December 4, 2014

Cancelling Christmas???

I just finished reading a blog post at Over the Big Moon, written by a mom who has decided, with her husband, not to give Christmas gifts to her children this year because of their entitled, ungrateful, disrespectful behavior.
You can find the post here, and I would highly recommend reading it.

Before I go any further, I want to say:
1. I believe that their intentions are good, very good.
2. The acts of service they are doing with their children instead of presents for Christmas are wonderful.
3. These are obviously parents who are not intimidated by their children. They are willing to make difficult decisions in order to raise good children, and they stand their ground once the decision is made. The world needs more parents who will lovingly set and enforce boundaries.

Also, I've heard parents, grandparents, even teachers, threaten something along the lines of "If you're not good Santa won't bring you any presents" hundreds of times. Every kid knows this is an empty threat, well every kid but these kids, because of all those times this is the first time I've actually heard of that threat being followed through.

However, even with all the things I think are good coming from this decision, I still disagree with the concept.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" John 3:16

We didn't deserve him. We make bad choices, we make mistakes, we sin intentionally and accidentally. We yell, we gossip, we criticize, we lie just a little, we are unforgiving, we are unrepentant. We are negative and complaining instead of comforting and uplifting. We don't remember to thank our Father often enough. We are imperfect (at best).

Luke 2:7-11
7  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Despite our ungratefulness, our poor choices, our sense of entitlement, our lack of respect, our Father gave the gift of our Savior, the gift of Christ.

We didn't deserve it.

Hopefully we are trying to better ourselves, perfect ourselves. Hopefully we are being a good example to our children; an example of gratitude, of apologizing, of repenting, and of forgiving.

I give my children Christmas gifts because they are my children. Because I love them. Because it's symbolic of the gift our Father gave to us. 
Gifts do not have to be numerous, expensive, or store-bought.
They can be inexpensive, simple, second-hand, or handmade.

As parents, we have chosen to keep Christmas small in order to keep our focus on the Savior.
We hope that this will help our children learn to curb their desires, and to be more grateful for the few gifts they receive.

As difficult as it is to not be able to give children all the things they want, it can be just as difficult to choose not to give them everything you can afford. 
I don't think that choosing to go without gifts at Christmas in order to give more service is a bad idea, but I feel that it should be a decision made together, not a punishment.
 Share The Gift
Share the Gift

October 26, 2014

Car Seat Deal Alert!

Amazon's Goldbox Deal of the Day today is on Graco Car Seats, PLUS Graco has a $25 mail-in rebate on car seats over $99. If you've been looking for a car seat, RUN!

With Amazon's sale prices and Graco's rebate, you can get

Argos Forward Facing Seat 102.99
Graco Argos 65 3-in-1 Harness Booster, Link
Size4Me Convertible Seat $93.99
Graco Size4Me 65 Convertible Car Seat, PierceGraco Size4Me 65 Convertible Car Seat, Nyssa
SnugRide35 Click-Connect Infant Seat $74.99
 Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Car Seat, Gotham

These are awesome deals if you need one of these seats. 

If you need an infant carseat and a stroller, you will be better off buying the whole travel system which would be $195 after the rebate.

Graco FastAction Fold Sport Stroller Click Connect Travel System, Gotham

I just ordered the Size4Me because I need a seat that takes up less space than our MyRide65, and I'm debating on getting the Argos also so my toddler can have a seat in each vehicle. 

October 24, 2014

Four Ingredient Peanut Butter Hot Fudge

Just Dump, Heat and Stir

A couple of years ago my husband said he wanted hot fudge (on a Sunday and I don't shop on Sundays) so I looked up some recipes, tweaked the concept based on what I had in my pantry/fridge and came up with this recipe...
And then I added peanut butter, because I LOVE peanut butter.

It's a winner, mostly because it's EASY!

Dump all the ingredients into a saucepan, grab a whisk and stir about every 1-2 min over medium-low heat for about 10 min.

Yep, EASY.

You'll need:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. milk
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1/2 c. peanut butter

(I tend to like things pretty rich, if you don't you may want to add 1/2 the cocoa pwdr. and peanut butter and then add more until it's right for you.)

Heat and Stir over medium-low until it reaches desired temperature.

This will make about 2 c. of Hot Fudge.
Enough to fill 2 of these cute 1/2 pint mason jars, one for you and one for a friend:)

P.S. It's really good to eat by the spoonful, straight out of the fridge the next day,  shh...

September 24, 2014

Check Out My Article on

I keep forgetting to post this but it's exciting news for me.
A couple of weeks ago a slightly revised version of my blog post Six Things My Parents Did Right When Teaching Me About Money was republished in the Money section of
I've been really excited to see how well it was received, 4,963 views  and  3,072 shares to date.
I thought about blogging for a LONG time before I actually started. I was really worried about how my content would be received, I didn't want to just waste my time. I have received a lot of great feedback and I know I've been able to help some people work on getting their finances in order which is what this project is all about. This article's success is one more confirmation that I'm doing something worth doing. That's a great feeling.
Go check out my article here, share if you'd like and spend a moment looking around, there are some other really great articles on the site. I'd love to hear what your favorites are, leave a comment below so I know which ones to check out.

September 10, 2014

Saving Money: Birthday Edition (Part Three)

Spend Less, Give More

The gift that keeps on giving

As parents, it can be very tempting to want to give children lots of STUFF. Stuff they need, stuff they want, stuff you want, stuff they don't even know they want. Fulfilling my 3 year-old's wish list this year, would have cost roughly $1,000,000. 
Nope, not a typo. Along with a squirt gun, toy cars, a Buzz Lightyear with wings and a laser, a golf glove, a birthday cake, and plenty of other things I don't remember. 
He also wanted a four-wheeler, a tractor, and a combine, and he didn't mean toys or power wheels. 
I purchased a few of the things that were reasonable, but less than I could have, and far less than he wanted.

He did get the "Red Combine" cake he wanted, thanks to a little spray paint:).

Most of us have financial constraints that limit what, and how much we purchase for our children. 

I'd like to suggest setting a budget of how much you can spend on your child, and then spending less than that. If possible, significantly less.

Before you draw the conclusion that it doesn't seem NICE or FAIR or GENEROUS. Hear me out.

Buy a couple of things that will make your child very happy, but stop before you hit your spending limit, and put the rest into savings for that child.
I started this when my oldest turned One. There aren't many things a one-year-old really wants or needs, but there can be many things a parent wants for their one-year-old. I decided rather than fall into that trap I would buy a few presents and then put the rest of the money I had budgeted into his UESP education fund. It continues to motivate me to shop sales and limit my overall spending, knowing that I am giving him a far more valuable gift than another toy or shirt he doesn't need. We may not be able to pay for much of our kids schooling, I don't know what our financial future will hold, but something is better than nothing.

The type of savings you choose for your child may vary based on your values, goals, abilities, and the age of your child, some people don't want to pay for college or trade school.

Other savings goals may include:
First Car
Down Payment on a Home
Custodial IRA (if your child has earned income. This money could be used for education, retirement or a first home. If you choose to go this route discuss the pros/cons and risks thoroughly with a financial adviser.)

Remember, small amounts add up. Investing just $20 twice a year (Birthday and Christmas), for 18 years at a 6% rate of return, would yield about $1200 upon graduating from high school. Now that's a gift.

More than anything, this gift can teach them the power of sacrifice, self-control, and delayed gratification, and that's a gift that keeps on giving.

View my disclosure here.

September 1, 2014

Saving Money: Birthday Edition (Part Two)

Yesterday I posted about saving money on birthdays, specifically pictures.
Today I'm moving on to the second item on my list, make the birthday cake yourself.

The first birthday cake I made for my son was one of the most embarrassing failures of my life.

EVERY time I bake a cake we laugh about that cake.

The cake was very moist. 
The frosting was real buttercream.
 It was about 2 feet tall.
 I had no idea what I was doing. 

The cake crumbled. The frosting melted. 

It was definitely an event to remember.

My husband still swears it was the most delicious cake he's ever had.

I've tried repeatedly to re-create it (the flavor, that is, not the beautiful creation itself). I really think it was the Duncan Hines Red Velvet Cake Mix, other brands I've tried since haven't been nearly as good.
Since the above disaster, I've become a bit less ambitious. Single layer cakes only for now:)
However, for only a few dollars I've been able to create cakes for only a few dollars that make my birthday crowd just as happy as one from the grocery store bakery.

I search for decorating ideas on Pinterest and then choose a single layer cake that I'm confident I can make without fondant. I bake the cake the day before and then start decorating it first thing that morning so that I have time to come up with a backup plan if it fails.
Below are the links to the original cakes:
Basketball cake
Golf Cake
Combine Cake using these instructions to make the No. 3.

My other secret, is I use a springform pan (the kind used for cheesecake) to bake thick/tall cakes without having to bake multiples and stack them. I use this set, but any springform pan would work, I use the medium size for a single cake, but for the No. 3 I baked 2 cakes in the smaller sized pan.
I just use a cake mix and use the classic Pinterest hack to make a boxed cake mix taste like one from a bakery.
Add an extra egg.
Use Melted Butter instead of Oil and double the amount
Use Milk instead of Water.
(I can't figure out the original source to link to, if you know, I'd love to give proper credit to the person who came up with this idea)

Happy Baking!

August 28, 2014

Saving Money: Birthday Edition
We recently had a birthday at our house and, since that's what I've been focusing on, I thought I would share a few birthday related money saving ideas.
1. Take pictures of the birthday kid yourself.
2. Make the birthday cake yourself.
3. Set a budget, spend within that budget and put anything left over into savings for that child.
I'll be focusing on pictures in this post, be watching for the next 2 installments.

1. Take pictures of the birthday kid yourself.
I love pictures.
I love the ability to freeze time.
There are times when I like video, but for the most part I prefer still shots. I love looking back on pictures from when I was little. They invoke so many positive memories of my childhood. -
In my dreams I would hire a photographer 4 times a year, OK probably more. But financial constraints make it so that in reality can only hire a professional photographer about once a year, or less.
Having already hired a photographer six months ago for Newborn/Family pictures, and wanting Birthday pictures for my toddler (I refuse to use the word pre-schooler yet) and six month pictures for my baby in the same month, I decided to try taking my own. I had nothing to lose. If they turned out horrible, I would simply donate plasma and pay for a photographer.
Not so simple since I have 2 children and the nearest place to donate plasma is 30 minutes away. Oh and I don't like having blood drawn, and I think I might be anemic again.

Oh yes, pictures...
I grabbed my camera (a point and shoot) and we visited the farm.

I ended up with about a dozen that I like.
They're not perfect.
The coloring isn't perfect.
It's better than the times I've skipped pictures altogether.
I used PicMonkey to do some minor editing on a few of them, though not much because, I don't know what I'm doing.
PicMonkey is a great resource, there are lots of free actions to get you started, and if you find you want more, their "Royale" version is $4.99 for a month with a subscription that you can cancel at any time, far less expensive than purchasing Photoshop, especially if you're not sure the "Momtography" thing is for you.

The best thing about taking pictures myself was that when he became fed up we took a thirty minute treat break and then tried again

My Wild Thing

I'm going to leave you with one photography tip, it's the only one I know, and it may be really obvious to everyone reading this, but just in case it helps someone, here it is:
Move Back and Zoom In
Zooming in causes the background to slightly blur, creating a softening effect and making your subject the focal point.
It also does something with the proportions of the face so your picture will look less like a snapshot.
Yep, super technical, life altering photography tips, hope you enjoyed them.And if you're in Northern Utah and taking your own pictures is not for you, I'd love to give a shout-out to two awesome and reasonably priced photographers in the area.
I hope they don't mind.
Leslie Miller Photography

August 18, 2014

Allowance: Money without Work

How Giving An Allowance Can Instill in Children a Willingness to Work and Serve
(Ok, it's only one SMALL aspect, but hear me out)

Should You Give Your Kids An Allowance Or Should Money Be Earned?
What Do You Think?

My son turns 3 this week, and we're starting allowance.
I'll be testing my allowance theory and sharing the successes and failures of the journey in future posts.

Yes, I believe in Allowance.
Allowance, as in money that's given, not earned.

Does this surprise you?
It surprises me.
I am a believer in hard work.
I used to think that giving kids money they didn't have to earn was simply a great way to teach them that they don't need to work.
I also feel that when kids are given things rather than working for them, they don't learn to manage money.

So, why allowance?
I also believe that there is too much emphasis on money in this world.
Money is often a source of control.
Too often, Money = Power
Too many kids (and adults) only want to work if there's money involved.
If Work = Money and Money= Power/Control, why serve?

Here's my Suggestion:
Give your children a small allowance just for being part of the family.
Not because they're good kids, not because they're hard workers, just because they need to learn how to manage money and spend appropriately.
Give them a small enough amount that they'll still want more, but give them enough money to teach them about money. 

Give them jobs that they do just because they're part of the family.

We started jobs at age two:

Taking his dishes to the sink after meals
Putting away his toys
Unloading his dishes and other plastic items from the dishwasher and putting them away
Putting his dirty clothes in his laundry basket at night.

He is learning that work is a responsibility whether it's financially profitable or not (this promotes service).
He will understand that even when he begins to make more money from an employer than he can from mom, he is still expected to contribute to the household.
He is learning that fun is great, but that work is necessary. 
I praise him instead of pay him, and he values that praise.

When kids want to earn more money then they can do more jobs
How you manage this is up to you.
You could make a list of jobs and the amount you are willing to pay for those jobs. 
They can come to you and propose a job they're willing to do and you can negotiate the pay rate.
They can present an amount they would like to earn and you can give them a list of jobs they need to do to earn that amount.

How do you motivate kids to work if they're not getting paid?
If they don't do their jobs, rather than not getting paid, they lose privileges such as playing with friends, TV time, video games, they lose toys that aren't put away, driving privileges, or whatever works for you and your child.

Interested in more about Kids and Money?
Read my post Six Things My Parents Did Right When Teaching Me About Money
I also HIGHLY recommend this book for a more in depth look at teaching kids of all ages about money, it's an easy read, well written, and has great examples.
And follow us as I share about my little golfer's money managing adventures.

August 5, 2014

Instead Of...

Using Alternatives to Save Money on Baby Gear

Instead Of...
A baby bathtub typically costing $20-30

It costs less than half as much and can be used in the sink or the regular bathtub, whichever you prefer. This is easily one of my favorite baby products.

Instead Of...

A Diaper Genie with Expensive Refills
A metal trashcan with a lid

Instead Of...
A changing table $$$ a pad $20+ a pad cover $8+
For around $30 it contains baby's necessities and can easily be moved from room to room.
(If baby's room is not on the main living level in your home you'll love that you can keep one in your living room and not have it be an eyesore).

Instead Of...
A Maternity Pillow costing $50-100
A regular body pillow
Walmart has one right now for $10.88, you can also find them on Amazon for about $25

Instead Of...
Sticking with Walmart, Target and Amazon
Check out...
Ikea's baby department if you live near one, they have some great items that might save significant money. I love their toys, bibs, dishes, and I strongly considered buying one of their cribs. Ikea cribs are smaller than most, which some might find to be very convenient.

Instead Of...
Buying an expensive name brand nursing pillow
Visit... and enter promo code BBFAC1 which will make the pillow free when you pay for shipping&processing. You'll end up with a nursing pillow for $12.95.

Use Promotion Code bbfac1 TODAY!

 The same code will work at their sister sites:

I have personally used their nursing cover, milkbands, nursing pads, and sling and have been very pleased with every product.

Instead Of...
Buying a bunch of expensive baby toys that just end up being clutter.
An Exersaucer or Jumparoo (As a side note, at $55 and $75 these are both good prices right now)
It's convenient because it provides a safe place to set your baby and the toys don't get lost. I prefer the Exersaucer over the Jumparoo because, in my experience, when they're little it's easier for them to turn the seat in the Exersaucer and when they get bigger it helps them practice their balance. My babies have started loving them between 4-5 months when they are strong enough to hold themselves up, and I use them until after they start walking to keep them contained.

If you Really want to save money...
Instead Of...
An infant carseat and stroller
A Convertible Carseat and a baby carrier.
Chances are you will need to buy a convertible car-seat anyway in order to keep baby rear-facing until age two as is recommended, so perhaps it would make more sense to start out with a convertible.
Find out everything you need to know about choosing and using a convertible for a newborn Here.
The Maxi Cosi Pria with Tiny Fit, and the Combi Coccoro are even recommended for preemies! See the link above for other great seat recommendations and information
I'm considering doing this if/when I have another child. Instead of clicking their car-seat into the stroller, or setting it on a shopping cart, or lugging around that painfully heavy thing, I'll put baby in a baby carrier and have my hands free to manage the other two.
A great, inexpensive baby carrier I would recommend is the Infantino Sash Mei Tai Carrier. I tried it out with newborn number two and was very impressed, especially for the price. It lends the comfort, support and versatility of a wrap, but is easier to put on.

Instead Of...
Sticking with a Traditional In-Store Baby Registry
Start an Amazon Baby Registry Here
30 days before your due-date you are eligible to purchase remaining items for an extra 10% off (15% if you're an AmazonMom member)!!! And you can add products from other websites so if you've shopped around and found great deals it's a good way to pass those deals on to people who want to purchase gifts for baby.

Instead Of...
Buying Diapers Ahead of Time
And find out which diapers actually work for your baby.
I regularly hear the suggestion to buy a box of diapers every month until your baby gets here to ease the financial burden once he or she is born. While this may seem great, it really makes no sense to me. In my experience, I've always been pre-paying medical bills (hundreds of dollars a month, so life's not really less expensive before my babies arrive) Why not open a separate savings account, take the money you would be spending on those diapers and stash it away. Then you don't risk buying boxes and boxes of diapers that won't work for your little one. What of your baby is allergic to the diapers you bought? My first baby could use any diapers, though for those first couple of months I preferred Huggies Little Snugglers. For my second, I bought Little Snugglers and he leaked out of them, constantly. The only diapers he didn't leak out of were Pampers Swaddlers, until he was 4 months old, and then his BM's changed and we can now use any diapers, yay for Sam's Club and Target brand diapers!!!
If you've saved that money instead of buying diapers with it, you can try different brands without having to try and exchange them, or, since you've already worked diapers into your budget you can use that money for other baby necessities, pictures (newborn pictures are the best!), or a babysitter for a night out (or grocery shopping)!!!

Visit to check out an awesome photographer with awesome prices!

How have You saved on Baby Gear?

This Post Contains Affiliate Links to help you locate great items at great prices. I haven't recommended anything I wouldn't choose myself. Click Here to view my Disclosure.