Four Reading Resources You Need

Reading is good for the mind, body, and soul! Not only is it a great form of entertainment – it can boost your vocabulary, teach you new information, melt away stress, and even improve your memory.

If you love to read, you’ll love these apps and websites. These four resources will enhance your favorite pastime and allow you to enjoy a good book more fully!

Goodreads

If you find it hard to keep track of the books in your life then this is the app for you! Create a want-to-read list and participate in reading challenges. You can share your opinion and get personalized recommendations based on books you’ve already read. Check out specific author profiles and discover new titles. The app is even equipped with a barcode reader for easy scans on the go. The best part? It’s free for Android and Apple! 

 

Thriftbooks

There is something to be said about owning the physical copy of a book. Let’s face it, books can be expensive. If you don’t mind buying used books, this site is amazing! Many of the books are under $4 and they offer free shipping on orders over $10. For every $50 you spend, Thriftbooks will send you a $5 coupon. I’ve actually received an autographed copy unexpectedly and the shipping is very quick. It’s pretty exciting stuff! There is also an app for your mobile convience. 

Click here to get 15% off your first order

 

Audible by Amazon

I’m basically obsessed with all things Amazon. Audible is no exception! If you spend a lot of time in the car this app is a must! Users can choose from over 180,000 titles. For me, listening to an audiobook makes my drive less stressful and much more enjoyable. There is even a Family Library feature which allows you to share your audio purchases with your Amazon Household at no additional charge.  

Click here to snag two free audiobooks just for trying Audible. Cancel anytime! After the free trial, membership is $14.95/month for one credit or $22.95/month for two credits. One credit is typically equivellent to one audio book. 

Make sure you select higher priced titles for your freebies! I usually cancel my membership once I have a few titles in my library and then renew it when I want something new.

Amazon Kindle Unlimited

If you are the reader who devours books at the speed of light, then this subscription service is for you! There are books, magazines, and audiobooks included in this subscription. You can use Amazon Kindle Unlimited through all devices, including Android and Apple products (even your desktop)!

Click here to try Amazon Kindle Unlimited free for 30 days

After the free trial, Amazon Kindle Unlimited is available for $9.99/month. You can cancel anytime!

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate or sponsor links. With these links Growing Up With Sam can receive a commission. These commissions help support the work and website at no additional cost to you.

Thanks for checking out this post! I hope you find some new ways to enjoy your favorite titles.

The Not-So-Extreme Guide to Stockpiling Diapers

The Not-So-Extreme Guide to Stockpiling Diapers

The goal of stockpiling diapers is to have a decent amount saved up so you aren’t forced to spend full price. Your stockpile will relieve some of the pressure and it can be kinda fun to search for steals and deals. Here is a not-so-extreme guide to creating your own stockpile. 

The first step is to establish a price per unit. How much per diaper are you willing to spend? Make sure YOU are comfortable with this price. I am NOT an extreme couponer. There are people out there in the internet world who can teach you how to get diapers (among other things) at dirt cheap prices. Unfortunately, I am not that person. This is why I recommend you set your own price, one that you alone are comfortable with. 

I typically tried to stay under 18 cents/diaper.  Newborn diapers can be a bit more expensive and you may notice a jump in bigger sizes like 3s and 4s. For wipes, I tried to spend less than one cent/unit. Hint: You go through a lot of wipes so don’t be afraid to 

Don’t open the boxes until you are ready to use them. Many stores will accept returns and exchanges even without a receipt, but be aware some may have a limit and require your driver’s license.

Here are a few store policies on returns and exchanges: 

Look for sales, coupons, and clearance

Keep an eye out for great deals and sales. Check websites and scan the baby section every chance you get, because you never know what kind of deals you’ll stumble across. 

When you use manufacturer coupons, try to purchase the smallest package for the biggest discount, unless something is on sale. Be sure to calculate the price per unit to find the best deal. 

Total Price/Total Price = Price Per Unit

Have a Diaper Party

Convince your husband to have a Diaper Party. Buy some beer, order some pizza, and invite friends! 

Diaper Raffle

Feel more comfortable if your family and friends are getting something out of the deal? Purchase a prize of your choosing (like a gift card), create some cute raffle tickets (tons of adorable and free templates on Pinterest), and spread the word! You can do this at your shower, at the Diaper Party, at a gender reveal party, or even without hosting an event! People will be willing to help and the chance of them winning a prize makes it that much easier to participate.

Reward Programs

Don’t forget to use the internet to your advantage. Participate in reward programs to receive coupons and free items. Most programs are free and typically have an app to make life just a little easier.

Pampers.com

Huggies.com

Target’s cartwheel app

Meijer Mperks

Cloth

Cloth diapers can be a great money-saving option. I do not have any personal experience with this but I have some friends who were successful going this route.

Every Baby is different because every baby grows differently. I have included the size weight recommendations and the estimated age. For reference, I recorded Ben’s time spent in each size (keep in mind he was in the 90th percentile between seven and twelve months).

General Guideline:

Newborn – up to 10lbs – Birth to one month (Ben: birth-1 month)

  • Size 1 – 8-14lbs – One month to four months (Ben: 1-3 months)
  • Size 2 – 12-18lbs – Four months to seven months (Ben: 3-6 months)
  • Size 3 – 16-28lbs – Seven months to twelve months (Ben: 6-10 months)
  • Size 4 – 22-37lbs – Twelve months and up (Ben: 10 months & up)
  • Size 5 – 27 lbs & up – Twelve months and up

According to whattoexpect.com your baby will go through 2,500 diapers in the first year. In the first few weeks, you can expect to change 10 diapers per day. That’s about $600 the first year for just diapers!

I hope this post helps you save money. Every little bit counts! What steps are you taking to save money?

Surviving Pregnancy – First Trimester

Surviving Pregnancy 

The First Trimester

Introduction: First and foremost, I designed these posts to be fun! I wanted to share my personal experiences and pass along any information or resources I found particularly helpful. Google and Pinterest became my BFFs during my pregnancy. I loved reading different blog posts about various pregnancy topics and I wanted to contribute to help other women. These tips and tricks helped me feel more comfortable and prepared in addition to getting me excited for my baby’s upcoming arrival so that is my goal with my posts as well. I’ve done my best to gather information and package it up into neat little weekly snippets.

I hope these posts are entertaining and (at least somewhat) useful. I really enjoyed writing and reflecting on the months of my pregnancy. Please feel free to leave a comment or email me about your experiences, tips, questions, comments, concerns, anything! I would love to hear from each and every one of you!

DISCLAIMER: All the information in this post is for entertainment purposes only. This post is based on experience and personal research. The author is not a health care professional and all readers are encouraged to consult their healthcare provider with any questions or concerns regarding their health.

Trying to conceive:

I thought it’d be appropriate to start with a brief overview of trying to conceive (TTC). I mean, that is the starting point of your pregnancy so it only seems right that we start off with conception. This is just a brief overview. There is an abundant amount of information on TTC so don’t be afraid to expand on these ideas if something strikes your fancy!

Essential Things For Women to Do:

  • Schedule a checkup with your doctor – Your healthcare provider will be able to provide you with valuable information about TTC and your overall health
  • Stop the birth control
  • Schedule a visit with your dentist – This way you can have a proper professional cleaning before you start your 40-week journey. The health status of your teeth and gums can have a direct effect on your chances of conceiving or even cause pregnancy complications. Plus dental work gets a bit difficult during pregnancy.
  • Get finances in order – Babies are expensive, I’m sure you’ve heard that one about a million times already. It will be much easier to get that credit card debt under control and to bank up an emergency fund right now rather than when the baby is here (at the same time, be realistic. Don’t wait too long for the “perfect” moment to start trying because there is no such thing as perfect.
  • Start taking prenatal vitamins – It is recommended you begin taking these a few months before trying to conceive. Bonus: Prenatals do wonders for your hair and nails.
  • Kick those bad habits– if you are smoking, stop. If you are drinking excessively at least cut back (it’s recommended you stop drinking altogether) and limit your caffeine intake. These types of habits can hinder conception and they aren’t great for your health either.

Essential Things for Men to Do:

  • Men avoid tight clothing (boxers are your friend!)
  • Break Bad Habits – Cut back on alcohol consumption and quit smoking!
  • Keep Your Cool – Avoid getting the “boys” hot – super hot baths, laptops on lap, etc.

Proactive Methods to Try:

Track Your Cycle

This is an absolute must! All you have to do is keep track of when you had your period! This can predict your ovulation window as it is “typically” 14 days before the beginning of your next cycle (first day of your period). This is not always the case with every woman but it is a place to start. I suggest pairing this method with another method to help identify ovulation.

Okay, sounds easy, right? Haha! I can remember many times being asked when my last period was only to stutter, stammer, and ultimately guess. I now use an app called glow to keep all my information straight. That way when someone in the health field asks me, I can check my phone and give accurate information. Easy, convenient, and helpful!  

Basal body temperature method (BBT)

This method requires you to have a basal thermometer. This type of thermometer measures your body temperature on a more precise level giving you the ability to detect the smallest changes and ultimately helping you pinpoint ovulation. There are many free apps available to help you track your BBT and use the data to predict your ovulation window. There is also a manual way to plot your BBT on a chart if you are interested in the “old-fashioned” way.

Track Cervical Mucus (CM)

Hormonal changes throughout your cycle will have an impact on your cervical mucus. The consistency, color, and amount can tell you a lot about which phase you are currently in. Again, this helps you predict your ovulation window. You can also use an app to track CM as well.

Ovulation Tests aka OPKs

Very similar to a pregnancy test, these little guys will help you pinpoint your ovulation window making it easier to conceive. Instructions in the OPK will tell you when to begin taking the tests and once you find your peak day (the day before ovulation) you stop taking the tests for that month and prepare to baby dance! This method is most effective (and least expensive) when you are also tracking your cycle (see, I told you tracking was important)!

Preseed

I’ve heard good things about this, but I have no personal experience with it. It’s a lubricant that TTC safe. It is supposed to mimic fertileCM, helping sperm meet egg (the goal)!

DO NOT get discouraged. There is no magic formula to determine how long this should take. For some, it is quicker than others so don’t compare yourself to someone else.

DO NOT make it a chore!

DO NOT put excessive pressure on yourself or your partner

DO stay positive

DO have fun!


The First Trimester!

Week 1:

This week actually begins with the first day of your period. You technically aren’t pregnant and won’t be for two more weeks!

Wait, what?!

You may be wondering how can my first week of pregnancy begin with my last menstrual period (or LMP). There are two ways to measure a pregnancy: gestational age and fetal age. With gestational age, measurement begins with your LMP. This is the most common method for measuring pregnancy because the date of conception can be difficult to pinpoint. Fetal age begins at conception and is typically used by biologists.

Things to Do:

  • Investigate: Check out your health insurance policy and find out what it does and doesn’t cover
  • Research: Utilize google to find maternity wards in your area that accept your insurance
  • Evaluate: Take a look at your home and assess what needs to be done to make it a safe place for future babies

Week 2:

This week begins the dreaded two-week wait (TWW)! It’s easy to get wrapped up in the desire for those two measly pink lines.  Find ways to occupy your time and keep your mind busy.

Activities to help you keep your sanity during the TWW (and beyond):

  • Start a new hobby – pick up crocheting, start a blog
  • Clean and organize – you might as well get a head start on the whole nesting thing, while you have the energy to do it!
  • Learn – start learning a new skill or language
  • Plan a game night  with some friends
  • Treat yourself to a warm bubble bath and a good book
  • Plan a mini road trip

Week 3:

You have officially conceived! Think of it as you’ve basically earned two bonus weeks at this point! Yay! Two weeks closer to meeting that bundle of joy. It may still be too early for a positive pregnancy test so don’t get discouraged if it still says negative. It’s not over till Aunt Flow shows up. 

Things to Do:

  • Exercise: It’s never too early to start thinking about an exercise program during pregnancy. Do some research to see if there is a local prenatal exercise class or purchase a DVD. *Feeling extra frugal – youtube offers a wide selection of free videos* Yay for the internet! Remember: Consult your doctor

 

Week 4:

Aunt Flow was supposed to pay you a visit this week, but she won’t be stopping by for the next 36 weeks! One of the benefits of being pregnant. You officially have yourself an embryo! 

Things to Do:

  • Calculate your due date- I used the website Count Down to Pregnancy. It’s FREE! Enter the date of your LMP (or date of ovulation if you know it) this website gives a list of dates including the estimated due date, the beginning of the 2nd and 3rd trimester, baby’s first heartbeat, Viability, and range for a possible anatomy scan. Kind of cool to look at. 
  • Take a “before” pictures for fun! Your body will be going through some crazy and rapid changes. It can be exciting to see the process and growth.
  • No more cat box duty – cat feces can carry parasites that can cause Toxoplasmosis. It’s best not to take any chances and it’s a great excuse to let your partner take over this task.
  • Diet changes – most things are fine in moderation. Avoid raw or under cooked meat, certain fish (because of high mercury levels), soft cheese, unpasteurized dairy, and all alcohol.

Week 5:

Your teeny, tiny baby has a heartbeat! How adorable is that? It’s amazing the difference a short week can make in pregnancy development. 

Things to Do:

  • Buy a pregnancy book: My favorite is Expecting 411. It has lots of useful information without giving me nightmares – it’s light-hearted and easy to read. You can easily digest the little bits of information instead of consuming the entire book.
  • Start a pregnancy journal: It can be fun to track the progress of your pregnancy.
You will now be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat with a Doppler fetal monitor <3 This was my favorite part of each appointment! It was very reassuring and exciting. 

Things to Do:

  • Train yourself to sleep on your side now! If you are like me, you love to sleep on your stomach. Pregnancy changed that for me. Sleeping on your left side is considered the best position to sleep in because it increases nutrients and blood flow to your placenta and that is great for baby! 
  • Download some baby apps: Lifecake, Glow Nurture, 2lifeBaby, and What to Expect are some of my favorites.
  • Purchase a personal Doppler: I didn’t do this but wish I had! It would have put my mind at ease a couple of times. There are a few options on the market but this one looks pretty cool! It allows you to record the heartbeat as well.

Week 7:

Keep a small notebook with any questions or concerns you have for your healthcare provider. Hint Hint: Google does not count as a healthcare provider. I suggest staying away from google and sites like WebMD. They don’t really help, they just scare the crap out of you. If something is making you feel uneasy – call your doctor!  Trust your instinct. 

Things to Do:

  • For Fun: Submit your ultrasound to this website. It uses Ramzi theory to predict the gender. It’s free! Takes about 7 days to see results (you can “rush” it for $3.99) I wouldn’t go crazy and paint the nursery according to your results but it is something fun today (hey they do have a 50/50 chance of being right). It ended up being accurate for us!
  • Research Prenatal Tests: Medical professionals offer different screenings to determine certain risks with a pregnancy. The American Pregnancy Association has great information on each test to help you decide if you want the tests done or not.
  • Be Diet Conscious: Indulge but don’t overindulge! It is recommended you increase your calorie intake but 300 calories. That box of brownies you’ve been eyeing up is more like 1800 calories.

Week 8:

After your initial appointment, you should expect to see your healthcare provider once a month until 32 weeks. It can start to feel like the doctor’s office is your second home. Most providers will let you make multiple appointments in advance which makes it easier to plan and take time off work. 

Pregnancy must haves:

  • Night Light – the midnight bathroom visits are unavoidable. Mine started early on in week five thanks to a surge of the pregnancy hormone, HCG. To avoid turning the bathroom light on and fully waking up I used a nightlight. One of my best purchases as funny as that sounds. I was making 3-4 trips a night.
  • Humidifier – this is necessary if you live in certain climates during the cold, winter months. You can use this after the baby is born too. It can help relieve cold symptoms for the whole family.
  • Sleep Bras – I should have purchased more of these. There comes a point in your pregnancy when your boobs will be so incredibly heavy and sore it may be uncomfortable to go braless. I also used these postpartum for the same reasons.
  • Maternity Pillow – I did not purchase a maternity pillow but I did use a body pillow and other pillows to surrounded myself.
  • Nursing/Maternity Bras – the most important purchase. I wish I would have bought more because I lived in these throughout my pregnancy and during the breastfeeding months. They aren’t super flattering but they are comfortable and there comes a point where comfort is really all that matters. They also make nursing super convenient. Try a few different styles to find out what you like best. I recommend scattering these purchases throughout your pregnancy because your size will change. Personally, I have four different cup sizes in my drawer. I wouldn’t waste my money on expensive name brand bras during your pregnancy since your bra size will fluctuate dramatically until you are done breastfeeding.

Week 9:

Baby is just an inch long! Despite your baby being teeny tiny, you may find yoga pants and leggings fit more comfortably than your skinny jeans. Dresses are another cute and sophisticated alternative to constricting clothing.

Things to Do:

  • Kegel Exercises: These can help with bladder control not to mention labor and recovery. Kegels are just plain good for you and ridiculously easy to do. No special equipment is required and you can do them ANYWHERE. Check out this site for clear instructions on how to do these properly.
  • Plan Pregnancy Announcement: Look at ideas for your pregnancy announcement. Check out Pinterest for inspiration.
  • Sleep: If you are tired, sleep! Don’t feel guilty about it. I remember looking at my husband and asking if 8:30 was too early to go to bed on a Saturday night. #noshame

Week 10:

Baby is officially a fetus! Things are progressing nicely and you may feel drained – physically and emotionally. Morning sickness may be kicking your butt too. It may not feel like it but this will all pass. I still remember the crazy looks Jake would give me when I wanted to go to bed at 8:30 pm on a Saturday night. 

Great Tip – Use inexpensive gift bags to carry urine samples to your doctor’s appointments. Your purse is not a good idea! The nurse told me a story about a patient who didn’t screw her sample cap on tight and it leaked in her purse. I started using disposable lunch bags or little gift bags to carry my sample into the office.

Things to Do:

  • Prepare a baby budget and emergency fund
  • Plan a Gender Reveal: Once you have your anatomy ultrasound scheduled you’ll have a very good idea when you’ll find out the gender (if you decide to do this). You can plan a small event or a big Facebook reveal. The gender reveal gives you something excited to plan, prep, and look forward to.

Week 11:

At this point you’re either thinking “WOW! It’s already been 11  weeks” OR “WOW! It’s only been 11 weeks!” During pregnancy, some days (or even weeks) can really drag. Making things for baby can be a productive way to help pass the time. You can use Pinterest to find different tutorials to make useful things for your little one.

Things like:
  1. Bibs
  2. Bandana Bib (Tutorial)
  3. Burp Cloths (Tutorial) 
  4. Blankets
  5. Booties
  6. Baby Toys
  7. Hats (Free Pattern)
  8. Nursery Decor
  9. Baby Book

Things to Do:

  • Collect those free samples: Everyone loves free stuff! You can get some baby freebies when you complete a registry on Amazon.com or at a Target store. 
  • Buy Maternity Clothes: There’s no reason to go too crazy here. A few staple items are great to mix in with your current wardrobe. You’ll find some of your pre-pregnancy clothes can still be used (especially during the winter months – Hello chunky sweaters!)

Week 12:

Your little one weighs about half an ounce! If you’re like me, you’re wondering what caused the other ten pounds you managed to find during the first couple of months. Try not to obsess over weight unless your healthcare provider thinks it’s becoming an issue. Every person’s body is different and every pregnancy is different so avoid comparing yourself to others or even your previous pregnancies.

Things to Do:

  • Continue or start using lotion: Keep your skin hydrated, especially during the winter months. Some say it helps prevent stretchmarks but some research shows that has more to do with genetics. 
  • Start taking weekly pictures if you haven’t started already. From this point on, you’ll be surprised how fast things will progress (and how big you will get)!

Bump Picture Tips:

  1. Wear the same outfit for a uniform look
  2. Pick an area with great lighting and a simple background
  3. Don’t over edit your photos
  4. Have fun with props and signs

Week 13:

This is the last week of the first trimester! That means you are one-third of the way done! That’s kind of a big deal. The second trimester is typically the most enjoyable.

Things to Do:

  • Start discussing names with your partner if you haven’t already. Can’t decide on a name? Try an elimination bracket. It will appeal to those sports fanatics and it’s a great keepsake for the baby book. Your child can look back and thank you for not naming them [insert terrible name here].
  • Plan a Babymoon: The second trimester is the perfect time to plan a trip for you and your significant other before the baby arrives.

 

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate or sponsor links. With these links Growing Up With Sam can receive a commission. These commissions help support the work and website at no additional cost to you.

 

 

How I Survived Walt Disney World with a Baby (and You Can Too)!

Okay, let me start off by saying that bringing a baby to Disney World for the first time is extremely intimidating. This was our second road trip with a baby and I was especially nervous for many valid reasons. The good news is that Disney EXPECTS you to bring young children to the parks and they have wonderful resources that will make the experience very pleasant. Crazy as it sounds, I would most definitely do it again and I recommend other consider it as well.

How I Survived Walt Disney World with a BabyI caught some serious grief for bringing Ben to Disney at six months old. Haters gonna hate. I want Ben to be a child (and eventually an adult) that travels well. The photo ops and memories we created were truly magical and unique. I did a little bit of research (okay, a lot!) and planning to make the trip as relaxing and enjoyable as possible. Seeing his little face light up on the different rides and during character meet and greets was totally worth the little bit of “hassle” it was to take him.

Baby Care Centers

This is the first and most important thing to know when traveling to Walt Disney World with a little one. Each park has its own Baby Care Center. These are clean, air conditioned areas within the park that allow you to care for your baby or young child. This is completely free to use and they cover all the basics.

Each center includes:

Nursing Facility – Complete with rocking chairs and dimming lights

Changing Tables – Multiple large and clean tables to change baby

Feeding Area – High chairs, microwave, sink, and an oven for your convenience

Common Room – With comfy seating and television for little ones to recoup and relax or just get out of the heat

Mini Baby Store – Ability to purchase baby items lost or forgotten ($$$)  

During our recent trip, I used three of the four centers and they were all very nice. Animal Kingdom has two private nursing rooms while Epcot and Magic Kingdom have a community nursing room where only nursing mothers are allowed. I was surprised by how friendly and inviting the centers were and the cast members were very helpful with any questions or concerns I had.

When to Stay

It’s best to avoid the crowds and high prices during peak seasons like Spring Break, Summer Vacation, and Christmas Break. You can also expect higher crowds during events like Disney Races and celebrations like Food and Wine Festival. I know sometimes you have to plan your vacation during a peak time but if you can try to avoid it (for financial and sanity reasons).

Where to Stay

I can’t imagine staying off Disney Property for a few different reasons.

  1. The Magical Express
  2. Disney Transportation – Makes it easy to park hop
  3. Close Proximity to the Park – Makes afternoon breaks doable
  4. Resort Pool and Activities
  5. Free Parking
  6. Disney Magic!

For Ben’s first trip we stayed at the Polynesian and it was great! We could park hop without wrestling with a car seat. The Resort Monorail and the Transporation Center Monorail were within walking distance and the bus stop was also easily accessible. If you want to stay off property, you can do it! It’s really just personal preference.

Stroller Life

If you have a small child, you need a stroller. They can be quite a pain to travel with depending on where and how you are traveling. You have a few different options when it comes to the baby stroller situation while visiting Walt Disney World.

Option 1: You can rent it from Disney

Pros:

Convenient

Cons:

Uncomfortable plastic

Costly

Limited Use: Only available inside Disney Parks/Disney Springs

Option 2: You can rent a stroller from a third party like kingdom strollers

Pros:

Options

Comfortable

Unlimited Use

Cons:

Costly

Option 3: You can purchase a stroller in Orlando

If you just use a simple umbrella stroller you can purchase a stroller in Orlando or have Amazon deliver it to the hotel. I’ve heard of people using the stroller during their stay and leaving it for another family instead of bringing it home.

Pros:

Convenient

Helping another family

Cheap

Cons:

Finding a suitable and affordable stroller could be a hassle

Limited Storage Space

Option 4: You can bring your stroller from home.

Whether you’re flying or driving it is possible to take your stroller with you. See your airline’s policies for more information on traveling with a stroller.

Pros:

Free

Comfortable and familiar

Cons:

Travel inconvenience

Anxiety about stroller theft

We opted for option 4 and brought our extremely large jogging stroller. It was bulky and took up a lot of valuable space in the rental car but I believe it was worth it. We were able to use the stroller on the monorail and around the resort. It had optimum storage and we were very familiar with the features. Ben finds it comfortable and easy to nap in (this is a high priority for us since we spend a majority of our time on the go inside the parks).

We left the stroller numerous times and no one bothered our cargo or the stroller and we didn’t lock it up. I’m not saying theft doesn’t happen, but it seems to be a rare occurrence. If we knew we were going to be away from the stroller for extended periods of time we took our items with us to eliminate the temptation.

Items to Bring to the Parks:

Here are a few baby items that will come in handy while you are in the parks.

  • Stroller
  • Stroller Fan – those strollers get hot!
  • Sunscreen – I’ve had to buy it in the parks before and it was $$$$$$
  • Diapers and wipes – obvious reasons
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Toys that are good for travel
  • Sweater and blanket – depending on the time of year and the time of day it does get a bit chilly in Florida
  • Camera or phone – to catch those magical moments
  • Change of clothes (maybe even two sets, just in case)
  • Bibs/burb cloths
  • Autograph book
  • Rain cover – to keep the stroller dry
  • Baby food, formula, or other snacks

Additional Tips and Tricks

  1. If you are running out of cargo space consider purchasing items, such as groceries or diapers, when you get to your resort or have them delivered through Amazon.
  2. Pack outfits instead of individual pieces of clothing. If you plan out outfits for your vacation you tend to pack less and it’s easier to get dressed in the morning.
  3. Purchase Disney gift cards ahead of time. Not only can you save money by purchasing them through places like Target and Sam’s club, you can also better control your spending while in the parks.
  4. Remember you can get free cups of ice water while in the parks from quick service restaurants.
  5. Make your advance dining reservations or ADRs early – 180 days in advance is not too early!
  6. Do at least one character meal. This will allow your child to interact with some Disney characters without waiting in those long lines.
  7. Plan out which rides and attractions are a top priority. You won’t have time to see and do everything.
  8. Utilize the ride switcher option and fastpass+ selections to get the most out of your vacation.
  9. Bring a portable battery pack for your phone. You don’t want to miss any photo ops‍!
  10. Remember to utilize photo pass photographers! Even if you don’t have the memory maker you can still ask them to use your personal camera.
  11. Go with the flow! Try not to get bent out of shape if the day doesn’t go according to plan. Things can get hectic when traveling with little ones and sometimes you have to wing it.

After our first trip with Ben, I feel more confident in our ability to make future trips. Our family typically visits Walt Disney World at least once a year (and this year we are planning for twice)!

How old was your child the first time you took them to a Disney Theme Park?

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate or sponsor links. With these links Growing Up With Sam can receive a commission. These commissions help support the work and website at no additional cost to you.

Why You Should Create Your Child an Email Address

During one of your many Pinterest binges, you may have stumbled across the idea of creating an email address for your child. I’m here to tell you two good reasons why this is a great idea!

img_6051-1

Number one: All the good email addresses will be gone by the time your child is old enough to need and use an email account.

I really feel for the next generation. Their emails will probably look more like Yourname38276482862@mail.com. Okay, maybe not that crazy but you get the point. According to lifewire.com there were 1.9 billion email users in 2009. In just six years that number has climbed to 2.5 billion. You can expect that number to significantly increase before your child will need and use a personal email account. So you can basically reserve a decent email address by creating it now. Save your kid the struggle of creating a unique and non-humiliating email.

Most importantly…

Number Two: That baby book you’ve been “working” on is probably buried somewhere and when you do finally get it out good luck remembering half of the things you told yourself you wouldn’t forget to write down.

Most people’s phones are like an extra limb. It’s basically attached to you and accessible at all times. So why not take advantage of that? When something happens you can quickly shoot them an email and presto! Preserved memory! You can even forward it to yourself for safe keeping.

Now you’re convinced! You NEED to create an email address for your child.

Now to create an email address – very easy.

I used google because I really like all things google. You get 15GB of free storage. The average email is anywhere from 10-30KB (depending on the content and formatting). That’s at least 500,000 emails. Not bad for free. If you wrote one email every day for 18 years that would only be 6,570 so you have plenty to work with.

Remember to pick an email that sounds mature and professional. You don’t want to create one that could potentially humiliate your kid. Try to stay clear of cutesy nicknames.

Note: I would log into the account every few months to maintain some sort of account activity. An inactive email account could potentially be deleted and why take that chance?

Start Sharing – the fun part! There are many different things you can send your child so he/she can read them when you decide to give them the password.

Ideas on what to send your child:

-Letters addressed to them

-Stories you want to share

-Event Details

-Vacation Recaps

-Photos and Videos

-Forward Emails: Reservation confirmations, order confirmations, family and friend conversations

-Computer Screenshots: Social media comments and posts,

-Growth Stats

-Accomplishments

-Scanned Items: Birthday cards, invitations, movie and event tickets,

I created Ben’s email address when I was about five months pregnant and I started sending him emails right away. It’s a great way to share memories, thoughts, and feelings. I talk about the events in our lives and send him our disney confirmation emails. I’m sure one day we will have a great time reading them together.

Do you have any tips on preserving memories for your little one?

How to Easily Accomplish Your Long Term Goals

It’s a new year! And with the new year comes new year resolutions. No matter what your goals are this year, the most important thing to do is come up with a game plan and put it into action. I’ve always found that breaking down your goal into smaller, more manageable tasks make it much more achievable. That is precisely what I did with my big goals for 2017.

How to Easily Accomplish Your Long Term Goals

Step One: Define the BIG GOAL and think about why you want to achieve it

Knowing exactly why you want to achieve your goal will help give you the motivation to succeed. Bonus points for writing down your whys.

Step Two: Break it down into smaller tasks and how you will complete them

Small tasks are more achievable. With each completed task you’ll feel at least a small sense of accomplishment.

Step Three: Create a tracking system

Seeing your progress will keep you motivated. You’ll be able to see where you stand and what needs to be done to work toward that big goal.

Step Four: Set your plan into motion

You know what to do, now do it! Put your plan into action and achieve success!

Step Five: Reflect and Evaluate

This step will help you with future endeavors. You’ll be able to see what worked for you previously and what you can improve on for next time.

 

My Big Goal for 2017: Save Money

Step One: I want to save money for a few different reasons. This year I want to focus on a big vacation, so yeah… I need big money for that. Why do I want to go on a big vacation? To spend time with my family and try something new and exciting!

Step Two: I decided to break it down into weeks. I thought of an achievable but challenging number and made that my goal. To me a week is long enough to make money and save it, but short enough to keep me motivated and on par.

In addition to my Etsy shop and selling on eBay, I’ve taken on two other positions to help in my money saving ventures.

Step Three: I’m a visual person so I created a google sheet to track my progress to motivate and keep me honest throughout the year. Nothing fancy, but practical.

Game Plan for Saving Money

Step Four: I’m happy to say I put my plan into action on January 1st! Feeling pretty excited right now!

Step Five: It’s been one week and I’m happy to say I’ve exceeded my goal by 20%! Here’s to working hard and making every week just as successful! I’ll keep you updated throughout the year.

This approach helps me to feel confident in my ability to succeed in making (and hopefully exceeding) my goals for 2017.

What are your goals for this year and how do you plan on tackling them?

 

Minimizing and Organizing Junk

Minimizing and Organizing Junk

I wanted so badly to turn our “catch all” room into a sleek and functioning office space. All that stood in my way was a monotonous amount of clutter we had managed to collect over the years. You’d be surprised how much junk you can fit into a 12 X 12 room.  Here are some ideas, tips, and tricks on how to organize those stubborn junk piles in your life.

My first task was to identify the major groups taking up valuable space in my future office space. Then (with the help of google and Pinterest) search for ideas on how to organize, eliminate, and/or store the excessive piles of clutter. After accessing the mess, I found these groups to be the largest issues:

-Documents and Other Paper Clutter

-Magazines

-Memorabilia

-Photographs

-CDs and DVDs

-Craft supplies

Documents and Paperwork

What you’ll need:

  • Hanging Folders
  • File Labels
  • Manila File Folders
  • Tabs
  • Hanging Folder Tabs

Unfortunately, I had outgrown the fire safe filing box I had been using since my senior year of high school. It was crammed full of anything I deemed “valuable” and thought I needed to keep. I wanted a real filing cabinet but the price tag had me hesitating. Luckily my husband found a functioning filing cabinet sitting on the side of the road with a free sign attached to it! Perfect! A nice scrub and a few coats of spray paint and we were in business! I went through every document and shredded what was old or unnecessary. The remaining piles were then sorted into a few different categories. The goal is to be able to quickly and easily find something if I need it.

Vehicles: Titles, loan documents, proof of insurance, repairs

Documents: birth certificates, marriage license

Mortgage Documents

Property Taxes and Insurance

Medical Information: Hospital bills, health insurance

Income Tax Returns

To be filed – this is to keep future paperwork safe and contained until i can get around to properly examining and filing

I printed off file labels to create a more uniformed and organized look but you could easily use a sharpie to write directly on the folder (this was the method I used previously). I like the idea of being able to change the name without throwing away the folder.

Magazines

What you’ll need:

I managed to collect an obscene amount of magazines over the last couple of years. The sad part is I’ve probably read less than a quarter of them. The fact that I paid for them AND the length of time I had kept them made it difficult to just recycle them. I quickly scanned each issue for anything I deemed worthy. When I found something I liked, I simply tore the page out. I then organized the pages into categories like home decor, health, pets, vacations, parenting, etc. Using the paper trimmer, I cleaned up any rough edges and then put the page into a sheet protector.  I created labels for the binders that corresponded with the original categories and placed the pages in the correct binder. Ta-Da! This whole process was pretty time consuming but all and all I think it was worth it. Organized clutter! I love it!

Craft Patterns

What you’ll need:

  • Sheet protectors
  • Binders

With the magazine concept in mind, I assembled one binder to hold my crochet patterns. Each pattern is placed in a sheet protector. Pretty simple! I really like this system because I can take the pattern out and use it while keeping it protected and together. I can also easily keep notes or other information about the project with the pattern.

Loyalty Cards

What you’ll need:

  • Ring clips
  • Hole punch

I’m not sure if this is just a personal problem or a common household issue but I have an abundance of rewards and loyalty cards. Some I probably don’t need. Not the point! I decided I needed a system for those so I could actually access them when I needed them (otherwise, what’s the point in keeping them, right?) I sorted them based on size – either business card sized or keychain sized. A majority of the keychain sized cards already had holes in them so I just slipped them on a ring clip. With the business sized cards I just lined them up and punched holes in them (I was careful not to punch a hole through valuable information or the magnetic strip if it had one).

Coupons

What you’ll need:

For my coupon collection, I divided the coupons into categories and labeled the tabs on the accordion filer. Be sure to select categories that make sense for your family and make the coupons easily found. 

Baby -baby related items

Grocery -manufacturer coupons, good anywhere coupons are accepted

Internet -online retail (i.e. Shutterfly, mixbook.com, etc.)

Target – I shop at Target a lot.

Meijer – I have an abundance of Meijer coupons

Shopping – (Kohl’s, Barnes and Noble, Gordmans, clothing stores, etc.)

Restaurants – fast food included!

The filer is small enough that I can take it into stores without looking ridiculous. Usually, I can fit it right in my purse or keep it in my vehicle for easy access.

Greeting cards and Memorabilia 

What You’ll Need:

  • Scanner
  • Scissors

While going through my things I discovered I had quite the collection of greeting cards. I seriously found birthday cards from my first Birthday. No lies! I decided to incorporate them into my “yearbook project” by scanning them or “digitizing” if you will. With this method, I think I’m more opt to look at them in the future if they are in an album instead of in a shoebox somewhere in the basement.

Maybe this is a personal problem but I like to collect things – flyers, maps, and pamphlets when I travel. I bring them home and they sit in large piles throughout my house. Sometimes I move them around the house but that’s the extent. Same as the greeting cards, I plan on digitizing the memories and placing them with the event or trip they go with.  This is something I haven’t quite started. Like the photographs, this will be time-consuming but worth it!

Photographs

What You’ll Need:

  • Scanner

Over the years I have collected quite a few pictures. Before digital photography, smartphones, and the internet, the thing to do was purchase duplicates. Oh boy… the mess I had.

I had boxes and boxes of unorganized printed photos. Not ideal for viewing and reminiscing. On top of that, I had those terrible sticky albums that turn your photos yellow. Not cool. My goal – to digitize the photos and then create photo books.

The first thing I did was collect all the printed pictures I had. I gathered my infinite boxes and tired, old photo albums. Then I began going through them. All of you sentimental people reading this, brace yourselves… I actually threw pictures out. You’re probably thinking “what!?!? Is she insane! How could you throw out a memory?!?!” Think about it. If the photo holds no significant value there is no point in keeping it. There. I said it. Photos with horrible quality were also trashed. Oh yes, the era of disposable cameras left me with tons of terrible images.

The second step was to sort the photos. I’m not kidding when I say I had years of photos jumbled together. Basically from birth to college. It wasn’t pretty. First I separated them into stages of life (childhood, high school, college, etc.) and then organized those into events (weddings, graduations, holidays).

Next, I scanned. This is one of the most time-consuming parts of the process. I used a flatbed scanner (HP). I had debated on purchasing a portable scanner but decided against it. The benefit did not outweigh the cost and I have no regrets.

DVDs and CDs

What You’ll Need:

  • CD/DVD sleeves
  • CD/DVD box

I’m not even going to count how many burned CDs I have. It’s ridiculous. I found and collected 2 large boxes… I’m pretty sure I burned a new CD on a weekly basis when I was sixteen. Wasteful, I know! Now I’m surrounded by old CDs. Some even unusable. The first step was minimizing. I threw out anything that was severely scratched. The rest were examined and uploaded to my computer if they were deemed worthy. I had some questionable taste in music during some points of my life. I did the same thing for the DVDs. The system I used to store things during my youth was pitiful.

To keep this from happening in the future,  I purchased this box and some CD/DVD sleeves. Now my plan is to backup home movies and photos by year and keeping each disc safely in a sleeve inside the box.

Craft supplies

I dreamed of a large peg board beautifully displaying all my supplies, readily available for the next creative project. I finally talked my husband into the idea and he created my vision (love him for it!) It’s pretty great but I’m still playing with the organizational scheme. My yarn collection was placed into a three drawer plastic organizer. All fabric was condensed and organized into a plastic bin and stored in the office closet for future use. 

Do you have any tips or tricks on how to tackle organizational nightmares?

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate or sponsor links. With these links Growing Up With Sam can receive a commission. These commissions help support the work and website at no additional cost to you.

99 Things for Adults to do at Walt Disney World

You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy the amazing things Disney World has to offer! If it’s your honeymoon or simply a night out without the kids, there are many things you can do in the happiest place on Earth!

Here is a list of 99 things adults can do in Walt Disney World without children

99 Things for Adults to do in Walt Disney World

99 Adult Things to Do in Walt Disney World

  1. Drinking Around the World – EPCOT
  2. Visit a Spa or Health Center 
  3. Bowling at Splitsville
  4. Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom – Tour
  5. Backstage Magic – Tour
  6. Go on a fireworks cruise
  7. Ferrytale Wishes: A Fireworks Dessert Cruise
  8. Fireworks Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace or IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party
  9. Go to Beaches and Cream and order a kitchen sink
  10. Jellyrolls – Nightclub
  11. Atlantic Dance Hall -Nightclub
  12. Golf – Disney’s Magnolia, Disney’s Lake Buena Vista, Disney’s Palm, Disney’s Oak Trail 
  13. Mini Golf – Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf, Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf
  14. La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil
  15. Catch a movie at AMC Movies in Disney Springs
  16. House of Blues – Live Entertainment
  17. Paradiso 37 – Entertainment
  18. Margaritas on the Boardwalk
  19. Drinking Around the Monorail
  20. Character Meet and Greets
  21. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party – Ticketed Event
  22. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party – Ticketed Event
  23. International Flowers and Garden Festival
  24. Atlanta Braves Spring Training
  25. International Food and Wine Festival
  26. Surfing programs at Typhoon Lagoon
  27. Watch a parade
  28. Watch a fireworks show
  29. Hang out poolside at your resort
  30. Shopping in Disney Springs
  31. Tennis
  32. Parasailing
  33. Wakeboarding
  34. Tubing
  35. Private Watercraft Tour
  36. Water Skiing
  37. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon – water park
  38. Disney’s Blizzard Beach – water park
  39. Fishing – Port Orleans Resort
  40. Bicycles/Surrey Bikes on the Boardwalk
  41. Movies under the stars
  42. Carnival games on the Boardwalk
  43. Photo Booth on the Boardwalk
  44. DVC Tour
  45. 50’s Prime Time
  46. Biergarten Restaurant – Themed Restaurant in EPCOT
  47. Sci-Fi Dine-In – Themed Restaurant in Hollywood Studios
  48. Beverage Seminar
  49. Cheese Seminar
  50. The BOAT House – Restaurant Disney Springs
  51. Character Dining
  52. Coral Restaurant – Themed REstaurant in EPCOT
  53. Culinary Demonstrations
  54. Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner – Dinner Show Disney’s Polynesian Resort
  55. Eat to the Beat Dining Package
  56. Fantasmic! Dinner Package
  57. Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue – Dinner Show Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
  58. The Jungle Book! Alive with Magic Dining Package – Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  59. Le Cellier Steakhouse – Restaurant in EPCOT
  60. La Hacienda de San Angel – Restaurant in EPCOT
  61. Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s Table Dinner -Restaurant
  62. Photo Pass Photo Ops
  63. Ride the People Mover – People watch
  64. Toy Story Mania – Compete against each other
  65. Find Hidden Mickey’s
  66. Have a Caricature portrait done
  67. Jet Skiing
  68. Participate in or watch a Disney Race/marathon
  69. Visit all four parks in one day
  70. Cupcake Crawl
  71. Milkshake Crawl
  72. Pick a Pearl – Japan EPCOT
  73. Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar – Disney Springs
  74. Characters in Flight – Disney Springs
  75. Raglan Road – Live Entertainment Disney Springs
  76. Entertainment on the Boardwalk
  77. River Roost Lounge Bar to see “Ye Haa” Bob Jackson
  78. Carriage Ride – Port Orleans
  79. Attend Eat to the Beat Concert – EPCOT
  80. Radio Show at ESPN Club
  81. Boat Ride
  82. Volleyball -Caribbean Beach Resort
  83. Candle Processional Dining Package
  84. In Room Celebrations 
  85. Plan an in-park private event
  86. Rent a canoe -Disney’s Fort Wilderness and Campground
  87. Rent a Cabana – Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  88. Interact with street performers on Main Street – Magic Kingdom
  89. Play Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom
  90. Amphicar – The BOATHOUSE Disney Springs 
  91. Try a Sake Flight – Japan in EPCOT
  92. Watch a parade
  93. Go to Club Cool and try every flavor of cola
  94. Grab a Dole Whip and people watch
  95. Hit up Starring Rolls Cafe for a quick breakfast/snack – Hollywood Studios
  96. Check out British Revolution – Britain in EPCOT
  97. Jeweled Dragon Acrobats – China in EPCOT
  98. Try some food from the Food Trucks – Disney Springs
  99. Get Married!
  100. Plan a family portrait session

What do you like to do when you go to Walt Disney World?

A New Disney Autograph Book

A Disney Autograph Book Worth Buying

A child’s Walt Disney World vacation would not be complete without character interaction. This is something we saved for when we brought our children to the most magical place on Earth. I’m pretty excited to start collecting Disney character autographs and I’ve found the best way to do it.

The Best Disney Autograph Book

I’ve been looking at Disney autograph books for quite some time and I could never find what I envisioned. I toyed with the idea of creating my own from scratch but decided against it (for now at least). Luckily, I stumbled across a few posts on Pinterest about using a book instead – Particularly the Disney Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters.

Brilliant, simply brilliant.

What You’ll Need:

There are a couple of different versions of this book available. I purchased the latest version (2014) for less than $10. That’s much cheaper than a majority of the autograph books I was browsing. Each character has their own colorful page with a short description. There are fun facts, random bits of trivia, and quotes sprinkled throughout the book as well. The pages are thick and the book is hardcover (other versions of the book are also available in paperback). Not only can you use it to collect character autographs, but you can also use the book to tackle boredom while waiting in line or in the car. Yay for multipurpose! 

My plan is to use the book for multiple trips. When Ben is a little older we can use it to get excited for upcoming trips and mark which characters we want to see next. I plan on adding pictures and recording the character interactions as well. I do like the idea of giving the book a spiral binding and adding some extra pages and a pocket to hold extras like tickets and brochures. It’ll be more of a scrapbook that doubles as an autograph book.

Disney Autograph Book Idea

 

A book is just one of the many ways to record character interaction and memories. How do you collect character autographs?

Characters Included: 

  1. Abu
  2. Aladdin
  3. Alice
  4. Anastasia & Drizella
  5. Anna
  6. Ariel
  7. Art
  8. Atta
  9. Aurora
  10. Bagheera & Baloo
  11. Bambi
  12. Basil of Baker Street
  13. The Beast
  14. Belle
  15. Bernard & Bianca
  16. The Blue Fairy
  17. Boo
  18. Bullseye
  19. Buzz Lightyear
  20. Captain Hook
  21. Carl Fredricksen
  22. Chip & Dale
  23. Cinderella
  24. Colette
  25. Cruella De Vil
  26. Crush & Squirt
  27. Daisy Duck
  28. Donald Duck
  29. Dory
  30. Dug
  31. Dumbo
  32. Dusty
  33. Edna Mode
  34. Eeyore
  35. Elastigirl
  36. El Chupacabra
  37. Elsa
  38. Eric
  39. Eve
  40. The Fairy Godmother
  41. Finn McMissile
  42. Fix-it Felix, Jr.
  43. Flik
  44. Flora, Fauna, & Merryweather
  45. Flounder
  46. Flynn
  47. Gaston
  48. Genie
  49. Geppetto
  50. Goofy
  51. Harris, Hubert,& Hamish
  52. Hercules
  53. Holley Shiftwell
  54. Huey, Dewey, & Louie
  55. Jaq & Gus
  56. Jasmine
  57. Jessie
  58. Jiminy Cricket
  59. John Smith
  60. Kristoff
  61. Kuzco
  62. Lady & Tramp
  63. Lady Tremaine
  64. Lightning McQueen
  65. Lilo
  66. Linguini
  67. The Lost Boys
  68. The Mad Hatter
  69. Maid Marian
  70. Maleficent
  71. Marie, Berlioz, & Toulouse
  72. Marlin
  73. Mater
  74. Maximus
  75. Merida
  76. Mickey Mouse
  77. Mike Wazowski
  78. Minnie Mouse
  79. Mowgli
  80. Mr. Incredible
  81. Mrs. Potts & Chip
  82. Mufasa
  83. Mulan
  84. Mushu
  85. Nala
  86. Naveen
  87. Nemo
  88. Olaf
  89. Oliver
  90. Pascal
  91. Periwinkle
  92. Peter Pan
  93. Phillip
  94. Piglet
  95. Pinocchio
  96. Pluto
  97. Pocahontas
  98. Pongo & Perdita
  99. Prince Charming
  100. Quasimodo
  101. Randall
  102. Rapunzel
  103. Remy
  104. Rex
  105. Robin Hood
  106. Russell
  107. Sally
  108. Scar
  109. Scott “Squishy” Squibbles
  110. Scuttle
  111. Sebastian
  112. The Seven Dwarfs
  113. Simba
  114. Skipper
  115. Snow White
  116. Stitch
  117. Sulley
  118. Sven
  119. Syndrome
  120. Terri & Terry Perry
  121. Thumper
  122. Tiana
  123. Tigger
  124. Timon & Pumbaa
  125. Timothy Mouse
  126. Tinker Bell
  127. Ursula
  128. Vanellope
  129. Wall-E
  130. Wendy, John, & Michael Darling
  131. The White Rabbit
  132. The Wicked Queen
  133. Winnie the Pooh
  134. Woody
  135. Wreck-It Ralph
  136. Zarina
  137. Zazu
  138. Zurg

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate or sponsor links. With these links Growing Up With Sam can receive a commission. These commissions help support the work and website at no additional cost to you.

Five Apps to Earn and Save Money

Five Free Apps to Earn and Save Money

Mobile phones have become a necessary evil. We use them for everything – camera, email, texting, entertainment, calendar, everything!  You can even earn money and gift cards easily and free. So without further ado, here are five free phone apps I have successfully used to earn and save money.

1. Surveys on the Go App

Surveys on the Go Mobile App - Earn Money/gift cards

This research app allows you to earn credit for taking surveys. It’s fun, easy, and free. They only send out one or two surveys a week so it may take a bit to see a return, but who cares? It’s free!

The minimum payout is $10. Once you reach the minimum, there’s a choice between an Amazon gift card, VISA Rewards, Paypal credit, or a Starbucks gift card. These options are great because you do not have to give out personal information like your physical address or banking information. With my last payment I opted for an Amazon gift card because the amount was a little higher, payment was almost instant, and I’m constantly ordering things on Amazon (it’s a problem).

Survey on the Go - Five apps to earn and save moneySurveys on the Go Screenshot - Five Free Apps to Earn and Save money

Available on Apple and Android

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2. Inboxdollars App

Earn money by completing offers and surveys, watching videos and TV, referring friends, searching the web, and playing games. The app is easy to use but you can also use the website from a desktop or laptop.

The minimum to receive payment is $30.00. Once you reach the cash out minimum you can request payout and Inboxdollars will send you a physical check.

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3. Swagbucks App

Similar to Inboxdollars, Swagbucks gives you various ways to earn credit. The credit can be redeemed for various gift cards (my favorites – Target and Amazon)! You can earn by shopping online, completing surveys and offers, watching videos, searching the web and playing games. You can also use swagbucks from your personal computer.

The points (or SwagBucks -SB) range for redeeming gift cards is 300-24,750. Usually 500 SB is equivalent to $5.

Swagbucks Screenshot - Five Free Apps to Save and Earn MoneySwagbucks Retail Options

App Available on Apple and Android

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4. Ebates

Ebates is my shopping BFF. If I make any online purchases I make sure I do them through the ebates app or activate on my laptop. You can earn up to 40% cash back on purchases you were already going to make. Not only do you earn cash back but they also give you coupon codes and promos for that particular site.

You get $10 just for signing up! Checks are cut every three months. You can also opt for a paypal deposit instead of a physical check.

Ebates Screenshot - Five Free Apps to Earn and Save Money

Available on Apple and Android

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

 

5. Digit – Save Money Without Thinking About It

If you find it hard to save money then you need this app. Digit monitors your spending patterns and creates little deposits into an FDIC-insured ($250,000) savings account.

You can also earn $5 for each friend you refer and every three months you receive a bonus based on the average balance in your account. You are able to save and withdraw manually whenever you like.

Update: 4/12/17 Digit is now a monthly subscription of $2.99/month

Digit Screenshot - Five Free Apps to Save and Earn MoneyDigit Screenshot - Five Free Apps to Save and Earn Money

Available on Apple and Android

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What is your favorite app to earn or save money with?

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate or sponsor links. With these links Growing Up With Sam can receive a commission. These commissions help support the work and website at no additional cost to you.