Archive for the 'Finance' Category

Educational Market Trips

Every trip the the market can be fun and educational for the little ones. Even tiny babies (assuming they are awake) can benefit from the learning possibilities while you get your grocery shopping done. Here are some tips for making your next trip to the market (or any store for that matter) fun and educational.

Babies

  • Show them their world
  • Introduce them to different shapes and colors: Red apples, round oranges, square boxes for example.
  • Keep wipes/hand sanitizer on you or within easy reach, and if your baby is old enough, let him touch different things and feel the different textures: smooth cucumbers, bumpy squash. (Make sure baby keeps things out of her mouth.)
  • Toddlers

  • Have them him and count.
  • Let her count the pears as you put them in the bag for example.
  • Continue talking with him about colors, shapes and sizes. Ask: which is bigger: a grape or a grapefruit?
  • Have her find letters on signs, boxes and wrappings.
  • Play the “I Spy” game, with older toddlers.
  • If your toddler is a walker, opposed to one who sits in the cart, let them pick some things out themselves (or go with an older sibling to do so.)
  • Now is a good time too (for older toddlers), to introduce the concept of money and that you have to pay for the things in the store before you leave with them.
  • School-aged

  • Combine what she’s learning in school with the trip to the market. If she’s studying geography for example, talk about where some things come from…bananas from Chile, oranges from Florida for example.
  • Talk about cooking with him and what the ingredients are for a ________.
  • Have her try to figure out how much the groceries will cost.
  • Have him pay, accept and count the change. (This means of course, that you’re using cash instead of a credit/debit card.)
  • Use coupons/store bonus card and have her figure out what the savings will be.
  • If he’s taking a foreign language (or you speak one at home) practice vocabulary in the foreign language about things in the store.
  • Have her guess how many bags it will take to pack all of the groceries (for a large shopping trip).
  • Discuss with him why you’re making the choices that you do as a shopper. (For example: Less expensive? Brand loyalty? Eco-friendly? You have a coupon for it?
  • Talk about why some things are taxed and others are not?
  • These are just some ways that you can turn a trip to the market into an engaging, fun and educational experience, foster communication and teach your child about their world. Come up with your own to add that work for your family.

    Posted in Parenting, Lifestyles, Activities, School and Learning, Smart Buying, Child Education, Guest Blogger | No Comments »

    Take the 4-point plastics pledge

    Probably everyone has seen that one scene from The Graduate where during the Benjamin’s party, one of his parent’s friends says something to the effect of: “I’m going to tell you one word about the future. Plastics.” Many of us even remember the old commercial sponsored by the American Chemistry Council that stated: “Plastics Make It Possible.” For years we’ve come to rely on the convenience, portability and “safety” of plastics.

    Then, we got a collective environmental conscience and realized that plastics were filling our landfills and destroying the planet.

    Now, we know that certain plastics contain Bisphenol-A a possible endocrine disruptor and hormonal disruptor as it mimics the female hormone estrogen.

    It is in many items that we use daily and consider safe: from baby bottles to sports bottles, the linings of metal food cans, and in nearly any take-out container that isn’t foil or a paper product. The least safe plastic items are those labeled 3, 6 and 7 and their unsafe properties increase with heating from the dishwasher and microwave. A recent report by Catherine Zandonella, M.P.H. in the Green Guide states that “the plastics industry says it is harmless, … a growing number of scientists are concluding, from some animal tests, that exposure to BPA in the womb raises the risk of certain cancers, hampers fertility and could contribute to childhood behavioral problems such as hyperactivity. …[And] ninety-five percent of Americans were found to have the chemical in their urine in a 2004 biomonitoring study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).” The company bisphenol-a.org asserts that the levels of BPA found in the items we use daily are safe, and are only unsafe at high doses. Zandonella’s report continues that according to Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D., a developmental biologist at the University of Missouri, “low doses that are now proving to cause a myriad of harmful effects in animals, including chromosomal damage in female egg cells and an increase in embryonic death in mice. A follow-up to this is a study indicating a relationship of BPA blood levels to miscarriages in Japanese women.” While the FDA sees no reason to change its 2003 opinion on the safety of BPA in conjunction with food use, they have been wrong before. In contrast, in December 2007, the Center to the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction issued a detailed report about BPA and its implications in humans, concluding that more study on the effect of BPA in humans is needed.

    Hmmm. Some experts say BPA is perfectly okay; others, not so much.
    So what are we to do?

    After a thorough check of my cabinets for anything labeled 3, 6 or 7, I was happy to find that all of my son’s sippy cups were labeled 2. But that was just the cups themselves. What about the lid–the part that he actually sucks on? What about the ones that have been saved by relatives with toddlers before us and passed down to us and clearly show the wear and tear of little toddler nibbles? Are the ones that are a decade old (and clearly flaking) still safe? There was no way to know…as neither the contemporary lids nor the older sippy cups had any numbers on them. Am I to assume that because the newer cups have a “2″ imprinted on them that the lids are also twos?

    You see. More questions.

    I checked my son’s bowls and other plastic that we use for food regularly as well. No numbers there either. Luckily, I never heat food in plastic, but what about transferring hot food to a plastic bowl?

    As you can see, the new information only leads to more questions, concerns and decisions about food container choices.

    While on one hand I don’t want to give my toddler a glass bowl…it is much easier to take care of a cut than potential future problems that could affect his internal functions.

    I put my mind at ease with the intent to make some behavioral changes and wiser shopping choices. Luckily, I didn’t have to grapple with how to dispose of any threes, sixes or sevens properly.

    But later in the day, the question arose again. I was at my favorite local cafe, where as I sipped my steaming coffee from its cardboard-lined cardboard cup, I stared down at the number six on the lid. How many times have I sucked on a hot liquid in one of these lids in my lifetime? How many times have I consumed hot food from a number 6 container? Sure, my exposure has been minimal according to the FDA and some scientists, but the questions still lurk.

    What about you and your family? It makes you too, wonder now, doesn’t it?

    Armed with this new information, I am willing to take a four-point pledge for myself and for my family and make a behavioral change to reduce my (our) exposure to BPA.

  • A pledge to shop smarter and avoid purchasing plastic products labeled with the numbers 3, 6 or 7.
  • A pledge to avoid take-out and establishments that use plastic containers labeled with 3, 6 or 7.
  • A pledge that when point two is absolutely unavoidable, to avoid personal exposure to such plastics that have come into contact with heat.
  • A pledge to use sustainable and safe reusable products.
  • Will you too take the pledge?

    Feel free to make it public and claim the pledge in the comments field.

    Posted in Health, Daily Living, Health Care, Healthy Living, Poison, Smart Buying, Guest Blogger, News Items | 1 Comment »

    Bad Credit? Want To Repair It?

    Then you will need to spend time working to pay off debts and make payments on new items or bills on time. Across the internet, Credit Repair sites abound. According to the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC), these schemes are just that, schemes.

    There is no legal way to remove items from your credit record if they are accurate and timely. You can and should check your credit report each year to make sure there are no mistakes. If there are mistakes, you do not need a credit repair scam, ahem, company, to remove them for you. Keep good records of your payments and send them as proof to the company collecting the reports with a request to have the item removed or contact the reporting entity and send proof of payments with a request to change their report to the credit report companies.

    Do not fall for schemes that sell information on how to substitute a fake Social Security number for your own, making a new credit identity. This is a felony!

    How can you identify a credit repair scam? Any company that claims it can repair all of your credit, give you a perfect score, or give you information on how to create a new credit identity is bogus. All the information you need to learn how to repair your credit can be found in the following tips.

    Begin to pay off your debts, even a tiny amount at a time. Request that payments be reported to the credit reporting agencies.

    Some pre-paid credit cards will issue you a ‘real’ line of credit after you have used their service for a year. Accept the offer and keep current with the bill.

    Do not spend more than you earn.

    If a debt collection company offers you a ‘deal’, which is becoming popular, take it. Some offer a much lower payment than you actually owe. You can wipe out a debt in small payments as well.

    Buy used items and work on paying off your previous debt. Do not buy anything brand new until an item is paid off, then treat yourself. Only one treat per debt closed. The treat should not be more valuable than the bill paid and should be PAID IN FULL.

    More tips will be posted soon, as one of my ‘secret’ New Year’s Resolutions was to repair my own credit!

    Posted in Credit and Debt | 4 Comments »

    Loan Network, Find A lender.

    The following is a sponsored post.

    Are you in the market for a new home mortgage? Buying a new home or refinancing can be difficult, especially if you haven’t done so before. Going to different banks, wading through the internet, or thumbing through the local Yellow Pages is very daunting for those in this situation. The Loan Network can connect you with mortgagelenders that fit your needs. Just fill out a simple application, you do not need to reveal your social security number, and you’re on your way! Quick and painless, what a nice way to get in touch with some of the U.S.A’s top mortgage lenders!

    What is nice about this site is that even if you are not in the market for a mortgage right now, there is information and advice for anyone interested in real estate and loan programs. I personally love it when a site is offering helpful information for free. Don’t just try to sell me a product, help me figure out what is right for me, even if it turns out to not be your service. You know what? Even if it turns out I don’t need your service, just for helping me, when I CAN use it, I will be back.

    Great site, great info, great people. What more can you ask for?

    Posted in Finance, Home and Mortgage | 1 Comment »

    Bad Credit Help.

    I’ll be honest with you. I don’t have the best credit in the world. I made a lot of mistakes when I was younger, so now in my more mature days, I’m paying for the excesses of youth. Not to mention the irresponsibility. It’s 15 years later and I get turned down for credit cards and loans left and right. There are many, many people who suffer the same fate, wondering what they can do to try to repair their credit.

    Because credit is coming to be more of an issue these days, not only when you try to get a loan or credit card, buy a home, or car…but now in some places you need to have good credit to rent an apartment. Heck, sometimes you will have to allow a prospective employer to review your credit! Some employers believe that someone with good credit is more likely to stay in their employment or not steal.

    I’ve done a lot of research on how to get credit help. Credit repair companies abound on the internet and you see advertisements on the television almost everyday for them. I’ve checked them out and many times, it’s a total scam. You have to pay a fee to even get counseling, which most times tells you things you can find out just by doing a simple internet search.

    I did find something recently in my searches that really impressed me. RMCN Credit Services has probably one of the most honest websites dealing with bad credit and credit repair that I have ever seen. The general manager, Doug Parker, wrote an interesting letter in the About Us section of the site detailing how he had fought his own bad credit which led him to decide to help others in their battle for better credit.

    The website has a clean look, plus you can find good common sense advice for credit help. You will find free information that some other companies charge for. Instead of trying to charge you for this information, they’ve posted it right on their site. But, if you need credit help beyond the information they offer, you can employ their services. Since you will have someone in your corner who has dealt with heir own bad credit, you won’t hear some of the questions other companies ask, like.. ?Well, why didn’t you pay this, it was really low? and so on.

    So if you are having some issues or even just would like good information on how to stay out of the bad credit slump, go take a peek at RMCN Credit Services and their site.

    Posted in Finance, Credit and Debt | 12 Comments »

    Thrifty Thursday: eBay

    Gymboree Girl Detective

    You’ve found what looks like a great deal for kids’ clothes…2x your bid in clothing. Who wouldn’t want to get their hands on $100 worth of clothing for $50? And hey, look, it’s Gymboree! That stuff costs an arm and a leg, this is a killer deal! Woo, yay, hoohaa!

    Hold on there, Nelly. Did you read the whole ad? That’s two times your bid in RETAIL price. If that still sounds good, then go and check out www.gymboree.com. Look for the proper size and style you want for your little prince or princess, then calculate the prices. If you bid on one of these popular 2x your bid auctions, you will not be getting a huge amount of clothing unless your bid is very high.

    If you can afford to place a really high bid, then you’re in luck. But for those on a tight budget, I suggest looking for other auctions. It would be very disappointing to place a low bid and only receive one item. There are plenty of auctions for Gymboree clothing, plus other quality names like GAP, Baby GAP, Disney, Healthtex, and The Children’s Place.

    Keep a shrewd eye on the shipping and handling. While I am willing to pay more for a large lot since it takes the seller time to package the items, even if they are reusing an old box, drive it to the post office, and pay postage. I think about the washing and folding, then packing when I look at their shipping and handling rate. For many clothing items in one lot, I don’t mind paying $15 to $20 for the s+h. More than that? I skip it unless it’s a really, really nice lot.

    One more tip…try some misspellings of what you’re looking for. Also, don’t go directly to the proper section. Try typing in your search in the All Categories choice. You may find things in odd areas! I once found a lovely lot of clothing for a low, low price because it had accidentally been placed with socks. Go figure!

    Posted in Finance, Home Budget, Smart Buying | 2 Comments »

    Ease Moving Frustrations

    Ah summer. Popsicles, swimming, rest and relaxation. And moving!

    uhaul It’s true more families move during the summer than at other times of the year. I understand why, parents don’t want their kids switching schools mid-year; the housing market flourishes; less snow. But, geez, what a way to ruin a perfectly good season.

    I actually had this post titled, “Moving Made Easy” then I realized, no move is easy.

    There’s always a glitch or two along the way. No matter if you pack and move yourself or hire a moving company something always goes wrong.

    And, if you’re claiming to have found a way to avoid moving glitches you should write a book and make bank.

    Despite this, there are some some things you can do to help keep your move as smooth as possible. *Note: these moving tips cover tips for packing and moving yourself. Moving with a moving company is a long post all to itself. Which I promise to do later.

    Pre-plan: Always make some preliminary plans. Make some lists. Typical lists may include:

    Your rented moving truck:

    Packing:

    The actual move:

    Need more (of course you do) we could never cover it all here: Century21 has a good site with tips and tricks for having a smooth move with the kiddos.

    Posted in Uncategorized, Home and Mortgage | 3 Comments »

    Should I Rent or Buy a House?

    A question that many renters and home owners ask is, “should I rent or buy a home?” Luckily, the New York Times has found the answer through their new Rent or Buy Online Calculator. Their calculator let’s you enter the following information and then graphs the results.

    We’ve been renting a house for almost two years now, but we’re currently in the market to buy. After running the numbers on our current rental house, the calculator determined that we were better off renting, but only for three years. So, it looks like we’re looking for a new home at the right time.

    Link

    Posted in Finance, Home and Mortgage | 1 Comment »

    Shopping… How Taxing.

    For the first time in my life, yesterday, I took advantage of the “no tax” weekend and went to Opry Mills Mall - truly one of the most disturbingly over-the-top places in the universe.  The place was packed full of people trying to save a buck.  It was so unpleasant that it left me wondering if tax free weekend is really worth all the hulla-baloo.  I mean, really.  All the frightening crowds made it crystal clear to me why I had been wise to avoid malls in previous years during this weekend of wonder and made me question why I didn’t have the divine perspicacity to realize it this year.  Needless to say, I won’t be doing it again any time soon - or ever again.  Saving six or seven dollars wasn’t enough to make me ever, ever go back for more of that kind of torture.

    Posted in Healthy Living, Mental Health, Smart Buying | No Comments »

    Ineptitude

    I am going to have to put on my mean face for the next few days.  Once again, my theory that people don’t take you seriously unless you are a complete hard-nosed bi#!* is being proven correct.  I have been patient with our insurance agent for almost two weeks now - she just isn’t doing her job.  It seems that she could, at the very minimum, answer her phone - but even that seems like it is out of her ability.  It is beyond ridiculous to me.  The part that irks me is that I feel like she has taken the route of inefficiency because we came off as friendly and nice (apparently the indicator to use as a doormat). 

    As much as I don’t like it, I am afraid that I am starting to become one of those people who is immediately brusk and quasi-ugly to anyone whom they do business with.  Insurance agents, credit card companies, car salesmen, utility companies - they all seem to think that if you are a genuinly nice person that that gives them license to shat on you left and right.  What is that??

    So, time to put on my game face, I guess.  I just hope that I don’t have to put it on so often that it becomes me regular face.

    Posted in Mental Health, Poison, Insurance | No Comments »

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