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Wednesday
Jan162013

Have We Found Our Next Car? Video - Meet the 2013 Chevy Traverse

Needed: three rows, comfortable ride, solid, safe family car

We are on the hunt for a new car. Both of our cars have over 125,000 miles on them and both are almost 10 years old. I know there are cars that can make it to over 200,000 miles but I'm just not interested in gambling on TWO cars because the money it takes to keep them going might not make sense when there is 0% financing right now!

FOUND: 2013 Chevy Traverse is Perfect for Families

In any event, in a future post I will document ALL the vehicles I've test-driven and give you my insights. For now, the friendly folks at General Motors and @GMNortheast allowed me to drive the new Chevy Traverse for an entire week.

Let me tell you... ALL dealers should allow this because you can easily fall in love with a car after driving it for a week. I have spent a week in other GM cars including the ectremely eco-friendly (and wallet-friendly) Chevy Cruze, and the luxurious and roomy Cadillac XTS. But the Traverse fit me, our family, our needs, and our lifestyle PERFECTLY.

Here is a video tour of the Chevy Traverse where I point out all the features that made me fall in love with it!

Disclosure: I received a Chevy Traverse for a week and I was not otherwise compensated nor contracted to write this post. All opinions are my own and this post was not required, reviewed nor approved prior to being published.

 

Saturday
Jan122013

Talking Money with Tween Girls: aka Shopping Priorities

Opening up their first bank account

First Bank Account

Recently the Twofer open up their own bank accounts. After saving up allowance for a year, one had more than the other to deposit. One is a bigger shopper for sure. I'll let you guess which one.

We had to explain to her that while we often let them use their own money to make purchases, they ultimately decide on the purchase and so if your purchase cost more, you will have less money in the bank.

That's how it works kids.

We briefly discussed making purchasing decisions in the future but you know how hard it is for kids to grasp the concept of saving for the future. Heck, it's difficult for many adults!

Enter the holidays and gift card season. Yay!

Shopping Priorities

I recently took the girls out shopping to use their gift cards and it became a lesson in shopping priorities.

Sure, that sparkly notebook with a big glittery "E" on it is pretty - but don't you already have a BAJILLION other notebooks, and an a GAZILLION other glittery things??

Now this blouse (I hold it up), is not only pretty, it's practical because you can USE it, you don't have one like it yet (and frankly it will save me a little when it's time for spring shopping).

Yes, the blouse costs more, but you are getting one, quality product that you will use over and over again... as opposed to tons of plastic crap that will fill up my house and break in a month only to end up in the trash.

ONLINE Shopping Priorities and Virtual Piggy

So, it's one thing to head to a store with a set amount of money (either in cash or on a gift card) and shop. We can hold up the merchandise, feel the quality, try it on, and pause to make the decision if we REALLY want or need the item.

Shopping online is a whole different story, and yet our kids are of the generation that is going to do the majority of their shopping online. This online, virtual shopping can be dangerous. Example: I have the Starbucks app that let's you pay with your phone and add $25 to your 'card' right from PayPal. "I didn't feel that $25 at all," I exclaimed the first time I did it.

Luckily there are sites like Virtual Piggy that offer a great way for parents to help their kids through budgeting, saving and making smart online purchasing decisions.

With Virtual Piggy you set up a parent account and a separate child profile where you set allowance, saving goals, and spending controls. There are budgeting tools and kids can make a wishlist then shop their favorite retailers right online at shop.virtualpiggy.coml! It's the perfect tool to keep discussions flowing between parents and kids about making smart shopping choices.

Virtual Piggy offers tons of parental controls that you can loosen up as your kids mature and as you see they are making responsible financial decisions. For example you have the option to require approval on every single purchase, or just some, and you can set a maximum level per transaction, per day, per week, or restrict them to only shopping at certain merchants.

How do you talk about money with your kids?

Do you help guide them in their shopping choices? Have you let them make mistakes and learn from them?  I'd love to know!

Janine

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from Splash Creative Media on behalf of Virtual Piggy. All opinions are my own and this post was not reviewed nor approved prior to posting.

Friday
Jan112013

Life after Newtown

Walk to school day

Today as I was driving the girls to school (something I rarely do unless I have an early errand to run or we are running late) we noticed the vice principal hanging out on the corner with the 5th grade safety patroles.  The girls pointed him out and we all went, "Hmm".

Another block (we only live about 3 blocks away) we noticed another school employee, the PE teacher, then still closer we saw the school janitor on the black top area.

"Look Mom!" said the girls.

"Oh Dear God" said my head filled with fear.

In a matter of seconds I registered this piece of information in two ways.

1) My mouth said, "Oh they are probably just coming out to check on things once in a while now."

2) My brain was thinking, "What happened? Did a child get abducted? Did someone call in a threat? OMG It's a FRIDAY! Was there another school shooting? Are-they-looking-for-someone-is-everyone-ok-are-why-hasn't-anyone-called-me-I-didn't-get-an-Amber-alert-text-WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON AND WHY HASN'T ANYONE TOLD ME!!!"

I dropped the girls off and drove straight to the intersection where we usually cross and stopped literally in the middle, rolled down the window and asked our trusty crossing guard, "OK. Give it to me. What is going on?"

She explained,

"Oh nothing. There was a little incident with an elderly couple and a dog. Everyone is fine. Everyone is ok.

I promise."

But the look she gave me, we BOTH knew what I had been thinking. She could smell the fear on me.

I drove away shaking and I burst into tears the way you do when the adrenalin rush is over after an accident. Because while I don't live in Newtown, I did grow up one town over.

Even more than that, I am a parent of elementary age kids. Every weekday I walk them, or let them walk themselves, and I have to trust that the most awful, horrid, terrible things that can possibly happen in this world will not happen to them. At least not today.

I wonder when the families in Newtown will feel like things are normal again?

When will any of us?

Or will we ever?

Tuesday
Jan012013

Winter Break Nintendo Style

 

First, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I hope everyone enjoyed survived the holiday break with their kids home from school.

We fared well thanks to the geniuses at Nintendo.

It was a cold, windy, and even snowy break here in the DC area. We got out of the house every day but the times that we were hanging out inside were bearable, if not enjoyable, because the Twofer had a plethora of new Nintendo games AND two Nintendo 3DS systems as well!

The girls got Mario Kart Wii (WITH the steering wheel) from their aunt and uncle.

This is the game they have been asking for over and over again and it did not disappoint! Driving with the steering wheel is too much fun and at one point they had to kick me out!

They got LEGO Harry Potter from Santa.

I didn't play this with them but I could hear the cheers and cries as they moved up in 'years' at the Hogwarts school. For any Harry Potter fan, this game is a must. (Cloak and wand not included.)

They got Wii Party from Santa as well.

This I did play and there are actually a gazillion games all packed into one neat little box. Tons of different games to choose from with games for one to four players. Just make sure your wii remotes are fully charged or have new batteries because this one will keep them busy for a while!

And they got Nintendo 3DS systems with two games each from our friends at Nintendo!

Each of them received Style Savvy and Nintendogs & Cats games. Style Savvy is for the fashionista in all of us as we create outfits for ourselves and for the customers that visit our boutique.  Nintendogs & Cats has been a blessiing for this family as we are putting off getting a REAL pet for another year (I hope). Though I can see the girls have a knack for teaching their pets tricks, and being responsible for feeding and loving them...so, we'll see if I wait a whole year.

It wasn't ALL electronics.

I feel the need here to tell you that we did a LOT more than electronics over break. We went to the aquarium, we went swimming at the indoor pool, we visited with family, and we played tons of board games. But if there is a week to allow more screen time than usual, this was the week we were doing it and I'm glad we had a collection of new games to play.

What did YOU play this holiday?

Janine

 

Disclosure: Some of these games were purchased and some were given to us as part of my being a Nintendo Ambassador and I have explained where they came from in the post. All of the opinions expressed are mine and this post was not required, reviewed nor approved prior to being published. Also, some links are affiliate links.

Monday
Dec172012

I will not live in fear

I wrote this on Facebook this morning after learning that the schools in my Connecticut hometown were on lock down again, after a suspicious person was seen at a train station. I know the police and administrators in that small town want to make the community feel safe. Our own school system here in Maryland had a police presence this morning, the first day back to school after Friday's tragic events. But all I kept thinking, I cannot live like this. I cannot live in fear.  And that's when this spilled out of my fingers. For whatever it's worth, I'm going to keep coming back to this in the coming year.

I refuse to live in fear. I will accomplish this by embracing every moment, for better or worse. I will let those I love know it. I will focus on what matters. I will be present yet respect the future. I will keep an inventory of all I have to be thankful for. I will live with gratitude.