Tag Archives: Fast

5 Simple Ways to Develop a Healthy Relationship With Your Money

The best and worst thing about money is there’s no such thing as too much.  Nearly everyone, especially yours truly, can think of ways to spend cash that has yet to be earned.  Sometimes, the problem is nowhere near enough money and that can stress your health, your relationships and your work.  The most important thing is to develop a healthy financial view.  Here’s how (and like always, I keep it simple).

1.  Know where your money comes from and where it goes.  Simply put,  have a spending plan.  Spending plan is a kinder, gentler word for a budget.   Use it. Especially if “budget” leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth or, in extreme cases, causes  heart palpitations.  Budget seems strict and rigid.  A spending plan is a proactive approach to getting where you want to be from where you are financially.

2.  Understand your bank’s fees so you can avoid paying them.  I recently discovered a $5 “bill pay” charge from my bank.  I pay my bills online, but I don’t use my bank’s bill pay service?  Why am I being charged for that?  Don’t be afraid to ask the question.   I also avoid ATM fees at all costs thanks to a network of convenience stores that all feature “No Fee” ATMs.  Some banks refund out of network fees.  Learn your bank’s policy.

3.  Learn to read and understand your credit report.  You can get one annually from each of the three major agencies from www.annualcreditreport.com.  If you’ve never done this, get all three at once the first time.  Then, starting a year from now, pull from one agency every three months to make sure your reports are accurate.  If you need help, that’s why I am here.  Or any credit counseling service in your area will assist you. Your bank should too.

4.  Know your score.  Your credit score is available on demand from CreditKarma.com.  This great, free tool also shows you how to improve your score if that’s necessary.

5.  Relax.  These simple steps will put you in control of your money than having your money control you.  Knowing where you’re at financially will help you identify areas where you can save money or possibly bring more money into your life through making frugal choices, leveraging your talents to earn extra cash or deciding on other ways to increase income.

If I can help, you know where to find me.

Best Family Dice Games

I love games and the great thing about dice games is that they tend to be very portable, easy to learn and fast to play.  Some on this list take five minutes or less to play and learn.  All get the Lisa Sharp seal of approval for cost, playability and fun.  Some are even educational.

Zombie Dice is one of the best games of all time.  It’s compact.  Easy to learn, easy to play, fun for anyone who can count to 13.  I do carry it in my purse and we do play it at any opportunity.

Sequence Dice is deceptively educational. The manufacturer says 8 and up, but we played with our first grader. It is a great way to teach basic math and have fun as a family.

Rory’s Story Cubes is another fun, highly portable game. Keep them in your purse for entertaining even the youngest children while waiting for appointments. Simply roll the cubes and let the images inspire you and/ or your children to create stories. Warning: can get very silly!

Phase 10 Dice Game is another game that fits in a purse or backpack. Much like the card game, Phase 10 Dice requires players to complete phases to advance. Very fun, very portable game.

Yahtzee is a classic. Much like Kismet, another favorite dice game of mine, Yahtzee is both fun and educational. helping kids recognize sequences, pairs, add, and multiply single digit numbers.

Bunco is a wildly popular party game. You might not realize it can be played with as few as two players because it is so much better with a larger group. Give it a try and tell me what you think!

Last, but not least, Pass the Pigs is a portable, easy to learn and score game for the whole family. Another dice game easily fitting in a purse or backpack, this game is suitable for any number of players of any age. Expect some good-natured disagreements about the position of the pigs while playing this game.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but represents some of my favorite Dice-based games.  Dice games are fun because they tend to be fast and easy to learn, play and enjoy.  Think about throwing one in your purse or briefcase to brighten up any day and make waiting less dull.

Make it Monday: Procrastinator’s Edition

Last week got weird quickly, but ~meh~  Today is Valentine’s Day and I’m certain I am the only mom in the world who put off making classroom valentines until the last minute, wanted them to be unique AND had to – just HAD to – work a pencil into the plan.  No store boughts for me, thankyouverymuch.  I have entirely too much paper to justify that one!

Since the “no candy” rule foiled my original plan AND plan B (future blogs, I promise), I had to dig deep down into plan C.  Plan C did not choose to manifest itself until yesterday morning.

Third graders like paper, right?  They write and draw and whatnot constantly.  At least the Khan does.  And his classroom is always crying out for pencils so I wanted to do something useful, cute, you get the idea.  These are variants of the classic notepad folder using supplies from my stash, my mother’s stash and the dollar store.

The one on the left involves a 3×5 notepad (from a pack of five costing $1), double sided tape or a tape runner, and scrapbook paper.  The paper is cut to the height and three times the width of the notepad.  Tape the notepad down to the right edge of the wrong side of the paper.  Fold the per at the edge of the notepad, fold the remainder in half (it is really folded in thirds).  Trim the corner out of the left hand edge – with a decorative edge scissors if you have one but a clean straight edge is just fine.  Attach the ribbon with tape (I switched to glue dots for this) and tie the bow with the pencil inside.

The option on the right is with preprinted cards – sold by the box at any craft store.  Just trim the card down to the size of the notepad (or skip it if it’s close), attach the notepad with your adhesive of choice, stamp the front.  Lazy? Yep.  But it was getting late and I got in a hurry.  I attached the pencil with a glue dot to the envelope.

The Khan was happy with them so I’m hopeful the rest of the third grade will too.  This is also a nice idea for a card party / game night favor, teacher gift or just a nice little “thinking of you” gift.  If you use the the preprinted cards and embellish them, they’ll have an envelope all ready for mailing, but you will pay extra postage.

Would you like to see a step-by-step tutorial?  Leave me a comment and I promise to make it happen.

 

Make It Monday – The World’s Worst Week Edition

Let’s forget about last week, shall we?  But I do strive to create weekly and I did manage to make a couple of things.  I did not manage, however, to snap photos because I didn’t find my creations all that exciting.  What is exciting is HOW I created them.  I used this:

Oh yeah!  I got a serger.  Who knew what I was missing?  I certainly did not.  But in order to try to match the Lovely Sarah’s crafting productivity, when she got one, I did too.  Then I told Hubby it was all her fault 😉  I don’t know what came over me.

However, I finally felt well Sunday and got to play with my new toy.  It is wonderful.  For those of you who don’t know what a serger does, it sews overlock stitches – look  inside the clothes you have on now and there’s most likely overlock stitching putting them together.  Overlock is definitely in your knit clothes.   The finished product is clean and professional looking because the serger also has knives which trim your seams as you go along.  I LOVE THIS!  Also, no pins.  Not pinning things together saves lots of time.

So what I got created was a polar fleece scarf:  with wrong side out, serge the tube.  Turn out the right side, top stitch with your regular machine down both sides and above where the fringe will be on the ends.  Cut the fringe.  Done.  10 minutes.

I also created more hot packs for the boys.  Cut a fabric square (I love flannel for this) roughly twice the size you’d like your pack to be, fold right sides together, serge two sides, fill with rice.  Sew the top shut with your sewing machine.  Roughly ten minutes each.

I serged around a two yard piece of polar fleece to make a lightweight blanket for the Khan.

Last, I made  a pillow case (aka the easiest thing in the world).  To make a pillow case, keep in mind these dimensions:

Full Sized Pillow: 21×30 inches

Queen Sized Pillow:  21 x 34 inches

King Sized Pillow:  21×40 inches

So when you cut the fabric, you have to allow for seam allowances and a hem on the end.  Using a full sized pillowcase as an example, it would be roughly 43 inches long with the width based on your desired hem length. Pillow cases bought in the store usually have a three or 4 inch hem which would mean your fabric piece would  be 34″ long give or take your desired seam allowance.

Yesterday, I made the pillow case by folding the fabric right sides together and serging the open long side and one short side of the rectangle.  I then finished the open edge of the rectangle with the serger (not sewing it shut, obviously, but serging around the edge of the fabric to prevent it from raveling.  Then turned the hem, pressed it and finished the pillow case using a decorative stitch on my sewing machine.    They turned out quite nicely.  Again, ten minutes.  15 tops.

What have you been up to?

Friday Fun: Great Board Games for your Family

Here’s a big secret:  I own probably 100 board and card games.  I love ’em.  Sometimes I need to rent some friends to play with me (so if you know of a “friend rental service….”), but I love ’em.  Here in the midwest, winters are long and can get dull.  Here are some ideas for games to pull out of the closet for a nice family game night:

Dominion:  I believe serious gamers call this a “Deck Building” game.  You use the cards in your hand to buy other cards that are either money, victory points or action cards.  It is a very simple game, suitable for kids around eight and up, to learn; but it does require critical thinking skills and a good bit of strategy.  It may be my favorite game in the world because it sets up quickly and plays quickly as well.  Games can go long, but 30-45 minutes is typical.  This game gets a five pizza score from me.

Zombie Dice:  This is a fabulous, fabulous game.  The pieces consist of 13 dice and a can small enough to fit in your purse or pocket. It can easily be played while waiting for an appointment.  The object is to get Brains, Brains! (duh) and avoid the shotgun blast.  Players roll 3 dice at a time until they have three shotgun blasts or choose to stop.   The first to 13 brains wins.  Things to love about this game:  it takes no time to set up, can be taught in under two minutes and is a complete blast to play. Another 5 Pizza Score for me.

Bananagrams: This is an easy word game suitable for up to 8 players.  Players simply draw tiles to create words in a similar fashion to Scrabble, but each tile scores one point making it much more straightforward and easier for younger players.  Again the game is very compact (packaged in a bag only a little bigger than a banana) making it great for travel.  It is a very fast- paced game so it makes a great another great time passer while at appointments, etc and to toss in the camper.  Since word games aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, I’ll cut it back to a 4.5 pizza score.

Kismet:  This is a dice game similar to Yahtzee, but happens to be the one I grew up with.  I remember many, many hours of Kismet with my grandmother while I was growing up.  Dice games like this are a great way to teach younger kids basic math and reasoning skills.  The youngest kids can be taught to count, add and multiply with this game.  5 pizza boxes for pure entertainment and educational value.

Clue The Classic Edition:  This is an oldie and a goodie.  In fact, while not my favorite, it is my kids’ favorite game and anything that brings them together without a big, black screen is great in my book.  Fun, easy to learn, requires a good deal of critical thinking to play means it gets another 5 pizza box score from me.

For those of you wishing to branch out, Battlestar Galactica is a fantastic game for older kids and adults.  Each player assumes a role from the TV series (good or bad) and the forces of good collaborate to defeat the forces of evil.  This game probably appeals more to Sci-Fi nerds (which I am not, but I love a challenge and this game is!) and is suitable for older kids (10-12+) and adults.  I’ll score it at Four Pizza Boxes.  I could make it 3 because it’s spendy, but it’s totally worth it.

King of Tokyo may be the greatest game you’ve never, ever heard of.  The object of the game is to destroy your opponent in the manner of Godzilla!  Players roll dice, do damage, earn energy to buy cards that enhance their skills and hopefully, sometimes, heal themselves.  It is Tokyo vs. Not Tokyo in classic fashion for kids 8+.  Remember I said that I love Dominion.  This game may be a close second and closing fast.  Why?  I have boys.  Boys love monsters, robots and battles.  This game has all of those things plus is taught in under five minutes and plays in well under an hour.  5 pizza boxes for King of Tokyo as well.

Do you agree?  Disagree?  What games would you put on this list?  What’s your favorite?