Monthly Archive: August 2016

How to Use and Save Money with Citi Price Rewind

Citi Price Rewind is a feature of Citibank credit cards that scours the internet to (hopefully) save you money by finding a lower price on items you’ve purchased and registered with Citi Price Rewind. According to the website, nearly 124,000 refunds were issued in the first half of 2016, totaling over $3,000,000. You can receive refunds for up to $500 per item, and the maximum refund you can receive in a year is $2,500. It’s a very straightforward process. Charge your purchase(s) to your Citi credit card, submit a tracking ticket, and Citi will start looking for lower prices for the next 60 days. At the end of the 60 days, you’ll be refunded the price difference if a lower price was found.

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Three Ways to Change the Way You Spend Money

I’m not too good with setting budgets. I generally just try to save as much money as possible by finding deals or being honest with myself about whether or not I really need something. Most of the time it’s a want rather than a need. One area where I could use some help is in the dining department. We tend to eat at restaurants a lot on the weekends since we’re usually out and about. With a family of three, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to dine out for less than $25 after tax and tip. Even fast food adds up to around $15 per visit. So why do we continue to do it? It’s convenient, and we’re mostly just being lazy. We rationalize that it’s easier to eat out and it’s less time consuming than going home to cook and save some money. When you add up all that rationalizing, we’re looking at $100 to $200+ each month in dining expenses alone. That adds up to thousands of dollars each year. Yikes! If we could all stop trying to justify our purchases, just think how much money we could all save every year. Here are three mistakes I’ve noticed people make when making purchases:

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Sleep Training Never Really Ends

As a parent, I’m sure you’ve heard or read the saying, “You can’t spoil a baby,” or something to that effect. For me, this was a common theme every time I read about sleep training for babies. Since it was plastered all over the internet by e-parents and other anonymous people, I figured it had to be true. So for the first three months of parenthood, I cuddled my daughter at every opportunity. I cuddled her to sleep at bedtime, when she woke up in the middle of the night, and for naps. For the most part, she slept through the night but all babies evolve, for better and worse.

Around the thee month age, she was waking up several times a night, so of course one of us had to go in there and help her back to sleep. Apparently you CAN spoil a baby, because they want/need you to help them back to sleep from all of the non-spoiling love you’ve been giving them. It was exhausting. I couldn’t wait to start sleep training at four months old.

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Three Weeks Left for Disney Store Summer Play Days

Each summer, the Disney Store holds its Summer Play Days event where they give away free stuff every week. The free items are part of a theme for the entire summer. This year it’s a Tsum Tsum wristband (as you can see from the main image, above). In order to receive a wristband, you have to participate in the event, which typically lasts about five to 10 minutes. The events are different each week. We’ve had activities such as learning how to draw a Disney character, a parade within the store, playing a match game, or learning how to do the Hot Dog Dance. Check with your local Disney Store to confirm the time(s) of their event(s). One store near me has two events daily, while another store has only one each day.

If you collect all 14 wristbands, you can get bonus Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse Tsum Tsum wristbands. You’ll have to take your collection to a Disney Store between 8/31/16 and 9/5/16 to show them to a Cast Member so they can verify your collection.

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Great Wolf Lodge Grand Mound Review

We recently visited the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington with a close friend and her daughter. If you’re not familiar with Great Wolf, they advertise as “America’s largest family of indoor waterpark resorts.” They have 14 locations throughout the United States and one in Canada. In the Pacific Northwest, which has a reputation for rain and clouds, Great Wolf Lodge offers the opportunity to enjoy water activities all year long.

The resort is located approximately 67 miles south of Seattle/Tacoma Airport. If you’re thinking of making a visit here, know that it’s going to be a drive. If you’re traveling south during the week, it’s probably best to leave before noon, or 1PM at the latest. Most traffic heads north during the morning commute and the afternoon commute tends to start around 2PM or 3PM. When you’re leaving, follow the same rules. Either leave early or leave late because the traffic heading north through Olympia and Tacoma is awful.

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Understanding the Value of Hotel Points and Airline Miles

Before my wife and I tied the knot, I was just a shell of the man I am today. At the time I proposed, my net worth in hotel points and airline miles was only the equivalent of one free night at a Courtyard Marriott. She said yes anyway. With wedding planning in full force, one day she said to me, “We should get a Hilton American Express credit card. My parents have it and it helped us get free hotel rooms and free breakfast in Hawaii. That could save us money on future vacations.” It sounded like a good idea so I agreed and applied for the card. After we received the cards is when I really began researching how to earn more points and maximize the benefits. The can of worms was opened. Almost 10 years later (!?!?!), the roles are reversed.

Me: “So…there’s a new credit…”
Her: “We don’t need anymore credit cards.”
Me: “At least let me tell you about the benefits and how this will help us.”
Her: “Ugh….if you must. Is there an annual fee?”
Me: “Yeah, but it’s worth it. <Explains the benefits>
Her: “<Sigh>…..Okay, I guess that sounds good. But what about other cards?”
Me: “Yay!” <runs off>

Ironic, isn’t it?

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How We Healed Baby and Toddler Eczema

My wife and I both have skin conditions. I had acne during my teen years and my wife has eczema. With both of us having some type of skin condition, I’ve always worried about what we would pass on to our daughter. The eczema appeared within a few months of her being born, and I guess I have a decade before I have to worry about the acne.

For baby eczema, we tried a bunch of different over-the-counter lotions and creams. Baby Aquaphor is too greasy and we didn’t see enough results to warrant continued use. Within minutes of applying baby Aveeno lotion and cream, her skin was dry again. With all of these products for baby eczema not working, our pediatrician recommended CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, which is also over-the counter. They don’t advertise as being for babies though. This CeraVe product is approved by the National Eczema Association.

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A Diaper Bag That Parents Don’t Have to Carry

If your toddler is old enough to walk but still in diapers or pull ups, and you’re tired of lugging around a traditional diaper bag, then invest in a Skip Hop backpack instead. No, not the backpack diaper bag for adults. The kids backpacks. I don’t remember the exact reason why we bought one, but we ended up putting all of the usual diaper bag necessities in the Skip Hop and making someone carry her own stuff. It’s turned out to be the one of the best diaper bags we’ve bought. Now the only thing you have to hold is your kid’s hand.

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Blotting Your Food Can Save Thousands of Calories

Have you ever picked up a slice of pizza and noticed the grease puddles? If the answer is yes, did you eat it anyway or blot it with a napkin? If you ate it, you may want to consider blotting in the future. According to an article on mentalfloss.com, blotting pizza can save approximately 35 calories per slice. A study by Labdoor Magazine went even further and determined that blotting a slice of pepperoni pizza could save 4.5 grams of fat per slice, which equals 40.5 calories from fat per slice. With the average American consuming approximately 87 slices of pizza each year, blotting off the excess grease would equate to 66 slices. At 117 calories from fat per slice, blotting reduces that figure to 76.5. Over the course of a year, you would save just over 6,600 calories from fat.

I’ve blotted pizza and it’s insane how much grease and how many napkins you can use up. It’s a fun experiment, if you’re into that sort of thing. So if blotting pizza can save calories and fat consumption, then I started to wonder what else I could blot. I chose McDonald’s breakfast. Would removing excess grease and fat would make me feel better about consuming high caloric food?

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Songs I’m Not Ashamed to Like

Before my daughter was born, I mentally prepared myself for the days when I’d be driving somewhere while bumping some Wheels on the Bus, Old MacDonald Had a Farm, and any other popular nursery rhyme or kid song. I won’t lie. The sing along car rides can be fun and it’s great bonding time. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, my daughter has her own playlist in my Google Play Music account. Surprisingly, she chose very few children’s classics. I don’t know if that’s a win or a fail on my part. Aside from the songs that we introduced to her, she’s found some songs on her own by watching cartoons. A couple of her favorites are LEGO Friends and Strawberry Shortcake. I have to be honest though, a lot of the songs from those shows are catchy. Some by design while others have grown on me. I’m looking at you, Sofia the First.

The first time I heard one of them, I was making dinner and not really paying attention to the show. I just remember thinking to myself, “Hey this song’s pretty cool. Where’s this from?” And then I found out…

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