In between overdoing it

Archive for March, 2016

Best April Fool’s Day Pranks To Play On Your Family

April Fool’s Day has never really been a holiday I have given much thought to. However, I have noticed a growing trend on April 1st. Parents playing pranks on there kids. It is all in good fun with a playful spirt and main is it creative. It seems like Mom and Dad have decided to take advantage of one day of the year where it is ok… no even expected to prank the kids. Check out these April Fools Day jokes and maybe try them out on our kids.

600_ss_Undrinkable-JuiceUndrinkable juice- Switch out your child’s juice with gelatin of the same shade. (I’m trying this one on my husband!) –Parenting.com.

funny-trucks-11Have a fun ride to school – Place a sign on the back of your car that says for people to hooWAP2nk, wave and shout your kids name.-PopHangover.com

Freeze your kids morning cereal – I’m so doing this one!

Stick goggle eyes on the food in your refrigerator – So doing this one too!

Tape and air horn to the wall next to the door

Bug under the lap shade -Use black paper and cut out the outline of a bug and place it under a lamp shade to create a creepy silhouette when the light is turned on.-Sayyes.com

Head in a Jar – Takes a bit of work but it is sure to have a big (but funny) impact. Also great for Halloween. – Instructables.com

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Finding Ways to Save – The Emotions of Spending

spendingOver the past several months we have explored several ways to save in the areas of food, family and finance. We will finish up this series by exploring the feelings associated with spending and savings. Here are five emotions to consider that might be driving you to spend.

  1. Sadness – Some people jokingly call this retail therapy but it is frequently a way people use to deal with sadness. I have seen this used first hand as a way to cope with the death of a loved one. The spending momentarily fills a void left by the deceased individual, but the void is never really filled so the buying continues. This is only a delay in the grieving process. The purchases produce a momentary sense of happiness, but that soon dissipates after the buying is complete.
  2. Boredom – Are you frequently stuck with hours to kill while you wait to go to an appointment, met up with a friend or pick-up your kids. When this happens I am magically transported to Target where me and my money part ways. Did I need anything at Target? No. But I was bored and found that shopping occupied this wait time.
  3. Hast – Most retailers are well versed in the idea of immediacy and making consumers feel that they will miss out on a deal if they wait to make that purchase. Do you fall victim to this tactic? I know I have. It’s a flash sale only available for a limited time. A special purchase price.  Get it now or you will miss out. It initially feels like you will be saving money but in the end you spend more on something you don’t really need and might not have even wanted if you took the time to consider the decision.Twenty dollar bills isolated against white background.
  4. Stress – It seems counter intuitive to say stress can cause spending when overspending causes stress. But picture it you are on the check-out line at the grocery store. Your one child needs a diaper change, the other one is screaming for a toy, and you have to get home in 10 minutes. You know that getting your kid the toy will give you a moments peace. So you make the purchase knowing you really don’t need it.
  5. Reward – In some cases, after a long day or difficult project we justify a purchase as a deserving reward. Now there is nothing wrong with treating ourselves occasionally. However, if we are using this as an excuse to overspend then that is no reward at all.

There are a few tactics you can use to deal with these emotions that drive overspending.

  1. Slow down- If you feel you are being pushed into a decision to purchase, slow down, step away and think thought the decision. Know that if you miss this deal there will be other in the future.
  2. Is it a need or a want? – Do you need the item or do you actually have one just as good at home? Do you want to make the purchase for some other reason?
  3. Plan out your rewards – If you want to make a purchase as a reward for your efforts. Save the money, select a specific item and make it special. Be selective, plan it our and build anticipation. Be thoughtful about your reward.
  4. Identify the emotion- Do you really want to make that purchase or are you feeling blue and are looking for a momentary lift? Are you feeling stressed and looking for a release? Go for a walk in the park. Do a workout. Talk to a friend. Find a non-monetary way to express your feelings.

 

 

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Happy Easter

easter

What happens before the grocery store?

 

wgeaThat box of sugary cereal sitting high on the grocery store shelf. Those bananas in the produce section, The gallon low-fat milk in the dairy case. As a family we hastily run thorough the supermarket grabbing these items, but do we ever think of how they got there? More importantly, do our children understand that these items don’t magically appear on grocery store shelves? They are grown, cultivated and raised to become our food.

Our children are now generations removed from the agrarian system and really might not have a grasp of how our food is produced. This thought occurred to me as I was attempting to overhaul our household diet a few years back. When every item in your pantry is surrounded by cardboard, how will our children ever learn what real food is?grocery store

It became an important endeavor for my children to learn what real food was. Not packaged Goldfish crackers, but real fish. Not Oreo cookies, but oranges. Not Eggo waffles but real eggs. So I embarked on a journey to educate myself and them. This entailed learned about not only how things grow but also about the circle of life.

They are still young and I didn’t want to get to graphic about it, but I felt it was important to have an appreciation for the idea that meat doesn’t come from the meat counter. Some animal gave its life to nourish us.  Like Mustafa from the Lion King says, one day we will become the grass the animal eats and we will nourish it. We depend on each other.

To teach them some of these pretty heavy concepts, I looked to my local community for help. First I became part of a Community Supported Agriculture program. For a fee these programs give you a portion of what the farm produces. Sometimes it’s a little, sometimes the box is over flowing. It is all based on the harvest. So every other week, my children traveled with me to the farm to pick up the box and see what vegetables it contained. They also were able to tour the farm and speak with the farmers. You can see if your community has a CSA program at LocalHarvet.org

In the summer, I also try to take the kids to a local “U-Pick.” A U-pick is a farming area where you can pick as many items that will fits into a box or bucket for one price. I will have them pick cherry tomatoes and green peppers then they help me cook them for that night’s dinner. This way they not only had the fun of picking the vegetables they also got to see first-hand how they become a meal.

The toughest concept, but one I feel was the most important, is to have respect for our environment and the animals in it. Eating meat is not a bad thing, it is what is something natural. However, it is important to have an appreciation for the animal that gave its life for our food. So whenever possible, I try to buy grass fed and humanly raised meats and fish. Yes, it is more expensive and not always in the budget. However, if my children can learn to be good stewards of our planet, that we are all connect, and to respect other creatures. That lesson is priceless.

 

 

Reach your goals though Crowdfunding

duhThis week I will take a momentary pause from the “Ways to Save” series to bring you a new concept in raising money. It’s called crowdfunding. If you ever contributed to a Gofundme.com or Kickstarter.com campaign, then you have participated in crowd funding.

Through crowd funding you can bring like-minded people together to raise money for a cause, get your book idea published, or help your produce the movie of your dreams. On the flip side, you can find a cause you truly believe in, you can support a budding artist or sponsor a new innovative idea.

If done right, the impact of crowd funding can be immeasurable. My friend Piers Duruz will teach you how. He runs Crowdfundingdojo.com, were he helps others use the crowd funding platform to fulfill their dreams through the support of others.

Here he discusses crowdfunding can help you and trust me, this man knows his stuff. He shares this knowledge for free. The reason I decided to share this with you is that I was blown away at how gracious and generous he was with sharing his knowledge in this area or in just navigating social media and the blogger-sphere. He truly has the heart of a teacher and wants to share his knowledge with others.

Before I met him I had never heard of crowdfunding, now I can see it has a mirade of practical uses that can help pretty much any business or personal dream. Don’t let the opportunity to pick his brain pass you by. Check out Crowdfundingdojo.com.

 

Finding Ways to Save – Finance

 

finance piggy bank

You don’t have to have a degree in Finance to get your budget in balance. The key to finding ways to save in your budget is to simply pay attention. In my experience, when I fail to pay attention to my bank accounts that is when things get messy. Here are 5 ways to stay on top of where your money is going.

  1. Make a Budget – I know it’s time consuming and a pain in the ?@#$, but it would not be the suggestion of every financial guru out there if it didn’t actually work. Take the time to do it. During the budgeting process you can discover patterns of behavior you might not have been aware of. In the end, what is spending but a behavior. If we can determine what behaviors we are doing that result in money lose we can put a stop to them. When I started budgeting my money I recognized a ton of it was going to specialty grocery stores like The Fresh Market and Whole Foods. I thought I was just buying food for my family until the sheer numbers told me otherwise. Look into online budget programs like Mint.com or EveryDollar.com to make this process easier.
  2. Set up auto deductions into your savings account – This is something I have discussed here before because it is so easy and painless but can have some big results. Have your paycheck direct deposited into your bank account and have a coordinating set amount placed directly into a savings account. That way the money is squirreled away before you even get a chance to spend it. It is amazing how quick $50, $25 even $10 can add up over time. The key is that you forget all about it and do not touch this account, giving it time to grow.
  3. Learn about compounding interest – This is a key concept in making your money go farther. According to Wikipedia Compound interest is interest (money paid by borrower or lender) added to the principal (the original amount borrowed) of a deposit or loan so that the added interest also earns interest from then on. This addition of interest to the principal is called compounding. So in other words your money makes you money. Consult a financial advisor to just ask someone at your bank to explain what products they have that will give you the best compounding interest.
  4. Look at your accounts daily – This is another concept I have mentioned here. I know it seems like a no brainer but how many of us actually look at our accounts on a daily basis? Before I implemented this strategy I was over drafting on a pretty frequent basis and could never understand why. When I started checking my accounts every day I found auto-billers I had not been aware. I found unintended charges that I had all but forgotten I even made. Most important, I was able to control my spending when my account was low, preventing the dreaded overdraft.
  5. Invest in an IRA or 401K – It seems like something far off in the distance but for many of us it is a lot closer than you think. I turned 40 this year, an age I never pictured myself ever being but here I am. My time horizon for retirement is not so far off anymore. But quite frankly it is never to early to plan for retirement. Based on the amount projected today social security will not be enough to sustain anymore then the bare necessities to live on (if it even still around.) Don’t put off retirement planning! Here’s where the tough love comes in… as an adult it is no one else’s responsibility to take care of you! Not the government, not your parents through inheritance, not even your children’s. It is your responsibility to plan for your aging self and to ensure you will be taken care of. Don’t wait.

 

Yes, Mommy Can Play With You Now

don't forget to play “Mommy can you play with me now,” my daughter asked for the fourth time. For the forth time I tell her,” just let mommy finish with this, ” or “right after I’m done with this.” But recently, those times of promised play never came. For several months now I have been blowing off my children’s request to play. It was not intentional. I was wrapped up in other things that, at the time, seemed important. I figured I would find the time later, but each day was eaten up by “other things,” and play time never came.

Feeling exasperated and overly busy, I came to recognize a trend in myself. On line I found an arictle that discussed ways to tell if you are too busy. One in particular stood out to me.

“You are too busy when… those closest to you have stopped asking for your time.”

That is when it hit me. I have not been hearing the requests to play from my children anymore. As this concept dawned on me I was overcome with shame for what I have done. My children where my priority. They were where I wanted to be all the time. They were my life. Not the computer, not the dishes, not my cake business. I was wasting my precious time with them being consumed by other much less important things. When did I get to the point that there pleas to play fell on deaf ears? This had to change.

My daughter is now 8 years old. There is only a few more years where she will even want to play with me and here I was squandering that time with her. I had to fix this now. So here are three things I have done to be more aware of my childrens needs and be less busy with distractions.

  1. Get Up Early – I use to do this last year, but sleep got the better of me. A few missed early morning wake-ups become a half asleep, un-restful enterprise of tossing and turning in the hopes of getting an extra five minutes. I decided to be more intentional about getting up and getting things accomplished before my children are up, so that I would have more time to spend with them in a less hurried and distracted way
  2. Schedule In Playtime – Set a timer if you must, but make an appointment with your children. A date night, a mommy and me day, a play date, but schedule in this time so it becomes just as important (or more so.) as everything else in your day
  3. Stop! Put down the phone, get off the computer and listen to what they are saying –This is where the majority of my shame is coming from. My kids are only seeing part of my face hidden behind a computer screen. They are only staring at the top of my head, while I answer another text. I am distracted. They are not getting my full attention…and they know it.

Going forward when I get home from work, the phone goes off; the laptop gets put away until they are in bed. Whatever emergency might take place there are other ways I can be reached and the world will not stop spinning if I don’t answer that email until tomorrow. It can wait. My children cannot. They are my heart that lives outside my body and they deserve my time, energy and presence more than anyone or anything else.

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