How To Get That Costco Dream Trip For Less

Travel How To Get That Costco Dream Trip For LessIn my post last year about saving money on travel, I compared Costco to Expedia and BookingBuddy. I was comparing apples to apples (so the exact same hotel, airline, tickets, etc…) and Costco won two of the thee “challenges.” Costco, with their buying power, was able to negotiate certain deals with certain carries that others could not match.

However, Expedia and BookingBuddy are both able to negotiate their own deals with carriers, just maybe or maybe not the same carriers as Costco.

So, if ware are willing to compare apple species to apple species (i.e the same star category of service, the same level of air carrier, same room type, etc…) then it would be interesting to find out who comes out with the best price – and YOU still get the best vacation!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog!

BookingBudys is a TripAdvisor Company.

Travel How To Get Costo Dream TripAgain, I am going to pick the same trips:

  • Walt Disney World, including airfare, park tickets, and a non Disney hotel property for 8 days, 7 nights traveling from Seattle, WA.
  • Hawaii, including airfare, hotel, and car on the big island for 7 days, 6 nights traveling from Seattle, WA.
  • Cabo San Lucas, including airfare, airport to hotel transfer, and all-inclusive hotel (includes food and drinks) for 5 days, and 4 nights) traveling from Seattle, WA.

Trip 1: Walt Disney World: Departing May 17th and returning May 24th from Seattle, WA, for a family of 4 – 4 star hotel and national airline.

 

  • Costco Travel Vacation Package – Orlando World Center Marriott, American Airlines (1 stop), 5 day park hopper to WDW: $4,320.
  • Expedia Vacation Package – The B Resort and Spa, United Airline (1 stop), 5 day park hopper ticket to WDW: $4,486
  • BookingBuddy Vacation Package – Hilton Orlando, American Airlines (1 stop), 5 day :$4,094.

For each travel provider, I looked for the lowest price, name brand 4 star hotel. With being able to play with the hotel choice and using BookingBuddy’s deal on Walt Disney World ticket price, we were able to save over $200 on this vacation.

STAY TUNED FOR TRIP 2 AND TRIP 3!

Trip 2: Hawaii: Departing May 17th and returning May 23rd from Seattle, WA, for a family of 4.

  • Costco Travel – Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa – Garden View Room, Hawaiian Airlines (no overnight flight), full size car rental: $3,827
  • Expedia – Hilton Wikoloa – Resort View Room, Hawaiian Airlines (no overnight flight), full size car rental:
  • BookingBuddy –

Trip 3: Cabo San Lucas: Departing May 17th and returning May 21st from Seattle, WA, for two adults.

Beware of IRS Law Suit Scams!

I just heard a lovely computerized voice on my voice mail informing me that the IRS is filing suit against me and that I better call now!

Luckily, I was pretty sure this was a scam and quickly did some research instead of calling them back. Unfortunately, I know that many people don’t know how to tell that something is a scam and may actually fall for this, so I thought I would share my story and the result of my research.

Here is an info-graphic from the FTC with how to discern the difference between a scam and the real IRS.

0519-irs-imposter-scams-infographic

 

What other scams and cons are out there right now that people need to be aware of?

Free Purim App for Andriod

Biblical_Holidays_Purim_AppOf all the Biblical Holidays, Purim may be my favorite. Basically, we dress up, participate in or watch the story of Esther re-enacted, and eat lots of good food. This years theme for our community was Shakespeare and the play was the best ever – they turned it into a Shakespeare comedy!

If you would like to know more about Purim or some other themes we have had in the past, read my post from last year.

The Purim App For Android (Beta)

At the beginning of this year, I have decided it is time for me to get back to doing some programming again. It has been a long time, so I am a little rusty, but I am starting with some simple App Development. I thought I would start by making an App about Purim.

It is simple, and just meant to teach some basics, but in a fun way. It includes the story of Esther, some ideas for Purim celebrations, a word search and a game called Get Hayman!

I would love folks to try it out and give me feedback and suggestions for a bigger, better App for next year. You can download it right here. No strings attached. No spam or spyware or any junk like that. Just enjoy and pass it on. I am just getting started with this, so I just want to get it out there.

Download the Purim App by clicking on this link from your mobile phone. (This is an Amazon Affiliate Link).

2016 Disney Contest and Sweepstakes Roundup

2016 Win A Trip To Disneyland Or DisneyworldAs my children are starting to grow up (I now have a 9 year old, a 7 year old, a 5 year old, and a 7 month old), I have a little longing to take them to Disneyland and Walt Disney World. I was able to visit both as a child and Disneyland a couple of times as an adult before I had my children.

Since taking 6 people to either park is not a cheap endeavor, nor is any travel with a large family, I am looking for different options to help me get there. One option is to enter the plethora of Disneyland contests and sweepstakes that are available each there. Who would not want to win a trip to Walt Disney World or win a trip to Disneyland?
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

So here is my roundup this year – 2016 Disney Contests and Sweepstakes (updated quarterly) – expiration date – name and link to contest – any additional info.



Updated 2/17/2106

02/18/ 2016 – Star Wars Awakens – 4 nights in WDW or 3 nights in Disney Land

02/20/2016 – Wheel Of Fortune Disney Sea and Shore – Watch the show and enter to win 6 nights at Disney’s Aulani

02/23/2016 – Smuckers Unstoppable Disney Squad – submit a photo for a 4 night trip to Disneyland or Walt Disney World

02/28/2016 – AccuWeather Every Moment Matters – entry is on a FB page, 4 night trip

02/28/2016 – Disney Channel Epic Adventure – 5 night trip with 1 night in Cinderella’s Castle

02/29/2016 – Pop Secret Popcorn In the Parks – 4 nights at Walt Disney World

02/29/2016 – Rayovac Unforgettable Vacation – 3 nights at Walt Disney World

02/29/2016 – Mommies With Cents – $500 Disney Gift Card

02/29/2016 – Visit Orlando – 4 nights in Walt Disney World

03/04/2016 – Service Experts Unfrozen Contest – take a photo of a snowman and win a 7 day Disney Cruise

AD: Save up to 25% on rooms at select Walt Disney World® Resort hotels for stays most nights April 14-June 11, 2016

03/19/2016 – Parents Magazine Magical Moments – 4 nights at Walt Disney World

03/25/2016 – FLASH Stormstruck – 3 nights at Walt Disney World

03/27/2016 – Long John Silver’s – Win a 3 night Disney Caribbean Cruise

03/27/2016 – Escape the Cold in Kissimmee – Win 4 nights in Orlando, including Disney World Tickets

03/27/2016 – America’s Top Fishing and Boating Spots – Win 3 nights in Orlando and a fishing trip

03/28/2016 – National Geographic – Enter a photo to win 4 nights at Walt Disney World

03/31/2016 – Redbook Unforgettable Adventure – 3 nights in Walt Disney World

04/22/2016 – Walt Disney Signature Collection – Win 2 nights in Disneyland and a tour of the original Disney Studio lot

05/03/2016 – Latina Magazine Unforgettable Sweeps – A 4 night Walt Disney World vacation for 8 people.

05/31/2016 – Twinings Disney Land And Sea – 3 nights at Disney World and 4 nights on a Disney Cruise

09/19/2016 – Disneyland Diamond Days – 2 night stay, one of which is in the Disneyland Dream Suite

12/31/2016 – Go Bowling – 4 night Disney cruise

Unknown – Downtown Disney Hotels – Win 2 nights at a WDW hotel, monthly winner


How “A Simple Life Too” Almost Became A Beast

A_Simple_Life_Too_Almost_Became_Beast

I have lost my way.

Somehow, over the past year, my blog went from being about how I can help others’ live a simpler life, sharing what my journey to simplify has been like, and what God is doing in my life, to being about how to make money with my blog.

A Simple Life Too became a “Beast” when I stopped blogging about my heart and what I wanted to write about and it became about “how can I make some money.”

I am sorry.

So, I am sort of starting over again.

No, I won’t get rid of the content I currently have, as some of it really is useful. But I am going back to why I am writing in the first place – by making sure everything I post is because I want to post it, because I hope it really is something that might be useful to others, and / or it is something that truly brings me joy.

I also am not going to fight my life to post more often.

I have a baby. I have three other children. I homeschool, nurse the baby, clean the house, spend time with my husband, and have quality time and  conversation with the folks in my church community.

I live, then I write. I can not continue to live to write.

I will write about our homeschool experience, from the humble perspective of what I have learned so far and what God is showing me WE should do.

I will write about what God is doing in my life and speaking truth. I will probably write about the Biblical holidays.

I might write about how I am working with my children and trying to encourage them. I might also write about our issues with food and how we are trying to eat healthier… and sometimes failing miserably.

I might write about how I really want to go to Disneyland / Disneyworld or some other aspect of my desire to travel. I might still write about trying to work from home… and what has worked and hasn’t worked for us there so far.

I might even come up with something new. We will see…

I would love to hear from you. What did you like and/or did not like from A Simple Life Too this year.

Celebrating Biblical Holidays: Hanukkah

Biblical_Holidays_HanuakkahThis year, Hanukkah begins sundown Sunday, December 6th and ends sundown, Monday, December 14th.

Hanukkah is frequently referred to as the “Jewish Christmas,” however, that is quite far from the truth.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. 

Hanukkah is actually the Feast of Dedication and is based on the miracles that God did for the Maccabees during the time of occupation of Jerusalem after the expansion of Alexander.

Basically, the Jews stated that they would not be Paganized or Hellenized, and continued to be faithful to Yawh even in the face of death. The Maccabees fought to take back the Jewish Temple, which had been desecrated. When they took back the temple, part of the ritual to re-dedicate the temple to God was to burn oil in the menorah for 8 days. However, there was not enough oil and it would take a week to prepare more.

Since our God is a God of miracles and loves showing His faithfulness to His people, He kept the menorah lamps burning for the 8 days with only the one day of oil.

We now celebrate this week every year and it is a time to re-dedicate our hearts to God / Jesus.

 



Learn about different ways Christians are celebrating Hanukkah through our Link-up:


Cancel Black Friday, Save The World

Cancel Black FridayMy movement (or cause) in my last post, Cancel Halloween, Save The World, just wasn’t radical enough. 7 billion of the 30 billion needed per year to end world hunger was a good dent, but I want more.

I want world hunger ended – and abortion and crime and lots of things – but I am trying to focus on one movement here!

Therefore, I propose that we end Black Friday. Just don’t spend that $50 billion dollars this year on STUFF!

Yes, that would do it. That would be more than we need or maybe just enough to help us get ahead of the problem.

Instead of purchasing the STUFF, donate the money to a relief aid organization like World Vision and their Gift Catalog. Purchase a cow for a family (or a goat or a well or a chicken, garden tools and much more). Then they can have some milk and start breeding the cows and make more cows, and then they can give a cow someday to someone else in need… and so on. What a great gift! And you can donate the gift in someone else’s name – a dual gift 🙂

If you really want to give a physical gift to someone, consider purchasing a handcrafted, artisan gift through World Vision’s Gifts With A Cause or another Fair Trade organization. This is also a dual gift as the money mostly goes back to the artisan and their village and helps the whole community move towards self sufficiency. Please note that I am an affiliate for Gifts With A Cause.

What Cause or Movement are you fighting and praying for?

A Simple Life Too Gives Thanks

What_A_Simple_Life_Too_Is_Thankful_ForI am thankful for SO MUCH and I hope to encourage others to take time this year to think about what they are thankful for – so along with my list, I am participating in a link-up AND co-hosting the link-up with some other very grateful ladies.

I am thankful for…

  • God’s provision this year in the midst of job loss – now my husband has a better job.
  • The freedom to homeschool how God has shown me to, not someone else thinks I should. This is good since we are doing more delight directed learning and unit studies this year.
  • Blogging as a healthy, personal time outlet.
  • My girls and especially for my new baby at 45 years of age!
  • God, my husband and my community for getting me through a tough pregnancy.
  • Having place to live that we can afford and flexible landlords (who we are also blessed to call friends) that understand our rough time this year.
  • My husband, who is working hard to overcome much.
  • God who is helping me to overcome many struggles and issues.
  • Our church community, who has walked with us through all kinds of things and has loved and supported us.
  • Kind neighbors and friends for our children.
  • Grasping the understanding that God is good, that He wants what is best for me, and what Grace really is.
  • A fun provision in our family’s (the girls and I) pet sitting business.

There are probably more and I reserve the right to update this post as I think of them 🙂

Now for the link-up. Please share what you are thankful for this holiday and/or any Thanksgiving related posts you would like to link with us. Please also visit all of the hosts and some of the other link-ees. Sharing posts of others is always a blessing.

Thankful

Alisha @ Alisha In Progress

Connect at: Google Plus | Pinterest

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April @ A Simple Life Too

Connect at: Google Plus | Facebook | Pinterest

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Hannah @ Shining Stars Magazine

Connect at: Google Plus

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Joy @ Artful Homemaking

Connect at: Facebook | Google Plus | Pinterest | Twitter

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Joy @ Blog Of Joy

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Leticia @ King Maker Blog

Connect at: Facebook | Pinterest

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Naomi @ What Joy Is Mine

Connect at: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

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The Ladies @ Radical Femininity

Connect at: Facebook | Google Plus | Pinterest | Twitter

 

Super Simple Homeschooling: How You Can Homeschool For Less Than $20 Per Year (Per Child)

Super_Simple_Homeschool_Less_Than_20_per_yearHave you taken a financial hit this year? Are you struggling to pay for your homeschool supplies, curriculum, field trips, etc…?

Maybe, like us, your spouse lost their job at some point during the year. Or maybe, like us, you have a new addition to the family. Or like us, your children are growing and consuming more and more. Maybe you have been struggling for awhile, ever since mom gave up her job and agreed to stay home and homeschool the children.

I am here to share with you our own experience and encourage you – you CAN homeschool for as little as $20 a year per child.



Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Acceptance

If you don’t accept where you are at, that you simply don’t have the money for all those shiny, new homeschool books this year, you can waste a lot of time and energy and you will have trouble moving forward and actually get going with your homeschooling.

Once I accepted that the money just wasn’t going to be there for workbooks, textbooks, learning toys, etc… this year, I was able to shift gears and get creative with what I did have, and I started to brainstorm what I COULD do for homeschool this year.

Get Basic Supplies

Most of your budget will to go to the basics: binders / notebooks, paper, pencils, erasers, glue, scissors and crayons.

If you opt to go with some of the free online options (see below) for homeschooling, then instead of the supplies above, you will need to invest your budget in printer ink and printer paper. We choose to make sure our children are doing some writing by hand and we are doing some learning online, so we got all the supplies – notebooks, paper, ink, etc… With the cost shared across 3 children, we are still well under our $20 per child budget.

We purchased the printer ink online with Amazon, the paper (both writing and printer) at Walmart, and the supplies at Walmart during their back to school sales.

Search The Thrift Stores

Next, find your local thrift store, especially any outlet stores, and take a few hours to go through their books.

I did not even come up with this idea. My brother-in-law, knowing that we were struggling this year, went to our local thrift outlet store called the Youth Ranch Outlet. He and his significant other spent an hour or so going through the large bins of books and came up with a dozen or so very useful books. Things like science encyclopedias and science experiment books, old math textbooks, barely used kindergarten workbooks and a great math games book.

We will make use of these by reading the science books, doing experiments with stuff we already have, having the children copy passages from the books, practicing spelling words, and more. They then get LA / English out of this too. We will use the kindergarten books for our kindergartener. I did purchase three kindergarten workbooks from Rod and Staff. They are only $3.60 each plus shipping. If you are a Christian based homeschool, they have some inexpensive curriculum available through Milestone Books.

I will state that we have half of our Story of the World History curriculum leftover from last year (which was given to us free), so that is how we are doing history.

For art, we are doing play-dough, creating our own paper dolls, coloring in dollar store coloring books, practicing drawing, making cards and looking for ideas all around us.

Find The Free Online Apps and Printables

For Math, there are LOTs of free online options. You really just need to decide which option you want. You could also use old textbooks for a baseline and write your own math problems weekly.

We have found some free online tests and games, free online printables, and we are also going to give Khan Academy a try, although as of this writing, we haven’t started yet.

There are many more apps and online learning sites to explore – more than you could ever visit in a lifetime. Just start with a topic and do a search. For example, if you want to teach your children about bugs, just Google “learn about bugs” or “homeschool bugs free printables or lessons.”

And Then There Is The Library

Even if your children don’t read yet or don’t like to read, you can read to them. Everything you would ever want to learn and teach your children is available. Have them copy passages of important information or summarize what they read.

I hope this helps you homeschool your family this year and you will be able to see it as a joy and an exciting challenge. This isn’t everything we are doing, so please ask questions about what you are wanting or needing in the comments below.

If you would like some additional encouragement, check out my post: Homeschooling From The Bottom 10%.

If you have a little more budget to purchase curriculum this year, I have curated some Books, Homeschool Curriculum, and School Supply Deals, Discount Codes, and Coupon Codes for you at: I’ve Got A Deal For That!

 

Cancel Halloween, Save The World

Cancel_Halloween

I am going to make this really simple – according the UN, it would take about a $30 billion dollar a year investment to eradicate world hunger. According to CNN, we spend about $7 billion dollars per year, just on Halloween. That is almost 1/4 of the needed money spent on one holiday. So lets just cancel the indulgence of non-food (i.e. candy) for one day per year and all the stuff that comes with it, and invest the money in seeds, farm animals, tools, wells, small business loans, and the such and the poor in the world will be that much closer to having what it needs.

Can it get any simpler than that?

I say start the movement now – CANCEL HALLOWEEN and SAVE THE WORLD!

I do have to add a little note. When you take your Halloween money and give it instead, please be sure to invest it into an organization with very little overhead so the money gets out to the communities. Also, be sure to invest it into an organization that invests in the community, not just gives handouts of food that will run out, but gives them what they need to grow, make, purchase their own food.

What other things can we give up to help the poor and get rid of world hunger?

Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Gifts With A Cause