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How to Care for Your Engagement Ring

Posted on Sep 17, 2014 by No Comments

For many women, their engagement ring is the most valuable piece of jewelry they own. Protecting this investment is crucial.

Lavalier.com, the top name in jewelry insurance, states that it’s vital you obtain an appraisal from a reputable jeweler to accurately determine the value of your ring. If your ring is ever lost, stolen, or damaged, an appraisal will be needed to repair it. The GIA website can help you locate appraisers in your area.

Many women don’t realize that your homeowner’s or renter’s policy often provides very limited coverage for fine jewelry. It’s common for policies to only insure jewelry valued at $2,500 or less, which is inadequate when you consider that the typical engagement ring costs slightly over $5,000.

Manufacturer’s warranties typically only cover defects in the ring and won’t pay in the event of loss or theft.

To protect your investment in your ring, you should buy a policy specifically for jewelry. In most cases, the policy costs less than 2% of the jewelry’s value. This means you’d pay about $20 for every $1,000 of the ring’s value.

As you’re evaluating possible insurance carriers, remember to look for one who will work with your jeweler if you ever need to repair or replace your ring. This option is not always offered, which can be problematic for something with the sentimental value of an engagement ring.

To prevent damage to your ring, you should get in the habit of taking it off when you’re gardening, swimming, or playing sports. Do not take your ring off in a public place, however, since it is likely to become accidentally misplaced.

Jewelers recommend that you have your engagement ring checked every six months for loose prongs that could cause stones to fall out. A professional cleaning will also give your ring a sparkling appearance.

Photo credit: Blue Nile

Settle Chore Wars with MyJobChart.com

Posted on Sep 4, 2014 by No Comments

Do your children hate doing chores? MyJobChart.com offers a convenient way to put a stop to the chore wars by making it easy to track and reward the completion of chores for children of all ages.

MyJobChart.com is a free website that lets parents schedule jobs and rewards for chore completion. The site is intended for use with children ages 5 and up.

Kids can earn cash for the chores they do or you can set up a system that lets them earn non-monetary rewards like extra computer time or a family game night. You can also set up accounts for saving and/or donating to charity if you’re using the completion of chores to teach kids about responsible money management.

For parents on the go, there are MyJobChart.com apps available for the iPad, iPhone, Android Tablet, and Android Phone. If you’d prefer a more low-tech option, you can use the site to make printable weekly chore charts for your kids.

MyJobChart.com has almost 600,000 members and is recommended by financial guru Suze Orman as a “revolutionary family resource.”

I signed up for an account to test out the features of the site and found it fairly intuitive to use. I liked that the chores can be assigned points based on the level of difficulty and that there were several pre-programmed chore options to choose from.

The site seems like it would be most helpful for managing the chores of tweens and teens, however. I think the point system might be confusing to younger children.

Do you use MyJobChart.com with your children? If so, what do you think of the service?

Photo credit: MyJobChart.com

What to Do When You Suspect Child Abuse

Posted on Sep 3, 2014 by 1 Comment

Child abuse is a problem that often goes unrecognized until it’s too late. To help keep children safe, all adults need to be on the alert for possible signs of abuse.

Obviously, unexplained bruises, cuts, and scrapes are possible signs of child abuse. But, you should also be concerned if a child suddenly seems to become withdrawn, loses interest in eating, has problems in school, or seems to try avoiding being around a certain adult.

If you personally witness treatment of a child that you feel is potentially abusive, do not scold or criticize the adult directly. Feeling judged will only make him or her more angry, which could lead to lashing out at the child after you have left the area.

If you witness behavior that concerns you, try to diffuse the situation with understanding and kindness. For example, if a mother is screaming at her preschooler because he acted up at the grocery store, a smile and an offer to watch the child while she finishes paying for her purchases can help prevent the situation from escalating into physical violence.

Even though it’s not easy to tell a pattern of abuse from one bad day, you should never be afraid to report child abuse because you might be wrong about your concerns. When you make a report, there will be a formal investigation to collect evidence.

You can make the report anonymously if you are worried about retribution from the suspected abuser. Remember that the cost of doing nothing if a child is being abused far outweighs the potential embarrassment of making an unfounded report.

Call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) if you want to talk to a professional crisis counselor before making a report. The counselors cannot file a report for you, but they can answer your questions and point you to resources in your area that might be helpful.

The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, if you think that the child might be in immediate physical danger, the best course of action is to call 911.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

5 Creative Ideas for School Fundraisers

Posted on Sep 2, 2014 by No Comments

With so many schools strapped for cash, fundraisers have become a vital part of helping to fill in budgetary gaps. But, there’s only so many rolls of wrapping paper and boxes of chocolate that one parent needs.

If you’re looking for something different to do for the next school fundraiser, here are some ideas:

  1. Collecting Spare Change: If you need a fundraiser that requires next to nothing in terms of actual planning and preparation, consider setting up large piggy banks at your school and at various local businesses. Encourage people to donate their spare change to your cause.
  2. Group Garage Sale: I think the idea of a group garage sale has promise because everyone has a least a box or two of stuff in their home that they need to get rid of. Organize donations in the gym or school lunchroom. If you don’t want to price each item individually, have a few tables with different price points or simply ask shoppers to make a donation of their choice for each item they want to purchase.
  3. Hosting a Community Carnival: A community carnival can be a wonderful school fundraiser, although I should caution that this requires a lot of manpower. My son’s school does a carnival every other year. However, they’ve had to scale back considerably due to a lack of volunteers to help with the planning and running all of the activities during the event itself.
  4. Raffling off Teachers: I found the idea of raffling off teachers on the Scholastic website. I think this is a wonderful fundraising idea if you have enthusiastic teachers who are well liked by their students. Scholastic suggests that each teacher come up with a list of activities he or she can do with the winning student, such as dissecting a frog, baking cookies, or playing Guitar Hero for the afternoon.
  5. Selling a School Anthology: Another unique fundraising idea that I love is creating an anthology of stories, poems, and drawings from children in the school and selling copies to parents, grandparents, and community members. As a parent with a child who loves to draw and write, I know I’d purchase several copies of anything that featured his work. Even if I wasn’t a parent, however, I’d buy one just because there’s nothing more adorable than kids who are expressing their creativity.

Photo credit: MorgueFile

PMS.com Makes That Time of the Month a Little Bit Easier

Posted on Sep 1, 2014 by No Comments

If you’re the forgetful type, PMS.com aims to make your life a little easier by offering a convenient way to get all of your menstrual supplies delivered straight to your door.

PMS.com founder Erin Kathleen Gargan says, “PMS.com started when our all-female marketing agency had our menstrual cycles synced. We were so busy that no one ever remembered to buy tampons! A client showed me the razor delivery Dollar Shave Club’s video and inspired this similar concept for women: convenient, awesome period prep without overpaying for big corporate name brands.”

For $15 per month, you’ll receive a box with 15 regular absorbency gliding tampons, 15 feminine wipes, and 16 PMS pain relief tablets. The products are made exclusively for PMS.com in the USA and have exceeded rigorous quality assurance standards.

In addition to being a convenient way to get your period essentials, a subscription to PMS.com helps you give back to the community. The company donates 10% of all proceeds to a carefully selected female-focused nonprofit organization every month.

Charities the group supports promote causes such as domestic violence prevention, breast cancer research, and education for young girls. If you have a favorite nonprofit you think the company should support, you can nominate the group on the PMS.com Facebook page.

You can sign up for this new service at PMS.com. You can choose a delivery date that works best with your monthly cycle and cancel at any time. All new subscribers receive their first month’s subscription free of charge.

What do you think of this idea? Would a subscription to PMS.com make your life a bit easier?

Photo credit: PMS.com

Mistakes to Avoid When Saving for Retirement

Posted on Aug 29, 2014 by No Comments

Retirement planning is something that many of us put on the back burner in favor of dealing with more immediate concerns. But, in order to make sure you can make the most of your golden years, you need start making retirement plans ASAP.

The biggest mistake most women make when planning for retirement is waiting to save. You need to start saving early so your money has time to grow. Even $20 a week can go a long way over time. With an average benefit of just $1,237, Social Security benefits alone are unlikely to provide the retirement lifestyle you want.

If you want a low-risk savings option, you can check out fixed indexed annuities (FIAs) at www.FIAinsights.org. Market-driven options like mutual funds or securities have a higher risk, but they also have the possibility of greater returns on your initial investment. You can research a variety of retirement plans on the IRS website.

Aside from saving, remember that you need to pay off as much debt as possible before you retire. Credit card bills, student loans, and mortgage payments are difficult to meet on a fixed income.

Most people base retirement plans on a specific retirement goal age, but you should be cautious when selecting a goal age. Even if you’d be happy working until you are 70, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be physically able to do so.

If you’re on a tight budget, remember that saving for retirement needs to take priority over saving for your child’s college education. Your child will always have access to loans, grants, and scholarships for college, but there’s not a lot of support available for those who have failed to save for retirement.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Treat Yourself to a Sexy Swimsuit from Seraphine Maternity

Posted on Aug 25, 2014 by No Comments

I’m not a big fan of swimsuits in general, but I was extra self conscious about my swimsuit when I was pregnant. I wish I had known about Seraphine Maternity so I wouldn’t have spent my pregnancy avoiding the beach.

If you’re looking for a flattering suit to accommodate your baby bump, check out the styles from Seraphine Maternity’s glamorous maternity swimwear collection. In recent months, Seraphine swimwear has been spotted on celebrity moms like Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, and Sienna Miller.

Seraphine offers colorful swimsuits crafted with fabrics and cuts to flatter a woman’s pregnancy shape and show off her curves. All options include panels to support and hold the tummy and chest areas.

Styles range from a classic full coverage one piece to a sexy bikini, so there’s something for everyone. My personal favorite, however, is the halter tankini style. I like that the ties are adjustable so you can show as little or as much skin as you’re comfortable with. Also, when I was pregnant, I had to pee constantly and a one piece suit is really hard to get on and off all the time!

Seraphine Maternity suits range in price from $60 to $89 and most swimsuits come in XS through XL sizes. Although this is a little pricey for a suit you’ll probably only be able to wear a few times, I think it’s well worth splurging for a little extra confidence at the beach.

Seraphine Maternity offers free US returns, which I think is a huge plus for anyone who isn’t sure what size they will need when swimsuit season arrives. Visit the Seraphine Maternity website for details.

What do you think of the Seraphine Maternity swimsuit line?

Photo credit: Seraphine Maternity

Look Beyond Theme Parks for Fun Family Vacations

Posted on Aug 22, 2014 by 1 Comment

Theme parks are the most popular family vacation destination for parents with young children, but these types of outings are also the most expensive.

If you’re on a tight budget, you need to get creative with your vacation planning. Mickey and Minnie may be popular with the little ones, but you can still have a memorable vacation experience without a trip to Disney World or Disneyland.

Museums and zoos make for affordable family-friendly vacation destinations. If you already have a membership to a museum or zoo in your area, check to see if your card entitles you to a reciprocal membership with an establishment near your vacation destination. Terms will vary, but reciprocal membership agreements often allow free admissions, free parking, and/or discounted food and souvenirs.

The Association of Children’s Museums website has a searchable directory of museums and information about reciprocal membership benefits. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums website has a downloadable list of zoos and aquariums in the United States, Canada, and Mexico with reciprocal membership agreements.

If your kids are curious about how their favorite sweet treats are made, a factory tour can be both educational and economical. Family Vacation Critic lists 12 of the best tours for kids, including PEZ Candy in Orange, CT and PEEPS in Bethlehem, PA.

Camping is another popular thrifty vacation activity. A weekend at a scenic campground provides plenty of time for little ones to run, jump, and play outdoors. Older kids will enjoy fishing or telling scary stories by the campfire. Visit the America’s State Parks website to check out state parks within driving distance.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Creative Yet Inexpensive Vacation Souvenirs

Posted on Aug 20, 2014 by No Comments

If your kids are old enough to talk, you’ve probably noticed that buying souvenirs tends to be one of their favorite parts of the vacation experience. Unfortunately, these small purchases can easily take a big chunk out of your travel budget if you’re not careful.

For younger children, it’s best to gently guide them away from the overpriced toys and trinkets towards items that are within your price range.

Ideas for inexpensive souvenirs include:

  • Pressed pennies
  • Postcards
  • Key chains
  • Refrigerator magnets
  • Notebooks
  • Folders
  • Coloring books
  • Stickers
  • Pencils or pens
  • Drinking glasses
  • Hats

If your children are over the age of eight, give them a set dollar amount they can spend and let them choose what to buy accordingly. I’ve found that kids tend to be much more selective with their purchases when they know they will be limited to $20 or $30 for the entire trip. Of course, this only works if you’re strong enough to not give in to requests for more money later in the trip!

I love souvenirs myself, so I never make my son skip the souvenir shop entirely. But, if you have multiple kids, it might be best to forgo purchased souvenirs and let each child create a small vacation scrapbook.

Give your children small photo albums with paper, markers, glue, stickers, and scissors, then have a contest to see who can design the most unique layout describing your family vacation. Encourage the kids to incorporate maps, brochures, ticket stubs, restaurant napkins, pressed flowers, and other forms of free memorabilia into their creations.

When you return home, you can finish the books by adding copies of your favorite vacation photos. If you live near a Walgreens, I’ve found that they often run promotions for free 8×10 prints or photo collages that make fabulous scrapbook additions.

Do you have any ideas for cheap travel souvenirs to share?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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