And Along Comes Baby #2: When You Have Another Child, The Financial Picture Changes Considerably

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kat photo

In the United States, a women’s average age at the birth of her first child is 25.2 (which is considerably higher than it was in the 1970s when it was 21.4). However, a CDC study shows that more and more women are now waiting until their late twenties or early 30s to begin having children. Taking cultural clues – for example, Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton was 31-years-old when she gave birth to Prince George – and without the backing of a royal family, a focus on career establishment has prompted many women to wait on starting a family.

An interesting outcome of this trend is that parents are thinking about the age gap between siblings earlier. For some, age is a big factor in how soon they try for another child. However, and increasingly, the cost of a second baby is a part of this equation that can’t be ignored. Having another child is a big decision that you will need to make with your body, home and finances in mind.


Understanding What’s Ahead


When you add up the average costs of housing, food, transportation, healthcare, clothing and education, the USDA predicts that it will cost you $241,080 to raise a child. Your second child will cost approximately 80 percent of that total. These numbers are, of course, estimates that depend on where you live and how you spend. Regardless, childcare costs are a big part of these estimates and the cost isn’t going to be paltry.

On average, sending your infant or toddler to a daycare center in the United States will cost approximately $11,666a year. For pre-school aged and older children, those costs will drop by about two to three thousand dollars a year. For parents using a home daycare (rather than a center), these costs are typically less for both younger and older children to account for the lack of overhead. Lastly, the cost of hiring a private caregiver, such as a nanny or au pair can vary depending on your situation but the expense of this service falls in line with the high price tag of home and daycare centers. There’s just no two ways about it, numbers like these are intimidating to parents with young children.


Crunch The Numbers


When you’re weighing the financial pros and cons of continuing to work or committing to becoming a stay-at-home-parent with two (or more), the idea of organizing your time and money can feel overwhelming. Use a budgeting sheet or this calculator to get a hard look at unavoidable expenses like mortgage/rent, commuting costs, emergency funds, and insurance premiums.

If your job provides you or your family with benefits – such as healthcare, vision or dental – you will want to see what the costs will be if your family is moved onto your spouse’s plans or how much you’ll pay to sign up your growing family for private or federal health insurance. Doing this will save you from too many surprises (there will always be a few surprises, though, so don’t neglect that emergency fund), and get your family into the right frame of mind for adding to your brood and making the final decision about returning to work or not.


The Art of Stuff


With any luck, some of the upfront costs for your second child have already been taken care of, such as a changing table or toys. Keep in mind that the age gap between children can be cause for some creative financial navigation. For example, if you bought a transitional crib for baby number one, they may still be using it when baby number two arrives. If your stroller, car seat and base is also still in use, you will be looking at additional transportation needs. To avoid buying a stockpile of seats throughout the first few years, check out the “grow with me” style of car seat a consignment store, Craigslist or available, for free, through a friend or family member.

And with two babies, stock up on seat bases where you can find them affordably! For instance, if you have a grandparent who helps with pick-ups and drop-offs at daycare, you’ll want to get them their own base for car or booster seats. Buying more gently used equipment may be an absolute necessity. Chances are, if you are looking for it, someone in your network is looking to offload it!


Family Finances In The Palm Of Your Hand


Logistically, a second child is reason enough to make an overhaul of your financial picture. With more awareness of the costs involved in childrearing, you’re better equipped to tackle a restructured budget. Your children will more than likely have different schedules. Using mobile software or apps to assist you in organizing both your time and your finances.

You Need A Budget and Goodbudget are two popular systems that allow you and your partner to stay updated on what’s being spent and where. For time management, apps like Cozi and Intuition will keep your schedules aligned. Give yourself (and your spouse) time to learn these programs and the whole family will be better set up for success. CommunityAmerica offers FinanceWorks for members so investigate what your financial institution may offer.

With some preparation, your growing family is a reason to celebrate. Remember, the majority of people in the world (and throughout history) have made it work. Just as your heart grows with love for your second baby, so will your ability to manage your home.


Your babies are growing up and getting ready to leave the nest for their first years of school and maybe you’re thinking of going back to work. Next week, we’ll discuss preparing yourself to reenter the workforce. For more advice on navigating financials or saving up for your growing family, click here for friendly advice from the CommunityAmerica Credit Union Savin’ Mavens. This post was written by Maven Kat Hnatyshyn. 

Review of Coupon Possible Binder

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Coupon Binder Review

The biggest complaint I hear from couponers is that it can be difficult to get organized.  Sure, you can purchase a binder, tabs and baseball card sleeves, but that can add up quickly in cost and sometimes, can take too much work to do.  Enter — Coupon Possible Binder.  A solution to organizing all of your coupons!

I recently had an opportunity to review one of these binders.  I welcomed this chance to put it up against the binder I’ve been using for years (and years).  While what I have been using works for me, if there is another option out there, which might work even better, I am definitely interested in giving it a try.




The very first thing I noticed about the binder was the size.  Mine is a huge binder (regular size like kids would use at school).  This Coupon Possible Binder is much smaller.  In fact, it is only 8×10.  I was a little skeptical at first because it was so small.  I will freely admit that I actually like the size.  It is so much less cumbersome than my larger one.  It is more convenient to carry into the store.  In fact, my handbag is large enough that I can even stand it up inside of it!!

If you are use to a binder zipping closed, such as me, you may raise an eyebrow and think that this could be a problem.  I actually was hesitant for this reason because I do like mine to zip closed (usually because I slide additional blank pages into mine and my binder may pop open).  I did use this without any problems of my coupons falling out nor the binder popping open. You will want to keep that in mind before you purchase (so you aren’t surprised when it arrives).




When I opened the binder, I noticed all of the accessories which came with it:



Each set includes:

  • Five blank tabs (you can set up your own categories)
  • Vinyl pouch (store all of your extras like a calculator)
  • Notepad
  • Double sided pages to store coupons

I absolutely LOVED the pages!!!!  These ladies were really smart when they created this system.  If you print coupons often and use the standard baseball card sleeve, you know you have to fold them to get them to fit.  There are also times when the coupons in the weekly newspaper are large and you have to fold those too.


Just look at these!!  There are sizes for all types of coupons, so you don’t have to fold your coupons to make them fit!  How genius was this idea?




I have been using my Coupon Possible Binder for a couple of weeks.  It has taken me a bit of getting use to (only because it is different).  It is just so much easier for me to carry and the pages — I am just in love with those!!!

I am still able to open the binder right in my cart as usual.  I can still find the coupons easily (sometimes even more quickly due to the page layout).  I really am enjoying this binder and may even retire my big purple beast!!


If you don’t have a binder and want a good system, you might want to check these out.  You can order a 3/4″ or a 1″ binder (with accessories) starting at $18.99.  If you were to build a good binder yourself, you would absolutely pay more than that and the quality would not be as good as this one is.

You can learn more by visiting Coupon Possible’s Store.



How to Create A Schedule (Your Family Will Actually Follow)

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Create a Schedule Your Family will follow

We all know what time to get to school, work and sports, but what about everything else in life?  With the chaos that seems to follow back to school time, families often find themselves struggling to get everything done that they need.  It is simple to know what you need to do, but how do you convey that to your family so that you are all on the same page and can get everything done?  Sounds impossible, doesn’t it.

It actually isn’t.  There are some tools you can implement with your own family to help you all stay on schedule and know what is going on.  While there are many ideas here, not all of them will be applicable to every family.  You’ll need to look through this list and when you see the one you feel is “doable” then go with it.  Don’t worry that it may not be the most tech-savvy or efficient method.  What matters most is that works for your family.  Period.

Print Your Calendar.  You can do this on a monthly or even daily basis.  You can keep this in a central location.  We actually put our monthly calendar on the refrigerator.  Then, as things come up during the month, we just jot them down.  This way, everyone sees it every morning.  It is easy to notice it all at a glance and see what is coming up that evening.

Use An On-Line Calendar.  This is a great one for that very tech savvy family, where everyone has an electronic device.  You can use a free service, such as the Google Calendar, and share it with your entire family.  You can all add your events to it as they come up and then, everyone will be notified.

You can also try another system too, such as Cozi.  The one thing I like about this program is that you can even incorporate a shopping list and other items.  That way, if someone has to stop by the store, they can pick up everything that the family needs  - saving you time.  They offer a free version and you can even try the paid version for free for a period of time, which allows you to find out if it works for you or not (before you spend any money).

Have a Weekly Meeting.  Set time aside one day of the week (Sunday evenings are often a great idea).  Sit down and go over everything as a family.  This will ensure that everyone knows what is going on.  This is perfect when you have older kids who “forget” to tell you about something coming up for the following week.

Use A Posterboard.  When you have younger kids, it can be difficult for them to understand the importance of a schedule.  This is when you can sit down and use a large posterboard for them.  Make a grid.  At the top, put each child’s name.  Along the side, list the chores and things that they need to do.  As they complete each one, they can place a sticker on it and see that they are getting things done.

Don’t be afraid to fail at your schedule.  That is how you will most easily find the the best way to use a schedule that works.  Failure isn’t a bad thing – it is just a jumping off point.

Slowcooker (a.k.a. Crockpot) Recipes

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crockpot recipes

The months leading up to the biggest holidays of the year can get quite hectic with school, sports, busy weekends and more… We all know how crockpots are like a gift when it comes to time saving, so I’ve rounded up 25 crockpot recipes to help save you time while still getting a delicious meal.

  1. Cranberry Chipotle BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders
  2. Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
  3. Beef Stew
  4. Louisiana Style Red Beans and Rice
  5. Frittata with Kale, Roasted Red Pepper and Feta
  6. Turkey Breast and Gravy
  7. Java Brisket
  8. Sticky Chicken
  9. Applesauce
  10. Creamy White Chili with Chicken
  11. Taco Soup
  12. Sausage and Cabbage
  13. Bread Pudding
  14. White Bean Chili with Chicken and Corn
  15. Apple Pie Oatmeal
  16. Thai-Inspired Butternut Squash and Peanut Soup
  17. Moroccan Chicken Thighs
  18. Brown Sugar Pork Loin with Balsamic Glaze
  19. Pumpkin Bread
  20. Skinny Cheesesteaks
  21. Italian Beef Sandwiches
  22. Rice Pudding
  23. Potato Leek Soup
  24. Venison Stew
  25. Molten Lava Cake

I personally love to use the crockpot and have found many recipes here that I plan to try out and taste test with the family… After all we may find a new family favorite. If you have a favorite crockpot recipe please feel free to share in the comments and maybe we can try it out as well. After all, sharing is caring.

Stay-At-Home-Parenting: What If You Change Your Mind About Returning To Work?

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Before you quit your job to stay home with your little one, there are many things you need to know.  Sure, you may plan on returning to the workforce, but what if you decided you just can't?  There are things you need to know before you quit.


You worked up until your due date and arranged to take time off of work to spend with the newest member of your family. But, once you brought your bundle of joy home, the idea of returning to work at the end of your leave is starting to feel unbearable. It’s perfectly normal to question the decisions you made before such major life change. No matter how much you and your partner prepare for baby, newborns have a way of changing the most concrete plans.


Before You Quit


After you’ve spent every waking (and resting) hour with your infant, the idea of going back to work can be overwhelming. The separation, the thought of pumping at work and many more you don’t expect will affect your decision. These emotional and physical aspects need to be tempered with financial realities before you decide if you’re not going to return to work as soon as you once intended, or at all.

Before you make up your mind, consult your employee handbook. Some companies have a policy wherein employees are responsible for paying for their benefits if they fail to return to work. You may be held accountable for the insurance premiums your company paid on your behalf while you were out on leave. Or, your company may place your end-of-service date on the day you actually left the office and you may need to make COBRA payments sooner than expected.

The same kind of repayments may be necessary if you accrue time off and use time that you haven’t quite earned yet for your leave. Changing your mind about returning to work could end up costing you more money, and leaving you with unexpected debt that can add strain in an already stressful situation. It may be better for everyone involved if you have a conversation with your boss before putting in your notice.


Full-Time Parent, Part-Time Worker


The majority of companies would prefer to compromise with you than hire and train someone new. If you’re concerned about balancing your home and work life, ask your manager or boss to meet for coffee and discuss the possibilities of working part-time. If your specific job allows you to work from home, start by requesting to do that and slowly transition to coming in a few days a week. Some parents may be better served by changing their schedules entirely.

Working two to three days a week or working only in the mornings or afternoons is another option. Some families who make these adjustments to their workday are able to avoid expensive daycare costs entirely by using these kinds of ‘shifts’. If you feel like this could work for you, offer to assist in any sort of restructuring that needs to be done. If you need to train someone or set up software on your home computer, meet your company more than halfway. They’ll undoubtedly appreciate the effort. However, if working part-time or telecommuting doesn’t work out, you may consider a career change that allows you to make money from home.


Working From Home


In the past 15 years, more and more parents are choosing to stay home with their young children. Just because you’ve chosen to stay home with your baby (or babies) doesn’t mean that you can’t work. Rather than being a ‘stay-at-home-parent’, many people are calling themselves ‘work-from-home-parents’ these days. While creating a balance between work and home can be challenging, there are a variety of ways to work from home and provide for your family.

Thanks to today’s technology, there are many different kinds of jobs you can do right from your laptop. From blogging and data input to virtual assistance, there are plenty of online jobs available, but be mindful of opportunities that seem too good to be true. Focus on accredited and well-reviewed companies before applying. If you’re less interested in computer work, there are ways to make money from home with sales or leadership skills. Many parents open their homes to others and offer childcare services.

Once you identify opportunities, temper them with reality to avoid frustration. For example, you can’t expect your child to behave and sit quietly all day and he/she will still need interaction, meals, and so forth. While part-time may be the goal, flexible time may be the most important factor to get there. There are also many fabulous “Parent’s Day Out” programs that allow you to drop your child off at a daycare-like environment a few hours/days per week at a fraction of the cost of daycare.

Think about what you enjoy and how you could get paid to do it. Skills such as speaking a second language could open the door to becoming a tutor. If you have a hobby such as knitting or tennis, you could possibly teach lessons or sell your crafts. You may surprise yourself with how enjoyable and lucrative your work is, especially when you can do it from home and spend time with your newborn.


One baby changes everything. When you’re family gets larger with the arrival of another child, you have to take a look at an even bigger picture. For more advice on navigating financials or saving up for your growing family, click here for friendly advice from the CommunityAmerica Credit Union Savin’ Mavens. This post was written by Maven Amy Grothaus.


Weekly Menu Plan For 9/14/14

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Weekly Menu Plan | #menu #plans


If you have never done a menu plan, you may think that you don’t need one.  That is actually not true.  By planning, you can save yourself time and money.  Of course, if you’ve never set one up before you might not be sure where to start!  Take a look at this post on How to Create a Weekly Menu Plan and Shopping List.

Before you get started creating your own plan, make sure you take a look at all of our FREE Menu Plan and Shopping List forms.  You can either print them off, or even fill one out before printing it for the week – the choice is yours!

Here is my menu plan for the week!








Sandwiches, Gogurt, apples, raisins, baked chips, cereal bars, and/or cheese sticks
School lunches



Cheese and crackers
Cereal bars
Apples with peanut butter




Sunday:  Pulled pork sandwiches, chips, fresh veggies
Monday:  Spaghetti, french bread, salad
Tuesday:  Grilled chicken, rice, green beans
Wednesday:  Leftovers
Thursday:  Fish Tacos
Friday:  Sutffed pork chop, salad, cubed potatoes, corn
Saturday:  Dinner Out

How To Help Teach Your Kids How To Let Go Of Toys (And Other Items)

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Got clutter?  More importantly - do your KIDS have clutter?  Are they afraid to get rid of toys and other treasures?  No worries as you are NOT alone!  Check out this list of tips to help you teach your child learn to let go of toys and other things they no longer use.  #parenting
Kids accumulate so many toys, animals and special treasures that they can quickly take over their room.  As an adult, we know we need to get rid of items and can quickly discern which can be kept and which need to go away (be it donations or trash).  However, for a child, this is different.  All they own in this world are these items, so letting go of them can be very difficult.

There are some things you can do to help your children learn to let go of their toys and treasures, while not being too emotionally challenging for them.

Talk about space and growing up.  Talk to your children about how too many toys will prevent them being able to play.  You can talk about how they trip over items or step on toys and how that hurts them.  At this same time, you can talk to your kids about how great it is to grow up and part of that is learning to let go of those toys they no longer play with or need.

Move items to a temporary home before getting rid of them.  If your child is not yet ready to part with items, you can give them a temporary home, outside of the bedroom.  Have your child help decide which items they want to try to get rid of.  It can be difficult for them as getting rid of toys means they are growing up, and they may still want to cling to them so they can stay your little boy or girl.

This summer, we took around 20 stuffed animals out of our kids’ rooms.  We placed them in a plastic bag and put them in the basement.  This was done around 8 weeks ago and our kids have yet to ask for any of those items.

If they do not look for them after 6 or more months, we get rid of them.  We usually just do another check with our kids to make sure they don’t want one of them back and usually, all of them can leave.  Once in a while one or two make it back into their room, but keeping 2 out of 20 is definitely a step in the right direction.

Allow your kids to sell their own items.  Our daughter recently outgrew many of her LEGO sets.  She and I worked together to take photos and count out all pieces to ensure the sets were complete.  We then listed them for sale on Amazon and she was able to keep the profits.  She was able to clean out items from her room and turned it into a profit – which helped her want to get rid of even more items.

You could also even allow them to sell those items at a yard sale or other method.  Your child is in complete control of the items leaving – and gets to turn their toy into money, which they can use towards other items they may want.

Let them select the charity (teaching empathy).  Teaching your children about how other kids may not have toys and clothes helps them learn empathy.  They can relate to another child their own age not having items like they do.  An easy way to help instill this value is to allow your child to select the charity where you will make your donation.  You can research local organizations and your child can decide where the donation will go.

When they get a say, they will feel that they are making a difference and are in control of the items leaving the house (rather than mom or dad telling them what to do).  They may even surprise you by getting rid of items you didn’t think you’d ever see leave their bedroom.

Do a monthly swap.  When our kids were younger, we would take some of their toys and keep them in a box in the basement.  Every 2 or 3 months, I would clean their rooms and take out the old toys and put new ones in their place.  This kept toys new and fresh and kept them entertained.  This allowed me to also weed through the toys I knew were trash, find broken items and just declutter their rooms.  This also helps your child because the toys are not leaving completely, just going a way for a while.  You may even find that you don’t need to put the toys back into their room as they have since lost interest.


Whatever you do, don’t force your child to get rid of items.  They will let go of items in due time – and perhaps even sooner than you may be ready for them to do so.  Helping teach your child about letting go of items is a valuable lesson, which will help them later in life.

25 Delicious Apple Recipes

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apple recipes tracie
There is something about apples and fall.  They just seem to go together!  Below you will find a round up of TWENTY-FIVE (25) amazing apple recipes from donuts to ice cream and more!  Click on each link below to go directly to the website to learn more!

  1. Caramel Apple Bars
  2. Fall Harvest Cake
  3. Cinnamon Apple Cake
  4. Apple Strudel Cake
  5. Caramel Apple Spice
  6. Apple Muffins
  7. Apple Crumb Bars
  8. Apple Spice Cake with Maple Cream
  9. Custard Style Apple Tart
  10. French Apple Pie
  11. Caramel Apple Dip
  12. Apple Cider Ice Cream
  13. Apple Pie Ice Cream
  14. Apple Cider Doughnuts
  15. Apple Streusel Muffins
  16. Zucchini Applesauce Bread
  17. Cheddar Apple Biscuits
  18. Apple Bacon Cheese Bread
  19. Roasted Carrot-Apple Soup
  20. Apple Avocado Salsa with Honey Lime Dressing
  21. Butternut Squash Apple Bake
  22. Apple Cider Punch
  23. Apple Cider Milkshake
  24. Mulled Apple Cider
  25. Apple Butter

Get FREE Personalized Recipe Recommendations From McCormick!

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I cook so my family doesn’t starve.  I don’t love it – and admit that freely.  Part of the reason is that my family is very picky and so fixing dinner can be frustrating.  I recently found this new way to find recipes – based upon your OWN flavor profile and preferences!

McCormick has a new site called Flavor Point.  It is really easy to get started and create your own profile and then find amazing recipes – which you will actually enjoy!!!  Here is how to get started:

  1. Click HERE and click the red Let’s Get Started button.
  2. Answer the series of questions about the foods you like to eat.
  3. Once you are done, you can review your recipe recommendations.  (I’ve got a few that I’m anxious to try out).

So that’s it!  Just head HERE to get signed up and create your own custom profile!

Mabel’s Labels Review: Perfect for Back to School!

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Here is my math problem — 3 kids + back to school = lots and lots of labeling!  We had to label backpacks and jackets and lunchbags and pouches….and the list goes on and on.  Rather than try to use a sharpie or a mailing label, we used Mabel’s Labels.  I absolutely LOVE these!!!

My kids like them because they can sit beside me and customize them.  They can select their own image on the labels and even select from various colors — all to make them one of a kind and show off their own personality.  The one that we purchased was the Mabel’s Labels Ultimate Combo Pack, which retails for $42.  This is a great option as it isn’t just one label – it includes several items!

  • 40 Skinny-mini labels
  • 50 Tag Maes
  • 16 Shoe Labels
  • 2 Teeny Tags

While your kids are most interested in the colors and design of the labels, moms (and dads) will appreciate the quality.  These labels are dishwasher and microwave safe.  We’ve had a bottle with a label on it which we’ve used for more than 2 years – and it still hasn’t come off through lot and lots of washing!  They are also safe enough to go through the washing machine.  We tagged a t-shirt of my daughter’s and that label has lasted for through 4 months of washing.   These labels just work.  Plain and simple.

I’ve seen other styles (and actually tried them).  Some of them peeled shortly after being applied. I had one that came right off in the dishwasher.  I don’t have the time (or money) to have to keep replacing labels on the items we use all of the time.  We “stick” with Mabel’s Labels for our kids because they just work.

Saving money is always important to my family.  However, so is quality.  If I have to purchase something over and over again because it fails, I may end up spending more in the long run than if I had just spent a bit more up front to buy a quality product.  That is honestly how I feel about Mabel’s Labels.  You get what you pay for.


*This is a sponsored review.  All opinions are truly my own and were not influenced by any parties.