Category Archives: Family Finance

Uncomfortable Pregnancy? Find Relief for Under $20

OMG wish I had these during my own uncomfortable pregnancy! The first one is genius.

I may have been one of the most miserable pregnant ladies ever. Every time I’ve been expecting, I have an uncomfortable pregnancy, whether that’s due to heartburn at night or which nerve the baby is sitting on.

I did learn a couple of hacks along the way, though. Then after I had given birth, I found out about even more ways to ease the discomfort–especially in that last trimester. Here are some of my favorite ways to find relief, and all of them are under $20.

Vive Shoe Horn – $12.95

vive-shoe-horn

At a certain point in pregnancy, there were things I just couldn’t do on my own. Shaving my legs. Driving a car. Even putting on my own shoes.

I so wish I had had this Vive Shoe Horn back then to solve the latter. It allows you to put on your shoes without bending (or tipping) over! Plus, it comes with a lifetime guarantee. It’s super durable and isn’t going to break, but in the event you do find a way to do so, you won’t be out your $12.95.

Boppy Pregnancy Wedge – $15.99

Boppy� Pregnancy Wedge in Petite TrellisWhen you’re pregnant, you pretty much have to sleep on your side. Sleeping on your stomach is craziness and bad for the baby, and sleeping on your back is bad for your internal organs.

Side sleeping gets uncomfortable after a while, though, especially as your belly gets bigger. I had one of theses Boppy pregnancy wedges and it made all the difference. While a maternity body pillow would be nice, they cost around $60. This wedge is only $15.99.

Cantaloop Pregnancy Support Belt – $19.99

Cantaloop� Large Pregnancy Support Belt in WhiteMy second pregnancy was the worst on my hips. At one point I actually had to go to physical therapy because my little bundle of joy was making it increasingly difficult for me to walk. At all.

Pregnancy support belts are amazing for relieving that hip pain. They support your belly so the weight isn’t just sitting on ligaments, forcing other muscles to pick up the difference. Cantaloop has them in white, black and nude so you can match them to anything in your wardrobe. Well worth the $19.99.

Dreambaby Bump Belt – $19.99

Dreambaby� Bump Belt?This is another one I didn’t have but in retrospect, I wish I had. It pulls the seat belt down so it sits under your bump without riding up, keeping everyone safe.

You’ll remember that I said I couldn’t drive at the end of my uncomfortable pregnancies. Part of that was because I had short legs and a huge belly. But the seat belt riding up was definitely a contributing factor. Spending $19.99 on a bump belt would have been worth it.

Love Notes Healing Aromatherapy Bath Salts – $19.99

Love Notes Healing Aromatherapy Pregnancy comes with aches and pains and swelling and pain and pain and pain. One of the best ways I found to get relief was hopping into a warm bath full of salts. The salts serve to calm down the swelling and alleviate some of the aches, while I would use the water to just float, taking all the stress off of my muscles.

You will be able to find bags of Epsom salts for $5 and under. But don’t do it. In the long-run, it’s a bad financial move. You’re going to want to splurge on the economy pack as this is something you’ll need again and again, and going with something like this tote from Love Notes is going to cost you less per use.

 

How did you ease your uncomfortable pregnancy? Leave a comment below!

 

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FAFSA Changes That Affect You Tomorrow

So glad I saw this! I was going to wait until January 1!

Tomorrow is October 1st. Just another Saturday, amiright?

WRONG!

Tomorrow signals the start of a new practice with FAFSA applications, which is important for both non-traditional students and parents of college students alike.

FAFSA Applications Now Open October 1st

In years past, you had to wait until January 1st to apply for the FAFSA. This was a mess for a ton of different reasons. The first is that most people don’t even have their W-2s until January 31st unless their employer is overly ambitious, so filling out tax information before actually filing was a nightmare and usually required amendments.

The second is that waiting until January makes it really hard to compare offers from different schools—how are you supposed to know how much you’ll be paying in tuition when you don’t even know how much you’ll qualify for in grants?

Because of those issues, FAFSA applications now open on October 1st. That means the application you fill out tomorrow will be for the 2017-2018 school year.

Prior Prior Tax Year Data

That also means that instead of your 2016 tax year data being pulled for the 2017-2018 school year, the federal government wants you to submit your 2015 tax year data instead. That’s kind of beautiful because you’ve already submitted it. It can now be pulled up electronically sparing you the drudgery of going through all of your tax documents and matching them to the required online forms.

This practice is known as pulling the prior prior tax year’s data. Your 2016 tax return will still count—but only for the 2018-2019 school year. Then in 2019-2020, you’ll use 2017 tax year data.

Filing Early Means They Won’t Run Out of Money—Right?

Common advice tells you that Pell Grant funding is limited, so you should apply early to get your hands on those funds that you never have to pay back.

This is true, but typically the money doesn’t actually run out. For the 2015-2016 school year, applicants left $2.9 billion on the table. While applying early is still smart practice (I’d hate this to be the one year they ran out,) the bigger message is to apply—even if you think you won’t qualify.

The FAFSA doesn’t just open up opportunities for Pell Grants. It also opens the door for you to apply to state grants. It also issues work-study opportunities and gives you access to advantaged government loans. (Even though I’m all about doing college debt free, if you’re going to take out loans you might as well do it smart.)

On top of all this, to open the doors to funding from your individual institution, most will require you to have a completed FAFSA. The moral of the story is this: there is “free” money out there. Don’t leave it on the table. Apply. Apply. Apply.

Savings When Building a Candy Table

Hey, party people! I’m in the midst of planning a birthday party, myself, so I was thrilled to have Wendy Dessler write this piece up on saving while entertaining! Whether you’re using a candy table at a birthday party, a wedding or some other social event, you’re going to want to check out these tips.

Are you planning a Candy Table as a dessert table or cake alternative for your wedding or party? This is a great idea and one that is catching on everywhere. While creating a candy buffet is sometimes very costly, it does not have to be! We have compiled a list of wonderful candy buffet ideas that will allow you a unique and yummy experience and save you money.

How Much Candy? A Skillful way to save.       

The general rule of thumb when figuring how much candy you need is 4-8 ounces per guest. However, using slightly smaller favor bags or boxes seamlessly reduces the candy people will take. This is a great idea (and an unnoticed way to cut corners) if your party is mostly adults, such as a wedding reception.

Another way to reduce the candy people will take is to place smaller scoops in the jars. Also consider taller jars with smaller openings, providing tongs for your guests.

Placing a nicely worded sign on the candy buffet makes the message clear in a tasteful way. It should read, “Enjoy one bag”. Enough said.

Timing

If you intend to include perishable candy such as chocolate for a candy buffet in June, order it in March. This will ensure, you will not have to pay for rush shipping to get your chocolate before it melts.

Storing chocolate

Store chocolate in a dark place with no light. Keep it tightly wrapped in an airtight container (it will absorb odors). Keep the temperature at 65-68 degrees. In these conditions, dark chocolate will last a year and milk or white chocolate will last six months. If you must freeze chocolate, wrap it tightly and place in the refrigerator for a full 24 hours before placing it in the freezer. When removing it, reverse the process.

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Creating your candy buffet

Use larger, bulkier candies to take up space on the table. Cotton candy, large gummies, taffy, candy corn, marshmallows, and gumballs are inexpensive, colorful, and require a lot of space. Speak to your favorite bulk candy provider for wonderful tips on how to have a great buffet on a budget.

Be unique and add some salt! Salty snacks are a natural with sweets. Pretzels, popcorn, and Triscuits add bulk and contrast to your buffet.

Containers

Of course, your containers should be clear. Larger, taller containers go toward the back of the table. Short, wide-mouth containers are in the middle. Trays with specialty candies are in the front. Use dishes or boxes to make the containers higher or lower. Use your bulky candy to fill in any open spaces.

Decor

Creative table coverings, ribbons, and lace can create a beautiful table. Consider hanging long ribbons of your color theme behind the table, making a backdrop.

Main focus

Make one candy your focal point. Maybe it is a chocolate fountain or a designer treat. This allows you to buy those supplies in bulk, saving even more money.

With a little planning and creativity, you will create the candy table of your dreams, and one your guests will always remember.

How to Involve Children in Couponing

I know once my kids started getting mobile, my couponing slowed down a lot. I just didn’t have time for it anymore, and when I did, I was also trying to simultaneously supervise my offspring. It was a mess. For all the mamas out there, today we have Jillian Ibelli with her top five tips to involve children in the couponing process!Wow, these are actually really cool ways to keep your children engaged while couponing.

An avid couponer will tell you that searching for good deals and clipping and sorting coupons takes time. When you have a young family, spending quality time with your children is the number one goal. Read below to learn easy ways on how to combine the two; making couponing fun for your children, while at the same time, teaching them money saving skills and spending quality time together.

Sorting and Matching Game

Give your child a stack of coupons and ask them to match the like coupons together and place the same ones in a pile. Teaching young children how to match and classify the same items helps develop early math skills. Once the coupons have been sorted into piles, talk with your child about how one pile differs from the next, noting all of the similarities and differences.

Play Cashier

Couponing teaches children about money values. Buy your child a toy cash register, fill it with various coins/dollars (plastic coins may be easier for little hands to grasp) and present them with a coupon. Have them identify the amount on the coupon and ask them to give you that specified amount from their cash register. Actual coupons are not necessary in this game, you can easily create your own, which is fun too!

Supermarket Scavenger Hunt

All children love picking out their own items at the supermarket! Send them on their own supermarket scavenger hunt. Searching for specific items keeps children engaged, so they do not become bored while you shop. Give them their own list of products to search for, as well as the amount (ie. 6 boxes of cereal). If they are too young to read, give them pictures of the products and let them match the picture to the item on the shelf.  Some supermarkets even have child sized shopping carts which makes it extra fun!

Cut it out!

Scissors are a couponer’s most coveted tool and it just so happens that many children love to use scissors! Scissors teach young children hand/eye coordination, improve fine motor skills and strengthen hand muscles. These skills aid children in developing the proper pencil grasp attributed to good handwriting. If you are nervous about your child possibly butchering a good deal, let them practice their scissor skills on coupons you are not planning to use or are expired.

Easy Organization

Developing good organizational skills is key for success in school, as well as in life. Have your child decorate their own small coupon binder and show them how to organize the binder. Let them choose which coupons they would like to clip. This is also fun to do during the holidays or for their birthday; have your child cut out photos of toys or games that they are wishing for and have them organize the items by category, whether it be price, brand or theme etc.

 

About Jillian Ibelli – My Family of Four

Jillian Ibelli Head Shot

 Jillian Ibelli is a publicist and stay-at-home mom. Her blog, www.MyFamilyofFour.com is dedicated to easy money saving tips for families. She received a BA from IONA College with a concentration in Mass Communications and Public Relations. Jillian is a Bronx, New York native and currently lives in Westchester County, NY with her husband and two sons.

What I Want My Kids to Know About Money

Rather than letting money control them, I want my kids to know that they can use money as a tool for good and positivity.

It’s an odd thing, writing about  money. Writing about parenthood. And writing about all the overlaps. I get excited when my kid wants to save money for a house or a vacation. Although I love my job, my heart breaks every time I have to meet their tear-stained eyes and tell them I have to go to work so we can pay rent and have food.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship with money recently. There’s healthy parts. I’m responsible. I’m actively invested in our household finances. And then there’s unhealthy parts. Like Jessica, I suffer from chrometophobia. I worry that whatever I have won’t be sufficient. I don’t like spending money, even when I have to. Not because I’m a miser, but because I’m paranoid about that next emergency that might lie around the corner.

As my children grow, I want them to be responsible. I want them to be actively involved in their finances. But I don’t want them to have any unhealthy fears. Here’s what I want my kids to know about money:

It’s an amazing tool.

Money is hands-down awesome. It allows you to take care of yourself, pursue your dreams and help others. It’s a tool that goes beyond dollars and cents, and mastering your own personal finances will set you up to be able to handle those inevitable bumps in the road all that much easier.

You shouldn’t lose your soul to it.

Watch what you do to get money. There will, at some point in your life, be a time when someone asks you to do something you’re not comfortable with for cash. I’m not talking anything as dark as prostitution (though I hope you stay the heck away from that, too,) but rather things that go against your morals or professional ethics.

There is no dollar amount that makes sacrificing your dignity and self-respect worth it. Have the strength to walk away when that time comes.

Use it to help others.

While it’s good and necessary to use your money to take care of yourself, look at your excess funds as a way to help others. Maybe that’s through a donation. Maybe that’s through helping a friend of family member in a time of need.

Being a miser may help you establish a nice, golden cushion, but that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to connect. We’re here to help make each others’ journeys a little bit easier. Do that as much as humanly possible.

Ask for help.

There was a time in my life where I was too stubborn to ask for help. It was silly, and caused more pain than my pride was worth.

It’s okay to ask for help. If you pay people back or pay the help forward, even in ways that aren’t necessarily financial, you’re not a mooch. You’re not less than. You’re human. And you have people who love you and want to help you make your journey a little bit easier, too.

It’s okay to make conscious purchases that will make you happy.

Denying yourself all things at all times isn’t healthy. It’s okay to go on vacation if you have the funds. It’s okay to buy new clothes that will make you feel confident. (Though Mom’s always going to remind you of the deals at consignment and resale stores.)

Don’t feel like you have to be so staunchly responsible that you forget to enjoy life along the way.

But do be responsible.

It’s true. You only live once. But that saying doesn’t just apply to fun experiences and having cool stuff. It also applies to debt and retirement savings. It also applies to having enough food on the table for your children and being able to send them to good schools. It also applies to having enough money to visit your mother if you move far away. (I know…I’m supposed to be removing guilt here, not reinforcing it…)

Don’t make decisions that are going to bind you financially or restrict your choices. If you don’t have enough, get more education. Start your own thing. Negotiate a raise. Ask me for help. But don’t actively make irresponsible decisions that will lead to further turmoil further down the line while you’re in a state of desperation.

I love you and want you to be happy. Live within your means and start saving big chunks of money in your youth. When you have enough, give the rest away or spend it on things that will add joy and value to your life.

And remember, money is far from the most important thing in this world. In my eyes, the most important thing is you.

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