The Back-to-School shopping season is off and running! Stores have swapped their summer merchandise for fall clothing and back-to-school essentials, so I hope you don’t need any summer clothes anymore. The National Retail Federation estimates that parents of school-age children will spend $635 on back-to-school shopping this year. That’s a boatload of money and I don’t know about you but I would rather keep more of that in my pocket this year.
Back-to-School shopping can be a little daunting but here are some money saving and bargain shopping tips to make this season a little easier on the wallet.
Do you have your school supply list and have you checked it twice?
1. Always have your school supplies list with you. You never know when you’ll run into a bargain somewhere. Start checking off the items as you buy them to avoid duplicates.
2. Only buy what you need. Your kids are constantly growing and while you think their clothes from last year might still fit, they might not. Starting now, have your kids do a fashion show for you to see what in their closet still fits and what can be given away. Now you can make a list of what clothes, shoes, backpacks, and other accessories you need so you don’t over buy.
3. Wait to buy school clothes until after Labor Day. You’ll see more coupons and sales running then. Also, it never ceases to amaze me that after I buy my son new jeans in August, he grows an inch in September. There’s nothing worse than having a bag full of new clothes that your kids suddenly can’t wear. Wait until late September to make sure any last minute growth spurts are out of the way.
4. Search online for coupons to your favorite stores. There are all kinds of coupon sites out there to help you find a code. Don’t forget to check the store’s site directly. Some store sites offer coupons to new customers for signing up for their e-newsletters or listing their own coupons and deals.
5. Conduct a Scavenger Hunt. We just cleaned out our basement and I was amazed at home many unused and even unopened school supplies my kids have brought home every year that were just piling up in boxes out of the way. So, send your kids on a scavenger hunt throughout the house to see if you have pencils, mostly unused notebooks, rulers, binders, index cards, glue sticks, etc. Why spend the money if you don’t have to.
6. Check second-hand clothes shops or garage sales for kids clothes. Many times, these clothes were never worn and still have the tag on them. Some churches and Moms groups have used clothing sales so keep your eye out.
7. Host a neighborhood kids clothes swap. If you live in a neighborhood with a lot of kids or if you have a lot of friends with kids all different ages, host a clothes swap. Have all the Moms over for some chocolate cake. Tell them to bring their kids’ gently used clothes and see if you can swap. Set up a Yahoo! Group and have your friends and neighbors list their sizes before the swap meet.
8. Finally, remember to write your kid’s name on the tag of their coat/jacket, backpack, lunch bag, etc. Stuff always gets lost but you might have a better chance of reclaiming it from the school Lost and Found box if you label it. Then you won’t have to spend more money replacing items.
So relax, take a deep breath and bring on the Back-to-School Season! Read my other Back-to-School Sanity Saving Tips for Mom for a stress-free season or for some fun ideas, check out my Back-to-School Board on Pinterest.
What other tips do you have for saving money during Back-to-School season?
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So, to honor my Dad on his special birthday, I’m going to share the 5 most important life lessons he taught me, that I hope to pass along to my kids.
1. If you want it, work for it. Growing up, our family wanted for nothing. We always had a nice house, went on vacations, had air conditioning, and we definitely had plenty of toys. However, despite being lucky like that, my Dad did teach me that if you really want something, work for it. If there was something I wanted that my parents didn’t feel like just giving me, he told me to go work for the money and buy it myself. So, I would vacuum the house to get extra allowance. I’d bake cookies and sell them to friends to make extra cash. I would babysit (even though I HATED that) and I got a job in high school as soon as I could. So while I’m not the person who squirrels away money for a rainy day, I also NEVER spend more than I have because of Dad’s lesson. Want something? Work for it. Then enjoy. Even though I spoil MY kids, I am working on passing this lesson along to them, as well.
2. Go for the gusto and savor life. My Dad wants to enjoy life, so he does. He works hard and then he indulges in the things that make him happy. Pursuing enjoyment is a noble calling. He taught me to eat great food, travel the world and go to exciting places. Seek out fun so you can laugh heartily. Go to the movies often and be entertained. Dance. He still likes to dance with my Mom. I’ve learned by watching him. Life is too short to sit back and wait. So, start savoring.
3. Don’t be afraid to try it. While I remember sitting at the kitchen table for hours refusing to eat vegetables and not being allowed to leave until I had, I did eventually grow up and come to appreciate trying different things. You never know where your new favorite food, movie, book, city, restaurant, exercise class, or idea is going to come from if you don’t experiment and explore. (Except for the Octopus Ice Cream I ate in Mexico once. That was a very bad decision.)
I was very upset when I was 10-years-old and my Dad came home to tell us we were moving to a place where they didn’t speak English. It was unfair! It was inhumane! It would interfere with my budding 10-year-old social life! Dad said “Try it, you’ll like it.” Once we moved to Puerto Rico and then Mexico, I did love it. I learned Spanish. Ate weird food. Met new friends from around the world with different perspectives. I saw true poverty. I came to appreciate what I have. Some of the fondest memories in my life occurred after I got over the fear of the unknown. I wish I could offer the experience of temporarily living in another country to my kids. While we don’t have the opportunity to move overseas, I can encourage them to try new things and explore the world.
4. Loyalty. To my Dad, loyalty and doing your duty means everything. He’s very loyal to family, he was loyal to his employer for so long, and he’s definitely loyal to friends. Sure, there may be disagreements. There may be minor arguments. But that’s what family and friends do. Despite that, you know you can count on him to be there when and if you need help. There’s strength and comfort in knowing that.
5. Dress to impress. As a surly teen, I HATED it when my Dad would make us kids dress up when we were invited along on his business dinners or went out to eat in nice restaurants. (Since we lived overseas, my Dad often took the family along when he was entertaining business people from the States who had come to visit.) Of course, his idea of dressing to impress and a kid’s idea of dressing to impress were completely different. “What do you mean I can’t wear this ripped surfer T-shirt to dinner?” I hated the dress pants he made me wear that made my butt look flat. Now, I would kill for pants that made my butt look flat but then, it was hardly cool. However, it did teach me the important lesson for later in life that if you want to be perceived as successful, you must put your best face forward … or your flat butt, if you have one.
So, Happy Birthday, Dad! Enjoy your day. You’ve deserved it. Love,
I was in a crafty mood this weekend and wanted to make something for a Fourth of July party. A simple decoration for the table. So I knew this was a great opportunity to build on an idea I saw on Pinterest to make a painted vase. The pin that inspired me was from Chloe over at the Rainbows and Honeysuckle blog. I loved the painted glasses that she made! Her glasses were beautiful and the process seemed pretty simple. The perfect kind of craft for me! Actually, it’s so easy that we used this as the craft idea at my daughter’s birthday party. The girls all made a painted vase to take home.
So using her instructions, I bought a glass candle holder to paint it red, white and blue. Once it was done, I thought it would look good with some flowers “exploding” out of the top which reminded me of fireworks.
Want to make one, too? It’s easy. Here’s what you need:
- A glass vase or candle jar
- Gloss Acrylic Paint that can be used to paint on glass (Following Chloe’s instructions, I found mine at Michaels.)
- A paintbrush
- Either a candle or flowers (I used fake flowers that reminded me of fireworks exploding)
That’s it! Now let’s get started.
1. If you are messy like I am or your making this with kids, I would recommend putting down newspaper before getting started.
2. Hold the glass vase or jar on your hand so you can twirl it. It’s really easy to smudge the paint dots if you are holding it on the outside.
3. Take your brush and start making dots. Play around with the size of the dots that you like. Some can be larger, smaller, thicker, or thinner to vary the color pattern. I started with blue dots, then added red and then white. I waited 5 minutes in between each color to let it dry a little. White was actually the most dominant color so after it was dry I then went back and filled in the holes with more blue and red dots until I liked the amount of color coverage on the glass.
4. Let it dry and add some flowers or put a candle in for a pretty nighttime table decoration.
What do you think? How did I do? Are you working on any craft ideas for the Fourth of July? If so, please share. I’d love to hear about it.
For more Fourth of July celebration ideas, check out my board on Pinterest.
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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. I only share sponsored posts that I totally recommend and know that my readers will love.
Kids really look forward to summer break, and who blames them, but it’s a shame how much academic progress they lose when they are out of the classroom for so long. Studies show that students usually have to relearn four to six weeks of classwork at the beginning of every school year. Your kids may not care, but minimizing this backward slide is definitely a priority for parents and educators.
It’s nice to take a break from the school routine and reconnect with family during summer but that doesn’t have to mean that all learning stops. That’s why I was excited to see that the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry is offering up a fun and free online science program this year called Summer Brain Games that will keep kids learning this summer to prevent “summer brain drain.” Summer Brain Games are a great way to keep kids thinking and learning over the summer in a fun and engaging way. (Don’t forget to keep reading for details on how to win 4 free tickets to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry!)
How it works:
- Sign up online for this fun and free program by visiting msichicago.org/summerbrain and download your FREE Summer Brain Games kit.
- Each week from June 17 – August 12, 2013 you’ll get an email with an online kit that features an experiment or science challenge that can easily be performed at home with kids of all ages (although a little adult supervision and shopping for some supplies is necessary).
- It’s even offered in both English and Spanish.
- Register today and you’ll even get one free pass to visit this Museum this summer for even more fun, educational experiences.
- Best yet, all of this is FREE!
What We Worked on Together:
My daughter and I really liked the Hydroponic Garden Challenge and the Weather Station ideas, so that’s what we worked on. For the weather station, the kit gives you all of the instructions you need to make a rain gauge, a wind vane, a barometer and more. My daughter is getting her rain gauge ready in this photo. Fortunately we have had a ton of rain here in the Midwest so the rain gauge has gotten a good workout.
The Hydroponic Garden challenge was a lot of fun, too. We used a yogurt cup inside of a plastic drink cup to make our plant container.
The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry has generously allowed me to offer you a chance to win a Family Four Pack ($76 value) to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. You can use these tickets anytime before the end of 2013. It’s a great opportunity to take the kids over the summer to keep learning.
I know my family loves the Science Storms exhibit at the Museum. Learning about why lightning strikes and how tornadoes are formed is exciting and educational!
Here’s how to win and have some fun with your family:
Contest Dates: July 1, 2013 – midnight, July 8th, 2013
The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry is offering a fun and free online science program called Summer Brain Games. The eight-week program lasts from June 17, 2013-August 12, 2013 and features a weekly experiment or science challenge that can easily be performed at home with kids of all ages.
Visit msichicago.org/summerbrain now to register for Summer Brain Games and download your free Summer Brain Games kit. As an added bonus, registering automatically gets you a pass to come to the Museum for free this summer.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.
Are you hosting a Fourth of July party this year? If you are planning a family reunion, a neighborhood potluck gathering, or just inviting a few friends over for some fun, here are some fun games and activities to keep the kiddos (and parents) amused. Click on the links to grab the easy instructions.
When I think about the Fourth of July the first thing that comes to mind are fireworks. A close second though is a parade. So why not help the kids show off their patriotic spirit by decorating their bikes for a parade? Whether you plan to bike down to your neighborhood Fourth of July parade and want to look festive, or your kids are riding in the parade, your kids will look smashing with these printable bike decorations from MarthaStewart.com. No parade in your area? Host your own. Every summer our neighborhood used to have a block party and to kick off the party the kids would decorate their bikes and ride around in a little mock parade. It was so cute!
Notimeforflashcards.com created a great hide and seek game for the kids called Flag Hunt. Check out how easy it was to set up. You could also use coins or dollars in clear envelopes in the hunt. They do feature many of our founding fathers.
Balloon Dart Game
Roots and Wings Co came up with a great kids game for a Fourth of July Celebration – a balloon dart game! Click over to see how she made the board. You’ll definitely want some adult supervision for this game if you have little kids playing.
Parents.com had a cute idea with their Rocket Toss game. Have fun knocking down those patriotic cans. Parents, let the kids have a turn!
Cardboard tube rockets
You can’t go wrong with this cardboard tube rocket craft from AlphaMoms.com.
Star Spangled Luminarias
These Star Spangled Luminarias from Spoonful.com are easy to make and will help light up the night as the party goes into the evening.
Firecracker Tie Dye T-shirt
Your kids would need to make this the day before but I love the Firecracker Tie Dye T-shirt from the I Love to Create Blog. It looks exactly like the Bomb Pops or Firecracker Popsicles you get from the ice cream truck.
What games or activities do you have planned for your Fourth of July party this year? Which one of these ideas do you like best?