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Back to School Tax Free Weekend 2018

It feels like summer break just started, however, the countdown for back to school is already underway… and so is back to school shopping.  But before you head out to load up on all of those back to school supplies, you may want to check out to see if there is a tax free weekend in your state for 2018.

Several states offer tax free purchases on limited amounts of clothing, school supplies, and even larger items, such as laptops.  Check out this list of back to school tax free weekends for 2018:

Back to School Tax Free Weekend 2018 // Money Savvy Living #taxfreeweekend #taxholiday #backtoschool

Tax Free Weekend Dates 2018

Here’s a quick glance at the states and dates for tax-free weekends for 2018:

Alabama Tax Free Weekend—July 20-22, 2018

Arkansas Tax Free Weekend—August 4-5, 2018

Connecticut Tax Free Weekend—August 19-25, 2018

Florida Tax Free Weekend—August 3-5, 2018

Georgia Tax Free Weekend— No tax free weekend for 2018

Iowa Tax Free Weekend—August 3-4, 2018

Maryland Tax Free Weekend—August 12-18, 2018

Mississippi Tax Free Weekend—July 27-28, 2018

Missouri Tax Free Weekend—August 3-5, 2018

New Mexico Tax Free Weekend—August 3-5, 2018

North Carolina Tax Free Weekend—No tax free weekend for 2018

Ohio Tax Free Weekend—August 3-5, 2018

Oklahoma Tax Free Weekend—August 3-5, 2018

South Carolina Tax Free Weekend—August 3-5, 2018

Tennessee Tax Free Weekend—July 27-29, 2018

Texas Tax Free Weekend—August 10-12, 2018

Virginia Tax Free Weekend—August 3-5, 2018

Wisconsin Tax Free Weekend—August 1-5, 2018

 

States participating in a tax free holiday for back to school 2018

For a bit more detail on what items are included and the maximum dollar amounts for your back to school purchases, see the chart below.

 

State

 

Items Included

 

Maximum Cost

 

2018
Dates

 

State Tax Holiday Source Links

Alabama clothing – $100
computers – $750
school supplies – $50
books – $30
July 20-22 http://www.revenue.alabama.gov/
Arkansas clothing – $100
school supplies
August 4-5 http://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/
Connecticut clothing and footwear – $100 August 19-25 http://www.ct.gov/drs/
Florida clothing – $60
school supplies – $15
August 3-5 http://floridarevenue.com/
Iowa clothing – $100 August 3-4 https://tax.iowa.gov/
Maryland clothing & footwear-$100 August 12-18 http://www.marylandtaxes.com/
Mississippi clothing & footwear – $100 July 27-28 http://www.dor.ms.gov/
Missouri clothing – $100
computers – $1,500
school supplies – $50
August 3-5 http://dor.mo.gov/
New Mexico clothing – $100
computers – $1,000
computer equip. – $500
school supplies – $30
August 3-5 http://www.tax.newmexico.gov
Ohio clothing – $75
school supplies – $20
August 3-5 https://www.tax.ohio.gov/
Oklahoma clothing – $100 August 3-5 http://www.tax.ok.gov/
South Carolina clothing
school supplies
computers
other
August 3-5 http://www.sctax.org/
Tennessee clothing – $100
school supplies – $100
computers – $1,500
July 27-29 http://tn.gov/revenue/
Texas clothing, backpacks and school supplies- $100 August 10-12 http://comptroller.texas.gov/
Virginia clothing – $100
school supplies – $20
August 3-5 http://www.tax.virginia.gov/
Wisconsin clothing, supplies – $75
computer supplies – $250
computers – $750
August 1-5 https://www.revenue.wi.gov/

*information for graph obtained from Federation of Tax Administrators.

 

Mark your calendars and take advantage of the extra savings!

 

How to Find the Best Deals: Amazon Prime Day 2018

How to Find the Best Deals: Amazon Prime Day 2018

This post may contain sponsored content or affiliate links.  Please know that all opinions are mine alone and are honestly conveyed.

Amazon Prime Day in 2018 is on Monday, July 16, starting at 3pm, and will go through Tuesday, July 17. Whether you are looking for deals on stuff for your baby, back to school items, electronics, or household, you can save a lot of money on Prime Day! If you are not familiar with Amazon Prime Day, it is similar to the deals that you might find when shopping on Black Friday so it’s kind of like Christmas in July.  However, unlike the deals on Black Friday, which are available to anyone, in order to take advantage of these deals, you do need to be an Amazon Prime Member.

How to Find the Best Deals: Amazon Prime Day 2018 // Money Savvy Living #PrimeDay2018 #amazon

How to become an Amazon Prime Member

So, if you are not already a Prime member, you can sign up and try Prime FREE for 30 days here.  This is great, because you can take advantage of all the deals on Prime Day and you have 30 days to decide if you want to continue with the membership.

Benefits of Amazon Prime Membership

You may be wondering if it is actually worth it to pay a membership fee of $119 per year.  And the answer is… it depends.  It depends on if you want access to the movies and shows only available to Prime members each month.  It depends on how much you order from Amazon each year because Prime members get FREE 2-day guaranteed shipping.  Besides the two biggest and most well known reasons to love your Amazon Prime membership, there are several other benefits:

  • FREE two-hour delivery of grocery or restaurant order (only available in select cities currently)
  • Perks at Whole Foods stores or even delivery of an order from Whole foods (delivery only available in select cities)
  • Music Streaming
  • Photo Storage
  • FREE audio books, games
  • Early access to exclusive deals

Best Deals for #PrimeDay2018

Okay, so let’s get into some of the best deals for Prime Day 2018!  You can just browse Amazon for some great savings… a lot of items are 30%-50% off!  Here are my Money Savvy picks:

Prime Day Deals for the Home

Donut Shop single serve k-cups, 72 count, only $28!  This makes each cup of coffee only $0.38!  Add some cinnamon and a bit of whipped cream and you will have a delicious gourmet latte.

 

Instant Pot 6-Qt Multi-Use Pressure Cooker, only $99! (I love mine!  Dinner for my family is ready in no time!!)

 

Quilted Northern 12 Double Rolls (equals 24 single rolls), only $6.99!  I have to be practical here… and this is a good deal!

 

 

Cozyna 3.7 Qt Digital Air Fryer, only $89!  Take this air fryer camping, or just pull it out instead of turning on the oven!

Prime Day Deals for Baby

Babies can be expensive, here are a few deals that can help you save on everyday items:


Pampers Diapers

Newborn: $34.99, 128 count

Size 1: $43.93, 222 count

Size 2: $48.91, 204 count

Size 3: $48.44, 180 count

Size 4: $42.55, 164 count

Size 5: $46.56, 152 count

 


Pampers Baby Wipes, $14.64, 504 count

 

Infantino 4-in-1 Portable Carrier, only $29!

Portable Booster Seat, only $25!  Perfect for taking to Grandma’s house, on vacation, camping, or out to your favorite restaurant…

Prime Day Deals for Back to School 

Lunch box, only $9.79 (variety of colors)

 

Mead 2-inch Binder with Handle and Zipper, only $14!  Perfect for your middle-schooler… zipper so papers don’t fall out and a handle makes it easy to carry…

 

Fila Laptop Backpack, only $24.99 (my kids have Fila backpacks and we love them!  We have been able to use these more than one year so I know that they are durable!)

 

Prime Day Deals on Electronics

Flexispot Sit or Stand Desktop (35″ width), only $224.99!  I have this desktop and love it!  You can check out more about it here.  One of the things that I love the most is that you can move your desktop and not even disturb your water or coffee it glides up and down so smoothly!

Echo Dot (generation 2), only $29.99!

Fire TV Stick, only $19.99!

Toshiba 50-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV with HDR – Fire TV Edition, only $289!

 

 

Didn’t see an item that interests you?  Just browse Amazon for some great savings for some of the best deals for Prime Day 2018! … a lot of items are 30-50% off!

 

How to Find the Best Deals: Amazon Prime Day 2018 // Money Savvy Living #PrimeDay2018 #amazon

7 Quick & Easy Tech Tips to Make Your Life Better

Technology is all around us.  In fact, in recent years, it seems that you really can’t escape using technology even if you want to.  While you may feel like technology is taking over—seems like everyone is perpetually looking at a smartphone nowadays—there are ways that you can embrace technology for the better.  Here are seven quick and easy tech tips to make your life better.

Tech Tips to Improve Your Life

7 Quick & Easy Tech Tips to Make Your Life Better // Money Savvy Living #Amazon #PrimeDay #FlexiSpot #ergonomicdesk #techtips

Back-up data

Whether it is a website, your digital photo collection, or a paper that you are writing, make sure that you are in the habit of saving often—and even having data saved to a back-up server.  While technology is a very useful tool, it can also be very frustrating if you have put a lot of time and effort into a project on your computer just to have it all erased if you unexpectedly lose power or a shutdown occurs.

Use your smartphone calendar

You may be used to writing things on your desk calendar or wall calendar, but you really need to start using your smartphone calendar.  Not only can you set it up to alert you of events and meetings that you have entered, but you can also share events with family members in your network so they can view the event and will receive the alert too.  Definitely a great way to cut down on miscommunications and missed events.

Set parental controls

While many devices have the ability to set controls on devices in that group (for free), you can also buy products, such as Circle with Disney.  This device allows you to: set daily time limits on apps and websites, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube, filter online content by age level, pause the internet, and check online usage to monitor where your kids are spending their time online.

Take frequent breaks

If you need to use your computer for extended periods of time, it is suggested that you take frequent breaks to rest your eyes and body.

  • Micro-breaks—this is not a break from work, just a quick break for your muscles to relax for a minute or so. Any repetitive motion can strain your muscles.  So to combat this, take a minute to flex your finger muscles and rest your hands when doing a lot of typing, or even take a moment to stretch or stand up to help alleviate back and neck strain.
  • Rest breaks—every hour or so, you may want to take a little bit of a break and get up and walk around. Taking a 5 minute break to get a drink or use the restroom can give your muscles a chance to relax and use different muscles groups, but also give you a necessary mental break.
  • Eye break—you may not realize that you need to give your eyes a special break. It is suggested that every 15 minutes or so you should take a minute to look away from your computer and gaze into the distance (approximately 20 feet away) to give your eye muscles time to relax.

Get an ergonomic design

In addition to taking breaks, you can make your workstation a bit more user friendly with an ergonomic design.  You might want to get an adjustable stand for your keyboard to take some strain off your wrists when typing. Or even get an ergonomic desk converter for your computer that can allow you the flexibility of sitting or standing to help relieve back strain.

#Amazon #PrimeDay

Great deal for Amazon Prime Day! Standing desk converter special price starts July 16th 3 pm ET: 30% off $224.99 (was $329.99)

Link to the product: https://amzn.to/2tIl03h

Know the simple keyboard commands

You may not know (or ever use) all of the function shortcuts.  However, there are a few shortcuts that you need to know to make your computer experience a lot easier:

  • CTRL + ALT + Delete—this is a quick way to get to the task manager. If your computer locks up, instead of just unplugging it and restarting, use this short cut to get to the task manager and shut down each application before powering down.
  • CTRL + prt sc—this will take a screen shot of what your desktop is showing. If you need to document a problem that you are having, take a quick screen shot and send it to the help desk.  They can probably help you solve the problem quicker if they can see the exact problem that you are having.
  • CTRL + rolling the scroll button on your mouse—this will change the size of the words and pictures showing on your desktop. Need to see some small wording? Click the CTRL key and scroll up to enlarge.  Roll back down to shrink the wording and images on the screen.

Unplug

As great and useful as technology is, sometimes it is necessary to just unplug from it for a bit.  Even if you need to have your smartphone handy for work, you can still make it a habit to set aside all devices during meal times.  Another good habit is to put them away after a certain time in the evening to allow you sufficient time to unwind from the day and quiet your mind and body for a more restful sleep.

 

 

 

 

11 Easy & Creative Ways to make Money this Summer

Easy & Creative Ways to make Money this Summer

Summer is the perfect time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the beautiful weather.  It is also the perfect time to make a little extra money.  So whether you are looking to pay down some credit cards, pay off some old bills and clean up your credit, or take a little vacation, you may want to try these 11 easy, creative ways to make money this summer.

This post has been sponsored by Lexington Law and may contain affiliate links. Please know that all opinions are mine alone and are honestly conveyed.

11 Easy and Creative Ways to Make Money this Summer // Money Savvy Living #lexingtonlaw #summer #makemoney #budget

Have a Garage Sale

Having a garage sale is one of the quickest and easiest ways to not only declutter your house, but also to make some extra money.  Start with your closest and clean out the things that you no longer wear or that no longer fit, and then head to the basement and pull out the bigger items that have just been collecting dust and taking up space for the last ten years—you know, like those skis that you haven’t used since college, old furniture, or even exercise equipment…

Related article: Tips to Make More Money from your Garage Sale

Sell Stuff at a Consignment Store

If you find that you have some clothing in very good condition, jewelry, hats, or even vintage items, you may want to consider using a consignment shop to sell your stuff.  You will probably make a bit more money than putting these items in a traditional yard sale too.  Don’t have a consignment store close-by?  No problem.  You can easily sign up for Thredup or Poshmark—both are online consignment stores where you can buy and sell used clothing and accessories.

Sell stuff online

  • Make Your Own Product—of course, you could open your own online store using Shopify or a similar service. But selling your own handmade products online can also be done with a platform such as Etsy.  Depending on the amount of sales you have each month, you can figure out which fee-based platform is right for your business.  But this is an easy way to quickly expand your market, and make some extra money.
  • Sell new or used stuff—whether you have brand new products to sell, or just cleaning out miscellaneous items from your home, you can sell nearly anything on Ebay. Make sure to take clear pictures and add relevant descriptions so your product is easy to find and people know the condition of your product immediately.
  • Buy low, sell higher—Amazon FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon) offers a great platform for people to run an online business and sell products. You can sell products online from a business that you already run locally to expand your market, or you can run your business strictly through Amazon by re-selling new items.  Perhaps you run across a good sale, or a store is going out of business and you can find lots of bargains, or maybe you have contacts at a wholesale warehouse, whatever your connection, if you can buy products cheap and sell them higher, then you can potentially make a lot of money.  There are even inexpensive courses (not an affiliate link, just a good course that I recommend) out there to walk you through how to set up your own Amazon FBA so you can start making money right away.

Start your own side hustle

  • E-commerce business—so many business models are e-commerce based now and that makes it easier than ever for you to start a business with little start-up costs and almost no overhead—and quickly make a profit. Most of these MLM companies (multi-level marketing) are able to set you up with your own website so that as you share the products with family and friends, they are able to easily order through your website, and you earn commission.
  • Teach private lessons—do you have a talent that you can teach to others? Perhaps you are gifted at playing golf, the piano, or guitar… if so, you may be able to make some extra money teaching others how to learn these skills.

Related article: Side Hustles that will Actually Give You a Full Time Income

 

Become a Virtual Assistant

Because of the flourishing e-commerce economy that we live in low, there are many small businesses that need assistance with running their daily operations, but perhaps aren’t looking to hire someone full-time.  This is where a virtual assistant can come in.  The type of work will depend upon the type of business, but virtual assistants may be needed for marketing, social media, customer service, payroll, or recordkeeping.

Get a seasonal job

Many stores and businesses are in need of seasonal workers to help deal with increased demand.  Warmer weather brings about additional opportunities in tourist areas that see an increase in business, and outdoor related jobs, such as a nurseries/ gardening centers, construction work, landscaping and the like.

Use apps on your smartphone

There are certain apps that you can use on your smartphone to both save money and make money, such as Ibotta and Dosh.  Use these apps to save money on everyday items that you are already buying, but make some extra cash with these apps by referring your friends…

Use your car

If you own a reliable car and have a little extra time, you may be able to use it to pick up a few extra dollars this summer as a freelance “taxi driver.”  Uber and Lyft are two companies that offer the opportunity for individuals to utilize their own cars to drive people who are in need of a ride.  Obviously, you will need to have a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance, and be able to pass a background check before you can start earning money.

Get certified to umpire or referee

Are you a sports fan?  Spring and summer are full of sporting events—and not just for professionals.  During the warmer weather, youth sports are in full swing.  Of course, you will have to get certified, but if you have a passion for baseball, soccer, football, or basketball, you could earn a few extra dollars as an umpire or referee.

11 Easy and Creative Ways to Make Money this Summer // Money Savvy Living #lexingtonlaw #summer #makemoney #budget

Sell produce from your garden

If you have a big garden, you may be able to plant a little extra and sell it to make some money this summer.  Or if you have too much, don’t let it go to waste…  Of course, you can just put a sign up alongside the road, but there are also various local farmer’s markets that allow vendors to sell goods and produce.

Teach your kids how to earn money this summer

Earning a bit of extra money this summer isn’t just for grown-ups, there are several ways that kids can learn some great money lessons and find ways to earn money this summer too: mowing lawns, pulling weeds, extra chores, set up a “lemonade stand,” make a craft to sell at a local market or online… the sky is the limit on creative ways to get your kids involved.

 

Start with these easy ways to make some extra money this summer and put yourself in a better financial position and take control of your credit and your money.  What will you do with your summer earnings? 

 

 

 

 

15 Simple Ways to Save Money this Summer

This post has been sponsored by Lexington Law.  All opinions are mine alone and are honestly conveyed. 

 

Summer is here.  The kids are out of school and the weather is nice and warm.  While there may be some summer activities that can be expensive, the warmer temperatures and longer daylight hours also give you a nice opportunity to take advantage of some simple ways to save money as well.  Put that saved money toward paying down account balances or getting bills up-to-date and improve your credit score for a brighter financial future.

15 Simple Ways to Save Money this Summer // Money Savvy Living #summer #savemoney #waystosavemoney #lexingtonlaw

Try these 15 simple ways to save money this summer and help get your finances back on track:

Grill out—not only is it a fun time to grill out when you have a backyard bar-b-que with friends, but grilling out during the warmer temperatures can actually save you money.   Instead of turning on the oven and heating up the entire kitchen, fire up the grill and keep the heat outdoors.

Give your dryer a rest—with warm summer temps and a nice breeze you can hang your clean clothes outside to dry rather than running the dryer.

Turn off the lights—another great way to save money during the summer is to turn your indoor lights off.  You may be used to just flipping on the light switch during the darker winter months, but longer daylight hours during the summer can help you save on your electricity bill by just opening the curtains and letting the natural light in.

Look for free community events—many communities offer events throughout the summer that are family-friendly, fun, and free!  From concerts at the park, to parades, festivals, and carnivals, three are many events throughout the summer that are sponsored by local organizations for the benefit of the community.  Check with your local visitor’s bureau, chamber of commerce, or community calendar for free local events.

Go camping—you really don’t have to go far to have a fun camping experience– you can just camp out in your own backyard!  Of course you can find a nice campground for an economical price, but you can just pitch a tent in your backyard and have fun “roughing it” for a few nights.  Cook hot dogs over a little camp fire and roast some marshmallows and get the full camping experience!

Make a day of fun at the park—pack a picnic lunch and take the kids to the park for the day.  Do a little research to see if there are any local parks that offer a splash pad or water activities– which would be especially refreshing on a hot summer day.  Your kids will have fun for countless hours at the local playground.  Pack a picnic lunch and don’t forget to take the cooler for some ice cream treats.

Go to the library—signing your kids up for a summer reading club will help avoid the summer learning slump, but there is a lot more to do at the library than just picking out books.  Your local library often times has train tables, Lego building area, coloring and so many more activities for kids.

Take a day at the beach—if you live close enough to drive to the beach for the day, you can have fun just soaking up the sun, swimming, or building a sandcastle.

Have a fun day at the lake—even if you aren’t close enough to a beach, you can probably find a lake nearby.  Have a family fun day canoeing, water skiing, boating, or just splashing in the lake.

Visit a national park—not only can you see the beauty of nature all around the country, many of these parks offer free admission.  Even the ones that do require payment are free for you and your fourth-grade student.  Learn more about the Every Kid in a Park program to plan your visit.

Catch fireflies—sometimes just being outside alone in nature can be beautiful and entertaining on its own. Take time to enjoy the beauty of the fireflies lighting up in the evening, look at the stars, and listen to the sounds of the crickets…

Watch fireworks—many towns across the country have fireworks displays, along with parades and other free activities around Independence Day.  Research the schedules ahead of time and take in a few shows.

Let the breeze in—on cool summer nights, turn of the air conditioning and let the cool breeze in.  It will save you a few bucks and it is just as refreshing.

Grow a garden—think about how much it costs to buy a salad or even lettuce at the grocery store.  If you plant your own, you will spend less for the seeds than what you can buy it for at the store, and you will have salad all summer.  Plant some veggies and herbs and you can greatly reduce your grocery bill over the summer.

Go to a discount movie—several theatres nationwide offer summer movies that you can take your kids to for $1.00 or even less if you buy the package ahead of time.  Many of the theatres offer special deals on popcorn and drinks for these events too.  Check out the summer movie schedule here:

15 Simple Ways to Save Money this Summer // Money Savvy Living #summer #savemoney #waystosavemoney #lexingtonlaw

How can the summer savings help you improve your credit?

Utilizing free or cheap summer entertainment or even being able to save some money on regular expenses gives you a bit of extra spending cash.  But be aware and make sure that you don’t spend that money frivolously—use that money to pay down credit card balances, or even get some of your bills up-to-date that may have slipped behind.  Perhaps, you are at the point that you need to track and protect your credit, finances, and identity.  Taking a few dollars of your summer savings to invest into monitoring these aspects of your life can help to set you up for a better financial future.

 

 

 

I don’t blog about blogging. So how can I make money blogging?

“I don’t blog about blogging.  So how can I make money blogging?”  How many times have we heard other bloggers say this or even said it to ourselves?  In the world of blogging, it is a truth that we all know: the big, well-known bloggers out there making five and six-figure incomes each month are blogging about blogging!  And selling books, and e-courses, and access to mastermind private groups—all to teach the little blogger how to make money blogging.

How to make Money as a Blogger. If you are a blogger who doesn't blog about blogging, but want to monetize your blog, you need to do this! #bloggingtips #blogger

So why doesn’t everyone that buys these items turn into a millionaire blogger?  I can’t honestly say, because, well, I’ve never actually paid for any of these books, e-courses, or private groups.  But I have taken a bunch of free webinars and courses and found quite a bit of good in those.  Now, I’m definitely not bashing anyone who makes money from teaching others how to be successful in this industry—that’s the beauty of a free market!

But sometimes, it just seems that the only way to make money as a blogger is to sell blogging resources.  I can’t be alone in this feeling, can I?

How to make money blogging:

So can a small blog or a medium-sized blog make money?

The answer is: Absolutely, YES!  Okay, great…. But how?

Ads

I’m going to go ahead and get the most obvious one out of the way first.  If you’ve been blogging for even five minutes, you have probably figured out how to set up Adsense.  Keep in mind, until you have a lot of people visiting your blog, ads won’t bring in much revenue.  Of course, there are other ad networks to join, like Mediavine or AdThrive.  As you may notice, I don’t have a ton of ads on my blog just because I think it detracts from the user experience I don’t like trying to read an article and having ads popping-up or slowing down the page when I am the user, so I try to think of that when formatting my own blog…

Affiliate Links

You can sign up as an affiliate through several Networks to partner up with several companies:

This is only a few, but it’s a good start…  With affiliate programs, you can embed links to products that you have an affiliate relationship with and get paid a commission when someone clicks through to purchase.  The good news is that it doesn’t cost the buyer any extra than if they were just shopping on their own, but you get paid a fee for sending over the referral.

Or you may just come across products that you love and they ask for you to refer other people to them and they will give you a “thank you” for referring new customers (you don’t even need to have a blog to find these, but if you are a blogger, you can incorporate these types of links into posts as well!)… one of my favorites is Home Chef.

Of course, if you’ve been blogging long enough, you know there are affiliate links for blogging tools as well.  Such as Tailwind for boosting Pinterest engagement, Milotree to gain social media followers, and Bluehost for website hosting.

Sponsored Posts

Once you have been blogging for a little while and have built up your audience, you can actually apply for paid opportunities to write sponsored content.  These are product and campaign specific, you need to make sure that you are applying for campaigns that fit into your blog niche.

Yes, you want to make money, but every post you write should also be building your blog’s brand.

There are several places that you can go to get sponsored posts.  A few of my favorites are:

Working with Brands

Of course, once you have been publishing content online long enough, you may get contacted by various companies looking for freelance work or sponsored content for specific clients or projects.  Most companies that reach out to you will probably be within your niche of writing because they are looking for bloggers and freelance writers with an audience to help spread the word about a product or service that they are looking to sponsor content about.  Obviously, not everyone that reaches out to you will be a fit, so don’t feel bad about turning down a sponsored post opportunity.  You are much better off to stay true to your personal brand and your blog’s brand rather than feeling like you are “selling out” just to make a few bucks.

Become an Affiliate for a Specific Product

You can take the time and energy to create your own product, but you certainly don’t have to!  There are a ton of great products already out there and you can sign up to be an affiliate with them.  I would suggest becoming an affiliate for products that you have used and love and can somehow incorporate into your blog posts or a newsletter easily.

Here are some examples of products that I have signed up to be an affiliate for:

Social Warfare plugin—this is for social media sharing on your blog.  I found out that I needed this because it is one of the only plugins out there that can actually recover your social share counts on blog posts after implementing an SSL certificate on your website.  It’s something that I use and have found useful, so I am confident recommending it to others.

Pinteresting Strategies by Carly Campbell—Carly has used Pinterest to drive so much traffic to her blog and I can say that she has truly mastered Pinterest (or at least in my opinion!).  Regardless, this book is a great resource for bloggers and is relatively inexpensive, so it really is worth the investment to help you grow your blog.

Bloggers Tell All Facebook group—this group has lots of resources.  There are lots of tips, tricks, and advice from some very successful bloggers, so it is a paid group.  But, you can also make a bit of money as an affiliate for referring other people to the group.  Check it out and see if your blog grows. Okay, I know I said I never paid for any of these things—and that was true until I decided to try this group.  I had lots of blogger friends recommend it, so I’ve been a part of it for two weeks now and really like it (but the good news is that you can cancel at any time if you decide to…)

Promote Your Own Business

I decided a few years ago that starting my own side business was something that I wanted to do.  Of course, I realized that it wouldn’t make me rich overnight, but it is something that I can build over the years to help make my retirement a bit more comfortable.  I also like that fact that building my own business is actually something that I can pass on to my kids someday… so I started two businesses—both are completely done online.  So my initial investment was extremely low and so are the on-going costs.  First, I found companies that I already loved the products.  If you personally like something and can personally recommend it to others, then you may as well get paid for it, right?! Then I decided to partner with them directly to earn money.

My first business is Juice Plus+ .  I absolutely love these whole food supplements and plant-based protein shakes!  Not only do I take them, but my entire family does—even the kids love them because they have chewable gummies that really tasty!  If your kids are like mine, you will have to cut them off from eating too many at once!  This is something I believe in because I have seen and felt the changes in my own body (migraine free for over 2½ years now!!) and I just know that this helps bridge the gap in our diets of not getting enough fruits and vegetables.

My second business is Rodan+Fields.  Again, I use and love these products—especially the ones for anti-aging!  They work for my skin and I have had great results, so I am able to share them very honestly with others.  Of course, they have several product lines to help with all types of skincare needs.  And again, I am able to grow my own business this way.

I definitely think that everyone should have a their own business on the side… you may want to check out these Side Hustles that will Actually Give You a Full Time Income for more great ideas on how to start your own business with very little start-up costs…

Referral Links

The reason that I love referral links is because you don’t even have to be a bloggers to take advantage of these!  But the nice thing is that with a blog, you can probably incorporate them into posts for further reach.  These are links that you can get from companies that you already buy from and love, so you can get account credit or money off on future purchases every time you refer someone to them who makes a purchase.  Some of my personal favorites are:

How to make Money as a Blogger. If you are a blogger who doesn't blog about blogging, but want to monetize your blog, you need to do this! #bloggingtips #blogger

 

This post may contain affiliate links or sponsored content.  Please know that all opinions are mine alone.

Open Letter to Teachers about Standardized Test Scores + {Teacher Appreciation Week Printable}

Open Letter to Teachers about Standardized Test Scores + {Teacher Appreciation Week Printable}

One of my least favorite times in the school year is the end of the year standardized testing. But probably not for the reason that you would think. You see, I know that those test scores become a major part of the teacher’s evaluation. Of course, I understand that it’s important to measure student growth because that could demonstrate how effective a teacher might be in the classroom. But there are so many important things that a test will never be able to show.

So this is my open letter to teachers about standardized test scores:

FREE Teacher Appreciation Printable #teacherappreciationweek #thankyou

Dear Teacher,

We know this standardized test will never show how many hours you spent preparing lessons, making sure that each subject is meaningful to every student in your classroom.

It will never show how you stood up for a child who was being bullied. Or how you lost sleep worrying about that student.

No test can show how you took a subject that a student never understood and made it come alive for them. Or how you see potential in the children, even if they can’t see it in themselves.

No test can measure the impact you have on the students’ lives. It won’t show the kindness and the compassion and the understanding that you provide on a daily basis. And it certainly doesn’t measure your patience. Because no matter how long it took, you never gave up on the child that needed you the most.

These tests can’t measure how much money you’ve spent, out of your own pocket, to make sure that your students have lunch to eat, school supplies to use, or even clothes to wear.

These test results won’t show how you’re the bright spot in a student’s day. How you helped a child who used to dread school and they now look forward to coming every day, because they know you will be there encouraging them.

No test can measure the love and kindness that you have poured into your students – my children. It may seem that so much of your hard work goes unnoticed…but it does not. We know that what you do everyday goes far beyond…

So no matter what the test scores show, THANK YOU for sowing into our children’s lives each and every day. We know you made a difference!

Open Letter to Teachers about Standardized Test Scores + FREE Teacher Appreciation Printable #teacherappreciationweek #thankyou

Download your FREE printable!

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#ThankYouTeachers

Fresh Fruit Kabobs with Healthy Coconut Yogurt Dip

Fresh Fruit Kabobs with Healthy Coconut Yogurt Dip

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GiantEagleSlashedPrices #CollectiveBias #ad

I love a good cookout, don’t you?  But a cookout is way more than just grilling up some burgers and opening a bag of chips.  So, for my next cookout, I’m making these fresh fruit kabobs with a lowfat yogurt dip as a light, refreshing and healthy dessert!  And now, Giant Eagle has made hosting a get together even better by slashing prices on so many of the items that I need for a cookout, but also on the items that my family already uses every day!Fresh Fruit Kabobs with Healthy Coconut Yogurt Dip // Money Savvy Living #fruitkabobs #yogurtdip #GiantEagleSlashedPrices

 

Spring is here, the weather is starting to warm up, and I am getting ready for all the fun cookouts that we will have this spring and summer!  One of the things that I enjoy the most about spring and summer is that there is so much fresh fruit that is in-season, and it makes a wonderful dessertespecially when paired with a delicious fruit dip!

Fresh Fruit Kabobs with Healthy Coconut Yogurt Dip // Money Savvy Living #fruitkabobs #yogurtdip #GiantEagleSlashedPricesWhen I’m getting ready for a cookout, I shop at Giant Eagle because I can get everything that I needand this time, I saved a ton of money because Giant Eagle just slashed prices on over 5000 items throughout the store!  You can check out all the items and the participating locations with the lower, slashed prices here.Fresh Fruit Kabobs with Healthy Coconut Yogurt Dip // Money Savvy Living #fruitkabobs #yogurtdip #GiantEagleSlashedPrices

The best part is, this wasn’t just an in-store sale going on (although they had those too!)these lower prices are permanent!  As I walked through the store, I was happy to see that the prices were slashed on many of the items that my family loves:

Fresh Fruit Kabobs with Healthy Coconut Yogurt Dip // Money Savvy Living #fruitkabobs #yogurtdip #GiantEagleSlashedPrices

So when I started looking for the ingredients that I needed for my fruit kabobs and yogurt dip, I was happy to see that many of the items that I needed were not just on sale, but that the prices have been slashed and now I was able to get them at a their new, lower prices!

Fresh Fruit Kabobs with Healthy Coconut Yogurt Dip // Money Savvy Living #fruitkabobs #yogurtdip #GiantEagleSlashedPrices

Giant Eagle even slashed prices on all of the great paper products that I need for my cookout too!Fresh Fruit Kabobs with Healthy Coconut Yogurt Dip // Money Savvy Living #fruitkabobs #yogurtdip #GiantEagleSlashedPrices

So I saw a huge savings in my weekly grocery bill already.  On this trip alone, I saved over $14, which was nearly 15 percent of my total!  This really got me thinking… these savings are really going to add up over the course of a year!

Fresh Fruit Kabobs with Healthy Coconut Yogurt Dip // Money Savvy Living #fruitkabobs #yogurtdip #GiantEagleSlashedPrices

 

Now that I got everything I that I needed for my cookout, I was ready to start making my healthier dessert:

Fresh Fruit Kabobs with Healthy Coconut Yogurt Dip

Print Recipe
Fresh Fruit Kabobs with Healthy Coconut Yogurt Dip
Fresh fruit kabobs with a healthy coconut yogurt dip makes a light, refreshing, and lowfat dessert, appetizer or snack.
Fresh Fruit Kabobs with Healthy Coconut Yogurt Dip // Money Savvy Living #fruitkabobs #yogurtdip #GiantEagleSlashedPrices
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Fresh Fruit Kabobs with Healthy Coconut Yogurt Dip // Money Savvy Living #fruitkabobs #yogurtdip #GiantEagleSlashedPrices
Instructions
  1. Mix Greek yogurt, vanilla, cinnamon, and honey until smooth. Pour into small serving dish and top with fresh coconut.
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I made the kabobs using strawberries, blueberries, melon, mango, grapes, marshmallows, prunes, and yogurt covered cranberries.  But, of course, you can use any fruits that you like…

Wash and cut all fruit.  Make sure to cut fruit into approximately 1 inch chunks so they are bite-size, yet large enough to not break when put on the skewer. Alternate ingredients on skewers.

 

Enjoy!

 

Fresh Fruit Kabobs with Healthy Coconut Yogurt Dip // Money Savvy Living #fruitkabobs #yogurtdip #GiantEagleSlashedPrices

 

How much will you save on your weekly grocery bill with the new slashed prices?  

Easy Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

Easy Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

 

These 2 ingredient, cake mix and soda cupcakes couldn’t be any easier to make just get a box of orange cake mix and a can of orange soda and you will have a decadent dessert!  This recipe also adds a cream cheese center and is topped with an easy marshmallow frosting.  Easy and tasty the perfect dessert!

 

Easy Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting // Money Savvy Living #creamsicle #cupcakes

 

I like to think of these cupcakes as a semi-homemade recipe.  They aren’t made from scratch, but they are way more than just buying a box of cake mix and a can of icing!

 

Easy Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting // Money Savvy Living #creamsicle #cupcakes

 

And my favorite part about these cupcakes is that they actually taste like an orange creamsicle just like the delicious frozen treat that I loved so much as a kid!

 

Here’s all you need to get started:

Easy Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting // Money Savvy Living #creamsicle #cupcakes

Easy Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting // Money Savvy Living #creamsicle #cupcakes

 

Take a look at how easy they are to make!

 

What I like about this cake mix and soda concept is that you could use so many different combinations and flavors of cake mix and soda… or even juice.  For this recipe, a healthier alternative than using the orange soda would be to use an orange flavored sparkling water, such as La Croix Orange Sparkling Water.

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes

Easy Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

  • Servings: approx. 2 dozen
  • Print

Cupcakes:

  • 1 box of Orange Supreme Cake
  • 1 can orange soda

Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 1 block cream cheese
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla

Frosting:

  • 1 7oz. jar marshmallow fluff
  • ½ cup butter (room temp)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Directions:

CupcakesCombine cake mix and soda in a large mixing bowl; mix well.

FillingBlend cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until creamy and smooth.

FrostingMix marshmallow fluff, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla

Using a cookie scoop, place mounds of cake batter in cupcake tin, only filling about one-third of the way. Add a small dollop of the cream cheese mixture. Top with another scoop of cake batter.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

Let cool and frost with marshmallow frosting.

Top with sprinkles and orange zest!

Enjoy!

 

Easy Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting // Money Savvy Living #creamsicle #cupcakes

 

If you don’t have all your cookie-baking supplies, you can shop here:

 

*This article may contain affiliate links, so if you choose to purchase through here, I will receive a commission, although it does not increase the cost to you, the consumer.

 

5 Ways You Need to get Prepared for a Road Trip

5 Ways You Need to get Prepared for a Road Trip

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EarthDayDriveAway #CollectiveBias #ad

Going on a road trip can be a lot of fun! Being able to drive to your vacation destination rather than flying can save quite a bit of money too.  But before you pull out of your driveway, there are five ways that you need to get prepared for a road trip.

5 Ways You Need to Get Prepared for a Road Trip // Money Savvy Living

Give your car an oil change and check-up

Any time that you plan on taking a road trip, you should make sure that your car is in tip-top shape.  The last thing that you want is to be hundreds of miles from home and have a breakdown.  One of the easiest ways to make sure that your car is prepared for a road trip is to take it to the Walmart Auto Care Center.

5 Things You Need to do to Prepare for a Road Trip // Money Savvy LivingRecently, our family went to Niagara Falls over spring break, and before going, I took the car to the Walmart Auto Care Center.  For only $44.88, I was able to get an oil change with Mobil 1™ synthetic oil—which is made to protect more than my car’s engine; this synthetic oil reduces the amount of oil changes needed, and reduces oil consumption leading to less waste overall.  Included with the oil change, the technicians at the Walmart Auto Care Center also check the power steering fluid, windshield washer fluid, air filter, tire pressure, battery, and tire tread (upon request).  No appointment necessary, and it only took about 25 minutes—and the car was all set for our little road trip!

I love the fact that Mobil 1 ™ has a smaller carbon footprint than conventional motor oils**  So it feels good to know that I am able to make a choice that is better for the environment…

5 Ways You Need to Get Prepared for a Road Trip // Money Savvy Living

If you want to change your oil and do the check-up on your own, you can also buy the oil off the shelf at Walmart as well.  There are several options to choose from, so if you aren’t exactly sure which type of oil your car needs, you can use this Oil Selector Tool at Walmart.com.

And now, through April 30, 2018, you can also enter the Earth Day Drive Away for a chance to win a Chevy Equinox!  There are two ways to enter for a chance to win:

  1. By purchasing 5 quarts of Mobil 1™ in the store or a Mobil 1™ oil change at the Auto Care Center
  2. By recycling any used oil at an Auto Care Center

As a bonus, if you purchase 5 quarts of Mobil 1™ synthetic oil or a Mobil 1™ synthetic oil change at the Auto Care Center, you are also eligible to receive a $10 Select Certificate valid on a future Mobil 1™ purchase at Walmart.  Obviously, it is very important to make sure the used oil is adequately disposed of. You can bring the oil to Walmart for proper recycling while getting another chance to enter to win the sweepstakes.

5 Ways You Need to Get Prepared for a Road Trip // Money Savvy Living

Once shoppers have made a qualifying Mobil 1™ purchase or recycled any used oil at Walmart, they can enter to win the Chevy Equinox and receive their $10 Walmart Select Certificate at Earth Day Drive Away.

*Limit 2 entries in the sweepstakes per customer (1 for purchasing and 1 for recycling).

*Receipt required to receive $10 Walmart Select Certificate.

 

Pack a first-aid kit

I like to keep a first aid kit in my car at all times anyways, but I always check to make sure it is fully stocked with a variety of bandage sizes, antiseptic pads, and ointment before leaving on a road trip.  As a mother, this is a must with three boys—scratches are inevitable, so I want to be ready for them.   Plus, the last thing that I want is my little guy to be crying with a cut on his finger and be in need of a bandage and I have no idea where the nearest store is to buy any.  Having these items on-hand not only is a time-saver, but makes the trip less stressful because we can easily fix the little bumps and scratches in life…

 

Map it

Even though almost everyone has access to GPS or a map app on their smartphone, it is still a good idea to have paper maps of your vacation route.  You just never know when your internet access will be limited or not available, so make sure that you are prepared by having maps printed out ahead of time so that you can still navigate to your destination if your GPS isn’t working.  Also have addresses and phone numbers of hotels and attractions written down—you can always stop and ask for directions if all else fails.

 

Snacks and Entertainment

You can save a lot of time and money by packing snacks and water, instead of stopping every time someone is thirsty or hungry.  Also make sure to bring movies, electronic devices, and music—especially to entertain your little ones.  Of course, you could try the good, old-fashioned spot the different states license plate game to help pass the time…

 

Prepare for the “what if”

Lastly, you need to bring a bag that pretty much prepares you for any circumstance that might arise while you are away from home.  Be sure to pack: rain ponchos, ibuprofen, cough drops, mosquito repellent, sunglasses, sunscreen, and even a small roadside emergency kit.  Preparing for the “what if” isn’t stuff that you will necessarily need… but might need, so you want to be prepared.  This can save you money too, because having to buy sunglasses or medicine at a convenience store or at a resort will cost you a premium.

 

Where will you go on a road trip?

5 Ways You Need to Get Prepared for a Road Trip // Money Savvy Living

 

**Estimates made based on CO2 equivalent emissions derived from Life Cycle Assessment of Mobil 1 vs. conventional motor oil. Assumes switching from a conventional motor oil of higher viscosity grade to Mobil 1 Annual Protection. Include Production, Use, Disposal, and Fuel Economy attributed to motor oil over its lifetime. Calculation based on average U.S. vehicle engine oil sump size, average MPG, average oil change interval and average annual driving distance. Assumes nominal fuel economy improvement when switching from a higher viscosity grade to lower viscosity grade. Assumes new vehicles under warranty follow OEM recommend oil change interval. Mobil 1 Annual Protection is guaranteed to protect for one full year or 20,000 miles, whichever comes first. You may or may not obtain these benefits depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.

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