Don't miss out! Get Chief Family Officer's free daily roundup:


  • Recently read and enjoyed: Miracles & Mayhem in the ER: Unbelievable True Stories from an Emergency Room Doctor
  • Get a FREE 30-day trial of Amazon Prime and get free 2-day shipping!
  • Enter for a chance to win a $25 GAP Options gift card!

  • Your Family Finances: What’s Necessary vs. What’s Not

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

    Raising a family is expensive. That’s why it’s important for you to be able to manage your finances. If you find that you’re living paycheck to paycheck, or you’re regularly dipping into your savings to cover the cost of things, you need to take a look at your finances.

    The first step is to take a hard look at what you’re spending money on. Track your expenses for one month. Once you see what you’ve spent money on, you’ll know where you need to cut back.

    Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking something is necessary when it’s actually not. There is a fine line between two, but that line is still distinguishable. Here are some clear rules for five categories families tend to spend the most money in:

    Saving Money on Food

    You can cut down on your grocery bills significantly by examining the way you grocery shop. Sometimes using coupons to shop isn’t enough. You may need to switch where you shop. There are many stores that offer brand name items for less than their competitors. Perhaps you can shop at one of those stores.

    Money magazine offers 29 other ways that you can save on groceries. One of their suggestions is to look for substitutes. Instead of buying the name brand product, see if the store brand is comparable. Often times, the store brand will have the exact same ingredients as the name brand item, but it will be far cheaper. Most of the time the taste is similar to their competitor’s product, so you shouldn’t hear any complaints from your family.

    Another suggestion is to eat before you shop. Studies have shown that people buy more food when they’re hungry. This is because they’re in an irrational state, so they are more likely to spend money on items that aren’t on their list.

    Save on Clothes

    Name brand clothes and shoes are not cheap. You can save money on both by shopping at thrift stores or outlets. Outlets usually take their overstock and sell them at discounted prices. Almost all name brands have an outlet, so if there is one near you, take advantage of it.

    You can find nice quality clothing and unique pieces for a steal at thrift stores. It is not unusual to find an expensive item for pennies on the dollar. You can also find your basics, like t-shirts, tights and socks, for cheap in thrift stores too.

    The most important rule, though, is don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. Not unless you absolutely need it. This may be a hard habit to break, but sticking to your needs can save you hundreds of dollars a year.

    Downsize If You Can

    How much are you spending on rent or a mortgage? Can you possibly move to a smaller place and still be comfortable?

    I know it’s a touchy subject for a lot of families. We want our children to grow up in big houses with nice yards that they can play in. But if we can’t afford those things, or they are becoming too difficult to pay for, it may be time to downsize.

    It may be completely out of the question for some, but if you can consider it, you should, especially if your family doesn’t need that much room in the first place. You can literally save thousands a year if you move into a smaller place.

    Of course, that shouldn’t be the only reason you move, and moving is a family decision. Discuss it first. Make sure it’s a viable option before you commit to it.

    Bundle Your Insurance

    Insurance is necessary for every family, but the type of insurance you have may need to be re-examined. If you have several different insurance providers, see if you can bundle your insurance. Most providers will give you discounts if you get multiple types of insurance from them.

    This applies to medical, dental and vision as much as home, renters and vehicle insurance. Even less-common packages like motorcycle insurance can easily be combined with car and house insurance to create discounts in the hundreds. It’s also easier to go through one provider for your insurance than it is to go through two or three.

    Following these guidelines should help you save a significant amount of money a month. Even if it’s only $50, that’s an extra $600 a year.

    Be sure to spend your saved money wisely. Remember, the goal is to manage your finances responsibly. Extra money shouldn’t be spent frivolously. You have to stick with your new financial habits in order to be successful.

    Planning Your Move Ahead of Time

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

    The time between the decision to move and actually moving is a sort of crazy limbo. The urge to just start tossing your stuff into boxes as soon as you make the final decision to relocate is strong. At the same time, you don’t want to get stuck having to unpack the kitchen every time you need to use a frying pan. You can’t decide if you should save up a bunch of money first and then, when you can’t stand it anymore, flee to the best place your savings can afford, or if you should choose your new place (at least vaguely) first and save up to make sure you can build a real life there. All of this uncertainty means you spend a lot of time standing still, too scared to move until it’s too late and you’re in panic mode.

    Let’s break that cycle. Here is how to organize your move so that you don’t spend too much money, risk living in a tomb of boxes, accidentally pack all of the things you meant to donate to Goodwill, etc.

    1. Pick Your Neighborhood, Do Your Research

    Figure out the neighborhood in which you most want to live and then get to work. What is the cost of living there? What is the average rental price (we’re just going to assume that you’re not ready to buy a house yet) for the size of the home you need? How much are groceries? How much will parking cost? Is there transit, and if so, is it reasonably priced and reliable?

    2. Build Your Budget

    Figure out how much it will cost you to live in your new neighborhood, in the apartment you want, for at least six months with no income. Yes, you might already be gainfully employed and planning on keeping your job but moving is expensive! And, in this economy, it’s better to save up just in case, right?

    Add to that the cost of packing materials, movers, utility and rental deposits, rental application and holding fees.

    Tack on an extra 15% to account for hikes in rental prices, and other unforeseen expenses (there are always a few).

    This number? This is the number that you need to reach before you can start looking at apartments and planning out your move.

    3. Start Sorting

    Even if you aren’t ready to apartment hunt just yet, you can start sorting through your house now. The sooner you start sorting and decluttering your kitchen and other rooms, the easier the process will be. You’ll also have a much easier time making informed decisions about what to keep and what to toss. Get rid of anything that doesn’t have massive sentimental value and that you do not use at least once a year. Pack up anything that you don’t foresee needing until after your move (off season clothing, decorations, attics, basements, etc).

    4. Sell Your Stuff

    Yes, I said “sell” instead of donate. Right now, you’re trying to save up for your move and looking for ways to offset your moving costs. Selling the stuff you were going to be getting rid of is a fantastic way to do that. You can list the items on Craigslist or eBay or hold a yard sale. It is amazing what people will buy. The sooner you start doing this, the more time you have to sell things.

    5. Hunt for Housing

    When you’ve got your “moving nest-egg” it’s time to start looking for housing in your chosen neighborhood (or one close by). If you can at all help it, do not give notice on your current rental until you have a new rental lined up. It’s better to let your rents overlap for a week or so than to have to rush and choose a less-than-worthy place.

    6. Pack and Move

    Once you have a definite date for moving in to your new rental, you can start packing up the rest of your home and hire some movers. Yes, you read that right. It’s true that, on the surface DIY moving looks cheaper, but consider this: you’re charged through the nose for gas, mileage and time on rental vans, and if you’re injured over the course of your move you have to pay your own money for medical care. When you hire movers, though, all of that is insured. According to, insurance helps protect you for the full value of your belongings (sometimes more) if anything happens to them during the move. Plus, directing movers is much less stressful than trying to carry all of those boxes of books that you packed!

    By stretching out the moving and packing process, you can save yourself a lot of stress and a ton of money!

    Midday Coffee: Cyber Monday, Round 2 – Victoria’s Secret freebies, Cheap Lysol wipes & More

    This roundup includes the best of the latest coupons, deals, and info I think you may find interesting. Prices and deals can change at any time so be sure to verify them before making your purchase. Please note this post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for using them! You can read CFO’s full disclosure here.

    And … Cyber Monday continues with even more deals:

    ~ Today only at Victoria’s Secret: Make a $10+ purchase and use code SECRETBONUS to get TWO FREE Secret Reward Cards {worth a minimum of $10 each, valid 12/4-12/9; there are lots of cheap items around $10 like ornaments and Fantasies gift sets – they’ll be FREE or cheap after Secret Rewards!}

    ~ Today only at 3-pack of Lysol Disinfecting Wipes for just $2.99 {limit 3; Staples Rewards members get 5% back + FREE shipping; $1 per canister is a GREAT price – I bought the max!}

    ~ 3 new Beauty Boxes for $5-$10 shipped! {$20-$50 value + coupons}

    ~ UGG shoes for as much as 70% off + FREE shipping and extended returns

    ~ 50% off on everything + FREE shipping

    ~ Target Cartwheel: 50% off “Hot Gifts for Cool Kids” {one toy per day through 12/24}

    ~ Coupon Geek: Free Redbox rental code via text

    ~ Good Cheap Eats: Freezer-friendly homemade enchilada sauce

    ~ Sprinkle Bakes: Lollipop sugar cookies

    Banner ad via Escalate Media Network

    How to Pick the Best Credit Card for Your Spending Habits

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

    There are some people, like Dave Ramsey, who insist that credit cards are evil and should be avoided at all costs. If you have a shopping problem and aren’t good at paying your bills, then yes: credit cards are not your friend right now. Otherwise, credit cards can be incredibly useful tools if you choose the right one and use it wisely. So how do you do that? How do you make sure that you get the best card for your needs and, more importantly, for your shopping habits?

    Your Credit Report is Always First

    Before you apply for any sort of monetary credit, whether it’s a credit card or a loan, it is important to check your credit and make sure that it is free of mistakes. This way you won’t allow yourself to get talked into exorbitant interest rates or crazy high fees. It is also a good way to gauge how much credit you should be seeking and if you should be trying to get credit at all.

    If your credit report is bad–if there is a lot of debt or if you have accounts that have been sent off to collections–you probably aren’t going to be approved for unsecured lines of credit. This doesn’t mean, however, that you cannot open a line of credit! In fact, opening a secured card can be a great way to start rebuilding the positive credit section of your credit report, which will help you get approved for unsecured credit later on if that’s what you want. There are several websites the show various credit card reviews detailing the pros and cons so that you can make an educated decision.

    Look at Your Lifestyle

    What do you buy? How often do you buy it? Do you love to travel and wish it were more affordable? These days your personal habits and hobbies are important factors when trying to find the right credit card. A few years ago they didn’t matter all that much, but now that there are dozens of different rewards programs out there all vying for your attention, they matter a lot. For example, if you want to be able to travel more, you’ll want to look for a card that offers you great travel rewards.

    In this vein, it is also important that you find a card that doesn’t penalize you for certain types of purchases. For instance, many cards will assign one interest rate to credit purchases made in stores and another for cash advances (and then, they don’t let you “pay off” those cash advances until all of your in store purchases have been paid because they want to get as much interest as possible out of you). Others will give you X amount of points for purchases made in certain stores and Y amount of points for shopping anywhere else. If you constantly shop at those certain stores, that’s a great deal!

    Pay Attention to the Details

    Do not choose a card specifically based on points. A lot of creditors will promise amazing points rewards but then actually redeeming those points will be a nightmare. Before you sign on the dotted line make sure you understand how the points systems work and that all of the points you earn will be redeemable. Another trick that is often used is only awarding a small amount of points until a specific amount of money has been spent. The companies do this in the hopes that you’ll rack up lots of interest-worthy debt very quickly. Don’t fall for it!

    What Are Your Payment Habits

    Are you really good about paying your bills or do you sometimes miss their due dates? Have you ever completely missed a payment? Are you bad with details? Make sure that you choose a card that won’t overly penalize you for these mistakes!

    And, of course, once you choose a card and are able to use it, make sure you use it responsibly! Don’t let the lure of points coerce you into ruining your credit!

    Morning Coffee: Downton Abbey deal, New Energizer coupons & More

    Morning Coffee - Nov 23, 2014 @
    Morning Coffee is published daily and includes the best of the latest coupons, deals, and info I think you may find interesting. Prices and deals can change at any time so be sure to verify them before making your purchase. Please note this post contains affiliate links that help support this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you for using them! You can read CFO’s full disclosure here.

    ~ Today’s Gold Box Deal of the Day: Up to 55% off select Logitech Products, including mouses {is the plural for a computer mouse really mice?}, keyboards, gaming controllers and more

    ~ Today’s Bonus Gold Box Deal of the Day: Downton Abbey: Seasons 1-4 on DVD for $36.99 and Blu-ray for $39.99 {over 60% off!}

    ~ New printables:

    • $4/2 OxiClean Extreme Power Crystals
    • $2/1 Energizer Portable Light
    • $2.50/1 Energizer Ultimate, Advanced or Recharge Batteries
    • $1.50/1 Energizer MAX Brand Batteries {goes with B1G1 Free sale at Walgreens!}
    • $1.50/1 Energizer EZ Hearing Aid batteries
    • $3/1 Systane Brand products
    • $5/1 ICAPS Eye Vitamin Brand
    • $5/1 CLEAR CARE or OPTI-FREE Solution

    ~ New printable coupon for $1/1 SUPERPRETZEL® BAVARIAN Soft Pretzel Product

    ~ Love & Olive Oil: Printable recipe cards and tags for gifting cookies

    ~ Hip2Save: Cheap Skippy peanut butter at Target

    ~ For the Mommas: 100 free Disney Movie Rewards points

    Banner ad via Escalate Media Network