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Tips for Returning Holiday Gifts

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Tips for Returning Holiday Gifts

Christmas and the Holidays are a magical and fabulous time, but sometimes you get gifts that either don’t suit, don’t fit, are broken, or you just can’t use. When it comes to returning gifts, it is usually a dreaded experience right up there with a visit to the DMV. Here are some tips for returning gifts that may save you some hassle and stress!

Know where the Item Came From

Let’s face it; just because a family member said they got you that gift at Kohl’s, doesn’t mean that is where it really came from. We are human and forget exactly where each item came from.  We also fib! Do a quick search on Google for the brand name, check the tag, or look at the receipt to try make sure you are returning it to the right store.  You can also just ‘fess up and ask the giver.  Awkward maybe but you will know, especially in the event that the gift was broken or needs a size adjustment.

Ask for an Exchange

Instead of just asking for your money back, store clerks are more likely to give you less hassle when you ask for an exchange or in-store credit. If you know you will want something from that store later, ask for in-store credit right away.  If you are lacking a receipt, you will likely be given store credit at the current selling price.

Remember the Card You Purchased the Item With

If you bought the gift and need to return it, remember which card you used. Even if you have the receipt, most stores will not give you cash back but will put it back on the card you used. This is where asking for in-store credit, or an exchange makes it easier if you don’t have the card you used.

Beat the Crowds by Waiting

The absolute worst time to get in and out of a store quickly and efficiently is the week after Christmas. Of course, everyone wants to get their Christmas gifts returned and enjoy their new item, and lots of people are off work and school making the stores busy and the clerks harried. If you want to beat the crowds, wait until the holiday season calms down. Two weeks after the holiday is an ideal time to make your returns or exchanges.  Just be aware of store time limits on returns and exchanges.

Know the Return Policy

If you go to the store not knowing the return policy, many clerks are going to tell you their version of it. Know what the policy is before you step foot in the store. Print a copy if you can. This will make your return smooth and easy. If a clerk is giving you a hassle, ask for the manager immediately.  Try to stay calm and nice and you are much more likely to have a positive outcome.

Find the Receipt

Making returns is so much easier with a receipt. Many gifts don’t come with a gift receipt unless requested upon purchase, or you have bought so many gifts you have no clue where the receipt is. If you don’t have a receipt, it’s ok because you can still do in-store credit or an exchange. However, the receipt makes the transaction that much smoother.  Next year designate an envelope for all holiday receipts and you will be ahead of the game.  I like to just include the gift receipt with the gift so that the recipient has it.  Easy and done.

What tips do you have for returning Christmas gifts? Share your tips in the comments below!


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5 Tips for Organizing the New Toy Mess

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The day after Christmas is one of my least favorite days of the year. Yeah, I said it.

All the gifts I meticulously shopped deals to get, and so nicely wrapped, are all over the house.  The kids rooms are messier than ever before, so is the rest of the house, and this momma is exhausted from the run up and then cooking all day. But I can’t rest.  Not yet. Not until my house is decluttered and everything is organized – especially the toys! Here are my five best tips for organizing toys after Christmas:

Pitch it: Explaining to your child that her barbie with no hair and one leg is trash can be heartbreaking, and more tense than international negotiations. The best day to do this, (besides when she is NOT AROUND!) is the day shes occupied with her new toys. Sift through the toy box, and be brutal.  Gather everything that is broken and missing pieces, and toss it in the trash!  You will feel awesome.

Rotate it: Kids don’t need 20+ toys to play with every single day. In all honesty, the more toys a child has, the less likely they are to play with them, or appreciate what they have. Keep 10-15 of their new and very favorite ones out and box the rest. In a month, when they have become bored of the toys you left out, put those away and bring out the ones you put away. It will feel like Christmas morning every time you rotate a box.

Sell it or Donate it: Make a big pile of toys that are in great condition that you child has grown out of or totally lost interest in and find a local charity to donate them to, or list them on local buy/sell/trade sites.  I love including the kids in the donation, because it’s easier for them to give their toys away if they know a new child is going to get to love them!  We do this BEFORE Christmas, and we do it again AFTER!

Rearrange it: Sometimes a quick rearrangement of existing toy storage bins can make all the difference. Move the toy box to a different area. Remember, if you can’t close the toy box, that means there needs to be more in the donate or rotate box.

Label it: I love labels. I would label everything in my house if it wouldn’t look silly. You can use word labels for older kids, or picture labels for younger kids. Showing your child that everything has a place and everything should be in it’s place will help save your sanity and keep the toys organized.   Make them help clean up and care for their playthings so that they will mean more to them.

What toy organization tips do you have?

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Practical Tips for a Debt-Free Holiday

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debt free - financial concept - isolated text in vintage letterpress wood type

Practical Tips for a Debt-Free Holiday

If you have a tendency to overspend when it comes to gift buying for the holidays, you’re certainly not alone.  Billions will be spent over the Holiday season, and not all of it smartly.  Countless consumers find themselves in the same cash strapped and sinking boat when the bills come in January. But, there is a way to not let that happen!   Keep reading, to learn some practical tips for a debt-free holiday.  Your wallet will be glad you did.

Create a Budget and Gift List

Creating both a REALISTIC budget and a gift list BEFORE you shop is absolutely one of the best and easiest ways to eliminate a mountain of post-holiday bills. Figure out your approximate budget, first.  Then make your recipient list.  Maybe this is the year to be brutal and cut some of the extras from that list.  Talk to the adults in your family and see if you can perhaps draw names for one gift rather than buying for everyone!  In our family we do a $30 gift for an adult, then we play rob your neighbor.  For best results, it’s recommended that you buy one gift per person, instead of two or three smaller items. Chances are, the first option will cost you less than several small gifts, and be nicer.  

Avoid Credit Card Spending, UNLESS…

…YOU are very disciplined!  Statistics indicate that shoppers who use credit cards spend up to 18 percent more on holiday gifts.  Why?  Because the actual cash isn’t leaving your hands, it is easy to say that you will pay that off later, NO problem.  It is too easy to buy things that you actually cannot afford, even at great deal prices.  If you’re concerned about the purchase protection that comes with using credit cards, then limit yourself to a single rewards-based card that will actually be useful to your life.  AND make sure that you pay that card off immediately, as soon as the bill comes in so you don’t forget.  Accruing interest on Uncle Bob’s sweater just is NOT the way to ring in the new year.

Save Money with Shopping Apps and Cashback Sites

There are scads of shopping apps available today, many of them at no cost to you. KNOW your prices!  Use apps like Amazon, Flip and Cartwheel to compare and look for sale items already on your list, get coupons to save money, and to get ideas for gifts you’re still unsure about.  Also, when you shop online, try using a site like Ebates or TopCashBack which pay you a percentage of your purchase in cash! [See Earning with Cashback Sites this Holiday]

Keep Track of Purchases

Keeping track of purchases as you make them helps you maintain a debt-free holiday. When you don’t write down what you buy, as soon as the transaction is complete, you run the risk of overspending… simply because you can’t remember all that you’ve gotten who.  Keep that list with you so that anytime you buy something, you can add it to your list and cross of that name!  I like to also add what I spent on the gift so I KNOW where I am at and can adjust accordingly.

Don’t Allow Guilt Dictate Your Spending

If you need to cut back on spending, don’t allow guilt to talk you into buying things for people you need to trim from your list. Most people will understand your situation and won’t hold it against you if you can’t afford to buy them anything. Consider a gift of your time (free babysitting or handyman help, for example) or make it yourself.  [See 30 Easy and Frugal DIY Holiday Gifts]  ALSO, don’t get guilted by your kids into spending more than you can afford or are comfortable with.  We all want to get our kids everything, but set a limit and STICK TO IT.  

Shop All Year

Spreading your holiday purchases over an entire year will lessen the pressure and panic of having to come up with all those funds at once.  You will make better choices financially in December if you already have half or more of your shopping done before Thanksgiving!  Be smart about it though.  Don’t just grab stuff at full price, but if you see something that you know your picky Sister-in-Law will love, by all means grab it.  And shopping for the next year right after Christmas this year is a great way to stock up on wrapping paper and cheap gifts for your gift closet.  [See How to Build A Gift Closet without Breaking Your Budget]  Don’t get stuck paying full price at the last minute when you can stock some gifts at home — purchased on awesome sales, of course!

These are practical tips for a debt-free holiday, and you can adjust them to suit your situation.  But even by taking advantage of just one or two of them, you’ll save money. The most important thing to remember is this. Christmas isn’t all about presents. It’s about spending time with family and the spirit of the season.

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28 DIY Halloween Makeup Tutorials

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28 DIY Halloween Makeup Tutorials

Halloween makeup can make your costume, OR it can BE your costume!  Don’t want to shell out for an elaborate costume this Halloween?  You can still have a winning look.  Whether you’re going for total fright or just delight, check out these 28 Do It Yourself Makeup Tutorials

  1. Slap Dash Mom – Queen of Hearts Makeup
  2. Dear Creatives – Vampire Queen Makeup
  3. Dear Creatives – Evil Queen Makeup
  4. We Can Make Anything – Zombie Makeup Tutorial
  5. From Head to Toe – Lion Halloween Makeup Tutorial
  6. Babble – Leopard Makeup Tutorial
  7. From Head to Toe – Deer Halloween Makeup Tutorial
  8. Flattery – Deer Halloween Costume Tutorial -with makeup
  9. Kastles – Spooktacular Scarecrow
  10. Bespoke Bride – How to do Day of the Dead Makeup
  11. From Dahlias to Doxies – Dia de los Muertos Sugar Skull Face
  12. Brittany Couture xo – Mrs Hatter Makeup Tutorial
  13. Brittany Couture xo – Vampire Makeup
  14. Brittany Couture xo – Ursula Makeup Tutorial
  15. Talking Trash and Wasting Time – Marceline Makeup Tutorial
  16. Talking Trash and Wasting Time – Minnie Mouse Cartoon Makeup
  17. She Might Be Loved – Comic Book Halloween Makeup
  18. Jangsara – Broken Doll Makeup
  19. The Wonder Forest – Skeleton Skull Makeup Tutorial
  20. The Wonder Forest – Fox Makeup tutorial
  21. The Wonder Forest – Cute Bear Makeup Tutorial
  22. HGTV – Kids Pirate Makeup Tutorial
  23. Good to Know – Frankenstein Face Paint Tutorial
  24. Free People – Halloween Makeup Tutorial Porcelain Doll
  25. Phyrra – Monster High: Draculaura Makeup Tutorial
  26. Phyrra – Monster High: Cleo de Nile Makeup Tutorial
  27. The Good Stuff – Disney’s Frozen Elsa Makeup Tutorial
  28. Dear Crissy – Halloween Jack-o-lantern Face Painting Tutorial
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Lady B’s Budget Boredom Busters! Make an Easy, DIY, Frugal Floral Hair Clip

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Lady B’s Budget Boredom Busters! Floral Hair Clip

Lady B is a busy gal and I am a tired Mommy.  Don’t get me wrong… I wouldn’t change a single thing because this child is on fire and I love her and her constant state of activity.  That makes us always be on the look out for fun things to make.  Recently, we were at a local mall and on one of the carts in the middle they were selling some cute tropical looking hair clips.  She loved one in particular and then I saw the price.

 Ummm…not happening!  So I explained to her that it was a little too much to spend on a hair clip.  ‘That’s OK Mom, we can make one!’ she said.  Well of course she was right, we are DIY girls and we can totally make these to play,  to wear for us, heck for her new American Girl Doll even!  Where would we go?  To the 99 Cent Only Store of course!

What did we find?  Well we found silk/fabric flowers with 4 blooms for $1, one large and a pack with two medium hair clips.  I have a glue gun and wire cutters so for $3 we were going to be able to make 3 clips!

PicMonkey Collage

Easy peasy.  Seriously like ridiculously easy

You cut the stem off the bloom and glue it to the hair clip and TADA!

I’ve truly have had so much fun with this gal this summer and we still have another week for another activity, then my Lady B will be off to 3rd Grade and I will find a way to fill my days with not so fun stuff 😀

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Lady B’s Budget Boredom Busters: DIY Homemade Frugal Flower Pen!

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Lady B’s Budget Boredom Busters: DIY Homemade Frugal Flower Pen!!

My daughter B is in a constant state of movement and creativity.  I had no clue I’d be on my toes so much.  My son is quieter but my Bumble Bee, wow!  So we were a little bored (lie, she was I could have used a nap, but noooooo),so off we went to the 99 cent store.  Between this store and the Dollar Tree, I find a lot of what we need to keep our creativity quota up and our boredom meter down.

What will you need?

Flower tape, its green

Silk Flower or flowers

Florist Foam, optional

Pen or pens, go crazy make a garden

Wire cutters (also a find at the 99 cent store or Dollar Tree)

Glue Gun (or crazy glue up to you).

Bored child

Willing Parent

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The green tape, the flower (in its little pot),  the foam (not shown) and wire cutters were all from the 99 Cent Store  The Pen is from my school supply stash from last year and I think I paid like 25 cents for the pack at Staples.  I have the glue gun.  Now with this little flower that we bought, we didn’t need the foam or a container to put it in because it came with its own (I like to have a little pot but its optional).  I also like to take ribbon and glue in around the pot adding a bow for added decoration.

PicMonkey Collageflower

I picked this one because it had leaves. I took it apart and inserted the leaves into the pot, you can add glue if you like I think I may add moss or something to cover the foam (I didn’t for this because I’m making this frugal and you will use what you have at home).  Then I started on the pen, I cut the flower and attached it with the florist tape to the pen and wrapped around.  Going up and down the pen to fully cover.  I do not end this at the bottom, a lot of people do but it will come undone that way with use.  You need to keep wrapping back up to the top and use your glue gun to secure because this isn’t sticky tape.

PicMonkey Collageflower4


My daughter got the hang of this and loved it.  She plans on making a few more to have and to give one to her new teacher.  We also have a little craft fair at a local ice cream shop and she may set up to sell a few to get her feet wet in having her own business (she’d fry in Phoenix with a lemonade stand).   I have made these and put them in a jar to look like a bunch of flowers, I’ve wrapped single ones in cellophane as party favors, so many ways to use these and make them fancy.  You can totally take this and run with it and make it your own.  I like this option a lot.  The Flower tape will last for many many pens, and depending on if you buy single or a bunch of flowers at the 99 Cent store or at Walmart you can make a lot cool gifts made with lots of love for a little dinero.

Cause well really, Frugal Moms and their Kids Rock.

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Frugal DIY Homemade Mouthwash Foot Soak

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DIY_Homemade_Mouthwash_footsoak .

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DIY Homemade Mouthwash Vinegar Foot Soak

If you are like me you’ve seen the pin’s and shares online claiming that the dead rough skin will fall off your feet when you soak them  in Listerine, vinegar and water.  Well I had a problem with this cause I’m frugal and I’m not going to use a $5 bottle of Listerine on my feet if I’m doing this at home and if I score a bottle for cheap its going in my stockpile for my pearly whites.  For $5 I can let the lady at the salon scrub away and do the job.

 What can I say if I’m going to DIY it has to save me money or else why go through the hassle?

To start with I should tell you I’m either barefoot or in flip flops cause I work at home and my feet were long ago liberated from high heels or pumps ☺  The most action my feet see are wedges LOL.  Being that the case, I’m too shy and embarrassed to share a picture but lets all take a moment and think about Fred Flintstone and what his feet surely should have looked like…there got the mental?  Ok, now moving right along…

Today I went to my favorite joint, the Dollar Tree and thought hey I can totally use their brand of Listerine looking mouthwash for this foot soak to see if I like it.

Beauty on a Budget is the way to go.


Here is what you’ll need:

1 Bottle mouth wash from the Dollar tree or comparable dollar store (2cups)

2 cups white vinegar

2 cups warm water

Mix it all in a tub

I sat down to watch Shark Tank and soaked my feet. (boy were they brutal tonight)

One thing, it feels good…tingly

Did the skin magically come off?  No.

So what happened T tell us!

Well, it cleaned my dead skin, you know you get the gnarly looking dirty heel?  I can never get that clean enough.  While I was soaking I took my $1 pumice stone and scrubbed all around and soaked again.  My feet were clean and some of the rough skin was super soft so one more time with my pumice stone and I’m super duper happy!  I can wear sandals tomorrow after some polish and won’t be hiding my feet!

So is it magical?  Nah

Would I use Listerine?  Nah, I’m frugal hello?

Will I make this again spending a $1 from the Dollar Tree?  Heck Yes!

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Check out these FREE Summer Reading Programs for Kids

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Ok the harsh truth is that no matter what, kids are going to get bored this summer.  Don’t let them get away with doing nothing or spending hours playing video games, watching TV, or being online.  Offer them books instead.  Here is an awesome list of FREE Summer Reading Programs for Kids.  There are a LOT of great programs that your children can take advantage of to earn FREE books, prizes, and cash! You can print out this list of ►FREE Summer Reading Programs or bookmark this page!

Junie B Jones Reading Club – Sign up and get a FREE starter Kit that includes a copy of Junie B Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, Activity sheets and a membership ID card while supplies last.

Book Adventure – Sylvan offers this FREE reading incentive program. Basically your child reads books and then takes a simple comprehension quiz to make sure they understood what they read. The quiz is usually about 10 questions long. They earn points based on how much they remember from reading the book.

There are hundreds of books to choose from in all reading levels. These are common books that can be found at your local library. Once they have earned enough points they can trade them in for some really neat prizes!

Half Price Books – They are offering kids ages 14 and under a chance to earn a $5 Gift Card for reading just 15 each day throughout the summer!

Showcase Cinemas Bookworm Wednesdays – Your child can earn a FREE movie ticket from National Amusements Theaters when they read a book and complete a book report.

Barnes & Noble Imagination Destination – This summer reading program through Barnes & Noble gives your child the ability to earn a FREE book after reading 8 books and keeping track of them in a reading log.

Local Public Library – Don’t forget to check out your local libraries to find out which programs they’ll be offering this summer. My kids have participated in several Summer reading Programs through the library and it always includes FREE books & prizes.

TD Bank Summer Reading Program – Read and keep track of 10 books this summer and your child will get $10 added to their Young Saver Account FREE!

Chuck E. Cheese – Earn 10 FREE tokens every time your child reads for 2 weeks in a row. Just fill out the form and bring it in to claim your free token.

Scholastic Summer Challenge – Log in your reading minutes to the Scholastic site and your child will be able to participate in a World Record challenge as well as earn digital prizes!

Pottery Barn Summer Reading Challenge – Open only to children under 10 years of age on any day during the promotion period. Must present completed Award-Winning or Early Reader book list to receive a free book at participating Pottery Barn Kids stores.

Programs like these are a great way to encourage our children to continue reading throughout the summer months. If you know of any other programs that aren’t listed here, please feel free to leave the information in a comment below.   Thanks Saving Dollars and Sense

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All You Magazine, Full Year Subscription for ONLY $5!

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All You Magazine, Full Year Subscription for ONLY $5!

Hurry and snag this awesome magazine at this amazing price!

Coupons?  Check!

Recipes?  Check!

Great Articles?  Check!

Did I mention Coupons?

Hurry this also makes a great gift for that friend that is starting to coupon or for yourself!

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Graco RECALL Carseat Products from 2010-2013 PLEASE READ

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Graco RECALL Products from 2010-2013 PLEASE READ

Graco has released information on their recall, please visit their website for further information and instructions on how to proceed if you have any of the products included in the recall.

Recall Information from Graco

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Who else does this? Folding plastic grocery bags to reuse and recycle

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Who else does this?  Folding plastic grocery bags to reuse and recycle!

Chitchatting today I realized that not a lot of people fold their bags.  Am I weird?   Well no, if anyone is weird its my mom and mother-in-law, LOL.  One day they taught my daughter to do this and we kept it going.  Our other option is to stuff a plastic bag with other plastic bags.  But no we don’t we fold them and place them inside empty baby wipe boxes to keep in the bathrooms to reuse as bathroom trashcan liners.

How?  Well I’m glad you asked, here is my slap hazard picture tutorial:

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Flatten out your bag and fold the side in, about the width of the handle area


Now that you are done your bag should like this, and place it with the handle facing out (yes I had Chinese for lunch that is sweet and sour sauce ☺)

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Fold one end, triangle and repeat (yes I need a manicure)

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Towards the end the handles will be left over, tuck them inside to keep it all nice and tidy.  These keep well inside of empty baby wipe boxes or if your kids are bored they can flick them at each other.

Reuse, Reduce and Recycle!





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2014, Now What?

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credit report pic

I don’t do resolutions but the start of a New Year is a good time to take a good look at yourself and take care of some housekeeping.  With that in mind I want to share one bit of advice.  As some of you are aware of I work a real gig in the outside world that has to do with consumer credit.  I can tell you a lot of people are SHOCKED when they are denied for credit and do not have any idea what is on their credit report.

So before we think about Tax Season and of Refunds lets take a minute and check our credit health.  Now is a good time to take a good hard look at our circumstances and take the necessary steps to end 2014 on a more positive note.  We all get behind or make mistakes, trust me I sure have and so instead of paying someone to help fix your credit its a good idea to see what free resources we have available to us so we can improve our standing.

Take a moment and get your free annual credit report.

The website has a lot of really great information that in this day and age of hackers and stolen identities we need to keep tabs on for our own future.  If you have something to clear up or pay down its a good time of year to take positive steps to reach these goals.

Oh and keep up with us at the Couponista Queen.  We will be helping you all year long save as much as you can so you can not only take control of your finances and live with more wiggle room but maybe pay and fix some blemishes on your credit report.





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Runaway to Albuquerque! Hotel Cascada, An Urban Resort

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Runaway to Albuquerque!  Hotel Cascada, An Urban Resort 

When I lived in California I took road trips in California, never really
venturing outside the state.  Then we started coming to Phoenix, AZ and
I started to fall in love with the state, so much so that we moved here
3 years ago.  But now that we live here our road trips are usually aimed
West and we keep going back to California, ignoring the fact that we
have the whole rest of the US to the East of us.

I’ve read about Albuquerque, NM because I love hot air balloons, and on my
short list is to attend the International Balloon Festival that is held there
yearly.  In my daily internet surfing I stumbled upon the Hotel Cascada and
I was intrigued.  Here in Phoenix we have a lot of resorts but right now all
the pools and lazy rivers are closed for the winter.  The Hotel Cascada has an
indoor water park attached to the hotel!  It’s an Urban Resort, right in the
bustling area of Alburquerque!

From about Thanksgiving to New Years I avoid the stores, the malls … heck I
try to not even go to CVS.  The hustle and bustle gets to be a little too much for me.

I wanted to get out of town and explore my new neighbors.  What better place to
escape the winter blues then heading to a water-park?  Since my kids are part fish I knew they would enjoy it.

Why not?

At about a 6 hour drive from Phoenix (7 hours from Las Vegas, 7 .5 hours
from Salt Lake City, 6 hours from Denver, 3 hours from El Paso
and 45 min from Santa Fe), Albuquerque is not that far. We left at 6am and
we started our trek driving through some of the most picturesque land I had
ever seen. We stopped at the information center for the Petrified Forest,
we veered off our mapped course to drive a bit on Route 66, we stopped to
see Indian artifacts along Navajo Nation as well as stopping at the Continental Divide!

All in all we had a great road trip leading to Albuquerque!

 1488769_10151884440930674_671412697_o 1469058_10151884451330674_899768299_o

Arriving to Albuquerque at about 3:30 pm we came to the Hotel Cascada. From
the outside you can not imagine how large of a resort it truly is and what gems
you will find.  How about an interior koi fish pond?  An indoor pool where they
show kids films in addition to the indoor water-park?  The exterior court (brrrr)
has a few fire pits with comfy chairs to sit and sip hot chocolate from and also a little
green putting area.  We checked into our rooms, a King room with an adjoining
double room for our kids.  Great space, comfy beds, a working desk (can’t stay too
far from my deals so this was perfect) and a 42 in flat screen.  But we were not here
to sleep so on with our bathing suits and away we went!  The Hotel Cascada has two
sessions starting on Fridays for the park. It opens at 10 am and goes to 3 pm and then
again from 4pm to 9pm. It has a lazy river, two water slides, a toddler/small kids area,
a mini obstacle course area (my daughter called it mini-wipe out), a water basketball
playing court and a flow rider!

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My family and I played, swam and boogie boarded well into the evening and then we
went up to our room and had some of the best pizza and wings from their room
service.  The next day up and early to have breakfast which was also just as delicious.
I had some of the yummiest eggs benedict I have had in a long time. Then back to the
water-park for some more fun!

I do want to tell you one thing. I’ve been to a lot of resorts and this one in particular
is not only clean and family oriented but they take safety very seriously. We had lots
of life guards on the floor at all times, which is totally reassuring. The staff that works
the flow rider was amazing, they helped the kids feel reassured at riding the waves since
they had never gone on one before.

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I totally plan on going back in the near future to Albuquerque, to see more of the
Rio Grande and to catch the next Balloon Festival.  We came back happy, refreshed and
ready to go back, largely in part to the excellent accommodations and service.

Right now they have excellent promotions so please make sure to visit their page.

 Web page:  Hotel Cascada 

Facebook Page:  Hotel Cascada FB 

They have the Slip and Slide into the Holidays for $199 that includes use of
the water-park for two days, pizza dinner and breakfast for two!  If you like me need
a mini break from the hustle and bustle then make sure to put them on your list for
a great family getaway.  My kids asked me today when we can go back!


The reviewer was compensated with a stay at Hotel Cascada in exchange for this review.  All opinions are 100% authentic.

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Tips to Protect Your Credit!

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Protect Your Credit!

You see the headlines, you watch the news Identity Theft happens to OTHER people right?  Wrong!  Identify theft can happen to you or me today, tomorrow or at any time.  I don’t mean to scare you but when you least expect it and especially during the upcoming Holiday Season we are all walking around with big targets on our backs.

I’ve always worked in finance but it was not until recently that I’ve started to work in consumer finance and I’ve come to realize we are NOT as safe as we think we are as we go about out business.  We need to take an ACTIVE roll in how we monitor and protect our credit and our credit score.  Our credit  is more important then ever, not just to get loans or credit but even prospective employers are pulling our credit reports to get a full picture of us when we apply for a job.

The other day at work I received a call, it was a call about a person applying for credit but as a credit analyst I had to take certain steps before the credit application was approved.  This person wisely had a FRAUD ALERT on his credit file.  What is a Fraud Alert?   It is an alert on your credit file that requires potential lenders and banks to take extra steps to protect YOU.  You can specify that you require someone to contact you BEFORE any new credit accounts are open or credit lines increased.  This person had this on his file and I contacted him at the number specified in his credit file.  He informed me that not only was he not applying for credit he had also received a similar call over the weekend from another major retailer.  This man was being attacked and some criminals were trying to buy lots of merchandise using his good credit!    Each financial institution will then put in place their own procedures for when an application comes in as fraudulent but the important bit of information that I want to share with you today is that because of this alert two different instances of potential fraud were STOPPED.

There are 3 types of Fraud Alerts that you can set.

Initial Fraud Alert. This is if you are concerned about the possibility of becoming a victim of fraud or identity theft. It generally is good for 90 days.

Extended Fraud Alert. This is what you file if you are a victim of fraud or identity theft. This will stay on your credit report for seven years.

Active Duty Military Alert.  This alert available if you are on active military duty . The active duty alert is similar to an initial fraud alert except that it lasts 12 months and your name is removed from preapproved firm offers of credit or insurance (prescreening) for 2 years.

Where can you get more information and learn about placing a fraud alert on your credit file?  At any of the three or all three credit reporting agencies.  You do not have to pay anyone anything to do this for you.

Equifax:  http://www.equifax.com/answers/set-fraud-alerts/en_cp

Experian:  http://www.experian.com/credit-education/victim-assistance.html

Transunion:  http://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/credit-disputes/fraud-alerts.page

I am in no way trying to be chicken little, but I did feel compelled to share this information with you so that you can have the tools you need to defend your hard earned reputation.   Now this will mean that if you do go open new lines of credit the whole application process will take a bit longer but please keep in mind its all to take care of you.  And one more thing, if a sweet sounding gal comes on the phone and tells you she needs to verify your identity by asking you some questions, don’t get annoyed, I’m just doing my job to PROTECT YOU ☺. ~ Princess T

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Frugal and Easy DIY Baby Wipes!

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Frugal and Easy DIY Baby Wipes!

Next to diapers these are a must have when you have a baby, heck my kids are older and I still buy baby wipes to have in the car or at home for any messes.  They are not cheap and the cheap ones are not worth the money so if you want to cut back on expenses what do you do?  Well many will say to use washcloths but I’m not into washing poopy pieces of fabric or washcloths but if you are okay with that then more power to you.  I want to pick up the mess and throw it away never to see or touch it again.

As with many DIY ideas it really depends on the person what they want to put in, but if you are a mom you already will have the ingredients to this DIY method and that’s what I want.  To DIY with stuff you already have or will buy regardless, nothing you need to go buy special to make it and incur an extra cost.

What will you need?

2 1/4 cup of water.  Some use distilled, I’m not that hard core

2 tablespoons of baby oil.  Yep you have that already!  I don’t but I have a bunch of samples.

4 tablespoons of baby wash.  Another something you already have or can get cheap.

1 roll of paper towels cut in half, two ply don’t try this with a one ply


You can get the baby supplies at the Dollar Tree for $1 each if you don’t want a specific brand.  Now about the paper towels 90% of the people that make their own wipes swear by Bounty.  I have Sparkle, cause it was free not so long ago, so that’s what I used.  I will not use Viva, I don’t even buy that when its free cause for me personally I get to much lint and we didn’t like each other but that’s just ME.  You can NOT use CHEAP paper towels cause it won’t work.


Some people don’t add oil, they like to add Aloe Vera for soothing, or some add witch hazel.  I didn’t add either because I wanted to present just a basic DIY wipe recipe that you can make as soon as you finish reading this post. Some also add fragrance but the oil and the baby wash are enough of a clean scent for me.  You can go take this and tweak it to suit you.

You mix everything up, you cut your paper towel in half and you pull out the cardboard from the middle.  When you do that then you can pull from the inner roll and have it come out continuously.   I poured the mixture in and covered it.  I shook it well, heck I did the Harlem Shake to make sure it was all nice and mixed in.

Do they work?  Well I don’t have a baby so what did I do?  Well I smeared Nutella, nice wonderful sticky sweet Nutella on my fore arm to take these baby wipes out for a spin.

Yeah it was gross but for the cause I tell you ☺


It worked!  Off it came I wiped forward and then back again and my arm is clean no stickiness left from the Nutella, also no stickiness from the soap so good on that aspect as well.  I used one wipe.  For big messes I’m sure you will need more like you do when you use regular wipes.  I’m not saying these are exactly like the pretty ones in the cute plastic boxes, what I am saying as its a great substitute if you aren’t super picky as to what you use to wipe up messes and want to save money.


Will I make more of these?  Yeah its easy enough and I didn’t need to buy anything!   They work, I actually like them to have handy cause my kids like to do crafts and stuff so this is something I’d have handy for them to clean up after themselves.   I cut a slit on the top of the cover of the plastic container but you might have something at home already.  I had these, that I bought a 3 pack at Walmart last week for $1.97 so its up to  you, I’m thinking that I can make a bigger size and recycle the plastic coffee containers I’ve been hoarding…ah er, saving for the right time.

Until next time Savers!

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DIY Dish Soap Recipe – Homemade, Frugal, and Easy!

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DIY Frugal Easy Homemade Dish Soap

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DIY Dish Soap  Frugal and Easy!

Have you ever thought about making your own dish soap?  Necessity is the mother of invention, or at least the mother of my googling late at night.  I am Princess T and I watch too much Criminal Minds so going out late to get dish soap when I run out is just not going to happen.  Having previously made my own clothes detergent and body wash I figured well, I need to wash dishes now or first thing in the morning and I do not want to go out just for that and risk not snagging a deal.  What was a Frugal Mom to do?  So I googled and read and read and read!  And there are a bunch of different variations that bring you to the same happy conclusion so once again I took what I wanted and felt comfortable with and ran with it…ok ok I’m more of a stroller not a runner.

What will you need and how much will it cost you?  If you are already a DIY kind of person you will find that you already have what you need at home so no need for extra expenses.


14 ounces of water, boiled

1/4 cup of grated soap.  I used castile soap that I had from when I made body wash.  Some people use Ivory soap or whatever bar soap they have on hand.  I can’t see myself using Irish Spring or anything too bath like so I used castile soap which on its own is wonderful.

1 tablespoon borax.  I had a box from when I made my own laundry detergent

Essential oils, optional.  In a moment of sheer insanity today while looking for something totally unrelated I found a bottle of tea tree oil that I bought at Trader Joe’s recently and had forgotten about.  I read that a lot of people like to use this as they are antiseptic so I figured why not?  So I added 10 drops

Grate the soap to get 1/4 cup, about a 1/3 of the bar more or less.  Once the water is boiling stir in the soap and the borax until everything is dissolved nicely.  I added 10 drops of tea tree oil as this has a strong smell and I didn’t want it to overpower with the scent.  That’s it! Pretty easy and fast, how long does it take for water to boil? Pretty Quick


I found a cute mason jar and in it went.  It will gel as it cools, 6-8 hours.  Knowing me as you do by now you know patient I’m not so once it cooled I put it in my fridge and watched a new episode of Criminal Minds.  It gelled nicely.  Did it work?  Yes it did, not crazy suds but enough suds to help you think that its working.  As you know bubbles and suds do not mean anything but it helps with the mind.  Was it rough on my hands?  Nope.  Did my dishes or glasses have a funky smell or taste?  Nope, they were just clean and that was all I needed, well that and a  break.


Will I make igain?  Yep, I have everything I need to make it and since my stockpile on dish soap is low there is no reason for me to not make anymore.   My next batch I might try using lavender essential oils, some people use only 1 tablespoon of grated soap I used 1/4 cup which is a little more then 2 tablespoons.  Some swear by adding vinegar but some say that vinegar and castile soap do not mix and since I do not like the smell of vinegar I opted to not include it.  Am I happy?  yeah but I would be happier if the dishes washed themselves.

Ah to dream.

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