Around the World in 80 Books: Portugal

Welcome to the next installment in my Around the World in 80 Books Challenge!  It’s exactly what it sounds like: I’m trying to read 80 books from 80 different countries/cultures around the world, and to add a frugal spin, I’m trying to do it all for under $20.

Here’s my running tally so far:
$0- Library books: RussiaNorwaySwedenMexicoSierra Leone, Spain, Italy
$0- Free eBooks: ScotlandEngland
$0- Gift: Turkey, Pakistan
$0- Won in a Giveaway: Jerusalem
$1.99- eBook: Basque Country
$0- Paid, and interesting, review: Financial Inclusion at the Bottom of the Pyramid

Grand Total: $1.99

Unfortunately, I think that number’s going to go up. I was dumb and turned in the Italy book late to the library without renewing. So I’m probably going to have some fees. I’ll update when I know what they are.

The good news is that today’s book was free! When I first started the challenge Savvy Working Gal recommended checking out BookBub for free and low-cost eBooks. I did. And I downloaded a lot of good stuff. Then I forgot about it. Most of the titles were written by Americans, or were repeats of countries I already had lined up.

I was browsing through them a few weeks ago and found this one. Turns out the author is from Portugal. So I read.

Side Note: Since I signed up, I’ve been getting daily emails mostly filled with smutty romances. Needless to say, I haven’t had as much success. I should probably see what’s going on with my preference settings.


Reading in email? Click here to see the title.

If you’ve ever read (or watched) Life of Pi, you’re familiar with the question he poses at the end. As the reporter is wrestling with whether to believe Pi Patel’s story or not, Pi asks him which story he likes better. The idea is that it didn’t matter which one really happened, as they both had the same ending.

That’s the kind of mindset you have to approach Barrento’s book with, as well. In fact, it may be his entire point.

Barrento weaves his own tale of creation. He creates a raison d’etre that will make you stop and think. He puts a unique spin on what happens to us after we, along with everything else, are gone. He does it by integrating Buddhism with Christianity, Greek mythology with metaphysics, and then adds a little mysticism just for good measure.

How could I not love it?

The story itself is obviously not written to become the dogma of a new religion. It’s an enjoyable novel that, from my reading, is meant to be read as fiction. If anything, it makes you look at all those stories that exist, explaining what we do not know about one of our most burning sets of questions: Why are we here? Where did we come from? What will we be after we die?

And it reinforces the point that Martel made over a decade ago: which story we choose to believe does not matter. We can each believe whatever brings us solace. This is an insertion of my own beliefs, but as long as we arrive at a conclusion of peace, love, and goodwill, the backdrop that we put around it does not matter.

Have a recommendation for what I should read next? Leave it in the comments! Here’s what’s already in my queue:

Canada: The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be by Farley Mowat recommeded by Messy Money
Afghanistan: The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg recommended by Savvy Working Gal
Nigeria: Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta
Philippines: May Day Eve and Other Stories by Nick Joaquin recommended by Guiltless Reader
Iceland: Scarcity in Excess by Arna Mathiesen & Thomas Forget
Sudan: The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih recommended by Kate Wilson
Kenya: Out of Africa by Karen Blixen recommended by Christine from The Wallet Diet
China: Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China by Leslie T. Chang
Japan: Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi recommended by Suburban Finance
Ethiopia: The God Who Begat a Jakal by Nega Mezlekia recommended by Based On a True Story
French Antilles: Victoire: My Mother’s Mother by Maryse Conde recommended by Based on A True Story
Suriname: The Free Negress Elisabeth by Cynthia McLeod recommended by Based On A True Story
Costa Rica: The Ticos: Culture and Social Change in Costa Rica
France: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr recommended by Our Next Life
Germany: In the Garden of Beasts or Devil in the White City by Erik Larson recommended by Emi from AIP Around the World
Haiti: All Souls Rising by Madison Smartt Bell recommended by Tre from House of Tre
Jamaica: A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James recommended by Jana of Jana Say
South Africa: Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton recommended by Emily from The John & Jane Doe Guide to Money & Investing

E-Filing at the Civil Registry Saves Time and Money

E-Filing at the Civil Registry saves Australians time and money.

This one goes out to all my Australian readers out there…

Who would have ever believed that filing court documents could become a quick and easy process? Well with the internet, anything is possible and there is now an e-filing civil registry service, which allows you to submit all of your documents safely online.

You can immediately see the benefits of such a service, if only in saving so much of your valuable time. With e-filing there is no more race to get to the registry before it closes, no more desperate dash along the freeway, struggle to find a parking space and then waiting in a long queue to submit your files.

Once you register for e-filing with the court registry, submitting your files will be as simple as 1-2-3.

So what are the other real world benefits of e-filing, as opposed to standing in line for hours?

No more lost or forgotten documents

When you lodge your forms electronically at the civil register you can instantly see what files have been uploaded. So if you are unsure whether all of the correct documents have been uploaded, or if someone else has already loaded a particular document, it is easy to check online. This means that you are always on top of your cases, knowing exactly what has been submitted and what still needs to be done.

Submit your documents anytime, anywhere

You don’t have to tie yourself in knots anymore and miss lunch, just to get to the registry before it closes for the weekend. With e-filing, you can upload your documents any time of the day or night, even on weekends. This is a much more efficient use of your time and takes a lot of stress away from preparing case documents and files.

How many times have you been working late at night and wanted to lodge the documents right then and there, so you know the submissions have been completed on time? Well now with e-filing, you can lodge your files 24/7 with the click of a button.

Reduced and more efficient workloads

Sending someone off to the civil registry to lodge documents can easily waste half a day and if that happens multiple times a week, you can be out of pocket without even realising that it is happening. The race to the civil registry is a long standing event and has always been accepted as part of doing business.

All things change however, and at least this change is for the better. No longer will you be paying employees to race to the registry and stand in line, now they can use their time more efficiently and be quietly working on another case.

Automatic alert notifications

Once your documents are uploaded, you will receive confirmation of their submission directly to your nominated email; you know immediately that your documents are safely submitted. You are also kept updated to the status of your submissions, so if there are any omissions, rejections or errors, you will be alerted, making the entire process more streamlined and stress-free.

Without a doubt, e-filing has revolutionised document submissions at the civil registry. This means that you can better organise your time and your workload, work more efficiently, and still have all of your documents submitted in a timely manner.



*This post, contributed by an outside writer, is brought to you by InfoTrack*

Saving while Greening My Routine with Given Soap

Check out yummy smelling soaps...while staying green!

Some of you may remember my anal-retentive post about how much money I’ve been saving since my decision to green my beauty routine. You may have noticed something was missing: body wash.

I ran out of it a while ago. And by a while ago, I mean years ago. While I had kicked my bar soap habit for my face washing routine, my body was getting scrubbed with regular, old, scentless bar soap.

Can I admit something? I missed the scent. I missed smelling like vanilla or cherry blossoms or peppermint or whatever the season dictated. But there was no way I was going back to chemical-ridden body wash just to sate my olfactory desires. I considered making my own soap, but one of the main ingredients is lye. Lye cannot be in the house at the same time as my children.

My problem has recently been solved. Nicole at Given Soap was kind enough to send me some samples of their all-natural homemade soaps for me to try on for size.

Given Soap

Guys, I’ve been smelling like pumpkin pie for a week now. I’m in love.

Given Soap is a locally-owned small business here in Pittsburgh. Their story is kind of amazing, too. Here it is in Nicole’s own words:

“My husband lost his job a couple years ago, and as a family we were forced to really look at our financial situation. The two big changes we made were getting rid of cable and changing our cell phone provider. These two changes saved us over $200.00 a month.  Next we started looking into some of the smaller things in our everyday life that we could change. We came across making our own soap and tried it out. Not only was it more cost effective; it was much healthier for me and my family. Our basic soaps only have vegetable oils, lye, water, and essential oils in them. The fancier soaps have oxides, micas, and clays which are pulverized rocks and minerals. We loved it, and started sharing it with friends and family who also loved it. That’s when we got the ideal of sharing it with everyone. Making changes can be hard sometimes, big or small, but you never know what amazing things can happen with even small changes. Now we have a small business doing something we love, enjoy, and believe in.”

Did you get that? Implementing frugality led to the creation of a business that helps them replace an income. Pretty darn impressive.

As for the ingredients, they’re all purposeful and easy to pronounce, which as a general rule makes them better for your body. Clay detoxifies, and helps add some coloring to the soap along with trace minerals. Oxides and minerals add color and trace minerals, as well, so they don’t have to add artificial dyes.

My samples have been lasting. I use them in the shower, but don’t leave them in the shower. I don’t want the water built up in the dish to eat away at them. So I remove them to a place where they can dry, and then store them in their bags. I wish this blog had smell-o-vision so I could show you just how amazing they all smell.

There’s a wide variety of scents, too. For the holidays, there’s Peppermint, Pumpkin Spice, Frank & Myrrh, and Sweet Orange, Cinnamon and Clove. The best part? There are SALES.

Black Friday-Cyber Monday Deals!

No matter where you’re shopping from, you can order online through their site. They are having a Black Friday-Cyber Monday sale this weekend for 25% off. Just use code 25%Off at checkout! There are also additional discounts on Cinnamon Cedarwood and Citrus with Lavendar soaps.

Small Business Saturday just got easier to support.

In Pittsburgh?

Go get some soap in person! That way you’ll be able to try out all the scents. Given Soap will be at the White Oak Athletic Association’s Holiday Craft Fair on Saturday, December 5th, from 10a-4p.

More Black Friday Deals: Gymboree, Crazy 8, Get Paid to Write for Blogs, & The Penny Hoarder

Score Black Friday Deals to Gymboree, Crazy 8,, and Get Paid to Write for Blogs.

In case you missed it, earlier today Black Friday Deals went up. And they’re pretty sweet. You can find out where your family is from WAY back, just by spitting in a tube and sending it off to AncestryDNA. This weekend only, AncestryDNA is 30% off, Nov 27-30.* It’s literally the lowest I’ve ever seen it.

I’ve got good news for you; there’s even more sweetness! Check out these additional Black Friday deals:


Gymboree Sale On Now!

I love Gymboree’s clothes, but typically can’t justify dropping the cash on the brand name. This weekend’s going to be different! Here are the sweet deals that will have me shopping their PJs at the very least:


Crazy 8

You all know how I fell for Crazy 8. Cute stuff. Affordable stuff. Any day of the year. But this weekend? WOW.

Crazy 8 Sale On Now!


Get Paid to Write for Blogs

Regular readers know that I make a full-time income now from freelance writing. As I’ve made my journey, one of my good blogging friends, Cat Alford, has helped me along the way. Her perspective and advice has been invaluable.

She has a whole course, with a bunch of students that have become absolute freelance writing rock stars after taking it.  You always get 15% off* when you buy her course through one of my affiliate links, but this weekend only, 11/27/15-11/30/15, you also get a free 1-hour Skype consultation with Cat, where she’ll:

  • Assess your blog.
  • Brainstorm contacts that can help your freelance business grow.
  • Brainstorm websites you’d like to work with to grow your business.

That’s a $100 value. FREE. And it’s only accessible by signing up for the course with 15% off* between 11/27/15-11/30/15.

More Black Friday Deals at The Penny Hoarder

If those aren’t enough deals for you, let me recommend The Penny Hoarder. Kyle has put together this amazing Black Friday Portal, where they’re live blogging until 3PM Friday, and you can ask their team of money-savings experts anything you want about the holiday madness.


Speaking of Kyle, he’s one of the people I’m thankful for this year. At FinCon, he took the time to mentor me about ways I could make this site better. Anything that you’ve noticed that has improved is in large part thanks to him, and his generosity of time and spirit.

I’m also thankful to Cat for all she’s done to be a great friend and advisor in the freelancing sphere.

Finally, I’m incredibly grateful to every last one of you for reading, subscribing, and making the journey of Femme Frugality a fun and interesting one with such diverse perspectives. You make this all worth it.

With that I’m off to spend some time with my family. Happy Thanksgiving Eve, and I’ll see you Friday!




*These are affiliate links.  Which means I get compensated when you buy through them.  You don’t pay any more for using them. Sometimes they even allow me to bring you better deals.  If you purchase through one, thank you! I hope the deals help!

Ancestry Deals for Black Friday/Cyber Monday Weekend

Hey, everyone!  There were quite a few of you interested in the Ancestry DNA kit when I wrote about it last week, so I just wanted to let you know that there’s a sale going on this weekend.  It really is the best one they have all year.  You can get  30% off AncestryDNA Nov 27-30. This offer unfortunately can’t be combined with the free shipping offer (which you can get by using code FREESHIPDNA.)

I’ll be writing about my experiences with their other services for genealogy soon.  (Spoiler alert!  They were super positive!) But these deals only last until Monday, so if you want to get a jump start, you can get 20% off an Ancestry Gift Subscription.

For the purpose of the sale, these prices will be available 12am Eastern time starting 27 Nov and go through 12 am Eastern on 1 December. That means all the west coasters can actually score them starting at 9pm Pacific time on Thanksgiving and ending 9pm Pacific on Cyber Monday.

Hope this helps!  Happy early Black Friday!

Update on Ancestry Deals

This post originally appeared on 28 Nov 2014. It has been updated to reflect the 2015 Black Friday weekend prices. Since that time I have reviewed Ancestry’s other services, and had a reader leave her interesting story comparing her and her twin’s profiles in the comments after using AncestryDNA. (You think they’d be the same, right? Wrong!)

This year’s Black Friday-Cyber Monday sale is better than last’s. While last year you only got 20% off, this year you get 30% off AncestryDNA Nov 27-30.


*These are affiliate links.  Which means I get compensated when you buy through them.  You don’t pay any more for using them. Sometimes they even allow me to bring you better deals.  If you purchase through one, thank you!  And I hope the deals help!*

How to Invest in the Stock Market: 10 Rules of Investing for Beginners

Today, I’m happy to host a contribution from my fellow bloggers, John and Gary. Both are former financial professionals on a mission to help new and seasoned investors find the best brokerage accounts for their needs.

Just getting started in the stock market? Here are 10 rules of investing for beginners.
Some people are born rich, others are lucky enough to be given opportunities early in life and start on the right path, and finally, some must overcome life’s challenges to achieve financial security. No matter where you start, once you have some savings, you’ll want to invest and grow it into a nice nest egg for retirement. But before you jump in and become a day trader, here are a few rules for investing you may want to learn.

1. Bulls and Bears Make Money. Sheep Get Slaughtered.

New investors must realize that they are “playing the game” with professional traders, and when it comes to the stock market, it’s every man (or woman) for himself. If you plan on trading, do your research, minimize risk, and know when to take some chips off the table; otherwise, you’re setting yourself up to potentially lose everything.

2. Keep Things Simple.

Do you want to pretend to be a hotshot trader or do you want to make money? Sometimes the most basic investment strategies offer the greatest returns. If you aren’t a finance professional with market insights yet want control over your investments, the best thing you can do is research the best discount brokerage firms, open an account, and invest in index funds.

Consider a fund allocation that favors U.S. stocks with a heavy-weight in large caps. However, be sure to include some exposure to international and emerging markets, as well as small and medium cap companies.

3. It’s OK to Pay Taxes.

Some investors don’t sell stocks for gains because they fear the taxes they will pay. Stop worrying about the tax man, take your gain, and pay your taxes before you end up with losses. In this situation, having to pay taxes is a good thing.

4. Buy Broken Stocks, Not Broken Companies.

Investment professionals believe in “intrinsic value.” The stock market fluctuates in relation to sentiment, macroeconomic trends, money flow, and hundreds of factors. However, all assets have a certain “true” value.

When a company’s share price falls below its true value, buy the company’s stock. The market will eventually revert back and recognize its own mispricing. However, a damaged company with a dying business model will not recover unless there is a significant change.

5. Buy Best-In-Class.

Want to enjoy peace of mind and sleep well at night? Buy best-of-breed companies in each industry. While a turnaround story may yield a 10-fold return once in a blue moon, investing for retirement is more about “slow and steady wins the race.” The best companies in each industry usually have the best management, attract the best talent and maximize opportunities to earn more.

6. Don’t Be Afraid To Hold Cash.

When you think the market is euphoric, valuations are expensive or you simply don’t like any of the opportunities available, don’t be afraid to hold cash. While some investors stress that you should be constantly invested because it is impossible to time the market, sometimes it’s better to wait and get a clearer view of the market than to have buyer’s remorse.

7. Always Have Emergency Funds.

The U.S. economy has been experiencing boom and bust cycles for the last century, and you shouldn’t expect that to change. For this reason, you should always have a sizeable emergency fund to hold you over during the next recession. Otherwise, you may be forced to sell stocks at their lows just to cover living costs, thereby missing out on an incredible buying opportunity.

8. Leave Your Emotions At The Door.

Investing is part art and science, but there should always be strong reasons or evidence for your decisions. Your emotions, including hopes and dreams, should never be factors. Unfortunately, most people are dishonest with themselves. If you have a history of poor or emotionally decision-making, hire a financial advisor or wealth manager who can be objective about your portfolio.

9. Beware of Wall Street and Hyped Securities.

Wall Street analysts and advisors often have a vested interest in propelling the market higher and hyping certain stocks. Whether their firm is trying to earn the company’s underwriting business, increase the value of their own shares, or the analyst simply has a bias, beware of propaganda.

Listen to their opinion and analysis, but don’t invest in a security solely based on someone else’s “expert” opinion. Remember, these were the same “experts” who thought the housing market was going to increase forever.

10. Life Insurance Is Not An Investment.

Unless you are in the top 1% or require significant estate planning, life insurance is not an investment option no matter what your financial advisor suggests. First, whole life insurance is prohibitively expensive and only provides a fraction of the coverage you could buy with a cheap term policy. Also, if the guaranteed interest paid on the cash value seems appealing to you, remember that only a fraction of your premium is directed to the cash value portion of your policy.

In general, any reputable financial planner will recommend term life insurance. For your retirement nest egg, as we discussed earlier, index funds are the way to go. But don’t take my word for it – learn more about the difference between term and whole life insurance before making any financial decisions that may affect you for the rest of your life.

While these are all great rules for investing, this list is by no means comprehensive, and even if it was, each investor has his or her own set of investment strategies and philosophies. Before diving in and choosing a path, research and analyze different approaches. Ultimately, the best investment strategy may just be to hire a professional that will let you do what you do best – earn money in your career; after all, in most cases, that is a person’s biggest asset.

Auto Financing: What You Need to Know

Know your auto credit score? Have you shopped around? Are you prepared for a bidding war? Brush up on your auto financing knowledge before your next trip to the dealership.

Last winter, I bought a car towards the end of the season. I’m pretty sure I was a fool, as I bought used, and was met with no room for negotiation. Used salesmen don’t get paid on a traditional commission model in our area anymore, and buyers are on the losing end of the supply/demand curve at the moment.

A week later, I heard an ad on the radio for a brand, spanking new car for a marginal amount more. It was a better make. It was likely just as stock as the used model I had just purchased. Even their ad said they were willing to negotiate. I was kicking myself.

Winter is hard on new car salesmen. Not as many people come in to buy, and when you’re paid on commission that can be a tough fact to reconcile. Prices plunge as dealerships are eager to see revenue, even if it’s not as big of a cut as they’d see in warmer months.

The end of year is even more of shopper’s dream. Dealerships are motivated to get last year’s models off the lot, and put on sales to draw people in. If you’re in need of a car, you may want to skip the line for that super jumbo TV at Walmart on Black Friday. There may be a better deal for you at the dealership.

Because I know you’re smart shoppers, and you’ll be among the ones shopping in these colder months if you have an automotive need, I wanted to take a minute to review with you one of the most important processes I’ve learned over my years of car buying: auto financing.

While it would be great if you could go in and buy a car in straight cash, I know sometimes that’s not possible. It hasn’t been for me since I started refusing to buy the worst clunkers around. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be smart about your financing, though. You’ll need to understand your credit score. You’ll need to know how to shop around. And you’ll need to be ready to spend another hour or so at dealership while they launch an all-out bidding war for you.

Your Credit Score Will Be Calculated Differently

Before you even buy a car, it’s a good idea to know what your credit score is. A higher score will reward you with lower interest rates, which can save you a good bit of money over the course of your loan.

Most lenders will use your base credit score. In the case of auto loans, they’re more likely to use your auto score. Your auto score is like your credit score in many ways. If you have a long length of credit history, have a history of paying your debts on time, and have a low debt to credit ratio, your score is likely to be higher.

An auto score, however, takes other factors into consideration with more weight. They will scrutinize things like payments on past auto loans, past settlements on auto loans, and if you had an auto loan or lease included in any past bankruptcies far more closely.

Auto scores tend to have a larger range, meaning they start below the traditional 300 and go above the traditional 850. A higher score will mean a better interest rate, but auto scores cannot be measured on the same scale.

Commence the Bidding War

After you’re for sure on your car, the dealership will offer to run numbers for you. They’ll pull your credit score(s), submit the loan amount along with your information to a slew of banks they work with, and have them initiate a bidding war over you.

The bank that comes in with the lowest rate wins. Not the lowest payments. Payments may be spread out over a longer period of time to give you the illusion of owing less money, or making the payments more manageable. But lower interest rates will save you more money, especially if the term of the loan is shorter.

Coming in Prepared

Before you even go into the dealership, get some quotes yourself. Call your bank. Call other banks. Call credit unions. Seriously on the credit union thing. I was a fool and didn’t try them this time around. For example, PenFed Credit Union currently has rates as low as 1.49% on new vehicles and as low as 1.99% on used, which is a good bit less than what I’m paying now. And I thought I had a pretty decent rate. There may be a refinance in my future…

In my situation, the bidding war got me lower rates than my bank. That may not have been the case if I had shopped credit unions. Either way, going in armed with your own quotes is a good way to make sure you’ll be happy with the interest rate you walk out with. If the bidding war hadn’t panned out, I knew I could still more than reasonably afford the quoted rate I had walked in with.

What have you learned about auto financing through the car buying process? Do you buy when it’s cold? Let us know in the comments!


*This post is in partnership with PenFed Credit Union. All content has been created by and is the opinion of Femme Frugality.*


I Get by With a Little Help from My Friends…And Babysitters

I get by with a little help from my friends...and babysitters. This app helps me source sitters more efficiently. Help build a new app that empowers mom.

I’ve written before about how critical our babysitters have been in our quest towards financial betterness. They’re primarily our family. Not only have they saved us thousands on childcare costs, but they’ve also watched our children so we could go to school, work an odd shift, and do other things that improve our financial standing long-term.

Organizing sitters can be a bit of a struggle, though. Luckily I have some forgiveness built in because we’re related, but I work a job where I’m never sure where I’m going, or if I’m going, each morning. I get compensated for this insanity, but that doesn’t make finding someone who can come over if I end up needing them any less awkward.

On top of scheduling sitters, here are the other responsibilities that fall squarely on my shoulders as the mom:

  • scheduling doctor’s appointments
  • scheduling therapy sessions
  • making sure my kids don’t lose their insurance (I lost half a day at FinCon thanks to this)
  • arranging rides to all said appointments
  • arranging rides for sitters
  • making sure we have food to make whole meals and not just parts of them
  • cleaning up Cheerios
  • making sure I don’t lose my mind
  • Oh, yeah. I work, too. A lot.

In all fairness, after the FinCon incident the husband really stepped up his game. He didn’t have the experience with the insurance company to be able to handle the incident himself, so I had to handle it from 500+ miles away while I was supposed to be conferencing. Since I’ve been back, he’s gotten a lot more involved in the household management, and my burden has been slightly eased.

That doesn’t change the fact that it’s hard, though. I’m essentially the Chief Household Officer (CHO,) and delegating a few of my responsibilities ultimately hasn’t changed my role.

There’s this rad new app that recognizes the CHO role that many mothers hold in their household, and it’s built to make our jobs easier. (Gotta give credit; they’re actually the ones that introduced me to the CHO terminology.) There are tons of scheduling and collaboration apps out there for business people, but few to none that recognize that the role a modern mother holds in the home is similar, and of the same importance. We need the same tools, and someone is finally making them.

That tool is Little Helper. It’s still in Beta, and I’ve been using it to coordinate those sitters. You have a list of your trusted sitters (called Helpers in the app,) set up a gig where you’ll need one of them, assign it the pay rate you’re willing to meet, and it emails all of them so they can volunteer to help. (I even have my husband in there as a Helper. It’s helping us cut down on confusion.) It feels more like a quest for volunteers and less like a beg for those moments when you need a little help.

Like I said, it’s still in Beta, but there are some exciting features in development that I’m pretty psyched about:

  • Co-Parent Event Management. Which I figure will help my husband and I as we sort out his recent increased involvement in these matters.
  • Differentiated Helpers. Helpers don’t have to be babysitters. They’re looking at adding Helper categories for lawn care, pet care, etc.
  • Time Tracking/Payment Management for Full-Time Care. Again, so grateful we don’t have any costs associated with our childcare, but we are truly unique in our situation. For all those who do have to pay, this feature would make the entire process less awkward and wayyy easier.
  • Helper Availability for Direct Booking. Want to book someone directly? You’d be able to check out their calendar to see their available hours. That way it feels even LESS like a beg, as you know they’re looking for work during that time frame. I was a pretty popular baby-sitter as a teen; I would have LOVED this.
  • Barter/Credit System to Trade Time. A lot of parents form this symbiotic relationship where they’ll watch each others’ kids. I do this occasionally with my neighbor. It really helps out in a jam, and we’re able to trade our time without worrying about cash flow problems.
  • GPS Connected Carpooling. While we’re the only ones that drive around our kids at this point, let me give you an example of where this would come in helpful. The other week, I had the kids at an appointment. My husband was at school. We had everything timed so that I could drive them home just in time to meet Dad, and then get to work just on time. Except Dad got out of class early, and the appointment ran over. We still met at home. I was late. But if we had this feature hooked up, he would have known I was still there, and could have shot me a text to see if he could meet us where we were instead of everyone driving out of the way to go back home.

The other thing I love about this? It’s closed off from other social networks. That’s why not too many people use social media to find a sitter: you’d be letting the whole world know your kids are going to be home without you. Or get a creeper or random-acquaintance-you-met-at-a-work-party-that-one-time volunteer.

Not cool.

With everything closed off, you can reach out to only those you know and trust; that core team that you’d usually play phone tag with otherwise.

Try it for free.

For all the mamas out there, this app is free. They’re still in Beta, and looking for people to try it out. They want your feedback. You have a chance to make something really cool even better. You can do that here.

That sanity aspect of my job as CHO? I get by with a little help from my friends. And my family. But even for those outings, I get by with a little help from my babysitters. And now, I can add Little Helper to that list, as well. An app that saves me time and sanity might as well be printing money in my book. Because those two things are way more valuable than cash.




*I have been compensated for the writing of this post.  Regardless, all opinions are 100% my own and 100% honest.*

Stocking Stuffers Under $25 from Crazy 8 & $50 GC #Giveaway!

Affordable, quality, adorable clothes for kids. Plus a $50 Gift Card Giveaway for #Crazy8Kids!

It wasn’t too long before Christmas. It was the one right after my first child was born. I was at the mall. I forget why. I’m pretty sure I had driven someone there to do holiday shopping. I know it wasn’t of my own accord. It was the mall I had hung out at as a teen, and I was terrified I’d run into someone from my younger years. I was mortified that I wasn’t back in my size 6 jeans yet. (Oh, young Femme. How your body, and standards, will change after your next child.)

So I meandered around, sticking close to the shop doors so I could slink in at any sign of familiarity. At one of those doors, there was a massive sale sign. I peeked in. They had a display full of the cutest patterned tights on earth. It just so happened I had a baby who had the cutest Christmas dress on earth, but lacked leg coverings.

I don’t remember the exact price all these years later. But I do remember that it was low. Low enough for me to justify spending the few dollars it was on our extremely tight budget. My baby was adorable in her warm, knit stockings on Christmas day.

Adorable stocking stuffers and gifts under $25 at Crazy 8.

Waffle Shirt: $9.88 Cords: $19.88

That store was Crazy 8. I hadn’t been back there since. I don’t go to the mall often, and normally I get all my kids clothes as hand-me-downs or at resale shops.

That second child recently hit a stage, though, where we were out of hand-me-downs. We were planning a trip to the resale store when Crazy 8 asked if I wanted to come check them out again. It was perfect timing. I said, “Yes.”

Some background on the second child: we can’t get pants to stay on. My kids are reasonably tall for their age, but this one doesn’t have enough bulk to keep a pair of shorts, khakis or cords from slipping off when we buy pants that are long actually enough.

Adorable gifts and stocking stuffers under $25 at Crazy 8.

Plaid Fleece Hoodie: $14.88 Dark Jeans: $19.88

When we went into the store, the first thing I was impressed with was how incredibly cute everything was. They still had the adorable tights. But they also had the cutest tees, dresses, jeans, sweaters, bows, and everything else you could imagine.

I still wasn’t sure, though. We had to try everything on. As we slipped the first pair of pants on, my husband and I looked at each other in shock. “They fit!”

“Hold on. Let’s see.  Jump!”

My child laughed as they literally jumped for joy. They were thrilled with the attention that comes along with modeling clothes. We were thrilled that the clothes actually stayed on. We’ve finally found pants that fit my slender kid.

Adorable gifts and stocking stuffers under $25 at Crazy 8.

Waffle Shirt: $9.88 Jeans: $16.88

Something else that thrilled us? The prices. We had walked in on the last day of another massive sale that gave us more than 75% off half of the clothes. Even if there hadn’t been a sale, not a single thing I looked at in that store cost over $25 at normal price. I was so shocked that I checked a lot price tags, too…even for things that we weren’t buying. And the prices listed in all of these pictures? They’re full price; not sale price.

There’s still merit in resale. But when we can find stylish, quality clothes that we know will fit at such a low price…let’s just say we’ll be reconsidering where we buy for the foreseeable future.

No matter what your kid’s size, Crazy 8 has tons of stocking stuffers and gifts for under $25. From adorable tights to little man holiday dinner outfits, there’s something for every child on their shelves. And something for every parent’s budget.

Adorable, affordable stocking stuffers and gifts at Crazy 8 for under $25.

Dress Shirt: $16.88 Sweater: $24.88 Dress Pants: $24.88

Two Ways to Win

If you want to have your own Crazy 8 experience, I have two ways for you guys to get your hands on a gift card!

The first is to enter the Jump for Joy #Crazy8Sweepstakes. To enter, all you have to do is post a picture of your kiddo jumping for joy on Twitter or Instagram. Be sure to include “#Crazy8Kid” and “#Crazy8Sweepstakes” in your post/tweet, and you’ll be entered to win the weekly prize of an $88 Crazy 8 gift card. The sweepstakes is running through December 9th.

The second way to win is to enter this giveaway here on the blog. Use the widget below to enter to win a $50 gift card to Crazy 8. The last day to enter is Monday, November 23, so if you reply to my notification email speedily, you could have it in time for Black Friday! Best of luck to all!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I received a gift card myself for the writing of this post. Regardless, all opinions are 100% honest and 100% my own.*

DIY Christmas Gifts FTW!

DIY Christmas Gift Ideas

This post goes out to a very special reader. Thanks to Ivette for asking about DIY Christmas gifts and ways to save! If you’ve been around here a while, you know that it’s not so much my craftiness that gets me by in these situations, but more resourcefulness. Some of these DIYs were pat on the back efforts for me, and others were genuinely appreciated. If you have any ounce of craftiness in you, yours are likely to turn out beautiful.

DIY Christmas Gifts: Magnets for Grandma

DIY Photo Magnets

This one was really simple, and both grandmas love them and still have them on their fridge years later. If you’re trying to make them for someone else, just switch out the “I <3 My Grandma” text for “World’s Best Teacher!” or “I <3 My Doctor.” Then make the rest pictures of your child. Brownie points if you have a couple pictures of your child with the person you’re gifting to. Full tutorial here.

pipecleaner reindeer ornament

DIY Pipe Cleaner and Pony Bead Ornaments

These are generally cuter if they’re made by the kids. A gift from the heart type thing that’s appropriate for any special person in your child’s life. But two years ago I, a grown adult, proved that I could make a beaded candy cane with a child-like attitude all day. And not in the way you think. Full tutorial here. Also included: reindeer ornaments.


DIY Winter Gear for the Kids

Crocheting’s pretty easy to pick up, especially if you use YouTube. A couple years ago I made hats for everyone, and a few pairs of mittens, too. Actually, I made some mittens for my adult family members in addition to the kiddos.  How I did it here.

DIY Christmas Gifts: Genealogy

DIY Your Family Tree

One year, I had done a particularly large amount of genealogy. I printed the family tree, along with the supporting documents, and put it all together in a pretty binder. I sent one out to each family member, which was a considerable amount of people. But it was a hit, and cost per gift was pretty darn low. Those genealogy sites to help you do the research can cost a little bit of money, but right now, you can try and get 14 Days free.* If two weeks isn’t enough for you , it’s only $19.99/month after that, which is actually a pretty good deal for everything you get with them. I used them last year, and found out a huge amount about my husband’s family.


DIY Candles With What You’ve Already Got

Do you have candles that are burnt down as far as they’ll go? Odds are there’s still a good bit of usable wax in there. You already have it. It already smells good. Just melt it into a smaller container, and you’ve got a pretty awesome Christmas gift. Okay, it’s a little more involved than that. But not much.

free place card template

DIY Place Cards

I made these for my wedding, but have had a lot of readers use them for those big holiday meals. You can find the free tutorial and printable here.


DIY Christmas Gifts FTW

*Affiliate link. When you purchase an item through this link, I am compensated. Thank you for helping keep this blog running! 

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