How to Dispute Items on your Credit Report

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

When was the last time you checked your credit report? Due to increased Identity Theft, it is wise to do it once a year.  If you are looking through the report and you find something  is wrong, what do you do?  Learn what you need to do to dispute those errors you might find.

 

Have you checked your credit report lately to know exactly what is on it? No matter your credit score it’s always best to stay up to date on your report, if for no other reason to make sure your identity is not being used fraudulently.

Federal Law now requires companies to allow you to check it for free once per year.  You can request yours by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.  Do NOT use any of the other companies  which may look similar to this, as they are not the correct program and could cost you money.

Just click on REQUEST YOURS NOW at the top of the page.  It will take just 3 simple steps and you will get a report showing all agencies, or just those you want to see.  I would recommend you select all of them as some things may be correct with one company, but in error with another.
Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 11.54.16 AM

As an alternative, each credit reporting agency will also provide you with one free report annually and you can request them individually.     I recently checked mine through Experian to track my report and score as I’m trying to work on increasing my personal credit score for the future.

A credit report can look scary especially if you have missed a few payments, or have old medical bills, student loans or more, but don’t let it get to you.  Remember:  Your credit report does NOT define you, but you can use it to help better yourself and your life, if you so choose.

As you review your report, you will see the good, the bad and sometimes – the ugly.  As you review your report, make sure that all items you see are in fact yours.  It could mean that it is time for the item to be removed from your report, an account which you never opened or even incorrect information.    It is up to you to review these to make sure they are correct.

Most negative items will fall off of your report after a period of seven years.  In the case of bankruptcy, Chapter 13 will remain on your report for seven years and Chapter 13 will follow you for 10.  This is part of the reason you need to check your report.  You need to make sure those negative accounts are removed when the time has arrived.

Just because you have a lot of items on your report does not mean that it is a bad thing.  A good report will show solid payment history and long standing accounts.  These in turn help increase your score.

 

If you find something that you feel is in error, you need to dispute the item.  Each company has it’s own way to report this.  You may find a button in the side bar or next to each item.

Each company will have it’s own dispute form.  This is what you would see if you disputed one through Experian.

dispute form

 

Enter all information, making sure it is correct.  Once you are done you may be asked to once again verify your identity.  Remember that you need to complete all sections of the form and then submit before it is actually considered sent.  Make sure you do not click out of the form too quickly.

Make sure that you only dispute what you have legitimate reason to dispute. I know this sounds like a no brainer but you can get into trouble for trying to fraud the system. Once you’ve filed your dispute they will take you to a screen showing your disputes and that they are pending. They have 30 days to talk to your debtors and see if the disputes are legit and to make an answer. Once an answer has been reached you will receive notification of your accounts and what happened.

I know this can all be overwhelming, but it truly is worth it, especially if you’re working towards goals of purchasing a house, car or anything else and you don’t want to pay super high interest rates. This step by step is quick and easy and takes you through all the steps on how to dispute items on your credit report!

*I’m not a financial advisor and I do not work for any of these companies. This is not a sponsored post or credit advice. It’s an informational post on my own experiences with my own credit report and disputes.*

Ten Inexpensive (or even FREE) Ways to Fill Your Day at Disney World

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

When you visit Disney you may think everything is expensive.  We've got a list of TEN things you can do which are either free or inexpensive!  Get ready to plan your trip!!!

Okay, so we all know that Disney vacations can be expensive (and exhausting). But did you know there are lots of ways to spend a day at Disney World without spending a ton of money?

Many, many families come back from this vacation feeling like they need a vacation. If families are at Disney for a week or more I always recommend you take a day off from the parks. This is my list of ten things your family can do to fill all or part of a day at Disney, without breaking the bank and without stepping foot in a park.

 

1. Disney Springs Splashpad, Lego Store and Goofy’s Candy Kitchen (or Ghirardelli depending on your need for a snack) and lunch at Earl of Sandwich.

This may only be great if you have little people in your family but I have a 7 and 3 year old. After awhile they need to run around and be free. Did you know there were water jets at Disney Springs (aka Downtown Disney)? Yes, happy, accidental, discovery on our last trip. My kids played for quite awhile in the big, circular, open area. I watched from a bench. If you want to kill even more time you can visit the giant bins of Legos in front of the Lego store. If your children are like mine they can probably play happily for hours in the Lego bins. I totally, openly, admit to bribing my children- like, if you are okay with leaving the water you can go get a treat at Goofy’s Candy Kitchen (please, no judgment). But another wonderful little gem in Disney Springs- Goofy’s Candy Kitchen. I let the kids pick a treat or make one. I don’t let them get anything but I let them think they are picking, and it costs me less than $10. Everyone is happy. Adding lunch (or even dinner) at Earl of Sandwich (the sandwiches are all under $10) would fill most of the day. If you wanted to splurge a little bit more there is a carousel or train for the kids to ride for $2/ride. You don’t have to go into a shop, you don’t have to get the giant Mickey, but you can definitely spend most of a day doing nothing but kid stuff at Disney Springs.

 

2. Spend an afternoon at Animal Kingdom Lodge.Many families don’t realize that if they are not staying at a resort they can still visit a resort. Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of our favorite places to visit. If you head out of the hotel mid-morning you can grab lunch at Mara at Animal Kingdom Lodge (counter service). Your kids can go wander and watch the animals on the Savannah, maybe even talk to one of the many, very friendly, cultural representatives who are there just to answer guest questions.

Thinking that this may not fill your entire morning, afternoon or day? Wait, there’s more. Ask at the front desk for the Hidden Mickey Safari Hunt- your family can hunt all the Hidden Mickey’s at Animal Kingdom Lodge. At 1:00 pm there is cookie decorating at Boma (free). Every morning at 9:00 they feed the flamingoes at the pool. Every afternoon at 3:45 pm there is a FREE tour of the resorts restaurants. There is a lot to do here, most of it free.

 

3. Mini-Golf.If you buy a 2016 Disney Travel Company package it includes four vouchers for a free round of miniature golf at either Fantasia Gardens or Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course before 4:00 pm. This is a great way to spend an afternoon or morning, for free. If you don’t have a package the cost is $12/person. For a family of four it would be under $50 for several hours of family time.

These courses are located right by the Boardwalk and Beach/Yacht Club Resorts. If you wanted to make more of a day of it you could get pizza from the window at the Boardwalk, tackle the Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream or just wander the resorts, which are all beautiful.

 

4. Monorail Resort Tour. One of my family’s favorite activities. My three year old loves the monorail and he considers an attraction in itself. Maybe you have one like this. But anyway, last trip we spent an entire afternoon wandering the monorail resorts and at one point we sidetracked, via boat, to the Wilderness Lodge. My husband and I had an adult beverage while we rocked. The geyser is always fun for the kids to watch shoot off. Eat at one of the counter service restaurants for a meal while you wander. Or go over to Trader Sam’s Tiki Lounge and get appetizers with the kids. Seriously, you could spend an entire day wandering these resorts.

 

5. Restaurant. com – Garden Grove Character Meal and Boardwalk Resort Area.This one requires pre-planning on your part. Many of you have probably heard of Restaurant.com. You may have even used it. Did you know that there are some restaurants in Disney World you can buy the certificates for? One of them is the Garden Grove Restaurant at the Swan Resort. (I cannot guarantee that this certificate is available at all times) You can buy a $25 or more certificate for as little as $10. These certificates work like this, if your meal is $50 and you have a $25 certificate your meal is $25. Characters appear at dinner and at breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. After your meal you can take the boat over to the Boardwalk and if its after dinner you can enjoy the entertainment on the boardwalk, free. Or you can wander the pathway between the Boardwalk and Yacht/Beach Club.

 

6. Spend a morning catch and release fishing at a resort.You can rent poles (they come with worms) at either Port Orleans Riverside or at Ft. Wilderness. The poles cost $4/30 minutes or $9/full day. They have a family special for $14/30 minutes for 4-6 poles. Both of these resorts have lots of other activities that you could add on, or a meal to make this take most of the day up.

 

7. Go on a pressed penny hunt.I have seen some really elaborate pressed penny hunt ideas on Pinterest. Or you can make your own. My seven year old is obsessed with pressed pennies. You can get one at every resort. You could spend an entire day collecting pressed pennies. To make it more interesting and fun you can design a hunt for the pennies. It wouldn’t cost you anything but time and the .51 cents for each penny.

 

8. If you are a huge Disney snack fan you could create your very own “Food Crawl” through the resorts. Many resorts have something they are known for or are excellent at. Examples include the Zebra Dome at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beignets at Port Orleans French Quarter, the Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream, Dole Whips at the Polynesian and cupcakes at the Boardwalk Bakery. You could make this as elaborate or as simple as you want. Because you would be stopping and snacking throughout your crawl your family could share the treats as you go.

 

9. Scavenger Hunt/Amazing Race, Disney Style. I have seen some fairly elaborate “Amazing Race” type games that people have set up for families at Disney Parks. If you wanted to do this at resorts, it might actually be easier than at parks. This is a link to a pin all about how to create an amazing race for your family!

 

10. Go spend a day at Ft. Wilderness. so much to love at this resort, it’s hard to know where to start. Little people will love visiting the horses at the Tri-Circle D Ranch. They can also have a pony ride (must be at least two years old and not taller tan 48 inches) for $5. There are three playgrounds at the resort for the kids to run around on. In addition to these things there are bike rentals, canoe and kayak rentals (these start at $11/adult), shuffleboard, horseshoes, hayrides and a wonderful little gem of a restaurant for lunch, Trails End. This place is a wonderful, unhurried, family time resort where you can escape from the noise, crowds and bustle. You can spend an afternoon, a morning or a full day.

So yes, Disney is expensive. Yes, you will probably spend more than you want. But there are at least ten ways to spend a day for under $100 at Disney World. Did I mention that your kids would love all of these activities as much as going into an actual theme park? I am sure that there are more ways to spend a day under $100, these are just ten I have done or had happy family experience.

Feel free to ask me any questions, I can be reached at Dana@Smallearthtravel.com.

Tips for Time Management

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Time management is one are that seems to cause issues for a lot of people.  You've got to read our great tips to help you really get the most out of each and every day!!

 

 

It’s a popular occurrence for people to be super busy these days. Between jobs, school, kids, and the little things in between, it can be difficult to get it all in without feeling like you have absolutely no time to spare. Time management can be a successful tool in assisting you with your day to day routine by opening up time you didn’t realize you were wasting. Below are some great tips for getting started with adding time management to your day.

  1. Make a list – Yes, it takes time to sit down and make a list but it’s worth it. Before the week begins, write down what appointments/obligations you have for each day. Then on a separate sheet of paper, write down the things you need to get done that don’t have a specific deadline. Find your empty spots throughout your schedule and place these deadline-free responsibilities in those spots as desired. Make sure you’re planning the highest priority ones first.
  2. Don’t be lazy – As much as we would love to lie in bed on the days we have off, use these days to take care of a few extra responsibilities. Always take care of the most important responsibilities first or the most pressing ones, that way you can relax on taking care of the others a bit. You will feel much better while relaxing knowing you have nothing that needs to be done.
  3. Don’t procrastinate – This one can get to us all at one point or another. However, it’s the biggest pit fall of time management. Too many responsibilities can get stacked up to where we overwhelm ourselves or make it near impossible to get them all taken care of. If something is presented to you, get it done right then if possible. If not, it will only be one more thing you will have to remember to get done later. Don’t do that to yourself.

Overall, get to know yourself and your habits. Be honest about where you fall short and compensate for that. We all handle our time differently but with a few adjustments, we can all learn to organize our time effectively.

Tips & Tricks To Maximize Your Savings at Kohl’s! (Best of All – They Really Work)!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

These are MUST KNOW tips and tricks to getting the best savings and deals at Kohl's! Pin and share with your friends!!

I’ve been a loyal Kohl’s shopper for years.  In fact, when the one near us was being built, I always joked that the sign that said “Coming Soon – Kohl’s” should have read “Coming Soon – Tracie’s Kohl’s”.  I seriously think I own one corner of that store – if not more!

The reason I shop there is I find the best deals.  I can’t even remember EVER paying full price for anything there. In fact, I usually save 50% off of my purchases – or more!  Over the course of my Kohl’s love affair, I’ve figured out many great tips on how to really save money there.  You may know some of them – but others may come as a surprise to you!

Time to shop!

 

1.  Best time to shop — 3 pm Friday to 1 pm Saturday.  This is the time frame when Kohl’s usually offers it’s doorbusters.  That means, they are some of the best prices you will find at that time.  Rather than miss a deal, just visit at this time and you will find not only the regular weekly mark downs, but also some of those time sensitive offers as well.

 

2.  Combine receipts to reach Kohl’s cash limits.  This is one that a LOT of you may not know about.  If there is an offer for spend $50 and get $10 in Kohl’s Cash, and you spend $42, you know you will not qualify.  However, if during the same promotional period, you visit Kohl’s again and spend at least $8, you can actually COMBINE your receipts to get your Kohl’s cash!

Yes!  It is true!  You do not have to spend $50 in a single transaction, but can actually combine multiple shopping trips to reach the limit.  The only thing to remember is that it has to be in the same promotional period.  For instance, if the cash offer is running from July 3 – July 10, anything you buy during that time can be combine to reach your limit.  However, if you shop again on July 14th, that would be a new Kohl’s Cash period and your receipt could not be combined with those during the prior shopping period.

Just ask your cashier and they can do it for you right at the register!  Now, aren’t you annoyed at all of the free Kohl’s Cash you may have been missing out on?

 

Shop online and pick up in the store

 

3.  You can shop online and pick it up in the store.  This is a brand new feature and a great way to get some of the best discounts — without worrying about shipping charges.  Many times, the coupon codes are only available for online purchases.  We don’t always have an in-store coupon that can be used.  No problem!

Just place your order online and just opt to pick it up at your local store instead.  That way, you get the maximum discount PLUS avoid shipping charges.  You also get it that same day!

 

4.  Pay off your Kohl’s charge immediately at the register.  If you are like me and really do NOT like to use credit cards, this may work for you.  There are times when I get an offer to redeem a coupon, but I must use a Kohl’s charge to use the code or discount.  What I do is just use my card and then turn around as soon as I am done and pay off the balance with my cash.  I can do it right at the register.  No worries.  No balances and best of all – NEVER any interest.  That allows me to get all of the Kohl’s Card perks with none of the headaches.

 

kohlscash1

5. Kohl’s Cash threshold can be reached at $48.    You don’t have to spend $50 or more to qualify for your Kohl’s cash.  Just hit $48 and you will be on your way to adding up your cash!   Don’t forget that your Kohl’s cash is determined after all discounts but prior to any applicable sales tax.

 

6.  Kohl’s will price match.  This is one of those hacks that many people do not know about!  Kohl’s will match it’s competitors and you can still use up to a 15% off coupon when matching.  Here is what you need to know about this service:

  • Must have the competitor’s ad from physical store.
  • Will not match online pricing (such as Amazon).
  • Will not price match to it’s own Kohls.com prices.
  • Will not match clearance or Buy One offers
  • You can use coupons and Kohl’s cash when price matching; however, the coupon is limited to 15% off and is applied

 

Refund on overpayment

 

7.  Get a refund if you find your item on sale after you buy.  This is the one that always gets me.  I buy something and turn around and a week later it is on sale!  UGH!  This is the great thing about Kohl’s – you can actually get a refund back on the difference!

  • You bought the item on sale or at regular price.
  • Within two weeks (14 days) of the purchase date, the price of the item was further reduced from the final price you paid.
  • You have the original, dated sales receipt.
  • The item is not a Clearance markdown.
  • The item is not Kohl’s Cares cause merchandise.
  • The item was not purchased as a Buy One, Get One (BOGO).
  • The item is not a current Buy One, Get One (BOGO).

If you used a coupon or code on your purchase, then that offer must still be valid in order to have it applied to the new price.  For example, if you bought something for $50 and used a 15% off coupon, you would have paid $42.50.  If that same item is on sale for $47 4 days later AND the 15% off coupon has not yet expired, you would get a refund of $2.55.  That is the difference of your purchase price of $42.50 and the new final price of $39.95.

Kohls-Clearance-Sale

 

8.  Clearance runs 60, 70, 80 and then 90% off.  Just watch the tags as they will start clearance at 60% off and will continue to reduce the price until it is marked down 90% off.  (And don’t forget to use coupons and/or Kohl’s Cash to make your deal even sweeter)!

 

9.  Be careful of returns when you have earned Kohl’s Cash.  If you receive Kohl’s cash on a purchase and then later, decide to return that item, or even any other items purchased in the transaction, your return will be adjusted accordingly.  The reason is that people were cheating the system and buying lots of items, using the Kohl’s Cash and then returning them — which was totally a loss for the company.

So, if you spend $100 and earn $20 in Kohl’s cash and then return the $20 sweater in your bag, you may get nothing back.  In that case, it may be better to keep and donate or give it to someone else.

 

10.  You can return without a receipt.  If you shop using your Kohl’s card, returns are the simplest.  They can find any transaction on your card and make the return without any problems.  They often do not even require you to get store credit – they can put it right back on your card for you.

If you happen to shop with any other credit card, they can do the same thing — for a period of up to 12 months from your purchase.  They can scan your card and find the transaction that is attached to it and do the return.

If you do happen to shop using cash and need to make a return without a receipt, be prepared that you may not get the full purchase price you paid.  The reason is that if you can’t produce a receipt, they will offer you the lowest price for that item over the past 13 weeks + they assume you had at least a 15% discount.  So, if you paid $8 and it happened to drop to just $5 6 weeks later, you will only get $5 back.  So, if you pay cash — I recommend ALWAYS keeping those receipts!

 

coupon

 

11.  Kohl’s coupons are great – but there are exclusions.  Make sure you read the coupons carefully as many times there are exclusions to using them on items such as FitBit, Nike, Keurig KCups and more.  Most people think they can use them on anything, but they can not.

What you CAN do is use your Kohl’s cash toward the purchase of any items.  Nothing is excluded from that redemption.

 

12.   You can find Kohl’s coupon codes and rebates in one place.  So many times there are rebates offered on appliances, but how do you know which items qualify?  Simple!  You just visit THIS page on Kohl’s.com and find all of the rebates.  You will be able to access the forms and get all of the details you need to know about before you shop.

You can also find the current codes and promotions running at anytime on their Coupons and Offers page!  That is right HERE – so you have access to all of the promotions and codes you may need when shopping!

Senior Shopping Kohls

13.  55 or Older?  Save 15% on Wednesday.  That is Senior day at all locations.  You will automatically get that applied to your purchase at checkout – and you can still use other codes and Kohl’s Cash to increase the savings!!!

 

14.  Kohl’s Cash is always applied first when redeemed.  If you are redeeming your Kohl’s Cash and also happen to have an additional coupon to use, the Kohl’s Cash will be applied to your purchase first and then any additional discounts applied to your remaining balance.  Here is a quick example:

Purchase Total:  $87.24
Kohl’s Cash Redeemed:  $50
Net total:  $37.24
15% off coupon applied: -5.59
Final purchase total:  $31.65 (plus local sales tax)

 

15.  Returns can be done anytime.  This is a great feature when it comes to shopping at Kohl’s.  I will often buy my kids clothes when they are on sale – so I am ready for the following season.  However, there are times when they have outgrown them and never get a chance to wear them.  No problem!  I can take them back to Kohl’s and either return or exchange them as needed — even if has been 10 months since I made the purchase!

loyalty-20141118-video

 

16. Make sure you are signed up for Kohl’s Yes to You Rewards.  This is such an easy way to get paid when  you shop. When you spend $100 or more, you will get a $5 reward.  That means every time you shop, you are earning 5% on your purchase!  They also send out great birthday offers and more to members – so it pays to get signed up (and best of all – it is FREE to join)!

 

17.  Use the registry for instant savings.  If you are getting married or having a baby, you will want to complete a registry.  You will get 10% off for doing just that.  Best of all, when someone buys at least one item on your list, you will get a coupon to save 15% off of a future purchase!

 

18. Know what to buy and what to avoid.  I typically find the best discounts for my family on kitchen, bath, toys and apparel items.  That is because in most cases, you can still use an additional coupon for greater savings.  I find that items like electronics, FitBit and Nike apparel and the like are not good buys – because you can’t use a coupon (however, they will apply towards your purchase to reach Kohl’s Cash – and you can redeem Kohl’s cash on any of them).

Just don’t fall for the coupon hype.  Do research and find out what the same item sells for at other store before you jump in and get it there.  It may not really be the best deal available.

Kohls Coupons via Text

19.  Sign up for emails and text alerts and save 15%!  Just text SAVE07 to 56457 and you will get a coupon to save 15% off of your next purchase!  You will also get some of those other great offers sent to you via text – so you never miss a chance to save!

 

What additional tips have you learned about when it comes to shopping at Kohl’s?  We will add them to our list (just leave the details in the comments below).

Reasons Why Your Air Conditioner May Be Freezing Up (Things To Check BEFORE You Call a Repairman)

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

 

Your air conditioner may be freezing up for reasons you may not realize.  Before you pick up the phone call call a repairman, here are some things you can try yourself!

Air conditioners can have all sorts of issues. Some are easier than others to troubleshoot. If your air conditioner is having trouble blowing air, it could be frozen. If you’re not sure what that means, or if you do know what that means and don’t understand why it’s happening, check below for popular reasons why this could be happening to your air conditioner.

  1. Lack of Freon is one of the top reasons why your air conditioner could be freezing up. You have to be certified to add Freon to your air conditioner and it will take a special set of gauges to check the levels.
  2. An air flow problem could also be causing your air conditioner to freeze up. The first thing you’ll want to check is your filter. If your filter is clogged, it will cause your unit to freeze. Your filter should be changed a minimum of two times a year. You should be changing it more than that if possible.
  3. Check the evaporator coil also known as the A-coil to see if it’s dirty. The evaporator coil is shaped like an A and is actually located in your furnace. If it’s clogged or dirty, it will cause loss of air flow which will in turn cause your air conditioner to freeze up. The coil can be cleaned with a stiff scrub brush or wire brush. Brush across it lightly to remove the dirt and debris carefully. You can also purchase a coil cleaner from your local home improvement store.
  4. A dirty fan blade on the blower in your furnace can also cause lack of air flow which, as stated earlier, can in turn cause your air conditioner to freeze. Also, if your blower motor isn’t working at all, it will cause your air conditioner to freeze.

Note: If you are unsure of what could be wrong with your air conditioner, please ask a professional for safety reasons. You could also save yourself money in the long run by asking before trying to fix it yourself.

I’ve Had Enough…..Have You?

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

I've had it.  I am so tired of the online bullying. Not from kids but from GROWN ADULTS. Seriously - enough is enough! STOP!!!!

I usually do not do posts that may be construed as controversial, but you know what? I have had it “up to here” lately! (I am sure you all see me standing here shaking my hand back and forth at my chin, don’t you?).

No matter where we turn these days someone is offended by something.  One person is annoyed by the aisle signs at Target and another thinks that the new Minion movie is completely sexist.  Others complain that parents who make a silly mistake or a funny post are ruining their children’s lives.  The list really goes on and on.

I am sure many of you have seen these types of rants.  They are sometimes on blog posts and start with “An Open Letter To __________” (fill in the blank for whatever person, organization or moment has them so up in arms).  They then proceed to belittle, bash and put down that person for – GASP – not feeling the same way that they do about a topic.  Oh, the horror!

The thing is, we are all individuals.  That is what makes us unique and we should embrace that.  Instead, I see adults (and really, I use that term very loosely as most act like four year olds fighting on the playground), actually fighting on social media.  Yes, they really are fighting.  They are using horrendously foul language.  Sometimes, they make derogatory racist or sexual comments directed at the person with whom they do not agree.  They bully.  They belittle.  They, well, like I said, act like kids fighting over a toy truck.

It has gotten absolutely ridiculous.  I actually am hating social media these days because it seems that there is nothing but a fight.  Heck!  Even a good story about a police officer who stopped to buy ice cream for children turns into a debate about how they are in it only for the PR opportunity.  (Insert Eye Roll).

I have one word for all of you…..

STOP!!!

Seriously.  It is ridiculous.  Yes, we are all entitled to have our own opinions, but, since when is YOUR opinion the ONLY opinion.  It is not.  We are all entitled to think what we want to think.  We all also have the freedom of speech.  However, those freedoms do not mean that we do not have freedom from the consequences of said speech.

When you put something online, it is out there forever.  It is there for everyone to see.  You can’t deny it.  You can’t hide from it.  Look at all of the celebrities who have been caught saying one thing or another.  They are all chastised and beaten down for doing or saying one thing.  I tell you what, it makes me so glad that I am not in the spotlight so that someone can take one thing I do that is wrong and try to ruin me.  Whew!!

Oh wait a minute.  That does happen.  It happens daily to people all across the country.  It may not be in the same setting, but it is in your words.  The things you say to others you do not know.  The way you treat strangers.  They way you bully them.

As adults, we all talk about how horrible it is for children to bully one another.  I am pretty sure that most of us (if not all of us) could agree on that.  However, why is it then OK for parents to bully one another online?  I mean, should we not, as parents and adults, practice what we preach? Would you say these things if you were having a conversation with this person?  It is in these moments that a keyboard is turned into a weapon of sorts as the words which come from it can be very hurtful and so hateful.

I am not saying you have to agree with everyone.  That is impossible and I could not do that either.  However, what I am saying is that you can share your opinion and still act respectful.  If someone does not agree with you, why is there this absolute need to respond?  Are these people’s lives so sad that they have nothing better to do than to troll social media and respond (many times over and over again) to people who may think differently than they do?  I really do not get it.

I will admit that there are some times when I see two adults having a civilized discussion.  However, those moments are so rare and far between that it really saddens me. When I see what is being done online, it makes me realize that we live in a society of narcissistic bullies who have nothing better do than stalk posts, perpetuate drama and just act like a horrible people.

At the end of the day, each of us is in control of what we post online.  Yes, we have the right to type it.  We have the right to hit publish.  However, do you not remember that saying “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?”  I think many have forgotten about this. And that makes me so sad.

Facebook Update: Prioritize Your NewsFeed

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

1Facebook has released a new update.  Now, you can actually prioritize the pages/posts you see in your Newsfeed! That doesn’t mean you will necessarily always see those posts first, but at least Facebook is listening!

First of all, you will need to update your Facebook app.  I had to turn off my phone and then restart it in order to see all of the options (but you may see it right after you complete your update).

TO UPDATE ON YOUR DESKTOP/LAPTOP

This is so easy to do.  Just visit those pages you really want to see in your Newsfeed.  Click on the LIKE button and beneath that, click on See First.  That will make sure that these newest posts stay at the top of your page.

screen likes

 

TO UPDATE ON YOUR DEVICE

First of all, this is only available right now on iOs devices (Android is coming soon).

Then, click on the MORE link on the page:phone1

Next, select News Feed Preferences:

phone 2

The next page is a NEW screen.  From here, you will select Prioritize who to see first:

 

phone 3

You will see all of the pages and people you follow.  Just click on those you want to see on your feed.  You will see a blue circle with a white star pop up next to them and the word See First below their name.  Do this for those you want to see more of (you know, like Penny Pinchin’ Mom, of course 😉 ).

phone 4

Now, when these people/pages make a post, they should be at the top of your feed, so you can keep up to date with them more easily!!

2015 Tax Free Holiday Shopping Dates (By State)

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Check out this list, by state, of all of the 2015 Tax Free Holiday Shopping Weekends (includes a FREE interactive map)

2015 Tax Free Back to School Shopping Holiday / Weekend

One way that some states help families save money during back to school shopping is to offer sales tax holidays.  This helps families save on things they need  for their kids like supplies, clothes and even electronics.  By suspending the collection of state, county or local sales tax, it keeps more money in your pocket when you have to pick up the items your school needs for your child to bring with them on the first day of class.

Below, you will find a sales tax map. To find out if your state participates, simply place your mouse on it.  If the pointer shape changes then you are in luck!  Your state participates and you can click to go directly to that states’s details including included and excluded items as well as the dates when the sales tax holiday will be offered.

 

OR - Not Participating Idaho - Not Participating Montana - Not Partcipating North Dakota - Not Participating Minnesota - Not Participating South Dakota - Not Partcipating Nevada - Not Partcipating Utah - Not Partcipating Colorado - Not Partcipating Nebraska - Not Partcipating Iowa - YES! Click here to learn more California - Not Participating Arizona - Not Participating New Mexico - YES!  Click to learn more Texas - YES! Click to learn more Alaska - Not Participating Hawaii - Not Participating Kansas - Not Participating Oklahoma - YES! Click to learn more Missouri - YES! Click to Learn More Arkansas - YES! Click to Learn More Louisiana - YES! Click to Learn More Mississippi - YES! Click to Learn More Alabama - YES! Tennessee - YES! Click to Learn More Georgia - YES! Click to Learn More Florida - YES! Click to Learn More South Carolina - YES! North Carolina - Not Participating Kentucky - Not Participating Virginia - YES! Click to Learn More West Virginia - Not Participating Illinois - Not Participating Wisconsin - Not Participating Michigan - Not Participating Indiana - Not Participating Ohio - YES! Click to Learn More (New in 2015) Pennsylvania - Not Participating New York - Not Participating District of Columbia - Not Participating Maryland - YES! Click to Learn More Delaware - Not Partcipating New Jersey - Not Participating Connecticut - YES! Click to Learn More Connecticut - YES! Click to Learn More Maine - Not Participating Vermont - Not Participating New Hampshire - Not Participating Massachusettes - Not Partcipating Rhode Island - Not Participating

 

You can also find a list of participating states below, along with some of the details you will need to know:

State
Dates
Details
State Links
AlabamaAugust 7 - August 9, 2015
  • Clothing under $100
  • School supplies under $50
  • Books under $30
  • Computers/computer equipment under $750
  • Alabama Sales Tax Holiday Details
    ArkansasAugust 1 - August 2, 2015
  • Clothing and footwear (priced at less than $100 per item)
  • Accessories (priced at less than $50 per item)
  • School supplies
  • Arkansas Sales Tax Holiday Details
    ConnecticutAugust 17 - August 23, 2014
  • Clothing under $300 per item
  • Shoes under $300 per item
  • Connecticuit Sales Tax Holiday Details
    FloridaAugust 7 - August 16, 2015
  • Clothing, footwear, wallets and bags ($100 or less)
  • School supplies ($15 or less)
  • Computers ($750 or less)
  • Florida Sales Tax Holiday Details
    GeorgiaJuly 31 - August 1, 2015
  • School Supplies, up to $20
  • Clothing, up to $100
  • Computers, up to $1000
  • Georgia Sales Tax Holiday
    IowaAugust 7 - August 8, 2015
  • Clothing under $100
  • Shoes under $100
  • Iowa Sales Tax Holiday Details
    LouisianaAugust 7 - August 8, 2015
  • Purchases under $2,500
  • Louisiana Sales Tax Holiday Details
    MarylandAugust 9 - August 15, 2015
  • Clothing priced at $100 or less
  • Footwear priced at $100 or less
  • Maryland Sales Tax Holiday Details
    MississippiJuly 31 - August 1, 2015
  • Clothing under $100
  • Shoes under $100
  • Mississippi Sales Tax Holiday Details
    MissouriAugust 7 - August 9, 2015
  • Clothing under $100
  • School supplies under $50
  • Computer software under $350
  • Computers/computer equipment under $3,500
  • Missouri Sales Tax Holiday DetailsåÊ
    New MexicoAugust 7 - August 9, 2015
  • Clothing up to $100
  • Computers up to $1,000
  • School supplies up to $30
  • New Mexico Sales Tax Holiday Details
    Ohio *NEW*August 7 - August 9, 2015
  • Clothing up to $75
  • Instructional Materials up to $20
  • School supplies up to $20
  • Ohio Sales Tax Holiday Details
    OklahomaAugust 7 - August 9, 2015
  • Clothing up to $100
  • Oklahoma Sales Tax Holiday Details
    South CarolinaAugust 7 - August 9, 2015
  • Clothing
  • School supplies
  • Computers
  • South Carolina Sales Tax Holiday Details
    TennesseeAugust 7 - August 9, 2015
  • Clothing up to $100
  • School supplies up to $100
  • Computers up to $1,500
  • Tennessee Sales Tax Holiday Details
    TexasAugust 7 - August 9, 2015
  • Clothing, backpacks and school supplies up to $100
  • Texas Sales Tax Holiday Details
    VirginiaAugust 7 - August 9, 2015
  • Clothing up to $100
  • School Supplies up to $20
  • Virginia Sales Tax Holiday Details

    *These states have not yet released details, but have participated in the past.  The dates listed are based upon the same weekend/week from the prior year, but have not yet been confirmed. Please check back with your state to find out more details.

    Living My Life Without Regrets (And Knowing It’s OK to Miss a Deal)!

    This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

    Life is so short.  Life your life without regrets.  Don't do things that make you look back and think "I wish I would not have _________".

     

    If you have kids, I am sure you can relate.  One minute you are bringing them home from the hospital.  You blink and they are starting kindergarten.  Blink again and they are already heading into middle school!!!  Life goes by soooo quickly!!

    In these moments, it is so easy for us to forget what matters most.  For me, that is my family.  They truly come first.  I am very proud that I am a mom.  I love my kids and husband more than words can say.   Every night, before I go to sleep, I look at those three sleeping children and it reminds me just how blessed I am.  I have been given these amazing gifts from God.  Gifts that I do not want to take for granted.  Yes, there are moments when I want to run away, but fortunately, those are not that frequent.

    Every day, I do thank the Lord for these kids.  I always give them a hug and a kiss every single day (and often more than once a day).  They hear the words “I love you” come from my lips every morning.  I have so much fun watching them grow, hearing them laugh making them enjoy this life.  The moments that I love the most are those when they make me bust out laughing because of something that they say.  I truly would never trade be a mom for anything in the world.

    I am, of course, more than just a mom.  I am Tracie.  Part of who I am is a blogger.  I love sharing tips, recipes, articles and helping readers (just like you) learn how to get the most out of your budget.  When it comes to deals, coupons and more, they are truly never ending.  I’ve had deals last 30 seconds and some last 3 months.  There is no way for me to keep up with it all – and I just can’t.  That is just not possible.

    If we tried, I’d be posting every 10-15 minutes all day long.  Whew!  That is a LOT of work!  That would not only overwhelm me, but also my readers.  Could you keep up with that?  And honestly, would you want to try to?  My guess is no.  Not because you don’t love a deal, but you too are enjoying your life as well.

    We do have several amazing women who help me (thank you to them!!).  But, we still are first and foremost moms.  Our kids always need to come first.  We work to share something new around every 45 minutes all day long.  By doing that, we are giving you time to keep up with what we share, without inundating you with posts.

    We work hard to share those amazing deals.  However, we also know that it is NOT the end of the world if we do not share a few of them.  It is not only that, I want you all to know those which I share matter.  A while back, we tried to post it all and it was just too much.  I was missing out on my life.  I was miserable.  It did not work.

    So now, we are back to posting a little less frequently during the day.  I do not need to kill myself for this site.  My loyal readers know that and they do not care.  In fact, I know many of you appreciate that my priorities are right.  I am focused more on what makes me happiest of all….my kids.

    My children are my world.  They deserve a mom who is not obsessed with posting deals and coupons.  They deserve a mom who is in the moment.  They deserve the best life has to offer.  They are the reason I was put on this earth and they are my focus.  They always have been and always will be.

    I think it is important that we always remember what matters most in this world.  Is it being the best website out there? Is it being better than someone else?  Or is it, instead, living in the moment and having no regrets.  I know, for me, that when my time comes, I will not say “Geez….I sure wish I had posted a few more coupons on my site.”  My goal is that I will say “I am glad I lived in the moment and took in all this world had to offer.  I have no regrets about the mother and wife I was.  Thank you God for blessing me with such an amazing life.”    Perhaps, you too, agree.

    Life is fleeting.  Deals come and go and sure, they save you money.  However, living a life without regrets….that my friends, is priceless. Would you not agree?

    Helping Kids Deal with Fear of Storms

    This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

    Kids are often scared of storms.  As parents, we want to do what we can to help them through these times.  We've got some easy tips you can follow to help your own child when a storm strikes.

    Last night, we had some pretty bad storms around here — including tornados.  My daughter actually had a pretty traumatic experience as a result.

    She and her dad were helping with our church’s Fireworks display when the weather started to turn.  The men were closing the tent and tying things down when their phones all went off with the alert — tornado warning.  My daughter instantly started to panic.  She was in tears and was telling her dad that she was afraid she would never see her mom again.  He tried to get her into the Quicktrip next door, but she was too scared to go.  He looked up and could tell that the direction towards our house was away from the storm, so the men there told him to leave with her.  Turns out that the tornado was very far away from them, so no damage to the area where they were at — thankfully!

    All the way home, my daughter kept telling herself “Calm down, Emma.  It is going to be OK.”  She came running through the door yelling my name and grabbed me and held on for dear life.  She was terrified.  She was shaking and was very pale.  We got her calmed down and had all of the kids take a bath and headed to the basement as a family – to watch a funny movie and take everyone’s mind off of things.

    We went back upstairs at 9 pm and put the kids to bed when it happened.  The tornado sirens began to screech right outside our house.  All 3 of my kids ran down the stairs as fast as they could…..all of them in tears.  We got them into the basement and turned on the TV.  There was no mention of a warning.  It was at that moment that both of our phones alerted us and a few second later, we saw the warning pop up on the screen.

    A tornado was in our area (thankfully it was a couple of miles southeast of us), but we later learned that there had been funnel clouds dropping all around our city for most of the evening (don’t tell my kids).  At 9:15, when we had the all clear, we took them back up the stairs and told them it was time for bed.   They were too scared and it ended up being a sleepover in mom and dad’s room.

    11402931_10206689474052341_2864752759825802298_n

    This was our very first real experience with storms.  We kept our kids calm and we got through it and best of all, there was no damage where we lived and no one was injured as a result of any of the storms.

    Kids will be scared of these storms, but there are things we can do to help them get through it:

    1. Talk about storms before they happen.  In the moment of a storm, kids are often too scared to understand what is going on.  They just want to be safe.

    Talk about thunderstorms and lightning when it is not storming.  Talk about tornados and what to do if we hear a siren.  In fact, when you hear the test sirens in your area, have your kids practice what to do and where to go.

    When they know what to do when it storms, they feel more in control and that can really help them to stay a bit more calm.

    2. Don’t try to pretend it is not happening.  Kids are smart.  They know what the sirens mean.  They can see dark clouds in the sky.  If they ask if there is a tornado, do not lie to them.  Just stay calm and say yes and ask them to come with you to your shelter.

    3. Remind them why they are safe.  When the storm strikes, remind your children that they are away from the lightning, wind and hail when they are in the house.  If it is a very bad storm, take them to your basement (or shelter) and again, remind them how they stay safe where they are at.

    4. Distract them.  Keep the things you need handy in your shelter area.  This would include flashlights, batteries, food, water, weather radio and even games.  Play cards with your kids so they take their minds off of the storm.  You can keep board games handy.  If the power is still on, you might be able to pop in a fun movie into the DVD player.

    5.  Keep calm yourself.  As an adult, we know the damage and what can actually happen as a result of these storms.  Many of us have seen the destruction and fear it ourselves. However, in the moment when your child is scared, they can not see the fear in your face, as that will make them more frightened.  Find a way to stay calm yourself and your child will feel better when they see that you are not worried.

    Do you have anything to add to our list?