free budgeting apps

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“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” — Dave Ramsey, financial radio host and best-selling author

 

Everyone can benefit from budgeting his/her money, but having a chronic illness makes your financial life more complicated…….every dollar ( at least in my situation ) must be stretched in order to be able pay all the medical bills and their friends that come along for the ride!

Below are links to free budgeting apps, each a little different so you may be able to find one that fits your needs.  If you know of anymore I would love to add them to the list, thank you.

 

mint

goodbudget

wally.me

everydollar

nerdwallet

pocketguard

dollarbird

honeyfi

claritymoney

fudget

spendee

expense-iq

“Beware of little expenses: a small leak can sink a great ship.” — Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers, inventor, diplomat, and the author of The Way to Wealth

10 ways I feel like Julia Child while living with chronic illness

food healthy wood table

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My husband actually came up with this title, probably because he wanted to see just how creative I could be………..or maybe because he secretly wishes I was related to Ms. Child  and some of her cooking genes were in my DNA.  Nope………..and add a chronic illness or three…….cooking is not something I usually enjoy.

So, my friends, the bar for me to feel like a gourmet chef is set really low –

  1.  There is food in the fridge that can be eaten without any cooking at all – yogurt, salad mix, fruit, cut up veggies – hey isn’t eating raw all the rage?!
  2.   There are fruits and veggies on the counter that can be eaten just as they are – bonus points if they are in multiple colors – I know vegan is in!
  3. There are vegetables that can be eaten after being heated up in the microwave – my kids are starting to love sweet potatoes – at least this is what I choose to believe!
  4.   There are still freezer meals  available if you are able to reach deep enough into the chest freezer without losing your balance.
  5.   My pantry has items that can be eaten just by being heated up in the microwave – a can of soup and a can of veggies – hey,  mix those together and I am pretty sure it would taste good enough to try it again.
  6.  There is something cooking in the crockpot.
  7.  There are enough leftovers from the day before to feed everyone another meal!
  8.  I actually cut up fruit and veggies to eat with a meal.
  9.   I prepared something edible with more than three ingredients.
  10.   I have the energy to eat the food once I have prepared it!

 

And there you have it my friends………… if any of those 10 things are happening, I feel like I am rockin’ it in the meal prep department.

 

things I did to keep my young kids entertained at home while chronically ill

depth of field photography of p l a y wooden letter decors on top of beige wooden surface

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Although I had been “sick” for as long as I can remember, no one could find anything wrong with me.  As a result, I went on with my life the best I could and that included the blessings of children.  It was not until after my last child was born that I became too ill for the doctors to ignore.  Once a diagnoses was finally made, my life was more complicated, stressful, and difficult due to increasing symptoms.  There were many days that I lived minute by minute, not sure how I was going to last until it was their bedtime.  I had to figure out ways to make taking care of the kids a little easier and these are the things that I did.

We hung a bird feeder outside our dining room window.  This was a place we could all sit and watch the birds.  I purchased a few storybooks with birds and a bird guide to help us identify the visiting creatures.

Special boxes.  Every late summer when school supplies went on sale, I would put together a box for each child.  Their boxes would include paper, pens, pencils, crayons, scissors, stickers, glue sticks, craft supplies, a puzzle, journals, a book or two, and a few smaller toys.  These boxes were only brought out with my permission and I used them on days I couldn’t handle much noise or activity.  They were a HUGE hit with my kids as I was adamant that the boxes were only brought out at specified times and when they were done everything went back into the box and it was put away until next time.

Playdough and Model Magic.  I had a bin with plastic silverware and plates and small toys and  plastic animals to use with the playdough.  Kids loved it when I pulled out this bin, but it had to be used on days that I felt decent, as it involved more clean-up.

Special DVDs.  There were several movies that my kids loved to watch and I would hold those back for times when I could not get out of bed.  The kiddos would climb into bed with me and “we” (mostly them) would watch the movie.  This would give me a solid hour and a half to be still.

Books.  I read A LOT to my kids, hundreds and hundreds of books.  I would sit in a comfy chair and the kids would gather around and listen while playing quietly (most of the time).

Legos.  I LOVE Legos.  We had all kinds of legos at our home and as the kids grew the legos got smaller and more dangerous to have scattered all over the floor.  These could keep my kids entertained for hours.

Blocks.  I had a very large plastic bucket full of wooden blocks and my kiddos would sit and play with those for hours creating their own imaginary kingdoms.

Trains.  A train table was given to my oldest child and Thomas and his friends joined shortly afterward.  There was enough room at the table for all of my kiddos to sit and play.

Dress-up bin.  Old clothing, jewelry, hats, halloween costumes, they could dress up and become anything they wanted.

Art supplies.  White paper, scratch paper, construction paper, packing paper, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, finger paints……….I kept all of this contained to one area of the house.

Dolls.  Dolls and doll clothing plus beds made from clementine crates and plastic doll food from the dollar store.

Sandbox in the backyard. My husband built a simple sandbox in our backyard and the kids LOVED playing in it.

Tire swing hanging from a large tree in our backyard.  My husband put this up for the kids and it was an instant hit.

I hope you can find something you are able to use to entertain your kiddos or grandkids while you deal with CI.

 

Until next time, you are a superhero!

list of free (and $1.00) summer activities for kids

assorted underwater animal toys

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It is hard to believe, but summer is just around the corner and with the warmer months brings more time with the kiddos.  It can get very expensive trying to find ways to entertain children/grandchildren/nieces/newphews without losing your mind or physically exhausting yourself.    Below is a list of free activities your kids can participate in and some require minimal outings on your part.

These activities may not be available in all locations.

 

Free summer reading program for kids grades 1-6

https://dispatch.barnesandnoble.com/content/dam/ccr/pdf/2018/summer-reading/bn-summer-reading-journal.pdf?x=y

 

Free summer reading program for kids to 14 years old

https://www.halfpricebooks.com/fyb/pdfs/FYBReadingLog.pdf

 

Kids to 14 years old can bowl 2 games/day free all summer.

https://www.kidsbowlfree.com/

 

Regal movie theaters are offering $1.00 movie tickets through the summer two days/week.  One of the movies is Max and is something that is not a predominately a kids movie so adults may enjoy it too!

https://www.regmovies.com/movies/summer-movie-express

 

Free movie/game rentals in JUNE for each A on a child’s report card at Family Video

https://www.familyvideo.com/community-involvement/

 

Every 4th grade student and their family gets a free National Parks pass to be used as much as wanted by August 31, 2018

https://www.everykidinapark.gov/game/adventure/start

 

Free family summer camps

https://www.basspro.com/shop/en/family-summer-camp

 

Free camp at apple store ages 8-12

https://www.apple.com/retail/camp/notify.html

 

Free workshops for kids ages 5-12

https://www.homedepot.com/workshops/#change_store

 

Free month Lego mini-build ages 6-14

https://shop.lego.com/en-US/minibuild-registration

 

While your at it, sign your kiddos up for a free lego magazine

https://www.lego.com/en-us/life/magazine

 

Free fishing – nationwide schedule

https://www.takemefishing.org/how-to-fish/how-to-catch-fish/free-fishing-days-2018/

 

Free classes for kids

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/locations/events-for-students

 

Free summer audiobook program for kids 13+

http://audiobooksync.com/

 

Another book program for kids

http://www.bookadventure.com/Home.aspx

 

Pottery Barn kids book club

https://www.potterybarnkids.com/customer-service/store-events.html

 

Free tokens from Chuck E Cheese for completely logs such as reading

https://www.chuckecheese.com/deals-offers/rewards-calendars

 

If you live in the Boston area, here is what I found for free

https://bostonlivingonthecheap.com/always-free-cheap/free-museum-days/

 

If you live in the Chicago area here is a link to free days at their museums

http://www.chicagoparent.com/learn/museums/museum-free-days/

 

If you live in the Houston area, here is a link to free dates/time for free museum entry

http://houmuse.org/free-admission-times/

 

If you live in the Indianapolis area, here is a link to free and discounted museums

https://indywithkids.com/free-indiana-museum-days-2017/

 

If you live in the NYC area, here is a link to free or pass as you wish museums

https://www.nyc-arts.org/collections/35/free-museum-days-or-pay-what-you-wish

 

If you live in Oregon, below is a link to free admissions

http://www.oregonlive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2017/12/get_free_admission_to_12_orego.html

 

If you are in southern California, below is a link to free museums

http://www.socalmuseums.org/free/

 

In the St. Louis area, here is a link to free admissions

http://www.familyattractionscard.com/single-post/2015/04/07/15-Free-Things-to-Do-in-St-Louis

 

If you are in the Washington DC area, here is a link to free activities and museums

https://freetoursbyfoot.com/free-things-to-do-in-dc/

 

Don’t forget that many libraries nationwide have free summer reading programs!  This has always been a favorite of my kids.

Free summer lunches, and in some places breakfasts, are available nationwide for kids through 18 years of age.  These are available in select public schools and parks.  Below is a link but you may have better information googling your state and free summer lunch program.

https://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks

 

Until next time…………………..YOU are a superhero!

May money audit, or, just write it all down.

notebook writing pencil start

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Money………..there is never enough, especially when you have sooooo sooooo many medical bills.  I have had to live frugally for years now due to medical treatments and tests, medicine, supplements, special foods……….you know the drill.  One more illness, more crap to pay for.  It gets frustrating and sometimes downright scary as there can be not enough money left for the month.

One way I make sure I am spending money as carefully and wisely as possible is by keeping track of every penny that is spent in a specific month.  I always do a money audit in January and I decided to do one again for the month of May.

It is really simple but it takes commitment………..you must write down Every Single Thing you spend any money on ALL MONTH long.  If you throw a nickel into the wishing well, write it down.  Lose a dime through the drive-thru, write it down.  Send a check to your niece for her birthday, write it down.  All bills, yep, you guessed it, write it down.  Every, single, piece of money that leaves your money pool needs to be written down.  I have a notebook that is dedicated for this purpose only, allowing me to go back and compare previous spending habits and bills.

Although I consider myself frugal by default, (because I would much rather not have to be!) participating in a monthly study of our spending has shown me ways that I may be able to cut back even more.  My spending flaws tend to stand out at me when I have to write down $2.25 for the pictures I HAD to have at the Dollar Tree.

If you are also living a life on a budget I encourage you to take a month to take inventory of your expenses.  The process of writing things down seems to make them more real, more noticeable.  You just may find that you can save an extra 10-20 bucks a month and put it aside to go do something fun………..like get your hair done professionally, instead of your spouse cutting your hair with household scissors in the kitchen…..O.K.  maybe that is just me!?

Until next time…………..YOU are a superhero and I am pretty sure superheros have their hair cut by a professional?

Charities that will pick up your spring cleaning giveaways.

close up photography of toy cars

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Sometimes we are just not able to personally remove all of the unwanted stuff out of our home.  It is either too heavy, too big, or there is just too much to physically put in a vehicle.  So, during my last decluttering session, I went on a quest and searched for places that would be willing to come and pick up all of my discarded treasures.

The quickest pick-up date was given by Goodwill and they were willing to come to my house and take all my stuff as long as it was on the first floor and was near an exit.  Done!  I set up an appointment via computer and they showed up on time and away my stuff went.  In fact, it was so easy I had them come back for more!  It felt so invigorating and freeing to let stuff go.  Less stuff = less cleaning = more energy for other activities.  Woohoo!

The organizations below are not available for pick-up in all locations, but I have provided links below for further information.  These are not posted in any particular order and is it not an all inclusive list.   Happy Spring Cleaning!

 

General household donations:

American Kidney Fund

Goodwill

The Salvation Army

Big Brothers Big Sisters

AmVets

Vietnam Veterans of America

Disabled American Veterans – DAV

Volunteers of American

Military Order of the Purple Heart

The Arc

St. Vincent De Paul

Lupus American Household Goods Donation Program

 

Cell phone/Smart phone/Tablet

Cell Phones for Soldiers

Secure the Call

Medic Mobile

1 Million Project

 

Boat donations:

Boat Angel

Orange Coast College School of Sailing and Seamanship

Chapman School of Seamanship

Angel for Hope

 

Motor vehicles:

American Children’s Cancer Foundation

American Kidney Fund

Wheels for Wishes

Kars 4 Kids

Volunteers of America

The Arc

 

Building Materials/Cabinets/Appliances:

Habitat for Humanity

 

Don’t forget to get a receipt for tax deduction purposes.  All of the stuff you move out of your house to make it more comfortable and enjoyable is going to help others also live a better life.  A BIG win-win situation!

Until next time………….YOU are a superhero and helping others is what superheros do best!

10 ways I extend my energy with chronic illness

water flows from the tap to sink

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Life can be challenging.  Add on a chronic illness or four and life can be down right hard.  Not matter what our situation is, we all have only so much energy in a given day, some days we have less than others.  Finding ways to make our energy last as long as possible is always helpful.

Through the years I have discovered (usually by accident) small ways to extend my personal spoons with energy saving activities.  These strategies are used with a hope and a prayer I could accomplish at least part of what needed to be done that day.  Most days, even now, I am not working with a whole lot of energy, or anything else for that matter.

 

1.  I set up my kitchen in a way that is convenient and efficient for me.

2.  I do freezer and double batch cooking so when I am having one of those really bad days, I have food already prepared.

3.  I keep meals simple.  Complicated recipes with unusual ingredients just can’t be part of my life at this time.  So, I spend less time in the kitchen (saving my energy) and I am not purchasing ingredients that will seldom be used (saving money).  I would call that a win-win.  Smoothie anyone?

4.  When I do laundry, I do not fold my underclothing or pjs.  Nope, I just throw them in my drawer.  Heck, I wear pjs so often (I call them my official uniform), there is no point in making them look nice in a drawer.

5.  I hang up clothing that does not need to be washed after wearing.  This saves me from doing so much laundry……….and I have the kids do the same.

6.  I do one load of laundry per day.

7.  Unfortunately, I spend a lot of time in bed.  So, I keep my side table well stocked.  No need to go searching for things I need/want on a regular basis.

8.  I take care of mail as soon as it comes into the house.  This sounds like a trivial task but I have found that it piles up very quickly.  So now I sort through every piece, recycling what I don’t want, opening bills and placing them in my to-be-paid slot and then take any reading material and put in my room for later viewing.  By dealing with the mail immediately, I also keep track of all bills coming in so there is less chance of them getting misplaced.

9.  I combine errands.  Just getting out of the house can be tiring, so I try to combine as many errands as I can physically do each time I head out out the door.

10.  I keep my calendar on my phone so it is with me at all times.  It took me a long time to start using my phone calendar as I found it frustrating.  But once I got use to using it on a consistent basis, I found it extremely helpful.  When I am at an appointment, I find it much easier to make follow-up appointments as I always have my and my kids schedules at my finger tips.  I still keep a calendar, ok, two on the wall, just in case I misplace my phone, again.

 

Until next time…….YOU, my friends, are superheros.