz.  Upon successful completion, your child can earn prizes for reading as well as comprehending and retaining the book details!

Now, these last freebies aren’t tied to academic performance, but you can use them to your advantage as your child meets his/her target educational goals or simply for exercise!  That’s important, too.

Kids Skate Free – Free rollerskating is offered at select rinks that partner with kidsskatefree.com.  Select and join (for free) a skating rink near you, and you’ll be able to redeem your vouchers for free skate offers on the available days and times listed.  You can use this all summer long.  And if a local skating rink doesn’t participate near you, print this form so they can fill it out if they’re interested.  They likely don’t know this program exists.

Kids Bowl Free – Register your child and receive 2 free games of bowling DAILY (subject to local availability) at participating bowling centers near you – all summer long.

Of course, you can always create your own incentive!  My son is in the middle of a  6 week intensive study of Michigan’s role in the Revolutionary War as we prepare for our trip to Mackinac Island, Mackinaw City, and St. Ignace for July 4th (among other pre-Algebra and Chemistry experiments, of course).  When we return, and assuming he completes his activities, I have promised to buy him Minecraft for the PC.     With this target goal in mind, I don’t have to ask him to do his work each day.   As I said before, though, this technique isn’t for everyone.  Personally, and as I do each year, I have made it clear to my son that this is a summer incentive only.  In the fall and winter, he doesn’t receive any kind of bonus except standard vacation breaks, but that is incentive enough for him!

Click here to read the first post in this series.

Educational Resources to Improve Summer Retention

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

Educational Resources to Improve Summer Retention

 

The kids may have another school year nearly behind them, but you certainly don’t want them forgetting everything they learned by September!  Even when I was in school, I remember spending the first month or two of my school year doing nothing more than reviewing the previous year.  Because of this, I thought I’d compile some wonderful resources for you to use this summer to help keep your child’s learning on track.   These are resources I’ve used myself as a homeschooling Mom, so I can vouch for their efficacy outside of the classroom.

 

1.)  Time4Learning (PreK-12) – We use this program routinely and have for years for Math, Social Studies, Language Arts, and Science.   It offers interactive animated characters who present the information in a manner that enhances understanding.  There are quizzes and multiple choice problems, games, reading, writing activities, etc.  The consistency and familiarity of the way the information is presented grade after grade, subject after subject,  is also immensely helpful.   There is no adaptation to style necessary for your child to learn each topic.  You can also skip ahead with this program.  For example, my son is registered for 4th grade, but we use 5th grade resources routinely.  Third through fifth are available to us with the fourth grade package.

And now through June 30th, Time4Learning is offering half off your first month.  The regular rates are $19.95/student per month ($9.98 through June) for PreK- 8th Grade ($14.95 for each additional student – $7.47 through June) and $30 ($15 through June) for High School/student per month (includes 4 courses)

Take a look at the demonstrations they have available.  Simply choose your child’s grade and you can see what your children will see.  Another bonus to this program is that you can cancel at any time or even suspend the program if you’ll be taking a break.

2.)  IXL Math and English (PreK-8 Math + Algebra 1, Algebra 2 & Geometry/English for select grades)- We also use this program as a supplemental activity.  I wouldn’t recommend it for primary learning as it requires understanding to do the problems and answer the questions.  It’s more like flash cards and timed quizzes.   It has questions like, “Look at the adjective.  Does it tell you what kind or how many?”  Well, to answer this, you have to know what an adjective is in the first place.  So if you need a reinforcement tool, I highly recommend this program.    If you’re looking for instructional basics, this isn’t for you unless you’ll be doing some guided learning activities yourself.

3.) Summer Bridge Books (Grades PreK-8) – I love these Summer Bridge Activity Books.  They’re transitional books designed specifically to prepare your child for the grade they’ll be entering and retain what was learned in the previous year. The activities correspond to the length of time they’ll be off school and it takes just 15 minutes to complete the daily activities.   They’re fun and engaging workbooks.

4.)  ABC Mouse (ages 2-6) – They’re offering a free one month trial of their early learning program.  This program will help your child get ready for school with educational books, games, and traceables, as well as an interactive farm and zoo to visit and explore.  You can read more about it in a post I wrote last year.

5.)  Scholastic Teacher Express – There are so many fabulous $1 ebooks here.  You’ll find everything  from Math to History and every subject in between.  There are Read-Aloud plays and Hands-On History lessons and Math Origami  all the way down to the basics like, “Follow the Directions!” Plus, you can use the code  DAA10STE to save 10% on your $20 purchase making each one just 90¢ when you buy 20 of them.  While you’re there, you can grab a free downloadable Weather Report Chart to help younger children get a handle on the weather changes over the summer.  There are also free monthly samplers available to download, too.

And you know, not all kids are naturally motivated to learn.  Who knew?!?  Hah!   In my next post, we’ll talk about some incentivized summer programs out there to reward kids for a job well done.   That’ll help get ’em moving in the right direction.  When we’ve finished covering that, we’ll talk about free learning resources that are available for you to use if you’re cash strapped.

7 Ways to See Movies for Cheap or Free!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

7 Ways To See Movies for Cheap or Free

Everyone loves a great flick. Whether you are into comedies, romance, action, or sci-fi, it seems like there are new movies coming out all of the time to entertain you. Movies take us away from life for a few hours and let us slip into a world that is fun, exciting, or just different from our day to day grind. But you may have noticed that all of this comes at a price. The cost of a movie ticket can run upwards of $12 each for an adult, and the average On Demand rental for most cable companies is around $6 a flick. If you really love movies, you can easily go broke trying to see all of the films that catch your eye. Well no worries, because luckily there are plenty of ways to save on movies. Below, you will find 7 ways to see movies for cheap or free.
 
That’s right, FREE! Take a peek!

7 Ways To See Movies for Cheap or Free:

1. Be mindful of your timing.
When it comes to saving money on movies, timing is everything. Of course if you see a matinee, you are going to save about half off of your ticket price. If you visit on a designated discount day (for example some theatres might do half price Wednesdays) you can easily save a few bucks. Find out when these specials are so you can time your visits accordingly.

2. Become a Swagbucks member.
Swagbucks allows you to take surveys and earn points which you can then redeem on Fandango gift cards. The gift cards are good for purchasing your tickets via the web to thousands of theatres nationwide. Take a few surveys a day and you will be earning gift cards in no time, which equates to FREE movies! Visit Swagbucks to learn more.

3. Look for holiday gift card deals.
Kill two birds with one stone when you take advantage of holiday gift card deals. For example, a theatre may offer a free $10 gift card when you buy $50 worth. When you take advantage of these deals you can gift some and keep some. It is like being rewarded for treating others to some movie magic.

4. Use credit card perks.
Many credit cards offer movie perks such as presale specials and discounts. Call your credit company and see if they offer any movie theatre perks such as these, or if your spending points (if applicable) are usable on movie tickets.

5. Be patient.
A new release will always cost you more to see than if you wait for a movie to be a few weeks old. By then, the film may be in a dollar or discount theatre where you can see it for less while still enjoying the big screen experience.

6. Hit up the Red Box.
The Redbox rental system is amazing. You can rent new releases for less than $1.50 a day and have the convenience of being able to return it to any Redbox machine. The best part is, Redbox is ALWAYS running free promo codes. We always post any currently available Redbox promo codes, so check our Redbox page before you rent and possibly get your movie for FREE.

7. Become a loyalty member.
Like most businesses, most theatres offer a loyalty program. If yours does, be sure you sign up so you can start earning free rewards and perks. You may also want to check out the website and Facebook page of your favorite theatre to see what other perks may be available that you don’t know about.

When you give these tips a try, you can easily lay your eyes on some fantastic flicks for less. So what are you waiting for? Take these tips and grab a box of popcorn…it’s movie time!

7 Tips for Avoiding a Coupon Crisis

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

Beautiful garment store seller talking to customer

 

 

7 Tips for Avoiding a Coupon Crisis

We have all been there: that awful moment when your carefully planned check out is just not working as you expected. You carefully made your shopping list, you matched up your coupons to your sales, you carefully clipped each one, and yet you are running into some issues. It could be that the cashier is giving you a difficult time, it could be that the register won’t scan the coupon, it could be any number of things. Well all of these scenarios can cause a lot of stress and make you want to forget about couponing, but they don’t have to. Below, you will find 7 tips for avoiding a coupon crisis. The next time you find yourself in a coupon crisis, give these tips a try and see how easy it is to keep your cool and complete the transaction.

7 Tips for Avoiding a Coupon Crisis:

1. Know the coupon policy of each store.
You should know the coupon policy of each store you shop at. By knowing this information, you can best plan your shopping strategy while making sure you know all of the rules and are abiding by them.

2. Carry the policy with you.
Keep a copy of the store’s coupon policy on you so you can reference it if there are any problems. You can find the store’s coupon policy on their website. Just print it off and place it in your coupon binder.

3. Keep free coupon items to the back of the line.
When checking out, place the items you have free coupons for at the back of the line. This way, it is easier for the cashier to pull up the price when she needs to enter it. It can easily help you avoid waiting 5 minutes per product while the cashier scans the receipt for the price.

4. Be patient.
Just like the cashier should be patient with you when you are pulling out all of your coupons, be patient with them. They may need to read each coupon before scanning it. Many stores will charge the cashier if they take a coupon that is not valid, so respect the fact that they need to be vigilant. Take a deep breath and just relax.

5. Request a manager when needed.
If you are sure a cashier is in the wrong, whether it be about the store’s coupon policy or the total of your bill, kindly ask to speak to a manager. Be prepared to show the product, the coupon, and the coupon policy. Kindness and patience will go a long way as well!

6. No deal is ever final.
If a cashier (or even manager) is not honoring a coupon, or insists that your total is correct, you are never obligated to buy the item or even complete the sale. Kindly ask them to take the item off, or for your coupons back. Thank the cashier for their time and take your coupons elsewhere.

7. Put out good coupon karma.
If you have a patient shopper waiting in line behind you while your coupons are being scanned, why not share the wealth? See if you have any coupons for the items they are buying and pass some along. It is a nice gesture that will show thanks for their patience.

As you can see, keeping informed, organized, and calm are all great ways to avoid coupon crisis. Give these tips a try and you can enjoy a smoother and more effective check out on your next shopping trip.

7 Ways to Save on Diapers!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

stack of baby diapers isolated on white background

7 Ways to Save on Diapers

Did you know that the average baby goes through 8-10 diapers in a day? Over the course of a few years, that is a lot of diapers. With that huge amount of diapers comes some big costs, as the average package of diapers can run $10 and up. So what is a parent to do? Luckily, there are some tricks you can try to save money on diapers. You can still enjoy all of the great brands you love and keep an ample supply on hand while keeping a little money in your pocket. Take a peek at these 7 ways to save on diapers and you will find that you will never pay full price again.

7 Ways to Save on Diapers:

1. Take advantage of leak guarantee/try me free offers.
Many diaper companies offer a try me free or leak guarantee offer. Check the packaging to see if the brand you buy does so you can take advantage of it. If the package does not meet your expectations or if you have not taken advantage of the TMF offer yet, be sure to save your receipt, your UPC code, and any necessary form. This is your ticket to getting a nice refund to use on your next package of diapers.

2. Become an Amazon Mom member.
When you become an Amazon Mom member at Amazon.com you can easily save 15-20 percent off each box of diapers you buy. Amazon often offers free trials, which is a great time to order some diapers that will be shipped free right to your home. You can cancel your membership at any time.

3. Stack your savings.
Shop at stores like Target where you can stack your savings and really save. For example, you can use a Pampers coupon for $1, and stack it with a Target printable coupon good on Pampers diapers for $1. If you find a Target Carwheel offer for the product as well, you can triple stack your savings. This is a great way to get the diapers you need for less since you can stack various savings offers.

4. Request coupons.
Send emails to your favorite diaper brands and ask nicely for any savings they may available. They may very well send you high value coupons, free coupons, or even free samples. It never hurts to ask, just be polite and see what happens! You can find contact forms on the web pages of all of your favorite brands.

5. Give them a “Like”
“Like” your favorite diaper brands on Facebook and you will have the chance to request freebies, print coupons, enter contests, and more. This is a great way to really be in the know and take advantage of any money saving offers.

6. Buy secondhand.
This is not as creepy as it sounds. Many consignment shops offer unopened packages of diapers that mothers have brought it when their baby outgrew the size. You also often see mothers getting rid of diapers that are too small on Craigslist or eBay. Take a peek and if the savings is substantial enough, take advantage of the offer.

7. Check out wholesale stores.
You may be able to get deals at wholesale stores such as Sam’s Club. You may be able to split the cost of a jumbo sized package with a friend and save even more. Browse your local wholesale store and see if the savings is significant.

Don’t stress about spending big bucks on diapers again. Instead, give these tips a go and see how you can keep your baby diapered for less.