December 30, 2014

52-Week Money Savings Challenge (with printable)

Yay, me!  I made a New Years' Resolution last year and actually stuck with it!  I didn't start working out, lose weight, or finally get my whole house organized.  I did, however, manage to save nearly $1,400 with a 52-Week Money Savings Plan.  It wasn't that hard at all and the money I put aside was able to completely pay for Christmas this year - all the gifts for kids, our family, and their teachers, a new tree, some decorations, and even dinners out during the busy December season.

Since it worked so well for me, I thought I'd share it.  It's the perfect way to save for the holidays, but it would also be great for vacation saving or any other big-ticket item.

First, here's the week-by-week plan... (Printable HERE)

52 week money savings challenge - awesome plan!!
Here's how I made it work for me...

1.  Save in reverse!

When I first saw this kind of plan last December, it started with $1 the first week, $2 the second week and so on until $52 was deposited on the last week.  A commenter mentioned that she was doing it in reverse and I adopted that version instead.  It worked out great doing it backwards for a few reasons... 

1. You start out with the bigger amounts in the beginning when you're all gung-ho and more eager to save.

 2.  Your money grows faster.  By the end of the first month you have $200 and after 25 weeks you've put aside $1000!! 

3.  If you put it in a savings account, you gain a little bit of interest over the course of a year.  (I ended up with about $6 in interest).

2.  Schedule your deposits for a savings account!

The original version I saw had you putting your cash in a jar every week.  I knew this wouldn't work for me because I'd never have the right amount of cash on hand and I'd be too tempted to dip into the jar when the kids needed money for something.  I do my banking with Capital One 360 (which I love)  so I just set up a savings account for this challenge.

Then I just sat down and scheduled transfers from my checking account to my new 52 Week Savings account for every Friday, starting with $52 on the first week, $51 the second, and so on.  It did take a little bit of time since each transfer was for a different amount and had to be entered separately, but it was totally worth it because then the money went in every week automatically.  If you use the printable above, just check it off as you set up the transfer.

That's it!  I really liked watching the amount grow and it was nice to only have to add a few dollars a week there towards the end.  Plus, let me tell you, it was a HUGE relief to know that I had more than enough set aside for everything I needed for the holidays this year - by the end, I had saved $1384.09 (including interest!)

Now, like I said, I have Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct) and I really liked it for this challenge.  The transfers were easy to set up and I could quickly open a new savings account just for this purpose (they let you open up to 25 separate savings accounts!).  This isn't a sponsored post, it just really worked out great for me.  See if your bank has something similar or look into setting up your own account at Capital One 360.  (DISCLOSURE:  If you set up a new account through this link, I do get a bonus but so do you!)

November 19, 2014

Mockingjay the Movie

“I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Lions Gate. I received a book, products, and a promotional item to thank me for participating.”

Is anyone else as anxiously awaiting the Mockingjay Part 1 Movie as we are?  My two oldest and I have been counting down ever since we saw Catching Fire last fall!

I first read the Hunger Games trilogy myself a few years ago.  My kids were just in the early elementary grades and I was volunteering at the book fair at their school.  As we were working, another mom mentioned how much she'd loved the series.  At first I was hesitant... young adult fiction?  teens in a dystopian society battling to survive in a televised game?  I wasn't quite sure about the whole premise.  However, the other mom and I had similar tastes in other books we'd read so I picked up the Hunger Games and started reading.  I loved it, quickly read all three books, and started recommending the series to my friends (with a "no, really, trust me, you'll like it" when they had the same hesitation I did).  

As we chatted in the carpool lines about Katniss, Peeta and Gale, we all tended to agree that even though the series was initially marketed to teens, it appealed to us adults too.  The characters were strong, the storyline was really interesting, and as odd as the plot was, it kept us hooked.  I felt that it was more like regular adult fiction, but was appropriate for younger audiences too.

Fast forward to 2012.  My kids were a little bit older and there was a lot of buzz about the Hunger Games movie.   My two oldest were begging me to go see the movie everyone was talking about.  Since they were strong readers, I told them we could go see the movie IF they read the book first.  They eagerly read the Hunger Games book and then, just like mom, devoured the rest of the trilogy as well.  It was so cool to have a series that I liked and they liked.  We were able to talk about how strong Katniss was, how smart thinking could be even better than strength, how some choices could be both wrong and right at the same time.  Once we saw the movie, we were able to compare the similarities and differences between text and screen.

Last fall, when we left the theater after seeing Catching Fire, we were bummed that we had to wait a whole year to see the continuation when Mockingjay was coming to the big screen.  Now, that year is almost over and we're eagerly planning our return.  We've all seen the trailer ...

and the kids and I have been busy rereading Mockingjay to refresh our memories and getting a sneak peak at some of the characters on the Mockingjay website.  My oldest will be heading to the theaters with some of her middle school friends this Friday for the premier, and my son and I will be heading out to see it ourselves in the next week or two.

How about you?  Are you heading to the theaters?  Just yourselves or with your kids too?

March 18, 2014

Saltine Challenge: Can you eat 6 saltines in a minute?

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  We've had an overabundance of snow days this winter and the kids are actually getting tired of all the days off school.  When they don't want to play outside anymore and cabin fever is setting in, I've had to reach deep into my bag of tricks to keep us all sane and entertained.

Here was a little trick that brought lots of laughs (along with a few crumbs)...

This trick was from way back in my college days.  My friends and I learned about it somehow, then challenged people every chance we got.  In all the times we presented the challenge, we never had anyone who was able to do it (and we won tons of free meals and free drinks in the process!).

You most likely have the supplies on hand, a box of saltine crackers (salted, not unsalted), a timer, and some willing participants.

The challenge is simple... all you have to do is eat (and swallow) the six saltines before the minute timer goes off without getting a drink of water.  You can eat them one at a time, two at a time, or even all six at once.  It sounds easy and you might be feeling pretty confident after the first one or two.  However, you'll soon find that the salt produces extra saliva but then the dry crackers quickly absorb any and all moisture in your mouth.  By the time you get to the last cracker or two, you'll be laughing and crumbs will be flying everywhere.

Check out the fun the girls had with their friend...

We did have to run the vacuum to sweep up some crumbs, but it was a fun little break and brought lots of laughter and giggles.
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