Tips to Survive Daylight Saving Time {sponsored}

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We all dread it. The day that we lose an hour of sleep every year-daylight saving time. While I definitely appreciate the extra hour of sunshine, I am not a fan of losing sleep. Maybe it’s because of the four kids that kept me up many nights, but I LOVE sleep. I need a good 8 hours each night now. Daylight Saving Time throws it all off, and my kids are almost worse than I am! They end up all out of sorts. They want to stay up later, but have trouble falling asleep. Of course they still have to stick to our normal schedule, too. It’s BRUTAL. Thankfully, I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve thanks to our sponsor, ZzzQuil.

I’m not alone, though. A new survey says that most people have trouble adjusting to Daylight Saving Time.

  • More than half of all US adults say their sleep is affected by Daylight Saving Time; for those that say they suffer from occasional sleeplessness, more than 60% cite DST as affecting their sleep.
  • Daylight Saving Time affects sleep for a majority of US adults (55%) and 67% of Millennials.
  • Despite that, 81% of US adults do nothing to prepare for the time change.
  • Some of the significant problems caused by DST that affect roughly half (48%) of US adults include oversleeping, showing up late for work, or losing a personal item such as a wallet or keys.

Daylight Saving Survival Tips:

tips to survive daylight saving time

I’ve partnered with ZzzQuil to share my best tips to help you get through Daylight Savings Time.

Know when to expect it. It’s this weekend. Daylight Saving Time starts on Sunday, March 8, 2015.

Start adjusting your schedule now. Adjust your schedule over the next few days by about 15 minutes. If you normally get up at 6:30am and go to bed at 11:30, try going to bed 15 minutes early and getting up 15 minutes early.

Use ZzzQuil as needed. Keep some ZzzQuil on hand in case you have trouble sleeping. Visit here to download a coupon for ZzzQuil. ZzzQuil is a non-habit-forming sleep-aid for the relief of occasional sleeplessness that can help you fall asleep easily, sleep soundly and wake up feeling refreshed.

Nap as needed. You may feel like you want to push through being tired, but taking a nap is a great way to adjust to DST. Just make sure you (or your kids) don’t sleep too close to your bedtime.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol. While it’s tempting to down that second or third cup of coffee or try to use a glass of wine to help you fall asleep easier both caffeine and alcohol can make the DST adjustment more difficult. Avoid extra caffeine and alcohol for about a week or so – you should adjust by then.

Make your sleep space comfortable and a screen-free zone. While it’s tempting to fall asleep with the TV on or stare at your phone before bed the light from your screens can make it harder to fall asleep. It can be worse when you’re already off your routine, so spend some time this weekend tidying up your room and make it comfortable, clean, and clutter free. It will help you get to sleep sooner.

What would you do with your lost hour?

Clock-640[1]

 

What would you do with your lost hour? Would you sleep more, read a book, catch up on your favorite TV show? Share what you would do with your lost hour with ZzzQuil for fun. Tweet to ZzzQuil’s Twitter (@ZzzQuil) or leave a comment on their Facebook page to share where you think that lost hour of sleep goes. They’ll be responding in a fun way.

Kelly 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Vicks. All opinions are my own.

Travel Smart with Credit Card Rewards–Discover it Miles {sponsored}

Sponsored post disclosure

I love to travel. Whether it’s for work or pleasure (or a little of both), I love to see the sights, visit a few touristy places, sample the local fare, and meet-or make-local friends. The only downside? Travel can be expensive. Plane tickets or transportation, hotels, meals on the go, souvenirs– it all adds up, and quick.

I’ve been learning more about accumulating credit card rewards to help pay for travel expenses and earn things like free flights or free hotel stays. I’m still new to travel hacking, but I have managed to earn some decent bonuses and have accumulated a fair amount of miles for travel.

I’m working on coming up with a plan to save up miles and rewards to travel to Europe for my 40th birthday in the next year or two. We figured we’d celebrate our 40th birthdays and our 15-year wedding anniversary all at once with a trip to London and Paris. It’s a pricey trip, but we’ve managed to map out a plan using miles and rewards that will make our trip nearly free!

A big part of that is paying attention to new cards that come on the market and using them to earn points that we can save for our big trip. That’s why I was thrilled to hear all about the new Discover it Miles card. It has some pretty sweet benefits that will give you generous rewards.

travel smart with credit card rewards

Here are some ways to take advantage of reward programs:

Use credit wisely:

I’ve been guilty of not doing this in the past, but we’re on track and working hard to pay off all our debts (we’re so close!). In the meantime, I still use our credit cards to rack up rewards by paying regular monthly bills and expenses with the best card for our expenses.

Tip: Even if you don’t use a particular credit card regularly you should keep your account open and active by attaching a small monthly bill that gets automatically paid off such as a subscription service. This allows you to maintain your accounts, keep your credit score high, and shift to the card that will reward you the best for your purchases.

Pay attention to extra rewards:

Check what your credit card offers for rewards and if there are certain times of year that you will earn extra rewards. It’s wise to keep track of this as it may shift with certain cards. If you want to keep it simple, look for a card that offers a flat percentage back on all purchases.

Tip: The Discover it Miles card offers 1.5x Miles for every $1 you spend. In addition, you’ll get a first year bonus of an additional 1.5x Miles, bringing the total up to 3x Miles for every $1 you spend at the end of your first year!

Use your points wisely:

Accumulating points may seem like the easy part with certain cards. It may feel next to impossible to use your points to actually go on vacation. Blackout dates, high points costs for dates you want to travel, and restrictions may mean you never actually get to reap your rewards. Before you sign up for a reward credit card read all the fine print. Look for a card that offers the ability to fly at anytime and anywhere you might need or want to go.

Tip: Keep track of your rewards by checking in each month when you pay your monthly bill. Also, the Discover it Miles card includes a benefit that cardmembers can fly any airline, anytime

Do the math:

One of the most important things you can do when you’re considering a credit card for rewards is to do the math. In some instances the miles you earn wouldn’t be worth the annual fee you pay while in other cases you max out your rewards limit fairly quickly.

Tip: The new Discover it Miles card offers 1.5x Miles per dollar spent AND Discover will DOUBLE all of the Miles you have earned at the end of your first year. That’s like earning 3% for regular spending or monthly bills you’re already paying.

Know how you earn:

Be sure you understand exactly how to earn, and how to earn the most whether it’s bonuses, year-end benefits, or shopping through a special portal.

Tip: Discover’s shopping portal, Discover Deals here.

Earn while you vacation:

Why stop at earning on everyday expenses or monthly bills? Use your credit card during your vacation to earn even more while you travel.

Other ways to redeem:

Don’t get stuck with reward points or miles you can’t use. Be sure you can use your points towards other rewards as well in case you aren’t able to travel.

Tip: Discover’s it Miles can be redeemed as a statement credit towards travel expenses or as cash.

Why choose the Discover it Miles card?

It has all the same great features as other Discover cards and features great savings. There is currently no signup bonus, and the 1st year spending bonus more than makes up for that.

Some of the other benefits of using the Discover it Miles card are:

  • Cardmembers can fly any airline, any time
  • A $30 annual in-flight Wi-Fi credit
  • Miles that never expire
  • $0 Fraud Liability Guarantee
  • Free FICO® Credit Score on monthly statements, mobile app and online account center
  • 100% U.S. – based customer service available all day and night
  • Ability to pay your bill up to midnight (ET) the day it is due by phone or online

Sign up for the Discover it Miles card.

Do you have experience using a rewards card for travel? What advice do you have?

Kelly

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Discover. I was compensated for my time as part of the Discover Preferred Blogger Network. All opinions are my own.

Try GIANT brand with Buy Theirs, Get Ours FREE {sponsored}

Sponsored post disclosure

I’m thrilled to share that I’ve partnered with GIANT Food Stores for 2015 to bring you more great posts about saving money on groceries, healthy recipes, and of course their affordable prices.

Today I’m sharing a great deal with you. Once again GIANT brings back the ever popular ‘Buy Theirs, Get Ours FREE’ promotion. It’s a great deal that allows you to buy a brand name product and the GIANT brand equivalent. It’s a perfect way to try their store brand products to see if they stack up to the pricier brand name products. You know they have faith in their products if they’re willing to put it up against a brand name product!

Here are the products you can buy and try this week from your local GIANT store. You can pick these up now through February 28th.

buy theirs, get ours free

  • Buy Clorox wipes (35ct) for $2.99, get GIANT brand wipes (35ct) FREE
  • Buy Windex (26oz) for $3.59, Pure Power window cleaner (26oz) FREE
  • Buy Clorox bleach (64oz) @ $2.19, get GIANT brand bleach (64oz) FREE
  • Buy Duracell Coppertop batteries (AA, AAA 8 ct or C or D 4ct or 9V 2ct) @ $6.49, get Smart Living equivalent FREE

How do GIANT brands stack up to national brands?
I’m a big fan of buying store brand products, especially when the ingredients or formulas are similar. When it comes to cleaning products and their batteries I knew I would need to test these out a little differently than their food products. I picked up both products last week (prior to their sale) to give them a test run.

Clorox Wipes vs. GIANT brand wipes
They are in differently branded containers, but they work just the same! There was no discernible difference between these two when it came to wiping down our bathrooms or cleaning up messes.

Price difference: 80¢
Winner: GIANT brand

Windex vs. GIANT brand glass cleaner
The spray bottles are nearly identical and they work exactly the same. I literally could not tell the difference between them when cleaning. No noticeable streaks and the windows got clean with both, so why wouldn’t I want to save some dough?

Price difference: $2.00
Winner: GIANT brand

Clorox bleach vs. GIANT brand bleach
I rarely use bleach for anything, and my main use for it is to clean our washing machine or with a load of white socks. In using the bleach once I didn’t see any difference in how effective it was. Saving a little change on a store brand certainly makes sense and cents. ;)

Price difference: 60¢
Winner: GIANT bleach

Duracell Coppertop batteries vs. Smart Living batteries
Batteries are a different story than the other products. It takes some time to know if they’ll hold up as long as a brand name product, so the jury is still out. The savings though? Pretty significant especially if you have a lot of battery operated toys, remotes, etc.

Price difference: $2.50
Winner: The jury is out still.

Overall winner? GIANT and your wallet. With a little more investigating you’re sure to find plenty of other GIANT brand products that are similar or close enough to make a big impact on your grocery budget.

Kelly

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by GIANT Food Stores.

5 ideas for oatmeal toppings: #OatsMadeGreat {sponsored}

Sponsored post disclosure

We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but on busy mornings it can be a challenge to find something that is both quick and healthy. One of the most frugal and filling breakfasts you can have is oats-whether as oatmeal or cereal. We’ve been long time fans of all forms of oats for breakfast. 4 out of 6 Whalens love oatmeal, and we all agree that granola or oat cereals are the tastiest.

They not only allow us to serve a hearty breakfast to the kids in minutes, but they also sustain us until lunchtime-a tough thing to do when you’re constantly on the go!

So when we were asked us to share some of out favorite healthy toppings, I put together a list of fun ways to have your healthy breakfast and love it, too!

5 Fun Oatmeal Toppings

Blueberry Vanilla Oatmeal

1. Blueberry Vanilla Oatmeal
Oats with blueberries, dash of non-alcohol vanilla extract or vanilla syrup, and optional milk

Blueberries are a great addition to your morning oatmeal. They are a superfood, and delicious, too! I like to keep it simple and just use blueberries and a dash of vanilla, but my kids like to add milk to the mix, too. Start with Kashi’s Truly Vanilla Hot Cereal for an extra special breakfast.

2. Spicy Apple Oats
Oats with diced apples and cinnamon

While your oatmeal is cooking or your water is boiling you can dice up an apple. I love a good Honeycrisp apple, but also like the sweet and sour of Granny Smith apples. Add cinnamon to taste on top and dig in. You can start with Kashi’s Apple Cinnamon Hot Cereal and make this extra delicious.

3. Honey Spiced Oats
Oats with honey, cinnamon, dash of nutmeg, milk or dairy-free milk

These spicy sweet oats are delicious and a family favorite. Add honey to taste (about 1-2 teaspoons) or start with Kashi’s Hearty Honey Hot Cereal, add cinnamon on top, a dash of nutmeg, and pour on some fresh whole milk or unsweetened almond milk (for the dairy-free among us).

4. Maple Bacon Oats
Oats with maple syrup and bacon

Super simple and SO tasty. Start with Kashi’s Golden Maple Hot Cereal and add a teaspoon (or more to taste) of maple syrup. Next crumble some bacon to put on top. It’s like eating pancakes and bacon only better!

5. Savory Oats
Oats with kale, sun-dried tomatoes, and butter or ghee

Have you ever made savory oats? While I have seen recipes in the past I was not convinced until I tried a savory oatmeal recipe on a trip to Charlottesville last Fall. It convinced me to try it, and I found it was seriously the BEST. I had no idea it would be so good!

This recipe is fairly simple. It works even better with steel-cut oats. Simply make your oatmeal and then while it’s still piping hot add a teaspoon of butter or ghee (if you’re lactose intolerant), stir in some baby kale (it will wilt in the heat of the oatmeal), and a spoonful or two of sun-dried tomatoes. Not only is this a great breakfast but it also works for lunch or dinner, too!

Create an Oatmeal ‘Bar’

Another great way to serve up oatmeal for breakfast (or brinner!) is to make an oatmeal ‘bar’ with a ton of toppings to choose from. Let kids choose their own topping combos. You never know they may make something delicious!

Topping Ideas for Oatmeal Bar

I like to put oat a big bowl of oatmeal with bowls and spoons and the following toppings on the side:

Fruit: Sliced bananas, diced apples, raisins, dried cranberries, and pears make great fruity toppings.

Milk or Non-Dairy Milk: I like to add a little milk to the oatmeal after it is fully cooked. This allows it to be firm but not dry. The kids like their organic whole milk while I alternate between coconut milk and almond milk (both unsweetened).

Nuts: Almonds, pecans, walnuts, and more add healthy fats and an extra protein punch to your bowl.

Egg: It may seem like an odd addition, but eggs in oatmeal can be great! Add an egg cooked overeasy or overhard on top of your oatmeal.

Avocado: I’m a huge fan of avocado any way I can eat it and making a savory oatmeal with avocado is tops on that list! Paired with some chunky salsa and a light sprinkling of cheese (non-dairy cheese for me) it’s perfection!

Veggies: Now that I have a love affair with savory oatmeal I am not shy about putting out veggies of all kinds with our oatmeal.

Enter your Oats Made Great Contest

Oats Made Great

Your creations can help you win big thanks to your local grocery store. Kashi has teamed up with local grocery store chains to provide a great prize for your homemade oatmeal creations. You can enter to win the Grand Prize of a $250 gift card or get a $50 gift card as 1 of 6 runner ups.

You can vote for my creation here, or make your own by following the links to your local grocery store chain.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Albertsons, ACME Markets, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Star Market. The opinions and text are all mine.

10 ways to save or spend your tax refund {sponsored}

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It’s tax season so for many Americans it’s also tax refund season. Tax refunds may seem like a windfall, but with some well thought out planning you can use your tax refund to reach your financial goals. While you may find yourself tempted to splurge on vacation or buy a new wardrobe I have lots of practical ideas for spending and saving your refund. Even if you aren’t getting a refund this year you can apply the same idea to any money you receive.

10 Ways to Spend & Save your Tax Refund

save or spend tax refund

1. Knock out debt: If you have high-interest debt like credit cards this should be your first choice. Paying off debt will create more money in your monthly budget and you’ll save a small fortune by not paying those high interest rates.

2. Beef up your emergency savings: Emergency savings are always helpful to have. You never know when you’ll need to replace your furnace or get lose your hob. The more you have saved the more comfortable you’ll feel when life throws you a curveball.

3. Pay down loans: You’ve already spent the money on your education or home, so pay it back by putting your refund towards those loans. Not only will it help you reduce the number of payments, but it will feel good to make a dent (no matter how small) in your loan balances.

4. Invest: Investing money is the ultimate way of paying yourself back in the long-term. Put your tax refund in mutual funds or buy stocks to help you earn even more in the long run.

5. Donate: Consider donating a portion or all of your refund to a charity or nonprofit. It’s a great way to give back at a time when most charities are receiving fewer donations.

6. Save your refund for retirement: Every dollar you save now can have a huge impact on when you can retire in the future, so consider putting your tax refund into an IRA. Not only will you be saving for your future, but you may get a tax deduction for 2015, too.

7. Save your refund for college costs: When you put your refund into 529 plans for your kids (or future kids) not only will it continue to grow, but you may also receive a tax deduction for 2015.

8. Treat yo self (in moderation): Like Donna and Tom it’s okay to have times where you treat yo self even with your tax refund. Set aside 5-10% for something fun like a spa day, dinner out with your spouse or partner, or those new shoes you’ve had your eye on.

9. Add your refund to savings: If you have different savings buckets (vacation, holidays, etc.) then you can add your refund to your savings or break it up between various goals. For instance, if you’re saving up for a new home you may add it to your house downpayment savings account or if you are saving up for next holiday season you can sock it away and know you’re that much closer to a great holiday.

10. Buy a Car: If you’re in the market for a used car you can put that refund to work as a downpayment on your next car or add it to your car fund for when you’re ready to make pay for it in full. A solid downpayment can help you reduce your car loan rate significantly and you could just walk off with the keys to your dream car sooner than you think.

If you’re considering purchasing a used car take a look at DriveTime, the largest used car dealer in the US. They help people find and finance vehicles if you have credit issues. They currently operate more than 120 dealerships in 21 states.

You can learn more about DriveTime at their website. If you’re in the market for a used car you can use their excellent search tool to help you find exactly what you’re looking for at a price you can afford. If you’re ready to shop you can get approved online before you buy. Still considering what to purchase or when to buy? They have a blog full of great info you can use to help educate you about the car buying process.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of DriveTime. The opinions and text are all mine.

11 Tips for Teaching Kids About Money from Discover {sponsored}

Sponsored post disclosure
Teaching kids to be responsible with money and teaching them how to be fiscally responsible is a huge challenge. From the moment they are able to ask for things there are opportunities to teach kids about how to manage their money. It doesn’t matter if they’re 3 or 13 there’s always more to discuss.

As a mom of four I have a few tips and tricks up my sleeve. Below you’ll find 11 tips to help you teach your kids about money.

11 Tips for Teaching Kids About Money

11 tips to teach kids about money

  1. Set family goals. Setting family goals will help you work together as a team to spend less, save more, and achieve family goals. Younger kids may have small suggestions like saving up to go to the movies while older kids may want family goals to be larger like saving for a week long vacation.
  1. Start a family piggy bank. From a young age kids love to find money, count it, and save it. Create a family piggy bank to save for something everyone wants like a swing set for the backyard or a trip somewhere special. We’ve saved for a number of family goals this way and even if the savings don’t cover the full cost it certainly helps!
  1. Teach kids how to find the best prices. Savings can be significant when you hunt down the best price. Help kids shop for the best price by starting at the grocery store. When our kids were preschoolers I gave them a budget for items like a snack food or a box of cereal. Then we could move on to back to school shopping or clothes shopping. They’ve learned to research and hunt for better deals on whatever they want to buy.
  1. Teach the difference between cash, credit, and checks. Since we use credit more than cash now the differences may not be as obvious to kids. It’s important for them to understand the benefits and drawbacks of all three.
  1. Show them your pay stubs. For older kids it’s important to share the nuts and bolts of managing money. While it may be unusual to show your kids your pay stubs it can be an important tool for teaching kids. Then they understand how much of your paycheck goes to some guy called FICA.
  1. Share the family budget. Likewise sharing the full family budget can be incredibly eye opening for kids. $1,000 may seem like a lot of money until they realize that you spend that much on your mortgage each month.
  1. Start a bank account for tweens and teens. Tweens and teens should have a bank account and an attached savings account to help them manage their own money. Check with your local bank and find out what options they offer.
  1. Share the magic of interest. The magic of interest can be a big motivator to save from a young age. Recognizing that money can grow can be a game changer for kids.
  1. Have kids track stocks. While it may not be financially sensible to actually purchase stocks, allowing kids to follow a stock and track its’ growth can be a great way to teach them about the stock market and investments.
  1. Talk college costs with older kids. College costs are rising and most families can’t keep pace with their college savings. It’s important to talk to your kids as they get older about what you can and can’t cover, options they may have, and their own thoughts on their education. There are many options and ways to cut costs, but the key is to be clear about what costs you can and can’t cover.
  1. Help your school teach fiscal fitness. If your school doesn’t currently have a financial curriculum in place share the Discover Pathway to Success program with them. You can help your school apply for a grant.

Resources to learn more:

Discover’s Pathway to Financial Success Program has great resources to help guide your discussion, teach kids, and a curriculum for schools, too. You’ll find videos on how to talk to your kids about money, resources for parents on being a good financial role model, games for kids to play, and suggestions for teachers and schools.

What tips do you have for talking to your kids about money?

Kelly

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Discover as part of the Discover Preferred Network.

Homemade Oreo Cookies & Cream ‘Ice Cream’ Recipe {sponsored}

Sponsored post disclosure
It’s not often we have treats at home, but when we do we like to go all in. Whether it’s a birthday, holiday, or a ‘just because’ celebration we have fun putting together menus and treats for the whole family.

Oreos are a staple from my childhood, and my kids have a fondness for them, too. We all have our favorite way of dunking and playing Oreo cookies, but when we were challenged to share how we play with our Oreos we thought we’d take a classic family favorite and make it at home!

My kids love to eat the ‘stuff’ off Oreos and eat the cookies separately which gave me an idea. One of their favorite kinds of ice cream is cookies and cream. So I decided to make a homemade twist on traditional cookies and cream ice cream with only two ingredients.

Can you guess what else we used other than Oreos?

Two ingredients

You may have tried this at home, but it’s so simple. It takes this one simple fruit frozen to create a delicious treat. It’s bananas! Literally….it’s bananas. Frozen bananas make a great substitute for ice cream and they have lots of health benefits and no added sugar. (don’t worry-we get that from the Oreos!)

We always have bananas on hand so when some start to get a little too ripe I simply peel them and store them in the freezer for smoothies, banana ‘ice cream’, and more.

I simply added crushed Oreos to the mix and we had instant cookies & cream ‘ice cream’.

Oreo Cookies & Cream Banana Ice Cream Recipe

Tools needed: Food processor or high powered blender like Vitamix.

Ingredients: frozen bananas and Oreos

Step 1 is simple. Take a few Oreos (stuff and all!) and use your blender or food processor to crush the cookies. I used our Vitamix and pulsed the cookies into a powder. Remove after you’re done.

Blend Oreos

Step 2 is equally simple. Just add sliced or a whole frozen banana to your blender or food processor. Start on a low setting and turn it up to blend until totally smooth-about 30 seconds for a Vitamix.

Now just add in the Oreos to your banana ice cream and enjoy! For our test we used a LOT of Oreos so the ice cream became like a chocolate banana ice cream with Oreo chunks. Adjust it and taste along the way to get the perfect combo for yourself!

Homemade Cookies and 'cream' ice cream

Homemade Oreo Cookies & Cream ‘Ice Cream’ Recipe

Ingredients

  • Frozen bananas
  • Oreos

Instructions

  1. Crush Oreos in Vitamix or food processor
  2. Remove and set aside
  3. Place frozen bananas in Vitamix or food processor and pulse or blend until creamy and smooth
  4. Add Oreos to banana 'ice cream' to taste
http://www.thecentsiblelife.com/2015/02/oreo-cookies-and-cream-ice-cream-recipe/

Are you an Oreo fan? There are sooo many kinds of Oreos available now that we had trouble deciding what to use! If you love Oreos as an occasional treat check out all their flavors at your local market including the new Red Velvet Oreo available in stores now.

Win with Oreo

Stop & play with OREO Oreo is hosting a fun contest to help you stop, drop, and play. You can enter to win fun prizes by sharing a picture of your favorite Oreo recipe creation! Choose your local store below to submit a photo. Each entry receives a chance to win a Polaroid CUBE camera or Oreo prize package.

Star Market Stop & Play with Oreo

      I’d love to hear your favorite way to enjoy Oreos! Note: Comments are only available via the widget below-our typical commenting system is closed on this post. If you’re reading via RSS feed or email you may need to click over to comment.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Albertsons. The opinions and text are all mine.

Organize your finances to meet financial goals with Popmoney {sponsored}

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It’s a new year which means it’s time to recommit to all kinds of goals from fitness to financial goals. While it can be easy to give up on resolutions that are vague like ‘I’m going to spend less in 2015,’ or ‘I’m going to cook every meal at home this year!’ making a resolution turn into reality requires a plan.

Below you’ll find simple to-dos that will help you organize your finances and help you reach your financial goals. Whether you’re planning to pay off a credit card, save up for a vacation, or create a bigger savings cushion, you can use these tips all year long. With a plan in place and a system to help you succeed in 2015, you’ll go from resolution to done.

How to Organize your Money & Meet your Financial Goals

how to organize your finances

Commit time each week.
We all love easy solutions, but there’s no replacement for time. Set aside time each week to go over spending, pay bills, and organize emails and papers related to your finances. I recommend setting aside a full day to get started and after that it should only take you 1-2 hours each week to stay on top of your finances.

With that first day you’ll set up a payment system, check account balances, update your net worth, and file and shred papers.

After that, you’ll only need an hour or so to double check spending, savings goals, organize your paperwork, and pay your bills.

Sign up for bill pay and use it!
Bill pay is offered for free as a part of the online banking service at almost all banks and credit unions. You stay in control when using it to pay your bills, just enter the payment amount and date you want the bill to be paid. No writing checks, no stamps, and no going from site to site to pay your bills.

Depending on the number of bills you typically pay, you should set aside about 30-60 minutes the first time because you’ll need to enter some basic information about the biller such as the address, your account number, etc..

Set up alerts on your phone.
Sign up for text alerts from your bank(s) and credit card company (or companies). Check your accounts online and see if they offer text alerts. It’s a great way to stay on top of payments as well as get fraud alerts on the go.

Go paperless.
Going paperless is a great way to organize your finances. You can sign up to receive e-bills, which contain all the same information as paper bills but are delivered online, directly to your online banking account. It cuts down on paper of course, but going paperless also gives you more time. No need to sort and store bills and file or shred them. You’ll simply be able to pay online with a few clicks in bill pay. You can also sign up for reminders so you don’t forget to pay.

Set up automated savings.
No matter what your goals, setting up an automatic savings is a great way to ensure you meet your financial goals. Create a savings account online or at your bank and commit to a regular weekly savings amount. Start small (perhaps with $25 per week) and increase your savings amount each month. Before you know it you’ll have a hearty savings account you can use for emergencies or to fund a goal like a down payment on a home.

Use Popmoney.
The Popmoney personal payment service allows you to manage regular payments easily and on the go. Send payments to your after school sitter, split payments for services you share, or send money to your college-aged kids.

What is Popmoney?
The Popmoney® personal payment service lets you send money to, or request and receive money from, friends, family or just about anyone, online or through your mobile device.

More than 2,300 participating banks, such as Citibank, PNC, SunTrust, and a host of community banks and credit unions offer Popmoney through online or mobile banking.
A list of participating banks is available at Popmoney.com. The service can also be accessed at Popmoney.com or through apps for iPhone and Android devices.

Find more info:
For more information about person-to-person payments or to sign-up, visit www.Popmoney.com. Follow Popmoney on Facebook or twitter.

Kelly

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Popmoney.

Tips to stay healthy this winter with Vicks {sponsored}

Disclosure: This is a paid, sponsored post brought to you by Vicks. All opinions are my own.

Winter is in full force in the Northeast and with it freezing temperatures, ice, snow, and of course lots of colds and flus being passed around. According to the CDC, cold and flu incidence is spiking right now in Pennsylvania. We’ve already had a cold this January and I’m crossing my fingers we can get through the rest of the winter unscathed.

Fortunately, I’ve partnered with Vicks to share tips to help you and your whole family stay healthy this winter.

15 Tips to Avoid and Fight the Cold and Flu

15 Tips to Fight the Cold & Flu

My Tips for Avoiding & Fighting the Cold & Flu

1. Wash your hands.

I’m always washing my hands and having the kids wash up. It’s key to staying well during winter. I have even gone so far as to inspect their hands after they’re done!

2. Wipe down surfaces.

Surfaces are totally gross. We may think that the bathroom surfaces are the worst but doorknobs, cell phones, and remotes are far germier. (don’t google it, just trust me). Wiping them down regularly is important.

3. Eat healthy foods.

Eat superfoods and foods that are high in vitamin C. We eat a ton of oranges and citrus fruits all winter long.

4. Exercise.

Exercise is good for you in so many ways, but can also help you fight off the cold and flu by improving your immune system.

5. Keep soup on hand in the freezer or pantry.

It’s helpful to have on hand and you can prepare your own chicken broth really simply. Store it in the freezer and defrost it when someone gets ill. Vegans and vegetarians can stock up on miso.

6. Prepare a sick box for when you’re under the weather.

Having creature comforts at hand for when you get sick will make getting better easier. In your box or basket you can include a fun novel, crossword puzzles, tissues, and a few comedy DVDs. Laughter is great medicine.

7. Prepare a sick box for the kids, too.

Kids can benefit from a sick box or basket as well. not only will it keep them occupied when they need to rest, but it will make getting well more fun. For younger kids include a new DVD, crayons and a pad of paper, tissues, and a cuddly stuffed animal. For older kids you can include an app store gift card to keep them busy with a new game or movie rental, a fun chapter book or YA novel, tissues, cough drops, and warm socks.

8. Use over the counter products when you need to.

Vicks DayQuil Severe and NyQuil Severe provide relief for your worst cold symptoms helping you power through your days and get the rest you need at night. They are helpful to power through your day when you can’t take off your mom or dad cap or you need to wrap up your work. No other nighttime or non-drowsy medicine relieves more cold/flu symptoms than NyQuil Severe among OTC cold & flu medicines.

Vicks is also working with Nurse Barb Dehn, Registered Nurse Practitioner, who shares her tips on how to spot and treat symptoms of the flu and tips on how to stay healthy throughout flu season.

Nurse Barb’s Tips

9. Avoid germs at work (or school).

Watch out for these germ-ridden places at the office:

  • the sink in the break room
  • the office microwave
  • doorknobs

10. Say ‘no’ to stress.

Stress can influence the symptoms of cold, cough and flu by interfering with how the immune system functions. To keep your immune system strong, make sure to get plenty of rest and sleep all the time, not just when you’re sick.

11. Sleep on a schedule.

Go to bed and wake up on a regular schedule. Plus, avoid stimulating beverages like caffeinated coffee or alcohol before going to sleep, as well as bright light from the screens on your phone, TV or other electronic devices.

12. Know the signs.

You are most contagious in the first 24 hours when your symptoms are at their worst. If you have two or more of these symptoms, stay home to rest:

  • fever over 101º F
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • running nose
  • headache
  • body aches
  • chills
  • fatigue

13. Try tea.

Drinking an herbal tea such as chamomile, passionflower or other soothing teas before bed can help you relax while also getting helpful fluids into your system.

14. Elevate the head of the bed.

Place a pillow under your mattress to raise the upper body from the waist up. This allows blood to flow away from the head and reduce inflammation of the air passages. Using extra pillows can also ease body aches by taking the pressure off hips, knees and back.

15. Take a hot shower before bed.

Steam and humidity can cause sinuses to drain and relieve stuffiness from a cold. It can also help you to relax, and ease chills, aches and fatigue. Put your towel and/or bathrobe in the dryer so that you don’t feel chilled when you get out, and make sure the room is nice and warm.

What advice do you have for avoiding colds and the flu?

 Kelly

New Year, New Resolution: 7 Ways to Spend Smarter in 2015 {sponsored}

Sponsored post disclosureNow that we’ve rung in the New Year and made New Year resolutions (that we may have already broken!) it’s time to think about making a lasting change for 2015. Committing to managing your money better is a great way to make 2015 the year when you take charge of your finances.

Maybe you spent more than you intended over the holidays, or maybe you just need to get a better handle on your money this year, but with these ideas you’ll be able to make your dreams become a reality.

7 Ways to Spend Smarter in 2015

7 ways to spend smarter in 2015

1. Track your bills

Make sure you don’t miss a single bill by tracking all your bills in one place. It’s simple to do this with a pen and paper, but take advantage of those monthly statements from your bank and credit card company as well.

Tip: Use my printable bill checklist to manage your bill paying.

2. Take advantage of credit card rewards

Discover offers rotating 5% CashBack Bonus categories every quarter in 2015 to save more. You can use your extra 5% to reward yourself or stockpile your rewards to earn larger gift cards.

Tip: Cardmembers can sign up now for 5% CashBack on gas and ground transportation for January through March.

3. Use your credit card to pay bills

Use a credit card to pay monthly bills such as your internet, cell phone service, or subscription services. Set up automated payments for your services to be automatically paid by your credit card. It will make bill paying simpler, you’ll rack up rewards points faster, and you’ll be building your credit—all great things.

Tip: To make it even simpler you can set up an automated payment to pay off your credit card as well.

4. Shop smart with Discover Deals

Discover Deals is your one stop for all your shopping needs. With deals from over 150 merchants and online stores you can earn additional CashBack deposited in your account. Not only will you be saving big but you’ll earn, too! It’s a win-win-win for you.

Tip: Stop by DiscoverDeals before you buy to see new offers.

5. Manage your money on the go

Use mobile apps to keep track of your money on the go. Mobile apps allow you to check balances, make payments, check rewards and more. Discover Mobile allows you to track your credit card account on the go with apps for your iPhone, iPad, or Android phone.

Tip: If you’re not sure how to download the app text APP to DISCOV (347268) and it will download to your device.

6. Don’t miss out on savings

Don’t you hate buying something and then finding it on sale a few weeks later? It’s enough to make a savvy shopper cry! With Discover’s Price Protection program you can get the difference back if you see an item you purchased at any store at a lower price within 90 days.

Tip: Make some time to check current prices on recent purchases each week. A quick search will give you the best price available.

7. Focus on saving for your goals

Creating a family savings bank or setting up a separate savings account for a specific goal is a great way to ensure that you reach your financial goals for 2015. Break down your goal into a weekly or monthly amount you need to save and throw any extra funds (from selling items, bonuses, etc.) into that account.

Tip: Plan trips around your rewards. For instance, now through March, Discover is offering 5% Cashback Bonus on gas and ground transportation which makes it the perfect time for a road trip or vacation.

Kelly

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Discover’s Preferred Blogger Network. All opinions are my own.