Cheap and Easy Snacks for Your Picnic This Weekend

One of America’s biggest party weekends is upon us! On the fourth of July, we celebrate Independence and freedom and our favorite way to do that is with family and friends while we enjoy the warm smell of summer. We’ve put together some deliciously easy party dishes that will dazzle your guests or host!

Fruit is your friend because it’s so colorful! One of our favorites is this one we found at chocolatecakemoments.com. The photo speaks for itself and it could not be easier or less expensive! And a great way for your little ones to help–it’s pretty hard to screw it up!Another way to use fruit is to decorate a plain cake, like a cheesecake (and no one said you have to make the cheesecake).  Try a strawberry star surrounded by blueberries! Super easy.

Because every one loves an ice cream sandwich, just add sprinkles and a popsicle stick! Your kids can help and it couldn’t be easy. Some festive sprinkles go a long way!

There are so many interesting ways to use watermelon. One of my personal favorites is as a salad, preferably with red onion and basil. Here’s another cool take on the watermelon salad from Bobby Flay, featuring jicama:

Jicama and Watermelon Salad

You can do endless things with watermelon, especially if you cut them out into little stars. Decorate with whipped cream, and decorate with blueberries, stick popsicle sticks in them, and infuse with vodka, or use them in sangria, like this yummy drink, which features pineapple stars! You will be one popular party host 😉

 

 

 

4 Ways to Get Rid of Your Car

get rid of your car

Owning a car is expensive.  Really expensive.  As of 2014, the average annual cost of owning a vehicle, taking into account insurance, gas, depreciation, annual registration fees, and maintenance, was $8,876 per year.  Believe it or not, that number was down about $225 from 2013.  That’s a lot of money to be shelling out to own a vehicle, especially if you don’t have to.  That’s money that could be used for vacations, retirement funds, emergency savings, or college 529s.

You may think you really need a vehicle.  You may be right.  Depending on your work situation, the size of your city or town, and access to public transportation, a vehicle may be necessary to do things like hold a job and make money, or get your kids back and forth from extracurriculars.  But if you’re living in a city, or a city with a great public transport system that sprawls all over the suburbs, there may be cause to sell  your vehicle and start pocketing those annual expenses.

Here are four ways to get by without a car, and save yourself some major cash:

1. Use Public Transport

If you live in a city that has public transport, use it.  Whether it’s a train system or bus line, public transport can save you a lot of money if it’s set up well.  If you’re hesitant because of wait times during essential layovers, or the time it will take to walk from the bus stop to your destination, think about all the time you currently spend waiting in traffic.  Odds are, the times are comparable or possibly even less when you choose to use your metropolis’s transportation system.  Besides that, getting the extra walking in on a daily basis is great for your health.

2. Carpool

Have a co-worker that lives pseudo close to you?  Or someone who drives past your neighborhood on their way to the office?  Suggest carpooling.  You should offer to compensate the driver for part of the gas, and pitch in something cumulatively more than nominal for regular maintenance.  Because remember, you’ll no longer have your own car to trade days driving.  But the amount you pay your new commute buddy will be far less than owning a vehicle yourself.  Most people will be more than happy to do it, especially if your local highways have an HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lane.  These lanes are reserved for vehicles with more than one passenger, so carpooling will not only save both of you money, but also some valuable time on your commute.

3. Use a Car Driving Service

Today’s sharing economy is blossoming.  Companies like Uber have been set up to not only profit drivers, but benefit the car-less.  If you really need a ride somewhere, and public transport just isn’t going to cut it on that particular day, finding a ride is now as easy as pulling up an app.

4. Drive Yourself

If you’re in need of a ride, but would prefer to drive yourself, there are services available for that, too.  With companies like ZipCar, you can pick up a car at one of their numerous locations in the cities they operate in at the drop of a hat, whether you need it to get you across town or cross-country.  These services can get you out of a pinch on those occasions when public transport doesn’t meet your needs.

 

If you live in or near a city, you’re likely dealing with increased costs of living like rent and food.  But in today’s day and age, car ownership doesn’t have to worsen the situation.  There are a myriad of ways to eliminate it all together, thanks to public transportation, and the birth and growth of the sharing economy.

Cleaning Out Your Closet–What to Toss and What to Save

Trends come and go and some styles stick around forever. It can be confusing to know what’s what if you don’t have time to stay up to the minute. And some of us just make it a habit to throw out clothes every two or three years. Most organizational experts say to throw out clothes you haven’t worn in a year. BUT, are there some things worth holding on to in the case that go in and out of style? Here’s a quick guide of what to toss and save.

TOSS 

Wedge sneakers. We’ve seen these come and go to some degree, but they’ve always looked very different. The wedge sneaker has been replaced with classics, like Converse and Adidas that never go out of style. You probably won’t wear these again.

SAVE

Classic tennis shoes. Again, Converse and Adidas classics can be worn with everything from pencil skirts, to cropped skinny pants, to flowery dresses.

Unisex Converse Chuck Taylor Ox Casual Shoes

Finish Line $30

TOSS

Low rise jeans. Frankly, these are not flattering for most people, so don’t bother stressing over them. They don’t hit most people right at the waist, making them difficult to wear without a muffin top.

SAVE

High rise jeans (they’ve come and gone since the 70s). Right now, high rises with flowing tops or cropped tops. You can also save overalls. They’re back now and go in and out since the 70s. Instead of wearing them with a flannel, wear them with a ribbed tank or cropped top. However, we don’t suggest BUYING a new pair, as these are a trend. Don’t spend big bucks on the overalls, but definitely keep them around if you have an old pair.

Model

Chloe from Revolve $174

TOSS

Tie-dye. Let’s be honest, tie-dye died in the mid eighties. If you’re still wearing it, retire it.

SAVE

Bold prints, like florals. The prints can be big or tiny, but prints are always in and look great with skinnies.

TOSS

The babydoll/empire waist dress.

SAVE

Shift dresses. The shift is a classic and we highly recommend buying a solid and a print shift dress for the long haul. Wear them to work with heels or to a picnic with sandals and minimal jewelry. Dress them down with a denim jacket or up with a blazer. These are effortless. Pictured below is a from Ann Taylor–the Queen of the Shift.

Primary Image of Lace Shift Dress

Ann Taylor $110

In general, the 90s are back! If you look in the back of your closet and find mules and scrunchies—good news. You can revive them for now!

 

3 Ways to Rack Up Southwest Rapid Rewards

rapid rewards

Southwest Airlines has a great frequent flyer program that allows you to rack up points towards free flights, hotels, car rentals, and more at a pretty decent clip.  It is appropriately named “Rapid Rewards.”  The best part about the program is that you don’t necessarily have to be a frequent flyer to take full advantage.  As you get ready for your travels this summer, keep in mind these three ways to earn, earn, earn, and you could be traveling for free before you know it.

1. Open Up a Credit Card

This option is not for those who have trouble keeping their credit in check.  It is for people who pay off their full balance every billing cycle, and know that they can use credit responsibly.

Southwest’s partner in credit is Chase.  When you apply for the Premier, Plus, or Premier Business Rapid Rewards card through Chase, they give you a sign-up bonus.  Typically, this bonus is 25,000 points, but every few months, they bump the bonus up to 50,000 points.  Right now is one of those times.  The promotion is only running through tomorrow, but if you miss it don’t fret.  Just keep an eye out for it in coming months.

To earn these points, you have to pay the annual fee (which is either $69 or $99 depending on the card you open,) and spend $2,000 within the first three months of opening the card.  If you use the card to pay your regular bills and expenses, and pay the balance off before it is due, this can be a very achievable number that easily pays off.  Depending on which flights you book and your redemption method, those 50,000 points can get you $550 to $1,000 in airfare through the airline.

Once you have the card, you earn 2 points per dollar for Southwest flights you book directly with the airline.  You also earn 2 points per dollar when you book a partner hotel or car rental.  A nice perk of the Rapid Rewards card is that you also get points awarded to you on the anniversary of the date you opened the card:  3,000 to 6,000 depending on the type of card you opened.

2. Use Promo Codes

When you book with those partners, it’s a good idea to see if you can get bonus points for using a promo code.  For example, right now you can get up to an additional 2,400 points when you book a car rental with Budget, plus 30% savings on the booking itself, just for taking a few minutes to look up promo codes.

3. Review Restaurants

Southwest also has a dining program.  When you eat at one of their partnered restaurants, you can earn 3 points for every dollar you spend.  You must pay via a major credit or debit card (which you link to your account at sign up,) but it does not have to be the Southwest Rapid Rewards card.  After you sign up, you earn 500 points if you spend $25 within 30 days.  This is on top of the 3 points per dollar that you’ve spent.  You also earn 10 points for each restaurant review that you submit.  Submit enough of them, and you hit tiered bonuses in the hundreds of points.  You can check out participating restaurants and more details about the program here.

No matter what your travel plans are this summer, you’re likely able to rack up some serious Rapid Rewards points. Start earning them now, and your next vacation has the potential to be free.