Frugal Basics – Frugal Novice
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Frugal Basics

Data Done Right for Our Family With Virgin Mobile

 I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Virgin Mobile USA which is one of Sprint’s prepaid brands. I received two Virgin Mobile smartphones to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Our boys love screen time. If they had their way, they’d probably play video games every waking hour. We limit the amount of time they’re allowed to play, and it can be hard for them to share or take turns. If you have more than one child, you’ve probably experienced this very same issue.

VirginMobile

Virgin Mobile is a parent’s dream – they have Data Done Right Single Line and Multi-line Data Sharing plans, which are available exclusively at Walmart. It’s incredibly easy for family to share data, and we can split up the time between the boys with minimal bickering.

DataSharing_Screen

And since these phones aren’t contract plans, but are pre-paid cards, we know we don’t have to worry about them going oveboard and costing us an arm and a leg. These plans make us really aware of how much time each person is spending on the phone, and we can make sure we don’t have a data hog in the family!

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Be Ready for Summer Backyard Bashes with Charmin

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Charmin. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation. All content and thoughts are my own.

The Fourth of July is coming up next week and we’re planning to have a cookout! We’ll grill burgers and hot dogs, slice up a watermelon, and have some friends and family over for a classic summer celebration.

We love entertaining, and summer get-togethers are just the best. We can hang out in the back yard, let the kids run around and play, and enjoy cool treats to beat the heat. Fourth of July parties are always fun  to decorate for, because you can go all out with the red, white, and blue!

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Moms, You Don’t Have to Drive a Minivan!

Confession: we’re that family. The ones who said we’d never drive a minivan. And the ones who now do drive a minivan to car around our three kids. It works well for us, and truthfully I like it more than I ever thought I would. That being said, I really wasn’t aware of all my options when we made the leap to minivan-ownership, so I’d like to provide a public service now and make you aware of some options beyond the minivan. These are cars we’re considering for our next trade-in, starting with:

1. Chevrolet Traverse.
 This is a mid-sized SUV that seats up to 8 and has a ton of cargo space (116.3 cubic feet). It has six airbags, including an industry-first front-center air bag, and available Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning. Both of those features are perfect for driving with kids (aka distractions) in the back of your car. The safety features abound, and it gets decent gas mileage, too: 17 mpg/city and 24 mpg/hwy.

For other great alternatives to a minivan (including one that gets 34 mpg on the freeway!) visit my guest post over at the Bob Pulte Chevrolet dealership blog!

A Mom’s View: Favorite Features of the Dodge Grand Caravan

My parents started driving a Dodge Grand Caravan when I was in middle school, probably anticipating the vast number of times they’d have to cart me and my friends around. I’m pretty sentimental about the Caravan because of many great memories made over the years, but now as a mom of three kids I can appreciate the new Grand Caravans and all they have to offer. I never thought I’d be a “minivan mom” but I’ve definitely come to appreciate how great they are for families. Here are my favorite features of the Dodge Grand Caravan, starting with:

1. Seating for Seven. There’s plenty of room in the caravan for my family of five, with three rows that allow for some separation among siblings when needed. And when it’s parked, the 60/40 split folding third-row bench seats can flip completely rearward – perfect for tailgating or hitting up the local drive-in theater.

The rest of my favorites can be found in my guest post over at the Marty Cancila Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram dealership blog. Go check it out, and see why you’ll love the Dodge Grand Caravan, too.

Tips for DIY Detailing

I love having my car detailed; I’ve only done it twice, but both times I left the car wash feeling like I was in a brand-new vehicle. I also detailed my car before I traded it in; I felt like I wanted to put my best foot forward before going to the dealership. No matter what your circumstance, detailing your vehicle is a way to pamper yourself – and your car. If you’re not willing, or able, to shell out the money for someone else to detail your car, don’t worry! Did you know you can easily do it yourself and save money? Here’s a great tip to get you started:

1. Use an air compressor. Borrow one, rent one, or invest in one – regardless of how you acquire one, you’ll be glad you did. An air compressor lets you get rid of all the dirt in all the tiny nooks and crevices of your car, and loosens dirt from the carpet and seats.

Find out what else you should do to end up with a well-detailed car by visiting my post at the Lebanon Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership blog!

New Year’s Resolution Success with Kohl’s

Note: I received gift cards from Kohl’s to facilitate my post. All opinions are honest and my own.

I have a confession to make.

I’m pretty unoriginal with my New Year’s resolutions.

But, so far, I’m also pretty successful at keeping my resolution this year – so I guess in that way I’m fairly unique!

My resolution this year is to be healthier, which includes eating better and exercising more. I’ve tried this in the past and didn’t last long, but this time around I’m taking added steps to make sure I’m successful. I’ve found an app to help me track both calories consumed and burned; I’ve got an accountability partner (my husband – so convenient! And so amazingly awesome of him to agree to work out with me each night); and I’ve got the gear I need, thanks to Kohl’s.

I shop at Kohl’s pretty frequently for clothes, shoes, accessories, toys, and kitchen items. You probably do, too. But did you know Kohl’s has a pretty impressive line-up of items to help you live a healthier life?

Kohls_HealthStatement

There are a ton of options for workout gear – I personally think it’s a morale-builder to work out in something you feel attractive in; and if you feel attractive, you’re more likely to want to wear those clothes and work out in them.  Whether you’re a gym rat or you like to walk around your neighborhood, there’s attire for you.

Kohls_Womens-Workout-Clothes

Kohls-Tracksuits

Good shoes are crucial, and Kohl’s has plenty of those to pick from, too.

Kohls-NikeShoes

Don’t forget some headphones to listen to music while you work out!

Kohls_Headphones

They even have socks that wick away sweat, and I think we can all agree that’s a very good thing.

Kohls_Socks

Beyond clothing, though, there’s all sorts of exercise equipment, from weights to kettlebells to yoga blocks and more.

Kohls-Kettlebell

Kohls-Yoga-Kit

Kohls-Yoga-Block

And since you’ll be working up a sweat, you’ll want to make sure and stay hydrated. Kohl’s has got you covered there, too:

Kohls-WaterBottles

Of course, exercising is just part of living a healthier life. It’s important to make good choices with what you eat, too. There are a ton of kitchen gadgets on the market that make it fun and easy to eat healthy, and Kohl’s offers a wide variety to choose from. There were two items in particular I looked at – the Nutribullet Pro (how easy would it be to make smoothies with this?):

Kohls-MagigBullet

and this:

Kohls-Veggetti

You can make your own “noodles” out of veggies – too  cool! This would be a really fun way to give kids veggies, by the way. Or to lower your carb intake when it’s Italian night!

I decided to get something to help keep me accountable – a Fitbit Flex.

FitBit_Kohls

It’s been really great at motivating me to want to fit in as many steps as possible – and we got one for Brian, too, so we can challenge and encourage each other to stay active! Our Kohl’s had a kiosk right by the jewelry counter with the Fitbit Flex, Charge, Charge HR and Aria scale.

If you were thinking about making a resolution to live healthier, it’s not too late to start! It’s better to start a little later than not at all. Stop by Kohl’s and have a little healthy-living shopping spree. Get yourself shoes and workout clothes; find a DVD you can do right in your living room and grab a blender for smoothies in the morning. And if you get a Fitbit let me know so we can be friends and encourage each other!

Favorite Car Features for Parents

Happy family in car

We all have “extras” we want in a vehicle, but parents come to the table with a specific needs and challenges. Vehicle manufacturers have taken note, and there are several features parents especially love to have included in their car – here’s the first:

1. Built in sunshades. No one likes using those suction-cup screens that barely cover a portion of the window. Many cars now come with shades that slide up from the base of the window and can retract when not in use. These are perfect for shielding little eyes from the bright sun.

For four other features you’ll want to keep an eye out for in your next vehicle, check out my guest post at the Kayser Chrysler Center of Watertown dealership blog.

Buying Winter Tires: What to Keep in Mind

WinterTires

 

With all sorts of winter weather potentially right around the corner at any point this season, it’s a good idea to be prepared with winter tires so you’re ready to face whatever is thrown your way on your trips to work, errands, or longer trips out of town. If you live in a region that is consistently below 45 degrees in the winter and receives considerable winter precipitation, winter tires are a must-have – and you’ll want to think about the following:

1. An easier way to make the swap. Changing out tires at the start and end of winter can totally be a pain, but here’s something to try: When you purchase your winter tires, go ahead and spend extra to get inexpensive wheels to go along with your tires. You’ll want to make sure that the wheels you purchase will hold up well to winter weather, by the way. This will make it a lot easier to swap out your tires when the time comes.

For the rest of my tips, check out my guest post at the Kayser Chrysler Center blog.

Create a Car Emergency Kit Five Items that Should be in your Car’s Emergency Kit

Set of basic necessities

I’m a planner, and I like to be prepared. When it comes to being on the road, particularly for long road trips, it can be crucial that you have a proper emergency kit stashed away in your trunk. It’s  easy enough to put together, and you’ll sure be glad you did – better to have one and not need it than the other way around! You can buy pre-assembled kits, but as with many things, you can save money by purchasing just what you really need. I have a list of the top five things you should make sure you include when you’re putting your kit together – here is the first:

1.     First-aid kit. This one is a no-brainer, probably. But the majority of you reading this post now probably don’t already have one in your car, do you? It’s one of those things we know we need, but we never get around to purchasing. You can find really basic kits, or you can assemble your own. Neosporin, band-aids, antiseptic wipes, gauze, adhesive tape, and aspirin are all great things to include. Your family might have specific medical needs that you want to consider, too.

For the rest of my must-haves, go read my guest post at the David Hobbs Honda Dealership blog.

Five Things to Check Out when Buying a Used Vehicle

Used Car For Sale

Our current vehicle was bought used, and the experience was a good reminder of what to pay attention to when shopping. We ended up being really happy with our purchase, but it’s crucial to shop smart. I’ve got five tips for things to make sure and check out when you’re buying a used vehicle, and here’s the first:

1. The aesthetics. I don’t mean what color it is, although I totally understand preferring a certain color (we had to get a black minivan so it looked a little more “sporty”). Look for dents and rust and misaligned seams to doors on the outside; notice stains or burns on the interior. Every used car will have a little wear and tear, but if damage is extensive or over-the-top aesthetically, it might be a sign that the previous owner didn’t take great care of it (how many oil changes did they actually have done, anyway?).

For the rest of my tips, check out my guest post at the Ken Garff West Valley Pre-Owned Dealership blog!

Five Tips for Safe Winter-Weather Driving

WinterDriving

Whether icy weather has reached your neck of the woods yet or not, it’s probably only a matter of time before you find yourself navigating some slick roadways. One of the biggest hazards of driving in winter weather is drivers who don’t know how to handle the ice, so equip yourself with knowledge and be prepared! I’ve got five tips for driving safely in winter weather – check out the first below:

1. Don’t make rapid movements. Accelerate slowly and brake slowly. If you have anti-lock brakes, don’t pump your brakes even if you’re feeling frantic about needing to stop. If you know you’ve got a turn approaching, gradually slow down in advance so that you can make the turn without needing to brake around the curve.

For the rest of my tips, check out my guest post over at the Ken Garff West Valley Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram dealership blog.

Harley-Davidson Ups the Cool Factor for Holiday Gifts!

Note: I received a pair of men’s and women’s gloves to facilitate this post. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are my own. 

My Uncle Mike has always been someone important in my life (fun fact: our middle son’s middle name is partially in honor of Uncle Mike!); I have many memories of going up to visit my grandparents at the holidays and spending time with him and my Aunt Joan. Several years ago we were in the area they live and got to go visit them, but since they live several states away we don’t get to see them nearly as often as we’d like.

My aunt and uncle love to ride motorcycles, so I was incredibly thrilled to have the chance to send them an extra-special gift this year: beautifully-crafted, high-tech, leather gloves from Harley-Davidson.

MensGlovesHarleyDavidson

I received the Men’s Valve Full-Finger Gloves, and the Women’s Mystic Dual Chamber Full-Finger Gloves. They’re both incredibly well-made and it’s evident from first glance that a lot of care was put into every detail. And oh, the smell of that leather!

Here are some features of the men’s gloves:

  • Cowhide leather and tricot lining
  • Rolled tip fingers for comfort
  • Ergonomic thumb
  • Pre-curved fingers
  • Gel-padded palm
  • Comfort seams
  • Neoprene cuff with adjustable closure
  • Embroidered graphics

WomensGlovesHarleyDavidson-Palm MensGlovesHarleyDavidsonWrist

And here are features of the women’s gloves:

  • Goatskin leather
  • Dual chamber design provides two ways to wear depending on which chamber you put your hand inside. The warmth chamber provides added warmth allover the hand or the grip chamber allows for increased feel of the grips
  • Gel-padded palm
  • Pre-curved fingers
  • Power-stretch knuckles with contrasting stitching
  • 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material piping
  • Elastic wrist with adjustable closure

MensGlovesHarleyDavidsonFingerThumb MensGlovesHarleyDavidsonKnuckles MensGlovesHarleyDavidsonFingers

Even though it’s not listed on the Harley-Davidson site, both pairs of these gloves allow you to use your smart phone, with special material sewn into the pointer finger and thumb. So nice and high-tech!

If you’re looking for something special to give a motorcycle-lover in your life, I’d highly recommend these gloves. They’re sure to be a hit!