Summer of Giving Project – Help Hungry Kids in Your Community

I participated in this program on behalf of Champions for Kids and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

#SummerofGiving Project with Champions for Kids | MoneywiseMom
We’ve just started our summer vacation, and the kids and I are excited about doing a Summer of Giving. We’ve talked about ways to help others on a small scale (helping around the house), medium-sized (writing a nice note to someone or bringing a meal to a new mom), and some larger projects that help our whole community. For our first large project, we were inspired by Champions for Kids to help feed hungry kids through our local food bank. Champions for Kids believes:

All children should have: Someone who cares; a Place to belong; Hope for tomorrow and provisions for their journey. All children.

My kids have never experienced true hunger, but child hunger is happening in every community across the country. I shared this info with my kids:

  • 10% of US kids live in food-insecure homes, which means they don’t know when or if their next meal is coming.
  • With schools out for the summer, may children who rely on school breakfasts and lunches are in desperate need.

We talked about ways we could help, and how even small efforts can help a lot of people. Champions for Kids believes that helping others does not have to come in large doses.

Shopping for Food Donations for Summer of Giving program #SummerofGiving | MoneywiseMoms
Next, we went out to our local Walmart to shop for food donations. With the Summer of Giving Program, Walmart and Champions for Kids aim to help provide 5 million meals this summer. We helped with some of those meals! Each child had $50 to spend on food to donate to our local food bank. It was a great exercise for them to compare store brands with name brand prices, then keep track of what they had spent as we shopped the aisles. They did such a great job and were so thoughtful with their choices.

Summer of Giving Sponsors #SummerofGiving | MoneywiseMoms
In the Walmart freezer section, look for the sponsor brands–Tyson, Birds Eye and State Fair–because each time you purchase them, you’re helping support the Summer of Giving program alongside feeding your own family. Along with non-perishable foods, we also chose these frozen foods to donate. It took a little research to find a food bank that would accept frozen foods, but they really appreciated it.

Simple Service Project #SummerofGiving | MoneywiseMoms
Want to do even more? Do a SIMPLE Service Project. There are just four basic steps:

  1. GATHER your friends, family or co-workers.
  2. LEARN about the needs of children in your community.
  3. GIVE items to help kids enjoy happier and healthier lives.
  4. SHARE your story at Champions for Kids to inspire others to do the same!

Make your donations, then submit your project at Champions for Kids. You’ll be eligible to win $25,000 for your local school. Remember that every little bit helps. How can you help hungry kids in your community?

Champions for Kids Summer of Giving program #SummerofGiving | MoneywiseMoms

Make an Extra Mortgage Payment This Year

Why make an extra mortgage payment? By making one extra payment each year you cut a 30-year mortgage down to 23 years, saving you thousands of dollars of interest. Just like with all financial goals, every little bit helps!

3 Ways to Make an Extra Mortgage Payment this Year | MoneywiseMoms

Consider one of these three ways to make an extra mortgage payment this year:

1) Round up or pay a little more each month. Take the amount of your monthly mortgage payment and divide it by 12, then add that much to your payment each month. This spreads the extra out into smaller, easier-to-manage installments.

2) Use your tax refund or other bonus to make a one-time payment each year. Rather than spend “surprise” money, earmark it for an extra mortgage payment.

3) Change your payment schedule to bi-monthly, like your paycheck. This adds two extra payments per year to your mortgage, but it’s spaced out so you don’t notice it so much.

However you make the extra payment, be sure that it’s going towards the principal on your loan.


Is there ever a reason not to pay extra? Yes!

  • Credit card debt–If you are carrying consumer debt, it’s more important to pay that off at the 20+% interest rate than to put any extra money into mortgage debt. Be clear on what kinds of debt you have and how much interest you’re paying on each so you can make the smart move.
  • Penalties–Some mortgage companies actually charge a penalty fee for making extra payments and/or paying your mortgage off early. Call the customer service department to make sure that any extra money you’re sending is going towards the principal and not triggering a fee.
  • No emergency fund–if you don’t have savings to cover family emergencies, applying extra money to the mortgage is not as important as holding onto it.


Why focus on paying off your mortgage?

I am so inspired by posts like these from Kelly at View Along the Way and Sean’s story at Learnvest . While we’ve shared our yearly financial goals, one very-long-term goal is to be completely debt-free (meaning no mortgage at all) prior to retirement. That drops our cost of living dramatically and allows for us to be in control of all of our money, a much better position to be in once living on a fixed income.

Original image from 401(K)

Tropical Green Smoothies with Almond Milk

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser. #SilkAlmondBlends #CollectiveBias

Tropical Green Smoothies with Almond Milk #SilkAlmondBlends #shop | MoneywiseMoms
Once school gets out this week (finally), the afternoon swim team practice that has caused me so much dinner stress will switch to early morning. Time to switch gears! Now I need a morning kickstart to help us get out to the pool on time. Smoothies with almond milk are just the ticket–lots of fruit, protein and fiber–and I can take them to go.

I picked up some of the new Silk Almond Blends at Safeway last week so I could try them out in my morning smoothies. You’ll find both Silk Almond Coconut Blend and Silk Almondmilk Protein + Fiber in the dairy case. I made a delicious Tropical Green Smoothie with the Almond Coconut Blend, which has 50% more calcium than dairy milk in just 35 calories. It’s also a great option if you are working around allergies, since it’s dairy, lactose, casein, egg and gluten-free.

Silk Almondmilk Products at Safeway #SilkAlmondBlends #shop | MoneywiseMoms
Cutting a mango can be really tricky. This tutorial from SimplyRecipes has great pictures if you need a little help. By keeping the mango cubes and crushed pineapple in the freezer, you can avoid needing to add ice to the smoothie. The frozen fruit gives it just the right texture. Of course, you can always pick up frozen mango in the freezer section if you don’t want to deal with a fresh one.

Cutting a Mango for Tropical Green Smoothies with Almond Milk #SilkAlmondBlends #shop | MoneywiseMoms
Along with the benefits of almond milk, the spinach and mango provide Vitamins A and K. The two fruits add sweetness to the almond milk as well (I always buy the unsweetened version so there’s no extra sugar). I use a single-serve smoothie maker to mix my smoothies. It’s so much easier than a large blender.

Ingredients for Tropical Green Smoothies with Almond Milk #SilkAlmondBlends #shop | MoneywiseMoms
Tropical Green Smoothies with Almond Milk
  • 1 cup Silk Almond Coconut Blend
  • 1/4 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 cup frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach
  1. Add Almond Coconut Milk, pineapple and mango to blender and blend to break up icy chunks.
  2. Add spinach and blend again.

I’ve been enjoying this simple smoothie a few mornings a week, and it helps feel full as well as get some calcium, fruit and fiber in my day.

Head to the Silk website for a great Pina Colada Smoothie recipe, among others. It sounds delicious! You can also connect with Silk on Facebook to print money-saving coupons.

Do you make smoothies with almond milk? What’s your favorite recipe?

Linked up to Real Food Recipe Roundup at Sassy Moms in the City, Pinterest Foodie at Real: The Kitchen and Beyond and Made by You Mondays at Skip to my Lou.

Free Kids Crafts, Classes & Workshops {Summer 2014}

Summer vacation can have some long days…need something new to do? Try one of these FREE Kids Crafts, Classes & Workshops at a nationwide store chain near you. Most of these run year-round, so keep them in mind for the rest of the year as well.

Free Kids Crafts Classes Workshops #summer | MoneywiseMoms
Bass Pro Shops
Bass is offering FREE Family Summer Camps with FREE Workshops every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Learn archery, birdwatching, kayaking, and more. Kids get a free lanyard to collect the pins they’ll earn at each workshop.

Some Cabela’s are offering FREE Summer Camp sessions for kids ages 8-12 on Saturdays and Sundays. Kids can learn panning for gold, identifying animals, and archery. Check your local store’s event calendar for details, since not all stores are participating.

Home Depot Kids Workshops
The first Saturday of each month, between 9am-Noon, kids can make a wooden project at Home Depot. Register ahead of time on their website. Kids receive a certificate of completion, an apron, and a pin.

Lakeshore Learning Stores
Lakeshore has an awesome lineup of summertime crafts every Saturday between 11-3, with all materials provided. For ages 3 and up.

Lego Store Mini Builds
At your local Lego Store, kids can do a Mini Build the first Tuesday of each month from 5:00pm until supplies run out. At our store, the line starts about an hour ahead of time, and they often run out of kits, so plan ahead for this one!

Lowe’s Free Build & Grow Clinics
Lowe’s offers these clinics on select Saturdays from 10-11am. You do need to register online ahead of time. Kids get an apron, goggles, and project patch. This summer’s projects are all movie-themed.

Michaels doesn’t offer as many FREE kids workshops during the summer as other months of the year, but they do have a Kids Club ($2/child) and a new program called Passport to Imagination. For $2 per two-hour-session, kids will learn about some of North America’s best museums through an imaginary road trip. Sessions are for ages 5-12 and are held Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday. Check your local store’s event calendar for more details.

Your Local Library
Many library systems run extensive summer programs for kids. Check your local library’s website for information about free kids crafts, classes and workshops.


Looking for more FREE summer activities for kids?


Join me for the #Refuel2Go Twitter Party 6/26

Twitter Party Disclosure #cbias #shop #Refuel2Go
#Refuel2Go Twitter Party 6/26/14 #cbias #shop
Do you love a good Twitter Party?  You know I do, and I am totally excited to host a party about Dr Pepper® and SNICKERS®!  With summer traveling season upon us, it is time to start thinking about refueling on the road!  Between day trips to museums, a vacation and all of our swim meets, we will be on the road needing a quick drink and snack.  On June 26th at 1 PM EST, please join me for the #Refuel2Go Twitter Party where we’ll be talking about snacking on the go and how Dr Pepper® and SNICKERS® are that perfect on the go treat, and you can win prizes too!  Make sure you print out this coupon, so you too can enjoy saving money and refueling your family: Purchase (2) SNICKERS® 2-to-go bars and (2) 20 oz Dr Pepper bottles to receive $1.00 off!

We have a big roadtrip to Niagara Falls planned for August, once swim team season is over. I always pack ahead to have snacks in the car so we can refuel on the go, so I’ll be sure to include Dr Pepper® and SNICKERS® in my own bag (gotta get my chocolate fix!). I’m looking forward to getting more tips for summer roadtrips at this Twitter Party next week. Join me for a great discussion online and a chance to win prizes!

Join me and RSVP for the #Refuel2Go Twitter Party on SoFabChats!

DATE: Thursday, June 26

TIME:  1 pm-2 pm ET

PRIZES: 5 – $100 Walmart Gift Cards

EARLY BIRD PRIZE: 1 – $50 Walmart Gift Card


RULES: #Refuel2Go Twitter Party Official Rules

RSVP & PARTY GRID: #Refuel2Go Twitter Party Page


How To Participate In A Twitter Party on SoFabChats!

TIP:  How to join a Twitter Party – sign in! Before party starts, click on the green “Sign In On Twitter” bar at the top of the page!

TIP: Who to follow at a Twitter Party? Follow the Party Team by clicking on the Twitter handle links on the RSVP page!

TIP: Want to win Twitter Party prizes? RSVP by clicking on RSVP button before you join the party, follow everyone on the Party Team, and tweet with the party hashtag during the party to be eligible!

TIP: How to win the Early Bird prize? Watch for chance to share a tweet when you RSVP for chance to win!

TIP: Special deals and brand coupons? Keep that options checked when you RSVP for the party!

TIP: New to Twitter parties? Watch your column and Party Team tweet columns – they are slower paced and easier to follow!

TIP: Where to find Twitter Parties? Check out the SoFabChats Twitter Party Calendar to find more fun parties to attend!

Find more helpful Twitter Party Tips on SoFabChats!

Super Summer Salads {Cold Dinners for Busy Weeknights}

Super Summer Salads - roundup of easy, cold salad dinners for busy families - MoneywiseMoms
Summer swim team has started, which means lots of eating on the run–either out at away meets or spending hours at the home pool. Rather than spend lots of money at snack bars and overdo it on unhealthy foods, the kids and I searched on Pinterest for some new-to-us cold salad recipes that we can prep in the morning and pack to take for dinner. We love our old standby, the Spinach & Feta Pasta Salad, but we’re eager to try something new. These Super Summer Salads look great!

Summer Broccoli Salad from That's So Michelle | Super Summer Salads | MoneywiseMoms
Summer Broccoli Salad from That’s So Michelle

The sweet & sour dressing soaks in when you chill this salad ahead of time, so make it the night before or early in the morning for a crunchy, delicious dinner by the pool.

Fresh Summer Quinoa Salad from Hungry Couple | Super Summer Salads | MoneywiseMoms
Fresh Summer Quinoa Salad from Hungry Couple

This has all the flavors my kids love–chickpeas, cucumbers and salty feta cheese, with a light homemade dressing to pull it all together. Yum!

Summer Orzo Salad from Oh My Veggies | Super Summer Salads | MoneywiseMoms
Summer Orzo Salad from Oh My Veggies

So simple, and with kid-favorite green beans plus garden tomatoes and orzo pasta. This would be good both warm and cold. Can’t wait to try it!

Creamy Asian Slaw from Mommy Moment | Super Summer Salads | MoneywiseMoms
Creamy Asian Slaw from Mommy Moment

Love the pizzazz of the dressing, made with almond milk and apple cider vinegar. If you have leftover grilled chicken, put a few slices on top for protein.

BLT Chopped Salad from How Sweet It Is| Super Summer Salads | MoneywiseMoms
BLT Chopped Salad from How Sweet It Is

You had me at bacon. This chop salad also includes lettuce, arugula, corn and avocado–a fabulous medley of flavors–with a simple olive oil & lime dressing.

Summer Pasta Salad: Potluck Style from The Messy Baker| Super Summer Salads | MoneywiseMoms
Summer Pasta Salad: Potluck Style from The Messy Baker

I love this pasta salad recipe because it sets you up for many successful salads this summer. “Potluck style” means using whatever leftovers you have in the fridge–bits of meat, cheese, beans, veggies, etc.–and tossed with some salad dressing. If you need to, follow the recipe, but teach yourself to let go and experiment a bit.


For more easy family meals, read Get Dinner on the Table FAST. I also have more delicious salad recipes pinned to my Salads & Veggie Sides Pinterest Board.


Super Summer Salads is linked up to Pinterest Foodie at Real: The Kitchen and Beyond, Fluster’s Creative Muster Party at Fluster Buster and Made by You Monday at Skip to My Lou.

Summer Movie Programs 2014 {Nationwide FREE & $1 Movies}

Stay cool this summer by chilling with your kids in an air-conditioned theater with these FREE and Low-Cost Summer Movie Programs:

Summer 2014 Movie Programs | Free and low-cost movies for kids this #summer | MoneywiseMoms
BowTie Cinemas offers FREE movies every Tuesday and Wednesday morning at 10:00am starting June 24th.

Cinemark Theatres offers Summer Movie Clubhouse for $1.00/show or a $5.00 pass for the whole summer, purchased in advance. The start date varies depending on what part of the country you’re in (what date school gets out).

Classic Cinemas offers their Wednesday Morning Movie Series for $1.00/show at 9:00am every Wednesday, starting June 11th. You can go early and see costumed characters.

Cobb Theatres offers FREE Summer Kids Shows Tuesday-Thursday at 10:00am. Click through to your local theater to see their schedule, but most start June 17th.

Dickinson Theatres offers a Summer Vacation Movie Series with FREE movies Tuesday-Thursday at 10:00am and 12:30pm. Click on your local theater’s link to download the schedule.

Harkins Theatres has Summer Movie Fun every weekday at 9:45, and you can purchase Season Tickets for all 10 shows for just $7, or pay as you go for $2/person.

Malco Theatres offers $2.00 movies every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10:00am, starting June 3rd, with a portion of the proceeds going to local Children’s Hospitals.

National Amusements will offer their Bookworm Wednesdays program, starting July 9th. Kids receive FREE admission when they present a completed book report, which you can download from their site. Children under 6 do not need to complete the book report.

Phoenix Big Cinemas has FREE movies Tuesday-Thursday at 10:00am, with start dates varying per state.

Regal Theatres offers Summer Movie Express all summer on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10:00am for $1.00/person. Choose from a G or PG movie each morning, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Will Rogers Institute.

Ultrastar Cinemas offers their Kids Summer Series every day at 9:30am starting May 26th. Some theaters offer the movies FREE, others charge $5 for the 10-week pass.
Click through to your local theater chain to find the closest location. Have fun at the movies!


Original image from allisonmseward12 on Flickr

Fandooble {Favorite Family Game}

Fandooble | Favorite Family Game | MoneywiseMoms
Fandooble? Yes, it’s a funny name, but it’s one of our family favorites! Fandooble is a “press your luck” game that’s easy to learn and plays quickly, so it’s great for all ages (you can just play again if your youngest players lose). Good for 2-6 players, we have played with everyone from ages 5-adult. Since it’s a luck game, there’s not much strategy for younger ones to be missing compared to adults. Roll the dice and see what combination of dragons, wizards and coin-collectors you get. You’re aiming to collect coins from the center of the table, but you can steal from your neighbors, too. Once the coins in the center are gone, everyone counts up to see who wins.

Dice Circle
On your turn, you roll the four dice. If you get Treasure, you take a coin from the center pile. If you get the Thief, you can steal a coin from a neighbor. Dragons are bad, so on the next roll you’re down to two dice, but there’s a Wizard or Knight to cancel those Dragons out. The worst that can happen is getting three Red Dragons; you lose it all (seems to happen to me the most!).

Keep rolling, or stop and keep your coins? It’s hard for kids to decide when to quit and when to press their luck, so the game plays differently every time, which gives it great longevity. We’ve enjoyed this game for a couple of years now, and it’s a great one to bring out when multi-ages are around.

Fandooble | Favorite Family Game | MoneywiseMoms
You know I appreciate little details–like the cloth drawstring bag that’s included to hold the gold coins, which makes it easy to clean up and hard to lose the pieces. Next time you’re looking for a great kid birthday gift or new game for your Family Game Night, give Fandooble a try.

As always, please find a local game store or independent toy store to buy Fandooble. The publisher, MindTwister USA, has a store locator on their site. If you can’t find it locally, you can also shop online.

Looking for more fun family games? Read through all of our Favorite Family Games.

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link. Thanks for supporting MoneywiseMoms at no cost to you!

Super Easy 5-Ingredient Red Potato Salad

Need a super easy recipe for your next barbeque or potluck? How about this 5-Ingredient Red Potato Salad–with favorite flavors like bacon and ranch. It’s the summer version of a loaded baked potato, and it’s the perfect side dish for grilled chicken, fish, or even burgers.

Super Easy Red Potato Salad #recipe that has just 5 ingredients | MoneywiseMoms

5.0 from 1 reviews
Super Easy 5-Ingredient Red Potato Salad
Serves: 6-8
  • 3 lbs red potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
  • 1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 4 green onions, trimmed and sliced (both white and green parts)
  • 3/4 cup Ranch dressing
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  1. Boil potatoes in salted water until cooked, about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain potatoes and move to serving bowl.
  3. Add ranch and toss gently.
  4. Add bacon, green onions, and grated cheese and toss again.
  5. Serve either warm or chilled.

I find the potatoes cook faster if I cube them first (large-sized chunks), then boil. If you’re not a fan of bottled ranch dressing, you can make your own with buttermilk and mayonnaise. Try this homemade ranch dressing recipe from Daily Rebecca.

These flavors go so well together. I’d love to know if you give this recipe a try. Just leave a comment below!


This 5-Ingredient Potato Salad is linked up to Inspire Me Wednesday at Mama Buzz, Pinterest Foodie Linky Party at A Life in Balance, Hearth & Soul Hop at Premeditated Leftovers, Too Cute Tuesday at Funky Polkadot Giraffe, Fluster’s Creative Muster Party at Fluster Buster and Real Food Recipe Roundup at Sassy Moms in the City.