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hot dogs chunks rolled in biscuit dough - Piggies 'n Blankets.

Super Favorite Bowl Snack - Piggies 'n Blankets

This inexpensive and fun party finger food is a favorite with our family. Okay, we know it's not healthy, but it is delicious and we only break them out for special party occasions like New Years and Super Bowl. Get the instructions here.

Easy and delicious football watching finger food - piggies 'n blankets.

Yellow school buses parked at a yellow curb.

How to be a high schooler and crush college costs

How to be a high schooler and crush college costs.

College is a monumental expense for parents and students alike. Who among us is prepared for paying out tens of thousands of dollars over a 4 or 5 year period. But as with any large expense, the more you and your child prepare, the more manageable the expense can be.

After helping five of our own kids and hundreds of others work toward a debt-free college experience, we’ve learned a few things that might help your family dodge the dastardly debt bullet and get a college education without a backpack full of loans.

The preparations don’t start with the months before our darling high school seniors pack their bags for the dorm room.

No, the moneysmart preparations should begin years before.

In this article, we’re focusing on what can be done in the high school years to trim college fees and prepare our youngsters minds and wallets for a higher education at a much lower cost.

Here are 5 things that work:

1) Double Dip in English Class  

This idea came from Ben Kaplan, author of the book, “How to go to College Almost for Free.” Help your high schooler unearth scholarships that require essays. As they write the essays, they can be submitted to their English teachers for extra credit . . . and editing. We don’t know any teacher who wouldn’t reward this type of initiative and your student could get expert editorial help at no cost. Our kids used this same strategy in college, often bringing essays into their professors a couple of days ahead of the deadline, and were rewarded with expert comments for refining their work—resulting in much higher grades.

2) Leadership Leads to Scholarship   

There are multitudes of scholarships and organizations that reward leadership. If your child is gifted in this area or wants to learn, encourage their involvement in things like Key Club, 4H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA Youth and Government, Congressional Award, Debate Clubs, Honor Societies, Student Government. Experiences of these types are invaluable from the aspect of learning organizational structure and planning, but they can also open the door to cash awards and other educational benefits. 

3) Community Service

According to a DoSomething.org survey of college admissions officers, more than 70 percent of them said that long term involvement in one or two causes was of great importance to them. They want to see well-rounded individuals who exhibit the ability to focus on school while being involved in an activity or outreach for which they have a passion. Considering volunteering at crisis nurseries; animal rescues; hospitals; soup kitchens; food banks; tutoring for low income families or any other service that benefits the under-privileged, marginalized or elderly. 

Learn more here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nancy-lublin/college-admissions-community-service_b_1123212.html   
http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2011/11/30/community-service-work-increasingly-important-for- Read More...

Gravesite headstone with a vase of fresh flowers on it.

Top Funeral Insurance Companies

In our continuing series for building financial security, we're presenting this guest post on the value of funeral insurance.

Funeral insurance is part of the process of protecting yourself from unexpected bills upon the death of a family member. There are many funeral insurance companies, and many of them are also offering life insurance policies. You may find that you can take out burial insurance alongside of life insurance, to make things more convenient when it comes time to pay. We will look at some of the top funeral insurance companies.

Midland National

Midland National opened its doors in 1906 and has been in continuous operation ever since. Its extensive history already tells you what you need to know about how they do business. What separates this company from the rest is they have adapted to the changing needs of policy holders, including becoming one of the first companies to begin offering funeral insurance.

Coping with a volatile history means this company can give you peace of mind that they aren’t going to disappear one day because of a financial meltdown. But be wary about some of their sales techniques. Only recently the company went through a major multimillion dollar lawsuit over false advertising on products sold to elderly policy holders.

Transamerica Life Insurance

Transamerica Life Insurance is undoubtedly the undisputed king of the flexible policy. You can take out a custom policy designed to suit you. Transamerica Life Insurance has long been famed for its competitive rates and fairness in dealing with customers.

The only disadvantage we could spot was with some of the provisions in the life insurance policy limit its flexibility. It’s easy to see that these could trip some people up. That’s why if you take out a policy with this company you should carefully inspect the terms and conditions of the contract. Overall, the customer service options are amongst the best. It’s easy to get in contact with a representative who will provide a solution to your problems.

Primerica

Colloquially known as Prime America, Primerica is a young player in the funeral insurance industry, after only opening its doors in 1977. There are a number of good things this company offers after teaming up with some of the biggest and best life and funeral insurance providers. They have over four million life insurance policies, and at least half as many funeral insurance policy holders. Alongside their policies, they provide people with the opportunity to invest their premiums in order to boost the amount they hold in any one policy. The company has a history of paying out claims within 2 weeks, and 90% of claims are accepted. This is an enormously high rate, and is why this company is particularly popular amongst middle class Americans.

Chandelier with red glitter hearts hanging from colored ribbons.

Getting the House Valentine Ready

Annette loves decorating our home for just about every holiday. This is a simple and terrific looking Valentine craft which you can do with your kids, grandkids or just by yourself. Get the details and materials list here.

Old wooden desk with a red chair and a black laptop on the desk.

Working from Home: Investing in Yourself

We asked Terry Kidd to let us know about options for those of us who want to start working from home.

 

Many men and women work from home. It is flexible and convenient. But a work from home job isn’t for everyone. A tremendous amount of discipline and organization are required if you’re going to succeed.

There are many differences between working at home for a company located elsewhere and being a self-employed person in your own firm.

But in either case, if your job involves office assignments, the first thing you need is the right work environment. Having your own dedicated workspace can be a real motivator— even a corner in a larger room can serve as a small office. You’ve got to have a table or a desk where you can set up your PC or laptop where it can remain after work hours along with whatever other paraphernalia your job requires. Having to pack up all your gear each evening is time consuming as is having to rearrange it again the following day.

Make sure you are set up with everything you need to do your job properly. If you spend most of your time at the computer, you absolutely must have the right chair or you will eventually suffer from back and neck problems, and once these discomforts start, they aren’t easy to get rid of.  Try out several types of chairs before settling on the one that feels the most comfortable. Adjust it so that it fits your curvature as best as possible. The right working atmosphere is essential for all work at home people so colors, wall coverings and other items should be a reflection of your personality.

Investing as a Career

When it comes to running your own business, a popular career choice is investing. This can be done in any number of financial markets such as equities, futures, currencies and commodities. There are several broker review sites that list the top rated Forex reviews and provide investors with all the information they would need before choosing a broker. Beyond this, mobile applications are technology’s latest tool for helping marketers and investors move ahead in today’s fast paced financial environment. As competition for these apps becomes fiercer, more and more business people are moving over to mobile applications as one of their main sources of marketing.

An option for working at home can be found in day trading where brokers have created their own communities by using mobile apps that allow their clients to invest and trade with just a few clicks. Brokers use mobile apps for getting the news out in a timely fashion and sending signals that advise traders how and what to invest in. The DailyForex mobile app provides its registered members with up-to-the-minute news and analysis and keeps them informed of what is happening in the world of Forex.

Of course, working from an office on a computer is not the only type of work that can be done from home. There are many creative professions that simply call for the right amount of space. Arts and crafting businesses, teaching music lessons, life coaching / financial coaching, and tutoring students are all careers which can be operated in the confines of you home.

But even those areas mentioned above demand tremendous control and management if they are to be successful. Well-kept calendars, organized workspace and good accounting skills are all key ingredients to a successful career.

The bottom line is to evaluate your options and your passions. Be organized and disciplined in your work and success will come to you right where you live.

 

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