Simple Crockpot Ham

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on October 15, 2017

Simple recipe to make your holiday ham using a slow cooker!!
Using your slow cooker is a great way to keep food cooking while your oven is full. Another benefit is there's very little work involved or cleanup – double bonus!

Crockpot Spiral Sliced Ham Ingredients

  • 7-8 lb, Spiral Sliced Ham
  • 1 cup, Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup, Pure Maple Syrup
  • 12 ounces, Pineapple Juice

Crockpot Spiral Sliced Ham Directions

  1. Unwrap ham and place flat side down in a large slow cooker. Throw away glaze packet and any plastic pieces that cover the bone.
  2. Rub brown sugar over the sides.
  3. Pour on maple syrup and pineapple juice.
  4. Cook on low for 4 hours.
  5. Baste ham with the juices from the bottom of the slow cooker.

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Simple recipe to make your holiday ham using a slow cooker!!


Paying For College: Mistakes, Misconceptions and Misunderstandings

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on October 04, 2017

Paying for college on your own can be a daunting process but it doesn't have to be! Check out this list of mistakes, misconceptions and misunderstandings as you consider ways to pay for college.

In the introduction to my new book The Complete Guide to Paying for College, I explain my reasoning for wanting to write this book. Basically, it came down to this: when our daughters were first born, my husband and did the “crazy college math” that many new parents likely do. That is, with some quick calculations, we realized that by the time our daughters turned 18, college was going to cost a quarter of a million dollars for four years of private college for each child. Even a state college education wouldn't be a bargain–easily clocking in north of $100,000.

We did what most parents also did at that time–set up 529 college savings accounts for our children. But just a few years later, we realized that we were facing a double-edged sword when it came to saving for college.

Learn how to get the education you deserve at a price you can afford!

We were never going to be able to put away enough money to pay for college. Because of our career choices–him in education, me a writer–we were never going to be able to earn enough to fully seed those 529 accounts. In order to put away enough to pay for private college (the kind of college my husband and I attended), in reality we needed to save $1,100 per month per child starting the month that child was born.

Instead of covering what would be 100 percent of tuition in our monthly savings, we continued to send a reasonable amount to those 529 accounts so that we could cover some of their future college costs. Fast forward 18 years and the amount saved was enough to cover a few semesters of books for each child, but that was it.

After giving up on the dream of saving for a college education, we decided to put a different plan in place. It was our goal to find a way to pay for college using more reasonable strategies that made sense for a middle-class family like ours. That strategic thinking is what gave me the idea to write this book.

Even though I had a clear goal in mind when writing The Complete Guide to Paying for College, I did find surprising things along the way. For example, as I began interviewing admissions experts at college, I kept hearing about mistakes students make and misconceptions that parents have when it came to financial aid. I also learned about misunderstandings about how private college works versus public universities. It was really eye opening.

So what were those mistakes, misconceptions and misunderstandings that surprised me as I wrote the book? Here are three to consider.

1. Students don't understand the importance of the classes they take in high school.

According to admissions experts, colleges are looking for students who take the most rigorous course schedule as possible. They want to see that a student has taken the most challenging curriculum available in that high school–even if it means you don't have 4.0 GPA. In fact, if you are applying to a competitive school with a 4.0 GPA but with no AP or honors courses, and your high school offers these courses, your transcript will raise some skeptical eyebrows.

While it is great that you have a great GPA, colleges want to know how much you challenged yourself in high school. And if you didn't at all, that will not reflect positively on you when it comes time for admissions and, more importantly, merit aid (aka scholarships).

2. Parents don't know how to apply for financial aid.

One of the most important first steps in applying for financial aid is filling out the FAFSA. That stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Even though it has the word “federal” in there, it is a tool that nearly every American college and university uses to determine a family's need–i.e. how much they can afford to pay for college. In addition, some schools use the FAFSA when considering merit aid. That's financial aid based on a student's good grades, extracurricular activities and community involvement.

Too many parents believe they earn too much money to qualify for financial aid, so here's what they do: they don't fill out the FAFSA. I can't tell you how many parents I interviewed whose rationale was that if the school doesn't know how much they earn, then, they believed, they will qualify for more financial aid. Unfortunately, that logic doesn't work in the financial aid world. It never hurts to fill out the FAFSA and it can only help.

Another misunderstanding about financial aid–that it is a one-and-done kind of thing. Wrong. You have to apply for financial aid, including the FAFSA, every year that your child is in school. Every. Single. Year.

Some schools require a second online form called the CSS Profile. And one of the colleges my daughter attends requires a third financial aid form–its own. Again, I must fill these out each year my daughter is in school. Miss a deadline and you can kiss any money goodbye.

3. Many families believe it is cheaper to attend a state school.

When you are trying to do an apples-to-apples comparison costs, it's easy to assume that state colleges and universities are always cheaper than private ones. Sure, the going published price usually shows this to be true. But here's what you really need to consider–what will be your final cost of attendance be?

It's like buying a car. You can look at two completely different cars from two different manufacturers, and you might assume that Car A is more expensive than Car B to drive off the lot. But until you know what kind of incentives Car B's manufacturer is offering, you can't make a final decision about the real cost of buying Car A versus Car B.

The same happens with colleges. Until you know what kind of financial aid you can get from public versus privates, you cannot say that one is cheaper than the other. In fact, in many instances, private colleges usually can come up with more grants and scholarships (which you don't have to pay back) to lower the price of attendance to be lower than a similar state school.

I hope that you've found this information about paying for college enlightening. And that you can become a smarter consumer and more confident spender once it comes time for you to send your own children to college.

Leah Ingram's is a money-saving expert who has shared her unique personal finance approach and advice about getting the most bang for your buck on local and national TV, including The Weather Channel, Good Morning America and ABC News Now. Leah has written 14 books, including Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less and Toss, Keep, Sell! Her 15th book is The Complete Guide to Paying for College. For more about Leah, subscribe to her money-saving blog, or “Like” her page The Confident Spender on Facebook. Also, check out Leah's newest venture — Puppieware by Pawsome Doggie, selling dog-themed bakeware and cake pans, and unique gifts for dog lovers!

Find MORE College Savings Tips HERE


How to Make Money with Amazon FBA

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on October 04, 2017

This year I have been working on creating a new brand/business that is making money selling using Amazon FBA. While I am newer to this business model, I have been so excited and I wanted to share with you as part of our How to Earn Money Online series.

What is Amazon Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA)

So, I'm sure many of you know about Amazon. I've been promoting great deals we have found there for the past 9 years! When it comes to Amazon's FBA program, it is essentially this: selling products on Amazon that Amazon ships directly to customers as part of their Prime program. You have likely purchased a product on Amazon from a seller that is using the FBA program to promote and market their products or business.

So, why am I excited? Because I have been able to create a new revenue stream by selling on Amazon, and anyone can do this! How I never knew about Amazon FBA for years is beyond me. Several of my friends have been selling via Amazon FBA for years and they never shared their experiences until recently! So, I want to share with you how to get started and what to consider selling.

First, to get started on Amazon as a seller, you will:

  • Open a Seller Account on Amazon. I have a Professional Seller account now but you can start with the basic account that doesn't cost anything monthly.
  • Become a Seller on Amazon and have an item or products for sale.
  • Search Amazon to see if the product is for sale already. If it is not currently selling on Amazon, you will need to create a brand new product listing with an image.
  • Create a product listing for the item or products you have for sale. This is similar to how for sale listings are created on eBay.

Now that you know you are selling those items, you need to get your products to an Amazon warehouse so Amazon can fulfill the orders. So you will:

  • Create a shipment to send those products to Amazon. Amazon will then store the items in one of their warehouses.
  • A buyer wants to purchase an item like measuring spoons, for example, so they search for that phrase.
  • Your item shows up in their search results! And, the MAJOR benefit is that your item will have the Prime badge next to the price showing the customer that it is available to purchase as a Prime-eligible product.

Now, you can choose to ship orders yourself, this is called Fulfilled by Merchant, and similar to how items are shipped with eBay listings. BUT, this is the important part, when you decide to send your items to Amazon that are for sale so they can do the fulfillment and shipping to the customer directly, those items for sale get marked as Amazon Prime. The items you ship yourself will not have the Prime badge.



Is it worth it to sell on Amazon?

Totally YES!  My product is in a local store, but we are selling primarily via Amazon FBA. Think about how many years you have followed Savings Lifestyle (or back in my Mommy Snacks days – nearly 9 years!). We have shared so many amazing Amazon deals, including their awesome Prime Membership. If something wasn't Prime, we rarely promoted a deal because it likely had a high shipping fee associated with it.

Also, think about the last time you purchased an item on Amazon that was NOT prime. Those items either required that you pay shipping, or it took longer than 2 days to have the item shipped to you. Because Amazon does so much shipping, they are able to get much better rates than you or I could personally receive. We cannot financially compete with the 2-day shipping options they offer to Prime members.

Thus, why Amazon FBA is  fabulous. You get the benefit of having your items show up as Prime-eligible, and you get the benefit of Amazon being the largest online marketplace with instant buyers who are ready to buy. We all love Amazon and love it even more when an item is Prime-eligible!


What products to sell on Amazon?

You can sell anything on Amazon. I'm selling these awesome long handle wooden measuring spoons (pretty sweet, right?!), but the sky is truly the limit! While I did personally create my own product, I have also sold several other items too that I've purchased at a discount or on clearance at the local store. I just shipped these items to Amazon to fulfill as part of the FBA/Prime program.

There is a great program to learn what to sell on Amazon FBA that I would recommend. Jessica has been on several podcasts that I have listened to and she knows her stuff. I think learning *what* to sell can be the biggest challenge. Amazon has restrictions on certain products and different categories. So understanding all the rules is imperative as you first start. But, once you're over that hurdle, everything else is much easier!

I have an idea for a product, how do I even start that process?

So maybe buying products at a discount or on clearance isn't for you. I get that, it helped me to build some capital in the short term but I wanted to have the product created that I had been thinking about. I HIGHLY encourage you to check out my friend Steve's program to learn how to create a profitable ecommerce business. 

Steve's program is how I learned how to do all of this: from product creation, to getting drawings from an engineer, to manufacturing my product (in China) to creating an online ecommerce store to sell my products, and of course, also understanding how to sell on Amazon. He also has a free 6-day mini course to learn how to start an online store. I signed up for this first before I became a member of the paid course. His podcast is a goldmine too!

Both of those courses are pricey, but my earnings have more than paid for the price of the course a few times. Also, it may be worth mentioning, I am creating a brand that I will eventually grow and create other products.

Just like all of the other legitimate ways to earn money from home we have shared here over the past 9 years, this is NOT a “get rich quick” program. The progress I have made has taken me almost a year. I'm just truly starting, but it has been great to learn and explore the different ways to make legitimate money while staying home with my family!

If you currently sell on Amazon, or have created your own product, I would love to hear from you! Please share in the comments or send me an email!

Find MORE Ways to Earn Money from Home HERE

More in the Earn Money from Home Series

  1. Start a Homemade Cake Decorating Business
  2. Make Money Doing Freelance Work Online
  3. Start a Sewing and Alteration Business
  4. How to Self Publish an eBook to Earn Income
  5. Offer Babysitting Services
  6. Internet Research from Home
  7. Earn Money as a Home Organizer
  8. Selling Online to Make Extra Income
  9. Start a Small Business Doing Odds and Ends Jobs
  10. Earn Money By Creating How-To Videos
  11. Seasonal Tax Preparation to Earn Additional Income
  12. How to Make Money Blogging
  13. Home Cooking or Baking Business
  14. How to Earn Money as a General Transcriptionist
  15. Make Money with Mystery Shopping
  16. How to Start Working as a Virtual Assistant
  17. Teaching and Tutoring for Side Income
  18. Make Money Doing Online Surveys

Disclosure: This post contains a link to an affiliate and support this site. See my Disclaimer Policy for additional information.


What to Buy in October

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on September 28, 2017

A long list of things to buy in October including grocery items, retail deals and miscellaneous services. Save this one for BIG savings!

As October moves in, temperatures begin to drop and folks start looking forward to the upcoming holidays. If you aren’t one of those people who has been doing holiday shopping all year long, this is a great time to get started. Holiday markups aren’t in place yet, and you’re likely to get better pricing now than on holiday sale pricing later. As far as sales, you may be surprised at what you find in stores during October. While it is not typically known as a shopping month since it falls between back-to-school and the holidays, October is actually a great month to find deals:

Retail Deals

  • Summer Clearance
  • Gas Grills
  • Air Conditioners
  • Cell Phones
  • Electronics
  • Appliances
  • Patio Furniture
  • Cars

Because October is a month during which changes are happening, you will save a great deal of money on items in stores from the past seasons. This means summer items like grills and air conditioners, sandals and sunglasses are going to be marked down to make room for holiday items. Take advantage of the new model car year and purchase the current year model at great savings!

Grocery Deals

October is known for Halloween candy and the fall treats that begin showing up during the month. Whether you are planning on a hay ride with hot apple cider or want to give the trick-or-treaters a special treat, October is a great month for grocery deals.

  • Apples
  • Popcorn
  • Candy
  • Canned Foods
  • Frozen Meats

In-Season Produce

  • Cranberries
  • Squash
  • Dates
  • Oranges
  • Parsnips
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkins
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Apples

There is a reason why fall foods tend to revolve around late crops. They are fresh and ready as the cooler weather moves in. These heartwarming meals are nourishing and quick for most cooks.

Miscellaneous Buys

  • Camping Gear
  • Travel

October is an off season for vacations which means you can get great deals on airfare, lodging and rental cars. Why not rent an SUV, stock up on low priced camping gear and head into the great outdoors before it gets too cold?

Additional Notes

Because October is a “mid” month there are several saving opportunities. Back-to-school sales are over, holiday sales haven’t begun and stores need to move merchandise to get ready for the holidays. Near the end of the month you will begin seeing pre-Black Friday sales online and in stores- these are a great way to kick start your holiday preparations. Décor, food, and gifts will be priced right!

Find MORE Ways to Save Money HERE


DIY Foam Finger

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on September 27, 2017

Make your own Foam Finger with these easy DIY instructions! GO TEAM GO!

I've been a proud Sports Mom now for so many years! Our oldest son recently graduated high school and now runs collegiately. I remember back to the days of the very first sport he participated in – organized soccer! We did t-ball the next season and it was only one season any of our boys ever played baseball!

After those first few years, it was mainly basketball and football for our family. Until our oldest started running only his Sophomore/Junior year of high school, and now the kid is running in college. After all the years sitting in gym after gym for select basketball, you just never know how things will turn out!

At this point in our lives, we are a football, cross country, basketball and track & field family. I love it all so much! It doesn't matter what sport or season we are in, I know we all want to show our spirit to support our favorite athletes! This easy DIY foam finger is something you can make for each sport and each season – school or select!

Make your own Foam Finger with these easy DIY instructions! GO TEAM GO!

DIY Foam Finger Supplies

  • (2) 12×18″, Blue Craft Foam Sheets
  • (1) 12×18″, White Craft Foam Sheets
  • White Yarn
  • Yarn Needle
  • Elmer's Glue
  • Permanent Marker
  • Scissors

Make your own Foam Finger with these easy DIY instructions! GO TEAM GO!

DIY Foam Finger Instructions

  1. Place your two blue foam sheets together and use a permanent marker to draw a foam finger outline from the 12″ side drawing upwards with a bump for the thumb, one long pointer finger and 3 more bumps next to the pointer finger for your other three fingers and cut it out with scissors (make sure the two sheets are even while cutting).
  2. Thread your yarn needle with a 48″ piece of white yarn and begin sewing the edges of your foam finger together using a basic hemming stitch but leave the bottom open. (you will need to rethread your needle about halfway through). Cut and tie off any loose ends.
  3. Draw a large number 1 and a large # and cut them out with scissors.
  4. Glue your #1 to the front of your foam finger and let dry.

Make your own Foam Finger with these easy DIY instructions! GO TEAM GO!

This would be an easy craft for the moms to make while sitting at practice. Or, the cheerleaders could make them as a team craft! I would LOVE to see any pictures if you make one of these. Please share them over on this Facebook page I made for all things Sports Moms PLUS! One of my most favorite things in this world is to watch our boys compete in what they love!

Be sure to pin this on Pinterest and save for later!

Find MORE Easy Crafts HERE

Make your own Foam Finger with these easy DIY instructions! GO TEAM GO!


Football Party Favors Bag

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on September 19, 2017

We love Fall! Our son is playing football again this year and I gotta say I love to watch him do his thing each week. As we look ahead to the season-end party, these Football party favors bag will be an easy DIY for post-season goodie bags.

Football is the reason for the season!

Football Party Favors Bag Supplies

  • Brown Paper Lunch Bags
  • Thin Blue and White Ribbon (or coordinating team colors)
  • Thin White Duck Tape
  • Scissors
  • Hole Puncher
  • Decorative Scissors (optional)

Football Party Favors Bag Directions

  1. Cut a 1/4″ inch off the top of your paper bag using decorative scissors or regular.
  2. Cut the following pieces off your Duck Tape roll:
    1-6″ inch piece
    5-2″ inch pieces cut in half lengthwise
  3. Apply the tape onto your bag like football laces with the 6″ piece vertical, taped towards the bottom of your bag with the 2″ pieces horizontally across the 6″ piece of tape.
  4. Fill your bag up and fold the top over to the front.
  5. Use a hole puncher to punch 6 holes through the folded edge.
  6. Weave 1 or 2 pieces of ribbon through the back far right and left holes and in and out the others, then tie in the center.

Do your kids play Football, or are you just a die-hard Football fan? I'd love to hear from you!

Be sure to save this on Pinterest for later!

Find MORE Easy Crafts HERE


Easy Walking Tacos

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on September 14, 2017

Our family loves Mexican dishes! This is one of our favorites to make, especially when we have so much going on throughout the week. Just brown some ground beef  and quickly chop up the tomatoes and lettuce. Let the kids make their own “bag” with whatever their hearts desire! Easy peasy and everyone is happy!

Walking Tacos Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb, Ground Beef
  • 2 TBS, Taco Seasoning
  • 7 Lunch Size Bags Nacho Doritos, Cool Ranch Doritos and/or Fritos
  • Shredded Lettuce
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Jalapeno Slices
  • Taco Sauce
  • Sour Cream
  • Any other fixins!

Walking Tacos Directions

  1. Brown ground beef and drain.
  2. Add seasoning and 1/4 cup water.
  3. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Gently crush chips in each bag.
  5. Open top and roll down edges of bag.
  6. Add a meat and cheese and your favorite toppings and gently toss with a plastic fork.

This is always on our menu! I hope your family enjoys it too!

Don't forget to pin this on Pinterest to save it!

Find MORE Recipes HERE

These easy walking tacos will be on the menu rotation weekly! Super easy and always a family favorite!