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Screen Time Issues Solved : Our Summer System

Post may contain affiliate links, read Coupon Katie disclosure policy here.

Screen Time. 

It is a whole thing in this house.  

During the school year it is not that big of an issue because we are busy but then summer…..

I have been reading a lot about kids and video game/ screen time addiction. I am a believer. We are three days into summer break and I just cannot take anymore asking, arguing, whining, fighting, eye rolling, zoning out.  I. Cannot.

Ultimately THE HUSBAND and I are to blame because we allowed the Xbox, Kindle, iPad, computer, TV etc into our home.  So I solved it with the token system. 

My hope is that their brains don’t turn to mush this summer, that they realize playing outside or with friends really is more fun and a little responsibility and work along the way is a good thing.  This should help us get all the rewards from summer reading programs. 

I cannot take total credit for this system. My bother-in-law has used it for a while and shared the details with me, then I customized it to our house.  

 

The Rules

Everyone gets 5 tokens for the week.

Each token is good for 30 minutes of screen time. (ANY screen)

You get new tokens every Monday.

If at the end of the week , by some miracle, you have tokens left over you get $1 per token.  The do not roll over.

Using your Tokens

You are responsible for setting your own timer, or asking me to set one.  If you do not, or you go over your time you lose the rest of your tokens.  (It’s also about personal responsibility and integrity. Plus, you have 3 brothers ready to throw you under the bus at any time. 🙂  )

You  do not have to ask to use your tokens, you can use any screen you want to play approved games etc.  Just put your token in the jar.

Earning Tokens

You can earn extra tokens for reading and math

Oldest Son (11)- 3o  minutes of reading and two math pages from the books his teacher sent home= 1 token

Middle Sons (7-9) 20 minutes of reading and one math page /or 10 minutes on with multiplication flash cards= 1 token

Youngest Son (5)- 15 minutes “reading” , working on his letter sounds or looking through books and one math page=1 token

Special Rules

Help me, they have already thought us so many special scenarios where they do not have to use tokens.

Family movie nights

ABC Mouse or Relfex Math on computer

Of course the play room has to be picked up in the morning and all chores have to be done before any screen time.

What is your system for electronics?!  I always love hearing how you guys manage things.   Feel free to try any or all of this, change it to fit your household and let me know how it goes!

How I Got Transfer Stains Out of My Beloved White Jeans for $2

Post may contain affiliate links, read Coupon Katie disclosure policy here.

I have a new pair of white jeans that I love.

Not paying attention I washed those white jeans with regular jeans.  I still didn’t pay attention when I threw them in the dryer.  But then, I paid attention and almost cried. My new white jeans had blue streaks All Over Them.   I was sad over being careless, missing my jeans and not wanting to pay for another pair. 🙂

I panicked slightly, asked for help , and got lots of great suggestions and tips.  In my research I also learned that you should not us bleach, at least on all over stains,  unless the fabric is 100% cotton.  My jeans ware not and bleach can cause other fabrics to yellow.  Because the dye was all over I went with Carbona Color Run Remover.

I also bought some Rit Color Remover just in case this did not work!

I filled my kitchen sink and soaked the jeans in cold water and Carbona. The directions called for one to three minutes, I soaked for 7 just for good measure. (I have not idea if this is wise or not, but I really wanted the blue streaks out of my jeans.)

 

I then washed them ALONE in cold water.  I am happy to report that it totally worked! My white jeans are as good as new!

A few other popular suggestions were to soak over night in Oxi-Clean or Oxi-Clean and vinegar, Fels Naptha bar and Grandma’s Secret Stain remover from JoAnn’s.

Culturelle® Kids & Coupon Katie $100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway

culturelle-kids-regularitySummer is over. School is back in session and that means everything changes. New bedtime routine, new morning routine and varying new lunch schedules. Even our dinner after school routine looks different depending on day!

My boys deal with being tired or stressed from change differently. I won’t tell you who is who, because I would like them to take care of me when I’m old. 🙂 Buy, one gets headaches, one falls apart over everything (no joke, yesterday the his socks were too “lumpy” and he could. not. deal.) and two have tummy issues.

Not being able to help with the lumpy socks issue Culturelle® decided to help with tummy issues. They created new Culturelle® Kids Regularity Gentle-GoTM Formula to gently yet effectively restore the natural balance of good bacteria in the digestive tract and promotes daily regularity to help your child go easier.* Each flavorless packet contains 2.5 billion active cultures of the probiotic Lactobacillus GG and 3.5 g of dietary fiber from inulin; a prebiotic vegetable fiber sourced from chicory root, and kiwi fruit. One serving contains as much dietary fiber as five prunes. It helps restore regularity, keeps their digestive systems running smoothly and promotes healthy digestion and bowel function.* Culturelle® Kids Regularity is both drug and stimulant free, sugar-free, gluten-free° and dairy-free. It’s a drug-free way to gently encourage natural bowel function.* You can view for more info  and reviews on this product here.

If you have been wondering how to help your kids with tummy issues or just wanting to add a probiotic now is a great time to try this one out. Why? Because you can get a $5 Coupon HERE.

Culturelle® Kids Regularity Gentle-GoTM Formula is available at all major retailers, including Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid.

The awesome folks at Culturelle want both your kiddos and YOU to have a great back to school season, so they have given me one $100 VISA Gift Card to give away to one lucky Coupon Katie reader!  You can use it for back to school supplies or whatever else you need!

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Camping Out West Part 4: Spontaneity Time

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You’ve arrived safely, the groceries are bought, and you are set up at your first campsite. Now, it’s playtime. First, stop at the visitor center. A few minutes through their exhibits and talking with a ranger will help you zero in on what makes that park special and what activities are realistic for your family.

They have maps, program guides, and Junior Ranger books. Some JR books are free; some cost a few bucks each. They are great summaries from a kids’ perspective of what you should be looking for and doing in each park. And at the end, your kid earns a cool badge to keep. Our friends picked up one in Muir Woods made of reclaimed redwood. The ones in Zion and Yosemite are laser printed wood; some are plastic, but they’re good reminders of previous trips to pin on camelbacks for years to come.

margaret-grand-canyon

As for family suitable hikes, I recommend:

Grand Canyon (north rim): The Rim Trail from the campgrounds to the lodge and back

Zion: The Narrows (full day’s hike through a river canyon—so cool!) and Lower Emerald Pool Trail (one hour)

Bryce Canyon: The Navajo Loop trail: from Wall Street to Queens Garden Trail, Sunset to Sunrise Points

Sequoia: Moro Rock, Crescent Meadow Trail to Thorp’s Log, General Sherman Tree (the largest tree in the world)

Kings Canyon: General Grant Grove, Zumwalt Meadow, horseback riding near Cedar Grove

Yosemite: Lower Yosemite Falls, Mirror Lake, rafting along the Merced, the top of Vernal Falls via Mist Trail, Half Dome for those seeking a challenge (must get a permit– competitive).

Death Valley: Drive to Badwater (the lowest point in the US and a giant salt flat) and Artist’s Drive (beautiful). The visitor center at Furnace Creek has a temperature gage outside. Our high was 133, yes 133!!!!!

sequoya-ck

The unpredictable surprises that come from just being present in a national park are what make your trip memorable: a herd of bison as you’re driving into Grand Canyon, the refreshing river rushing by your ankles as you maneuver through breath-taking canyons in Zion, a mother and her fawns traipsing by any given campsite at dusk, the falling stars you witness from the meadows in Yosemite. Getting in touch with the earth enlivens you and your kids. Use all five senses. Look out the window. Take time to play. You’re making memories worth every penny.

If you missed Part 1- The Budget you can read it here or Part 2- Planning you can read it here, and Camping Out West Part 3- Buying Food here.

Margaret is a freelance writer in Knoxville, TN. She writes and produces for HGTV and has been couponing since 2009.

Tax Free Weekend: Eight Shopping Tips To Maximize Your Savings

Tax Free Weekend is almost here! Starting Friday , at 12:01 a.m. through Sunday at 11:59 p.m., you’ll save 9¾ percent on clothing, school supplies and computers!

You will not pay state or local sales tax on clothing, school and art supplies that cost $100 or less per item and computers that cost $1,500 or less. Here are eight tips to help you maximize your Tax Free Weekend savings!

  1. Get organized before Friday. Take an inventory of what you have and what you need. Look through clothes, shoes and  school supplies. Make a list of what need and set a budget.
  2. Plan ahead for big purchases. If you are considering buying a computer or tablet, this is the time to do it since the tax savings can be more than $100 in some cases.  Items like computers  with a purchase price of $1,500 or less, including laptops and tablets (iPads, etc.) are tax free! Do your research ahead of time. Look through sale ads now and find the computer you want to purchase, then get to that store early.
  3. Make sure you look for coupons!  Stack coupons and in store promotions with tax  savings to get some great deals. Many retailers will put out coupons either online or in their print ad for this weekend.
  4. Online Retailers will participate in Tax Free Weekend too.  Historically several of them offer sales and free shipping deals.
  5. Do Not over buy.  This is especially true on school supplies. Buy what you need to take the first day but save the major stocking up until after schools starts. Stores will clearance all their supplies and you can get a better deal then.  Same goes for clothing. Buy what you know is a good deal or what you need, then watch for clearance.
  6. Families with young children not in school can save too!   Diapers are tax exempt this weekend. So grab you diaper coupons and look for a sale. Clothing and shoes for all ages  and things like art supplies are also tax exempt.
  7. Read over the list of tax exempt items.  You might be surprised what all you find included!  Also, it will help clear up any questions like: computers are included but smartphones are not. Backpacks are included but briefcases are not. Cowboy boots are exempt, but ski boots are not.
  8. If you want to save time and money- Price Match.  Staples has a 110% Lowest Price Guarantee They will matches any competitors’ prices, plus gives customers an additional 10 percent of the difference between the Staples price and the competitor price at time of purchase. Target will also price match items you find for a lower price in a competitor’s local print ad.   Look through your ads and find all the best deals on the items you need. Then head to a price matching store with your ads and get everything you need at the best possible price!

Ibotta Rebates Paid For Our Camping Trip!!

Post may contain affiliate links, read Coupon Katie disclosure policy here

Smores

We have one particular camping trip that is a tradition for our family. We go every year. Same weekend, same place- tradition.

We usually have our reservations by now but for some reason we have been slackers this year. Looking at the calendar last month we agreed we had to make reservations or we would miss our trip.

Then, some very unexpected and crazy expensive issues came up with our house. The kind that wipes out your vacation and emergency funds. The kind that makes you super sad you have to spend all that money but also thankful that you have just enough to fix the problem.

There was nothing left over for our annual camping trip.  I was sad.   I started brainstorming creative ways to fund the trip, or at least make the reservation.

We keep a pretty close eye on budgets around here so I knew none of our accounts had “extra”.  Lucky for me Kroger had  several good Ibotta deals this week, and it gave me an idea.

I have been a member or Ibotta since it started.  It is by far my favorite cash back app.  I use it,  but I don’t check my balance that often. It is like a savings account I kind of forget about. 🙂

This week when I was redeeming offers I checked my balance. Guess what- just enough to cover our lodging for the camping trip!!!   You guys- just enough. How awesome is that?!

My frugal efforts will pay for our annual family camping trip. Not in an I saved enough so we can go way, but in a real, tangible transfer the money and pay for it kind of way.

It if FREE to sign up for Ibotta  , FREE to use it and it will provide a way for us to keep up our tradition! It will provide another year of fun family time and memories.

Sometimes I get discouraged with coupons and apps and deals. It takes time and effort and planning. In the busyness of five young kids there are days I don’t want to plan and make the effort. BUT then there are days like today, where that hard work pays off. And there will be days soon when we are camping that the little effort will be so, so worth it.

Be encouraged money saving mommas! Be encouraged to find the money saving ways that suit your life best and know that they are making a difference, even on the days you don’t see it!

ibotta

If you are not a member of Ibotta  here is how to join and how it works:

Download the Ibotta App on your Apple or Android device. Before you go shopping, unlock cash rewards on products by completing quick simple tasks like watching a commercial, learning a fact about the product or completing a survey .

Next, go shopping at your favorite store. Ibotta works 100’s of chains including CVS, Kroger, Target, Walgreens, Walmart, Publix, Whole Foods Markets, Sam’s Club etc.

After you shop, take a photo of your receipt with the app and upload it. Your account is credited with the money you receive within 24 hours, and you can withdraw it to Paypal or choose from a selection of gift cards.

To make this even more useful you can use Ibotta in conjunction with other store and manufacturer deals. For example, you can use paper or digital coupons  at the store during check out, then receive money back from Ibotta  too!

Also for a trip down memory lane here are 8 Things I learned on Our Family Camping Trip from six years ago.

One of our earlier camping trips. We only had three. :) Look at those babies!!!

One of our earlier camping trips. We only had three. 🙂 Look at those babies!!!

Easy, Yummy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Bites

energy-balls-ck

Four boys eat a lot of food when they are home for the summer.

This is a fact.

I was running out of options yesterday after karate so I threw together a bunch of stuff from our pantry and made some really yummy energy bites. Here is what I did, but know you can throw all sorts of things into theses babies and they will still be good.

energy-ball-mix-ck

1/2 c Peanut Butter
1 Ripe Banana smashed (not banana bread ripe, but close)
3/4-1c Oats (I didn’t want to dirty another measuring cup, that’s why the range)
1/4 c Milled Flax seed (again approximate, and not essential if you don’t have it)
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 c Mini Chocolate Chips

Mix all this together in a big bowl.

Place bowl in the fridge for about an hour and it will form into balls with out sticking to your fingers (as much).

Taste your creation, because it is yummy.

Form into balls then, throw them back in the fridge if you’re eating them in the next day OR place them on a cookie sheet and freeze for an hour before putting them in a ziploc bag OR if you don’t care that they stick together place them in the freezer in a ziploc bag and be done. 🙂

These are great to eat out of the freezer or fridge. They are good, full of some good stuff (and some chocolate) and you know exactly what is in them. You can substitute or add things too. I have a friend that adds sweetness-to everything- with pitted dates.

Try throwing together some energy bites and let me know how it goes. Share your recipes, I’m always looking for good, easy snacks for this crew!

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