Frugal Novice

Get Your Car Ready for Back-to-School

Do you have your car ready for back-to-school? Check out these tips in this sponsored post and you’ll be ready in no time!

It’s just about a month until kids go back to school (has summer flown by for ayone else?) and it’s a great time to start thinking about how to get organized. We often focus on the home – having things ready for lunches, making it easy for the kids to pick out their clothes, and creating a space for working on homework.

One often-overlooked space for back-to-school readiness is the car. If you organize your car the right way it can make drop-offs easier and pick-ups more pleasant. Here are three tips for getting your car in A+ shape before the new school year arrives:

1. Use seat organizers. I’m sure you’ve seen these before – they hang down the back of car seats and have various-sized pockets for housing different items. This can be a great way to make sure you have all the things your kids might need. Kids forget breakfast? No problem – keep granola bars or small cereal boxes in some of the pockets! Have a four-year-old with a boo-boo that threatens to derail your morning? Have Neosporin spray and band-aids at the ready. Think about what you wish you’d had on hand this past school year and make a list to stock your car well.

2. Use shower caddies to make for neater eating. You can find these at the dollar store, and they’re an amazing way to let kids eat in the car without making a huge mess. Just place all the components of their breakfast (or dinner, if you’re out running errands – last minute school supply shopping, anyone?) and it keeps everything contained.

3. Get a cooler for your car. If you’re often carting your kids around to soccer practice a car cooler can make your life so much easier! It plugs right in to your car’s cigarette lighter and allows you to have cold drinks on hand. It’s also a great way to keep fresh fruit, carrots, or cheese sticks around for healthy snacks.

If a new car is on your school supply list, check out Junction Auto Sales in Chardon, Ohio!

Best Car Accessories for Moms

If you’ve got kids, you’ll love this sponsored post with some amazing car gadgets that will make your life easier.

I’m a big fan of things that make life easier – as a mom to three kids, and as someone who also works full-time, I feel like we’re constantly on the go (side note: I love our minivan – find your own at Humes Chrysler Jeep Dodge). So if I can find something that simplifies any part of my day, I’m all about it! Since we’re out and about so much, I thought I’d share with you some car accessories that are sanity savers. Here are the best gadgets for moms & families:

1. Proximo. Y’all, I forget where I park ALL THE TIME. I’m serious. If I’m alone I really do just fine, but how often does that happen? Never! I’m usually with the family or with a friend – or on the phone with someone – and I’m completely distracted as I park and enter a store. This means that when I exit the store I’m left wandering the lot and pressing my car lock button over and over again hoping to hear it beep to guide me the right way.  Proximo lets you use an app on your phone to track your car in the parking lot so you’re not meandering around – and bonus: you can also use it to track your keys in the house!

2. Zubie. This is a device you plug into your vehicle and it will provide all sorts of great services, like information on how safely you’re driving (how great would this be if you have a teenage driver?) how your car is doing.  My favorite aspect, though? You can also set it up so a text message is automatically sent to your the recipient of your choice when you get to a certain location or come home. This, again, would be really awesome for peace of mind with teenage drivers. You’ll know when they’ve made it to school or the house safely without having to bug them with a text checking in on them.

3. ChildMinder Smart Clip System. This thing is awesome with the safety it provides for our little ones. Have you ever started to drive off without buckling your baby’s car seat completely? The ChildMinder clips right on to the car seat strap and alerts you if the strap becomes detached, too loose, or if you forget to buckle the straps altogether. And this next safety feature it provides is crucial: it will trigger an alarm if you move more than 15 feet away from baby, keeping you from ever accidentally leaving baby in the car unattended – this is especially important during hot weather, which we have a LOT of in Texas!

When Sick Gets Real on Road Trips

PfizerMeds

This post has been sponsored by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I’ll never forget a particular road trip we took to Fort Worth, Texas a little over six years ago. We drove in for the day to attend an event and planned to just drive back late that same night, so we decided we didn’t really need to bring much with us. J was almost 4, and C was a little over 2, so we didn’t even have to bring a huge diaper bag with us – we just brought a few diapers and a pack of wipes and thought we were good to go!

We made it through the day without incident, and decided to grab dinner before we hit the road. Brian was holding C as we waited to order, and then… sick got real. It got real all over C and ALL over Brian. The amazing employees told us they would handle clean up, but then we were left to figure out how to clean up Brian & C. We hadn’t brought any clothes, so we had to run to the store to buy replacement clothes, paper towels, a bucket, and some Children’s Advil® for his fever that seemed to pop up out of nowhere!

I won’t lie, that night was pretty rough (especially for Brian, who bore the brunt of the … sick – ew!). We’re so thankful we were near a Target and could run in for the supplies we needed, but we also learned how important it is to be prepared.

Whether it’s a day trip or a long cross-country trek we always travel with basic kids’ medicine. Children’s Advil®, Children’s Dimetapp®, Children’s Robitussin® are great to have on hand so that if sick gets real, you’re ready!

  • Children’s Advil® is a great solution for kids as young as 2 and up to 11 to ease aches and pains & to bring down fevers. Children’s Advil® comes in several flavors, including: Sugar-free Dye-free Berry, Bubble Gum, Grape, Blue Raspberry, Fruit and Dye-Free White Grape (our kids’ favorite!) flavors. There’s also Infants’ Advil® White Grape, which provides unsurpassed fever relief (among OTC pain relievers) with a syringe for easy dosing for children 6-23 months.
  • Children’s Robitussin® Extended-Release 12 Hour Cough Relief is awesome to have on hand for controlling and relieving symptoms all day and night. Available in grape or orange flavor, for children ages 4 and up. Please note, certain Children’s Robitussin® products are only suitable for children ages 6 and up.
  • Children’s Dimetapp® Multi-Symptom Cold Relief Dye-Free eases your child’s stuffy and runny nose, while quieting a bothersome cough. All in a great-tasting grape flavor that’s dye-free, for children ages 6 and up.

Before you go: Enter this great giveaway for your chance to get a $25 virtual VISA gift card and Children’s Advil®, Children’s Dimetapp®, Children’s Robitussin® so you can be prepared for when sick gets real in your house!

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Tips for Saving Money on Gas

Have you gone on any road trips this summer? Whether you’re driving across country or around your city, this sponsored post will show you how to make your money go further. 

The cost of gas can add up quickly, right? Even when we’re not traveling out of town we can blow through a tank of gas way more quickly than seems possible. You can’t always help how much you’re driving, of course, but you can take steps to make your dollar stretch just a little bit further. Try these tips today to see a difference in your spending on gas!

1. Don’t have a lead foot. Rapidly accelerating your car can guzzle gas quickly. Many vehicles now have a light that turns on when you’re driving in a way that uses gas economically. If you press on the gas pedal to speed up, you’ll notice that light turn off. Try to drive at a consistent speed and not accelerate quickly at lights or on the freeway to pass someone, and your tank of gas will last longer.

2. Avoid unnecessary idling. I’m guilty of this often, especially during the school year! When I’m waiting to pick up the kids from school I sit for 10-15 minutes with the car – and air conditioner – on. Idling can use a quarter to a half a gallon of fuel per hour, and if you’re using your air conditioner while you sit like I do it can use even more fuel. Turn your engine off when you’re parked, and roll down your windows. If it’s the fall and a little chilly, keep a jacket in the car  rather than keeping your heater running.

3. Look for fuel savings opportunities. Our grocery store lets us accumulate points, and we can earn up to $1.00 off per gallon. There are other savings card programs through gas stations and credit cards, too! My in-laws use points they earn on their credit cards to buy Sam’s Club gift cards and get “free” gas that way. So smart!

4. Buy a vehicle that is fuel-efficient. Newer vehicles are more efficient than older ones, so it might be time to trade in your old car for something new. Visit Savage Chrysler to find many great options.

Take Your Test Drive to the Next Level

Have you taken many test drives? Before you take your next one check out this sponsored tips for making the most of your trial time in a vehicle.

Whenever we’ve bought a car, there’s been one common element – the test drive. It can make or break a car purchase, but it can end up being less helpful if you don’t fully take advantage of the time you’ve got to try out the car you’re thinking of buying (speaking of car shopping – visit Legacy Dodge Jeep Chrysler RAM. Check out these tips for making the most of your test drive so you can feel confident in your car choice:

1. Make a list of your priorities before you drive. It can be easy to get swept up in luxurious touches on a car, losing sight of what you’re really wanting. Seat warmers may be pretty awesome, but if your car doesn’t have the cargo space you need for family road trips you’ll be regretting your purchase down the road. If you have a checklist, you can make sure you don’t overlook anything – and you can even jot down notes for the various cars you test drive to make it easy to compare them when you’re ready to make a decision.

2. Bring a friend with you. No, it’s not for moral support (although that’s a great perk!). Have your friend sit in the passenger seat during part of the test drive, then stop during the drive and have them sit in the back seat as well (and definitely have them try out 3rd-row seating if that’s applicable – you want to make sure there’s plenty of leg room.

3. Park it. Don’t just drive down the road – try parking (and backing out of) a spot in a crowded parking lot. Is the car easy to maneuver? Are there any blind spots that make it difficult to back up? If you think about how many different places you park your vehicle each week this is a crucial test that every car should be able to pass before it’s purchased.

How to Get a FREE Box of Samples From PINCHme!

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I received a PINCHme box to facilitate this review. I was not monetarily compensated for this post, and all opinions are honest and are my own.

love trying new products, and oh my word do I love free samples. So when I got the chance to try out PINCHme I jumped all over it – the best of both worlds!

PINCHme was created to serve as a destination for members to sample products from the worlds leading brands, for free. All they ask is that you tell them what you think.

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It’s always fun getting a box in the mail, and I couldn’t wait to see what was included in mine.

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There were two food-related samples in mine, and seriously – both were a great fit for our family. The kids were all about trying the Quaker Chewy Bites, and I’m planning to make a peanut butter & chocolate protein shake with the grass fed whey.

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I also got some shampoo & conditioner, deodorant, personal cleanser, deet-free bug spray & a lint roller. We have a labrador/golden retriever that sheds like crazy so I was especially excited about the lint roller!

Biore-PinchMe

My favorite part of the box was the Bioré products – they were all full-size, which is awesome in itself. But I have loved Bioré products in the past, and trying their new items was right up my alley. I love that these products include more natural ingredients like baking soda and charcoal. They all smell great with a light citrus scent, and they’re a great fit for my oily-to-combination skin. I can’t wait to tell my friends to give this new Bioré line of products a try!

To get your samples, remember to log in at noon on the day the samples are released (which happens to be TODAY, y’all… so get on it!) – click here to go ahead and fill out your profile so you can be ready to snag your samples.

 

We <3 Sam's Club

This is a compensated post. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Our family consists of 5 people; my husband, our 9-year-old son, our 8-year-old son, our 4-year-old daughter, and me. We also have two dogs (one of whom is 85 pounds) and a cat. Our house is full and we run through food and household items so quickly (which I know will only accelerate when we enter the teenage years)!

Sam’s Club is a perfect place to shop for our family – for one thing, we can buy in bulk.

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We also find great deals on books, clothes, and toys.

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The kids love getting free samples when we go, too!

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One of my favorite things to get at Sam’s Club is gift cards. They’re always cheaper than the value you receive, and our location even has gift cards for local restaurants.

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Another reason to love Sam’s? You can save all sorts of time with their awesome app by scanning items as you go, letting you check out without even having to stand in line.

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Win a $100 Sam's Club Membership!

Right now there’s an awesome giveaway going on. You could win one of TEN free Sam’s Club memberships! Go here to enter for your chance to win… the giveaway ends THIS Friday, June 2nd, so go enter now!

Planet Fitness Update – When Life Gets Busy

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I received a membership to Planet Fitness to facilitate my path to fitness and my blog posts chronicling my progress.

It’s been longer than planned since my last post. We traveled over 4,400 miles in April for a wedding one weekend and a funeral the next. April did not end up looking like we thought it would. Have you had months like that?

Before we left for all our travels I headed in to work out at Planet Fitness. I’ve discovered the 30-minute express circuit, and it is perfect for busy working moms like me.

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In the 30-minute circuit, you alternate between aerobic activity on steps and various weight machines. There are 10 strength machines and 10 cardio-step stations. It’s SO easy to stay on track – there’s a light in the area that switches from red to green. When the light is red, you rest & switch to your next station, and when it’s green you work out at that station until it turns red again.

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I love that the circuit works a variety of muscles, and fits in aerobics as well. At the end of 30 minutes, you will have completed the circuit and received a full-body workout. When I tried the circuit on my own for the first time, I just did a basic step at each of the cardio-step stations. I signed up for a personal training appointment and learned how to make the most of my aerobic time. The trainer was great and showed me something different to do at each station. It’s a lot more work, but my Apple watch let me know I burned a lot more calories, too! If you are a member at Planet Fitness – or plan to join soon – be sure and take advantage of the personal trainer. It’s a FREE service, so you’re only losing out if you don’t give it a try.

I’m looking forward to going back to Planet Fitness tomorrow and getting back on track with my fitness goals after a rollercoaster month. I’ve got to say, though, that my crazy month really hammered home how great it is that Planet Fitness is affordable. At just $20 for the Black Card membership, even if I’m only able to make it to work out 4 times one month I am still getting my money’s worth (and of course there’s the less expensive $10/month option, too).

It didn’t work out for our trips because of the extremely quick nature of each one, but it’s also great to know how many locations there are around the country. If you’re out of town for work or even for a vacation you can still get in your workout!

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ALSO – Don’t miss out on this awesome deal that’s good through May 12. Right now you can join Planet Fitness for just $5 down (& then of course it’s just $10/month for a regular membership. Find your nearest location here!

Great Tax Day Deals!

Tax Day can be stressful, but you know what takes away stress? Awesome freebies & discounts! Go have some noodles for lunch, chicken for dinner, and end your day with a free hydromassage.

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Planet Fitness

  • From Saturday, April 15 – Saturday, April 22 consumers can receive a free HydroMassage at any Planet Fitness location. De-stressers need only bring in a coupon available on PlanetFitness.com (starting April 15) before relaxing their cares away.

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Noodles & Company

  • From Wednesday, April 12 – Tuesday, April 18, those who file their taxes digitally this year can receive $4 off any $10 purchase placed through order.noodles.com using the code “TAXDAY17” at checkout.

Boston Market_Tax Day Special

Boston Market

  • On Tuesday, April 18, any guest who dines in-restaurant can purchase a $10.40 Tax Day Meal Special. Offer includes a Half Chicken Individual Meal with 2 sides, cornbread, a regular fountain beverage and a cookie.

Olay Review – My 28-Day Study Results!

Olay-Featured

This is a compensated post with Olay through Acorn Influence. All opinions in this post are honest and are my own.

Guys. I’m 35. I seriously don’t know how that happened, because it feels like just yesterday that I was 25, but life in my mid-thirties is pretty great, so I’m embracing it!

What I’m not embracing? Wrinkles. I’m all about taking good care of my skin – taking measures to reduce any wrinkles I’ve gotten so far, and using products to help prevent future wrinkles as much as possible.

When I heard about Olay’s SkinAdvisor tool, I jumped all over trying it out. I always love taking quizzes on Facebook to get insight into my personality, and the idea of taking an assessment to get a better feel for my skin needs is right up my alley.

If you’d like to try it out for yourself (which I highly recommend – I loved it), here’s how: On your movile device, visit https://skinadvisor.olay.com.

  • Snap a photo of yourself (without makeup on!) and upload it to the site.
  • Skin Advisor will analyze your color, eye lines, wrinkles, and more – giving you an age estimate. Then it gives you specific product recommendations for your skincare needs for you to purchase at Walmart. SO easy!

Olay-Products

Two of the products recommended for me were the Olay Regenerist Cream Cleanser and the Olay Eyes Pro Retinol Eye Treatment. I love that the products were easy to find at my local Walmart! And I’ll tell you up front – I am not a person who has the patience for a lengthy skin-care regimen. I need something quick and simple if I’m going to stick with it. So I loved that the SkinAdvisor took that into account and recommended products easy to fit into my routine.

Here’s a quick video about my thoughts:

I’ve been really happy with the results. As far as the cream cleanser goes, my skin is clearer after switching to Olay – this is not something I expected at all but as someone who’s struggled her whole life with breakouts it is absolutely awesome. I also feel like my complexion is a little brighter and it makes me look more energized overall.

I like the pro retinol eye treatment, too. The results have been subtle, but noticeable. I wasn’t sure how much of a change there was just looking at my day-to-day photos, but when I saw Day 1 and Day 28 I can definitely see the improvement in my eye area. I’ll be continuing to use this product too and can’t wait to see how much more those fine lines around my eyes are reduced.

Here’s my day 1 photo:

Day1

Here’s day 14 – halfway through the study:

Day14

And here’s my day 28 photo:

Day28

Be sure and check out the SkinAdvisor, and head to Walmart to have access to all the Olay products. You can see product information and read other women’s 28-day study experiences on the 28 Days of Olay page, too!

Getting Fit with Planet Fitness

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I received a membership to Planet Fitness to facilitate my path to fitness and my blog posts chronicling my progress.

As a full-time working, blogging, DIY-ing, mom of three kids, life is busy. A good busy, don’t get me wrong – I love my job, my blog, my hobbies, and my family. But busy is busy, and that means it’s hard to fit anything extra into my week.

I’m 35, though, and am still (ahem, 4+ years later) hanging on to some baby weight (can you still call it that 4 years later? I’m going with yes.) I know how important it is to be healthy, and that means I need to make it a priority now. I’m tracking what I eat, but diet is just one aspect of getting healthy. I want to build strength and endurance, too – and that means I need to get active.

Planet Fitness is the perfect place for a mom like me for many reasons. Number one? It’s not intimidating at all. As a non-fitness-buff person it can be a turn-off to go to a gym and feel like you don’t fit in, but Planet Fitness truly is a place for everyone. Their motto is “judgement-free zone” and they’ve really achieved that feeling.

Another reason I love Planet Fitness is the flexibility. It’s open 24 hours a day, so I can go whenever I want – before the kids wake up for the day, or after they’ve gone to bed.

Price is a big factor for me when considering a gym, too, and Planet Fitness has the most affordable pricing structure I’ve ever heard of – just $10/month for the basic plan, or $20/month for the black card (plus a once-a-year $39.99 fee). I’m trying out the black card membership, and guys, the perks really make it worth the extra $10 a month. For one thing, I can bring a guest with me every single time I go work out. Having company makes working out so much more fun, and makes me more likely to actually go. The black card membership also offers access to the hydromassage beds, massage chairs, and even tanning beds.

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I went and signed up for my membership, and every single employee I encountered seemed happy to be there and happy to help. The staff can really make or break a gym experience, and they really set the tone  that this was going to be a welcoming place to work out.

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I went the very next day for my first workout. It was a Saturday morning and it was busy but not overly crowded. I worked out on the elliptical (spoiler alert: it’s really hard to take a photo while using an elliptical – but here I am in all my blurry glory!):

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I did 30 minutes, which went by incredibly quickly because I was able to watch TV while I work out. They have TVs tuned to various channels, so I set up near HGTV and was a happy camper while I burned a decent amount of calories and got some good cardio in.

I tried out the machines on a subsequent visit, and also tested out the 30-minute circuit, which is an easy way to get strength training in for a variety of muscle groups. Brian and I even had a date night to Planet Fitness last week and had a lot of fun.

I’ll be posting once a month to let you know my progress – so check back in a couple of weeks for my first update! I’m going Thursday to meet with a (free!) personal trainer so I can get a plan tailored just for me.

Find a Planet Fitness near you – at $10 a month you can’t really justify not working out!

Dressing Up Has Never Been So Fun! Little Adventures Princess Dress Review {& Giveaway!}

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We received two princess dresses and some accessories for our review. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. And thanks to Little Adventures for providing the awesome giveaway prize! 

My daughter, E, loves to dress up. My boys dressed up a little here and there – they loved to be superheroes or ninjas – but having a little girl is just a Whole New World (yes, we’ve watched Aladdin recently – why do you ask?). She likes to dress up as characters to coordinate with the movie she’s watching, to play with her friends when they’re over, or just for fun while she plays in her room.

The problem with the frequency of her dressing up is that the clothes get worn out pretty quickly. The seams come undone, the fabric rips – or she might get a stain on the fabric, which is a pain since the clothes don’t always hold up well in the washing machine.

I know I’m not alone in how I feel about dress-up clothes. In 2002, when two moms discovered the lack of clothing-quality dress-ups and princess costumes available for their children, they decided take action. Jenny Harrison, mother of ten, and Heather Granata, mother of five, began their own little adventure by sewing and selling their very own dress-ups at local craft fairs. They made them soft and machine washable! They engineered them for everyday, all-day adventure! The brand Little Adventures was born, and I wish I’d discovered them years ago!

I’m not kidding you when I tell you that these are – by far – the best quality princess dresses we’ve ever had. There are no rough edges and itchy internal seams or fabric. Everything is soft and so well finished. Seriously, it’s such high-quality work that I would think these dresses were out of our price range (spoiler alert: they’re totally reasonably priced – I’ll tell you more about that in a bit).

We requested the Snow White dress and the Cinderella Butterfly dress – and we also received the fullness slip (which is super soft, not scratchy netting like many other dresses have), the soft gold crown, and the Cinderella accessory set.

The attention to detail is just impeccable. The fabrics feel luxurious, but they’re also durable… and washable. This means that these are dresses girls can actually play in.

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These dresses make it easy for girls to feel like they’re transported into a fairy tale!

Here are some of the details of the Snow White dress:

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SnowWhite-Spinning

And here are some photos of the Cinderella dress and accessories:

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Heart-Cinderella

You can easily see that every aspect of the dresses are well-crafted. And these deluxe dresses are just $39.99 each! There are standard versions of the dresses, too, which are also really great and just cost $29.99. That’s seriously not much more at all than dresses you’d find at big-box stores, and the quality of Little Adventures dresses is just above and beyond any other dresses we’ve had.

I’ve got GREAT news for you –  well, two pieces of great news, actually! First of all, for the next 30 days I’m getting to share a code for 15% off all purchases at LittleAdventures.com. Just enter the code lapromo-fn at checkout. Remember, this code is only good through April 20!

And secondly, I’m getting to host a giveaway for a $75 gift code to Little Adventures! If you don’t have girls, don’t worry – Little Adventures has great items for boys, too. Just enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter widget below!

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