10 Tips for Saving Money while Traveling with your Family

10 Tips for Saving Money while Traveling with your Family

It’s almost Spring and that means that many of you will be traveling! Here are a couple tips I put together that have saved our family money in the past.

1.       Travel Off-Season:

Traveling off-season can save you lots of money. Prices can be dramatically less at hotels during the off-season. The crowds are also smaller making it easier for you to see attractions.

2.       Accommodations:

Staying at a Town Next Door – Sometimes smaller towns close to where you are going have hotels that are much less expensive. If you don’t mind driving an extra 15 minutes or so then you can save money to spend elsewhere! Also, make sure when making accommodations that you use a website like Expedia or Hotwire. Plus, if you have a 2011 Entertainment book, there is a coupon for a $20 rebate on any stay when you book through Hotwire.  You can also look into using vacation homes.  A great website to refer to is:  www.vrbo.com. This is great for larger families or groups of families traveling together!

3.       Eating:

This one is always hard for me! I hate cooking, especially while on vacation. I try to plan ahead so we know exactly how much money we will need for eating. If you can try to figure out where you will be and eat before you actually go out, you can save a ton of money. If you are like me and don’t want the hassle, then make sure to check out Restaurant.com and see what deals you can snag in your destination. You can save over half when using these certificates!

4.       Groupon:

Groupon is another way to save money on traveling and entertainment. You can get Groupon deals to towns you are visiting to get half off or more on meals, shows, entertainment and more.

5.       Get Paid to Shop for your  vacation:

Make sure when shopping for your vacation you shop through Ebates or ShopatHome. You can use the money you make to buy souvenirs or gas money. You also get a $5 Credit in your account just for signing up! These cash back sites add up quickly and can save you substantially!

6.       Age, Student, and Membership Discounts:

Many attractions like theme parks, museums and restaurants have discounts for seniors, children or students. If you are traveling, remember to take your ID and membership cards (e.g. Military,AAA card) with you that might qualify you for these!

7.       Military:

If you are military, like us, then there are many deals and discounts to look out for! Sometimes on my website I highlight deals that I come across. We were able to go to Disney World a couple years ago, fairly cheap because my husband is in the service! His admission and ours were FREE to get in the park!

8.       Blogs:

Look for blogs that specialize in your destination. When we went to Disney World, I followed Mouse Savers daily! Our website at http://www.slickhousewives.com also highlights great deals when we come across them.

9.       Airfare:

We usually drive to our destinations but if we were to fly, we would use our Skymiles  that have accrued from American Express. This can save you hundreds!! We are currently saving our Skymiles to take a trip to Hawaii!

10.   Friends & Family:

Talk with friends and family and find out their past experiences and advice! Our family is currently planning a trip for this summer and found out some information about a “would have been destination.”  I’m so glad we asked around because the information saved us from going somewhere that would have been non-family friendly spot, if you know what I mean 😉

About Me: Hi, I’m Bianca! I am a Christian, Army wife, Mother of 3 awesome kids! All that I do and everything that I am blessed with is because of my awesome God! I live in the peach state of Georgia. I have not always been a frugal person, but when I learned that I could bring my grocery budget from $250/week to $50/week, I was addicted! We now are able to use higher quality products than ever before and for really next to nothing. It is very possible to be frugal and live abundantly without being cheap. I have learned a lot from my sister who still finds the most amazing deals and shares them with me! Our family is on a journey to become debt FREE and I am here to pass on what I learn to you! Come and join us over athttp://www.slickhousewives.com

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” ~Matthew 6:33

CuteyBaby Founder Talks Diapers & Decor

Your one-stop shop for wall decals and cloth diapers.  Meet Ada Vaughan, the momtrepeneur behind CuteyBaby.com.  For a limited time, you can purchase CuteyBaby wall decals up to 40% off on Totsy!! Or CuteyBaby Cloth Diapers up to 32% off!

Q: You founded CuteyBaby upon becoming a mom and CuteyBaby sells both amazing wall decals as well as cloth diapers! Those are two very different products — how did that all come together?  Like so many moms who are entrepreneurs, it all began with wanting something for my own use. I started out designing my daughter’s room. At the time I was studying interior design, and wanted to make a bold statement on the walls without a huge commitment to paint. So the wall decals were born. It was a fun outlet for creative energy, and I also did custom designs for a while. When my little one was about 5 months old, I started to feel very, very guilty about all the trash and expense of disposable diapers. One of my friends was using cloth, and I asked her about it. A week later I had ordered a few different kinds online, and I never looked back. It was a wonderful feeling to stop buying all those disposables, and we found ways to make it pretty simple to do cloth. I really just wished that the diapers were better looking! So I started sewing my own, drawing the patterns and testing them on my daughter. And that’s how CuteyBaby Modern Cloth Diapers came to be.

Q: What do you think is the biggest misconception moms have today about using cloth diapers? How does CuteyBaby solve that problem?  I think moms that haven’t seen a “modern” cloth diaper simply don’t realize how easy it can be. When you say cloth diaper, lots of people still think pins and plastic pants.   CuteyBaby is one of the easiest cloth diapers to use, especially with our flushable liner sheets.


Q: Tell us why CuteyBaby wall decals are so great?  Our wall decals allow you to quickly create a theme in your child’s room, with no commitment. We use non-toxic vinyl with a repositionable adhesive that won’t harm walls. Creative kids can help put them up. It’s as easy as a sticker.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a mom?  Being mom to Zola, age 3, is such an amazing journey. I love how she changes and grows so quickly. Looking at the world through a child’s eyes is inspiring. I love discovering new ideas with her. Zola also helps keep me focused in the here and now. But my most favorite part about being a mom is the hugs.

Q: Do you have any advice for other moms who have both a passion and see a void in the market for something they want for their families?  Test, test, test. Make sure you give or sell your product on a small scale to people you don’t know. Get honest feedback and fine-tune until you’re happy with the product. From a strategy standpoint, be clear about what you want from your business idea. Are you looking for a little extra money, or wanting to build a large company? Set goals and work toward them every day.

Q: One of your passions for the diapers as well as the decals is from your design background- tell us what aesthetic you have and why where it fits into both style with regards to kids clothes but also from a style perspective of the home w/ the wall decals.  CuteyBaby’s design aesthetic comes from my roots in graphic design. I have always been drawn to bright colors and simple graphic themes. For example, my daughter’s nursery uses “A little dotty” wall decals in bright fuchsia and orange on the walls. For design of the fabrics on our latest cloth diapers, the hand-drawn airplanes, cars, and trains give a whimsical look. I think my design taste runs toward the European, with an emphasis on color and clean lines.

Q: And of course, we have to ask, what’s your favorite thing about Totsy? 🙂  I like Totsy’s selection! They stay focused on baby & kid products and offer excellent deals. What’s not to love?

You can follow Ada on Twitter and friend her on Facebook.

You can buy CuteyBaby wall decals on Totsy.com up to 40% off for a limited time!  Or CuteyBaby Cloth Diapers up to 32% off, sale starts 3/30!

How To: Keep Whites White With Natural Products You Already Have

After listing some of our favorite spring trends, one of them being wearing white – http://bit.ly/hI16cg  – we promised you a blog post on how to keep your whites bright.

We all love throwing on our favorite white tee. It goes with everything, perfect when you don’t know what to wear, and always looks good on you!

The problem is, of course, keeping it white! C’mon moms, you know what I’m talking about. Cutie just threw a handful of berries at you during snack time or Lovebug has dirt and grass on her hands that are now all over your perfect white tee.

I used to love white, because, well, you can bleach it. But now that I have little ones, I don’t want those harsh chemicals around! So, after a little research, here’s what I came up with:

Keep Whites Bright With Household Items You Probably Already Own:


WHITE VINEGAR: Pour half a cup to a cup of white vinegar in your white clothes with detergent.  This will help to whiten the clothes and aid in softening fabrics.  There might be a faint smell after you take the clothes out but after the clothing dry, you wont be able to smell anything.  Only use white vinegar with your laundry because other vinegar formulas are not clear and you may risk turning your clothes yellow.

 

DISHWASHING DETERGENT:  Add 1/4 cup of dishwashing detergent to your white and wash in warm water.  The whitening agent in the dishwashing liquid will make your clothes brighter in no time.

SUNSHINE:  You read correctly.  The sun has been used long before the washing machine and dryer came along.  Put some lemon juice and water (2 parts to one) in a squirt bottle and spray onto the stains of the article of clothing.  Hang the item on a clothesline and let the sun do its job.

LEMONS: Lemons are great for whitening clothes and linen naturally.  Boil water, turn off the heat and add clothes in a large pot with lemon.  Let the clothing soak overnight.  You can also put lemon slices in the sink or large basin with hot water and let the clothing soak there.  Your clothes will smell lemony fresh.  No fresh lemons?  Lemon juice is a great substitute.

Keep your laundry room free of harsh chemicals while keeping your whites clean and your wardrobe on trend :).

Totsy Mom Committee: Meet Angela!

Interviewed by Totsy’s Chief Mom, Diana Heather


1.  What’s your go-to fashion item? – When I don’t have time to put on makeup or the shoes to match my outfit, I change out my eyeglasses. I have a few random pairs, all different colors. They accent my face and clothes!

2.  What’s been your favorite moment as a mom? – When I notice small milestones that my youngest makes, it always brings back memories of when my oldest made them. Its like Deja-Vu, but in a good way 😉

3.  What has been your strangest pregnancy craving?– Wow, My poor husband could not stock me enough with ice chips and sour skittles. I am surprised my sugar intake did not kill me haa.

4.  Tell us what the funniest thing your kid has ever said to you.  Is there a story behind it?- Just yesterday actually, our youngest wanted to go to McDonald’s and my husband had to stop by the auto store. When we pulled up she yelled “Daddy ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” It was in her biggest voice too. Made us laugh so hard.

My oldest- I have never seen her get head over heels for anything. She kind of goes with the pace on things. However, at Disneyland she about hyper ventilated when Buzz Lightyear kissed her. It was like her “Brad Pitt”. She screamed, cried and screamed some more. I will never forget that. Oh, and he kissed her 3 more times. She about died.

5.  There are so many topics to cover in terms of blogging.  How do you determine which ones to focus on and which ones are off-limits?- We only blog on family friendly products & services. We never want to touch items such as adult, smoking, liquor or politics. We always hated going to a site and having something pop up at that exact moment our kids would walk in the room. This way, we stay family friendly and never hurt someones feelings or take some political side.

6.  When did you decide to take blogging seriously and why?  What sparked this?- I have been blogging for several years, around 4 actually. The idea came about for my own site when my husband suggested I jump into it. He said I would never be happy unless i was in Marketing of some kind. It’s true, I love this type of work. So i started Mommy PR when I enrolled in business school. Soon I had a few ladies I adore ask to come on board. We all have different outside jobs, but all of us have some background in marketing, sales and management. We decided to go head first into our site as family friendly reviews and to also have focus on customer service. We wanted to give back to other bloggers and teach them how to connect with companies and learn how to handle blogging & social media. I take what I do very seriously. It’s my job, it’s my investment, I can’t let our readers, fans, and family down, if i do, I have let myself down too. Mommy PR is my addicting passion 😉

7.  Angela, tell us a little about your life as a military spouse. – Whew. Life as a Military Spouse is a book all in itself. You know how people joke that you need a baby manual? Well, Military spouses could use one as well. It should include that you will move every 3-4 years, have babies in every country, file taxes as if you were married, yet never see your spouse. It’s a hard life for anyone to live with; emotionally and mentally. However, I don’t think I could ever trade my patriotic feelings for any other way of life. I take great pride in what we stand for and what my  husband does. To date, we have lived in Ohio, Italy & Washington. We have been able to see things no one could imagine. Eagles Nest, Munich at Christmas, Venice, Austria (which reminds me of the North Pole when it snows!), and all around Seattle. It’s a busy way of life because your orders can come at any day, to leave at any time. At the end of the day, so long as our kids are safe in bed, and my husband is alive and well, its all we need to wake up and do it again the next day 🙂

Angela Roy is a member of Totsy’s Mom Committee.  Friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter!  Visit her website here: http://www.mommypr.com/.

Diana’s Top 5 Picks This Weekend on Totsy

Current NYC weather to the contrary, history tells us that spring and summer are definitely on the way. With faith that this year won’t be any different and that the weather will indeed get warmer — at least eventually — I offer you my weekend picks:


1.  For Boys: When I saw everything for the Boutique Collection for boys in the office this week, I was dying for all of it! It’s all super quality and just the kind of classic look I think little boys were made for!  My fave (way cuter in person) is this 3-piece jacket suit with sailor crest. Is there anything cuter than a little boy in a blazer? I think not!  And just in time for all your spring celebrations. http://bit.ly/gJMJE7


2.  For Babies & Toddlers: Bedtime and naptime wouldn’t be complete at my house without HALO SleepSacks. Not only do I love them because I know there’s no chance of the baby squirming out from under the blanket, or heaven forbid to suffocate under it — but also because we’ve had the same two sacks for over a year and they never fall apart no matter how often they get washed and worn (which is a LOT). Also, despite the fact that the oldest is almost 2yrs old, she still loves them. She knows when we put it on, it’s “ni-night!” http://bit.ly/gKdGrr

3.  For Girls: This pick is a little bit sentimental for me. I have a picture of my oldest wearing her first pair of “real” shoes from last summer and they looked an awful lot like these classic white sandals by Itzy Bitzy. She wore hers with everything all summer long. These have a more modern gladiator style that my daughter’s didn’t have, but that makes them even cooler AND they even have a squeaker in the heel so no more fights when its time to put her shoes on! http://bit.ly/fpVpyT


4.  For Moms: Whenever I wear mineral makeup, I get so many compliments on my skin. There’s just something about how mineral makeup gives a natural looking perfection to your skin.  So, for summer, mineral bronzer is a must (since we know too much real sun is off-limits, of course). I love this Lotus Beach Bronze Bronzer!  It goes on super smooth and you can build up color subtly so you never look like an Oompah-loompah! http://bit.ly/fdaD2s


5.  For Kids: Our Totsy Book Bonanza this weekend is a must shop!  In addition to tons of amazing books, I got excited to see that a favorite book at our house is available!  “Charlie and Lola’s I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed” pop-up book is awesome. Since one of my daughters is named Lola, we love it that much more. But even if you don’t have your own Charlie or Lola, it’s a totally fun book that older siblings will love reading about how big brother, Charlie, just can’t seem to get little sis, Lola, to go to bed even after navigating her imaginative antics! http://bit.ly/futyte

Diana Heather is Totsy’s Chief Mom. Follow her on Twitter here: @totsymom  and friend her on Facebook.

Couponing: Why I Save

We all save money and watch our spending for different reasons…saving for vacation, the economy stinks, for something new for the house, something special for the kids, you name it!

Well, I started couponing because I wanted to stay home with my son – I was a very successful sales person in the Staffing Industry, but when I had THREE different child care centers tell me that they had openings and then when I went to pay a deposit, there was some mistake or another and the opening wasn’t really at all…We took that as a sign that I was supposed to be home.  Six years later, the addition of our daughter, 3 decreases in salary and the loss of our health insurance coverage by my husband’s company – Couponing wasn’t just something fun to do – it turned into a way to survive.

I found the more I researched sales, watched clearances, sales, and coupon match-ups, the better I got.  I learned about Mommy Blogs while waiting at the doctor’s for my daughter’s check-up in a magazine, Having Fun Saving was born shortly after that!

I am a BIG believer in giving back to the community, so I share every way possible to help others on my blog.  With coupons and sales – I can usually get $20 worth of groceries for about $2.  I also donate all my baby coupons that I get in the mail or that I can find to print to the local Pregnancy center – raising children is expensive, WHY NOT share coupons with others?  It’s a simple step really and trust me, it IS appreciated.  If you don’t know where your local pregnancy center is, donate them to a church, a friend, or just leave on the shelf at the grocery store!  Coupons are money – just in a different form, so donating your coupons is like donating money, isn’t that a wonderful thought??  I sure think so!

I coupon to save, I coupon to be able to stay home with my kids, I coupon to help us survive from week to week,  I coupon to help share with ours, I coupon because I believe I can make a difference, I coupon because I care, I coupon in hopes to teach my cuties to care too!

Having Fun Sharing…Having Fun Saving!

Tracy

Visit my blog: Having Fun Saving

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

See my article in the March/April Issue of Tampa Woman Magazine

Top 3 Spring Trends

Spring is here!  Notwithstanding the snow I can see outside my window right now.  But, I digress.  With warmer weather approaching, it’s time to say “hello” to sandals and blazers and “sayonara” to puffer coats and riding boots.

So, just for you, we rounded up our top 3 must-have trends for the spring.  Maybe we aren’t Vogue or even Carson Kressley, but we think we have an eye for how fashion fits into our mommy lifestyle.  Let us know if we’re right!

1.  STRIPES:  Not just for sailors, prisoners or good southern lawyers, stripes take on many different forms and are a perfect addition to your spring wardrobe.  And, if like me, you’re scared to death of horizontal stripes (heaven forbid) don’t be.  Try this trend in headbands, tee shirts, jackets, blouses and totes.  Basically, there’s a striped item to “suit” everyone’s needs (pardon our pun).

Think horizontal (ala nautical), vertical (elongate me, please) multicolored or seersucker!

We love this laid back look worn by Lauren Conrad.  Pair an oversized striped shirt with denim shorts and flip flops.  Perfect for daytime errands and trips to the park when the weather is warm.

For a classic look, try seersucker.  This blazer is perfect for those chilly spring days.  Wear to work or throw over a tee and pair of jeans for a laidback but pulled together look.

Mommy tip:  Stripes are easy and classic, but will keep you looking like you’re on trend this season.

2.  NEONS:  Even if you think you couldn’t possible pull this off, trust us and try it anyway!

On the runways, we saw models decked from head-to-toe in fluorescent everything — from blazers and tee shirts to hats and shoes, it was like seeing the 80s all over again.  But, don’t get us wron, we aren’t suggesting you go so heavy on your fluorescent.  Use it as an accent to liven up those hot days.  But, have your tan ready — faux tan of course — because it will make neon colors pop even more.

We think a perfect example of treading lightly into this trend is to pair a neon tee shirt with a black blazer and denim or take a queue from Hilary Duff and think neon accessories like her bright yellow clutch with her all-black ensemble.

Mommy tip:  Your kids will love you for trying this and you’ll be surprised how confident you’ll feel.


3.  WHITES:  We HEART an all white ensemble!  Talk about instant chic!

This trend was showcased a lot during fashion week.  It can be difficult to pull off but don’t be afraid!  White dresses were BIG.  Pair an all white dress with a darker blazer for an easy daytime look or my fave look is to layer whites of all different shades together to create one perfect look.

If you’re really not sure about wearing white from head-to-toe, be a little Sheen and try the “winning” crisp white shirt with denim trousers or flared denim (another huge 2011 trend).

Mommy tip:  We totally get that white isn’t always the most mom-friendly trend, so stay tuned next week for out How-To Tuesdays blog post about keeping your whites fresh!

This just covers the top 3 trends IOHO (in our humble opinions) but we want tomake sure we keep you posted on a few others, too.

We also love leather jackets for spring (think light, cropped); wedges (natch) and bags with chain handles (because Chanel-inspired anything is always in style)!

Happy spring shopping ladies!