Live With Less Challenge 2020

Declutter Live With Less Challenge

Are you feeling overwhelmed with stuff?  It seems that no matter how much I donate and purge beforehand, my home feels overstuffed after each Christmas.  I need this challenge for myself as much as I want to help encourage others!

Here are the Live With Less Challenge details:

Our first Live With Less Challenge of 2020 is going to be a fun one!  Each day you remove the number of items that corresponds with the date.  1st day, you remove one item, 2nd day, you remove two items, and so on and so forth.  By the end of the month you’ll have removed almost 500 items from your home!! 496 to be exact…if I did my math right. 🙂  Some days will be easier than other but as those of you who have participated in past challenges can attest, it’s surprising how much stuff we have that we don’t really need.  This is a great way to start a new year and I hope you’ll join us in our Live With Less Facebook group to share pictures of your progress and/or the items you’re getting rid of.  Click here to join.

In years past we’ve had a cash giveaway and I’ve kept up with everyone’s pictures but with our group now pushing 7,000 members it’s just not feasible anymore.  Even without the cash prize, I still hope you’ll join in the decluttering and in sharing your photos to help motivate others.  I can’t tell you how the pictures shared have motivated me.  Knowing you’re not alone swimming in clutter, seeing the progress others have made, hearing ideas for organizing, finding places to donate to, and so much more.  Truly, that group is an amazing group of people and I’m thankful to be apart of it.

FAQ

Q: Do I have to throw the things away.
A: Absolutely not!  You can gift, donate, recycle, repurpose, or throw away.  Try to let throwing away be your last option if possible.  Be careful not to get stuck on wanting to repurpose or repair things though.  It’s easy to save things for “one day” and that day never comes.

Q: Are you sure there won’t be a cash prize this year?
A: Yes, there won’t be this year but maybe I’ll giveaway a smaller gift card to an active participant in our Facebook group.

Q: Is it okay if I post in the group daily?
A: Absolutely!  To keep your progress organized you can post all of your pictures in the comments of your first post….or not.  It could be fun to see all of the progress you’ve made this month in one place but you’re not obligated to.  Just share away.

Q: Do you have a list of easy things to start with?
A: As it turns out, we do!  Here’s our list of 200 Things to Let Go Of.

If you have any other questions please feel free to comment below and ask.  I hope you’ll join us and invite a friend to join you too!

If you’re looking for some more Live With Less encouragement check out these resources (and don’t forget our Facebook group). 🙂

 

 

 

Easy Ways to Calculate Your New Car Budget

Buying a new car entails so much more than I previously thought. From figuring out how much “car” you can afford, to determining what type of car will work best for you, the list of proactive steps to take before you sign on the dotted line seems endless. While yes, many steps come into play when buying your new car, the biggest step I want to help you with today is setting a budget for your new car purchase. If you’re heading to the local dealership and want some tips for how much you can spend on that new car purchase, then continue reading for some tips to help you set a new car budget with ease.  This post is brought to you by Butlerchryslerdodgejeep.com.

Easy Ways to Calculate Your New Car Budget

Easy Ways to Calculate Your New Car Budget

Consider Total Price

The total price of your new car goes beyond what the selling price is for your new car. You’ll want to take into consideration the total price that includes the sticker price, the title, insurance, and other fees involved with buying a new car. You can easily estimate some of those costs beforehand to get a general idea of what a new car may end up costing to use to calculate your new car budget.

Review Expenses

Take a moment to review your income and expenses in the house. This is an important step in calculating your new car budget because you can’t spend money on a new car if you don’t have any money. Take a moment to figure out what you can remove from your current household expense list to make room for a new car payment and what amount is left over after all other household expenses have been deducted from your household income.

Calculate Monthly Payment

Remember that your new car is probably going to carry a hefty monthly payment, so be sure you know how much the monthly payment will be on a new car. You can easily estimate a monthly car payment by talking to your local dealership about their current rates and pricing options. Consider getting a list of approximate monthly payment options to help you calculate your new car budget.

Down Payment or Trade-In

When you work to calculate your new car budget, you’ll want to take into consideration whether or not you’re putting a down payment on the new car or trading in an older vehicle. Each of these things will be taken off the total price of your new car purchase. Have a discussion with the sales rep at your local dealership to see what types of down payment options or trade-in options they have to help get your new car budget calculated.

At the end of the day, buying a new car can be stressful. This is a new expense that you’ll be adding into your already packed full household expense list. That’s why I highly recommend you follow the simple steps I shared today to calculate your new car budget. This will ensure you can get a new car without breaking the bank or added more stress into your life.

What is routine maintenance on a car?

Have you recently bought a new family car? Maybe you already have a family car that’s treated your family well over the years but now you want to figure out what some of your routine maintenance should be for your car. Knowing what routine maintenance you should have performed on your car will help you extend your car’s lifespan, thus saving you thousands of dollars in repair fees.  This post is brought to you by Reedmantollnissanofdrexelhill.com.

What is routine maintenance on a car?

What is routine maintenance on a car?

– Peek at your Owner’s Manual

The owner’s manual for your car will lay out all of the routine maintenance for your car. This includes when is the right time to get an oil change as well as any additional maintenance recommendations for your car. It’s always good to become familiar with your owner’s manual so that you’re car savvy.

– Change Oil and Filter

It used to be recommended that you get an oil and oil filter change every three months or 3,000 miles, but times have changed and cars have advanced. Some newer cars can go 5,000 up to 10,000 miles before they need an oil change, so check your owner’s manual or ask the dealership where you purchased your car.

– Check Your Tires

Every month you should check your tires to make sure that there’s no major wear and tear, the tire pressure is up to par with what your tires say to have the air pressure at, and the tread is still where it should be. Properly inflated tires help with gas mileage as well as to reduce the chance of a blowout. (Check out our post on how to Save Money on Tires)

– Check Your Fluids

There are so many different fluids a car needs to function properly. From your windshield wiper fluid to your brake fluid, power steering fluid and oil as well as transmission fluid. Check your owner’s manual to see what fluids you have and check them regularly.

– Examine Belts and Hoses

If you feel comfortable with this step, you should examine all belts and hoses under the hood. This is to make sure you don’t have any leaks or loose connections that could cause a future leak. If you’re not comfortable, your local car dealership would be more than happy to assist.

These are just some of the most routine maintenance recommendations for most cars. If you’re not sure how to proceed with any of these routine maintenance tips you could also have your car dealership’s service department handle these small tasks to ensure your car stays running smoothly for the long term.

Tips to Care for a Used Car

If you make the choice to purchase used, these tips for keeping your used car in top shape are going to keep things running for years to come. Any vehicle investment is something you want to have last for many years. Being able to keep your car or truck running smoothly will make your investment even better in the long run.  This post is brought to you by Waynesborocdjr.com.

Tips to Care for a Used Car

  • Have regular tune ups.

This is key for any vehicle but is definitely a must do tip for keeping your used car in top shape. Regular tune ups will alert you to underlying problems, as well as keep things running smoothly. At least once per year have your mechanic take the time to do a thorough check of your car You should also regularly take it in for oil changes and basic maintenance needs.

Things to have your mechanic check or change regularly:
-Oil and oil filter changes
-Air filter
-Fluids
-Belts checked or replaced
-Spark plugs
-Brakes and tires
-Air conditioning and heater upkeep

  • Repair things before they break.

There are many things that may not need to be replaced regularly, but if they do go bad can lead to other costly expenses. Checking things like your brakes, timing belt, radiator, transmission and even simple electrical needs on a regular basis and replacing at signs of wear is important. A routine replacement can prevent you from having multiple other problems associated with a break later down the road.

  • Check for potential recalls on your car model.

One thing you should always do when you have a used car is to regularly check for recalls on your car. From ignition switches, to computers, filters or braking systems you may be eligible for a free upgrade on parts if your model has had a recall in recent years. This is a very important part of keeping your used car in good shape. Don’t miss out on any covered recall item replacements. This will keep you safe, as well as keep your resell value higher.

  • Get to know common issues with your car model.

Just like you can check for past recalls, you can also look into what are common issues with your specific make and model of car. This will help you to know what to look for in terms of potential issues later, as well as knowing what areas you need to be more diligent with for upkeep.

These tips for keeping your used car in top shape are sure to make your initial investment a great long lasting one. Purchasing a used car is a great choice for many families with limited budgets.

Shoes for Travel

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When it comes to travel you want to be as comfortable as you can be but it’s usually not possible or ideal to pack more than a few pair.  Here’s my list of my favorite shoes for traveling.

Travel Shoe Categories:

  • – Flip flops – I love these for the beach, when sharing a bathroom, or for driving in the car.  I hate for my feet to be confined when I’m in the car for long trips so flip flops are my go to for car travel.  I love my Vionic flip flops.  They have a deep heel and a higher arch that just fit my feet perfectly.  I can walk a long time in them without my feet growing weary.
  • – Comfortable – Tennis shoes or running shoes can be great for hiking or when it’s wet out.  Sketchers can be wonderfully comfortable and not too expensive.  I personally, truly truly hate tennis shoes.  If at all possible I wear sandals or flats.  It’s a weird quirk I have.  Maybe it has something to do with being forced to wear them each year in elementary school.  …or maybe that just proves that I’ve always hated them.  My Sketchers however are very nice! They’re super lightweight and the ones I have slip on.  If you have a weird aversion to tennis shoes like I do, Sketchers are definitely the way to go!
  • – Casual – For a fall or winter trip this usually includes a neutral pair of flats.  These are my favorite because they pack up so small.  For summer or a warmer spring, I’ll take a cute pair of flat sandals.  Sperry boat shoes are also a great go to pair for just about any time.  I’ve just recently acquired a pair of Tieks flats and they do feel very comfortable.  They have a thicker than normal sole which is quite comfy and I love how they have a larger toe bed than any of my other flats.  I’ve heard that the Lucky Brand Emmie flats are nice as well but I haven’t tried them out yet myself.
  • – Long wear sandals – Birkenstock sandals (or my nicely made knock off pair), Chacos, or Vionics are my favorites to wear when I have to be in my shoes for a long time.  I could walk miles (and have) in these shoes.  Chacos are even waterproof…you know, in case you like hiking around waterfalls.

There you have it!  Those are my top travel shoe picks.  Depending on where you go you might need rain boots, winter boots, or hiking boots.  You’ll want to take my list with a grain of salt but I hope it inspires you to rethink comfy traveling shoes.

Fall Foliage Across America – Hit the Road

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Fall Foliage Across America

From orange pumpkins and yellow mums at farmers markets to the brightly-colored foliage that graces the woodlands of America, just about any family can appreciate the beauty that fall has to offer through the great outdoors.

Pick a sunny weekend, pack the car, invite the family along, pack a picnic lunch, and bring the camera to ensure that the fall scenes freeze in time to enjoy for years to come.

Here are just a few popular fall foliage sites and destinations across America where families can enjoy nature its fullest this time of year.

State Parks and National Forests

State parks and national forests boast some of the best nature and hiking trails out there, as well as some of the best foliage and family fun.

All across Vermont, one thing is clear this time of year – fall is here. Woodford State Park in Vermont is a 398-acre park that borders Massachusetts and offers several hiking and nature trails to please the nature-lover and foliage enthusiast.

Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington State contains a West Coast version of fall’s array of color. The park’s trails span over 1,200 miles and go through woodland areas with scenic views. The U.S. Forest Service recently reported positive fall color around sites such as the Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams Ranger Districts.

The Minnesota Valley State Park in Jordan, Minn. is a mid-westerner’s destination. During fall, there are 41 miles of hiking trail available to adventure-seekers and foliage enthusiasts. Enjoy viewing the reddish-orange-colored Sumac or other plant varieties.

Foliage Routes

Get together with family members to map out an individualized foliage routes or visit state websites that can provide routes for discovering the best places to experience fall’s beauty.

The Ozark National Forest in Arkansas has brilliant colors in the fall. Take a look at the state’s collection of candy corn-colored Maple and Dogwood trees. To find some of the best foliage, drivers are encouraged to tour throughout the northern part of the state, including Bull Shoals, Yellville and Flippin, along the tree lines of the Ozark Mountains.

Maine is also a state filled with lovely displays of foliage this time of year. To experience fall-tinged Maples and mountains, the Maine Office of Tourism recommends a driving tour through Naples, Sebago Lake State Park, and Grafton Notch State Park, into the White Mountain National Forest, and through Lovell and Fryeburg. Many regions in the state are already experiencing some of their peak times of foliage color.

Scenic Drives

The Natchez Trace, which is a roadway that cuts through the South between Natchez, Miss. and Nashville, Tenn., is one example of an area in the country filled with the colors of nature especially during fall. One portion of the scenic drive takes travelers through the northwest corner of Alabama with 33 miles of fall beauty.

Not far from the Natchez Trace in the northwest part of Alabama, Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville, Ala. is a southern sample of the array of foliage to find. Drive along U.S. 72 or meander through the park in Lauderdale County.

Fall in Love with Fall

No matter the time of year, nature across America is abundant with beauty, but especially in fall, the colorful foliage outside is to be appreciated. Take the time to bring the family together outdoors, take a nice drive, and discover all there is to love about nature during fall.

8 Items To Keep in Your Car

8 Items to Keep In Your Car

It’s a shame but the truth of the matter is that no one can predict when and where their car is going to break down.  Wouldn’t it be nice, if you could?  Because we can’t predict the future it’s a good idea to be prepared in case your car should break down.  This isn’t a complete list, I’m sure you can think of some things to add but I hope it’s a helpful starting place.  This post is brought to you by Waynesborocdjr.com.

1. Jumper Cables
Dead batteries happen and jumper cables are the solution.  It’s also helpful to know how to use them before you’re in a situation where you need them.  You can find a simple guide on how to use jumper cables here.

2. First Aid Kit
For minor wounds you’ll be glad you have a first aid kit.  You can see how to pack a first aid kit by clicking here.

3. Spare Tire
Along with a spare tire, the knowledge of how to change one would also be handy.  This is something I need to learn.  I just did a google search and am excited to learn how.  You can click here to see the guide I just found.  You might want to keep a jack along for the ride too!

4.  Tire Pressure Gauge
These are affordable and can give you peace of mind when your tires look a little low or when your sensor comes on.

5.  Kitty Litter
Kitty litter removes yucky smells, can clean up oil spills, and can help you gain traction in slippery conditions.  (Click here to see six other ways to remove bad smells from vehicles)

6.  A Multitool
A good multitool is a fabulous thing to have with you everywhere.  They’re too heavy for me to carry around in my purse but stashing one in my car is the perfect way to have one close at hand.

7.  Blanket
I keep a blanket in the car so we’ll be able to bundle up if we break down when it’s cold out, or want to have an impromptu picnic.  However it will be handy to have should I ever need it to change a spare tire!

8.  Flashlight
Because you never know when you’ll need to see in the dark!  A good flashlight will help you see farther than the flashlight on your phone will plus it will allow you to keep your battery charge up in case you need it.

7 Camping Hacks Every Family Should Know

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Camping Hacks

Camping season is upon us, which means it is time to hit the open road, grab the old dusty tent, and enjoy a few nights under the stars! Camping doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive, in fact there are plenty of “hacks” out there that can make the experience an enjoyable and affordable one. Look below at 7 camping hacks every family should know, and see how you can hack your way to a better camp out!  It’s a great way to explore your local

1. Tin foil is your best friend.
Tin foil can be used in so many ways when it comes to camping. You can use it to cover leftovers, or use it to cover grill grids if they are rusty and dirty. Tin foil can also be used to cover items in a hurry to protect them if the rain starts.  You can even cook some things on the engine of your car!

2. Make your own cheap fire starters.
Stuff toilet paper tubes with shredded paper and dryer lint to achieve a roaring fire. These DIY fire starters a great way to get a roaring fire without spending a dime. For even more fire starting power, add the remnants of old candles inside as well.

3. Take a tarp.
A cheap tarp can help your items stay dry if the rain starts. You can also place a tarp underneath your bedding area to help keep the space warm and dry as well. Tarps do an amazing job protecting your firewood stash as well. Since rain can be unpredictable, having a tarp on hand is always a great idea.

4. Don’t forget the solar lights.
Take some basic solar lights with you and allow them to charge during the day. This is an easy way to keep your campsite lit up at night without having to worry about candles or even flashlights. You can even take them on evening walks with you.

5. Consider foil dinners.
One of the easiest ways to cook over a fire is to make foil dinners. Add chopped vegetables, seasonings, and a meat of your choice to the foil and close it up to create a packet. Then, just toss the packet onto the fire for a quick meal with easy clean up.

6. Keep bugs away naturally.
Burning white sage in your campfire is an easy way to keep biting bugs such as mosquitoes away. You can also use citronella oil and peppermint oil on your camping linens to help keep them at bay! They hate the scent, and will soon fly elsewhere.

7. Hit the dollar store before you go.
Your local dollar store will have so many supplies that you can use in creative ways when you camp. Take clothespins so you can easily hang linens to dry. Large freezer bags are excellent for storing dirty clothing. Inexpensive blow up rafts can offer extra support while you sleep, and the plastic storage containers are excellent for carrying shower toiletries to and from the bath house.

Are you ready for the best camping trip yet? Consider these 7 camping hacks every family should know and see how fun (and easy) a night under the stars can be!

Creating A Money Saving Plan For Buying a New Car

If you are thinking you might be in the market to buy a new car soon, you might need to create a money saving plan. Buying a new car can be a little pricey with all the extras that go along with your big purchase. So before you head out to go shopping make sure your finances are in order and you know that you can afford the car you want. Now if you have all cash that is great, but if not, buying a car can impact your budget greatly!  This post is brought to you by QuigleyMotors.net.

Buying a New Car

Again these are just things for you to keep in mind when you go to buy a new vehicle. It is a big deal to buy a new car, and it can be a little costly. Making sure you still have money left after you make your payments will make your everyday life a little easier, so you don’t feel so strapped.

Time Frame of Buying a Car: You need to make sure to sit down and plan when you want to buy a new car. You may think in a year I will be ready, or even a few months down the road. Regardless you will need to have a down payment most likely for your new vehicle. Some places offer no money down, so you need to consider if you don’t go to a dealership that offers no money down, you might need to put down a thousand or more.

Look at Cars Online: If you have an idea of a vehicle you are wanting, you can look online at dealerships in your area to get an idea of the price range. This will help you to see how much money a vehicle you are really wanting might cost.

Monthly Car Payments: When you get a loan for a vehicle it can vary a lot depending on the price of the vehicle. You could spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to a thousand. They do offer ways to figure what your payment would be online for a vehicle, or your dealership can tell you. This is a great way to get a rough estimate of how much your car payment would be each month. Just make sure you also factor in for insurance each month. Most states require full coverage on a vehicle that has a loan against it.

Car Tags and Insurance: Along with buying a car you have to factor in insurance premiums, and car tags and registering your new vehicle. If you have a type of vehicle you want, say a SUV you can talk to your insurance company and they can give you a rough estimate of what that type of car you want would cost each month. Some styles of vehicles (sports cars, etc) can cost a lot more than others.

This is a great way to ensure you can afford the vehicle you want. Sometimes people forget you have tags and insurance that go along with owning a car. You just need to make sure you have money in your budget and then you can sleep easier at night with your new car.

Related: How to Choose Well When Buying a Used Car

5 Tips for Buying a Used Car

 

Tips for Buying a Used Car

Every year around this time, people start taking advantage of the nice weather, new inventory, and subsequent sales, and shop for a great price on a used vehicle.  And why not?  Used cars are an amazing deal, and the weather makes for pleasant test drives!  But when you’re searching for a used car, how do you make sure you’re getting a reliable car, instead of a lemon?  Follow these 5 tips for buying a used car to make sure you get the deal without the hassle.  This post is brought to you by CueroDodgeChryslerJeepRam.com.

  • –  Check reviews, both online and word of mouth.  Ask your friends and family where they buy their vehicles and how they enjoyed the experience.  Then look online for reviews of the dealerships you are considering buying from.  If reviews are split, you can’t be sure you’ll get a good experience.  If you are able to find someplace consistently well reviewed, or where your friends all had great help and a smooth process, you’re bound to have success as well.  A reputable location won’t lose their good reputation just to make a quick buck off you!
  • –  Too good to be true? Probably.  You’ve heard this one before: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  If a car is priced significantly lower than others with similar features, age, and mileage, some red flags should be popping up.  Or maybe the car is listed at an average price, but lists “new tires, new radiator, new alternator, new AC, new starter…”  Practically a whole new engine!  Something happened.  Maybe it was an accident, or perhaps it was just someone restoring the car, only to move on to a different project.  Don’t run away from these red flags, but do approach them with caution.  Ask a lot of questions to learn the whole story behind the car.  If you aren’t completely comfortable with the situation, back out and keep looking.
  • –  Test cars out.  If you find a car you like, test another one similar to it.  It could be another used one in the area, or if it’s a recent model year you can test a new model.  This will give you an idea of how the car should drive as you notice little differences between them.  A seller won’t be able to tell you “oh that’s how this model year is… they all idle a little rough,” because you’ve already tested them out yourself.  Then test the car you want in multiple scenarios; drive slowly and test the brakes on an empty street, then through town for stop-and-go traffic, and make sure it doesn’t wobble or have trouble at high speeds by driving on the highway.
  • –  Check it out.  Talk to a trusted mechanic before you start looking at cars and ask if they’ll take a look at some used vehicles for you as you test them out.  When you decide on a car, bring it to the mechanic and have it checked out.  Many will do this for free, and it will give you peace of mind about a vehicle before buying.  Make sure to ask the seller if you can take their vehicle to your mechanic to have it checked out first – it’s their car, after all.  But if they refuse, it’s likely they have something they don’t want you to find.  Keep the list the mechanic gives you, so if you do purchase the car you know exactly what needs done.
  • –  Negotiate.  Most sellers, both dealerships and private, list at a higher price in hopes that you’ll pay it.  They expect some amount of negotiation, and that’s worked into the price.  Don’t be afraid to point out a similar vehicle at a lower price somewhere else, or to mention items your mechanic found as a reason to lower the price.  They have a price in mind that they’ll sell for, and it’s almost always lower than they initially listed.