10 Great Apps to Help Keep You Organized

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organizing apps

1. Key Ring (free).  Do you find that you have 5, 10 or even MORE store loyalty cards?  This is a free app to help you keep all of those cards handy, without having to keep the card in your wallet (or taking up space on your key chain).  You scan the barcode of your card (or manually type it into your phone).  Then, when you shop, you show the barcode for that stores’s card to your cashier and they scan it and you are done!  No more fumbling to find the cards you need!  This is a free app which you can find for both Apple and Android Devices.

2. Cozi (free).  This is an app my family has actually used too.  It is a way for all family members to use one calendar to write down events and more!  One really neat feature about this is that when you update something on one device, it pushes out to all devices using the same account.  Not only that, but it even has a shopping list feature!  That way, you can write down an item you need at the store, so if another family member stops by for you, they can grab the items you need too!!  The basic app is free, but you can pay to upgrade to a pro version instead, if you so choose.  This app is available on both Apple and Android.

3. Refillables ($0.99 Apple store).  This is the app that helps you keep track of the things you have to replace, such as furnace filters, ink cartridges and more!  You simply add the details for each item, including any manufacturer and model details as well as the refill numbers.  You can even customize the pre-labeled items to make them your own.  Now, when you are out and see a deal on a furnace filter, you can pull the app up on your phone, see the size you need and stock up!

4. Loop Pay (free). This is an amazing app to help you keep all of your debit, credit, loyalty and even gift card in one place! You download the free app and set up your own security features.  Then, when you are out you can use your PHONE to pay!!  Yep – this replaces the need to carry your cards with you.  What I loved most was that it was not just my bank cards which were stored, but also my gift cards.  I hate toting all of these around with me, and now, I don’t need to.  I just add the card detail to the app and the balance is right there on my phone. I can then use my gift card to pay — and then even use the phone to pay for any remaining balance!  The app is free, but you can purchase a KeyFob and other accessories here.

5. Zip List (free).  This app will not only help you plan your shopping trip, but even find recipes!  You can find a recipe and add the items you need to purchase directly from the recipe to your shopping list.  It will even help you track down the deals at your local store!  Having more than 100,000 recipes at your finger tips will also help you find new meals to make for your family!  This app can be downloaded to either and Android or Apple device.

6. RedLaser (free).  This app helps you find the best deal on any item you need.  Just scan the barcode on the product in the store and it will return the prices from other online retailers.  That way, you know if you can get a better deal elsewhere – or even price match that competitor’s price right there in the store!  Available both on Android and Apple devices.

7. Evernote (free).  This is app will help you keep track of your to do lists, notes and more. You can scan in documents or photos — just about anything you may need at a moment’s notice!  This is a great way to keep track of those wish lists for the holidays or have other information right at your fingertips.  The basic app is free, but if you want to upload many items, you will have to pay $5 monthly.  Find this both on Apple and Android.

8. Rescue Time (free). If you ever wondered how much time you waste on social media or other apps during the day, this app can help.  It runs in the background and tracks the time you spend on various applications all day long.  You can then look it at and find out where you may be spending too much time, and how to change your focus!  This is a free app — click HERE for more information.

9. Last Pass (free). Let’s face it, everything these days requires a password.  In order to make sure you are protected, your passwords need to be more difficult.  Not only that, you need different ones for your various websites – so that they are not all the same.  This app stores all of your passwords.  They are all stored via password (which means only ONE to remember).  It syncs between all of your devices.  It is available on Android, Apple and Windows markets (make sure you check out this one for your computer too)!

10. Dropbox (free).  This has to be one of my favorites.  I not only keep photos in here, but also documents, links and more!  My family then has access to everything we need — write down to our budget!  Basic storage is free, but you will have to pay if you need to increase your storage space (which is worth it if you have a lot of items you need to store). This is compatible with Android, Apple and Windows devices.

How To Make Your Own Cash Envelopes (Free Template Included)

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Cash Envelopes Template

I talk a lot about using cash and making sure you have a Cash Envelope System.   I have been using envelopes sold by Dave Ramsey for years now.  I went to place another order this past week and was told that they no longer sell them. Ugh!  Now what?  Yes, I could use a regular envelope, but I loved the size of the ones I used because they had plenty of space for me to keep track of my deposits and spending.  They were also the perfect size to fit into my wallet.

I began an online search to find exactly what I wanted.  Of course, I could not find them.  So, what do you do when you can’t find what it is you want?  You become resourceful and make them yourself!  So that is what I decided to do!

I carefully took apart one of my envelopes and traced it onto a piece of card stock.  However, I realized I was still missing the tracking portion I liked.  I sat down and built the envelope and print it out, cut and put it together.  Once I did, I was really impressed with what I had done!  I was able to have access to the envelopes I loved (and didn’t even have to pay for them).  I then decided that perhaps if I were looking for such a resource, that my readers may be too.  So, I took it one step further and created a useful template for YOU to use!

Envelope Template Printout

Click HERE to access the free template

First, make sure that you have a bit of heavier weight paper in your printer.  You can use copy paper, but it is pretty flimsy and may not hold up for very long.  Next, print out as many envelopes as you need for your various categories (see How to Create and Use an Envelope System for more information).

cash envelope system

Next, cut it out and then fold it along the dashed lines.  Make sure you fold it so that you are folding on the outside of the lines rather than the inside, or your envelope  may be a smidge too small.  Then, tape or glue the edges.  Place your cash inside and then write down your category.  Finally, record your deposit on the outside and then, start to track your spending and current balance!

Now, I’m back up and running with our cash system.  I’ve had some readers who do this same method electronically and just jot down their spending, which may also work.  I find that for me, I do best when I have actual cash in my hand.  It really “hurts” to hand over that green more than it does to swipe the plastic.

If you are like my family, now you too have a great free resource to keep track of your cash spending — all to help you gain more control of your finances!

Cash Envelope Template

15 Magical Uses for Coconut Oil – From Home to Beauty!

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magical uses for coconut oil

Has anyone ever told you that Coconut oil is magical? Seriously it is a super source. You can use Coconut Oil for EVERYTHING – from cooking, beauty treatment to healing skin infections! I recommend purchasing it in large bulk and then separating it to be used for multiple uses. For instance, make a container specifically for cooking, one for lip ointment, another for diaper rash cream and so on. This way it never gets contaminated.

  1. Increase weight loss and increase energy when taken or used daily
  2. Moisturizing Lotion (as well as for Psoriasis or Eczema when used daily)
  3. Homemade deodorant or deodorant bars
  4. Eye-makeup remover – just dab some onto a cotton ball and viola!
  5. Support healthy thyroid function
  6. Diaper Rash Ointment
  7. Cradle Cap Ointment (Massage on babies head, leave on for a few minutes and gently rinse with a warm wash cloth)
  8. Yeast infections
  9. Natural Bug Repellent (Mix with catnip, rosemary or mint essential oils as a natural bug repellent)
  10. Heals fungal infections and Athletes Foot
  11. Ear Infections (melt and put on a cotton ball in the ear)
  12. Mix with apple cider vinegar as a natural lice treatment
  13. Nursing moms can take 3-4 tablespoons a day (and Vitamin D) to increase milk supply
  14. Improves sleep when taken or used daily
  15. Cooking and baking (a great dairy free replacement to butter.)

DIY – Halloween Mason Jar Lantern

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boo jars PPM

This festive “BOO” mason jar craft is super easy to do! It took less than 10 minutes total to make and was so much fun! You can use these Halloween Mason Jar Lanterns to set out on the porch while all the adorable little trick-or-treaters arrive or use them in your home as Fall/Halloween decor. The best part about these Halloween Mason Jar Lanterns is that they look great both during the day and at night all lit up!

boo jars 3 PPM

Supplies:

  • mason jars
  • 2″ Alphabet Stickers or Silhouette letters
  • flameless tea lights or tea light candles
  • frosted glass spray paint
  • embellishments (I used spiders)
  • twine

boo halloween lantern ppm

It’s  not to late – in just 10 minutes you can have these fun, festive Halloween Lanterns ready to welcome the coming Trick or Treaters! 

Creating a Chore Chart That Works for YOUR Child(ren)

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If you struggle with chores in your house, we've got the fix!  You can check out this free chore chart by age and other forms - all to help you and your kids create a chore chart that works!  Click over to learn more about this system (and get some free printables)!!

Do you struggle to get your kids to do their chores — or even to figure out WHAT chores they need to do?  You are not alone.  And then, when you do figure out the chores, getting your kids to do them — with a smile on their face — is another obstacle all together.

As Moms and Dads, part of what we need to teach our children is how to contribute to the running of our household, which in turn can help them to become contributing members of society.  It helps the house run smoother and they actually get the opportunity to take ownership of a task.  That alone can boost self-esteem and help them with their development.  I know my kids get a lot of satisfaction when they complete a task.

When our kids were younger, we just did a ticket system and did not have a formal chore chart.  However, now that they are all older, it is easier to have all three of them follow the same system.  What we are trying to teach them more than anything is that you have to work to earn money.  Not only that, but if you do the wrong thing, you may have to pay money to others.

In our household, we do not call their money an allowance.  We call it commissions.  They also can earn bonuses (for extra tasks that are above what we would expect – like picking up the family room without being told).  Each Sunday evening, we sit down with them and their charts and we pay them all commissions and bonuses.  We then look at the fines to see how much they owe us in return.  Our fines include items such as fighting, sassing, not doing what you are told, etc.    They each know how much they can earn in 7 days and that they are responsible for any money they lose in the process.  If they do not do the work, they just do not get paid.  It is that simple (just like in life).

Here are some things to keep in mind when creating your own chore chart for your children.

 

1.  Keep it Age Appropriate.

 

Since we have 3 kids, that means the chores that they each must do vary.  In fact, our youngest has only 6 weekly items she must do whereas our 10 year old has close to 10.  The older your children are, the more responsibility they can accept.

I’ve created a chart you can use to determine the types of chores you can assign to your own children.  These are broken down into various age groups, to help make it simpler to find the chores your child should be able to complete.

chore chart by ages

Print Your Own Chore Chart by Age

This is a great way to help your children learn how to complete these tasks.  However, remember that you can’t expect perfection.  Just expect for them to try their best.  This chart is a great way for them to learn how to take care of themselves and their own home.

You may also try a task listed and find that your child is not yet ready to try that.  Just change what you do the following week.  Conversely, you may feel your child can take care of items listed in an age group which is older.  That too is fine.  This is a guide to help you find those items which work for both you and your child.

2.  Find a Form that Works for You.

 

It is important that your child can see the chart and keep track of what he or she has done for the week.  This can be done on a white board on your refrigerator or even a piece of paper tacked to a bulletin board.

The idea is that your children can see what they need to do on a daily basis and take the steps to do these items themselves.  I find that when my kids can physically check a box or a line to show they did something, they do much better at keeping track of what they have done and those items they have yet to complete.

We actually have created two different forms to help you and your children do just that.  One is very basic and is great for younger children. You fill in their name and the chores they need to do on each line.  Then, as they do each item, they just place an “X” in the box.

Blank Chore Chart For Younger Kids

Print Your Own Simple Chore Chart (for any age)

If your children are a bit older, you can use the Responsibility Chart instead.  This chart has spaces for the regular chores (Commissions), additional tasks (Bonsues) and areas where they tend to get into trouble (fines).  You tally up the income and take away the fines each week and they earn the difference.  This chart is created to teach them, well, responsibility in the workplace.

They learn that if they do not complete the work, they do not get paid.  They also learn that if they do the wrong thing (like fight or disrespect Mom and Dad), they have a fine.  We compare this to speeding or being reckless and causing damage to things.  It works well for our kids and they sure hate it when we say the word “FINE”!

responsibility chart

Print Your Own Responsibility Chart

If you want even more detailed information into how we use the Responsibility Chart in our home, you can read about that here — Teaching Our Children Financial Responsibility.

3. Check the Chore Charts Daily — Keep Them Easy To See

 

Whichever chart you opt to use for your kids, make sure your chart is easy to see and complete by your kids.  This may mean it takes up permanent residence on your refrigerator.  Your kids may have a bulletin board in their bedroom.  Wherever you place it does not matter – as long as your kids can see it.

Work with them to learn how to update their chart each night before they go to bed.  This helps them end the day seeing all that they were able to do, and ensures that they are working on those weekly items as need be done.

4. Determine the reward or incentive.

 

Rewards will vary greatly from family to family.  For some parents, the chores are required just as part of being a part of the family.  They are expected to contribute and there is no reward attached to it.  For others, it is simply financial.  They pay per chore or per week as the chore charts are completed.  Yet, for others, the rewards may be incentive based such as sleepovers, extra time on the game system, etc.  The beauty of any good system is that you can make it work for your family.

None of these are right or wrong.  You know your kids and your family structure, so you know what you expect and will give in return. A chore chart can serve as incentive and reminder for your kids (and quite possibly, even for you)!

The most important tip is be willing to fail.  None of us are perfect and it is easy to try something and find that it doesn’t work.  That doesn’t mean you should quit, you may just need to change the chores, or possibly the incentives.  Be willing to change it up and you will find something that works for you and makes your kids excited about helping around the house!

If you struggle with chores in your house, we've got the fix!  You can check out this free chore chart by age and other forms - all to help you and your kids create a chore chart that works!  Click over to learn more about this system (and get some free printables)!!

Homemade Gift Idea: Love Gifts (Best of All This Gift is FREE)!

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Love Gifts

 

I have many memories of holidays with my family.  When I think back, I remember the laughing.  I remember the fun.  I remember the excitement of waking up with my sister an sneaking out to see if Santa had paid us a visit.  What don’t I remember?  The gifts.   Well, for the most part.

When I was around 12 years old, my mom came up with a way for us to do something to show how much we cared for one another.  She came up with Love Gifts.  These were not any ordinary gift.  They came from the heart.

We had to come up with a way to do something, out of love, for another member of our family.  The only requirement was that it had to be free.  It couldn’t be to take someone out to dinner or buy someone something they wanted.  Nope.  We had to look within ourselves and decide what would be the best gift to give to someone in our family.

I remember a few of the ideas we would share included:

  • Do the dishes on your turn, once a month, all year long.
  • Wash the pickup 3 times this summer.
  • Be your slave for a day and wait on you.
  • Do all of your chores for one week.

The ideas are endless!  We would also make sure to include a note to let the person know that we did appreciate and love them.  These gifts were always hand written (makes it much more personal) and then wrapped up in small boxes.  They were placed under the tree with a HEART on them.  The heart could be on the tag or even attached with ribbon.

We would open all of our gifts as a family.  The love gifts were the LAST gifts to open.  We were not allowed to touch them until all of the other presents had been opened.  The anticipation of those gifts was just as great as those in the boxes with the big ribbons.  If anything, we were more excited to see what someone was going to do for us – and the joy on the faces of one another to see how excited they were to have us do something for them.

So, here I am, 30 years later and I still remember those gifts.  I remember reading the letters we would write to one another to share that we really cared about them. I remember the fun of coming up with something different to do for each member of my family.  Most importantly, this gift – this simple gesture – stands out above all other things we would do on Christmas.  And, isn’t that what it is all about?

8 Everyday Uses for Peppermint Oil

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peppermint 3 PPM

Peppermint Oil is one of the oldest remedies for heart burn and digestion issues. But many people do not realize that peppermint oil has several uses from curing an upset stomach to cleaning your home. Just remember when using essential oils to use them in moderation, as they are VERY strong!

1. Freshen Breath: Rub a couple of drops of peppermint to your tongue and gums. The peppermint will kill the bacteria leave your mouth feeling and smelling fresh.

2. Itch Relief:  Stop itching caused by bug bites, hives, poison ivy or minor allergic reactions. Simply apply peppermint oil directly to the affected area.

3. Relieve Stomach Pain: Rub a drop of peppermint directly onto the stomach and feel relief from upset stomach, bloating, or indigestion.

4. Headaches:  Apply Peppermint oil to the forehead, temples, behind the ears, and/or the base of the neck. If you can lay down for a few minutes, watch as your headache dissipates.

5. Ant Stopper: Put a drop of peppermint oil in the path of the ants and they will go running away!

6. Pain Relief: For sore-aching feet and and joints, add peppermint to a warm compress or into a hot bath with Epson salt and soak.

7. Reduce Heartburn: Mix 5-6 drops of peppermint oil with a teaspoon of coconut oil and massage onto your chest. Or add a 1-2 drops of peppermint oil to your tea.

8. Fever Reducer: Soak a clothe in warm peppermint infused water and lay over limbs and forehead.  Or apply a drop of peppermint essential oil to the bottom of the feet.

 

*Make sure you read your label and use those labeled for ingestion properly and do not ingest anything that states aromatherapy only.  

14 Days to Smoother Homeschooling Day 14: Staying Home To Homeschool

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14 Days to Smoother Homeschooling from www.pennypinchinmom.com
On the last day of our 14 Days To A Smoother Homeschool Day, I wanted to talk about something that’s vital to a successful home school. Staying home.

There are always going to be things outside of the house that need your attention, whether it be errands, other family embers, community or church events. Before you know it, it’s Thursday, and the kids have yet to get any school done for the week. Then, you’re either rushing yourself, and more importantly, them, to finish a week’s worth of schooling in two days to stay on track, or you’re forced to let them slip four days behind. Too many weeks of that, and your children will be dreadfully behind in their schooling.

To homeschool your children is an incredible task, and has to be a task that is not taken lightly. In a sense, you have to think of it as a job. Think about it as something you are committed to; something that you cannot leave the house for at the drop of a hat; something that is your reason to tell people “no” every once in a while. It is hard to get into the routine of staying home until school work is finished, or being home in time for school work to be completed by the evening, but it is vital for the success of your students.

Commit to your time home with them. Give yourself one day a week, if necessary, that you will spend time running errands, or taking a field trip, or both, but don’t let it be more than once a week. If you can’t stay home to allow your children to learn, and for you to teach them, then maybe homeschooling isn’t the right choice for you. It’s hard! It’s a lot of work, but for those who feel called to do it, or who are willing to take on the task, it’s worth it.

Don’t lock yourself in the house after reading this post, remember, those poor children need to be socialized! I hope you read the sarcasm in that last statement and found truth in our fourteen day series. We hope this has helped you in some aspect of your homeschool day, or at least encouraged you that you’re not alone. It takes a village.

Catch up on all of our posts in this 14 Day Series

Free Home Planning Forms: Shopping List, Menu Plan, Important Documents and More!

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It can be tough to stay organized.  You've got the menu, the shopping list, the passwords, chore charts.....it is overwhelming as to how to create this all yourself.  Relax - we are here to help!  You can access all of these FREE printables - and more!  Keeping your life more organized saves you time, money - and stress!  Click over to learn more!!

 

When it comes to finances, we all know to watch what we spend and to create a budget.  However, did you realize by being organized, it can help as well?  I am not just talking about your pantry, I am talking about your household.

By creating a menu plan and shopping list, you are purchasing what you need.  If you have a price list, you can track the store prices and learn the sale cycles to find the best deals when you need them.  Even by sharing your family’s passwords and where to find important documents can save you — time — when you need them!

This may seem overwhelming to try to come up with on your own.  That’s why we have several FREE forms you can use for your family!  Some of these can be customized before you print them out.  Others, you can just print and fill out with what it is you need.

If you want even MORE great forms just like these to help you with your cleaning and your finances, you are in luck!  Just visit our Free Forms Download page and check out the resources created just for you!

 

14 Days to Smoother Homeschooling Day 13: Balance Is Best

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14 Days to Smoother Homeschooling from www.pennypinchinmom.com
Being a parent. Homeschooling. Working. Being a parent. Homeschooling. Working. And on and on and on and on! Some days it feels like it is a job that will never end. It has its rewards, and you willingly make the sacrifice for you children, but when is enough enough? Guess what? It’s ok, some days, to just take a break.

I know most homeschool families frown upon snow days, or Spring Break, and some even go as far as frowning on Summer Break as well. Don’t feel like you need to be super parent, and that your kid needs to go to college at twelve years old. The truth is, if you feel like you need a day (or a week!) off, chances are your kids feel the same way. Sometimes stepping away from school for a period of time, whether it be a day, or a week, can be the perfect solution to a smoother homeschool day.

It’s so easy to feel pressured to be the parent that has a strict schedule, and is meeting your goals, and is making sure your kids are up to par with their grade level. But, just breathe. Your kids have a lifetime of learning with you. Sometimes it is ok to take a break. You don’t even need to plan the break! If your day starts off bad, and you didn’t sleep well, and the baby won’t stop crying and your four year old is mad because you didn’t dress her in the right pink shirt, and your sixth grader is upset about her math and it’s only 10 a.m., you may want to just take the day off. Seriously, it’s ok.

You do not fail as a parent if you admit you need a break. It’s healthy to take a break. In fact, most of the time you will find that the refresher days are perfect for getting everyone back on track the next day. Some parents do a four day school week for just this reason; sometimes five day school weeks are just too much. Some parents school five weeks at a time and then take the sixth week off, all year long. Do what feels comfortable. Don’t push yourself past your limits, or push your kids to their breaking point just because “that’s what you’re supposed to do”, be sensitive to your needs and to your kids’ needs. Trust me, you’ll be happy you did, and so will they!

Catch up on all of our posts in this 14 Day Series