Keep Your Summer Budget Under Control

Summer is right around the corner.  Before long the kids will be done with school. Grills will be filling the streets with smells of burgers and hot dogs. The ice cream truck will be jangling down the street.  Summer is the time to enjoy the world, and boy can that be expensive!  Your wallet can take a hit if your summer budget gets out of control.  But, you can keep things under control.

Here are a few summer budget tips so that you can have fun and keep your finances in check!

Shop For Travel Deals

Travel and leisure activities abound during the summer months.   These can add up to big spending amounts if you’re not careful.  The good news is that you can often find deals.  Look through Groupon or other apps.  Visit travel websites or those of places you’d like to go.  There are often specials.  If you want to get away, look for places like AirBnB.  This can reduce the cost compared to more expensive hotel options.

Pay For What You Can Afford

It’s tempting to go all out for that great family adventure. This is all great so long as you can afford it.  Summer fun is not worth going into debt for. If you can’t afford to pay off your summer fun, look for ways to cut back.

Save All Year Around

It may be too late to stash money aside this year, but make a plan for next year.  Stick a hundred bucks per month aside, and you’ll have more freedom next year.

Mix In Free Things

Summer doesn’t have to be all about money to have fun.  Picnics at the park are a free option, but still make great times.  Bike rides along local trails are another free adventure.  A hike along the woods?  That doesn’t cost anything at all if you do it right.  Working in some free options is a great way to keep your summer budget in line.

Enjoy Your Personal Space

If you have a patio or deck, summer is the time to use it!  Invite over neighbors or friends and enjoy some drinks or a dinner.  It’s a great way to have fun and keep money in your summer budget for other things.

Adjust Your Air Conditioning

A big cost that can blow a summer budget is air conditioning.  When it gets hot, you have to shut the windows and keep things cool.  That makes sense, but look for ways to reduce your A/C bills.  If you can, open the windows at night.  If you’re gone during the day, don’t run the A/C all day.  Change your filters to make sure your A/C is running efficiently.  If you can save $20 per month during the summer month, that can equal an extra evening out!

Consider Seasonal Memberships

Zoos, museums, and beaches often offer seasonal passes. If you use these options regularly, an annual pass can save you big time.  We use several annual memberships to our advantage.  On top of saving money, you always have a fallback plan if you can’t think of anything to do!

Hopefully these ideas help prevent your summer budget from stressing you out.  With the warm, long days ahead, having one less thing to worry about is all for the better!

Readers, what summer budget saving ideas do you have?  Please share in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

10 Practical Baby Shower Gifts Every Mom Will Love

Ah, the baby shower.  The time to give all that’s cute for the new life about to enter the world.  While many gifts will draw ooh’s and ahh’s during the shower, there are some that will bring those later.  These are practical baby shower gifts that every parent will appreciate when it matters most.

Diapers (Size 1 and 2)

Diapers are a fairly common gift.  But, here’s the thing, most diapers for yet-to-be born babies are Newborn size.  This is great except that many babies are out of this size in a flash.  While you can usually exchange unopened diapers for a bigger size, make it easy on the mom to be.  Give them the next size or two up.  When that Newborn size diaper just won’t fit, your gift will be at the ready.

Baby Wipes

Babies get changed pretty regularly.  Sometimes it seems like a changing happens every hour!  Baby wipes are always a great gift, and they’re guaranteed to be used.  It’s not something that any parent wants to run out of.  Trust me, they will appreciate some baby wipes.

Portable Changing Pad

Babies get changed everywhere.  Most registries include a changing pad, which is great for the house.  But when baby needs to be changed on-the-go, a portable changing pad is just the thing.  They’re pretty handy nowadays as they have spots for just about everything. Well, maybe not the dirty diaper, but that’s just as well!

Burp Cloths / Bibs

If it’s not coming out one end, it’s coming out the other.  Don’t ever think that babies can have too many bibs or burp cloths.  They can’t.  My advice: Go for quantity.  Many people will buy fancy bibs or burp cloths, which is fine.  But, if you get a larger pack of the no-frills variety, it means mom will have more.  They’ll definitely get put to use!

Onesies

As many clothes as baby will get, the onesie is always in style.  Parents can never have too many of them.  Grab a pack or two of plain white onesies and I guarantee you’ll save the day at least once.  Don’t forget to get a couple in bigger sizes too!

Lightweight Blankets

Many people will get really special blankets.  Some will have monograms or really fancy designs.  These will definitely appreciated, but so will some lightweight blankets.  These are great for on-the-go.  They even work in the summer when baby needs to be kept warm from air conditioning.

Fingernail Kits

Start off good grooming habits at a  young age with a nice fingernail kit.  For bonus tips, make sure that mom uses it before the baby goes to see the doctor.  The doctor will be very impressed with a well clipped baby!

Bouncy Seat

A great gift is a bouncy seat.  These can be picked up and moved anywhere, giving baby a safe, comfortable spot.  Plus, you can soothe baby with the bouncing motion.

Clothing For The Next Season

If baby is due in the summer, guess what they’re going to get?  A whole closet of cute summer things.  This is great until cooler weather arrives.  You can save the day by getting clothes in a larger size for upcoming seasons.  Make sure to provide a gift receipt because sizing can be a little tricky.

Book

We actually requested this at our shower.  We asked for people to bring a small book and to sign it.  These will forever make great keepsakes.

Those were some practical baby shower gifts that I know moms will love.  Will the items above steal the show during the shower?  Maybe not, but these will definitely make life easier for parents when it matters most.  That right there is a great gift that will be long remembered.

Readers, what baby shower ideas do you love that are practical and thoughtful?  Share in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Five Ways To Get The Most Value From Netflix

It seems like everybody has Netflix these days, doesn’t it?  I remember subscribing to Netflix before most anybody knew what it was.  I can’t tell you the number of people I explained it to.  You clicked a few buttons on your computer, and a couple of days later a DVD showed up in the mail.  That was before they did any type of streaming.  Ah, the good old days!  Now, if I’d only been smart enough to buy their stock and hold onto it at the time!  Oh well.  In any case, Netflix is bigger than ever.  Here are five ways to get the most value from Netflix and your subscription.

Review Your Plan

Netflix has a pretty solid menu of options.  You can stream online.  You can get DVDs.  Or, you can get both.  Then, you look at how many devices you want to use or how many DVDs you want to have out.

Netflix will default you to their standard streaming plan.  This is great for most people.  Heck, it’s what we use.  But, make sure that you’re selecting the plan that’s right for you.  Also, make sure to check up on your plan now and then.  You never know.  What was perfect yesterday may not be the best fit tomorrow.

Setup Multiple Devices

If you stream, then make sure you setup Netflix on every possible device you own.  Plans limit to how many you can stream simultaneously, but you can set it up on as many as you want.

I recommend setting up all your devices at once.  Phones.  Tablets.  Smart TVs.  Roku devices.  Whatever.  Get them all set up.  Because, let’s face it, when you’re in the mood to watch something, you don’t want to take the time to log in or have a family member unable to use it because they don’t know the password.

Share Your Account

Have you ever considered being sneaky and having multiple households share an account?  Go ahead.  Netflix knows you do it.  They really don’t care, for the most part.  Now, if every house on the street is sharing an account, they might have  a problem.  But, if it’s just you sharing with your parents, they probably won’t care.

Use Downloads

Streaming plans let you download some programming to watch offline.  This means you can watch Netflix on a plane or wherever you might not have a streaming connection.  They do limit you to the number of devices per plan in which you can download content.  But, even so, this is a really cool option.

Stay On Top Of Content

You won’t use Netflix if you don’t know what’s there.  Netflix has tons of original programming.  Plus, they shuffle in and out content from other studios all the time.  Keep track of what they have coming up.  There are sites everywhere that track the comings and goings.  Additionally, if you rate content, Netflix will build custom recommendations and let you know in advance.  Either way, if you know what’s coming, you may use the service more regularly.

Readers, do you have a Netflix subscription? How do you get the most value from your Netflix plan?  Let me know your tips in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Use These 7 Leftovers Tips To Avoid Wasting Food

Leftovers.  Just reading the word probably made some of you groan.  That’s a pretty common reaction.  We crave variety including in what we eat.  And, let’s face it, not all meals are all that exciting the first time around!  This can make the second go-around downright unappealing.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way!  You can make leftovers a lot more appealing, and also make sure that food doesn’t go to waste.  Here are a few simple tricks.

Store Leftovers In A Clear Container

One reason that leftovers go bad is they get forgotten about. This is almost sure to happen if you can’t see what you’re keeping.  We try to put as many our leftovers as possible in clear glass dishes.  This avoids food turning into science experiments!  Who needs that?

Create A Designated Leftovers Area

Another common occurance that leads to food going to waste or becoming inedible is when leftovers are spread around the fridge.  Then, slowly but surely, the leftovers get pushed further and further to the back.  Eventually, you’ve run out of containers and the back half of the fridge is piled high with who-knows-what.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

We put leftovers in one area of the fridge.  It may not be our favorite spot of the fridge, but it helps.

Plan A Leftover Night

One thing our designated spot helps is to alert us when we’ve got a lot of leftovers.  When our leftovers spot fills up, we know it’s time to consider a leftovers night.  Nobody enjoys these that I know of, but at least it means no cooking, right?

Bottom line, leftovers nights aren’t fun, but the can avoid waste, save time, and mean one less meal to cook.  That’s just money in your pocket!

Switch Meals With Leftovers

If you don’t want to have the same thing for dinner twice in a week, I don’t blame you.  But, what about lunch?  Many leftovers pack well and can be warmed up at work.  I often look forward to leftovers for lunch, because it breaks up my sandwich routine.

Turn Leftovers Into A New Recipe

One thing we try to do is make leftovers an entirely new meal.  How?  Here are a few things we do:

  • Just about any Mexican food leftover can be converted to a different meal.  Pretty much anything can be made into nachos fairly easily.
  • Grilled chicken can be cut up and made into a nice big salad.
  • Leftover chili can be added to a box of mac & cheese to make chili mac.

Get the idea?

 

Know How To Reheat Your Leftovers

Many leftovers get a bad rap because they’re warmed up incorrectly.  Pizza, for example, doesn’t get warmed up in the microwave in our house.  Warming it up in the oven makes it practically the same as when you had it fresh.  Honestly, I won’t go into too many tips on particular foods, but Google is your friend.  I assure you.

Store Your Leftovers Properly

Sticking leftovers in the fridge improperly is a surefire way to ruin food.   The biggest thing to remember when storing food?  Keeping air away from it.

If you put leftover casserole or pasta in a container, squeeze the air out.  When you have leftover pizza, don’t just put the box in the fridge.  The next time you open the box, you’ll have dried out, nasty pizza that even the oven can’t save.  If you store your leftovers properly, they will taste much better the second time around.

In the end, leftovers will never be appealing as a great meal the first time.  But, with these tips, leftovers can be tolerable and maybe even enjoyable.

What are some of your favorite (or least favorite) leftovers? Do you have any tips to minimize the eye-rolls when leftover night rolls around?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.