5 Ways to Easily Save Money + a $200 Visa Gift Card GIVEAWAY! #MoneyMonster

visa-gift-card-giveaway

On behalf of Sony’s MONEY MONSTER we’re sharing some money saving tips and giving away a $200 Visa gift card!

Do you know what I think is a little bit scary? It’s the fact that the majority of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings account. 21% of us don’t even have savings accounts!

I’ve always been a big believer in emergency funds. Life has taught me that completely unexpected accidents, surprises or discoveries can cost a lot of money. Here are just some of the unexpected expenses I’ve had over the last 12 months:

  • Over $500 for a new windshield wiper motor (you can’t drive in winter in Minnesota without it)
  • $300 to cover the deductible for my son’s broken arm.
  • $900 to pay for a plumbing issue that was discovered during a pretty basic plumbing repair.
  • $800 on an electrician to fix something related to the plumbing issue.
  • $300 to pay a dentist’s office who mistakenly told me they accepted my insurance.

I didn’t plan on any of those things happening, and the thought of not being able to pay for any one of those things makes me feel panicky.

If you don’t have at least $1000 in the bank set aside for emergencies, you need to make this happen, and you can start working on it today!

5 easy ways to save money

easily save money

I asked a few of my blogging friends for help with the easiest way to save money. You’ll see links to their sites at the end of their tip.

  1. Start a change jar. I know change jars aren’t a new idea. The trick to successfully saving a significant amount of money in them is discipline. Change can only go INTO the change jar, not out. Choose a container you already have, and drop all your change into the jar every single day.  If you do this for two weeks I promise you’ll be surprised by how much you’ve saved without giving it much thought at all! (MomLuck.com)
  2. Every two years shop for cheaper auto and homeowners insurance. I know this is a pain, but my sister just saved almost $800 by filling out ONE online form to get an insurance quote from a different provider.
  3. Use your library, it’s not just for books! Let me tell you a few things: I read over 100 books a year and I’ve only paid for two books for my Kindle. Ever. I get ebooks from my library for free! I also get online classes from Lynda.com, access to ConsumerReports.com, I took a live class on how to create a solid business plan, I take my family to music performances and my kids take art classes at the library. All for free! All of those things would cost a fortune. Instead, that money stays in my wallet.
  4. Automate your savings. It’s hard to part with money, even if you know you’re saving it for the future. Take your brain out of the transaction by automatically transferring just $10, $15 or $20 each week from your checking account to your savings.
  5. Do your grocery shopping online with a shopping list. A few local grocers offer delivery service for a $5 fee. I know I spend more than $5 in impulse buys when I grocery shop! If you shop with your list and only order what you need, you’ll avoid distraction, save time and save on unnecessary, unplanned items. (www.grinningcheektocheek.com)

money monster movie poster

About Money Monster:

In the taut and tense thriller Money Monster, Lee Gates (George Clooney) is a bombastic TV personality whose popular financial network show has made him the money wiz of Wall Street.

But after he hawks a high tech stock that mysteriously crashes, an irate investor (Jack O’Connell) takes Gates, his crew, and his ace producer Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) hostage live on air.

Unfolding in real time, Gates and Fenn must find a way to keep themselves alive while simultaneously uncovering the truth behind a tangle of big money lies.

Check out the trailer for Money Monster:

Money Monster opens in theaters everywhere on May 13th. Get your tickets today!

Enter the giveaway!

Sony and Money Monster are offering one lucky reader a $200 Visa gift card! All you need to do to enter is fill out the mobile-friendly form below.

$200 Visa Gift Card

Thanks so much for entering! If you have any issues with the form please contact me.

I’d love a Retweet to share this giveaway on Twitter. Thanks!

Disclosure: This giveaway is provided by Sony Pictures Entertainment. All opinions are my own.

THE PEANUTS MOVIE now on Blu-Ray and DVD + Giveaway! #PEANUTSInsiders

The Peanuts Movie theater

I think everyone from Minnesota has a special place in their hearts for Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang. Since I’m a Minnesota mom blogger, I’m definitely part of that group!

I was disappointed that our family didn’t have a chance to see The Peanuts Movie in the theater a few months ago, but that made me extra excited to receive The Peanuts Movie Limited Edition Gift Set in the mail a few days ago!

Peanuts movie blu ray

I was happy to see that my kids loved The Peanuts Movie just as much as they enjoy the classic Peanuts movies we get from the library.

Even better, I was thrilled that the overall tone of the story told in The Peanuts Movie hasn’t changed from the classics. The characters are the same, the story is just as sweet as ever and the animation is adorable!

the peanuts gang in the peanuts movie

About The Peanuts Movie:

Every underdog has his day in this fun, family film hailed by critics as “clever and charming” (USA Today), “the year’s best family film”and “funny and heart-warming” (CBS Radio News).

In The Peanuts Movie, good ol’ Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the beloved Peanuts gang appear as you’ve never seen them before in a brand-new feature film from the imagination of Charles M. Schulz and the creators of Ice Age.

Join everyone’s favorite eternal optimist, Charlie Brown, as he embarks on a heroic quest, while his beagle pal Snoopy takes to the skies to pursue his arch nemesis, the Red Baron. It’s a hilarious and heart-warming adventure!

I think one of the best things about bringing home movies on DVD and Blu-ray is all the extras, and The Peanuts Movie doesn’t disappoint!

the peanuts movie snoopy flying ace

Here are all the special features included in with the Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and digital HD editions of the movie:

  • Snoopy Snippets – Can’t get enough of your favorite Peanuts characters? These six all new Snoopy Snippets will brighten your day!
  • You Never Grow Up Charlie Brown – In this fascinating documentary, you’ll learn about Charles Schulz, the history of the Peanuts gang, and their journey to the big screen!
  • Snoopy’s Sibling Salute – It’s a Snoopy family reunion as The Peanuts Movie
    filmmakers introduce viewers to Snoopy’s siblings: Andy, Olaf, Spike, Belle and Marbles.
  • Learn To Draw Snoopy, Woodstock and Charlie Brown – Director Steve Martino provides fun, step-by-step tutorials on how to draw Snoopy, Woodstock and Charlie Brown.
  • Get Down With Snoopy and Woodstock Music Video – Clap, dance and sing along with Snoopy, Woodstock and Charlie Brown to an all-new version of everyone’s favorite Peanuts song!
  • “Better When I’m Dancin’” Meghan Trainor Lyric Video – The Peanuts gang is dancing up a storm with moves like you’ve never seen before—and on-screen lyrics so you can sing along.
  • “Better When I’m Dancin’” Meghan Trainor Music Video – Escape to a wonderful, whimsical world with Meghan Trainor’s music video for her hit song “Better When I’m Dancin’.”
  • Behind The Scenes of “Better When I’m Dancin’” – Meghan Trainor takes you on an exclusive tour behind the scenes and on the set of her “Better When I’m Dancin’” music video!
  • Snoopy’s Playlist – Now the music from the movie is at your fingertips—use Snoopy’s Playlist to jump directly to your favorite songs.

I’m excited to announce that I’m giving away one Limited Edition Gift Set of The Peanuts Movie to one babysavers.com reader!
The Peanuts Movie Limited Edition Gift Pack

Landing Page (Automatic)

Entering to win is easy. Just check out The Peanuts Movie and leave a comment sharing what you like most about the Limited Edition Gift Set! Be sure to record your answer in the giveaway form above then check out the ways to earn extra entries!

Disclosure: Review and giveaway samples provided by FHE Insiders. All opinions are my own.

Why I Love My KitchenAid Mixer + a Big Thank You MIXER GIVEAWAY!

why I love my kitchenaid mixer

I love my KitchenAid mixer because it does so much more than, well, mixing.

If I’m just whipping up a cake mix I’ll take out my hand mixer rather than deal with my big stand mixer. The KitchenAid is used for bigger, better kitchen projects.

I’ll start by saying that I have a different mixer than the one I’m giving away below. I bought a KitchenAid Professional Series Stand Mixer 11 years ago and it’s still going strong.

At the same time, my mom and my aunt both have the KitchenAid Artisan Series Mixer like the one I’m giving away. I could easily use that model instead of the one that I have and be just as happy with it!

What sort of things do I use my KitchenAid mixer for?

Bread dough: I own a bread machine, but I think using my KitchenAid mixer to make bread dough is so much faster and easier than using the bread machine.

The dough hook included with KitchenAid stand mixers is magical. Just mix all your dough ingredients together (like those from the best pizza crust recipe) and let the mixer run with the dough hook for the number of minutes you’re supposed to knead.

Homemade pasta: I bought the KitchenAid pasta maker attachment set a few years ago and I’ve had a blast making homemade fettuccine and spaghetti.

The best thing I’ve made with it is homemade ravioli. I’ve made ravioli by hand at a friends before, and it’s quite a job! The KitchenAid Ravioli Maker doesn’t eliminate all the work but it turns ravioli-making into a manageable project.

Meat grinding: We received the KitchenAid Food Grinder attachment as a wedding gift over 10 years ago. It’s not one that I use often, but it’s one of those things that makes me so happy when I need it.

I’ve used the food grinder to grind up chicken breasts for my Caprese Stuffed Chicken Burgers. I’ve turned steaks I bought at deep discounts into premium ground beef for recipes like Chipotle tacos.

All in all, my KitchenAid mixer is a workhorse in my kitchen, and I’m excited to give one away!

kitchenaid mixer giveaway

Babysavers.com has been around since 2008, and today I’m saying a big THANK YOU to all of you for your support! This site has grown in various ways every single year, and it’s all thanks to you, my readers!

I’m excited to share that I’ve joined forces with a great group of bloggers to bring you this amazing giveaway:

One lucky reader will win a KitchenAid Artisan 5-quart stand mixer in his or her choice of colors! 

Be sure to leave a comment and let me know why you’d love to win this giveaway!

Please enter the Kitchenaid giveaway via the Rafflecopter widget below.

Enter for a chance to win a KitchenAid 5-Qt. Artisan Stand Mixer.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to Save Money on Baby Formula

parents choice forumla review

Parent's Choice Baby Formula Review

Every new parent faces an overwhelming number of things to decide both before and after the birth of a child. On top of the critical labor and deliver decisions, there are things like childcare, diapers and feeding to think about.

Breastfeeding and formula feeding can be a hot topic, but today I just want to share some information about formula and offer a great giveaway. Pediatricians say breastfeeding is best for babies and Parent’s Choice supports that.

My own babies were formula fed. We started them on the brand that was provided at the hospital, but it wasn’t long before they were switched to a store brand. We had a few reasons for switching from the name brand formula, primarily because higher price simply does not indicate higher quality.

Click MORE or just keep reading to enter the $100 Visa gift card giveaway! 

[Read more…]

How to Pair Wine and Chocolate

how to pair wine and chocolate

I’m not a huge chocolate person and I’m definitely not a wine connoisseur, so I’ve never thought about how to put those two things together.

That’s not to say I don’t like either one. I can assure you that I enjoy chocolate often and I like to relax with an glass of wine.

How to pair wine and chocolate

When I received a gift of wine and chocolate from my friends at Brookside, it occured to me that I have plenty of friends who also appreciate both. I decided that it would be fun to serve them wine and chocolate if I can get all of us together this holiday season.

I did some reading to learn about pairing wine and chocolate, and it turns out I’m the last person on earth to know that wine and chocolate should be intentionally paired. There’s a lot of information out there!

I think almost everyone knows that a glass of wine can have a complex blend of flavors, and I learned that choccolate can be the same way. Add in the various textures of chocolate and learning about the best combinations of the two could turn into a full on hobby!

While I don’t need a wine and chocolate hobby, there are some basic rules to pairings that will make it easy if I have the opportunity to do it.

How to Pair Wine and Chocolate in 5 Easy Steps

How to pair wine and chocolate

  1. Choose wine sweeter than the chocolate you’re pairing it with. Without getting into the chemistry behind it, the wine will taste bitter if the chocolate is sweeter.
  2. Pair dark chocolate with red wine and pair lighter chocolates with whites or rose wines.
  3. Rich, intense chocolates should be paired with full-bodied wines.
  4. Taste from light to dark. When you’re presenting the pairings to your guests, serve white chocolate and milk chocolates first. End with the darkest and most bitter chocolates. If you’re following steps 1-3, you’ll serve wines from white to your most full-bodied red.
  5. Champagne goes with everything. If you can’t decide the right wine to pair with a particular chocolate choose a dry champagne. It will compliment any flavor.

It goes without saying that you should use good wines and quality chocolates if you’re serving wine and chocolate pairings to…anyone. Even yourself!

While it’s not the time for your liquor store bargain bin wine and dollar store chocolate, you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to create intersting pairings.

How to pair wine and chocolate

Pair Clos du Bois Pinot Noir with Brookside Pomegranate Flavor dark chocolate. The soft fruit flavored centers covered in smooth dark chocolate are a perfect compliment to the lighter red wine.

Clos du Bois Merlot can easily be paired with Brookside Dark Chocolate Acai & Blueberry Flavors. The smooth, full red wine goes hand in hand with the rich berry and dark chocolate combination.

I also urge you not to overthink this. Ask yourself, Do I like wine? Then ask yourself, Do I like chocolate? 

If you answered yes to both of those questions, just nibble on some chocolate and sip some wine. If you don’t like how one tastes with the other, try a different combination. I’m positive you’ll find the pairing that appeals to you!

Visit Brookside online and on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about wine and chocolate pairings.

Enter the giveaway!

Now I have a little giveaway to help you pair wine and chocolate. Here’s what I’m giving away:

How to pair wine and chocolate

The winner will receive Brookside chocolates, red and white wine glasses, wine bottle stoppers and a winged corkscrew!

Wait for the giveaway form to load and use it to enter the giveaway.

Brookside Wine and Chocolate Gift Basket

The giveaway ends December 6, 2015. Good luck!

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Brookside Chocolate via MomTrends Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Brookside or Momtrends Media.

Star Wars Bladebuilders Review

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Duracell & Toys “R” Us. The opinions and text are all mine.
Star Wars bladebuilders reviewI refuse to believe Christmas is only a few weeks away. It’s too much. I haven’t even started shopping yet.

Just because I haven’t started shopping doesn’t mean I haven’t heard about the hottest and best toys this holiday season.

Not only do I have this site, which has me checking online stores all over the place most days, I have two little voices in my house who are telling me all about the toys they can’t wait to talk to Santa about.

star wars bladebuilders review

One of the toys I’ve been hearing about more than any other is the variety of Star Wars Bladebuilders that are available right now. Even though Haiden and Piper haven’t seen Star Wars, they’re both huge fans and they know more about the storyline than I ever will!

So when I surprised both of them with their own Bladebuilders Light Sabers, there wasn’t any question about what they were or how they worked.

My daughter’s talk of Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ Kylo Ren practically shamed me into silence. And my son’s instant knowledge of how the Bladebuilders worked blew me away.

Check out their reactions to receiving Star Wars Bladebuilders Light Sabers: 

In my family, it’s sort of “classic Marybeth” to be caught unprepared by the little details. Like gifting an amazing toy but totally forgetting the batteries.

Checking to see if batteries are included with a toy is a definite must if you want to wow the kid you’re giving it to.

The Star Wars Bladebuilders Light Sabers require three AAA batteries.

Star wars bladebuilders review

When the kids realized the Light Sabers needed batteries, they immediately started asking for them.

You can see in the video that Haiden and Piper are generally polite kids, so they weren’t demanding. But I knew they were desperate for some AAAs to see the light effects. They also wanted to hear the motion sensor-controlled sound effects that they already knew all about!

Star Wars Bladebuilders Light Saber review

Thankfully, Duracell is sponsoring this post along with Toys R Us, so they sent the batteries along with the Light Sabers. I’m so glad I didn’t have to go along for a ride on the emotional roller coaster because I didn’t have the batteries they needed!

Star Wars Bladebuilders Light Sabers Review

While these toys were provided for me to give to my kids, I think it’s easiest to pick up batteries at the same time I buy the toys. That way I won’t forget about them when it’s time to start wrapping.

Toys”R”Us is a one-stop shop this holiday season. Not only do they have the best selection of Star Wars toys like the Luke Skywalker Electronic Light Saber Bladebuilder, it’s also great place to buy toys and the batties required to operate them at the same time at a great price.

Bladebuilders light saber review

Duracell is one of my preferred battery brands, especially for toys. Many other brands seem to drain within hours of use, but Duracell lasts and lasts.

There are a few great ways to save on Duracell batteries this holiday season:

  • On November 22nd, your Sunday newspaper should have a $3 OFF coupon when you buy any 2 packages of Duracell batteries (AA/AAA 16pk, D/C 4pk, 9V 2pk or larger, Quantum AA/AAA 6pk, D/C 3pk or larger)
  • On December 13th, your Sunday paper should have a $1 OFF coupon when you buy one package of Duracell Coppertop or Quantum batteries.

After you read this Star Wars Bladebuilders review you might be in the mood to look for more great holiday gift ideas. Be sure to follow me on Pinterest and check out my Christmas Gift Ideas board for all sort of gifts for kids of all ages!

Toys”R”Us Gift Card and Duracell Batteries Giveaway

Now I have a giveaway to help you with your holiday shopping. Imagine the toys you can buy with a $100 Toys”R”Us gift card. You’ll also get Duracell AAA batteries so you’ll have a few less batteries to worry about after you’ve bought your toys!

This giveaway is open to US residents and ends on 12/2/2015. Good luck!

$100 Toys”R”Us Gift Card + Duracell Batteries

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Duracell & Toys “R” Us. The opinions and text are all mine.