Favorite Apps: Apps That Save You Money

Since our budget has fluctuated so much in the last few months, I’ve been attempting to become a little more frugal with the little bit of money that we have so that what we have might stretch a long way.  Of course I’ve received much help from my coupon-fanatic best friend of 15 years and some extremely helpful websites (I’ll share those at another time), but I definitely appreciate the little helpers that I can carry with me everywhere right on my phone.  I hope you’ll try them out and find that they help you stretch your dollar too:

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Cartwheel: This Target app allows you to save money on many different items at Target.  You might check this app when you have your grocery list to maximize your savings or just browse through it to see if there are any good deals you can use on those things you don’t need but were hoping for a good deal on.  Add the savings you want to your personalized Cartwheel barcode and have the cashier scan it when you’re checking out.  You can use these savings on top of your other coupons, and they can be used as many times as you like before they expire!

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Favado: Use this app to search out the best deals at your local stores.  You can search deals by store or type in the item in the search bar to find out which store has the best deal.

 

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Mint: 
You may have already heard of this app, as it’s been around for quite a while as a supplement to the website.  I use them all together to track my spending: managing my checkbook, tracking what we spend money on, and budgeting for the upcoming month.  We’ve also used it to build up our emergency fund and also to pay off our debt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unit Price Compare: I’m a big proponent on comparing unit prices before I buy something.  I like to make sure I’m getting the most I can for my money.  It’s not always easy to compare unit prices when you’re tired and stressed (or if it’s been that long since you had a math class…).  Just plug in the unit and size of the items you are comparing (less any coupons you are using), and it will tell which is the best deal.

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Best Free Android Apps for Parents (Also According to Us!)

Okay, so last week I gave you the list of our recommended free apps for kids (on android devices).  This week, I’m presenting you with our list of our recommended android apps for parents.  Whether you use them or not may depend on how old your child is and what stage she’s in, but nevertheless…check it out anyway.  Hopefully you’ll find something useful.

cozi


Cozi
We absolutely LOVE this app!  We’ve had it for over a year now and use it all the time–from scheduling, to “to-do” lists, to grocery lists.  We each have a wish list on it, so I don’t have to remember what everybody wants when it’s time to buy gifts; we can color code each person, and have text or email reminders sent to each person at a specified time before an event.  Add extra alarms or additional features for a nominal cost.

Parent App Logos


First Aid
Self-explanatory.  Have a boo-boo that you don’t know how to fix?  Check out the American Red Cross First Aid app.

life360


Life 360
For anybody in your family who has a phone (especially those teenagers!), add the app to all phones and create a username and password.  Wherever the phone is, you will be able to track it.  I’ve used this when my husband leaves work late (and I’m panicking), but I’ve also used it to find my phone when I left it at church.  You can also check in, request a check-in or call for help using the buttons on this app.  I’ve never had to call for help using this app, but I’ve checked in when it’s late at night or can’t talk.

focusonthefamily


Focus on the Family
Sign up and login with Focus on the Family to view articles and advice from this Christian resource.  For those of you who love Focus on the Family and/or whose children already receive Clubhouse, Clubhouse Jr., or watch JellyTelly, you’ll enjoy this app as well.

workingmother


Working Mother
The Working Mother app is another one of my favorites, because it allows you to be interactive with your Working Mother magazine.  If you receive this magazine but don’t use this feature, download it, because you can find some additional information when you scan the icon in your magazine.

giftstogrow


Pampers
I know I’m not the only mom who loves Pampers–or Pampers Gifts to Grow points!  For a simple way to record your points (rather than logging into your account), download this app, type in your code, and go!  Nice and simple.  🙂


Which free parenting android apps do you love the most?

7 Things You Need to Know About Staying in a Hotel

Empty Hotel Room

I had every intention of pre-posting for this weekend, but nothing worked out the way I planned.  One thing I did discover this weekend is that neither Wendy nor Cinderella has ever stayed in a hotel before!  What an interesting experience.  They were so excited.

Needless to say, I needed to give them the scoop.  And what better subject to post on since I had to brainstorm anyway.  No sense in wasting precious brain power!  So here are the rules I laid out for them:

1) Never leave the room without your room key!

2) Do not order room service.

3) Don’t open the door to the adjoining room.

4) It most certainly is okay for you to open the packaged soap on the counter to wash your hands (one of the girls learned this the hard way).

5) Leave everything cleaner than or as clean as you left it.  This is a rule my grandma always taught us, and I try to carry this on.  I’m sure the hotel staff appreciates the courtesy.

6) Rule #5 does not mean you can keep things.  You can keep the free coffee packets, the paper/plastic cups, and the toiletries, the notepad and then pen, but don’t keep the key cards or the towels.  I know people who have kept one or the other.

7) Always do a sweep of the room before you leave: top to bottom, under beds and dressers, bathroom closets.  Make sure you have everything–because we’re not coming back for it.

What are some of your tips for staying away from home?

These are the main ones I came up with

Finding Gifts for Toddler Boys

Look what is this
So a few weeks ago, I received an invitation to my nephew’s 2nd birthday party.  And as I was thinking about his upcoming birthday, I was reminded of a dilemma that I encounter annually: I don’t know how to shop for boys!

I first ran across this issue when we attended Tinkerbell’s friend’s first birthday party.  We went the store all ready to shop, and that’s when it hit me.  After shopping for girls for so long…I haven’t a clue how to shop for boys.  Especially toddler boys.

So here’s what we came up with around Christmas.  Granted, you might want to make sure you know something about this kid.  Is he really boyish (into tools, sports, cars, trains) or is he artsy (into books, crayons, paints)?  I’m sure there are all sorts of things you could buy for a little boy.  Here’s what we came up with:

  • Play-Doh: This stuff is good for boys and girls of many different types and ages.  You can even make this yourself.  We got a bucket of Play-Doh toys at Wal-Mart at Christmas time for $5.  Can’t beat that!  Cheap and fun.  🙂  And thankfully it’s non-toxic, so if he eats some behind your back, you don’t have to worry too much.
  • Trucks and Cars: Our nephew is into the Disney Cars movies, so he was happy with a couple of these toys.  Just make sure there aren’t any small pieces for children under 3.
  • Doctor Kit: This another one of those timeless toys that kids of many ages like to play with, no matter the gender.
  • Fisher Price Little People toys: This is one of our favorite go-to items.  Our girls loved them.  Our nephew has them and likes to play with them.  Timeless.  No gender boundaries.  And sometimes you can get a really great deal on them.
  • DVDs: This will depend on your viewpoint of the tube as well as the parents’.  If you want to buy the child a DVD, make sure the parent lets him watch TV at all; otherwise, you’ve just wasted your money.  We personally love Veggie Tales, Backyardigans, and of course just about all of the Disney movies.
  • CDs: This will also depend on the parents.  We let the kids listen to their music as soon as they had CDs, but of course now that everyone has an iPod this may soon be obsolete.  Again, we like Backyardigans, Veggie Tales, Disney, and there are a whole host of other kids CDs out there.  Rapunzel’s favorite is her Zumbatomic CD.
  • Books: If the child you’re buying for likes to read, this is my favorite option.  I’m all about reading.  If you can, find out what the child likes and get books that have to do with his interest.
  • Tool Bench/Tools: For the child who loves tools, this choice is obvious.  There are many different variations out there that should work.
  • Trains: This seems to be one toy that most boys like to play with.  The con to the Thomas the Tank Engine toys is the price, unfortunately.  But if you can find Thomas and his friends for a good deal or some other train toy, this is generally a hit.  Just make sure you get one marked 3+ if you’re buying for a toddler.
  • Building Toys: Boys and Girls alike also love these toys.  Lincoln Logs, MegaBloks, and Duplo are some of the most popular ones.  We have both MegaBloks and in our church nursery, and the kids play with both.  Make sure you’re not buying regular Legos for kids under 3.
  • Sports Equipment: For the sports-minded child, balls of any kind (baseballs, basketball, soccer ball) will do the trick.  If you would like to spend more money trikes are a good bet.  I wouldn’t get into scooters just yet.  You may want to invest in a helmet with the trike though.  Safety first.
  • Art & Music: I gave our nephew a coloring book and crayons for his birthday when we celebrated as a family.  My sister-in-law was thrilled.  Crayons are good for just about any age that has the dexterity.  I personally hate markers, because they draw all over themselves and everything else.  Musical toys are a good choice too, if the parents don’t mind noise.  We once were given a toy drum with a tambourine  drum sticks, a maraca, and a flute inside.  The kids still love this toy (although the flute gets pretty annoying sometimes).

And if worse comes to worse, make sure you get a gift receipt, and the child can exchange it if necessary.

What are your best go-to boys’ toys for toddlers?

Tinkerbell’s Top Picks for Show and Tell

If you have a preschooler like I do, you’re probably familiar with show & tell.  Your kid brings something in.  She shows it to the class.  She tells the class about it.

I often wonder how Tinkerbell describes her show & tell item.  At home, it’s more like this: “It’s my doll and I like to play with her.”

Well, today was show & tell day.  And pajama day.  Which we love.  But that’s a story for another day.

I’m starting forget already what we’ve already taken for show & tell.  But we still have half of a year left, so we’re going to have to come up with more ideas.  The trouble is getting Tinkerbell to pick something she hasn’t shown before.  Well, here are her top go-to items when show & tell rolls around:

  • Ty Beanie Babies: Cats one day, monkeys another day–this will last you quite a while
  • Dolls: Tinkerbell has taken in her LaLaLoopsy dolls already
  • Stuffed Animals: If you have a plethora of stuffed animals like we do, this will last you a while–but take notes, because you’ll forget which one you’ve taken in already
  • Pets: One little girl brought in her guinea pig, which was definitely a hit.  The important thing to remember about taking pets is to ask the teacher ahead of time.  There may be extreme fears of animals or allergies.  We don’t want that.
  • Special Keepsakes: We’ve only done this a couple of times, but each time we make sure we know what’s going to the school, and if it’s fragile we make sure we give it to the teacher and get it back from the teacher
  • Books: Favorite books are always a good show & tell go-to if you can’t think of anything else
  • Crafts: Some kids love arts and crafts and will love to show the class what they’ve done at home.  This morning we considered taking a craft that the kids did at church last night. Just keep in mind that if it’s not secure, it might fall apart during travel

Now that you have figured out what you’re going to take, you’ll probably want to apply a couple of rules for your child’s show & tell item.  We always tell our kids the following:

1. The item stays in your bookbag until show & tell.  Don’t play with it before show & tell, because it could get mixed up with other toys or we’ll forget about it entirely.

2. Take it out for show & tell only and put it right back in afterward.  Don’t take it out after show & tell.  We apply this rule for the same reasons as #1.

What are your favorite go-to show & tell items?

The Best Free Android Apps for Kids (According to us!)

If you haven’t already noticed, there is a plethora of apps out there nowadays.  So many people are using tablets, touch-screen phones, iPods, and other devices and there are so many choices for apps!  Educational apps, game apps, potty training apps (yes, I’ve used this one!), silly apps, dumb apps…you get the idea.

Well if you’re like me, you can’t just spend oodles of money on apps for yourself, let a lone your kids!

If you’re having trouble deciding and want to keep things at a minimal cost, here’s what we recommend:

Coloring Book App and Coloring Book 2 (Lite) App


ColoringBook and ColoringBook 2 (lite)
Coloring Books: What more can you ask for?  Pick a picture and color away!


Fish Farts Kids AppFish Farts Kids
No, I’m not kidding.  My kids will sit there for at least 5 minutes (many times longer than that!) playing this game.  Pop the bubbles or press the fish to make them fart for points.

Kid Mode
Kid Mode AppThis is by far my favorite app!  Set safety features, change preferences.  Tons of games and videos tailored for the age of your child.  They can even send you video messages and vice versa at no cost!  Limit which characters your child can view and read more books for a nominal price.  My kids would play for hours on this app if I’d let them.

Kindergarten Math Lite
Kindergarten Math (Lite) AppThis is a very simple game and not really attractive, but it helps teach younger children about adding, money, and various other math skills.  Rapunzel loves this app.


Littlest Pet Shop
Littlest Pet Shop AppI don’t really like this game for me, but my kids love it!  They can pet, feed, and play with the animals, buy new animals, buy new homes.  I just make sure they don’t buy anything with real money.  My little girls are always bugging me to play this one.


My Little Pony
My Little Pony appThis is actually one of my favorite apps, and I play it all the time.  Sad, but true.  I won’t let the kids play this one because they spend my coins.  (Terrible mom, I know.)  When I did let them play this one, they did love it.  Rapunzel likes to play “ball” with the ponies the best.  Oh, and spend my coins.

Piano Perfect App

Piano Perfect
Simple, yet entertaining.  Kids can press the keys or play along with a song–without banging on the keys (that’s the best part)!

Sight Words AppSight Words
Another simple app, this one shows sight words.  Better than flipping cards, if you ask me!


Sudoku Fun
Sudoku Fun AppThis game is seriously addicting!  When I first played it, Prince Charming couldn’t understand why I couldn’t stop playing–but there are so many levels, you just can’t help but beat them all.  He finally downloaded the app, and now he’s worse than I am!  If you like Sudoku, this is a good one.  Older kids love it as well.  Best of all, if you bomb a level, you can do it over.  🙂


Unblock Car
Unblock Car AppThis is another app that can keep you going for quite a while.  Move the cars around to make way so you can get your car out of the parking lot.  Use as few moves as possible.  This one is also good for the older kids.

What’s your favorite free app?

When Little Girls Cut Hair

So this weekend, Rapunzel had a friend over, and all was going well until I decided to order dinner. I walked away, the kids were supposed to clean up their mess and come downstairs.  5-10 minutes later, Tinkerbell comes downstairs with her hair chopped.  I mean chopped.  I was shocked, surprised, angry.  I didn’t know what to say.

Apparently Tinkerbell had decided she wanted her hair to look like Rapunzel’s friend’s.  So she told her to cut it and showed her where the scissors were.  They had to climb on top of the bathroom sink to get to the medicine cabinet to find the scissors.  They must have been determined.

I’ve been told that cutting hair is like a rite of passage for little girls, but it doesn’t make it much easier trying to fix it.  Luckily I’ve had to cut hair on several occasions (not just my husband’s), so I was able to (somewhat) clean up the damage to some extent.

Needless to say, Rapunzel’s friend did not end up staying the night.  Tinkerbell got a brand new ‘do, and Rapunzel, well, Rapunzel doesn’t get to decide what to do with her bangs until they grow out.  For now, though, I can get away with clips in their hair, and no one would know the difference.

If you ever find yourself in my situation, feel free to check out these hair cutting instructions.  Hopefully I won’t have to refer to them for a while!

Quick and Easy Earache Remedy

picture of a baby's ear

So within the last couple of weeks, my entire household (with the exception of Rapunzel) has been sick.  Not only that, but some friends of ours from church and our family have had the same thing, generally beginning with some congestion and a cold, developing into an upper respiratory or bronchial problem.  Several individuals, including myself and our own little Tinkerbell, ended up with some ear pain as well.

I think it was last week that I had my ear pain.  It started on Christmas, and as we drove around I had a great amount of ear pressure in the morning and the evening.  I didn’t do anything for it.  The day after Christmas, we did more driving.  I had more ear pressure in the morning and in the evening.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t do anything for it then either.  The following day, I had to do something.  The pain wasn’t extreme, but it was enough to bother me so I looked up some pain relief methods online.  I wasn’t about to spend $100 to visit the doctor and another arm and leg for some sort of antibiotics when I could fix it myself.

This may not be news to most of you, but I hadn’t thought of it.  What helped me a little bit was lying down with a warm washcloth on my ear.  I did that, I think, for no more than a half hour at a time.  Both ears hurt, so I did one ear for half an hour, wet the cloth, and then did the other ear for half an hour.  In addition to some acetaminophen, it fixed me up well enough to go to sleep okay.

I have also cut up some garlic and mixed it with honey for some minor ear issues with Rapunzel before, though that wasn’t an issue that was easily provided measurable results.  Of course, when it comes to children under three, I would probably consult a doctor before using anything other than the damp washcloth method.

What are some remedies you have used in the past that work?