February 16, 2011

Managing Your Family Finances

Thank you to TurboTax for sponsoring my writing about household finances.Learn more about how TurboTax can help you find every tax deduction you deserve. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

It is that time of the year when people focus on their incomes and paying taxes. Unfortunately, most people live paycheck to paycheck. They spend what they want whenever they want. Many people do that and discover they are broke, and they don't know where the money went. Many times they "run out of money before the month" as the saying goes. Also it is important to have extra money saved for those unexpected emergencies. To get control of household spending and start saving we need to set up a household budget.

There I said it. The "B" word. Even the word "budget" can make people cringe. I know it sounds boring and something only "nerds" do. But if you are serious about better managing your finances, a budget can actually give you freedom. You will have more control over your money, know where your money is going, and have a plan to reach your financial goals.

Here are some easy household budgeting strategies you can use to get started.

Write down how much you and your spouse (if married) earn each month. If you get paid weekly, then multiply that amount X 4. If you get paid every other week, the mutliply that X2. It is more difficult if your income varies month to month. You need to calculate your annual earnings and divide it by 12 to get your average monthly income.

Your fixed expenses are the items that stay the same from month to month, such as a mortgage payment, car payment, telephone bill, etc. Some expenses vary from month to month such as your electric / gas bill. You need to budget for the approximate amount of the bill. In the middle of a cold winter, you will likely need to plan on paying more for heating. Many companies offer a "budget billing" option where they spread the payments evenly over 12 months. The the 12th month the balance is corrected, and you will owe more or less that month.

Some other expenses can be more difficult to calculate. Some people recommend that you carry a notebook and write down everything you spend for 30 days. That will tell you how much money you spent and where it went. You might realize you were doing something like speding $500 in a month to eat out!

The Difference Between the Two
Find the difference between what you spend and what you earn each month. A portion of any surplus should be budgeted for investments or savings. If there is a shortage, then you have two choices. Either you lower your expenses or increase your income or both.

Setting up a household budget is important to manage your family finances. Then hopefully you can pay your bills and save for your future.

To thank me for participating I am to be sent $50.

February 12, 2011

Dinosaur Train Valentines and Make A Match Game Giveaway

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Buddy and the entire Dinosaur Train clan by downloading for FREE all-new Dinosaur Train Valentine’s Day cards. Click the highlighted area to download then print the PDF.
And for more Valentine’s Day fun, check out the new Flying with Buddy game that reinforces counting skills as Buddy collects seashells. Players use the mouse to control the flight of Buddy, Don and Tiny. Move the mouse UP and Buddy raises his legs, and Don and Tiny fly higher. Move the mouse DOWN and Don and Tiny fly lower, and Buddy reaches to grab the shells on the ground. After one minute of gameplay the characters return to their nest to count the treasures they collected. Check it out for FREE at the following link: http://pbskids.org/dinosaurtrain/games/flyingwithbuddy.html
The hit television series Dinosaur Train™ airs daily on PBS KIDS® (check local listings).
AND find the “perfect match” with the Dinosaur Train Make A Match game from Pressman Toy!

In the Dinosaur Train Make A Match game, Buddy and his friends sharpen children’s memory skills in this special matching game that features a Buddy figure! To begin play, 48 game cards featuring favorite Dinosaurs from Dinosaur Train are shuffled and laid face down in 6 rows of 8 cards each. Players take turns turning over any two cards—so all players can see them—to find a matching pair. The game features “Take Buddy” cards, “Wild Cards” and “Lose a Pair” cards to add to the excitement. Players count their matching card sets at the end and add extra points for the player holding Buddy to determine who wins. The Dinosaur Train Make A Match Game is for 2 to 4 players, ages 3 to 6, and is available at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide for just $9.99.
Now you have a chance to win a Dinosaur Train Make A Match game!

For the first entry - tell me who would love to play this game.
Please, leave your email address, so I can contact the winner.

Bonus entries: Leave an extra comment for each one.

1. Subscribe to this blog
2. Follow this blog
3. Subscribe to my new blog Saving Simplified.
4. Follow my new blog Saving Simplified on Google Friend connect.
5. Leave a comment on any post on Saving Simplified to get 2 entries. (Please leave 2 comments on this post for 2 entries.)
6. Follow me @donnak4 and tweet about the contest. Then leave the link or your twitter ID.
Here is one you can use:

Win A Dinosaur Train Make A Match Game http://tinyurl.com/486xt72

This is for the US. Ends 2/28 at 11:59PM CST.
I did not receive any compensation for this post. The sponsor is sending the prize.

February 11, 2011

DixieRocks Giveaway

DixieRocks.com is giving away the choice of an Amazon Kindle, Ipod Nano, or a $150 Gift Certificate from GameRoomsUSA.com! Entering is Easy! Contest details can be found on thier facebook fanpage at http://on.fb.me/contestdr or on their website at http://DixieRocks.com/contest.

February 10, 2011

A Better World Review

Do you play any games on facebook?

I recently tried a cute new game on facebook called A Better World. This game focuses on uplifting and doing good for others.

It was easy to set up and customize my person. It looks a lot like me.

They have a section called the Heart Cart where you can give themed heart greetings to your family and friends. The themes include, romantic, fun, goodness and friendly.
The hearts are really cute. You can also read the Book of Love.

You can "Like" A Better World on Facebook and give a heart to family and friends.

Disclosure: I am receiving an Amazon gift card from ToonUps as a thank you for participating in this campaign.

February 6, 2011

GraveyardMall Deal of the Day

Shop and Save up to 90% off on the Deal of the Day !
Other people have talked about this being a great deal previously. 9 pairs of women's sunglasses for $9.99! I plan to get it.

February 2, 2011

Groundhog Day 2011

I really didn't know much about Groundhog Day, so I decided to learn about it.

According to Wikipedia "Groundhog Day is a holiday celebrated on February 2nd in the United States and Canada. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, it will leave the burrow, signifying that winter-like weather will soon end. If it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks."

"The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day, already a widely recognized and popular tradition, received worldwide attention as a result of the 1993 film of the same name, Groundhog Day, which was set in Punxsutawney and featured Punxsutawney Phil."

Amazon has a deal on the movie Groundhog Day (Special 15th Anniversary Edition) for only $8.49 today if you want a copy of this classic.

The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club has a website where you can learn more about it.

Oh, Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring. I hope he's right!

February 1, 2011

FiberChoice Chewable Fiber Supplements Blog Tour

Did you make any resolutions this year? My resolution was to lose 10 pounds. I want to lose more, but that was a goal I can achieve fairly quickly. Then I hope to be motivated to lose more.

One thing that helps with weight loss is to eat more fiber. Reaching the recommended 25 - 30 grams of fiber a day is difficult. According to the American Dietetic Association the average person gets only half that amount. Eating whole grains, vegetables, and fruits helps, but it is still difficult to reach the recommended amount.

FiberChoice Chewable Fiber Supplement is a great way to increase the fiber in your diet.

According to their website fiber benefits your health in these ways:
•Contributes to digestive health.
•Aids in weight control.
•Helps maintain your immune system.
•Fiber plus calcium promotes bone health.
•Help support a healthy heart.

The main ingredient in FiberChoice tablets is inulin, the same healthy fiber found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. Inulin is “prebiotic,” which means it nourishes the friendly, “good” bacteria in the digestive system.

FiberChoice comes in different formulations:

FiberChoice Chewable Tablets
FiberChoice Plus Calcium
FiberChoice Weight Management
FiberChoice Plus Antioxidants

I tried the FiberChoice Weight Management chewables. They had a good strawberry taste. 2 tablets daily gives you 4 grams of soluble fiber and only 16 calories.

FiberChoice Weight Management has Chromium Picolinate, green tea and plenty of fiber to help you feel full longer. You can get a $2 coupon.

I haven't been using it very long, but it does make me feel fuller.

For more information, visit www.fiberchoice.com.
Follow @FiberChoice on twitter.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of FiberChoice and received a coupon to facilitate my review and a gift code to thank me for taking the time to participate.