20 Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls

20 Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls + ENTER the GIVEAWAY for over $300 in prizes for Clifton Hill food and attractions!

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

 

You may not realize there is much else to do besides viewing the falls in Niagara Falls, but there are several activities that the whole family will enjoy— even on rainy days. Check out these must visit attractions, and enter a giveaway for over $300 in gift cards to Clifton Hill for your next trip to Niagara Falls!

 

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara

 

When our family decided to visit Niagara Falls over spring break, I thought it’d be the perfect mini-vacation for our family.  My husband and boys have never seen the falls and I remember my parents taking my sister and I as kids, and I was absolutely mystified by the falls—especially when they were illuminated at night!  So seeing the beauty of Mother Nature was really my only expectation when I started planning, but soon after I contacted Niagara Falls Tourism, I realized that there was so much more to do in Niagara Falls than just looking at the falls!

 

We had a great time on our visit to Niagara Falls!  As a mom, I want to find activities for the whole family to enjoy, but also that won’t break my budget.  But before I share all of the great things to do with you, I want to tell you about a GIVEAWAY worth over $300 in restaurant gift cards and activities passes for Niagara Falls!  I have teamed up with Niagara Falls Tourism and some local attractions to be able to offer you a chance to win the following:

  • $200 gift certificates to Ruby Tuesday (valid at the Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Ontario location only)
  • 5 Fun by the Falls complimentary admission passes (over $100 value):
    • Guinness World Record Museum
    • The Haunted House
    • The Fun House
    • Bronto’s Adventure Playland
    • Mystery Maze

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara #giveaway

**Don’t forget to ENTER the GIVEAWAY below**

 

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara

 

Okay, now on to all the family friendly things that we did in Niagara Falls.  Obviously, many of these things can be enjoyed year-round, but a lot of what we did can also be enjoyed even when it’s a bit cold or rainy— which was good for us, because it ended up being both cold and rainy while we were there!

 

Waterpark Resort

We stayed at the Americana Conference Resort Spa & Waterpark.  One of the main things we liked about this resort was that it had a waterpark.  The kids were very excited about it!  It also had a nice spa, game room, and restaurant at the resort.  We literally could have just spent the entire day at the resort and had lots of fun.

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #americanaresort Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #americanaresort

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #americanaresort

It was only three miles from the falls, so it was close and convenient to everything—especially with a WEGO stop right at the resort.  The WEGO is a bussing system in Niagara Falls that connects tourist attractions with resorts in the area.  Buses run every 30 minutes (and we found that the schedule is very reliable!), so you don’t have to wait very long to catch a bus to get to your next destination.  It also is a bit of a money-saver.  Some of the attractions are a few miles apart, so unless you have your walking shoes on, you probably wouldn’t want to have to drive and pay parking at each area that you visit.  (**You can also get a WEGO ticket as part of the Wonder Pass for Niagara Parks instead of purchasing it separately to save a bit of money too… we’ll be talking about the Wonder Pass a bit later…)

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara

 

 

Horseshoe Falls

Obviously, the falls are the main attraction—and probably what you think of when you picture Niagara Falls.  And they are definitely worth seeing!  While they are beautiful during the day, you also won’t want to miss seeing that falls when they are illuminated each night.

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara

We were able to get a few pictures later in the day after the fog lifted!

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara

We did get to see the falls illuminated from the SkyWheel… awesome view of the falls and the city!  It was hard to get a good picture because the SkyWheel is enclosed, so taking a picture through the window of the passenger cabin didn’t turn out so well, but the view in person is beautiful!

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara #skywheel

Niagara Parks

Most all of the Niagara Parks attractions are along the 7 kilometer stretch of the Niagara Parkway, which runs along the Niagara River.  Make sure that you check out the Wonder Pass or Adventure Pass (depending on the time of year you visit) to save anywhere from 40-60% off attractions at Niagara Parks.  You can also buy tickets online or at the Table Rock Welcome Centre, where you can buy souvenirs, grab a bite to eat, and start visiting the attractions.

Niagara’s Fury

We started out at Niagara’s Fury, and this is where I would suggest that any visitor start.  First of all, it is an interactive attraction with a 360 degree movie screen that creatively recounts the history of the formation of Niagara Falls—trust me, even your kids will love this!  And secondly, because it is interactive, you might get a little damp, so they hand out ponchos for experiencing the attraction.  For us, these came in handy all day because it was raining outside.  If you don’t need it, you can turn it in to be recycled after the ride, or you can do like we did, and keep it so you stay dry all day.

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara

Journey Behind the Falls

The next stop we made was Journey Behind the Falls.  If you are like me, you probably had no idea that you could actually go behind the falls!  Believe it or not, there are tunnels that go behind the falls in a couple of spots and for an up-close view at the side of Horseshoe Falls.  You won’t want to miss this experience!

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara #journeybehindthefalls Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara

Butterfly Conservatory

There is way more to see than just the falls though.  The Butterfly Conservatory is open year-round and will delight you with all of the 45 species of butterflies floating around!

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara

 

Bird Kingdom is also a great family-friendly activity. It is the world’s largest free-flying indoor aviary.  We were scheduled to go here on our last day, unfortunately, we had to cut our final day activities short due to a trip to the ER… not a major emergency, however, we learned some good lessons about how to deal with an emergency while on vacation…

 

Clifton Hill

The Clifton Hill area provides entertainment for the whole family.  There is so much to do, but don’t just start going through the attractions individually—you can save a lot of money by purchasing a Fun Pass, a Ripley’s Combo Ticket, or Fun at the Falls Combo Ticket.  I have listed the activities that are associated with each pass so you can get an idea of what might be of interest to your family…

ENTERTAINMENT:

Fun Pass

SkyWheel—another must-see attraction!  We rode in the SkyWheel after dark so we could see the falls while they were illuminated.  It was also a really cool view of the Skylon Tower and local casinos…

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara #SkyWheel

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara

View of the Skylon Tower from our ride on the SkyWheel

Zombie Attack

Movieland Wax Museum

Dinosaur Adventure Golf

Wizard’s Golf

Midway—the combo ticket includes 5 coins for the Midway, which is an arcade.  This is also where you can ride the Wild West Coaster and the Ghost Blaster Dark Ride.  This place is huge and definitely has games that the parents can enjoy too!  **Just a side note from a mother’s perspective here… this was a very nice and clean arcade (even the bathrooms were clean!).

 

Ripley’s Combo Ticket

Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks—as you can see, my kids and husband had fun posing with the wax figures…

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara #waxmuseum

Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium—lots of fun and interesting stuff to see here!

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara #ripleys

Ripley’s Moving Theatre 4D

 

Fun at the Falls Combo Ticket

Guinness World Records Museum

The Haunted House

The Fun House—all the fun stuff you would expect in a classic “fun house!”

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara

Bronto’s Adventure Playland

Mystery Maze

 

 

GREAT FOOD:

Kelsey’s Original Roadhouse—Kelsey’s was casual, modern steakhouse dining.  The food was good and the service was good!  It was a great family friendly and budget friendly restaurant!

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara #CliftonHill

Ruby Tuesday—this restaurant is located right in the middle of all the action on Clifton Hill… much like Kelsey’s, it’s great food and very family friendly and budget friendly. Don’t forget to enter the contest to win $200 of gift certificates to Ruby Tuesday on your next visit to Niagara Falls!!

 

Greg Frewin Theatre

There is really no other way to describe this other than an awesome experience!

About an hour before the show, we arrived and had plenty of time to enjoy the delicious buffet.  Normally, I am not interested in going to a buffet, but this was a private buffet that went along with the show, so it had the feel of a buffet that you get at a wedding or your company Christmas party.  The food was flavorful and high quality.  Drinks were not included, but there was an option to buy a pitcher of a beverage for the entire table, which was a nice, budget friendly option!

Now for the magic show.  You. Will. Be. AMAZED.  It really should be no surprise that a world-renowned magician would put on a mesmerizing show, nonetheless, we were absolutely impressed with how good the show actually was.  If you’ve ever seen illusions like this on TV, it is very easy to think that there must be editing or something that is “hiding” the secret.  But actually sitting there and seeing his show in person, I am still confounded at how he did many of the feats.  This is a definite must-see attraction when in Niagara Falls!

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #magicshow

Oh, and my son Braylon actually got to be a part of the show… so it is interactive with the audience as well!

Skylon Tower

What can I say?  You definitely must visit the Skylon Tower when you are in Niagara Falls.  This is an experience that you won’t get anywhere else in the city.  First of all, the Skylon Tower has an observation deck that allows you to get a bird’s eye view of the Falls.  You can ride the elevator, which has glass so you can see the city as you ride to the top, as you go up to the observation deck or the restaurant.

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara #SkylonTower

This is one part of our trip that we were the most disappointed about— the weather wasn’t working with us at all, it was terribly rainy and the fog was so thick, we literally couldn’t see anything on our visit to the Skylon Tower.  Super disappointing, but a great reminder that we could still have an awesome time, even when things don’t go according to plan!

Here’s a picture of our view that day from the Skylon Tower:

Mother Nature definitely wasn’t working with us, but we were able to still have an absolutely wonderful lunch in the Skylon Tower Revolving Dining Room.  I guess on the positive side, it felt like we were dining in a cloud with all of that fog surrounding the tower!  I imagine that being able to look out over the falls and the city—day or night—would have been an epic experience.  This is definitely on the list for the next time we go back—hopefully the weather will cooperate!

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara #SkylonTower

We went for lunch, and had delicious food.  Now, this is a pretty fancy restaurant—and I have to say, we definitely felt under-dressed—but because it was during the day, other guests seemed to be dressed more casual like we were.  I imagine, people dress a bit more formal for evening.  Menu items were a bit pricey, but the food is worth it, and, I’m sure, so is the view.  It really was a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

Family Friendly Things to do in Niagara Falls // Money Savvy Living #NiagaraFalls #exploreniagara #visitniagara #SkylonTower

 

We packed a lot into the three days that we were there, and definitely could have stayed longer because there was so much to do!

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach for FREE
7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

 

Taking a family vacation is definitely an investment—one which I personally think is invaluable because you can’t put a price tag on creating memories with your kids, right?  While theoretically, money is no object when it comes to my family, the reality of the situation is that we do have to live within a budget.  So, with that in mind, I always like to look for places to go and things to do that can provide a lot of fun and entertainment for the boys, while taking it easy on our bank account…

 

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

 

If you are looking for a fun, frugal, and family-friendly vacation, then you will love Virginia Beach!  Of course, there are several other things to do on a Virginia Beach vacation, but these seven things won’t cost you a dime!

 

The Beach                       

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

Okay, obviously, this is the main attraction—the beach itself!  Whether you like to just lay out and soak up the sun, build a sandcastle, search for seashells, or play in the ocean, the beach will keep you and your kids busy all day.  These nice, wide beaches have plenty of room to lay out by the ocean, or spread out under your own little umbrella or tent.  Besides that, at certain spots along the beach, there are actually playgrounds that your kids can play on, still on the sand, but close to the boardwalk.  Bring a volleyball or Frisbee for the bigger kids (or the parents!) because there is plenty of room for that too!

 

Dolphin Watching

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

You can pay to take a boat ride for dolphin watching, but you really don’t need to… because the dolphins actually swim close enough to shore that you can see them right from your spot on the beach.  While the dolphin excursion boat rides would definitely get you up-close, you can still enjoy seeing the dolphins right from shore—and that’s free!

 

Stroll along the Boardwalk

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

Virginia Beach has a beautiful boardwalk that stretches for 3 miles of the Virginia Beach coastline—so you can literally walk up and down Virginia Beach oceanfront!  We absolutely loved strolling the boardwalk to find new restaurants or just to see what else was around… and never had to take our eyes off of the ocean.  The boardwalk also had a couple of “lanes” devoted to bicycles, multi-person carts and skateboarders.  So bring your bicycle… or you can choose to rent one if you want…

 

Neptune Statue

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

While you are at Virginia Beach, you have to at least stop by and see the colossal statue of Neptune, the Roman god of the sea.

 

Cape Henry Lighthouses/Fort Story

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

You will definitely want to check out the lighthouses at Cape Henry.  However, once we got there, we realized that there was so much more to Cape Henry than just the lighthouses.  There were great history lessons to be learned there.  Did you know that the original lighthouse was the very first federal building authorized by the United States government in 1789?  Did you know that construction of the lighthouse actually started in 1772, but was interrupted by the American Revolution?  Did you know that the sandstone used to build the original lighthouse came from the same Aquia Virginia Quarries that provided stone for Mount Vernon, The U.S. Capitol, and the White House?

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

Besides the lighthouses, there were also other statues: a memorial cross, Battle of the Capes, and Francois Joseph Paul De Grasse.  The memorial cross erected in 1935, which serves as a reminder of the original oak cross built by the colonists when they arrived in 1607 and named Cape Henry for Henry, Prince of Wales, the oldest son of King James I.  The Battle of the Capes in September 1781 was a major turning point in America’s struggle for independence, and you can learn all about it here…  And a statue of De Grasse commemorates his role in the Battle of the Capes that lead to the victory of American Independence from Britain.

Who says a fun beach vacation can’t be educational too?!

 

Street Performances

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

Every evening, visitors to Virginia Beach are entertained by music from individuals and small group musicians, to painters, jugglers, and so much more… all FREE!  There are signs posted that let visitors know that no tips are necessary because these live performances are actually paid for by the city of Virginia Beach.

My son, Chase, actually got to be a part of one of the shows—Up, Down, Go!  He was pretty excited!

 

Concerts

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

The street performances are great, but in addition to the single or small group musicians that you can enjoy as you stroll, there are also actual concerts—everything from orchestra music at the small amphitheater at Neptune’s Park, to concerts at various stages along Atlantic Avenue between the street and the boardwalk.  No tickets necessary, just find a seat and enjoy!

 

When planning your next vacation to this wonderful destination, you may also find it helpful to check out VABeach.com.  This is a great resource to discover hotels, restaurants, and events in the area.  Camping in Virginia Beach is another frugal and family-friendly option.

 

 

Live Rich—Even on a Budget

Live Rich even on a Budget | Money Savvy Living

 

Living on a budget doesn’t mean that you need to sacrifice quality. When people think of sticking to a budget, they automatically think that means that they have to give up something or choose cheaper, inferior-quality products or services. This definitely doesn’t have to be the case. If you’re savvy enough, you might get away with merely using a budget calculator.  Many times, you can keep the same lifestyle or still choose the high-quality products, you just have to be a bit savvier about when and how you purchase these items. Take a look at these seven ways that you, too, can live the good life… on a budget.

 

Golf

Everyone wants a 7:00 am tee time on a Saturday morning, right? While the sun peeking through the trees and the dew still shimmering on the grass does make for a beautiful and tranquil golfing experience, you can get a similar experience—possibly at half price—by going later in the day. Ok, the dew will be gone, but if you opt for a later afternoon tee time, the prices are much cheaper for 18 holes. Save yourself even more money, and take an early evening spot for nine holes of golf. Weekends are also the busiest time, so prices drop even more if you are willing to golf on weekday afternoons or evenings. Many courses also offer discounts on golf packages for the season, which can save you some money as well. We always hear about what an expensive sport golf is—but it doesn’t have to be. Knowing the best time to book your round can give you the golfing experience that you are looking for, at a fraction of the cost.

 

Sporting Events

Next time you want to attend a professional baseball game, you may want to look at going to the minor league version instead. Not only can you avoid the huge crowds, expensive parking, and the mile hike to the stadium, but you will save at least 50% on ticket prices. It is no surprise that the food at the concession stands are much cheaper as well. But the nicest thing about attending these minor league games is that the stadiums are just as nice as the bigger stadiums, and every seat is close to the action! Same great ball park experience, at a budget-friendly price.

 

Designer Clothing

If the designer label means a lot to you, but you don’t want to spend the designer price, there are still ways in which you can buy these clothes without breaking the bank. Of course, you are probably familiar with websites, such as Overstock.com or Zulily for bargains on designer goods; however, there is also a new trend in the world of second-hand designer goods. Poshmark, is an app that allows women to buy—and sell—lightly used designer fashions, so you can pick up some good deals, but also sell some of your own used designer items and pick up a few bucks along the way.

 

Luxury Car

While the thought of slipping into a brand new car and driving it off the car lot is appealing, you may want to think twice before signing and driving because once that car pulls off the lot, it is going to depreciate in value. That is good news, though. It means that you can pick up a used luxury car for a lot less than a new one. Even though it will have a few miles on it, the luxury amenities— such as leather, heated seats, premium sound system, and pretty much automatic everything—are still going to be just as nice. You can check out Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book to price and compare new and used car prices. For instance, if you are looking at buying a brand new 2015 BMW 335i Sedan, the price is around $39,500, but a used 2008 BMW 335i Sedan, with approximately 60,000 miles on it, is about 50-60% less than a new one, ranging from $15,800-$18,800.

 

Vacations

Even if you are on a budget, you can still take a nice vacation. The caveat is that you have to know when to go on vacation. Timing really is everything when it comes to being able to get a luxury vacation at a frugal price. If you want to plan a beach vacation, don’t go during the busy season—summer. Pricing during the busy season will cost you double, if not triple, what the same room would be during the off-season. A good rule of thumb for traveling, in addition to a destination’s peak season, is that holiday and weekends are typically going to cost you a bit more. An added bonus of traveling during non-peak season or non-holidays is that you will avoid the huge crowds too. If you have a flexible travel schedule, then you may also be able to take advantage of last-minute deals too.  For more ideas on how to save money on your next vacation, check out my article, Frugal Vacation Planning: 10 Ways to Save Money

Frugal Vacation Planning: 10 Ways to Save Money | Money Savvy Living

 

Fine Dining

Believe it or not, you can still eat out at the five-star restaurants—even if you are on a budget. Again, knowing when to go, makes all the difference. Many times, these restaurants are open for lunch, or even have early-bird or weeknight specials. The food tastes just as delicious, and you will experience the same up-scale atmosphere and excellent service, but by avoiding the evening dinner pricing and the weekend crowds, you can have your Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée—or cake—and eat it too.

 

Going to the Movies

If you went to the movies recently for date night, you know that the tickets and popcorn can really add up—and even more so, if you took the whole family. However, there is a way to still catch the newest Hollywood blockbusters without busting your budget: opt for the matinee or go during the weekdays—weekend and evening prices are always a bit higher. And if you don’t have the will-power to walk by the concession stand, and I know that I don’t—I mean, what is a movie without popcorn?!—share a larger size popcorn, rather than buying individual sizes and save a few dollars. And if you want to save even more money at the movies, Cinemark is running family-friendly kid specials all summer long for $1 per ticket, and even discounts on popcorn and drinks.

 

Get Your Home Ready To Sell In 3 Simple Steps

Get Your Home Ready to Sell | Money Savvy LivingAs a licensed Realtor, I’m constantly giving advice to clients about how to best prepare their homes for showings. My recommendations don’t just come as part of my profession, but are based on my own experience as a seller. You see, over the last 14 years, my husband and I have been in the position of seller nine times. Seriously, NINE times! Each time we market our home, we follow these simple steps:

 

Declutter, Declutter, Declutter.

This can be anything from rooms overstuffed with bulky furniture, kitchen counters covered with appliances, to closets overflowing. All of these things distract from your home’s selling features. Since you will have to pack everything eventually anyways, clearing out the things that you can now, will make moving that much easier. When you pack, you will have to go through literally every item in your home. If you love it or regularly use it—keep it. If not, this is the perfect time to part with those things you really don’t need: sell items online, have a garage sale or donate charity.

The goal is to make each room feel spacious and functional. It can be a good investment to rent a storage unit for the few months your home will be on the market. It will provide a place to keep all those items that you don’t want to part with, but can’t stay at the home during showings.

 

Take Care of Deferred Maintenance

Though your home might not be brand new, it will be the buyer’s “new” home. If you want top-dollar you have to make buyers feel like they are walking into a move-in-ready home. On the other hand, if your home is full of half-finished projects or has several fixes that need to be made, you are literally leaving money on the table. Spend the time to freshen up paint and make needed repairs. Don’t forget the curb appeal—spruce up the landscaping, put down new mulch, and pressure was the exterior if needed.

 

Make Your Home Shine

Now that your home is decluttered and all of your fixes have been made, there is one final step—cleaning. This step can feel especially hard if you have children. My kids can take a beautiful, show-ready home and have it looking like a tornado came through within minutes! And since keeping the kids out of the house constantly isn’t an option, I had come up with a system to get the house ready.

  • Before your home hits the market deep-clean: wash windows, dust the woodwork, clean the carpets, scrub the bathrooms, clean the garage…you get the idea. This will make it so much easier to go through the house and tidy up quickly before showings. If the major cleaning is done it takes little effort to keep things in order.
  • Before each showing, make a “clean sweep” through each room: open the curtains/blinds, turn on the lights, and make sure nothing was overlooked.

There are a couple of commonly heard “tips” missing from my list. I don’t recommend that clients repaint their home in neutral or completely depersonalize. I think that homes void of color and personality tend to feel cold and uninviting. I’ve never removed my wedding photos from the wall or taken down pictures of my children. In fact, I advise my clients to keep these personal touches, as well as add some colorful pillows, throws, and flowers prior to showings.

Alison

 

Alison is a Licensed Realtor, Recipient of the OAR Award of Achievement, and President’s Sales Club 2013 & 2014.

Facebook |  Twitter  |  Suppes Homes

Frugal Vacation Planning: 10 Ways to Save Money

Are you ready to start planning your vacation?  Don’t worry, you don’t have to wreck your budget just to get away for a few days.  Here are some secrets to frugal vacation planning that will help you to save money on your next vacation that you may not have thought of yet…

Frugal Vacation Planning: 10 Ways to Save Money | Money Savvy Living

 

Taking a frugal vacation doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice fun. Regardless of your destination, there are still steps that you can take to save some of your hard-earned money. This list of ten items will help you to have a great time with your family, without breaking the bank:

Flexible travel schedule—So, when is the best time to plan your vacation and book a flight? Research has shown that the best time to book a flight is on a Tuesday at 3pm EST, 50-100 days out. Apparently, airlines release their new fares for the week on Tuesdays, so that is the time that there is the most competition for your dollars. Take a look at the different pricing options for leaving a few days earlier or later because you may also notice that you can save a few bucks by traveling on certain days of the week. Of course, as you get closer to the time that you want to vacation, and flights and hotels begin to fill up, you will start to see price increases. On the other hand, if you are totally flexible, you may be able to book last minute to get cheaper flights and deals on hotel rooms that haven’t yet filled. Unless your plans can be easily altered though, you may want to stick with the 50-100-days-out option.

 

Take advantage of the free continental breakfast at the hotel—this can save you a minimum of $20-40 per day, depending on where you may choose to eat breakfast with the family. Even though breakfast is typically the cheapest meal of the day, it is still worthwhile to eat for free, if possible. Saving that $20 to $40 every day can go toward souvenirs, or just make your vacation a little less costly.

 

Ask about discounts—so many hotels and tourist attractions offer discounts for AAA members, military, teachers, and of course, senior citizens. Even if you don’t fit into any of these categories, you can still ask the customer service representative about specific hotel specials or any other discounts that they offer. Even if you have looked up prices online, if you have the time to call, you may very well uncover additional discounts or savings that do not show up online.

 

Rewards programs—many hotel or resort chains offer a rewards program. They are free to join and you can earn points for staying at that same chain each time you vacation. If you are taking a week-long vacation, you may even earn enough points to get a free night or two away during the year, or just save the points until you vacation again. Most programs are not timely to set up and, typically, the points don’t expire, so if you don’t need them right away, they can benefit you down the road.

 

Go with a group—most major attractions offer discount pricing to groups. Even if you have as few as ten people in your group, you may be able to qualify for group pricing. If the entire family meets up for vacation every year anyways, you may as well save a little extra. Group pricing often requires you to plan ahead though, so make sure to call ahead of time to see how the amusement park or attraction handles group ticketing and pricing.

 

Join the ASTC travel Passport Program (Association of Science – Technology Centers)—this may not be something that you are aware of, but there are over 250 science centers and museums that are a part of this program. Once you pay for a membership at one, you are eligible to visit ANY other and gain free admission (the only exception is that you DO NOT get free admission to any other science center within 90 miles of where you originally purchased your membership). With science centers and museums that are part of this program all over the world, you may very well be able to take advantage of this program on your next vacation.

 

Frugal Vacation Planning // Money Savvy Living

 

Rent a condo or house—while hotels can be really convenient, and maybe even have amenities that a condo or house does not, such as a pool, room service, housekeeping, or exercise facility, they can also end up being really costly. Often times, you can rent a home for an entire week for the same price that you may pay for just a few nights at a resort. Another perk of a condo or house is that there is a full kitchen. Taking the time to make your own food, at least for some of the meals, can save you a lot of money overall. One such website that offers great pricing is Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO).

 

Stock your room with snacks and bottled water—whether you are driving or flying, make sure that you have enough snacks and bottled water. If you can stop by a store like Walmart and get a few snack items, this will prevent you from having to buy expensive items from a vending machine or nearby snack bar. I don’t know about you, but I have three kids, and they are always in need of water or a snack.

 

Utilize complementary transportation or public transportation—depending on where you are going, you may be able to take complementary transportation from the airport to the hotel, or from the hotel to an amusement park. Or larger urban areas, it may even be possible to take a bus, train, or subway at a much cheaper rate than actually renting a car.

 

Limit the amount of souvenirs—while it can be tempting to want to buy an expensive souvenir at the hotel gift shop or from a major attraction, you will spend double, or even triple, what a similar souvenir would cost from a discount shop that is located offsite. Don’t forget, taking pictures or videos can be just as much of a memento of the vacation as a trinket can—and those don’t cost a thing.

 

 

For more money saving tips, check out this article:

 5 Money Saving Tips for Planning Your Next Vacation

5 Ways to Save Money on Your Next Vacation | Money Savvy Living

 

Happy Travels!

Birthday Freebies: 105 Places to Get Free Stuff for Your Birthday

Birthday Freebies: 105 Places to get FREE Stuff for Your Birthday

We all love to get something special for our birthday, right?!  But you really can’t beat getting free stuff for your birthday… and there are tons of businesses that offer freebies for your birthday if you sign up for their birthday club.
Birthday Freebies: 105 Places to get FREE Stuff for Your Birthday // Money Savvy Living

 

We just celebrated our second-born son’s birthday this week—the big 7!  Of course the advent of a birthday in our house is a big deal for the kids.  They even get excited about my birthday and my husband’s birthday.  As adults, we are sort of lackluster about our own birthdays, because, well, we are just getting older.  But the kids are excited because they get to eat cake (which we really don’t have expect for birthdays).  And, of course, they still talk about how fun it was the year that daddy chose to go to Chuck E. Cheese for his birthday—an obvious choice for an awesome dad.  THE. KIDS. LOVED. IT.  High-five to my hubby for that one.

 

Many retailers also join in the birthday fun.  If you sign up for that particular store or restaurant’s birthday club, or even if you have a store credit card, you can get free offers for your birthday.

 

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Bob Evans: free kid’s meal for your child, when you enroll your child in the birthday club
  • Kohl’s: $10 to spend on a $10 purchase
  • Express: $10 to spend on a $10 purchase
  • The Limited: Discount offer during your birthday month
  • Ann Taylor: $15 to spend on a $15 purchase

 

In addition to my favorite birthday freebies, The Penny Hoarder has put together the ultimate list of 100 Places That Will Give You Free Stuff on Your Birthday. Check out their list for more great opportunities to get freebies for your birthday:

 

  1. A&W All American Food – Get a free root beer float on your birthday by joining the Mug Club.
  2. Ace Hardware – Receive a free $5 off coupon when you join Ace Rewards.
  3. AMF Bowling – Get xsome free bowling by signing up with the AMF Pinsiders Club.
  4. Applebees –  Sign up for their Email Club and get a free dessert on your birthday.
  5. Arby’s – Get a free milkshake on your birthday when you register with Arby’s.
  6. Atlanta Bread Company – Get a free cookie on your birthday when you join their Loyalty Program.
  7. Au Bon Pain – Join their eClub and get a free birthday lunch.
  8. Auntie Anne’s – Sign up for Pretzel Perks and get a free pretzel on your birthday.
  9. Aveda – Receive a birthday gift valued at $20 when you  join Aveda’s Rewards Program.
  10. Bare Escentuals – Join the Friends and Benefits Program and they’ll send you a gift on your birthday.
  11. Barnes and Noble (Kids) – Sign up for the B&N Kids’ Club and your child gets a free cupcake on his/her birthday.
  12. Baskin Robbins – Join their Birthday Club and get free ice cream on your birthday.
  13. BD’s Mongolian Grill – Get a free entree on your birthday when you join Club Mongo.
  14. Benihana’s – Register for the Chef’s Table and they’ll send you a $30 birthday certificate.
  15. Bennigan’s – Receive a BOGO entree as well as a free dessert when you sign up for their  E-Club.
  16. Big Boy – Join their Email Club and get a free dessert on your birthday.
  17. Bonefish Grill – Become a  BFG Insider and get special offers on your birthday.
  18. Boston Market – Join the VIP Club and get a special birthday surprise.
  19. Buca di Beppo – You’ll receive a free pasta on your next visit as well as a $20 birthday gift for joining their eClub.
  20. Buffalo Wild Wings – Get a free birthday dessert when you join the Buffalo Circle.
  21. Captain D’s – Get a special offer on your birthday when you join  D’s Club.
  22. Carrabba’s Italian Grill – Join Carrabba’s Amici Club and get a free appetizer as well as a coupon for a BOGO Free entree.
  23. Chick fil a – Become an Email Insider and get a special birthday offer.
  24. Chili’s – Get free chips and guacamole when you join their  Email Club.
  25. Chuck E. Cheese – Join the Chuck E. Cheese Club and get free tokens to help celebrate your child’s birthday.
  26. Cinnabon – Subscribe to Club Cinnabon and get a special gift on your birthday.
  27. Cold Stone Creamery – Get a BOGO coupon for your birthday by signing up for the My Cold Stone Club.
  28. Country Buffet – Sign your child up for the  Birthday Kids Club and they’ll receive a free meal on their big day.
  29. Cracker Barrel – Go to Cracker Barrel on your birthday and get a free dessert.
  30. Culvers – Enjoy a free birthday treat when you sign up for the Culver’s eClub.
  31. CVS – Join the Beauty Club and get $3 Extracare bucks on your birthday.
  32. Dairy Queen – Receive a free Blizzard on your birthday by signing up for the Blizzard Fan Club.
  33. Dave & Busters – Sign up for Dave & Buster’s Rewards and get $10 in free game play.
  34. Denny’s- Stop by Denny’s and get a free Grand Slam on your birthday (with ID)!
  35. Disney Movie – Get 100 free points for your birthday when you sign up for Disney Movie Rewards.
  36. Don Pablo’s – Get a $10 gift card on your birthday when you become a Habaneros Member.
  37. Dunkin’ Donuts – Get a free beverage on your birthday by signing up for the DD Perks Rewards Program.
  38. Einstein Bros. Bagels – Get a free bagel on your birthday when you join the club.
  39. Firehouse Subs – Show up on your birthday and show ID for a free medium sub!
  40. First Watch – Get a free entree when you sign up for the Sun eClub.
  41. Friendly’s – When you become a Best Friends of Friendly’s  member, you’ll receive a free Happy Ending Sundae on your birthday.
  42. Fuddruckers – Get a special birthday offer when you join the Fudds Club.
  43. Great American Cookies – Join CookiE-mail and get a free cookie on your birthday.
  44. Hallmark – Get a free card and a coupon for 20% off one item when you become a Hallmark Crown Rewards member.
  45. Hard Rock Cafe – Sign up for Hard Rock Rewards are get free dessert on your birthday.
  46. Helzberg Diamonds – Request a catalog and sign up for email updates to receive a birthday surprise.
  47. Hooters –Join the Club and get free wings on your birthday.
  48. IHOP –  Sign up and receive a free stack of pancakes on your birthday!
  49. Jack in the Box –Register and receive a special offer on your birthday.
  50. Jersey Mike’s Subs – Get a free sub and drink when you sign up for their Email Club.
  51. Joe’s Crab Shack –  Register with Joe’s Crab Shack and receive a birthday treat.
  52. Kmart – When you sign your child up for the Birthday Club, they will receive a special gift pack as well as $5 in Birthday Bucks.
  53. Krispy Kreme – Join the e-Club and receive a free donut on your birthday.
  54. Longhorn Steakhouse – Create a My Longhorn account and get a free birthday treat.
  55. Macaroni Grill – Sign up for the Email Club and get a free dessert on your birthday.
  56. Maggie Moo’s – Sign up for MaggiE-mail and get a free birthday surprise.
  57. Marie Callender’s- Join the E-Club and get a free slice of pie and $5 off your check on your birthday.
  58. Medieval Times – Receive free admission when you join the Birthday Fellowship and the King’s Court
  59. The Melting Pot – Join Club Fondue and get a voucher for free chocolate fondue for two on your birthday.
  60. Moe’s Southwest Grill – Get a coupon for a free birthday burrito when you join their eWorld.
  61. Noodles & Company – Get a free dish on your birthday by joining their EClub.
  62. Not Your Average Joe’s – Get a free birthday surprise when you sign up for their Email Club.
  63. Olive Garden – Get a complimentary appetizer or dessert on your birthday by signing up for their eClub
  64. On the Border – Get a special birthday offer when you sign up for Club Cantina.
  65. Panda Express – Register to receive emails and get an exclusive offer on your birthday.
  66. Panera – Join MyPanera and get a free pastry on your birthday.
  67. Perkins – Get a free slice of pie on your birthday when you sign up for their E-club.
  68. P.F. Chang’s – Sign up for the Email List and get a free slice of cheesecake on your birthday.
  69. Pinkberry – Sign up for a Pinkcard and receive a free small yogurt on your birthday.
  70. Qdoba – Receive a special birthday gift when you register for their Rewards Program.
  71. RedBox – Get the Redbox Play Pass and receive a free birthday rental.
  72. Red Lobster – Receive a birthday surprise when you Join the Club.
  73. Red Robin – Register for their Rewards Program and get a free birthday burger.
  74. Rita’s Italian Ice – Sign up for their Birthday Club and get a free birthday treat.
  75. Ruby Tuesday –Sign up with Ruby Tuesday and score a free burger on your birthday.
  76. Sbarro – Get free pizza on your birthday by joining their e-Club.
  77. Sephora –Register with Sephora and receive a free gift on your birthday!
  78. Smashbox – Register for the Pretty Points Program and receive a free gift during your birthday month.
  79. Sonic – Create a My Sonic Profile and receive a special treat on your birthday.
  80. Sonny’s BBQ – Get a free Big Deal Meal on your big day by joining the ‘Q Crew.
  81. Souper Salad – Register for Souper Perks and get a free meal during your birthday week.
  82. The Spaghetti Warehouse – Join the Warehouse Club and get a free meal on your birthday.
  83. Starbucks – Get a free birthday drink by signing up for Starbucks Rewards.
  84. Steak ‘n Shake – Join the eClub and get a free menu item on your birthday.
  85. Subway – You’ll receive a free 6 inch sub and drink on your birthday when you join the Subway Eat Fresh Club.
  86. Swagbucks – Get 50 free Swagbucks on your birthday.
  87. TCBY – Join the TCBY eClub and receive special offers on your birthday.
  88. Texas Roadhouse – Sign up for their Email Club and get a birthday gift.
  89. TGI Friday’s – Join their Give Me More Stripes program and get a free dessert on your birthday.
  90. Tony Roma’s – Join the Roma Rib Expert Club and get a free entree on your birthday.
  91. Toys R Us – Join Rewards R Us and your child will receive a free card and gift every year until his/her 10th birthday.
  92. Tropical Smoothie Cafe – Join Club Tropical and get a special birthday offer.
  93. ULTA – Receive a free CK One mascara by signing up for their Loyalty Rewards Program.
  94. Uno Pizzeria & Grill – Join their Email Club and get a free entree on your birthday.
  95. Victoria’s Secret – Sign up for an Angel Card and get a birthday gift worth $10.
  96. Waffle House – Become a member of the Waffle House Regulars Club and receive a free waffle on your birthday.
  97. Wienerschnitzel – Join the Wiener Lovers Club and get a free coupon each year on your birthday.
  98. Wingstop – Get a free order of seasoned fries on your birthday when you sign up for their Email Club.
  99. Yogurt Mountain – Join the YOMO Club and get free yogurt on your birthday.
  100. Zaxby’s – Get a free Nibbler on your birthday by signing up for the Zaxby’s Email Club.

Birthday Freebies: 105 Places to get FREE Stuff for Your Birthday // Money Savvy Living

4 Smartphone Apps That Will Save You Money

4 Smartphone Apps that will Save You Money

 

 

If you love coupons, but hate having to search online for them and print them out, or rifle through the newspaper looking for them, there are four apps that you should definitely start using. I know that even if I have taken the time to clip coupons, I almost never have them handy when I need them. That is why I love these apps so much. No need to clip coupons—or keep track of them!  So before your next trip to the grocery store, out to eat, or to the mall, take a look at these apps and keep a bit more of your heard-earned money in your pocket.

 

Retail Me Not

retailmenot-logoRetail Me Not is a comprehensive app that offers current coupons for retailers ranging from beauty, to clothing, to automotive, to electronics, to food, to travel, and much more. You can sort by in-store or online coupons, even narrowing your search down to local retailers (locations services must be turned on your smartphone for this feature). Once you select a coupon, you are either given an online code to enter or a bar code for an in-store clerk to scan.

 

Checkout 51

checkout51logo_colourThis is a unique app for grocery coupons. Savings are updated weekly and you don’t even need to remember to show the cashier your smartphone to scan a bar code. This one is different in that all you have to do is take a picture of your grocery receipt with your smartphone, check the boxes for the offers that you are taking advantage of, and you are done.  Keep in mind, you won’t receive any actual money back from the coupons until your savings account balance reaches $20.

*I would suggest hanging on to your receipt until you receive the email that Checkout 51 has accepted it—photos must be clear and must include the entire receipt, so you may need to retake a picture if it doesn’t clearly show all items.

 

Cartwheel

Target-Cartwheel-AppIf you are a Target shopper, you definitely need the Cartwheel app. Savings are updated often and you must go into the app and select the offers that you would like—be aware that you are limited to selecting only 10 offers at a time though. At the checkout, you simply show the cashier the bar code on your Cartwheel app and it will take off the coupon amount for any offers you have selected. You can also increase your savings by using a Target credit or debit card and save additional 5% on your entire purchase.

 

Snip Snap

snip snap logoSnip Snap also offers coupons for several types of retailers (much like Retail Me Not). This ranges from bar codes to scanned current print coupons. There is a rating for each offer as to how well it worked for other Snip Snap users. Honestly, I have never had any trouble using even the scanned coupons on here, but there is some feedback that certain retailers won’t accept the coupon in certain formats on here. If you don’t have another coupon though, it is worth a shot to save a little extra money though, right?



5 Things to Know When Starting a Business

5 Things to Know When Starting a Business | Money Savvy Living

 

Being a business owner and working for yourself has many rewards… and many risks. While the thought of not having to punch a clock for someone else is exciting to you, competition in the marketplace and inconsistent income streams can be substantial challenges for any new business. If you have been thinking about starting your own business, there are five things that you should consider before taking the plunge.

 

1) Initial Investment—Do you have enough money set aside to live off of while you get your business up and running? Or will you be continuing to work your current job while starting a side business? Depending on the type of business that you choose, you could have little or no start-up costs. For instance, taking a hobby, such as photography, and turning it into a side business would not require a huge initial investment.

 

2) Business type—What service will your business provide? What product will you sell? Will your business primarily exist online, such as an e-commerce store, or will your business primarily operate through a brick-and-mortar storefront, such as a medical supply store or beauty salon?

Certified Public Accountant, former IRS agent, and author of Outsmarting the System: Lower Your Taxes, Control Your Future, and Reach Financial Freedom, Anthony Campidonica, offers the following advice to clients regarding the tax implications of starting a side business:

 

3) Tax Benefits—A side business can present you with favorable tax opportunities. Business owners are allowed to convert personal expenses into legal business deductions if those expenses are considered ordinary and necessary expenses related to the operation of the business activity. These expenses include, but are not limited to, cell phone bills, computer, and meals and entertainment.

 

4) Tax Obligations—As a self-employed individual, you are generally required to pay quarterly estimated taxes for your self-employment tax and income tax.

  • Self-Employment Tax – Self-employment tax (SE tax) consists of Social Security and Medicare tax. It is similar to the Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld from the pay of most employees. You are generally liable for SE tax if you had net earnings from self-employment of $400 or more. Self-employment tax is a percentage of your net earnings from self-employment. Net earnings are calculated as the gross income you derived from your business less ordinary and necessary business expenses.
  • Income Tax – You are required to pay income tax, which is in addition to the SE tax, on your net earnings from self-employment. This is a tax imposed on your income from your business, which is determined by applying a rate to the net earnings.
  • Quarterly Payments – Because you do not have an employer withholding Social Security and Medicare taxes, and income tax for you on your earnings, you make estimated payments to pay these taxes. Speak to a tax professional or use the worksheet in Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals to find out if you are required to file quarterly estimated tax payments and if so, the amount of the taxes.

 

5) Recordkeeping—Typically, taxpayers who are the most organized with their records pay the least amount of taxes because they are able to fully and accurately account for their income and expenses. Learning how to properly substantiate your expenses can save you both time and money. There are many software programs that can help you maintain your records in an orderly and consistent manner.

 

*The advice shared in this article is for informational purposes only. Before starting a business, you should talk to a tax professional and fully research the tax implications and/or tax obligations that come with it for your specific situation.