Ask Away...: November 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Holiday Shopping Survival Guide




Tis the season for chaos... traffic, lines, coupons, and money flying out of your bank account so fast you almost lose track of it.

So today's post is going to be a few tips that will help your holiday shopping be a bit easier and less chaotic. 

Hydrate
You can't run around shopping WITHOUT being thirsty.  Make sure you keep water with you or in your car.  Hydration also keeps you happy so you aren't cranky in miserable in the already crappy long line at the registers. I bring Sparkling Ice Essence with me because it has zero calories and it's naturally flavored.  It's sparkling so it's a bit more exciting than your average bottle of water!



Snacks
Always bring snacks with you because nothing is more stressful than being hungry and cranky while you're out shopping.  Besides, if you stop to get food when you're out you may spend more time and money than you meant to.  I like Go Organically Fruit Snacks because they are certified organic and made from real fruit purees and real fruit juices.  I also enjoy Welch's Fruit Snacks since they are fat free, gluten free, and contain lots of vitamins!  Not to mention they are delicious.   And of course Viki's Granola is made from all natural ingredients and comes in plenty of yummy flavors!

Comfy Clothes
Always wear comfortable clothes when shopping.  You may want to look cute but trust me, those stilettos will be painful before you even make it half way down the mall. I like to wear comfortable lightweight clothing that's easy to change out of in case I have to try things on for myself.  Sometimes I even wear a light coat so that I don't have to lug it around in the mall and get frustrated with having my arms full.

Pack Light
Whenever I go shopping I use a smaller handbag and I only carry what I need. This way you don't have to worry about your 20 pound suitcase of a handbag banging into displays and knocking stuff over. 

Make A List
You don't have to check it twice but you darn well better make one.  It's foolish to go into a store without having an idea of what you want.   So make a list of what people you need to buy for and what gift you would like to get.

Set A Budget
Set a budget based on what you can afford and then stick to it. 

Map Out Your Sales and Trips
Plan out what stores you will go to and in what order. If there are sales make sure you include those in your plan.  If you want to stop at the places with doorbusters you want to hit those stores first, obviously.  If you have coupons have them ready to go when you get in the store so you can grab what you need and make it to the register in a decent amount of time. 







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A Fun + Simple DIY Holiday Gift Tutorial

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone.  #ShareTheHoliday #CollectiveBias



I know it's still early but I have pretty much all of my Holiday shopping done.  I stuck to my budget and my list and I didn't stress myself out trying to think of what to get people.   In fact today I'm going to show you an easy and fun tutorial to make a DIY Holiday gift, container and all!   

I make these for neighbors and the postman and other delivery people.  As a blogger, I get a lot of packages and I always want the people that help get them to me know that they are very much appreciated.  So what better way to do that then with homemade cookies in neatly decorated festive packaging?  So follow along for this easy cookie container tutorial. 



What You Will Need:
Cookies
Wax Paper
Decorative Tape
Rubbermaid TakeAlongs



[STEP 1 - MAKE COOKIES]
Whether you make them from scratch or you buy cookie mix at the store, it's the thought that counts so choose a few different types of cookies.  I chose Chocolate Chip and Snicker doodle.  I figure I can't go wrong that way. 



[STEP 2 - DECORATE Rubbermaid TakeAlongs]
This is the fun part.  While you wait for your cookies to bake you can use your decorative tape to decorate your containers. 



You can make fun designs with the decorative tape and if you really want to get creative you could practically cover the containers completely.  Decorative tape can be peeled off too. 
  



I use Rubbermaid TakeAlongs because they are perfect for storing my meals and snacks whenever I share them with people.  Plus it's a great way for me to celebrate the season of giving by giving them (and what's inside) to those that I appreciate and care about.  The cool thing about Holiday TakeAlongs is that they come in limited edition red, green, and prints for the holidays.  

You can find them on a special end cap at Walmart between 10/29-12/24.   


I love Rubbermaid TakeAlongs when it comes to storage and gifting.  They have a Quik Clik Seal™ to keep food and treats secure so they don't spill.  I love the soft lids and how well they tightly grip the container so I know there's a reliable seal.  They even have a large tab that makes it so easy to open them.  And it's the gift that keeps on giving because they are top rack dishwasher safe, freezer safe, and even microwavable! 



You can even use decorative pens to write a To/From Note and tape it to the top of the container. You can make it as fancy or as simple as you want.  That's the best part of a DIY gift - ANY amount of effort makes it special. 



[STEP 3 - FILL WITH COOKIES]
Once your cookies are done make sure you line the Rubbermaid TakeAlongs with wax paper, place a few cookies in, then layer with another piece of wax paper before you place more cookies inside. I like doing this so that the cookies don't get smashed and stuck together.  




[STEP 4 -  GIVE]
This is the fun part where you get to give your finished product to the recipient!

Doesn't it feel so good to put a bit of extra time and effort into a gift?   Who would you give this DIY Cookie Container gift to? For more great ideas click here!





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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Keeping Healthy Finances In A Military Family






Credit: Wikimedia

It’s probably something of an understatement to say that life for military families isn’t exactly normal. With all the long periods of deployment, frequent moves, and all kinds of other complications, there’s a lot of things which can make life a little tough to manage. One of the many things you’ll have to worry about, like anyone, is the financial health of your family. Here are some helpful tips which will ensure you have a smooth ride ahead of you.

Make Some Low-Cost Investments
Credit: Wikimedia

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m always encouraging people to take advantage of the investment opportunities available to them. If someone in your family has worked in the military, they’ll have a distinct advantage here: access to some of the lowest-cost retirement plans in the country. The Thrift Savings Plan, for example, charges a mere 25 cents a year for every $1,000 invested, and allows you to choose from a target-date fund or one of five index mutual funds. Servicemen and women also have access to the Roth TSP, which is pretty much the Roth IRA except without the income restrictions. There are a lot of retirement plans you can choose from, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. When you’re weighing up your options, make sure you’re not cheating yourself out of the low-cost investments exclusive to military members.

Choose the Right Loans
Credit: Pixabay

Every now and then, life throws us a curveball, and we have to find other sources to see ourselves through to the next paycheque. When you find yourself having to pay for some expensive auto or home repairs in a military family, it’s important to choose the best possible options available to you. There are a lot of home equity and personal loans with some pretty attractive rates, but you may find that a military loan is a smarter choice. Products like Omni Military Loans offer a flexible range of amounts, and usually operate quick, easy approvals. These lenders are generally very responsible as well, and will weigh up your ability to repay the loan before proceeding with any application. Even if you’re not in the throng of a financial emergency, it’s a good idea to have a look at your loan options now.

Take Advantage of Tax Breaks
One of the many things that makes military life more complicated is regular and often unpredictable transfers. While these aren’t exactly the best part of the job, there’s a certain benefit in them. Military men and women are able to keep legal residence in one state even after being transferred to another, provided they’re still actively employed by the military. This kind of freedom can be a huge help if the military member in your family is stationed in a tax-free state, for example Florida, and is then moved to another part of the country where they’d have to pay state income taxes. The spouse of a military member can also maintain that original legal residency, even if they have to move.



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How To Get A Better Night's Sleep

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Breathe Right® Nasal Strips. All opinions are mine alone. #TomorrowStartsTonight #CollectiveBias
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It's no surprise that a good night's sleep determines how the next day will go for you.  Think about it.  When you don't sleep well at night, you are cranky, tired, and distracted the next day.   You have trouble sticking to a proper diet because you start craving the wrong things, and if you don't get better sleep the next night, your week will continue to go downhill.   No one likes a poor night's sleep, so today I am sharing some tips with you that can help you get a better night's sleep so that you can wake up and go about your day feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever comes your way.

There are many aspects that go into creating a good night's sleep for yourself.  


[1] Proper Pillow
So many people use just any old pillow and oftentimes, that's why they aren't getting a good night's sleep.  If you sleep on a pillow that doesn't get your spine in the proper alignment, you can wake up multiple time during the night to readjust yourself.  Each time you wake up, you knock yourself out of whatever stage of sleep you were in, and then your body and mind have to start all over.  You are like a battery, and sleep is what recharges you.  But if you keep interrupting that charge and having to start over, you aren't going to wake up with a full mental battery.

So ask yourself what makes you uncomfortable (if anything) when you sleep? Is your head always pushed up too high? Maybe you need a pillow with less fluff.  If you feel like you don't have enough support (especially if you sleep on your side like I do), then you should try to find a pillow that supports your head even more.  You want to feel comfortable and at peace when you lay down to rest each night.


[2] Comfortable Temperature
I know that thermostat wars are very common in most households but let me tell you that the cooler your bedroom is, the easier it is to fall asleep and stay asleep.  Ever notice how when you're hot, you are restless? You kick the covers off and just can't get comfortable.  So if you can turn your thermostat down to where you aren't warm at night, it's an ideal sleeping situation for most people.  Also, having a fan on to circulate air and create a breeze helps a lot.  I can't even sleep without a fan anymore because I need to feel that moving air.  It helps me get cozy and warm in my covers, and I can just drift off to sleep.


[3] Darkness
Okay, so obviously your lights should be off when you sleep, but there are some other factors that come into play.  Even the slightest glow of an LED light from an alarm clock, DVD player, or cable box can stir you out of sleep.  Make sure your blinds all shut, and cover the window so no outside lights (like from a street lamp) can get in.  Wearing an eye mask also helps keep light from stirring you during the night.


[4] Breathing
I am totally guilty of being a mouth breather at night.  It's because I have a lot of nasal congestion.  This sometimes makes it uncomfortable for me when I'm trying to fall asleep, but even worse is that poor James struggles to fall asleep when he can hear my loud breathing.  Unfortunately, if your partner is noisy at night, that can prevent YOU from sleeping soundly.  When you lay down at night, you are ready to fall asleep, right? Well, if your partner is noisy, then you definitely will spend extra time trying to tune them out so you can fall asleep.  That means you’re wasting precious time that you could have spent sleeping already.  This can make you frustrated or even resentful of your partner and obviously cranky the next day.

So now I use Breathe Right® Nasal Strips because they are a way to help relieve nasal congestion. These one time use nasal strips are great during a cold or cough, but I have been using them every day. If you do use them when you're sick, just know that they are drug free so they are safe to use with any cough or cold medication.  Breathe Right Nasal Strips instantly open your nose up to 38% more than cold or allergy medications alone.  They are also clinically proven to instantly lift your nasal passages and open your nose to help you breathe better.  

To PROPERLY apply Breathe Right Nasal Strips, you must first wash and dry your nose.    You then remove the liner and place the strip on your nose, making sure it's not too high or too low.  To apply, press the ends and rub them gently to secure them in place.  

To PROPERLY remove Breathe Right Nasal Strips you should do so WITH water like when washing your face in the morning or when you are in the shower.  Always remove it slowly.  Loosen the ends and carefully lift the strip from both sides.  



You can find Breathe Right Nasal Strips in the pharmacy and personal care section at Walmart.  And here are some special offers where you can get a Breathe Right $1 Off Coupon and/or a free sample!

In addition to nasal strips make sure you vacuum and dust your home and bedroom regularly to get rid of the allergens you can breathe in.  Also, be sure to wash your bed sheets every 2 weeks.

So tell me, are there things you will need to change in your life to ensure a better night's sleep?





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All of the Reasons I Shop at Chewy.com for My Dogs

This site has affiliate links and sponsored content. Read my Disclosure Policy.



You may have noticed that I am always blogging about Chewy.com and there are so many reasons I love Chewy and how convenient it is. So I wanted to put together a list to let you guys know why I love Chewy so much and why you may benefit from it as well.




Fast Shipping
I swear no sooner do I order what I need, does it arrive at my door.  It not only saves me the hassle of running to the pet store but it's so nice to know I can get the products I need within a day or two.  Plus shipping is free over $50.


Pee Pads
When you have small dogs like I do, you go through pee pads as if they were diapers.  When I go to pet stores I never find the size and high quality I need so that's why I just turn to Chewy now and I'm never disappointed. 



Dog Food
There are SO many kinds of dog foods available.  Sometimes I buy the same old thing but sometimes I switch it up and try new things and I love that it's so easy and convenient for me to browse from the comfort of my own home. Recently I tried Natural Balance Chicken & Sweet Potato Tubs for Rocky and he LOVES THEM! It's full of shreds of high-quality chicken in brother and is grain free and comes in the most convenient size for him!




Dog Treats
No matter what the occassion, I can always find amazing treats, especially healthier all natural alternatives


Dog Supplies
Don't think it's just food and treats from Chewy.  No way! I get toothpaste, toothbrushes, flea and tick treatment, collars, bowls, leashes, grooming supplies, and much much more from Chewy.  




So if you want one less errand to run every week or every month, check out Chewy and even look into the possibility of Autoship! 














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Monday, November 28, 2016

The Pros and Cons of Investing Your Money For Beginners





If you are looking to reach your financial goals, then investing might be one way to get there sooner. Being able to invest successfully does depend on a few factors, though. You will need knowledge in a certain area, as well as time and motivation to do it all. You need to take plenty of time to look into different options available to you. But this won’t be possible if you’re not motivated to look into it. It will also come down to the quality of the advice that you receive if you get help from a trader or advisor. So you do need to think about what you want to invest, how you will do it, and in the end, what you want to achieve. So first, start by answering all of those questions. Then you can look at your options.

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You could decide to go it alone. You could be the one looking into the analysis and deciding what is best. You would monitor the investment portfolio and make all of the decisions. To start with, you could track some markets. You could make an imaginary investment and see how things go.


After a time, you could start to work out what your shares might have risen or fallen to. Then you can get an idea of what the best shares are for you to invest in.


If you are a beginner, doing it by yourself could sound like quite a scary option for you. So if you are unsure, then going it alone might not be the best way for you to start. When you get a bit of experience under your belt, it would be easier to do it all by yourself. If you didn’t want to do it completely alone, then you could always look into a hedge fund. They will be the ones making all of the decisions and investing your money for you. So if you are happier with that option, it would be worth looking into. If you want to read more about a hedge fund, there are lots of resources online.


Investopedia.com could be a good place to start.


Another option could be investing through binary options. Basically, it means that you speculate if your shares will go up or down. Then over a fixed period of time, you can see what happens with the shares. Then you will get a fixed payout. So it is good to know the amount that you would get if things go well. However, the problem with this is that if the share value goes down, you won’t get anything. If this seems like a little too much, then you might consider consulting an expert. You could look somewhere like binaryoptionsexpert.net.


Generally, though, this type of investment is considered fairly safe, especially for a novice.


All in all, investing your money is a good way to achieve your financial goals. The main message is to do your research and take your time. Don’t rush into it and the payoff will be worth it!




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How I Give My Hair an At-Home Blowout

This site has affiliate links and sponsored content. Read my Disclosure Policy.


You know why I love my hair salon appointments so much? Well, it's because after I get my color done, and my hair scrubbed, and then it's time to dry out, I always leave with a great blow out and I try to stretch my blowout as many days as I can until I have to watch it again.   There's just something about someone else being able to stand behind you and dry your hair and give it that extra volume so it stays full and shiny for several days.   I had questioned my stylist about how it's done, and she explained it to me so simply.   She said the more I do it, the easier it is.  So for weeks and weeks I began practicing.  It really did get easier over time, not to mention my arms were stronger and able to be held up over my head longer.   

So for today's post I figured I would let you guys know the simple method that works on MY hair. 


#1 Scrub
When I'm in the shower I really scrub my scalp to get all the product build up out of there.  Product build up can really make your hair gunky and greasy.


#2 Rinse
Sometimes I would be in a rush and I wouldn't properly rinse my hair out.  So when I say rinse, I mean really really rinse until your hair is squeaky clean with NO suds left.  I actually turn the water on to cold to help seal the cuticles in the final moments before I step out of the shower.

#3 Towel Dry
After I squeeze my hair out really well I wrap it in a towel and get dressed.  Then I usually dilly dally for 10-15 minutes on my phone until I realize it's that time.... time to dry the hair!

#4 Blot
When I take my towel off I gently blot the hair around my scalp.  I never vigorously rub it with the towel as that can actually damage it.  

#5 Comb and Part
I use a gentle comb to detangle my hair and then I use a fine comb to make my part.

#6 Product
If you use any product you can add some VERY lightly to your hair.  I never add anything near my roots though. 

#7 Dry & Finger Comb
I learned this by watching how my stylist does it, but basically the next thing I do is use the hair dryer around my scalp to dry the roots.  As I do this I use my fingers to move my hair around so that the air can reach all parts of my scalp.  I do this until my roots are left damp.

#8 Clip
This is the part where I clip up the top third of my hair so that it's out of the way I can get to the underside.  

#9 Dry with Round Brush
Now I take a big round brush and I take my hair in sections (about 2-3 inches wide) and hold it out and away from my head with the brush and blow dry it from root to tip.  Sometimes I have to repeat this on the same section of hair a few times.  When you are holding it away from your hair make sure you hold it straight up.   Then blast it with heat right at the root.  This is what gives my hair it's volume so it doesn't just fall flat against my head. 

#10 Repeat on Top Half
Once the entire bottom area of my hair is dried this way I release the clipped up top half an dry it the exact same way in sections.

#11 Flat Iron
Then I clip everything up again and flat iron both halves of my hair. 

VOILA!

This is done in the evening so the next day I am able to wear my hair down.   


The day after that I usually wear my hair half up in a little mini top knot to hide the grease and it keep it from falling flat.  Then that night it's time to do the whole process again.


The major thing to focus on for this process is having a great hair dryer. I use the Gold ‘N Hot Professional 1875 Watt Ionic Ultra-Lightweight Dryer with Tourmaline which costs $39.99 at Folica.com


 As I said before this process makes my arms so tired so it's a luxury to use this dryer because it's ultra light but it still has a huge output of negative ions to make my hair dryer faster.  It's less damaging in the long run and it leaves my hair shiny and gorgeous! 

Tourmaline conditioning emits negative ions heat to reduce static frizz and seal in moisture. There are 2 speeds and 6 settings for heat. 

So give it a try, be patient, and don't give up.  It really does get easier and easier over time.  Or, next time you're at the salon ask your stylist for some tips and watch her as she does it to your hair.





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