Reducing Childcare Costs: Is It Possible?


Childcare is perhaps one of the most stressful aspects of being a parent. Coordinating schedules, choosing an appropriate facility or sitter, and finding the money to pay for this service is a tremendous operation. Considering that childcare costs continue to rise each year, the following tips and tricks will help families to navigate this complicated venture, and hopefully save them a significant amount of money along the way.


First, families need to determine exactly how much childcare they need on a weekly basis. Many daycare facilities offer both full and part time rates, so it’s important to stick with an organization that offers flexible fees. This ensures that your family isn’t forking out more money than necessary to cover the cost of this service.

The most straight forward way to reduce childcare costs is to cut back on the number of hours each week that you utilize this service. Although this may not be an option for everyone, working parents might speak with their supervisors and arrange an alternate schedule. For example, one parent might choose to go into work significantly earlier, while the other parent holds off for a couple of hours in the morning and manages kid duty. By swapping off, so to speak, this schedule allows you to avoid hefty childcare expenses altogether!

–          If possible, cut back your work week to 4 days instead of 5. If you and your significant other choose different weekdays to be off, you are only left with three days that childcare is a necessity.

–          If grandparents or other family members are nearby, and capable of lending a hand, ask them if they might consider helping out on a regular basis.

For many families with multiple children, paying for full time care just simply isn’t an option. The cost to put two or more kids into a full time facility could wipe out entire paychecks. Luckily, there is another choice: in-home care can be more affordable than sending kids to a child care facility. With this option you can minimize the need for a sitter by strategically arranging your schedules. Here, you only pay for a child care provider when you need them. In the past, we have also worked out a reasonable weekly rate rather than paying our sitter by the hour. Stay at home moms and college students are a great source for part time or as needed care, and the extra income is usually a big plus for them!

Another option is the concept of a shared sitter which allows families to equally divide childcare costs. Although this endeavor requires a significant amount of planning and compromise, it can be a beautiful, and money saving arrangement for folks with similar childcare needs.

Lastly, for date nights and other outings, families might consider joining a co-op situation where childcare rotates to a different home each week, allowing families the opportunity to go out without having to pay. Basically it is a mutual experience where each family equally contributes to childcare on a revolving basis, while allowing every participating couple the opportunity to spend some time out and about. If you have a large circle of friends, this is an ideal arrangement.

By examining your available childcare options and strategically planning your family’s schedule, you can significantly reduce the number of hours that you are paying for childcare. Putting together the pieces of this complicated puzzle may not be easy at first, but with a little creativity and perseverance, you can find a cost efficient arrangement that considerably reduces your overall childcare costs.

Note: Whatever child care option you choose, make sure to do your research, to make sure that you are picking a safe environment for your children. 



Nylabone Healthy Edibles Dog Chews Review

I admit I tend to spoil my dog aka my second child, maybe a little too much. However I don’t feel too guilty when I give him Nylabone Healthy Edibles.  I think his favorite flavor is probably the wild turkey or venison, however he also really enjoys the bison and salmon.

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They’re made with real meat so I can see why he loves them so much. I really like that they’re made with natural ingredients and no preservatives so I know they’re healthy for him. He doesn’t have any problems digesting them which has been a problem with some other brands of chews. An added bonus is they’re made in the USA (this is very important to us). These are a big hit in our household.


I tried to get a picture of Buddy enjoying his Dino shaped Chicken & Bacon flavored Healthy Edibles, and this is the best I could get. The dog was afraid I would take his new favorite treat away from him, so he “hid” under the bed.

Right now score a great deal on Healthy Edibles Wild Occupying Dog Chews by using this great $1/1 Healthy Edibles Wild Occupying Dog Chews coupon! We are picking up more of these delicious treats when Buddy attends his next Puppy obedience class this weekend. Maybe they will teach him, not to hide when mom is trying to take a picture for an article ;).


Ways To Stress Less About Money


Would you believe me if I said 50% of divorces are the result of money problems. Financial crises have led to millions of conflicts, wars, and turmoil. Money can make or break your socio-economic status, and it can certainly define your lifestyle. It’s no secret that money problems are often the most challenging, stressful, and emotionally exhausting predicaments that we face in our adult lives.

Although the dollar bill is probably one of the most influential pieces of paper that exists, money does not define your happiness. The following tips will not only help to place you on a more secure pathway to the future, but taking control of your finances and making wise choices with your money will certainly reduce the stress that is so often associated with this facet of life.

First and foremost, it is imperative to evaluate your income, necessary expenses, and current debts. Knowing your monthly operational costs with a detailed budget can instantly reveal if you are living within your reasonable means.

Secondly, it’s not all about living paycheck to paycheck. Even if your income is enough to cover your spending habits, that leaves little room for unexpected problems or unanticipated expenses, let alone indulgences like travel and holiday shopping. Typically, it is suggested that folks adjust their spending so that they are living on less than 80% of their income, leaving at least 20% for savings and investments.

Start small by dedicating a set amount from each paycheck to an emergency fund. Financial experts suggest that having $1,000 tucked away is necessary for things like car repairs, accidents, or other sudden financial obligations. A tremendous weight can be lifted off your shoulders if you can eventually create a savings account with at least 6-8 months of your monthly expenses. In the event of a job loss or debilitating accident, these funds can save you from falling into a bottomless pit of debt.

Buying on credit almost always ends up costing more in the long run due to excessive interest charges. If you can postpone larger purchases and save up the cash in the interim, you will spend far less money overall.

Speaking of cash, many folks report success by using the envelop system for spending. Each month, withdraw a certain amount of cash for regular expenses like food, fuel, and fun money. When funds are more tangible, people tend to have a more conservative approach to spending.

If you’re currently paying off a hefty loan, contribute a little extra each month to the principal so you can pay off the debt quicker, and reduce the total amount spent to interest.

Another way to eliminate financial stress is to set up monthly bill payments on an automatic system. This way you won’t have to worry about missing a payment or incurring those outrageous late fees.

Certain service providers, for example, the power company, may offer flat rate fees to neutralize seasonal highs and lows. Instead of paying low rates in the winter and high rates in the summer, consumers have the same, predictable bill each month. Although it is definitely a personal preference, knowing exactly what your expenses will be helps to eliminate any unexpected changes.

Finally, the secret to eliminating the majority of financial stress is nothing more than a mindset. We’re a society surrounded by convenience and luxuries, and it only takes a few photographs of impoverished nations and third world countries to remind you of your numerous blessings. It is a daily choice to be grateful for what you have, and those who take a step back and embrace just how lucky they truly are tend to have an entirely different view of their financial assets and the meaning of the word necessity.




Spooky DIY Toilet Paper Roll Pumpkin

DIY Toilet Paper Roll Pumpkin

Halloween is such a fun time to decorate your home with all of the spooky novelties and accessories you can get your hands on. Pumpkins especially make the perfect Halloween decoration, offering a bright pop of orange and gold and celebrating the harvest we can look forward to. If you are looking for a fun and frugal Halloween craft, look no further than this DIY Toilet Paper Roll Pumpkin craft. This craft is simple and inexpensive to make, and adults as well as kids will enjoy whipping one up. Take a look at how easy it is to make your own!

DIY Toilet Paper Roll Pumpkin:

Supplies Needed:
½ yard of orange fabric. Any fabric blend will do.
1 roll of toilet paper.
Raffia strands.
1 piece of green felt.

You can find all of these supplies at your local craft store. If you go to Hobby Lobby, be sure to print out your 40% off coupon before you go. Your local dollar store will have the toilet paper and raffia, so check there first and score those items for less.

1. To get started, cut your orange fabric to size. You will do this by cutting your 1/ 2  yard piece down into another half, and then another half again. Your roll of toilet paper will be fairly standard, but just to be sure fold your fabric around it to make sure it will cover it before cutting.
2. Once cut, lay flat and place your roll of toilet paper on top of it. Just as you would wrap a gift, pull the fabric tightly towards the top center of the roll and start stuffing inside the tube. Continue to stuff until the fabric is all pulled tightly and any extra fabric is stuffed inside the tube.
3. Snip a few inches of green felt and roll it into a stem. Tuck the felt into the roll center as well. You can add a drop of craft glue if you wish to secure it.
4. Take some raffia strands and just as you did with the felt, tuck it into the center of the roll. If you wish, you can use craft glue to secure.

That’s it! This craft only takes minutes once you get going. You can make several of these toilet paper roll pumpkins and arrange them on a mantel or in a large decorative bowl as a collection. Or, why not do this craft with your local playgroup or your child’s classroom? This craft is so inexpensive and simple so it is sure to be a DIY project you will enjoy.

So gather your supplies and get crafting these toilet paper roll pumpkins!


Educational Gifts That Should Be On Your Holiday Shopping List

Educents Deals Toys Tegu Blocks – Give your kiddos the opportunity to defy gravity! These wooden blocks are embedded with magnets so that kids can build structures they have only dreamed of! Magformers Challenger Set – With this 112-Piece magnetic building set, kids ages 6 to 12 imaginations are guaranteed to run wild! This is a great gift to give to siblings to share. It can also be a generous addition to a classroom or after-school program! Frozen Puzzle Pack – Winter is the time of year to celebrate the very popular Disney movie, Frozen! Keep the Frozen fun going after the movie is over with these four Frozen puzzles. Veggie Tales Floor Puzzle – Little ones can put together this fun floor puzzle with their favorite Veggie Tales characters! This 3-foot puzzle will keep your little learners thinking and laughing as the faces of Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber begin to appear piece by piece. Educents Art DealsColoring Books for Everyone – Coloring is not just for kids anymore, it’s for everyone – making this a great gift for an entire family! These six coloring books are filled with mesmerizing designs. Gift these coloring books to a family, classroom, or split up the books to give to six artists who you love! Frozen Etch a Sketch Jr. – The classic and creative tool we all grew up with has been updated with your child’s favorite characters from Disney’s Frozen. Elsa and Olaf can watch your little one draw on the Etch a Sketch as they are inspired by their favorite Disney movie. Then Elsa’s magical snow will wipe the canvas clean, ready for another masterpiece. Holiday Coloring Book Freebie – If you’re looking for a low-cost way to say “thinking of you,” this coloring book is as easy to give as 1-2-3. Just download it for free, print it, and add a nice card to your envelope. Educents Science Deals Slimy Squishy Polymer Set – Give the gift of science exploration! This fun, hands-on experiment only requires water, adult supervision, and creativity! What a fun way for kids and parents or older siblings to learn together! Science Experiment Subscription – Science experiments require a lot of planning. Let the scientific FUN come to you with a 1-year subscription to the award-winning Young Scientist Club! Human Body Puzzle – This classic puzzle from Melissa & Doug stretches four feet long after your little one assembles it!
Encourage critical thinking and study the skeletal and circulatory systems. Educents Books Life of Fred Beginning Reader Set – Children who are learning to read will love listening to mom, dad, grandma, older brother, or anyone else read the Life of Fred stories aloud! Read these silly stories together and learn basic concepts about math, the English language, colors, and science! Berenstain Bears Books – Read these books over the holidays to encourage family values like cleaning up, the joy of giving, saying “I’m sorry,” and more! The book bundle includes Thanksgiving and Christmas stories too! A set of The Velveteen Rabbit, Corduroy, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and other classic books! Add these classic titles to your little one’s library, or distribute the books to a handful of little ones who love to read!