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  • Advances in Pregnancy

    The following is a post from Jenna Smith. Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this post.

    Starting a family is one of the most exciting times for nearly any mother. There are names to be chosen, baby showers to be had, and a nursery to decorate. There are also more serious matters to consider too, such as the care and treatment of a child during pregnancy and during delivery.

    Only a few decades ago, women had limited options when it came to pregnancy. They were expected to give birth in the safety of a hospital, and if a child became ill during pregnancy, treatment was limited. However, recent developments in fetal medicine have provided women with more tools to ensure that they have options to care for their pregnancies to the best of their abilities.

    If this topic affects you or someone you know, here are a few of the most beneficial advances you may want to discuss with your doctor:

    Premature birth prevention

    Premature birth roughly affects one in eight births in the United States, and can cause significant brain damage and even death. To reduce the likelihood of premature birth, researchers have been looking to hormones. Recent studies and research have shown that progesterone, a hormone naturally found in women’s bodies, may lower the risk for premature birth by up to 50 percent in certain groups. Not only does progesterone lower the risk of premature birth, but it also has been shown to decrease the complications and long-term effects children develop due to premature birth.

    Noninvasive prenatal DNA testing

    Prior to the development of noninvasive prenatal DNA tests, women had to undergo the highly invasive procedure of amniocentesis in order to receive prenatal genetic testing. Amniocentesis requires a woman’s amniotic sac to be punctured to withdraw amniotic fluid for testing. Although effective and accurate, amniocentesis also comes with a risk of infection, which could result in illness, disease, and even death – which resulted in many women avoiding genetic testing.

    Noninvasive prenatal DNA screening tests only require a blood sample, and can determine whether or not a child will be born with certain types of chromosomal abnormalities. The MaterniT21® PLUS test, for example, determines whether or not specific trisomies, a chromosomal abnormality which occurs when a chromosome doesn’t replicate properly, are present. By learning in advance whether or not a child will be born with a chromosomal abnormality, parents can better prepare for parenthood by seeking out additional resources and tools they may need.

    Fetal medical therapies

    Although still in its infancy, there have been rapid advances in the area of in utero fetal treatment in recent years. Researchers have learned how to alleviate or completely treat several fetal diseases including anemia and fetal arrhythmias. Blood transfusions, shunts, and medicines delivered through umbilical cords are all procedures that have been developed and utilized by those looking to improve the treatment of fetal disease.

    Diseases that once complicated delivery, forced women to have premature Caesarean sections, or increased the likelihood of brain damage or fatality can now be remedied. However, because of the high risks involved with premature rupture of membranes and complications of preterm labor, in utero fetal treatment is still evolving to better serve women and their children.

    Understanding the medical advances surrounding pregnancy is a great way to alleviate the stress that is often caused by worrying about the health of your child. Diseases and illnesses that once greatly increased the likelihood of a negative pregnancy experience are being eradicated and overcome by modern medicine. Babies are safer than ever, and now have a level of care available to them that generations prior could never have dreamed of. Even better news is that these medical developments will only continue to advance to provide more improved care for children in the womb and the mothers who are carrying them.

    5 Best Money Saving Tips for Back to School Shopping

    This post is sponsored by Chameleon John. You can read CFO’s full disclosure here.

    Are your kids going to school soon? Or they are already learning new things beside their friends? It’s time to shop for all essential back to school items. And you know what – there are some easy ways how to reduce spending while shopping for all of it! So shop for clothing, various school supplies and other things you want to buy, and save money with these easy tips!

    Shop during Summer-End Sales

    You can definitely save a lot of money if you shop before the fall season. You can find many polo shirts, pants and dresses that can be suitable and comfortable enough to wear during first few weeks of fall and after too. You can also find some notebooks, pencils or art supplies much cheaper at summer. So start shopping for school-related items at the end of summer and you will notice how much less expensive it is to shop in this way.

    Do an Inventory

    Actually, before you start shopping, you should do a simple and quick inventory at your house. You can discover that you don’t need to buy as much stuff as you initially thought. So count how many pencils, art supplies, and clothing your kids have, decide whether or not it will be suitable for the coming school year, and only start shopping after that. You may be very surprised and end up saving a lot of money if you simply don’t buy stuff that you already own.

    Make a List

    Well, after looking at what you already own, you should definitely make a list of items you need for school. After that, be sure to take it with you and shop only according to it. It is important to make a reasonable and correct list. Otherwise, you will have to go back to the store over and over again. Also, a list is a great way to keep you on a budget too. It will keep you away from purchasing products that are unplanned and unnecessary.

    Look For Special Deals

    Usually, before this time of the year, most stores, both online and brick-and-mortar, tend to offer many special deals. You can save a pretty good amount of money just by following the sales and get big discounts instantly. Also, there usually are thousands of online coupons too. For instance, if you are looking for some cute and stylish children’s apparel, search for Last Call coupons at ChameleonJohn.com. You will definitely save a lot of money and dress your kids in some nice quality clothing. So take a look and don’t miss all the special deals online and off!

    Buy in Bulk

    Finally, the easiest and most common way to shop on a budget for all back to school supplies is to use bulk shopping. If you buy school items, such as pencils and notebook paper, in bulk, you can equip your kids for a year or even more. This technique actually is most effective for households with multiple students. Families with just one student in a house can consider teaming up with others for extra savings on basic supplies. So don’t be afraid to buy in bulk and you will save money not only for this year but for a couple more too!

    Savings.com: Enter for a chance to win one of 60 Macy’s gift cards + 25% off Select Nike #MacysBTSSports

    This post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for using them! All opinions are honest and my own. You can read CFO’s full disclosure here.

    Macys $2,000 Giveaway

    Through August 15, you can enter for a chance to win one of sixty Macy’s Gift Cards from Savings.com – twenty winners will receive a $50 Macy’s Gift Card, and forty winners will receive a $25 Macy’s Gift Card. The official rules are here. Good luck!

    You can also get 25% off Select Nike Products at Macy’s.com, plus Free Shipping on orders of $99+. Restrictions may apply. Offers ends 8/15/15.

    For example, this Nike Boys’ Just Do It Swoosh Tee is on sale for just $15 {down from $20}:

    Nike tee

    They have other items that are appropriate for Back to School, too, including Nike backpacks!

    Taxes: To Pay or Not to Pay?

    The following is a post from Jenna Smith. Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this post.

    Okay, the headline is slightly deceiving, but only slightly. You see, a lot of people don’t realize that they have a choice about how to pay their taxes. And that’s probably a good thing, especially those who fill out their own forms every year. The simpler, the better. Mistakes can be rather costly. But if you are the sort that likes to have a bit more control over your finances, then you do have some flexibility in how you pay your taxes. Here are some of your options:

    Pay as Much as You Can Throughout the Year

    You know that big refund you get every year in the first quarter? The reason you get it is because you overpay throughout the year. You are giving the government an interest-free loan. Once a year, they give you back the principal overpayment. They keep the interest. Now, it’s not like you don’t get anything out of the deal. Dumping money into higher income tax is like setting up a little savings account. Every year, you can look forward to receiving a chunk of money from the government. Though it means you are paying the government a lot more than you need to, it feels like the government is paying you. Suddenly, that new computer you have been eyeing is within your grasp.

    When you are filling out your tax forms for work, you have a few choices. You have both deductions and exemptions. If you list a lot of deductions, more money will be withheld from your paycheck. If you have chosen more deductions than you need to, that represents the money you get back in the form of a tax refund. That overpayment is what they are refunding. Treat your tax payments like a savings account, and it’s Christmas in Spring.

    Pay as Little as You Can Throughout the Year

    This is where you will want to exercise those exemptions. Are you the head of the household? Never mind what that actually means or implies. If yes, you have an exemption. Married filing jointly? Disabled? These exemptions reduce the amount of your income that can be taxed. Count more exemptions that you actually qualify for, and you will be paying in the Spring instead of celebrating. Even so, it will only be one payment. For the rest of the year, you will bring home more money each pay period. That is like giving yourself an eleven month raise.

    Neither a Borrower nor a Lender Be

    The most elegant tax move is to receive nothing and pay nothing in April. That means you have chosen the perfect balance of deductions and exemptions. You are taking home the maximum amount of paycheck you can without owing anything later. Achieving that perfect balance often requires professional help, which is why so few people manage it.

    It is best to get local CPAs and other tax specialists to help with this, as state taxes have to be factored into the equation. Tax law varies from state to state. The tax services Orlando has to offer will provide the local expertise in that market. The same is true for the services in your local area. Zeroing your tax bill is not the only reason you will want professional help:

    Business Taxes

    With few exceptions, if you are a business owner, you have to pay as you go throughout the year. If you are self-employed, you are also responsible for self-employment tax covering services like social security and medicare. According to irs.gov, if you have employees, your employment taxes include:

    • Social security and Medicare taxes
    • Federal income tax withholding
    • Federal unemployment (FUTA) tax

    It is possible you could pay estimated taxes, or even quarterly taxes. You probably can’t afford the mistakes you might make by trying to DIY your taxes without a tax professional’s assistance.

    Bottom line: You’re going to pay your taxes. You can pay them so that it feels like you are getting an annual bonus. Or you can pay them so that it feels like you are getting a monthly raise. Just remember, you are not stuck with your decision. Regardless of how you filled out your employment paperwork, you can make changes at any time during the year. You can save even more if you venture beyond the EZ form. Local tax professionals are standing by.

    Sponsored Video: The Kids Of Summer – Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes #ShowYourStripes

    This post is sponsored by Kellogg’s. All opinions are my own. Read the full CFO disclosure policy here.

    My family has been a Little League family for six years now, and I’ve found that everything people say about sports being good for kids is true. My boys have learned so much from their Little League experience, and we still have several more years left!

    Consider this list of life lessons that I can attribute to their seasons in Little League:

    • How to be a gracious winner
    • How to be a gracious loser
    • How to work hard at the things they can control
    • How to let go of the things they can’t control
    • How to deal with difficult teammates
    • How to deal with adults they don’t like
    • How to be a team player
    • How to deal with pressure situations
    • How to perform in front of a crowd
    • How to show up even when they don’t feel like it

    That’s just what comes to mind off the top of my head, so it’s definitely an incomplete list. And certainly, my boys haven’t mastered these skills, but they’ve had many chances to work on them because of their sports experiences.

    Another thing that team sports has given my kids is friends – lots of good friends to hang out with, play with, and have fun with. The other parents and I frequently comment after a tough loss on how the kids don’t care about the result, as they’re too busy frolicking on whatever field is nearby.

    The Little League World Series is coming up next month, and Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes has put together a sweet video about what the experience is really about.

    If you liked the video, you can learn more about Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes’ Little League sponsorship, and follow Frosted Flakes on Facebook and Tony the Tiger on Twitter.