Habits of Happy Families

What are some of the habits of happy families? Disconnecting from electronics and sharing meals together are just a few ideas to start with.

What are some of the habits of happy families? Feel like maybe your family could be happier? A stressful schedule of school, work, and daily life is the norm. How can we make sure our household stays upbeat and positive in the chaos?

I'm guest post at My Love for Words and listing some of the best characteristics you find in a happy family. I talk about the importance to:

  • Disconnect from electronics
  • Sharing a meal together
  • Perform traditions together
  • Show our thanks to other family members

Whether you're eating healthy together or doing family crafts, the keyword here is that you're spending time together.

Does your family already have these healthy habits? What other habits would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!

The Very Best in Blogging: 02/12/2016

Should you go vacation while paying off your debt? I'm sharing that post and many others in today's very best in blogging.

Should you go vacation while paying off your debt? I've got an awesome blog post to share with you to help you make up your mind! I'm also sharing a great resource for making those pre-baby freezer meals. If you've ever had a child you know that those first couple of weeks are insane and chaotic. Have meals already made can be a lifesaver!

Without further ado...

Very Best in Parenting Posts

How to Sleep Train Twins: Book Now Available! - Sleeping Should Be Easy

40 Pre-Baby Freezer Meals - New Leaf Wellness

Should a Babysitter Just Babysit or Do More? - Alpha Mom

Very Best in Personal Finance Posts

Should You Go on Vacation While Paying Off Debt - Frugal Rules

10 Ways to Save Money on Movies - The Frugal Girl

Here's How Your Credit Score Affects Your Job Search - Wise Bread

What are your favorite blog posts or articles of the week? 

My Favorite Things: February 2016

My favorite things for this month include the gadget we're using to make sure we don't waste a single fruit or vegetable.

To say that this past month has been about health would be an understatement. The activities that consume our day, the food we put on our table, and even the way we sleep has been healthy. Because of this, my favorite things for this month include the best way to increase your water intake without hurting your budget and the gadget we're using to make sure we don't waste a single fruit or vegetable!

This post includes affiliate links. Please read my Disclaimer for more information. 

  1. Brita Water Pitcher
  2. Black + Decker Juicer
  3. Peekaboo Barn App
  4. Match It! Alphabet Memory Game
  5. iBenzer Plastic Hard Case Cover for Macbook
  6. Pilot Precise Rolling Pen- Fine Point 

Health Favorites

1.Brita Everyday Water Filter Pitcher

We've been trying to be more health conscious by drinking more water, doing the Whole30, and finding affordable ways to exercise each week.

Our tap water is okay but not great and we drink A TON of liquids so we've been looking for more affordable options than buying multiple water bottle cases each week. These pitchers are easy to set up and filter quickly enough to make refilling fast and easy.

2. BLACK+DECKER 400-Watt Fruit and Vegetable Juice Extractor

You already know that we do the Whole30 quite a bit in our family so we purchase a large amount of fruits and vegetables. This juicer is under $35 (!) and does a great job if you're only juicing a couple of times each week. It's the perfect solution to help you avoid wasting any produce.

I should probably note that we never drink just the juice as a meal but use them as a yummy addition to our meals.

Mom Favorites

3. Peekaboo Barn App

I love finding educational resources for my son! Electronics are just a part of life nowadays and while my husband and I are pretty strict with how often we allow screen time for our son (we even ban them during certain hours), we also know when to utilize it.

4. Match It! Alphabet Memory Game

I can't believe it but my son is already old enough to start recognizing the alphabet and working on connecting certain letters and sounds to words. We've been using an alphabet matching game to make the learning process more fun and I highly recommend using this game!

Business Favorites

5. iBenzer - 2 in 1 Soft-Touch Plastic Hard Case Cover & Keyboard Cover

I'm an author and a blogger so to say that my laptop is an important part of my business is an understatement. On any given day, you can find me with a computer in my lap on my bed, on the couch, on the floor, on the kitchen counter, or basically in 70% of the rest of our home.

This case is perfect. It protects my laptop from the chaos of moving it around the house while still keeping it lightweight. The price is amazing for what you get. And they have it in pink!

6. Pilot Precise V5 Stick Rolling Ball Pens, Extra Fine Point

I'm sure I have many faults and being picky about my work pens is one of them. I like non-leaking, smooth, non-bleeding, fine point, and affordable pens. Essentially, I want a miracle pen.

This brand is the only one that's hit all of those points for me so far. And you can pick them up in any superstore while you're doing your shopping with the kiddos so it's a win-win.

What are you favorite products of this month? 

The Very Best in Blogging: 02/05/2016

The Ten Commandments of Saving and Why I Won't Give My Kids an Easy Life are just some of the very best in blogging this week.

The Ten Commandments of Savingand Why I Won't Give My Kids an Easy Lifeare just some of the very best in blogging this week.

I recently found Kristen Welch's (Why I Won't Give My kids an Easy Life) site and I can't stop reading. If you're looking an online-cup-of-coffee parenting kind of conversation, you don't want to miss her posts.

Okay, enough rambling. Here are my favorite articles of the week.

Favorite Finance Posts

Saving for College: 3 Simple Ways to Grow Your Kid's College Fund - The Penny Hoarder

12 Ways to Save for Next Christmas - Money Saving Mom

The 10 Commandments of Saving: Smart Money Habits to Take to Heart This Year - Apartment Therapy

Favorite Family Posts

Valentine's Day Family Basket - The Latina Homemaker

The 5 Friends Every New Mama Needs - Pregnant Chicken

Why I Won't Give My Kids an Easy Life - Kristen Welch

What are some of your favorite posts this week? Share below! 

The Very Best in Blogging: 01/29/2016

Looking for the very best in blogging posts? I do a roundup of the most inspiring content from around the web every week.

It's already time to start thinking about tax season and I've got a post that can help get you started. The Penny Hoarder website is always a great personal finance resource and they've really included some great tax deductions you might overlook this year.

Favorite Money Blog Posts

8 Overlooked Tax Deductions and Credits Could Save You Thousands of Dollars - The Penny Hoarder

H&R Block Review - Do Your Taxes for Free - Frugal Rules

7 Smart Ways to Spend Your Tax Return - Frugal Fanatic

12 Entry Level Jobs with Surprisingly High Salaries - Wise Bread

Teaching Teens How to Manage Money - The Latina Homemaker

Favorite Parenting Blog Posts

Toddler Routines: How to Structure Your Day - Sleeping Should Be Easy 

How to Stockpile Diapers - Joyfully Thriving

What are your favorite tax tips? 

15 Valentine's Day Dates on a Budget

Here are some great Valentine's Day dates on a budget that will make your loved one happy and keep your bank account full!

Valentine's Day is just around the corner and I've got some romantic (and fun!) budget-friendly date night ideas for you and your loved one. If you're currently on a spending freeze or a No Spend Month, you can also check out these activities.

15 Affordable Dates

1. Go on a Picnic

There's nothing more classic than enjoying delicious food and stealing kisses with your loved on a picnic blanket. Bring a bottle of wine if your location allows it. But stay out of trouble by avoiding public parks if you're bringing the Cabernet.

2. Matinee Show at the Movie Theater

If you find the time in your busy schedule to see a movie, especially if you have children, does it really matter if it's in the afternoon? I personally fall asleep around 9 or 10 so I'll take a matinee showing any day.

3. Head to Your Local Museums

Museums often have fairly decent ticket pricing and you can usually squeeze out a couple of hours of amusement. Walking around holding hands with your loved one is free, but definitely awesome.

4. Hike at Your Local Nature Center

Head to your nearest outdoor nature center for a invigorating hike. Getting some exercise in the fresh air is a nice twist on Valentine's Day dates and watching your lovey work up a sweat isn't so bad either.

5. Cook Dinner Together

Why have one person cook the meal when you can both spend time in the kitchen together? Put on some romantic music and buy a few candles from the Dollar Store if you don't have any around the house. John Legend is always a good start.

6. Have a Bookstore Date

My hubby and I are major nerds so we've gone on this date many times before. We head to our local bookstore (usually a discount place) and spend some time browsing together.

You could also buy a book for one another, swapping your purchases once you get home. It never ceases to amaze me when my husband picks out something he thinks I'll like. My initial reactions are usually a little unsure but he almost always wins me over.

7. Go Camping

If you already own the gear and can find an affordable spot to stay, camping is an affordable way to get outside of your normal environment and have some quality alone time. Does it get more romantic than stargazing on Valentine's Day?

8. Explore the City 

If you live in a large city, this is the perfect opportunity for exploring a side you've never seen before.

This is how my husband and I found some of our favorite local restaurants and parks. If we're driving, we'll pack a few snacks or we'll just walk our way through some of the most popular Houston districts.

9. Rent a Bike

Some cities have adopted this incredible idea where they place rental bikes all over. You can rent one, ride around for a while, then drop it off in the same location or in another.

10. Attend a Local Event 

Check your city's local website for an event calendar. Festivals, car shows, art shows, performances, outdoor movie showings, and nature events are just some of the great ideas I've seen.

11. Go Ice Skating

If you're great at ice skating, it's the perfect chance to hold hands. If you're terrible at it, it's the perfect chance to keep saving each other. Either way, it's a romantic win.

Even Houston has an ice skating rink so there's a good chance you can find one somewhere in your vicinity!

12. Play a Sport Together

If you're a parent and have found a baby sitter (!), this is the perfect time to play the sports you love the most. The Hubby and I like to take advantage of local and church sports areas that are available to the public for free.

13. Tour a Local Winery or Brewery

When I say local, I mean very small-town local as this is one of the best ways to save money. We went wine tasting at a small winery, keeping the appetizers to a minimum, and paid less than $50 for the entire date.

14. Walk Through a Farmer's or Flea Market

Kansas City has an incredible farmer's market that we used to love going to, with the most incredible variety of spices, fruits, vegetables, and baked goods.

Grab a coffee-to-go before you get there and spend the morning picking up groceries for a romantic dinner.

15. Volunteer Together

If you love to give back, do it together by volunteering or doing one of these random acts of kindness. Volunteer at your local animal shelter or soup kitchen so you can help others while bonding with your loved one at the same time.

Valentine's Day can be both romantic and affordable if you're willing to look outside of the box. Let me know in the comments below if you skipped the expensive dinner reservation and try one of these ideas instead!

The Very Best in Blogging: 01/22/2016

Looking for the very best in blogging posts? I do a roundup of the most inspiring content from around the web every week.

The new year is the best time to crack down on your finances! Here is the very best in blogging I've found this week on building Emergency Funds, fighting debt, and everything in between. If you're interested in shaking up your budget in 2016, be sure to start with the 50/20/30 Method or the Zero Sum Method. They're perfect beginning points for making your budget rocks!

29 Ways to Build Your Emergency Fund - Get Rich Slowly

Break the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle - Frugal Rules

10 Ways to Deal with Christmas Debt - Smart Woman

How to Maximize Your Tax Refund - Living Well Spending Less

What are your favorite posts from this week? 

The Very Best in Blogging: 01/15/2016

Looking for the very best in blogging posts? I do a roundup of the most inspiring content from around the web every week.

I know my Very Best in Blogging posts have been sparse but 2016 is a new year and the perfect time for starting back up! It seems like everyone is coming out with some awesome content in January. I can already tell that a lot of bloggers are going to kick up a storm this year. Yay! That means more good stuff for us to read.

Here are my favorite posts of this week.

Beefy Mexi "Cauli" Rice Recipe - Healthy Living How To (An older post but a great Whole30 recipe!)

14 Day Plan to Finally Get Control of Your Money - The Penny Hoarder

How to Become an Early Riser, Even If You Hate Mornings - Money Saving Mom

This Organized Life Binder Tour - My Love for Words

How to Make a 2016 Memories Jar - The Happy Housewife

What are your favorite posts this week? Share them in the comments below!

How to Discuss Finances with Your Spouse

Not sure how to discuss finances with your spouse? I've got some great tips to help you keep your cool and open the lines of communication.

How do you discuss finances with your spouse? Does it resemble date night or a fighting match? Do you look forward to it or is it dreaded? Marriage is a beautiful, if not slightly complicated, union of two people who may or may not have the same spending habits. Are you a saver who married a spender? Vice versa? In either case, it can be hard to consistently find your goals and spending patterns on the same page.

We all know that "money talk" is necessary in a marriage and I've got some great tips to help you keep your cool and open the lines of communication.

How to Talk About Money with Your Spouse

Schedule a Money Meeting

If it isn't on the calendar, is it actually going to happen? Carve out the time on your schedules, turn your phones off, and look at your finances together. Remove all distractions! If you have children, arrange for a babysitter or keep them busy with an activity.

Perhaps one of you feels like you're the only one who really looks at the finances while the other runs around spending money you don't really have. Routine meetings will encourage transparency and get the two of you on the same page.

Money Meetings are also a great time to start any of these wonderful financial habits or work on that credit score so you can join the 800+ Credit Score Club.

Listen and Then Listen Some More

Pay close attention to what your spouse says about their financial goals in addition to taking note of their overall relationship with money. Do they obsessively watch every penny you spend? Or are they spending all of the money in your accounts like there's no tomorrow?

Our spending habits are always formed by something, be it an experience or learning curve. Is your spouse overspending as a result of loneliness or worry? Are they an extreme tightwad because of a difficult financial experience in the past? Perhaps there are deeper issues that should be addressed.

Whether you're the saver or the spender in your relationship, it's important to hear both sides.

One exercise I recommend is to write down your financial goals or worries separately and then share them when you're ready to begin your money meeting. This encourages each spouse to be truly honest about what they're trying to accomplish.

Change Your Mantra to "Yours, Mine, and Ours"

There is no One Size Fits All when it comes to the best way to combine debt in a marriage. Fights can certainly get sticky, especially if one partner feels as though the other indebted partner needs to be solely responsible for whatever they owe.

"What's Yours is Mine" should be your mantra for the most united way to attack that debt. Perhaps your spouse came into the marriage with a $5,000 credit card balance and this frustrates you. But now that you're married, that debt is yours too. The sooner you embrace it and work together to pay it off, the faster it'll get done and the sooner you can move on from your debt guilt.

Honesty is the Best Policy

Lying or hiding debt and spending habits can cause serious marital issues. If a spouse discovers their partner was hiding something, it not only exposes a financial problem but a trust problem as well. What is a marriage without trust?

It may be painful and your partner could be angry for a while, but come clean with any debt you've been hiding. Also, joint bank accounts don't work for everyone but it's one of the fastest ways to create transparency and encourage trust in a financial relationship.

Play the No Blame Game

Blame is a dangerous thing to play with when it comes to discussing finances with your spouse. It can be easy to say what your spouse did (or didn't do!) when something doesn't go according to your financial plan. But you're in this "for better or for worse" so create a united front and tackle any problems together.

And don't be afraid to take a short break if the conversation during your money meeting becomes too heated. It's important that the two of you work things out but there's no shame in stepping away for 15 minutes so things can calm down.

Celebrate Together

Having the money talk isn't always fun. But if you follow it up with something exciting, you'll be more willing to do it every week or month. For example, after every routine money meeting share a bottle of wine or go out for a date afterwards.

You may not have accomplished all of your goals in that one conversation but you are communicating freely and that's something to celebrate!

Dealing with debt or financial worries is never fun or easy. Having a spouse to help you carry those burdens can take some of the weight off. Nurture your financial communication the same way you would nurture all other aspects of your marriage.

How do you communicate with your spouse?