How To Turn Your Smartphone Into a Fitbit

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{UPDATE: I just bought the Fitbit Charge HR (see details at the bottom of the post) and so far I’m in love. You can definitely save by using your Smartphone as a Fitbit, but it may be worth clipping a few coupons to save up for one of these or ask for it as a gift!}

 

Okie dokie folks, every single other person on the planet may know this, but I was clueless. 

 

Did you know you can turn your Smartphone into a FITBIT? 

 

For free??? 😉

 

Why yes, yes you can.

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This weekend we walked a ton while traveling, and all of a sudden I noticed this little app on my iPhone pop up to let me know we’d walked over 8 miles.

 

My phone had been in my purse with me while we were walking, and sure enough it tracked how many miles we’d gone.

 

I did a little research, and it turns out you can turn just about any Smartphone into a Fitbit with a few simple steps. Here’s how to get started: 

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Iphone

  • Download the Health App on your iPhone.
  • You’ll need to have the update of iOS 8.
  • Open the Health App, then go to “health data” and tap on “fitness”
  • Enable “walking + Running Distance”
  • Turn “Show on Dashboard” to the ON position
  • Also go to “Flights Climbed” and turn “Show on Dashboard” to the ON position
  • That’s it – you’re all set!

 

Android

Because I don’t have an Android device I’m not positive on these as I can’t try them out myself, however from the reviews I read it looks like they should work. Please share in the comments any other suggestions you have on these!

 

The downside to these vs. the Fitbit?

  1. You need to carry your phone with you to track them, which definitely isn’t as easy as the convenience of a wristband, especially when you’re just walking around the house keeping up with chores.  (I thought about using a fanny pack? But, eek. I did find these though which look slightly more trendy . . . ) 😉
  2. I’m not positive of how accurate they are. Honestly, I figure they’d give me a general idea of what I’m walking and then I can work to add to it using the tracker which is fine for me, but the Fitbit may be more consistent.

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There are several great deals on Fitbits right now so if you want to easily track your steps those may be the best way to go, but if you don’t want to shell out $80 or more, this might just work for you. (I’m pretty pleased with it so far!) 

 

Here are the best deals I see on Fitbits right now:

 

 

Have you tried any other apps that have worked to help you track your steps? Or, do you have a Fitbit and love it? I’d love to hear your thoughts – leave a comment to share!

 

 

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22 Items You Need To Look For At IKEA

 

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This weekend we made a quick trip to Detroit and visited Ikea while we were there, and goodness there are so many things there that are worth looking for! We made it out without buying a single thing (well, except a half dozen cinnamon rolls ~ ahem ~ ) but had so much fun just seeing what they have to offer.

 

While I think you can often find better deals at your local thrift store if you’re willing to slap on a little paint, Ikea is a great way to score inexpensive new home decor. Here’s a peek at 22 items you need to watch for at Ikea ~ I’d love to hear what else you’d add to the list!

 

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1. Lighting.

With prices as low as $9.99 per light fixture, you can’t beat IKEA’s fantastic options for lighting. They have a ton of trendy options, and these are a great way to inexpensively update your home!

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2. Side tables.

As low as $7.99 for a new side table? Crazy!

I also love the Ikea table my daughter and I found on our last IKEA trip (but didn’t see this time around.) By far one of my favorite IKEA purchases!

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3. Console & Sofa tables.

Priced as low as $59.

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4. Shelving.
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5 .Dressers.

My favorite IKEA DIY project ever is my friend Lynette’s IKEA 3 drawer chest makeover. The chest is cute on it’s own, but with a little tlc you can make it simply amazing!

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6. Rugs.

Ikea has large rugs priced as low as $39.99, and dozens of styles and colors to choose from.

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7. Upholstered furniture.

If you’re looking for inexpensive seating options, you can’t beat IKEA’s pricing. However, the quality on these may not last forever (but at those prices you may be okay with that!) I prefer finding discounts on these at stores like the Ballard or Frontgate Design Outlet (where I got this chair for $174), but if you’re not up for a hunt these are an easy way to save.

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8. Clearance items.

Throughout the store IKEA has clearanced furniture, usually priced $15 to $25 off their regular prices. If you can find a certain piece you’re looking for, you should be able to get a great price!

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9. Office organization.
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10. Office Chairs.

As low as $14.99? Love that price!

 

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11. Homeschooling or playroom furniture.

Ikea has a huge selection of kids furniture, including desks, tables, easels and more.

 

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12. Textiles.
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Ikea has great prices on trendy pillow cases, kitchen textiles, and so much more. If you’re looking to update your home without busting your budget, a run to Ikea is a great place to start!

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13. Children’s step stools.
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14. Glassware.
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15. Bedding & curtains.
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Ikea has a huge assortment of duvet covers and comforters priced at as low as $14.99. That’s an incredible price (although you will have to buy all your pieces separately, so make sure to do the math and compare to the cost of a set at other retailers.)

 

They also have a large assortment of curtains, especially if you need longer panels for tall rooms. Their prices are incredibly reasonable for plain panels, but be sure to check them closely before leaving. (I purchased a set for my son on our last IKEA trip and sure enough one panel is about 3 inches longer than the other.)

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16. Shower curtains.
17. Pillow covers.
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18. Wooden hangers.
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19. Outdoor furniture.
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20. 50¢ hot dogs. 😉
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21. Cinnamon Rolls . . .
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22. And my favorite, inspiration.
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While I love ogling over just about everything at IKEA, perhaps my favorite thing to do is just get inspiration. They have so many unique ways to organize, clean designs for decorating, and just fun ideas.

 

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I love seeing how they work out small spaces (their tiny apartments are amazing!), and it’s fun just to see how they handle rooms that are small (or not so small . . . ) on space.

 

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{And for one quick note on what NOT to buy at IKEA – THIS. BED. We bought it for my daughter last year and while it made for a super cute room, it is a beast to make and quite possibly deserves a warning label because it may cause you to give up changing sheets forever. Ugh!)

 

 

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Looking for more like this? 

whatshouldyoubuyonamazon

 

 

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Guest Bedroom Update Part 2: Spray Painted Wall Art

PicMonkey Collage

See part one HERE.

This week has been crazy.

 

Crazy, folks.

 

I had big plans of sharing all the pictures of our updated guest bedroom, but with a quick night of family in town, three kids going different directions (or almost worst, just staying home some days . . . ), I didn’t get time to take pictures to really give you a peek of the finished results. 

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(Our basement bedroom is DARK, so to get decent pictures I have to be there right when the light comes through the window, which is only for an hour or two each day!)

 

So, here’s a peek of one more finished project I tackled in there. We had these wood hanging art pieces (if that’s what you call them?) in our old foyer, and even though they didn’t match our in our new home, I hated to just get rid of them.

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Here they are hanging in the hallway when the kids made a yarn obstacle course a few years ago – can’t believe I don’t have any other pics of our old foyer!

 

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I sprayed on a little spray paint, and witha few coats they work perfectly in our guest bedroom!

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Next week I’ll share the whole room (surely things will settle down around here . . . ) but in the meantime don’t miss how I updated this $48 Goodwill sleigh bed. I just love this little space!

 

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Love decorating but don’t want to spend too much? Don’t miss my favorite 7 Stores to Shop when Decorating on a Budget. 

decoratingonabudget

Looking for penny pinched projects? Here are a few of my favorites . . .

I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

 

 

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12 {Easy} Ways To Volunteer With Your Kids

12 EASY ways to VOLUNTEER with your kids

 

Last Friday night on the spur of the moment I decided to sign up to help at a local Free Store that serves a hot meal and gives free clothing to local folks in need. I’d heard from several people that it was a great place to volunteer with children, and goodness, I’m so glad we decided to do it.

 

When I realized we had a free Saturday morning, I went online to the Free Store Ministries website and noticed they had a few openings to help that day. I asked my girls if they’d be interested (and was thrilled that they both were!), and we headed out Saturday morning.

 

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We spent the morning helping serve food, and the girls helped clean up the children’s toy area as well as work on a few odd jobs around the store. They both said they’d love to go back again, and it’s brought up so many valuable discussions this week. While my kids learned quite a few things on the trip, I think it may have been even more valuable for me. Just getting out and doing something for someone besides my own little family was such a blessing!

 

The reason I’m sharing this is not because I did anything right – in fact, as a busy mom with three kids, I really haven’t done all that much in the way of volunteering. While I’ve helped out at church a bit and we donate to food pantries regularly, we don’t often go far outside our comfort zone, because honestly I’m not always sure where to start.

 

But after helping out for just a few hours this weekend I realized it’s so simple to do, and volunteers are needed everywhere. I simply didn’t know how to easily connect with a place to serve (especially with young kids), so I’ve hunted down a few easy ways to volunteer with your kids. If you’ve come up with other ideas, I’d love to hear them!

For younger children (7 and under)

1. Donate to a local food pantry.

This is one we’ve done since my kids were babies, and it’s been a great way to easily help someone when my kids were too young to really volunteer. For us, it’s just a super easy way we can make all that coupon clipping worth it, and it’s so easy to do. I keep a bag in my pantry for items to donate, and drop them off every few weeks at our local food pantry. If you’re not sure where to find a food pantry in your area, start HERE.

2. Help serve in your local Meals on Wheels program.

Meals on Wheels has several different areas you can help with, and if your children are young consider delivering meals in your community. They also need servers to help serve in community centers in some areas, so if your children are a little older that may be a great way to help those in need.

3. Donate food to a local adult group home.

When we lived in Huntsville, there was a small adult group home that was always in need of food pantry staples. I took my kids to drop off food a few times, and it was great for them to see the residents and tour the building, and I know my friend Shannon donates there all the time. It’s just an easy way for our children to see a glimpse of those in need, and the people love seeing the kids when we stop by!

If you’re not sure where to start, contact a local church who may be able to point you in the right direction of places like this to give, or call a few group homes in your area. These aren’t as easy to find but they are out there, and can use your donations so much!

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4. Pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.

This is such a wonderful way for small children to get involved in giving, no matter how young they are. Take a few minutes to watch some of the videos sharing the stories behind Operation Christmas Child with your kids ~ those helped our own understand so much better why we give through that ministry! 

 

5. Have your kids color pictures and deliver them to a local nursing home.

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6. Bake cookies or brownies and share them with your local fire department or police station.

 

7. Help kids make fleece blankets to donate to homeless shelters in the winter time. 

8. Donate school supplies to your local school or to a homeless shelter.

When those back to school sales start, take advantage of the great deals and grab a few supplies to share with those in need. We’ve donated those before at a local homeless shelter that houses children, but they’re also great to donate to your local school or even an inner city school that could use those extra supplies.

For older kids (ages 8 and up)

All of the ones above and . . . 

9. Volunteer to serve food at a local homeless shelter.

Go HERE to find a local homeless shelter in your community – many homeless shelters have website where you can sign up directly to volunteer, or call one in your area to see if how to get involved.

10. Help out at a Ronald McDonald House or help work on a Habitat for Humanity home.
11. Host a lemonade stand and donate the proceeds to a local charity.
12. Donate rice (for free) through the Free Rice program.

I came across this one and couldn’t believe it was true (so I did some searching), but your older child can actually work on their vocabulary and send rice to those in need all at the same time. Go HERE to try it out (I was pretty impressed, and am going to have my kids start working on that one today!)

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I know there are dozens of others way out there to volunteer with kids, but hopefully this gives you a good starting point! If you’ve had great experiences volunteering with your kids I’d love to hear about it ~ leave a comment to share. (I love hearing from you!) 😉

 

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7 Stores You Need To Shop When Decorating On A Budget

 decoratingonabudget

You all know I love fluffing up our home (even though I’m far from a decorator!), but home decor gets pretty expensive way too fast!  I’ve found several stores though that really help me to decorate our home on a budget, and they may be places you haven’t considered yet. Check these out . . .

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1. Goodwill or a local thrift store.

You will be amazed at the amount of money you can save if you’re willing to slap a little paint on some thrift store finds. You won’t necessarily find something every time you shop, but keep your eyes open for good lines and you never know what you may find! (See a few of my favorite thrifted finds HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.)

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2. Your local craft stores.

Hobby Lobby offers 50% off sales on the entire store just about every other week, so if you see something you love that’s not on sale, wait a week or two and odds are that price will be drastically reduced. Be sure to also take advantage of their weekly 40% off coupon if you need something in a pinch that’s not on sale this week!

 

love Michael’s especially for their dollar bins but they also have great decor throughout their store! They almost always offer a coupon or two, so go HERE to see what they’ve added this week.

 

Also watch for coupons at Joann’s and Hancock – some of these stores will accept competitor coupons as well, so it’s worth taking a minute to ask to make sure you save every time you shop!

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3. The Dollar Tree.

The Dollar Tree has so many items to decorate with, especially for seasonal decor! If you’re looking to fluff up your home for birthday parties, baby showers, the 4th of July, Christmas or even Easter, the Dollar Tree should be your first place to shop. And they have great glassware, so if you want items to decorate a pretty table, you can easily find what you need for just a buck, no coupons required!

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4. TJ Maxx, Marshall’s or Home Goods (and Kohl’s too!)

Folks, not much makes me happier than a walk through TJMaxx or Home GoodsWhile not everything there is a crazy good deal, if you keep your eyes open you might just find a steal, and they have so many unique items that can really make a statement!

 

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Kohl’s also has some fun deals on housewares (especially for outdoor decorating,) Be sure to keep up with current Kohl’s coupons to get the best deals, and if you can shop off season (or at least late in the season), you’ll save a bundle there.

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5. Garage sales, Craigslist or local online yardsale groups.

One man’s junk really is another man’s treasure, and you never know what you can find at a yard sale that might be just perfect in your home with a little tlc! My neighbors sold two of the nightstands above at a garage sale years ago (they’d made them in high school shop class.) I bought them for a few dollars, and have painted them three times depending on the room they’re in!

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6. Your own closets.

Have you stored some decor in a closet because you’re not sure if it still works or not? Walk through those storage spaces and see if you can re-use what you already have in a different spot. Also, really think about grabbing some spray paint, because you may be able to use what you already have at home in a new way if with after a quick spray in a new shade!

 

Last fall we re-did my in-law’s hearth using mostly items they already had at home. My father-in-law had kept this old lantern in their barn since he was a kid, and it looked great on their mantle (and was completely free!)

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7. Your backyard.

Think I’m crazy? Think again! If you have flowers in bloom in the summertime, bring a few buds in to brighten up your home. Even every day boxwood branches trimmed and added to mason jars add free greenery, and instantly brighten up your room!

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In the winter, use fresh greenery to decorate for the Holidays.

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So there you have it . . . my favorite stores to shop when I’m adding some decor on a budget. What other stores would you add to the list? Leave a comment to share!

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Looking for penny pinched projects? Here are a few of my favorites . . .

 

 

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How To Make Homemade Chalk Paint + Our $48 Goodwill Sleigh Bed

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See the finished guest bedroom pictures over HERE.

Have I told you lately I love me some thrifting? 

 

Good gracious, I do.

 

A few weeks ago I went to Goodwill with my daughter and was so proud that I managed to make it out the door without a single thing.

 

Until.

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I glanced out of the corner of my eye and saw a sleigh bed headboard and footboard for $48.

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Forty. Eight. Dollars.

 

***Did you hear me?***

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(Guest bedroom before – yikes! I bought that comforter in a pinch before we sold our last house because I just needed something, but have absolutely hated it from the minute I bought it. Bleck!)

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Needless to say I made a beeline for a tape measure to see if it would fit the queen bed that we have in our guest bedroom. And sure enough, it did.

 

WOOHOOO!

 

It’s only a few years old (I found a sticker with a 2009 date on it underneath), but was pretty seriously beat up. While I would love to have kept it stained, there were a few parts in it in horrible shape and it would have taken a lot of work to refinish, so I decided to try making my own chalk paint.

 

Now, I’ve shared before how I’ve purchased Annie Sloan Chalk Paint for projects (check out this one too), however that stuff is not cheap (about $34 per quart + the wax you’ll need to have), so my daughter and I made a trip to Home Depot to see what we could find.

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As luck would have it, my oh-so-wise-she’s-her-momma’s-favorite-this-week- girl found a mismatched paint sample for 50¢ that was exactly the color I was hoping to use. So for a whopping 50¢, I had everything I needed to tackle the job.

 

Success!

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Here’s what we used:

  • 1/3 cup plaster of Paris (found in the paint department – we had some in our paint supplies but it costs around $5)
  • 1/3 cup cool water
  • 1 cup latex paint
  • paste wax (you can also find this in the paint department – I had some left over from my last chalk paint project so I just used that)
  • stir sticks
  • measuring cups (don’t use them again for food – we measured everything out in paper cups to not ruin our measuring cups!)
  • plastic bucket for mixing

 

How to Make Chalk Paint (find more detailed instructions here)

  • Mix together 1/3 cup cool water and 1/3 cup plaster of Paris in small bucket
  • Add in 1 cup latex paint and stir completely.
  • After paint has dried on your project, rub paste wax into wood to finish the project

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I spent all weekend painting last week, and have a whole new room to show for it now. I’ll share the complete room with you next week (every single thing in it is thrifted except the bedding), so be sure to stop back by!

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Looking for more projects like this one? Here are a few of my favorites . . . 

I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

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22 Free (Or Really Cheap) Activities For Your Kids To Do Today

activities

Love having your kids home for the summer but not sure what to do with them all day long? Here are 22 free (or really cheap) activities to keep them busy today.

 

Out & About

1. Free (or cheap) summer movies (if you’re in the Columbus Ohio area, be sure to check out this fantastic list my friend Mary put together!)

2. Free Lego Build the first Tuesday of every month at Lego stores

3. Free Lowe’s  Build and Grow Clinics

4. Free Home Depot Clinics

5.  Free Michael’s Clinics (these range from free to $2 per class – go HERE to learn more)

6. Free summer bowling

7. Free summer reading programs

8. Visit a state capitol

8. Visit the library

9. Attend a Vacation Bible School at your local church

10. Visit a local thrift store

11. Ride a local  bike trail

12. Visit a park

13. Find a local splash pad

Homemade Sprinkler

At home

14. Make a homemade sprinkler

15. Build a fort

16. Go on a nature hunt

17. Make homemade Snow Cones

18. Create a yarn obstacle course

19. Try out “summer snow” (aka shaving cream)

20. Create a backyard obstacle course

21. Make a sidewalk “city” (try out homemade sidewalk chalk too)

22. When all else fails, play with a cardboard box. :)

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Have anything else to add to the list? Leave a comment to share! Here are a few more tips to help you save today . . . 

Love a bargain? Find more free stuff HERE.

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15 Easy Ways To Earn 100 Dollars

 

$100

 

 

Feel overwhelmed by your finances? Here are a few simple ways to earn $100 a day and help you reach your long term financial goals.

 

 

Sell your stuff.

1. Garage sale – sell 100 items for $1 each.

Think of it as an everything’s $1 sale – if you have bigger stuff, sell it for more! You can also sell online in a local online yard sale, or take things to a consignment store. (See how I recently made $70 in just two hours this way!)

2. Sell books, electronics, and more on Amazon.

Amazon makes it super easy to sell things on line – just type in what you’d like to sell, ship it to them (for free!), and get paid with an Amazon gift card. Easy!

3. Sell gift cards you won’t use.

Have gift cards you’ll never use? Visit Cardpool.com where you can sell your gift cards. You won’t get the full face value but you will get a decent rate, so this is a great way to save if you can’t use a gift card you’ve been given.

4. Sell plasma.

Honestly, this would be a tough one for me to do but is a great way to help someone in need and earn a little cash. Check out this article to learn more.

 

Sell your services.

5. Babysit.

Have kids at home? Offer to babysit for a working mom to earn extra income.

6. Paint a room.

Love painting? Charge $100 to paint a room – odds are someone else would love to have that project done for them, and it’s an easy way to learn some extra cash!

7. Clean houses.

8. Do yard work.

Lots of folks have yard work that needs to be taken care of, especially in the summertime. Offer to weed, mulch or plant flower beds, and charge $100 for your work.

9. Walk a dog, or two.

Live in a neighborhood with many pets? Offer to walk your neighbors pets while they’re away at work each day.

10. Take online surveys or try out Swagbucks.

You won’t quickly earn $100 through online surveys, but each time you take a survey you can earn a dollar or two. The only site that I’ve consistently heard excellent reviews about is Pinecone Research ~ and don’t forget to take advantage of ways to earn for free on Swagbucks too!

11.  Mystery shopping.

If you shop regularly (and don’t have small children), you can sign up to be a mystery shopper at local stores in your area. Check out ways to earn as much as $25 per shopping trip over HERE.

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Simple ways to save $100

12. Take a spending “fast”.

For 5 days, determine as a family to spend nothing. No eating out, no grocery shopping, no entertainment, no nothing. Odds are you’ll come up with $100 pretty quickly! (We recently worked on seriously cutting back our expenses for one month, and it was amazing how much we saved simply by really focusing on trimming our budget as a family!)

13. Skip meals out for 2 weeks.

14. Give up cable.

If you’re willing to cut cable, you can save a bundle every month. With free movies from Amazon Prime or Netflix, you may be able to do it without missing many of your favorites, and you’ll save several hundred dollars over the course of one year too! (I’ve heard a Roku and

15. Cut back on housing expenses. 

Skimp on your cell phone plan. Cancel a home phone if you don’t need it. Call you internet provider to make sure you’re getting the best price on the service you need. Look at all of your monthly bills, and see if there are any bills you can change by either getting rid of them completely or making a phone call to get a reduced payment.

What other suggestions do you have on cutting your expenses? I’d love to hear what’s worked for you!

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25 Days of Paint Projects Day 25: Paint a Faux Carraige Garage Door

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You guys know there are few things I love more than a nice home up-do with a fresh coat of paint. So this month we’ll be checking out 25 paint projects, along with the colors they used so you can motivate yourself to tackle some painting if it’s on your to-do list this summer!

 

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See how Eliesa at A Pinterest Addict completely changed the look of her garage for just $4 with a little paint and elbow greaseI would never (ever) have thought of this, and think she did an incredible job!

 Looking for more Paint Changes?  Check these out:

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Dollar Tree Spelling Practice Board (Perfect For Summer Traveling)

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Traveling this summer? This is an easy project you can make for the road (or even just for home) for just $3 at the Dollar Tree.
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Here’s what I used:

  • Cookie Sheet – 2/$1 at the Dollar Tree
  • Leftover scrapbook paper
  • Modge podge (I love that stuff!)
  • Magnetic clips – $1 at the Dollar Tree
  • Alphabet letters – $1 at the Dollar Tree

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All I did was modge podge the scrapbook paper onto the cookie sheet (you could easily leave yours plain if you wanted to.) 

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Then I added the clips and checked out the 3rd grade spelling word list for my daughter to work on this summer, and she can practice next year’s words ahead of time!

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Easy peasy. Love that. Hope you’re enjoying summer as much as I am!

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Looking for ways to save while you travel? Here you go!
I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

 

 

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