Thursday, January 28, 2016

Seventh Generation 4X Ultra Concentrated Natural Laundry Detergent Review

Recently, I was able to test out Seventh Generation 4X Ultra Concentrated Natural Laundry Detergent at our house.  I received samples of the free and clear detergent from Seventh Generation to try in our daily laundry routine.  We have five people in our house, so normally we do 1-2 loads of laundry a day and just when you think you are caught up.... Think again!

Seventh Generation's mission is "To inspire a consumer revolution that nurtures the health of the next seven generation."  For 27 years they have been creating powerful plant-based solutions for your home & family.   Not only do their products work, they are concerned about the future of our planet for our kids and their families.  Seventh Generation's laundry products contain no dyes or fragrances.  They also strive to use 100% post-consumer recycled bottles for their packaging.   

My daughter has sensitive skin so I normally choose a free and clear variety of laundry detergent.  When using the Seventh Generation 4X Ultra Concentrated Natural Laundry Detergent in her laundry, her clothes came out clean and smelling fresh.  The clothes also did not irritate her sensitive skin.  I definitely recommend this laundry detergent for everyday use in your household.  I have an HE washing machine and had no issues.

Check out Seventh Generation's full line of products online at their website.

I received free samples for an honest review of the product.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

It Takes A Village (or Really Nice Neighbors) To Raise A Child

There are always those times when you have children that you need an extra hand. Whether it be a "date night" babysitter, an item of clothing to borrow for the school play, or some spice to finish baking that dessert! When we moved to our current neighborhood over 8 years ago (yes, 8 years, this is a miracle for us), we not only found a home we love, but also neighbors and friends always willing to help us out in a pinch!

I needed to share this story in the hopes that others have found the same type of community we have found. The type of neighbors that are willing to help you out as are you willing to help you out. The kind of person you can text or call in a pinch and they come through for you! I am so glad we have that in our neighborhood and it is one of the top reasons why we always consider not moving again. It is the fear of the unknown. Will our kids find other kids that they are able to play with all day on a Sunday? Will we find neighbors that watch our house for us when we are on vacation? Will be find good people that will run over and let our dogs out when we are gone all day? We just don't know, but we know we love our house and our neighborhood.

This week we had a bus incident where my parents were suppose to be at our house to get our youngest off the bus. They have done an EXCELLENT job this year and are NEVER late! Well, its cold, its been snowing and I was at work 45 minutes away when I got the call from the "bus garage" as my phone said. The bus was at my house and my parents were not. I tried to call them and the phone went to voicemail. Of course, my 70+ year old parents don't always remember to keep their phones on!

 I was in panic mode and quickly texted a neighbor, who instantly responded however she was also at work. She then texted another neighbor in which I then got in contact with quickly. This amazing lady, whom I am not direct friends with but only met a couple of times, got in her car and drove down the street to my house. Luckily my parents and then bus were there! What an amazing lady and I am incredibly grateful for her kindness and unselfishness to help someone in need!

I hope you all find this type of community we have found and I hope you are able to have this type of support! It really is challenging to raise kids and sometimes when they don't want to leave their basketball games with friends to run an errand, its really nice to have a neighbor say, "just go, I'll watch them".

Friday, January 1, 2016

Goals For 2016

Happy New Year!  For 2016, I am making only a few simple goals.  2015 was a challenging year for myself and our family regarding some developmental issues for our daughter.  She's on the right track now which is such a blessing.  I want to enjoy 2016 more and I think my simple goals will make it happen!

1.  Declutter - constantly, get rid of stuff we do not need in our house and lives!

2.  Experiences Over Things - I'm tired of things ruling our life, our family needs to have more fun and rely on less new things!

3.  Give More - we are so incredibly blessed and while we donate a lot of items and money, I need to look at more opportunities to give back and perhaps find some ways to volunteer more of our time.

4.  Kick That Student Loan Out of Here - 2016 is the year, my husband's Master degree student loan is getting paid off, END OF STORY!

5.  Serious Job Decision - this is specifically for me.  I made a goal that I would make a change for my full-time job in 2016

That's it!  Plain and simple!

Hope You Have a Wonderful New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

10 Ways to Make 2016 Financially Better Than 2015

Are you dreading paying the January bills after overspending on Christmas?  Are you tired of always just making ends meet and never having enough money to spend it on something fun?  Do you want to take a vacation, but don't want to put it on a credit card?  Do you want to stop feeling the weight of being in debt and instead feel the freedom of being financially free?

I've come up with 10 things you can do in 2016 to begin to either start to pay off debt, get rid of that last lingering credit card bill, be better prepared for Christmas spending 2016, or finally pay cash for that vacation you want to take the kids on!

1.  Track your income and expenses.  I do this every month and it allows our family to see exactly where our money is going.  I simply use a spreadsheet where I record all income and then expenses.

2.  Set-up an account to have funds transferred on a monthly basis and do not touch until Christmas.  I always use a Smarty Pig account.  If you are able to transfer $100 a month, by December you will have saved $1200 for Christmas!

3.  Stop eating out so much!  When my family of 5 eats out, we average a bill of about $50 for a sit-down restaurant and $25 for fast food..  I know if I make a meal at home, It can be for about $10.  That is a savings of $15 - $40 a day!  Our family only eats out typically only one night a week.

4.  Earn some quick cash (and a cash flow) by decluttering and selling unwanted items.  I sell all the time on Ebay and Facebook garage sale sites.  On average I make about $50 a month.  I keep a log of what I make every month.  This is an easy way to have some cash on hand and not have to do an ATM withdraw.  Bonus, you de-clutter your house!

5.    If you shop online, earn extra cash by using a cashback site first!  I use EBATES all the time and have earned a lot of money that gets transferred directly into my Paypal account.  You can then use the funds to make online purchases or move the funds to your bank account.  Here is what I have earned:

6.   Consider using cash back apps when you shop for groceries.  The two apps I use all the time are Ibotta and Checkout 51.  Once you reach a $20 balance, you can transfer the money to your Paypal account.

7.  Review your grocery shopping habits and perhaps see if you can switch some of your shopping to a lower cost store.  Look into a monthly trip to Aldi's or another retailer to pick up canned goods and staples that are generally a lot less expensive than at a large grocery store chain.

8.  Couponing!  I know this is not for everyone, but every little bit helps.  I'm in a local group for my favorite store Giant Eagle, and I normally pick up a few free or really cheap items every week!.

9.  Look into a money saving challenge.  This allows you to put cash away every week and increases the amount.  Check out the one here on Simplistically Living.

10.  For daily inspiration and encouragement, follow Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman on Facebook.  They always have all kinds of ideas and insight!

I hope some of these tips were insightful and help out in 2016!  No one likes being tied down by debt and you feel so much freedom when you are able to pay your bills every month and have a little extra left!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

No Is A Complete Sentence

I catch myself all the time, I say “no”, but then have to insert an excuse! 

“No, we can’t make it, I have to work late.”

“No, he can’t come to the birthday party, he has another commitment.”

“No, I can’t help out in the classroom, I have a doctor’s appointment.”

Perhaps it makes me feel better, that I provide a reason?  But really when I think about it, is a reason necessary?  Sometimes the reason is not even true.  I guess the other option would be to tell the truth.

“No, we can’t make it because I would rather sit at home and rest in my jammies after a long day at work.”

“No, he can’t come to the birthday party, because his Mom does not feel like driving 30 minutes out of her way for a 2 hour party.”

“No, I can’t help in the classroom because I have helped the past 3 times, can’t another parent step up and volunteer?”

Don’t get me wrong, I say “YES” a lot but sometimes you just have to say “NO”.  Any maybe it makes we feel better when I explain why.  But really, if you say “no”, no explanation is needed.  Do you provide an explanation when you say “yes”?    I didn’t think so.

I’m learning to say “no” more often when I tend to be a bit overwhelmed.  I sometimes like to overcommit myself when given the opportunity to participate in multiple events and do not want to miss out.  But on the flipside, there are times when there is no need for me to participate and I really just need to say “no”.

So in 2016, I am going to attempt to say “no” just a little more, and try to every once in a while to leave it as a simple “no” with no explanation!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and your family all of the blessings of the Christmas season.  May you enjoy time with friends and family celebrating the day that Jesus was born!

God Bless and Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Other Gifts For Kids

Do you struggle during the holiday season to buy the gifts your kids truly want? 

Is your house already "overrun" with "stuff" and you struggle to add more "stuff" to your house?

Do you have friends and family ask what to get your kids and you cannot give a good answer?

Have you considered gifts that aren't necessarily wrapped under the tree yet provide your kids with a fun or educational experience in the coming year? 

Here is a list of gifts that your children may appreciate (or parents) more than the wrapped ones under the tree.  I've provided links that are local to my area (Cleveland, OH), but free feel to research similar ideas in the area you live.

1.  A local zoo membership.
2.  A children's museum membership or history museum membership.
3.  A local botanical gardens membership or science center membership.
4.  A donation to a college fund.  Even if you cannot contribute a lot, if you have one open for your kids others can donate.
5.  A membership to a local recreation center.
6.  A book of the month club.
7.  If you know of an upcoming trip, perhaps offer to buy theme park tickets, airline tickets, etc.
8.  Kiwi Crate - delivers a creative learning box every month.
9.  Local events tickets - sporting events, Circus, theater performance, etc.
10.  Free night of babysitting.

What other creative ideas do you have?