Family * Travel * Food

Why We Love Shopping Sam's Club During The Holiday Season

Can you believe that 2020 is almost over? Despite this year being so different in regards to the pandemic, I try to keep things as normal as I can in our household. With the holiday season here and in full swing, I make sure I keep treats and goodies available for my family to snack on in between work and school meetings. My favorite place to shop each month is Sam's Club. 
Today's conversation is sponsored. All opinions are 100% my own as always. 

I love the fact that you can buy food and household items in bulk sizes which means you won't run out too quickly. When you have a family of 5, it's easy to run low on those staple items. Having all of us home so much means I need more items on hand and all of the savings I can get! Aside from the everyday items, we love browsing the aisles of Sam's Club for limited edition products, as well as seasonal goods. 

Sam's Club carries such an amazing variety of ready-to-give holiday gifts. It's my go-to place to buy wine and treats to give my neighbors every Christmas. The prices are unbeatable, and the variety makes it easy to find something for just about anyone on your shopping list. 

This year I am hoping to snag a few deals on small appliances and some new kitchen gadgets. I have been slowly replacing and upgrading some of my small appliances, so I stalk my Sam's Club app for the latest sales and promotions. I definitely take advantage of those Sam's Club Coupons to get even mores savings. 

Don't forget that Sam's Club also carries electronics, jewelry, dishware, clothing, gift cards and so much more. You will be able to mark off so many items from your holiday shopping list in no time, without breaking the bank. Make sure you check out Slickdeals as a resource for coupons, and to save money on your purchases. 

Do you shop at Sam's Club? What are you must-have items you buy each time you go? 

Financial Planning For Families Is Easier Than You Think

Do you often worry about your financial future? You are definitely not alone. Most Americans have significantly low savings while having a pretty high debt load. Being in debt can definitely keep you up at night. Don't worry, you are not alone in this! Since the pandemic started earlier this year, many people have been taking a closer look at their finances, and retirement plan

What do you do when you don't know how to even get started? 

One of the first things you can do is clean your house. How does cleaning your house help, you ask? Going through your belongings can unlock a treasure chest filled with money that you didn't realize you had. We all have extra stuff hanging around the house that we don't use, so selling those items online or at local consignment shops can put cash in your pocket pretty quickly. You can use that cash to start a family emergency savings account. This would be an account that you do not touch since it is strictly for emergencies. Having an account that your whole family can contribute to means your available balance will add up quicker.  

What do you do if you are in a lot of debt?

That is a hard and stressful time for many, but there are ways to dig yourself out of debt. You don't realize how much you spend each week on little things that you really don't need. I know I have had this habit over the years. You see what you think is this 'great deal' that you better scoop up while you can, but you really can live without it. I know, I know, you probably feel like it takes away from you enjoying life while you can. The thing is, that $10-$20 item could have been added to your monthly credit card payment or toward paying down the principal on your mortgage. 
Image credit

You are probably thinking that such a small amount isn't going to help much, but believe me, it adds up! You should really take a look at the many free resources that's out there just waiting for you to take advantage of. Getting out of financial problems is possible with a little bit of discipline and taking the time to get organized. It's especially important to be more financially conservative during these uncertain times. After all, the pandemic isn't even close to being over. Do all you can to save, save, save! 

Thank you so much for stopping by today. 

How Having Kids Changes Your Taxes

Having a child changes everything. Your relationship with your partner, your work schedule, your sleeping patterns—there are few things a new baby doesn’t have an effect on. Many parents are prepared for the sleepless nights, the need to switch to the minivan, and the decrease in social hours with friends, but have you thought about how your new little bundle of joy will affect your taxes? While you often hear how expensive it can be to raise a child, there are also numerous tax breaks and credits to take advantage of. Keep the following facets of the tax system in mind and give your finances the boost they need, from your little one’s birth to their college days.

Use Exemptions to Your Favor

After having a child, you’re allowed to claim them as a dependent on your taxes to receive an extra exemption. This can help reduce your AGI, or adjusted gross income. The government uses your AGI to determine how much you owe, therefore, the lower your income (after exemptions), the lower your tax bill. There are limitations to this, but most can look to save thousands of dollars. Siphon those saved dollars into a college savings account and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes in paying for your child’s upcoming educational career.

In the Case of Adoption

Perhaps you’re adopting a child. This process is not an inexpensive one, but the IRS recognizes these costly expenses by offering the opportunity to claim these expenses on your income taxes. Last year, any adoptions completed in 2015 allowed a federal adoption tax credit of up to a $13,400 per child. The amount you receive depends on your income. If you and your spouse make less than $291,919, you’re eligible. However, there are limitations. Because this is a tax credit, it isn’t refundable. That means you must owe the federal government some type of income tax, and you won’t be paid out the extra money left over, if any. The adopted child cannot be a stepchild, and they must be under the age of 18 or unable to take care of themselves to qualify.

Child Tax Credit

This refundable credit is designed to reduce the taxes you’re liable for, and can be awarded in amounts up to $1,000 per child. The amount of the credit awarded depends on income and the number of children living in your home. If you claim singly or as the head of the household, you’re ineligible for this credit if you make above $75,000. If you’re married, filing jointly, you must make less than $110,000 to qualify. If you’re confused about what will best work in your financial favor, speak with a professional who can help you determine your filing status.

When it Comes to College

If your child is already in college, take advantage of the American Opportunity Credit. This credit covers certain expenses associated with the first four years of college. There are regulations about how and who qualifies for this tax credit: your child must be in pursuit of a credential or a degree, and must be enrolled as a half-time student at least for tax year. They must also have no felony drug convictions on their record. For each student, the maximum credit you can procure annually is $2,500.

You should also keep the Lifetime Learning Credit in mind. This can help cover undergraduate costs for a student that does not qualify for the American Opportunity Credit, whether that be because they have a limited course load (are enrolled in school less than half-time status) or they’ve already completed their first four years of college credit. This credit can cover expenses including tuition and enrollment fees, along with books and course materials.
Child Care Credit

If you work full time and you must enroll your child in day care, most of those expenses are deductible on your income taxes. This is a nonrefundable tax credit. In order to qualify for the Child Care Credit, you must show proof of payment to a licensed childcare provider while you’re working or in search of employment. The child must be under 13 years old, and you cannot claim this credit if you’re married, but filing separately. This credit can award more than $3,000 per child per year.

The ins and outs of the tax process become more convoluted after having a child. If you’re unsure about which credits and exemptions you qualify for, don’t be afraid to talk with a professional to discover how you can get on the right financial foot- there are probably more than you think!


Costco Offers More Than Just Buying In Bulk (Giveaway)

CLOSED- Winner is Naima G. Congratulations!! 
The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the name Costco, is bulk shopping. After all, it is a warehouse store filled with a variety of items for home and business. I was beyond thrilled to learn that my local area is FINALLY getting a warehouse! I have watched the documentary on TV before about the Costco Craze and have been obsessed intrigued ever since. I will be taking a tour of the new Costco and will report back with the details. I do want to share a few things in advance. Of course, Costco offers an array of well known brand names of food, household, health and beauty items as well as their very own brand, Kirkland Signature. I have to say that I am very impressed with the selection I have seen so far. Their signature line of products even include organics. I have tried out several of the food products and the quality has exceeded my expectations.

Those dried blueberries are great for snacking or adding to oatmeal, cereal, trail mix or even in pancakes or muffins. The fruit snacks are so yummy and are perfect for lunch boxes. 
Costco has a pharmacy and offers health and wellness clinics on scheduled dates/times. They have delivery service too. Planning a trip? Costco can help with their travel services to help you find the perfect destination for a cruise, rental car, hotel and more. You can even shop their different areas of service including phone services, auto program, bottled water delivery, mortgage services, and even life insurance. Needless to say, Costco seems to have most areas covered! They have different membership levels so take a look and see which one suits you best. I am so happy that I can finally experience Costco for myself. I'm looking forward to checking out their fresh produce, meats, and wine selection.

I am so thrilled to be able to offer a HUGE giveaway to my loyal readers. Enter below to win a Costco gift bag filled with a variety of Kirkland Signature products and more.

Here's what's included (KS= Kirkland Signature):

KS Cooking Spray- $4.99
KS Bacon Crumbles- $10.99
KS Protein Bars- $17.99
KS AAA Batteries- $18.99
KS Cashews- $13.99
KS Minced Garlic- $4.39
KS Organic Salsa- $7.69
KS Cashew Clusters- $11.99
KS Pepper Grinder- $5.69
KS Balsamic Vinegar- $10.99
KS Chocolate Covered Almonds- $11.99
KS Wild Pink Salmon- $11.99
KS Dried Steak Strips- $9.99
KS Trail Mix- $12.99
KS Crushed Red Pepper- $3.19
Charisma White Bath Towel- $6.99
Charisma Gun Metal Bath Towel- $6.99
Charisma 4 pack small towel set- $9.99
Costco Keep Cool Bag- $6.99
Total value: $188.81

Enter here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to US Residents only and will close on August 22, 2016. One winner will be selected at random and will be contacted via email to claim prize. Be sure to follow rules in Rafflecopter for entries to count. Good luck!

I received products samples and information from Costco in partnership with them to share the latest about their brands/products. All opinions are my own as always. 

Save On Back-To-School Items And More With Groupon Goods

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own as always.

Do you love saving money? Of course you do! Who doesn't want to get the very best deal on items you need or even want. With back-to-school season here, many of you might be looking for electronics for your kids. In my case, my college daughters have never-ending lists of things they need. If you are searching for laptops, printers, headphones or just about anything else, Groupon Goods is your answer. I was browsing their site and was blown away by the amazing deals they offered. It made me kick myself when I saw the price of an activity tracker compared to what we recently paid at a department store. We could have gotten three for the price of one had we gone through Groupon.
::Insert the stunned, wide-eyed emoji here::

Look at these deals for a laptop computer and wireless printer.

If you are on a budget sending your kid off to college, this is a great deal. $200 for a printer and computer is unheard of. 

Another great thing I like about Groupon is that you can get local deals. This is perfect if you are taking a trip and need some discounts for local services, things to do or dining spots. I am going to Charleston, SC next next month and I am going to browse around Groupon to see what deals I can find there.

If you are looking for specific items, I urge you to check out Groupon Goods first. I am losing my mind over the kitchen appliances! I found an oil-less fryer and electric pressure cooker that is screaming my name! There are so many amazing products to choose from and the prices are so reasonable.

Be sure and follow Groupon on Facebook and Twitter for product promotions and updates.


Save Big With Groupon Coupons

Today's post is sponsored, but all opinions are my own as always.

Whether you have a small or large family, one thing we all have in common is saving money where we can. We have a rule in our house that if it's not on sale or a major necessity, you can't buy it. When it comes to trips or getaways, the same rule applies. A great tool for going away at a reasonable price has been looking for deals with Groupon Coupons. You can find everything from quick day trips in your area, to weekend getaways for couples or even the whole family at discounted rates. When you are on a tight budget and want to travel, Groupon Coupons can help save you some money.  After all, who doesn't love saving money?

Besides travel destinations, Groupon Coupons can help you save at the places you already spend money at, both in-store and online. You can score great deals at stores like Kohl's, Macy's, Foot Locker, Nordstrom, JCPenney, and more. I shop Kohl's often, so I look for extra savings anywhere I can. Another great benefit you gain from using Groupon Coupons is that it is FREE. There's no fee for joining and you only use what you need. So what are you waiting for? Start saving today with Groupon Coupons. Be sure to follow Groupon Coupons on Facebook and Twitter for promotions and updates.

Do you use Groupon Coupons? If so, what sort of deal did you score?


BI-LO Slashes Prices On 1,000+ Items!

If you are a BI-LO shopper, I have great news-- BI-LO has lowered prices on over 1,000 items in their stores! Who doesn't love saving money at the grocery store on many of the items you generally buy?

Check out the new pricing of some commonly shopped items...

I'm a Tide user, so this new lower price makes me very happy! You can save even more with a manufacturer's coupon.

Check out BI-LO on the web, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates. Be sure to check out those new prices on store shelves on your next visit. I plan to check it out tomorrow! 

Effortlessly Add Flavor To Your Meals #PublixFlavorExcursion

Do you have a few go-to meals that you make all the time? Do you ever feel like they need to be kicked up a bit? By adding a couple of extra ingredients, you can really make your meal stand out. The first step is to keep your kitchen stocked with some basic staples so that you always have add-in ingredients on hand. Products like Ro*tel Tomatoes, Hunt's Tomatoes, Progresso Bread Crumbs, Kraft shredded cheese, Kraft dressings and even avocados from Mexico can transform any meal.

I just love to use Progress Italian Style bread crumbs in my favorite Italian Cheese-Stuffed Meatball recipe.
I make my meatballs with both ground beef and ground pork. Of course, you can use turkey, chicken or whatever you prefer. I seasoned my meats with finely chopped Italian parsley, jalapeno pepper, red onion and garlic, along with 1/3 cup of Progresso Italian Style bread crumbs, one beaten egg and a dash or two of my favorite dry seasonings. Once meat mixture is well mixed, I form them into balls and insert a small cube of cheese.
I put the shaped meatballs in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes to chill up and ensure that they stay in the round shape. I pan fry them in a tiny bit of canola oil until they are brown all over and continue the cook in a preheated 375 degree oven. These are great as an appetizer or even to drop into your favorite spaghetti sauce.

Another favorite meal I make is my stewed chicken and veggies. It sort of had a little Mexican-Italian fusion.
I start with washed and dried chicken wings that I season with garlic powder, Spanish seasoning and Italian seasoning. I brown my wings and drain the excess oil. I then add a can of Hunt's Diced Tomatoes in the Basil, Garlic & Oregano variety, 1/4 cup ketchup, 1/3 cup water and one bag of frozen Gumbo mix veggies. I add additional seasoning to taste including a pinch of sugar for balance and some dried Italian herbs and Adobo seasoning. I let it all simmer until the chicken is completely cooked through and the veggies get tender. All you do is serve over your favorite rice and you have a hearty meal, perfect for a weeknight supper.

Be sure to visit your local Publix Supermarket for In-Store Savings.
Look for the in-store displays and recipe cards to find delicious recipe ideas and coupon savings. Offers available from 9/10-9/23

• $2.00 off Publix Produce with the purchase of Any Four (4) participating products 
Participating products: select Old El Paso items**, Ro*tel Tomatoes, Hunt’s Tomatoes, Kraft Natural Shredded Cheese, Avocados from Mexico
**Items include Dinner Kits, Seasoning Mixes, Enchilada Sauce, Refried Beans
• $2.00 off Publix Chicken with the purchase of Any Four (4) participating products 
Participating products: Progresso Bread Crumbs, Progresso Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth, Kraft Salad Dressing, Kraft Natural Shredded Cheese, Hunt’s Tomatoes
• $1.00 off Any Five (5) Ro*tel Tomatoes (10 oz.)
• $1.00 off Any Five (5) Hunt’s Tomatoes (14.5 oz.) 
• Save $1.00 on Avocados from Mexico when you buy three (3) Old El Paso products (1-31 oz.) 
• Save $1.00 on three (3) Betty Crocker casserole potatoes (4.5-5.1 oz.) 
• Save $1.50 on two (2) Betty Crocker Cookie Mixes (12.5-17.9 oz.) 

See store for more details including dates and specific products and sizes included in offers.


Belli Birthday Bash- Hurry and Save 30% Storewide (Sept 8-23)

I have been using Belli Skincare products for over a month now and LOVE the results. I finally got the Healthy Glow Facial Hydrator to go along with my Anti-Blemish Facial Wash Value Duo. It is everything I would expect from the Belli brand. It gives me the perfect amount of moisture without being heavy or sticky. My skin feels baby soft! 

Starting today, September 8th until the 23rd, Belli Skincare is having a Belli Birthday Bash. 
It may be Belli’s birthday, but the gifts are for you! Belli Skincare is proud to partner with like-minded mom and baby brands to celebrate our birthday and the full pregnancy to motherhood experience with a sitewide sale and online giveaways at  

Visit the Belli website to enjoy 30% savings sitewide on Belli Skincare products with promo code (BDAYBASH30). Enter daily to win exciting sponsored product giveaways from prestige mom and baby brands.  Participating brands include Healthy Mama, Pretty Pushers, Guava Family, Birds & Bees Teas, Angelcare, Swaddle Designs and Sticky Bellies.

Each day a different prize and/or gift certificate will be featured from a variety of brands.  On the final two days of the event (September 22nd and 23rd), there will be registration for a Grand Prize Package  which features prizes from all of the Belli Birthday Bash event sponsors.  One lucky winner will take home the Grand Prize package valued at over $1,200 in mom and baby products.

I received product samples in exchange for promoting the Belli Birthday Bash. All opinions are my own as always.

To a Cultured Land — Interesting Educational Family Days out in the UK

A family holiday to the UK can be one of the most memorable yet educational adventures children can experience. Packed with history, culture, wildlife and fun, the UK is the perfect destination for American families abroad. Not only are there loads of kid-friendly activities, but everyone speaks English, making family travel that much easier. Here are a few of the best family-friendly days out on a UK holiday.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
With attractions that cover 800 years of naval history, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is located in the larger HMNB (Her Majesty’s Naval Base) Portsmouth, a fully functioning port for the British navy. The Historic dockyard is an enthralling day out for families since it’s a maritime museum featuring educational exhibits including the raised wreck of the Tudor carrack Mary Rose, the HMS Warrior (from 1860) and HMS M33 which was a WWI monitor. The museum is one of the world’s most renowned maritime museums and children will love seeing relics from the adventurous seafaring days of yore.

Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is the largest, oldest occupied castle in the world and is — to this day — an official royal residence. The castle is open to visitors and offers free audio tours for families, narrated by such colorful castle residents as Gilbert the Grotesque, Tipu Tiger and Cyril, a Page of the Back Stairs. As well as guided tours, there are loads of family activity trails to explore, shops, and a regular schedule of insightful programs throughout the year.

Sutton Hoo
This Suffolk gem in the east of England is an ancient Anglo-Saxon burial ground covering 91 hectares overlooking the Deben estuary. The site has a fascinating archaeological history and seamlessly melds contemporary children’s fun with ancient historical exhibitions. There are woodland walks, an adventure playground, tracker packs and activity trails to keep the whole family engaged and entertained for an educational day out.

Family travel can be expensive and the exchange rates are rarely in favor of anyone coming into the UK. To make the most of a UK holiday, take public transport wherever possible, search for discounts prior to arrival and bring pack lunches, because the UK is best appreciated over a civilized picnic in a quaint location.


Get Weight Watchers approved items from Publix #myblogspark (Giveaway)

**CLOSED** Winner is Angel L. Congrats! 

The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.

Right now Publix is offering some great deals on Weight Watchers approved items. They include:
  • Progresso Light Soups: BOGO 
  • Green Giant Frozen: BOGO
  • Yoplait: 20/$10
You can check out the Publix everyday savings site for printable coupons to save even more. This is a great time to stock up on these foods. I have purchased a lot of Yoplait yogurt for the kids. They have been grabbing them for breakfast most mornings. I also stocked up on Green Giant frozen veggies for future meals. I like to incorporate green beans, broccoli or carrots in my son's mac and cheese for lunch. 

One Mom Files reader can win a prize pack that includes a cool collapsible salad container, water bottle, snack container and a $25 Publix gift card. Both the salad and snack containers can be put in the freezer before food is added to keep food fresh and chilled when on the go. All items are BPA-free. Enter below in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck! 

This giveaway is open to US Residents only and will end on January 21, 2014. One winner will be chosen at random and will be contacted via email to claim prize. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes or for fulfillment of prizes. Good luck!


Money-saving tip for buying butter in bulk #HouseWifeLife

I have a new love and he goes by the name of Sam, Sam's Club to be exact! I have become such a fan of buying in bulk. One thing that I have contemplated on buying for months was butter. It comes in 4 one-pound solid blocks. I spend a small fortune (about $3.50-$4) in the grocery store on butter in sticks, so getting 4 pounds for $8 is a bargain! 
I finally broke down and bought it this weekend and came up with a great solution. Why not make my own sticks? All I did was set out one block of butter on the counter for no more than 30 minutes. Next, I took a knife and sliced straight down the middle and then did the same with each half. I wrapped each quarter in wax paper. I put them in a zipper storage bag and placed the remaining 3 solid blocks in the freezer. The savings is worth the extra effort!

Running Out? Run in Event is back at Publix {$25 Publix gift card giveaway} #myblogspark #spon

Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark

It happens to all of us... you open the pantry and realize you are out of everything! You're in luck since Publix has their Running Out? Run In. event going on from 10/09/13-10/25/13. If you purchase $30 in participating products, you can get a $10 Publix gift card from a mail-in rebate. There are so many items on sale and you can even find coupons at the registers for extra savings. 

I stocked up on Yoplait Go-GURT, Old El Paso dinner kits, Gain laundry detergent and Charmin Basic bathroom tissue. All of them were on sale and I was lucky to have coupons for most of the items. See below for the full list of participating products. 

This display was in the front entrance of my local Publix store. There were mail-in rebate forms attached and you can also download one online if needed. 
*PARTICIPATING PRODUCTS: Immaculate Baking® Honestly Delicious™; Yoplait® Go-GURT® (8ct, assorted varieties); Gain Laundry Detergent (100oz, assorted varieties); Old El Paso® Dinner Kits (assorted varieties); Totino's® Party Pizza® (assorted varieties); Dawn® Dish Detergent (20-24oz bottle, assorted varieties); Betty Crocker® Hamburger Helper® (assorted varieties); Suddenly Pasta Salad® (assorted varieties); Charmin® Basic Bathroom Tissue (12 double roll pkg, assorted varieties); Pampers® Diapers (Jumbo, assorted varieties); Green Giant® Canned Vegetables (4pk, assorted varieties); Crest® Toothpaste (8.2oz, assorted varieties); Herbal Essences® (6.0 -11.7oz, assorted varieties) and Vidal Sassoon® Shampoo/Conditioner (12oz, assorted varieties); Tide® Pods (18ct, assorted varieties)

Be sure to "like" Publix on Facebook
One Mom Files' reader will win a $25 Publix gift card to help stock-up from the RORI event. Enter below: a Rafflecopter giveaway  
This giveaway is open to US Residents only and will end on October 19, 2013. One winner will be chosen at random and will be contacted via email to claim prize.  Momfiles is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck! 


Publix Breakfast Savings going on now! ($25 GC Giveaway) #myblogspark

Winner is Crystal- congratulations! 

Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by Publix® through MyBlogSpark.

The Publix Breakfast Savings Event is going on right now! This is a great opportunity to stock up, especially now that school is in session. 
I was lucky to find Quaker Oatmeal on sale buy one, get one free. I bought 8 boxes since my kids eat it daily. There are some coupons available for some breakfast items to save even more. Check them out here

There are many items on sale like Aunt Jemima Pancake Syrup, General Mills Cheerios Cereal, Kellogg's Nutri-Grain bars and more! There are so many convenience items that help make school mornings a little easier. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

To help you stock up on some breakfast items, one Mom Files reader will win a $25 Publix gift card. Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is open to US Residents only. Giveaway ends on September 20, 2013 and one winner will be selected at random and contacted via email to claim prize. Be sure to follow contest rules stated in Rafflecopter widget. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!


Get ready for the Publix® Fresh Savings Event with a $25 GC Giveaway

Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by Publix® through MyBlogSpark.

Right now through September 12th, you can find savings on produce, bakery items, meat and eggs with the purchase of *participating items to get ready for the final days of summer exclusively at Publix® Fresh Savings Event
*PARTICIPATING ITEMS: General Mills Cereals Cheerios® (14oz), Betty Crocker® SuperMoist Cake Mixes and/or Frostings, Old El Paso® Dinner Kits, Hellmann's Mayonnaise (22oz or larger), Diet Pepsi (2 liter), Lipton® Recipe Secrets® Onion, Aunt Jemima® Syrups (24oz) and Pancake Mix (2lb), Breyers® Products, Tostitos® Tortilla Chips (9oz or larger)

My family loves having Mexican night often so I know I will take advantage of the Old El Paso dinner kits as well as the Betty Crocker cakes mixes for making cupcakes for dessert. Oh, and I can't forget the Breyer's ice cream! Publix prices are great and often you can find coupons for a lot of the items that are a part of this sale. I know I will be stocking up! 

One Mom Files reader will win a $25 Publix gift card to take advantage of the great deals at Publix.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway is open to US Residents only. Giveaway ends on September 12, 2013 and one winner will be selected at random and contacted via email to claim prize. Be sure to follow contest rules stated in Rafflecopter widget. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!


Saving Money on Teaching Your Kids How to Play Music

Parents know just how beneficial it can be for their children to learn how to play a musical instrument. Once the costs start adding up, however, it becomes clear just how expensive it can be as well. Between buying an instrument and paying for lessons, music can be far more costly a hobby than it might appear at face value.

The fact is, there are plenty of ways in which you can help your child to learn how to sing or play an instrument without going broke in the process, some of which are more apparent than you might think.

Shop for Used Instruments

The initial costs associated with learning how to play an instrument can be staggering. Even beginner instruments can range in the thousands of dollars when purchased new, and it's an awfully large investment to make when you aren't positive whether or not your child will continue to be interested in playing as time goes on. One way to lessen the blow to your bank account when shopping for an instrument is to consider buying used. Used instruments are perfect for beginners, as they allow novice musicians to get a feel for learning how to play without having to plunk down a great deal of money up-front. When shopping for used instruments, be sure to work with a reputable dealer who will be able to provide you with the right options; Craigslist and eBay should be avoided unless you are well-versed on instrument buying.

Take to the Internet

Paying for lessons can be excessively expensive over time. Since most instructors like to see their students once per week, you can expect to spend anywhere between $80 and $160 per month on music lessons for your child alone if you take the traditional route. The Internet, however, has made learning how to play music far less expensive and more accessible to those who are on a tight budget. Online guitar tutorials, theory lessons and more can be found for free or cheap on the Internet, and allow your child to work at his or her own pace. You can even create your own program for your child if you have a fair amount of knowledge about playing music yourself by pulling together information found on the web and tailoring it to their interests in ways that are not often seen in a traditional instruction format.

Go to Free Concerts

As with anything else in life, there's no substitute for real-world experience. You can spend hours in a practice room, but it'll be extremely difficult to learn the finer points of live performance without going to concerts regularly. Concerts can be expensive, however, and sometimes they aren't suitable for children. On the other hand, just about every fair-sized city offers a free concert series during the summer, with genres ranging from pop to rock to classical. Taking your children to one free concert per week is a great way to help them internalize what it is to be a performing musician - something they're not likely to learn while practicing at home. Contact your local town hall for more information on free concerts that are scheduled in your area.

While helping your child learn to play music can be a costly venture, it doesn't have to be if you take the right approach.


Spring clean and turn your clutter into cash!

Did you know the average consumer has $7,000 worth of unused stuff in their home? In fact, according to an annual clothing Resale Report from thredUP, the average family has $1,318 worth of used/outgrown clothing to sell alone. That's a lot of money that can be put towards future goals for your family or even retirement.

Whatever it is you'd like to sell, below is a list of new tech services that make it truly easy to spring clean while turning that clutter into cash. Best part? You don't have to wait for someone else to buy your stuff like you do on Craigslist or eBay. Just pack up those unwanted goods, ship 'em off, and watch the cash roll in.

· online consignment to clean out children's closets and turn outgrown clothes into cash. Order a thredUP bag, fill it with kids' clothes and earn up to 40% of the resale value. thredUP consignors inspect every item and resell only the best clothes.

·  EcoATM: an automated, self-serve kiosk that quickly evaluates and buys back used consumer electronics directly from consumers for cash. It's like a magical money robot. Find an EcoATM location near you.

· sell your home furnishing directly to Chairish. Users simply submit furniture details online, and Chairish takes care of payments while insuring white glove shipping. Chairish's curation team approves every listing to ensure the best furniture quality for buyers.

· we've all heard of Cash for Gold, but there's another option for your once loved jewelry. Gold fellow will even take broken jewelry!

· type in the ISBN and Book Scouter will search all the sites that are currently paying for used books to give you a quote. It's like having a book broker!

· gift card exchange that helps you trade in gift cards you aren't planning on using, for cards you will use - or for cash.

· instruments are often pricey to ship, and you probably won't make much selling them on craigslist. UsedInstrumentBuyer gives you a quote upfront and ship it for free.

· luxury designer resale - all online. Perfect for the Louis Vuitton bag that needs a new home.

· want someone to do your spring cleaning for you? TaskRabbit helps you find local people to run your errands– like help you sell heavier stuff such as kitchen appliances or home fitness equipment in the garage on Craigslist.

· a selling portal perfect for bigger ticket items like TVs. Best part? With every item you sell, they'll make a donation to a classroom in need.

**This information was sent to me via email and I thought the resources would be valuable. 
Shelly, Mom Files

I love to iron and that makes ME crazy?

I have been seeing a lot of talk lately on Facebook and Twitter about ironing your clothes. I find is astonishing that a great majority of people don't even own an iron. Some said that they have one, but would have no idea of where to find it. There were a few, very few that religiously iron. I enjoy ironing. Each and every morning, I iron my husband's work clothes (even on jeans day). I can't wrap my mind around the thought of my husband going into work in a wrinkled shirt or trousers. I feel like it is a reflection on the type of housewife that I am. It's my job. Call me old-fashioned, because I am... and rather proud of it too. It's funny that others think I am the crazy one because I do iron! I am thinking they are the crazy ones for walking around with wrinkled clothing on.

About a month ago, my beloved purple Shark professional iron died on me. I was devastated. I only had it for a little over a year and it quit on me. I really didn't want to get a new iron because the one I had was everything I wanted in an iron. I knew I had to get a new one right away because I could not find my back-up iron. Hey, doesn't everyone have a back-up iron? *winks*
I went to Walmart which is where I got the last one and they were completely sold out of the one I wanted. I had to get an iron right away because... because I just had to! I went with a Hamilton Beach which I grunted and groaned about. I did not want that brand but the alternative was going to several other stores and that was not what I felt like doing. It cost me about $30 and you know what? It actually works quite well. I loved my 1600 watt iron and this one is 1500 watt. I don't really see any major difference except the last iron had a larger soleplate.  It has a super long cord and great steam action. It also has the auto shutoff feature if the unit is left on for 15 minutes unattended. It was a great purchase. I really hope it will last me at least a year. I might consider purchasing a second one as a back-up since it was so inexpensive.

Another item I bought was the Faultless Maxx starch in the spray bottle. I usually get the one in the can and I am now trying to figure out why I have been doing that all these years. The Faultless Maxx is awesome and does not spray unevenly like the aerosol cans do. It also has a nice, light fragrance and leaves a crisp finish. I am so happy with my purchases and always looking for ways to make my homemaking more pleasurable. If you are looking to buy a good iron at a decent price, I recommend the Hamilton Beach Professional Iron with the stainless steel plate as well as the Faultless Maxx starch.

P.S.- YOU better not be laughing at me! :)

This is not a sponsored post and I purchased the above items myself. I just wanted to share my thoughts since I loved the items so much.
Shelly, Mom Files

See how Smooth Fitness is saving my family money! #SmoothBlogger

My family is on a very strict budget. If we don't have the extra cash for things, we just don't buy them. We have been members at our local health club for a few years on were on a special that was offered for a limited time. Of course, that limited time ended and the new price would have skyrocketed to $90 a month! With super high gas and food prices, we need an extra $90 each month. Also, with the kids' and husband's busy schedules, the gym membership was not being used like it should. We were throwing our money away because nobody had the time to go. 

Our Smooth Fitness treadmill came in right on time! We received it last week and  we were all eager to test it out.  My first impression when I saw it being hauled in by the delivery guys was, "WOW!" It was a lot bigger than what I was expecting.
My husband and I have been looking at treadmills for a while and most of what we have seen in the local stores were on the cheap side. They looked like even I could break it because of how lightweight they were. Our Smooth 5.65 Treadmill looks and feels like what you would see in a gym. We love that it can handle up to 300 pounds. It was important for us to have a high-quality machine since there will be 4 of us using it on a daily basis. Each family member has their own set of goals they want to achieve. Right now we are all in the process of starting off slowly to get our bodies conditioned for the goals we have planned for ourselves.
I love the very simple, user-friendly display. My husband experimented with one of the pre-programmed routines on the treadmill and he had to surrender after 15 minutes! He realized he needs to work up to that stage. His biggest goal is both weight loss and cardio strengthening. I plan to purchase a new bathroom scale so we can track his weight each week. Having this treadmill in our home is going to help him so much since work, college classes, being a dad and a husband often gets in the way of getting proper exercise. I want to see my husband around for a very long time! I will say this, so far one of the great side-effects of working out for my husband has been better sleep. He struggles with falling asleep at night and after only 3 days, he has been crashing hard! Of course we all know that the sleep is so important to be able to function properly each day.

Please come back in a couple weeks when I discuss through video, more about how the Smooth Fitness treadmill works. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to leave a comment or shoot me an email.

Stay connected with Smooth fitness on the web, Facebook and Twitter.

I am participating in a campaign as a Smooth Fitness Ambassador and will be reviewing a treadmill from Smooth Fitness in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts/opinions expressed are always my own.
Shelly, Mom Files
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