Archive for Money & Finances

Best Colleges 2014 Book

This is a sponsored post.

Best Colleges

 

I am entering a new phase of parenting in that I have a child looking at colleges! Very weird for me! Bobbie is doing all the research for college requirements, SATs, applications, etc. U.S. News & World Report provides college rankings every year. I thought their new Best Colleges 2014 book would be helpful to my daughter as she narrows down her college choices.

About Best Colleges 2014

Here are four things Bobbie took from the book and the rest of the post is basically written by her, not me:

• It provides information on colleges all across the United States for students of all backgrounds and interests.

• Gives advice for students who don’t have straight A’s and encouragement and support for getting into college.

• Provides a checklist for preparing for college, which she thought was really helpful.

• It offers information on everything from the application process, getting financial aid, to finding the right school.

Best Colleges 2014 was very helpful and gives you a good idea of what you need to do to prepare for college, as well as offering encouragement and advice from high school students who have already gone through the college process.

The checklist provides a detailed step-by-step list of everything you need to do starting at 9th grade and ending with acceptance into college.

They didn’t limit the advice to students seeking to gain entrance to an Ivy League college; they had several sections dedicated to helping B- students get into a great college.

The sections on gaining financial aid were incredibly helpful and something we definitely need help with in knowing how to apply for the different financial help available to us.

If you would like to pick up a copy of Best Colleges 2014 , use the following code SCHOOL25 to receive a discount!

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DIY Goat Stall from Wood Pallets

You all know we are on this farming journey. Well, it is not yet a profitable venture, so we try to conserve, save and reuse. Someone suggested a DIY goat stall from wood pallets. Usually wood pallets are easy enough to find and many times are even free. Gotta love free stuff! There’s a subdivision not far from us on a busy road, which we pass all the time. One house has had a pile of wood pallets there for what seems like years. My husband decided to drop buy and ask if he could have some….just a few days before the goats were due to arrive home! To our delight the man said yes and gave them to us for free! I don’t remember how many pallets my husband and son brought home but they’ve built two stalls so far and have a couple more yet to build. These photos are not the greatest since our barn is so dark but it gives you and idea of how hubby did it. It was our oldest son’s idea to have the goat stall gate swing two ways to save on building another gate.

DIY Goat Stall Gate with Wood Pallets

We just found another source for free wood pallets and we are hoping they still have some left! With the warmer weather coming this weekend (we hope!) it would be nice to get a little pasture fenced off for the goats, another stall done for the sheep and ?????

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Kmart Layaway Dance Video

This is a sponsored post. I am a Kmart blogger, though all opinions are my own.

You’ll have fun watching this mash-up of customers doing the Kmart Layaway Dance! Dare we say it’s the latest dance craze? I know it caught my sons’ attention as they headed to bed! If you’re wondering what it is about Kmart Layaway that makes people spontaneously breakout in catchy dance moves, you should probably keep reading this. At Kmart, Layaway doesn’t start and end with the holidays. You can use Kmart Layaway all year round for celebrations such as birthdays, re-decorating or baby gifts. In addition, Kmart Layaway is available online and in stores. It’s simple: pick out the times you want, start with a down payment, make payments every two weeks (online or in store) and take your items home with you after your final payment (cue: Layaway dance)! Pro tip: Remember to give yourself plenty of time before you need the item, most Layaway contracts last about 8 weeks, so planning ahead is key! Plus, Shop Your Way Members get points on every Layaway purchase and exclusive Layaway offers.

Kmart Layaway Dance Video

Have an item in mind you’d like to put on Layaway? You know it’s about that time to start thinking grills and patio furniture! Get ready to practice your dance moves because you’re going to want to break out in a Layaway dance too! http://bit.ly/1hqSlD8

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Sears Shop Your Way #PersonalShopper

Sears personal Shopper Logo-e1344746902345

“This is a sponsored post. I am a Sears blogger, though all opinions are my own.”

Sears Shop Your Way Personal Shopper

Do you wish you had a bigger Christmas budget? I think we all do, right? Sears and Kmart have created some interesting reasons to become a Personal Shopper. What’s great about it is you can earn commission to put towards your holiday budget on every qualifying purchase your family and friends make, plus you will the satisfaction of helping others with your shopping expertise. Since the season for giving is now, Shop Your Way is awarding its Personal Shoppers with more chances for a bigger commission. You can earn up to 5% in commission just by gaining more clients, reaching sales numbers, following new brands on Shop Your Way, sending client invitees and more. If you think you don’t have what it takes to become a Personal Shopper, you’re probably wrong. If you find yourself giving advice often, enjoy making connections and have an entrepreneurial spirit, Personal Shopper would be a great fit for your lifestyle. Your success awaits: http://syw.co/1cwBkCu. Follow @ShopYourWay and hashtag #PersonalShopper on Twitter.

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Farming is Hazardous

This is a featured post.

I have a farmer friend who gets after me each time she comes to our farm. You see, I tend to wear crocs around the farm. Yep, even around our hooved animals who weigh 1200-1500 lbs. Not ideal to say the least but my feet really like to breathe in the summer months and rubber boots or steel toed boots just haven’t seemed necessary or appealing to wear. And no, that’s not my fashion sense speaking, it’s my comfort level doing the talking.

Loony Acres Fencing_

When my friend was here to help with fencing over a month ago a t-post nearly fell on my foot. :( Not a good thing. A couple of years ago while working on another farm I had a t-post go through the bottom of my croc giving me a pretty good cut all because I tried to put the t-post into the ground with my foot, seriously of all things to do, but I did it as an automatic reaction. Farming is hazardous if you are not careful. A lot can go wrong on a farm. Thankfully we do not own any heavy equipment yet, but the large animals pose a risk because you never know what they can or will do. It’s not like we have medical insurance or life insurance that covers accidents, for that matter. We don’t even have a retirement fund come to think of it. It’s not like we view these things as unimportant, we just haven’t had the budget for them in the past five years, not with two lay offs under our belt. However, it is a goal of ours to get these things in place as soon as our income increases to the point of making it possible.

We do have farm insurance, which is helpful and provides some kind of coverage. Nevertheless, it’s a tad bit worrisome at times thinking of all the things that can go wrong when we lack other insurance coverage or funds to cover extra expenses that could occur.

Do you have life insurance? What about medical insurance in light of Obamacare? Are you preparing for retirement?

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My Husband Lost His Job….Again

Five and a half years ago my husband came home through our front door at about 9am, which was uncharacteristically early considering he left work at 5:30-6:00AM and usually returned at 3:30-4:00PM. When I asked him what he was doing home so early, he replied, “I was laid off.” It was such a shock. Robert had worked at the store since he was in junior high. We worked for the first owner from 1981-2005. Then when the second owner bought the shop in 2005, Robert at times felt he had less job security. But seriously, we never saw the lay off coming.

Robert was out of work for about 20 months. I cleaned houses for a couple of months and started our virtual assistant business. Then his original boss, whom he had worked for over 20 years called him saying he had a new buyer for the store. You see, the second owner still owed the original owner money so when he went out of business in 2009, the store reverted back to the original owner. Clear as mud, eh?

My husband lost his job
He’s trying hard not to crack a smile in this photo in case you didn’t notice. ;)


My Husband Lost His Job….Again

We accepted the job because we had high hopes of the store succeeding under new ownership.

This current lay off was better in the fact we knew it was coming. Robert’s job allowed him to see the numbers in the reports he ran and I’d say early in the summer he called it by saying he gave the shop until mid-August. He was a little off in that he had a job until about the end of August, as he was officially done a week and a half ago.

It’s was a topsy, curvy ride waiting for the axe to fall, so to speak. It is a bittersweet end to a job Robert enjoyed. He really liked this last owner and we thought the store would make it but alas, the industry has changed so much with the advent of the internet. Mom and Pop stores cannot compete with their distributors or online competition. Just look at your home town’s main street. If you have empty store fronts like we do, you’ll see what we are living.

We are not sure what God’s plan is in all of this. It is definitely stretching us.

Robert is applying to jobs. I’m working more. I just learned that I have a job as a hostess of a new moms forum, which will help bring in a little extra money. We are trying to get caught up around the farm while Robert is home…but that is a never ending task because there is always something to do!

Have you ever been unemployed or faced a lay off? How did you survive?

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My First Trip to Mariano’s in Chicago

CB-sponsored-post-white-600

It takes a lot to feed our family of ten. A huge reason we started farming was to grow our own food because buying all organic food for a large family is soooo expensive! There is no way we could do it by shopping at Whole Foods. We try to buy as much organic as we can, but it’s not always possible due to our budget. Enter Mariano’s. We had seen bags with Mariano’s on them but until we shopped there we did not know anything about this store or that they offered organic produce.

My husband and I went out ALONE to Mariano’s in Jefferson Park, Chicago. It was a rare treat to be alone but it was also a treat to go into the city for a change. We looked forward to purchasing organic milk, natural products and organic produce. First we went to Whole Foods in Sauganash, Chicago, then we went to Mariano’s in Jefferson Park. The stores are literally only a couple miles apart. We bought the exact same items at each store. The goal was to see how much money we could save by shopping at Mariano’s for organic produce and all natural products.

Mariano’s in Jefferson Park

Mariano’s in Jefferson Park is a large spacious store. There was lots of room to maneuver aisles, even though there were lots of people in the store. It was pretty easy to find everything. The only thing we couldn’t find right away was Kombucha but we found it just before we checked out because I almost forgot to buy it!

Shopping at Mariano’s was a good experience for us in that we discovered a new store we can shop for organic produce and all natural products our family loves and enjoys and SAVE money, which makes my hubby very happy!

Mariano's Organic Produce_

Here’s a list of items we bought:

Organic Valley Milk
1-1.5 lbs Organic Tomatoes
2 lbs Organic Carrots
2 lbs Organic Blueberries
2 pkg.Applegate Organic Bacon
1 bottle of Kombucha (fermented tea that is carbonated)

Below is our receipts from both stores to show you how much we saved by shopping for organic produce at Mariano’s. We saved a whopping $12.24! We were impressed.

Mariano's Receipt Comparison

This past weekend was customer appreciation at Mariano’s. In celebration of this they featured over 3,000 roses on display at all stores – just $1 each. Over 100 varieties – a rainbow of color and called it their Rose Extravaganza! It was truly a gorgeous display of roses. Robert and I loved looking at the roses and we even took time to stop and smell them.

Mariano's Rose Collage_

Customer appreciation at Mariano’s includes a FREE rewards card with the potential to earn rewards!

Mariano's Rewards Card Collage_

We are looking forward to shopping at Mariano’s again in the future.

Please mark your calendars because you are invited to Mariano’s Twitter Party which will be on Thursday, August 29, from 12-1pm CT/1-2 pm ET RSVP link: http://cbi.as/5bh5f #cbias #MyMarianos. Consider “liking” them on Facebook as well.

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Credit Cards

This is a featured guest post.

What type of credit card is right for me?

If the time has come to get a new credit card you might find you’re presented with a slightly overwhelming number of options to choose from. This can make it hard work knowing where to start, which is why it’s a good idea to educate yourself about how best to go about it.

Know the different kinds of card  

When credit cards are mentioned, many people will think of them in simple terms – a piece of plastic that lets you purchase goods or services and pay for them at a later date. However, there are different types of cards to suit different circumstances.

  • Balance transfer cards – if you have existing debts then the 0 per cent interest period offered by a balance transfer credit card could help you pay the balance off at a more manageable rate. The interest free period can vary, so be sure to know how long it lasts before signing up.

  • Rewards cards – if you’re able to regularly pay off your balance each month and want to get a little something back then it might be worth going for a card with a reward scheme. What you get in return for your spending is likely to vary so be sure to compare credit cards to find the best one for you.

  • Platinum cards – a range of additional benefits are typically offered along with this kind of product, such as insurance. They normally offer a higher credit limit and are only those with a good credit rating are likely to be approved.

  • Credit cards

  • Pre-paid cards – if you’re travelling overseas or want a little added security while shopping online then a pre-paid card might be the right option for you. It can be loaded with a set amount of cash, so might be a good option for parents to give to older children heading on school trips.

Compare fees and interest rates

Perhaps the easiest way to get an overview of the interest rate you’re likely to pay on a card is to compare the Annual Percentage Rates (APR). In terms of your monthly repayments you’re always best paying for what you’ve spent by covering the full balance each month, but if you can’t do this then it’s typically better to find the lowest APR on offer. It’s also worth looking in to the charges you will face for any missed payments, or for using your card in another country.

Time to apply

Once you’ve done all this it could be time to apply. Make sure you’re aware of your credit rating before doing so and avoid making multiple applications, as this is one of the things that could harm your chances of getting accepted.

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Sell DVDs Online – Movie & Music Lovers

This is a partnered post.

It’s Thrifty Thursday and it appears to have been a while since we posted any money saving tips. However, this week I came across something that is great for music lovers, gamers and movie addicts. Are you or someone you know huge music buffs? What about movies or gaming? Do you have extra CDs, games and DVDs you no longer use? This post is for you! I will reveal a way for you to get rid of unwanted stuff and make a little money while you are at it.

Sell DVDs Online

My husband loves music and has quite the collection of CDs….somewhere in boxes he still has vinyl records and 8 tracks! We still have boxes in our bedroom from our move nearly two years ago and I found out one or two of the boxes are part of Robert’s CD collection. Sigh. I so want the boxes gone from our bedroom. If I was a conniving little wife I might be tempted to sell them on him and try to make some cash. But I am not. I wouldn’t do that to my husband. Nevertheless, if he knew he could make some money off of his stuff, I think he’d go through it all and see what he could let go of just to make a little extra money. That’s just the way he is and he’s done it in the past with other collectible items, etc.

That’s why my interest kind of peaked when I thought about selling stuff online. This new-to-me website that allows you to sell DVDs online, as well as CDs, and even games. musicMagpie is the solution to music lovers and their spouses! ;) This site allows you to swap all those unwanted CDs, DVDs and games in exchange for cold, hard cash. Strapped for cash? Tap into your music, movies and DVDs!

With the advent of the internet, anything truly is possible. We can sell and swap books, clothing and even our music and movie collections.

What are some ways you have created extra cash for your family?

Happy Thrifty Thursday!

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