Frugal Novice

Vehicle Feature Series: Dodge Ram 1500

This is a sponsored post partnered with Barkau Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Freeport. All opinions are honest and are my own.

In the last of my vehicle feature series, I’m focusing on the 2020 Dodge Ram 1500. I was never much of a truck person until my husband and I started doing more and more woodworking projects. The appeal of being able to haul large loads became apparent to me, and now that my husband has a small truck I have gained an appreciation for trucks even more.

The 2020 Ram 1500 Crew Cab model with optional front crash prevention and available Adaptive LED headlights built after May 2019 has been named a 2019 Top Safety Pick,  and focuses on providing a smarter way to tow. All 2020 Ram 1500 models now have the following features available: Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Path and Trailer Detection, which scans the blind spot zones beside and behind the vehicle to help ensure trailer safety; amazingly enough this detection system automatically senses and accounts for the length of the trailer.

One concern many people might have when it comes to trucks is worrying about having comfort, and having enough space to fit passengers. The Ram 1500 has rear legroom of 45.1 inches, available reclining rear seat, available rear seat fold-down center console, and available under-seat storage. You can seat 5 people comfortably and still have room for gear that those people might bring with them. Getting in and out of the truck is easy, too, with power side running boards.

The tailgate on the Ram 1500 has a 60/40 split, and offers more ways to access the bed while still being able to handle demanding loads. The split, swing-away doors accommodate easy loading, making it easier to step up, load bulky items, unload and wash out the bed. There’s great storage on the exterior, too, with the RamBox Cargo Management System. 

Vehicle Feature Series: Dodge Durango

This is a sponsored post partnered with Kahlo Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. All opinions are honest and are my own.

In my latest post on vehicle features, I’m focusing on the Dodge Durango. I mentioned in my first post my love of SUVs, and I enjoyed learning about all this model has to offer, particularly when it comes to safety.

The Durango has all sorts of tech-advanced features like keyless enter ‘n go and UConnect technology that includes Remote Vehicle Start, Roadside Assistance, Android Auto Integration, Apple CarPlay Support, and navigation system. You can even add in a dual-screen Blu-Ray entertainment system.

The Durango has a strong and secure steel cage that helps keep you safe and secure in case of an accident. It has a blind spot monitoring system, and has Electronic Stability Control with Electronic Roll Mitigation that helps you maintain directional control on low-traction surfaces and helps prevent rollover. The Durango uses throttle control and limited braking when detecting slower traffic ahead to adjust cruising speed and keep a safe distance.

The brakes on the Durango are high-tech and intuitive, too, including: 

  • RAIN BRAKE SUPPORT When the windshield wipers are activated, light pressure is applied to the calipers to remove water from the pads.
  • BRAKE ASSIST Available Brake Assist can boost the braking power when it detects the rate and amount of brake application for emergencies.
  • READY-ALERT BRAKING Suddenly releasing the accelerator pedal will activate Ready Alert Braking, which prepares the brakes for a panic stop.
  • ELECTRONIC BRAKE FORCE DISTRIBUTION Regardless of any vehicle-load conditions, Electronic Brake Force Distribution regulates braking pressure from front to rear to enhance stopping distances.

Vehicle Feature Series: Chrysler Pacifica

This is a sponsored post partnered with Falls Motor City. All opinions are honest and are my own.

In case you missed my last post, I’m taking the time this month to share features of several 2020 vehicles, in hopes that this will help you narrow down your search if you’re trading in your old car like so many tend to do at the start of a new year.

This time I’m focusing on the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica. As a mom, I’m a big fan of minivans. The fuel economy, the safety, and the cargo space are all big bonuses, and the Pacifica definitely has all of these – and it also offers America’s first-ever hybrid minivan. The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid gets up to 82 MPG rating, and seamlessly switches from electric to gas.

The Pacifica is an extremely versatile minivan, with up to 243 possible seating configurations, and available stow ‘n go storage to haul all sorts of accessories that kids inevitably bring along with them. You can even opt for the stow ‘n vac onboard vacuum cleaner to make cleaning a breeze. 

The Pacifica also offers parking assist options, including: available 360° surround view camera, available ParkSense front and standard rear park assist, available parallel and perpendicular park assist, and rear cross path detection. All of these make for a safe and more convenient parking experience (and if you’ve got loud kiddos in the car with you, you know how hard it can be to focus while trying to park!).

Speaking of safety, The Chrysler Pacifica was named an IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2019 when equipped with optional front crash prevention and specific headlamps, and the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica achieved a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As a parent, safety is my top consideration when choosing a vehicle for our family, so these details alone make the Pacifica a great choice. 

Vehicle Feature Series: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

This is a sponsored post partnered with Century Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Mt. Airy. All opinions are honest and are my own.

The start of a new year is often the time that many people are thinking about refreshing things in their lives – cleaning out their homes, purchasing new appliances, and trading in their old vehicles for something new. With vehicles in particular there are so many options to choose from that I thought I’d take the next few days to feature several options. 

The first vehicle on my list is the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. I’ve always had a predisposition towards SUVs, and have always thought a Jeep would be a blast to own and drive. I’ve heard many people say that once you’ve owned a Jeep you can’t go back to any other vehicle, because you just love them so much. These aren’t a typical vehicle one thinks of when purchasing for a young family, but these can be a great choice for adventurous families with slightly older children. 

The Wrangler Unlimited has different options for roof designs. There’s the “Freedom Top” hardtop with removable panels above the driver and front passenger. There are also two different grades of soft tops available, and what’s called a Sky One-Touch roof, which is like a hardtop except for the flat portion directly over your head that folds backwards at the press of a button. This lets you get close to the openness of a soft top with its roof removed, butis simpler than having to remove the soft top. 

And of course one thing that’s incredibly unique about the Wrangler Unlimited is the ability to remove the doors, really integrating yourself with nature. The off-road capability of this vehicle is what it’s really known for, and having the doors off while off-roading seems like an awfully fun adventure. 

Wranglers in the past were more utilitarian, with metal finishes on the interior, but many have mentioned the style and comfort offered now for the interior – carpet, and a soft-touch dash – and the infotainment options.

The Wrangler Unlimited has over 70 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seats and over 31 cubic feet behind the rear 60/40 folding seats with an extra cargo bed under the hatch. Parents, take note: the Wrangler Unlimited comes standard with a completely washable interior featuring drain plugs and durable waterproof coating to handle even the messiest disasters little passengers might leave behind. 

Car Accident Checklist

This is a sponsored post partnered with Falls Motor City. All opinions are honest and are my own.

With winter weather, drivers must be especially diligent on the road. Even when you’re being as careful as you can, though, it’s still good to be prepared and know what to do in case you’re in the unfortunate situation of a car accident. It’s easy to be caught up in the shock and emotions of the moment and forget important things, so it’s a great idea to have a checklist handy. This is especially a good idea for new drivers who might be especially nervous! These are all just tips and are not intended to be medical or legal advice.

My parents once had someone back into them at a stoplight. The man who hit them apologized and they exchanged information. A few days later my mom happened to go into the insurance office to check on something and the man who had hit them was there trying to claim my parents had randomly backed into them at a red light. Thankfully they had the phone number of a witness who was able to confirm what had really happened! So tip 4 & 5 are especially good to consider!

  1. Stay at the scene. Make sure, though, that you’re not in a dangerous spot while you wait for authorities to arrive.
  2. Call aforementioned authorities. You always want the police to come and check out the situation so they can see if a ticket is needed for either party – and this can be important for insurance claims.
  3. Get the other driver’s insurance information, and give them yours.
  4. See if there are any witnesses to the accident, and get their names and phone numbers.
  5. Take photos of the positions of the vehicles and any damage (only if you can do so safely).
  6. Do not talk about who is responsible for the accident. Let authorities determine this.

Fun Road Trip Activities

This is a sponsored post partnered with Easterns Automotive Group. All opinions are honest and are my own.

If you’ll be doing some holiday travel in the coming weeks, you’ll definitely love this post! I’m sharing some tips for creative activities to keep your kids entertained in the car without having to resort to electronics the whole time.

1) “Car” Games. We call games without boards or pieces that we play in the car “car games.” Our kids love to play I Spy – just make sure they choose items in the car instead of things outside that you’ll be driving past! They also like to play Would You Rather? which is a really fun game for the whole family to play along with. Another game our family plays a lot is “My father owns a grocery store.” One person begins, saying, “My father owns a grocery store. In his store, he sells something that starts with the letter A.” The others then try to guess the item. The person with the winning guess then gets to think of an item for the letter B. It’s easy and a fun way to pass time!

2) Read books aloud or listen to audio books. Our family read the book Wonder together, and we’ve also been reading through the first three Harry Potter books. It is a lot of fun reading all together. Find a book that fits the age ranges of your kiddos, and if your children are old enough to want to read aloud let them take turns too. Wonder is a great book to start with!

If you can’t all agree on a book to read together, offer your kids the option of downloading audio books. This way they can each listen to what they want (thanks to headphones)!

3) Family trivia! Pick a version of Trivial Pursuit your family would love (we have the Harry Potter version, for instance, and I’ve seen Disney versions too) and bring it with you. Set a timer and see how many questions your family can answer within a certain time frame. This lets you all work together, and even the driver can get involved! You can set a goal and have a prize if your family achieves it (like going through a drive-thru for ice cream, for instance).

4) Get artistic. I always bring paper, colored pencils and washable markers on road trip (pro tip – don’t bring crayons during hot weather trips, or you’ll risk a big mess with melted wax!). Assign your kids drawing challenges, like: draw an item for every letter of the alphabet; draw what you’re most looking forward to on the trip (or your favorite activity you did, if you’re on your way home). You could also add in extra challenges like drawing with their opposite hand or drawing with their eyes closed. If you’re going to visit family, have your kids draw art to give the family you’re visiting!

5) Activity binders. I like to make one for each of my children, and I personalize the content for their interests. I include blank sheets of printer paper, puzzles, coloring sheets, blank comic book pages, and more. My daughter loves stickers, so I also include a pouch that can hook onto the rings of the binder and fill it with stickers. These binders are a great way to keep loose paper from cluttering up the car, and they allow my kids to have different types of activities all in one place. No need for separate books that just fill up the car!

Make sure you’re all set for your family’s next road trip with the perfect vehicle – check out Thompson Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Baltimore‘s site for more!

Winterize Your Vehicle

This is a sponsored post partnered with East Hills Jeep. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Winter is upon us, and even if you park in a garage, your car will eventually be affected by the elements when you’re out and about. It’s important in winter, above all the other seasons, to make sure your car is prepared.

1. Lubricate Window Tracks. This is one that seems like something small, but can really end up saving money in repairs! In the winter, freezing water can get down into the tracks of your vehicle’s windows, which can create drag when you try to open the window. That extra tension as you’re working the windows can damage cables, costing you a pretty penny.

2. Use a synthetic sealant or a wax to help protect your car’s finish. If you’re driving in an area that salts to de-ice the roads then your car is being exposed to even more potential damage, so using a sealant right before winter hits is a great way to provide a barrier against the elements for the winter months. It’ll give your car a nice shine, too.

3. Check your tires’ tread. It’s always important to make sure your tires have sufficient tread, but is especially important in the winter due to freezing rain, slush and snow. You want to make sure you have plenty of traction before you get out on potentially slick roads!

4. Switch out your windshield wiper blades. You might think all blades are created equally, but you’d be wrong! Regular wiper blades can get overloaded with snow, which greatly reduces their efficacy. The blades might create big streaks, or might not be able to get good contact on the whole surface, meaning some of the windshield doesn’t get cleared off.. Winter wiper blades are wrapped in rubber boot that prevents ice and snow from sticking.

New Year, New (to You) Vehicle!

This is a sponsored post partnered with Butler Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. All opinions are honest and are my own.

The new year is just a few weeks away, and that means it’s a time of newness in many ways – new resolutions, and new starts… and it’s also a great time to get a new vehicle, because of all the sales that take place around the holidays.

In our house we’ve purchased both new and used vehicles, and I especially like getting used vehicles, because you can get a great deal. Obviously you can get great deals on new vehicles, too, but if you’re wanting, say, a car loaded with all sorts of extras (like a navigation system, leather seats, etc.), going with a used vehicle will let you get more for your money.

When you buy a used vehicle, you can typically also get better insurance rates, which is another way in which buying used can help you stretch your dollar. You’ll also find that there’s often a broader selection of types of vehicles when you’re buying used.

Of course, if you’re buying a used vehicle, there are things to consider that you wouldn’t have to think about with a new vehicle. Look at the condition of the vehicle (make sure you get a certified used vehicle and learn the history before buying) and mileage to make sure the value for what you’re spending is on point. Make sure that whether you’re buying new or used you do your research and make a good choice!

Holiday Fun Series: Philadelphia

This is a sponsored post partnered with Quigley Motors. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Have you put up your Christmas tree yet? Strung lights along the rooftop? Hung stockings by the fireplace? Well, whether or not your home is ready for the holidays, you can be ready for lots of holiday fun. I’ve been posting ideas for Christmas activities in various cities, and today I’m sharing must-do events in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – perfect to load up the car with your family and fill your weekend with holiday fun!

• Christmas Village in JFK Plaza (also known as LOVE Park): This is a German-style festival complete with treats and eats, handmade toys and decor, live entertainment and more. The highlight of this event has always been the 27-foot tall lit-up present, and this year there’s also a 65-foot high Christmas ferris wheel, too. 

• Macy’s Christmas light display: The Grand Court has hosted a Christmas Light Show since 1956, so this is a long-time holiday tradition in Philadelphia. Macy’s continues the tradition of sugarplum fairies, dancing snowmen and more with a 100,000-light show narrated by Julie Andrews and accompanied by the famed Wanamaker Organ. Free performances take place every two hours during store hours. Between shows, you can also tour the second floor’s vintage Dickens Village, where intricate animated dolls and sets retell A Christmas Carol — and each free walkthrough ends in a chance to meet and get photos with Santa.

• Holiday Light Show at the Fashion District: If you’re looking for something quick to brighten up a December day, stop by for a 5-minute light show timed to music by the Philly POPS. You won’t want to miss the 45-foot-tall floating tree with giant stainless steel mirror ornaments.

• Christmas Underwater at Adventure Aquarium: There are the most underwater Christmas lights ever at Adventure Aquarium this year, with eight underwater Christmas tree displays, including the world’s smallest and tallest underwater Christmas trees. Visitors get the chance to see Scuba Santa and his “elfish” helpers diving beneath the surface and celebrating the season, as well as thousands of twinkling lights, colorful coral and sea-lightful illuminations that glow daily. This is a unique event fun for families! 

• Holiday Garden Railway at Morris Arboretum: Kids and adults alike will love the miniature winter wonderland complete with a quarter-mile of model-train tracks, seven loops and tunnels, 15 rail lines and model trains that travel past tiny replicas of historic monuments and Philadelphia landmarks showcasing thousands of lights.

Holiday Fun Series: Baltimore, Maryland

This is a sponsored post partnered with Miller’s Cross Pointe Motor Cars. All opinions are honest and are my own.

My last two posts focused on fun down south, but now I’m taking us back to the northeast to see what holiday activities are available in the Baltimore, Maryland area. One great thing about the northeast is how close so many cities are to one another; even if you live in another state like Virginia, getting to Baltimore just takes a quick trip in the car.

• Ice Skating at the Inner Harbor Ice Rink: You’ll feel like you’re in a Hallmark movie when you and your family head over to do a quintessential holiday activity – ice skating! This is a great location to make wonderful family memories.

• Sweet Street and Starlight, Gingerbread Night at the Maryland Science Center: Sweet Street is a giant, Maryland-themed gingerbread village! Each unique house or building was handcrafted at the Maryland Science Center. See how many Baltimore landmarks you can spot for yourself! And the planetarium has gingerbread cookies decorating the sky to show seasonal stars and favorite patterns. Take a look at the night sky with the help of these pastry astronomers.

• A Royal Breakfast & Train Ride (with Elsa, Anna & Kristoff) at B&O Railroad Museum: Attendees will have a royal breakfast buffet (complete with pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs, and more) with Elsa, Anna, & Kristoff. There will be indoor carousel rides, model train layouts and an exclusive train ride aboard the B&O Magical Holiday Express with Elsa, Anna & Kristoff – and of course there will be photo opportunities throughout the event.

• Parade of Lighted Boats: Baltimore’s annual Lighted Boat Parade consists of more than 50 festive vessels and benefits the Marine’s “Toys for Tots” annual Christmas campaign. Boats lit up for the holidays will parade through the Inner Harbor and Fells Point, and the parade starts at the Anchorage Marina on Boston St. with carols hosted by a local choir prior to the launch.

Holiday Fun Series: Abilene, Texas

This is a sponsored post partnered with Star Dodge. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Are you ready for some more Christmas celebration ideas? Since Texas is such a huge state, it only makes sense to have another post dedicated to Texan holiday happenings! This time we’re looking at Abilene & the Big Country area, about three hours west of Dallas. This area is an easy one-day road trip from DFW or Austin, so gas up your vehicle and make plans to head to the Abilene area this next weekend! 

• Winter Lightfest: This is a new event to Abilene, and is located in beautiful Centennial Park. You’ll walk along tree-lined paths lit with thousands of twinkling lights and animated displays. Stop in the Christmas village for refreshments and activities, enjoy live music, and take advantage of lots of photo opportunities along the way. 

• Christmas at the Farm: Denton Valley Farms is just a short drive from Abilene and provides a down-home Christmas experience for the whole family. There’s a hay ride through a light display (which organizers say boasts three times the amount of lights they had last year), Santa visiting, food trucks, homemade ice cream, crafts, an opportunity to roast marshmallows and make s’mores, and even a photo opportunity inside a giant snow globe.

• City Sidewalks and Christmas Parade: This marks the 31st year for this event, and the parade sets off a week of holiday cheer and fun events in the downtown area.

Santa Calls Letter Writing Station: Did you know Abilene is the Storybook Capital of America? The National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature is one of many arts organizations in town, and they’re hosting a free place to come write letters to Santa that will be sent directly to the North Pole! Make sure you check out the picture book art on exhibit while you’re there, too.

Holiday Fun Series: San Marcos, Texas

This is a sponsored post partnered with San Marcos Chrysler Dodge. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Howdy, y’all – are you ready for some Texas celebratin’? Today, in my “Holiday Fun” post series, I’m sharing (or should I say sharin’?) Christmas activities deep in the heart of Texas – San Marcos, Texas, to be exact. It may be 80 degrees some December days, but that doesn’t stop Texans from getting into the Christmas spirit! Hop in your car (or should I say truck? It IS Texas, after all) (linkto: https://www.sanmarcoschryslerdodge.net) and mosey on down to these activities:

• Sights & Sounds of Christmas: This popular annual festival has carnival rides for all ages, a variety of delicious festival food, live performances, and even a visit from Santa Claus. It has a petting zoo, Santa’s Gift Shop, Town of Bethlehem and even a scavenger hunt you can win prizes from by participating!

• Santa’s Ranch: Looking at Christmas lights is a tradition for most people, and this ranch is the ultimate drive-through light experience. You’ll travel a 1-mile country road filled with displays and animations, and you can get some delicious holiday treats like homemade hot chocolate and kettle corn.

• The Grand Ol’ Christmas Show is a live, one-of-a-kind musical variety show bringing all-time favorite Christmas classics and original sketch comedy antics to theaters across Texas. An original by The Grand Ol’ Production Company, produced by Will Hearn, featuring globally-acclaimed “Texas Piano Man” Robert Ellis and Americana standout Blue Water Highway as well as a cast of the best artists and entertainers in Texas.

• Christmas wine glass painting: This is exactly what it sounds like, and it’s something I never would have thought of, but it looks like a blast! Attendees will get to paint two wine glasses that are presented upside down as various cute Christmas characters like a gingerbread man, snowman, penguin and more.