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Balancing It All

Struggling to balance all that an established lifestyle has to offer? The balancing it all group is for you. Discuss the challenges you face when your responsibilities at work, at home and with family and friends all compete for your attention.
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Balancing Family Balancing family life takes patience, resourcefulness and many laughs. Learn some tips for managing the challenges of the average family. 167
Divorce, Debt, and Finances Tips, Struggles and Successes navigating Divorce, Debt and Finances 92
  • Balancing Family

    Health Insurance Savings: Part Two

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    Facing unemployment, rising health insurance premiums, or having a child move off of your health insurance plan?  The blog explores ways to save money if you do not have employee based health insurance, or if you want to try to find a plan with a lower premium.

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  • Balancing Family

    H1N1 and Kids

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    As more children and adults become infected with the H1N1 virus, it is important to stay informed, practice good hygiene, and get vaccinated. 

     

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  • Balancing Family

    Halloween Costumes and Fun Ideas on a Budget

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    Halloween is just around the corner and like most holidays these days it can get expensive.  However, you do not have to spend a lot of money to have a spooktacular time!

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  • Balancing Family

    Saving Money on Dinner: Cooking Co-op

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    Wondering what to make for dinner?  Join or create a cooking co-op and let others decide for you; with the added bonus of saving money and time!

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  • Balancing Family

    Health insurance: Open Enrollment season

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    Many companies have their yearly open enrollment over the next few months. This blog explores how people with employee based health insurance can save money in the year ahead.

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  • Balancing Family

    Read the Fine Print

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    As many of you may know there are lots of changes going on in the credit card industry. If you have credit cards, even without a balance, and you receive a letter, make sure you open it and read the fine print!  Credit card companies are raising interest rates and charging  annual membership fees.

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  • Balancing Family

    Summer Lessons

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    I was lucky. When I was a child my father had the summers at home because he was a teacher.He took some classes, taught drivers education, maybe did a year or two of summer school, but for the most part I had both parents at home to take care of myself and my three sisters. I want my kids to have similar memories and while I am teacher by training, my husband is not. In fact, he is the busiest in his work in the summer time, so keeping my kids busy, happy and thriving is really up to me. At the same time, since I gave up my full time teaching job when my oldest was born, I have to watch every penny. I learned some lessons this summer and hopefully you can learn from some of my successes and lessons.

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  • Balancing Family

    Teaching Kids Smart Saving Strategies

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    My kids are great consumers, if they had their way they would buy anything their hearts wanted and have no money in the bank, plus be in debt to me!It is up to me (and their dad) to teach them to be savvy and smart with their money. If I am smart and savvy with my money, they are more likely to follow suit, and I have learned that is very helpful to admit mistakes and use them as teachable moments. There is a balance to teaching kids about money so that they learn to use money wisely but not worry needlessly. As with parenting kids, there is no one "right" way, but you can use these ideas to help your kids be money smart.

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  • Balancing Family

    Keeping Cool with the Grill

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    It is HOT where I live right now.  Hazy, hot and humid.  We all try to find ways to stay cool and during these hot summer days the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven.  I don't have central air-conditioning so when my oven is on the kitchen gets even hotter!  In addition to using the crock pot, grilling is a great summer time way to make up great, tasty and inexpensive food for the whole family.

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  • Balancing Family

    Saving Money when Traveling with Kids: Food

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    I knew I had made a mistake when I saw the prices at a fast food restaurant on the New Jersey Turnpike. Meals were in the $8-9 range, kid meals over $4. I gulped. We had just set out on the first leg of a two day drive for a family reunion and it had been so hectic getting ready I decided we would eat on the road. First mistake. Then there was construction around a different and cheaper fast food restaurant we had stopped at before (that is usually easy on, easy off the highway) that made me keep driving. Second mistake! Once you are stuck on a toll road you either need to have your own food or pay outrageous prices for mediocre food at best. We managed to not blow our budget by ordering just small sandwiches for my husband and myself plus ice...
  • Balancing Family

    Fishing With Kids

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    “Look mom, I caught a sunfish!” my son yelled. My eight year old son has on his summer list to go fishing in three new places. Last week, we packed up the fishing gear and headed to a lake where we had never fished before. A helper at a local sporting goods store had spent about fifteen minutes with my son the previous day telling him about some good fishing spots and helping him spend his allowance on fishing lures. I find fishing a great way to get kids outdoors; it engages them in an activity that can be as simple or complex as desired and it increases their awareness of the environment and the impact humans have on it. It is also a lot of fun and very exciting when a fish is caught even if the fish will be released so it can return home. ...
  • Balancing Family

    Get Ready for the Summer Without Breaking the Bank

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    “Mom, what are we going to do tomorrow? And the day after that? And the day after that?” I often hear this from my oldest child who likes to know in advance what is going on. During the school year this usually involves talking about what we plan to do afterschool, which usually does not involve too much as there is homework, dinner, baths, books, and playing with friends in the neighborhood when we can.. But in the summertime, the days are long, no longer does school occupy their time, and mom needs to plan. In summer pasts I have sometimes gotten to the end of the week and wondered where did my money go? Keeping three kids busy all summer long can be expensive, but it does not have to be. So here are some ideas for keeping kids busy and learning...
  • Balancing Family

    What To Do With a Tax Refund

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    People are standing on street corners dressed as the Statue of Liberty. Businesses are advertising that they will cash your refund check for free. Various commercials for tax companies air on TV and pop up on the computer. It must be tax time. After having taxes taken out of our paychecks last year, my husband finally sat down to figure out if we owe or get a return. I had to exit the house of all three kids on a weekend day in order for this to happen but the good news (I think- more on this in a future blog) is that we are getting a refund. The question hung in the air, “How much?” Then the decision, how do we use the money?...
  • Balancing Family

    Healthy and Inexpensive Meals

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    The toughest time in my house is from 4-6 pm. This is when my three children are home, homework must be done and checked, playtime needs to happen, the two year old toddler must be kept safe and busy, someone may have a sporting practice, Dad is not yet home from work and then sometimes calls to let me know he is running late or the traffic is bad. And somehow dinner must be made. I have served more chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese than I would like to admit, and my kids are huge fans of take out or frozen pizza. A big money drain is ordering out when I am too overwhelmed at this time of day to get food on the table. ...
  • Balancing Family

    Some Things You Don't Need Money For: Holiday Traditions

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    While it is hard to avoid the consumerism that surrounds Christmas, my husband and I have been working to build our own family traditions because we know these are the things that our children will remember about their childhood. And it does not have to cost much money to do something fun as a family. Many of the traditions below cost almost nothing. ...
  • Balancing Family

    Money Mom's Top New Year's Resolution

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    It is that time of year for a fresh start. In addition to losing 25 pounds left on me by my third child (I always tell her it is a good thing she is so cute) and lowering my cholesterol, I have some money resolutions I need to make. There is no time like January 1 to take stock of my family’s current financial situation and to make some changes. And I don’t want my resolutions to get thrown to the wayside so I am going to keep them as simple as possible, but it will not be painless. However, the health of my family’s finances depends on smart money planning, and that is an important part of my family’s health. ...
  • Balancing Family

    Don't Go Broke Buying Your Kids Holiday Gifts

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    I remember looking at a toy circular (there are many this time of year) a few years ago and remarking to my husband that kids get more expensive when they get older. IPods, video games systems, cool electronics, it all seemed so far away. I was happy we were still in the cheaper toy section, and my kids were pretty much happy with anything they opened, sometimes preferring the box a toy came in to the actual toy itself. This is no longer the case. Now there is a Nintendo DS on a wish list, an American Girl bed (who knew a bed for a doll costs $78?) and a number of other items circled in the toy circular their grandmother brought over to amuse them one evening. How does a parent keep holiday spending within reason yet still have children enjoy the magic of the season? It is not easy but with some careful planning, toy swapping, going to consignment shops, and internet price comparison it is possible to make it a magical time of year. ...
  • Balancing Family

    One Bright Spot in the Economy: Lower Gas Prices

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    I just bought gas for under $2 a gallon. Last time that happened was 4 years ago! WOW! It felt wonderful and yet I have this urge to pull off the road and buy gas almost every time I drive by a pump as the prices seem to keep falling. I was paying almost $4 a gallon in July and sweating every time I filled up the tank. These lower gas prices may be one of the few bright spots happening in our economy right now. ...
  • Balancing Family

    Trying to Save Money? Don't Write Off Books and Movies.

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    I love books and movies. Before I had kids I bought all of the books I wanted to read and even saw movies in the movie theatre. Not any more. I used to have a Barnes and Noble discount card and ordered the books on-line with free shipping. Not any more. I used to have a subscription to Netflix and the movies would sit and sit in my house hoping that I would be able to watch them. Not any more. I can’t believe I paid $25 for the right to have 10% off for a year at Barnes and Noble. When you do the math that means I have to spend at least $250 a year before the discount actually works. I would order books on-line, spending up to get the free shipping. My Netflix cost was $15 a month, and with my crazy life I rarely watched the movies I ordered. I have canceled both services and I am going to save AT LEAST $500 this year. ...
  • Balancing Family

    How to Get Bargains at Yard Sales

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    “Mom, pull over, this looks like a good one!” yelled my son from the backseat. We were out on a Saturday morning, driving in our neighborhood looking for good yard sales. I first started going to yard sales when I was setting up my first apartment as a young adult. I found dishes, glasses, silverware, furniture, pots and pans, and even a few wall hangings. As a new teacher, I hunted for used books for my classroom library, as well as games for indoor recess. Then I had enough “stuff” and I stopped going to yard sales. That changed once I had children and no second income. I have found most of my kids’ plastic toys at yard sales. ...
  • Balancing Family

    Teaching Kids About Money with an Allowance

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    I am hearing less of “Mommy, can I buy that?” when I take my kids shopping. A few months ago I almost made a T-shirt just for shopping that had “NO” written on the front and back. Instead of sounding like a broken record, saying “No” for the thousandth time and feeling like the meanest Mommy alive, I started giving my older two children an allowance. I am not saying, “NO,” very often, instead I say, “Sure, you can use your own money.” Then we discuss how much it costs, if it seems like a good deal, and how much they REALLY want it. Almost all the time they decide against the purchase, preferring to keep their money for something else. If they decide to buy it, they pay me when we return home and the item usually gets more use. And, if it is a dud, they learn an important life lesson. WOW! I wish I had started this a long time ago. Kids will spend unlimited amounts of money as long as it is yours! ...
  • Balancing Family

    Grocery Shopping with Kids on a Budget

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    I carry lollipops in my bag. They are not a treat for me, but I have found them to be a lifesaver when I am grocery shopping with my kids. They help to keep my kids strapped into the cart or push car so I can concentrate on my list and prices. By the time the lollipop is finished we have made it to the bakery and the free cookie or the deli for the free cheese slice. Some people leave their kids at home, but I usually shop during the week when the stores are less crowded, the lines are shorter (I hate self-check out machines) and no one is tired. Shopping for groceries on a budget with children in tow is getting harder and harder. I am a price watcher, and in the past nine months I have watched the prices of many of our staples rise, some more than a third. Milk used to be less than $3 a gallon, now it almost $4. Eggs were 99 cents, now they are over $2 a dozen. I am also the kind of person who can go to a grocery store with a list of seven needed items and push out a cart full and a $100 less in my checking account. So, I have been making some changes to lower my grocery bill while feeding the different tastes of my family of five. ...
  • Balancing Family

    Back to School Shopping

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    I just came back from shopping at a big box store and I am in shock. It is early July, school has only been over for three weeks with seven weeks to go before it begins again and yet the “Back to School” displays are already up! The “Back to School” shopping season seems to get bigger and lasts longer every year. And the stores want us to spend lots of money, so how do you get through it? Here are some ways I save money as the start of school approaches. ...
  • Balancing Family

    How I Became the Money Mom

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    “Mommy, can I buy the Raven football, pleassssse,” pleaded my oldest as we tried to extract ourselves from the toy and sporting department of our local big box store. My middle child chimed in, “But I want a new Pet Shop too badly.” I had to take all three children shopping with me today as my husband had to bring home work over the weekend, and I explained ahead of time that we could look briefly at these beloved departments but no purchases. It is hard to say “No” to a begging child, but one way I have learned to save money in order to make ends meet on mostly one income is to avoid buying new items, especially from a child who is pleading, begging, having a tantrum, etc....
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