One of my favorite parts of a Super Bowl party is the snacks. I’m not much of a football fan (although I usually randomly pick a team I like for the big game), so the game itself is just a great excuse to spend time with friends and eat some fun snacks. It’s so easy, though, to end up spending quite a bit of money on Super Bowl party food. So, here are a few tips to help make your fun party both thrifty and healthy (or, at least, healthier).
Chop Your Own Veggies. It’s so easy to pick up a package of baby carrots or pre-cut carrots and celery. But chopping your own is easy and quick.
Make Your Own Dip. Pre-made dip can be full of preservatives and chemicals. Make your own dip using sour cream and onions. Here’s a super-easy recipe that looks better than any store bought onion dip! You could always make some homemade hummus, instead.
Bake Chicken Tenders. Who dictated that Buffalo wings were the standard Super Bowl snack? Honestly, I’ve never really been a big fan of Buffalo wings. It’s easy to prepare a much healthier option by baking chicken tenders. Here’s a recipe that is a nice alternative to the wings without sacrificing taste at all.
Black Bean Quesadillas. How about using beans to save money and calories? Our family loves black beans. Here’s a delicious (and nutritious) Super Bowl snack option!
Crispy Chickpeas. Here’s another thrifty healthy alternative. Nuts can be expensive to buy. But chickpeas are very reasonably priced. Make these crispy chickpeas and no one will miss the Blue Diamond almonds!
Who says that a big game should set you back on your new year’s resolutions to be healthier and more frugal? Enjoy the game, the snacks, and the extra money in the bank!
You have looked into grants and scholarships. You have worked and saved up your own money. Now you are considering taking out a student loan. Education is important, but it is also insanely expensive. Many of us find that we will be working until retirement just to pay off our student loans. That’s if we have other things we want in life, like a family or a house. We need to get all the facts and weigh the good against the bad, even with a topic as important as education
Society Is Changing
There are a number of changes that have been happening in the way we work in the United States. First of all, most people don’t stay with the same job for twenty years. They don’t earn retirement benefits. Benefits in the work sector have also changed. Many employers are only hiring part time in order to avoid the costs of mandatory health care.
We need to look at the positions that our education would qualify us for and determine if our education will support our lifestyle. Will we be able to raise a family on that amount of income? Will we be able to pay back student loans, plan for retirement, and pay for our medical insurance?
There are vocational schools that allow you to get an education for a profession but not need to take classes that are useless to that profession. There are a wide range of schools like this. They still cost money, but they cost a whole lot less. Plus, they tend to lead to employment more quickly and many of these professions pay very well.
What Other Options Are Available
While we know there is student loan forgiveness, we also know we shouldn’t plan on it. That means that a second job is the best bet for paying for your education. Other options are asking family for help with a written agreement to pay them back. Or you could promise you career services free to them in exchange for helping you out. Think outside the box, or should I say, think outside of the standard student loan.
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As January comes to a close, it might be a good time to check in on how you’re doing with your new year’s resolutions. And, since losing weight is usually up there on our lists, I thought I’d share a few tips just in case you could use a little encouragement.
Making Healthy Choices. I believe that making healthy choices is actually a more important goal than weight loss. There are a lot of unhealthy ways to lose weight. You could suffer short or long term consequences from losing weight by making poor health choices. And you will likely regain the weight you lost over time. However, making healthy choices as part of your weight loss plan will reap you far greater long term consequences. You only get one body, treat it right.
Look at labels. If you think about your body a little like you might think about your bank account, it would help you to make better choices. What do you want to deposit into your account: empty (and possibly hurtful) calories that are found in most processed foods and junk food or nutrient dense calories from whole foods that have not been processed. If you look at a label and find ingredients that you can’t pronounce or ones you can because you learned them in your science class, then put that box/jar/container right back down. You need a snack, grab an apple or a banana or even a healthy homemade baked treat that isn’t loaded with sugar and white flour. Put rich foods, not nutrient deficient foods, into that bank account called your body.
A note about exercise. I LOVE to exercise. I realize that makes some people mad. I’m not saying that I do it all the time; I don’t. (It’s hard with two little ones at home.) But I say that to say that while exercise is a healthy and possibly fun activity, it is not required for weight loss. If we are eating as we should, we should not HAVE to exercise to maintain. I’m not saying don’t exercise. Not at all. DO exercise. Find something you love to do and do it regularly. Enjoy it. Make it part of your lifestyle. But do not do it simply as a tool for weight loss. I say that because I know that sometimes we get injured or sick or you name it. If you rely on exercise, you WILL gain weight when you’re out of commission. However, if you make healthy choices as part of your lifestyle, then if you take a break from your exercise routing, for whatever reason, you can still maintain your weight. Realizing that helped me so much in my own journey.
You can do it. Every day is a new day. If you made bad choices yesterday, start over today. If you made bad choices at your last meal, start over at your next meal!
How are you doing with your new year’s resolutions?
We have all hear this story or something similar to it. A pair of excited and well meaning parents buy some rather big or pricey gifts. The child in turn unwraps it and promptly spend hours playing with the box or the wrapping. They may have a moment or two of excitement over the gift itself. It doesn’t matter if they asked for the toy itself. In the end parents either become frustrated over how much money they have just invested in a box or try to laugh and shrug it off as one of those childhood things. Kids just can’t resist the wrap and box.
Most parents are mystified by this phenomenon, myself included. My best guess is that the toy doesn’t meet imagination expectations. It looks fun. It may be based on a favorite book or television character. It may be a much wanted vehicle. It seems perfect but limits the amount of imagination that can be invested in it. A box of plastic jewelry may be fit for a pretend queen or be a lost treasure, but because they are a set thing, it limits the rolls they can take in pretend and play. Rocks on the other hand can be much more. They can be a buried treasure, jewels (depending on color), or fossils. They could also be used to build, stack, and as a craft material.
Ads, Commercials, and Peer Pressure
Our kids think they want the high cost/ low imagination toys because they are told they want them. They are told by television commercials, ads, and by other children who watch the same ads. In small doses television can spark the imagination. Depending on the show it can encourage them to build new things or to find themes for their imagination time. Avoiding ads in television has never been easier. There are websites that don’t use ads or an ad blocker added to your computer.
Sock Up On Crafting Supplies
Save shipping and diaper boxes. Save egg cartons, oatmeal canisters, and milk cartons. I’m not saying that all your child’s toys need to be crafting or craft items, but reduce the amount of the commercial products your children use. This will not just save you money; it will also encourage your little ones to use their minds and be creative.
We have two little ones who are about to celebrate birthdays just around the corner, in February and March. While all our purchased gifts and treats are fun, it’s nice to get some freebie treats for their birthdays, too. Here are just a few very easy ways to score fun, extra, sweet treats and surprises for your little birthday boy or girl.
Toys R Us
Sign your children up for Geoffrey’s Birthday Club in order to receive a special birthday card and a birthday surprise every year on their birthday. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Your child will also get an invitation to the store for a special birthday experience at your local Toys R Us.
Sign your children (and yourself, for that matter) up for Baskin-Robbins Birthday Club and they’ll get a coupon for free ice cream on their birthday. What kid wouldn’t love that birthday treat!
If you join Olan Mills’ birthday club, you’ll receive discounts for photos during the month of your child’s birthday. I guess that’s more of a gift for you than for them. But, hey, why not?
How about a $5 gift certificate and a fun pack of goodies? Just sign up for the Kmart Birthday Club and that’s what your birthday boy/girl will get to enjoy.
You’ll find more special surprises, this time for you and your child, when you sign up for the Children’s Place Birthday Club.
Barnes and Noble
With Barnes and Noble’s Kids Club, your children will receive a free cupcake on their birthday. That might be a fun treat for your child to share with his mommy
We all know that a free birthday treat for your little one is also a treat for you! Enjoy celebrating your little ones grow up with these cool freebies.