Disney!

Disney was awesome!! I can honestly say it will be remembered as one of our best trips EVER!

I have been very vague about sharing a lot of details especially here (on the blog). One of the reason, was safety and the second was the overall expense. Since we are back I feel much more comfortable sharing in regards to safety.  As far as expense, yes it was super expensive but it was a trip that Matt and I agreed to, a choice that we made and the only thing that matters is that we agreed!  We also agreed that we will not be planning another trip until we have conquered out debit! But let me share some of the details. I will be sharing more pictures and such over the next couple of weeks as well.

We left around 1pm on Thanksgiving Day and arrived to our room right around midnight. This did not stop us from begin up bright and early Friday morning for Epcot. This was a change from our previous trip as well. We stayed even the first night on site and it was so nice to arrive and know that we did not have to get back in the car for 10 days.

We spent 3 days in Magic Kingdom, which allowed up to ride EVERY ride and enjoy most shows and of course meet a lot of characters. Epcot was seen in two days with the first spent with our friends. We did accomplish our goal of eating around the world. We tasted at least one food item from every country.  We watched Whoopi Goldberg narrate The Candlelight processional, which is truly an experience. We spent one day each at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. We also scheduled a day for resort hopping and a second day for the pool and Disney Springs. My favorite show after the live production of Beauty and the Beast was the Hollywood Studio Christmas special “Jingle Bell Jingle Bam” It started at 8pm which allowed us to get back to our room at an average time. Of course, the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom were awesome and lived up to everything!

Zach planned ahead and chose to celebrate his birthday at Animal Kingdom. He wore his birthday pin all day. We ate breakfast at Tusker House and he received a cupcake with Mickey sprinkles and a card signed by Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy. Lily chose to celebrate her birthday at Magic Kingdom. She wore her birthday hat, from 2 years ago, and a birthday pin. She was lucky enough to receive a signed card from Belle and Beast at Be Our Guest Restaurant.

We were fortunate enough to receive several free items including a funnel cake, a marshmallow Mickey and each of the kids received a Mickey ice  cream bar on Lily’s birthday.

The resort was the only thing that did  not live up to our expectations. The layout was confusing and especially hard to navigate at night. The housekeeping was slack. I ended up calling at least 4 night to request more towels and wash clothes.  We stayed at Port Orleans  Riverside, which is considered a moderate resort but it was definitely not what we expected.

We ended up with the Dinning Plan which we used every last item! We actually brought home 3 additional bottles of water and 4 bottles of Diet Coke.  I enjoyed not having to worry about the cost. The only down side to the dinning plan for us was that gratuity was not included, for table service meals.  We tried several different table service meals this time. Tusker house was great at Breakfast and the Garden Grill was an great dinner. I was disappointed at the Cape May Café so we will not be returning there. My overall favorite was definitely Be Our Guest!

I just downloaded over 850 pictures from our memory maker and we probably have another 500 between our phones and IPAD. But I promise to share only 7 or less at a time.

We stayed at total of 10 nights and returned home on Sunday (12/3) around 8pm.

5 Things Friday- 11/18/2017

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  1. We leave for Disney next week! I am so excited. This will be our longest vacation ever!
  2. All five of us at home will be part of our Church’s Christmas musical. I am not excited about this because I have a small speaking part at least no singing.
  3. I decided this year to be a “minimal” year for Christmas decoration.  I have my snow village in my bedroom. Our huge Christmas tree in the living room and the girls both have small trees in their rooms.  I am excited to be finished!
  4. December is a 3 paycheck month! This is awesome timing as it gives up spending money for our vacation!
  5. In addition to be a minimalist in regards to decorating, Christmas gifts are the same way. I am planning on 3 gifts from us and 1 from Santa. This is a HUGE change as my older girls remember the 12 days of Christmas, where we opened one gift each day and still have several for Christmas morning.

Thursday Thoughts- 11/09/2017

Our car insurance jumped by $40 and when I called to find out why, I was assured it was nothing that I had done but that rates in my state had increased that much. The second piece of “great” news was that Gieco will only insure in NC for six months at a time due to rates.

On a slightly better note, I have been seeing an advertised special for Sirus radio that included 30 days of free service. This is usually awesome for us as we are traveling to and from Florida. Matt checked into it today and it was actually a 60 day free trial.  This is awesome and will make driving a little bit easier for all of us.

I am actually looking forward to the month of December because it provides an extra pay check!   My goal is to end the year on a positive financial note!

We are fast approaching our Disney trip. Everyone is super excited. Which means they are also pretty eager to make money by extra chores. The benefit for me is that means I should have time to get my decorating done prior to the trip.  This weekend, my plan is to put up the snow village.

All three kids had dentist appointments today, no cavities for anyone!

 

Thankful Tuesday Thoughts 10/24/2017

I am reminded today that we start in November next week, so I need to be thankful for even the small things.

First Matt was able to design and create some really cool shirts for our Disney Trip. The best part is that we purchased both the shirts and the vinyl using gift cards earned from Swagbucks so total out of pocket equals ZERO.   IMG_0459 IMG_0460

Next the weather has finally started to feel like fall. In fact we are suppose to receive our first official frost this week. Because I was able to get off work earlier today, we picked the rest of the pepper and pimentos from the garden. I froze 4 cups of green peppers and saved enough for several omelets in the next week. 03AD7F7F-9B54-4174-8399-0994E8BD1729We have been searching for ways to save money. I am thankful to have discovered two. First Matt has been able to arrange Roku boxes in the house so that we have turned in 3 of our cable bill. I am thinking that this should reduce our total cable bill by around $30 a month. The best part is that it will not affect any of our viewing! Next, because we are attempting to eat out of  our freezers and pantry for the last couple months of the year, we are able to clean out and unplug one of our freezers. This will also allow it to be clean really well prior to our purchase of a cow next year.  I am also thinking that after our trip we should be able to turn off a refrigerator as well.  Finally, by watching the weather and opening and closing windows we are currently in our second full week of no heat or air.

5 Things Friday

  1. Today is one of my “extra” paychecks. I budget for 2 paychecks a month so on the 2 months a year that I receive 3 paychecks it allows a little bit of wiggle room. This time the majority of the check is going to travel. We are headed on two major week long trips this summer.
  2. Our garden is starting to produce. We are enjoying squash, zucchini, cucumbers and peppers. I have also harvest and frozen basil and oregano. I have been disappointed so far with the cucumbers but there is still hope. I am most excited about the watermelon. We already have one that is soft ball size with lots of blooms and other small one starting to form.
  3. The first week out of school has been just as crazy busy as the weeks before school ended. Monday night was swim team practice. Tuesday night was suppose to be Swim Meet but a storm cancelled that so we headed to Costco. Wednesday night- I got confused and we ended up relaxing at the pool for an hour. Thursday- make up swim meet. Friday- yard work.
  4. We recently lost a close friend who was the spouse of our piano teacher. The girls got a 5 week break from lessons but I am thankful they resume this week. Zach will be attending a reading camp in July so as you can see we are staying busy.
  5. Extra earning this month have been awesome. The current goal is to purchase Zachary’s birthday present with these earns in addition to adding to our Disney fund.

Saturday Update 5/27/2017

As predicted, this past week has been busy. I have struggled this week and realized that I NEED to “Count my Blessing” more than I need to worry. So my plan for this update is to “Count my blessing, name them one by one, to PROVE what God has done.”

  1. The extra hours at work do mean extra pay. We are slow regaining financial ground and extra pay is always helpful.
  2. We scheduled a trip to Disney World for this November. I actually booked the trip almost a year ago. Because of the struggles we have been experiencing, I was considering changing/postponing the trip. However, God has provided a very unexpected but concrete method to ensure we can pay for  this trip. In the morning, I will be making dinning reservation.
  3. We are very blessed to be able to travel to Michigian this June to celebrate Matt’s father 90th birthday. This blessing is so much more real and important with the lost of my dad.
  4. Our square foot garden is growing and thriving, I have frozen several packs of broccli, made a squash side dish and the kids enjoyed a handful of snap peas. The plants all appear healthy and relatively bug free. I anticipate a good squash harvest this week and we should actually start with cucumbers in two weeks or less.
  5. The kids and I got to spend 6 hours at the pool today. We really enjoyed the time with friends and I was able to just sit for several hours.
  6. I somehow got a screw in my tire last Saturday. My brother was able to patch it on Sunday. The patch worked until Wednesday and then Matt was able to take to the dealship to have fixed.
  7. I will NOT be working on Monday. Instead the plan is to spend most of the afternoon/evening at the pool just enjoying life.

Seven is the perfect number and the number of completion so I will stop there. Do you have any blessing to share?

5 Things Friday- Christmas Edition

  1. With my ever changing crazy schedule at work, I ended up having a half day off on Monday and another half day off today. I did enjoy the extra time with the kids today!
  2. I am actually head of schedule with our preparation for Christmas Day. I should only have a few hours of work tomorrow and then be able to enjoy the entire day off Sunday! Here is a list of my original plan, I have been able to go ahead and prepare all three of the casseroles today. I let each of the little kids help with one so it took twice as long but really was nice to spend extra time with them.
  3. The insurance company has already settled with me in regards to my fender bender last Friday. I am have really amazed and happy with how smooth it has been. After discussion with Matt, we are not going to have the van repaired, instead that money will go to pay on our planned Disney World trip.
  4. December has been an awesome month for extra money coming in. So far we have cashed in $200 for Swagbucks and at least 50 via Mplaces.
  5. MERRY CHRISTMAS EVE EVE

Ways I Am Earning Money

I have been using all three of these for several months now so I am confident that they are legit. You will notice up front I am not making an income but extra money is extra money.

  1. IBOTTA- this is an app on my iPhone. I actually have been using for over a year now. I earn extra slow on it because I don’t look at it until after my trips to the store, if I purchased something on the list great if not so what. I earned approximately $20 in the last year but no money spent so a great extra.  To use you simply download the app and every time you shop you pick your store and see what rebates are available. To claim a rebate you first either watch a short video or answer a question, then you must scan the bar code of the items and barcode on receipt. I have to submit a picture of my Costco receipts but not difficult at all.
  2. MPlaces- another app on my IPHONE. This is like a GPS. The idea is that you “check into” all the places you visit in a day. You can complete 25 daily check in each day and you also receive “prizes” for the check-ins completed the day before. I use this app at stoplights. I will occasionally pull in a parking lot to complete several additional check-ins if needed. I compare this to “Pokémon Go” except I am receiving actual money for this. Just to give you an idea, I try to achieve my 25 check in daily mainly at stoplights and typically earn 500 points a day. I cash out at 12500 for a $5 gift card and start again. I usually watch a couple of short videos as part of the “prizes” so this increases my points as well. Matt has linked his tweeter account and received 10 extra points for tweeting each check in but I don’t have a tweeter account so that does not work for me.  Currently, I am earning about $5 a month again not a windfall but it is easy and does not require extra money
  3. Swagbucks- This one is easy to do but difficult to explain. I am going to give some step by step instructions and examples of how I complete. If you have a question ask I love to help people earn extra money.  First this is an app but I usually complete on the computer.   You can find a bit of everything and many different ways to earn swagbucks. I typically take surveys and watch videos. Here is a referral link that will take you directly to swagbucks.  This link will not hurt or cost  you anything to use but it does link you to my account and I get 1 SwagBuck for each 10 you earn. I want to stress that I am not taking anything from you but am being rewarded for getting you signed up. Ways to earn include:
    1. Everyday I go to the left side of the page and complete the daily survey(1), daily crave (1) and Daily Offers (NOSO) which is 2. The key to Daily offers is to hit the skip button until you get to the end. I NEVER fill in any  information.
    2. At some point during the day, I will open the SwagTV app on my IPAD and run the movie trailers. They will usually just run without me having to touch. You can earn a total of 10 swagbucks this way.
    3. Watching videos- Click the watch button on the right side. I usually start with NCrave videos which again is a button on the right side. Find the auto run ones because they will run without you interacting. A couple of tips I have learned is that you can not run two of the same type of videos at the same time, however you are allowed to watch an NCRAVE in one window and a regular video in a second window.
    4. Surveys- These can be found under Answer. I usually set a time limit for myself and if I have not qualified for a survey within 20 or 30 minutes I simple stop.
    5. Purchases online- If I am planning to make an online purchase I will go through shop first to see if it will qualify. I did purchase my new freezer this way and had no trouble using my Home Depot account with it. I am planning to make reservations this way as well.
    6. Subscriptions- I will state upfront that I only purchase things that I would normally buy and only if making money. Today I purchased the Birch Box subscription which is under discovery. I paid $9.99 out of our grocery budget and received 1500 SB ($15) these credit instantly.
    7. Searching the internet- You can be rewarded for searching using the bar at the top of the screen. This is very random and never certain so I use if I remember.

At the top of your swagbuck screen you will see several items one is your daily goal. This changes daily, by reaching your goal,  you receive the extra SB, for example today my goal is 90 to receive 8SB and 106 to receive 10.  These extra SB are awarded separately once a month between the 1st and 15th. I usually stop after reaching one or both of my goals for the day. If I qualify for one survey and reach my goal, I stop. This way I don’t spend more than an hour a day on swagbucks. Under the smiley face are your record and is pretty self explanatory.  They usually issue 1 or 2 extra swag codes a day but I usually miss because I am at work.  So how much am I earning. I try to earn 100 SB a day but this is about 60% of the time. I am earning approximately $50 a month with this. This money goes straight to my Disney trip.

 

Any questions? Let me know if you have any success!

 

 

 

 

Five Things Friday

  1. Today is the fifth Friday of July which also means I receive my third paycheck for July. I am paid every two weeks but budget based on two checks a month. This third check will cover our trip to the beach and our grocery overages for the past couple of weeks.
  2. Tomorrow night we are planning a “girls night in” as Zach is spending the night with Amanda. Matt will be working.
  3. Tonight is the end of one of the two “quiet” weeks of the summer. Piano and cheerleading were all the activities for the week. Next week is back to busy with a trip planned to Emerald Point and the girls have sign language camp all day Friday.
  4. My best friend used the same analog yesterday to explain MPLACES as I have been thinking all along. It is like Pokémon Go, as I am always trying to “check in” places at stoplights but in two months I have earned $15 in gift cards.  MPLACES is an app on my phone, ask me more if you are interested.
  5. I have officially booked our next trip to Disney. The goal of this trip is to pay for all or as much as possible by using apps and other found money. This money will not come from our regular budget at all and does not including saving on any bills or the differences in budgeted amounts vs. amount spent.

Monday Musing 1/25/20016

  • We have 5 weeks before Zach and Kendall start back to school and 4 before Lily begins her adventure in a Charter School. The next three weeks are what we consider slower because the girls have cheer on Monday and Thursday. They will also have piano once a week.
  • I was able to make a deposit on our next Disney trip this week using money that we have earned from Swagbucks. Matt and I are both using this site to earn extra money. I am so excited. The goal of this trip is to totally pay for it with money not included in our regular budget!
  • Our garden has not produced like we had hope but one of the biggest reason is the heat. Currently in NC, we are experiencing Day 26 of the summer with highs in the 90s. A typical summer is 29 days of 90 degree temperatures.
  • Matt has assembled the new water barrel to start collecting any rain water. Hopefully we will be able to water the garden on a regular bases without increasing our water bill.
  • I did plant 3 additional tomato plants and a dill plant this weekend with hopes of increasing our harvest.
  • We have really enjoyed our 2 trips to Emerald Point, a water park, this summer. We hope to go a couple more times but plan on spending only 4 or 5 hours at the park instead of 8.
  • The plan for August is to re-stock the pantry so our spending may be really close to budget.