How to Help Your Teen Financially Prepare for College

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A recent survey found that 48% of parents expect their children to pay for some or all of their college. Many young adults are now graduating with some amount of student loan debt. It is possible to get a college degree without having to spend the next twenty years paying it off?

How to help your teen financially prepare for college so they don't graduate with staggering student loan debt.

Forecast college costs  

You can’t be prepared for the expense of college if you don’t know how much it costs. Look online for an interactive calculator that will help estimate the cost of tuition and room and board. Don’t forget to factor in books and living expenses (aka four years of pizza).

Compare several schools to help figure out what works best with your budget.

Dual enroll or take AP classes in high school

I know many teens who graduate high school with a year or two of college credits under their belt. This can be a great way to get a head start in college and save money.

Commute to a local college or university 

Not only will you save with lower in-state tuition, your teen can save money by living at home.   I did this and was able to save thousands of dollars in room and board.

If your child has their heart set on going away to college, consider having them go to a local school the first year or two and then transferring to their dream school.

Apply for grants, scholarships and work study programs

This is something your teenager should do while they are still in high school. Every school offers grants, aid and scholarships for students. Start researching early what your school of choice has available because the sooner you apply the better.

When I was in college I was paid to take notes in class. These notes where used for students who had disabilities and were unable to take notes in class.  I was paid by the hour and this helped cover the cost of my tuition for several semesters. 

Save on textbooks 

Years ago you had to buy all your textbooks at the school bookstore and if you were lucky there was a used copy available. Not anymore. Today you can rent textbooks, buy them online, or even share with another student.

With the price of textbooks rivaling tuition for some courses, shopping around and finding the best deal is a simple way to cut college costs.

Shop for a student loan

Not all student loans are created equal. For many families, the cost of college is not something they can afford to pay for upfront. If your teen does need to take out a loan, do some research to make sure you are getting the best option that fits their needs.

Discover Student Loans offers helpful advice for students and parents, including student loan and tips on paying for school.

Take advantage of student discounts

If your child lives in a college town many restaurants and stores offer discounts for students.

Don’t just take advantage of local discounts, many online retailers offer great student discounts as well, including Apple and Adobe. All your teen needs for the discount is their student ID or college email address.

Delay college for a year

One of the most cost effective ways to get a degree is to finish it in four years. A student who switches majors multiple times or changes schools halfway through a degree program will end up paying more for their education.

Allowing your teen to wait a year and work (also saving up more money) while they figure out exactly what they want to do is a viable option for many families. Not every 18 year-old knows exactly what they want to be “when they grow up.”

Waiting a year can be a great way for your teen to earn extra money, get some real life experience, and help them decide on their educational goals before they start spending money.


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Easy Embellished Flip Flops for Under $5

By contributing writer Beth

These Easy Embellished Flip Flops are crazy simple to do. I made these from beginning to end in less than an hour. This is a super easy craft for kids and adults. There’s no sewing and no glue. Just flip flops and cute fabric.

These Easy Embellished Flip Flops are crazy simple to do. I made these from beginning to end in less than an hour, and they cost under $5! It's a great craft for kids too.

And how cute is this stretchy fabric with the lace stripes in it? I love how girly this is!

I paid less than $5 for the supplies. I bought the flip flops at the craft store for $1.99. You can also use any flip flops you have lying around that could use a facelift. I paid $2 for 1/3 yard of knit fabric, and I already had the pinking shears. So $3.99 was all it cost. What a sweet deal!

If I made another pair, I’d pick navy and white jersey knit and put them on red flip flops. How nautical and cute would that be with your favorite t-shirt and cropped jeans?! You could do this for a birthday party craft if you have a beach theme or a nautical theme.

Easy Embellished Flip Flops

Easy Embellished Flip Flops for Under $5 - Supplies

Supplies Needed

  • 1 pair of flip flops (I got these at the craft store for $1.99)
  • 1/3 yard of stretchy knit fabric
  • pinking shears or scissors


1. Cut the length of the fabric to form a long strip 6 inches wide. You’re essentially cutting the fabric in half.

I use pinking shears because I like the way it makes the edges a little more fancy. You can definitely use regular scissors for this if you’d rather have a nice, neat straight edge on your ruffles.

Easy Embellished Flip Flops for Under $5 - Step 1

2. Cut the fabric into strips about one inch wide. For these large flip flops, I used 48 total strips of 1 inch x 6 inches of stretch knit fabric.

Easy Embellished Flip Flops for Under $5 - Step 2

3. Tie a double overhand knot (yes, that’s a normal knot) securing a strip to the strap on the flip flop. You’ll want the knot to rest on the outside of the strap. Slide the knotted fabric down to the bottom of the strap before adding the next strip.

Easy Embellished Flip Flops for Under $5 - Step 3

You’ll keep pushing the strips down each time to make sure they’re snug and tight against each other with no gaps. The inside of the strap will look like this when you’re done.

Easy Embellished Flip Flops for Under $5 - Step 3

4. Repeat with both sides of the strap and then complete the other shoe.

Easy Embellished Flip Flops for Under $5 - Step 4

If one of the strips gets tied funny or sticks out in a weird way, you can trim it to make it match the pieces beside it.

You’re ready to sport your newly embellished flip flops!

Easy Embellished Flip Flops for Under $5

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Prosciutto & Arugula Grilled Pizza

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Have I ever told you how much I love pizza? I could eat it every single day. My favorite local pizza place bakes their pizza in a wood fired oven. After trying many different recipes, I’ve found the best way to get that wood fired taste at home is to grill your pizza.

When Bertolli asked for summer grilling inspiration I knew I had to try to recreate one of my favorite pizzas from our local pizza place.

grilled pizza

Bertolli sauce tastes great with pasta (we go through at least two jars a week), but even better on grilled pizza. It is also frequently on sale at Publix, where I usually shop.


For this pizza, I decided to use Bertolli Tomato & Basil sauce. The tomato basil sauce has such a fresh taste, I find myself craving it, especially during the summer months.

Side note: Another awesome way to use this sauce is with spiralized zucchini. I bake the zucchini, tomato basil sauce topped with sliced buffalo mozzarella for about 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven. SOOOO good!

Back to the pizza…. this prosciutto and arugula pizza is a great light summer appetizer or meal. The key to making this pizza taste amazing is not over cooking the prosciutto. However, it’s easy to bake this perfectly on the grill.

grilled pizza 10

Now, I know what some of your are thinking. Arugula on pizza??? Trust me, this pizza is so good you don’t want to skip the greens!

Prosciutto & Mozzarella Grilled Pizza
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • Pizza dough
  • Bertolli Tomato & Basil sauce
  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • Prosciutto
  • Arugula
  • Cherry tomatoes
  1. Fire up your grill.
  2. Roll out your pizza dough into personal pan size servings.
  3. Spray nonstick spray on your grill. (don't skip this step!)
  4. When grill is hot (450 degrees) place the rolled dough on the grill.
  5. Do not walk away from your grill!
  6. In two to three minutes flip the pizza.
  7. Grill another two minutes.
  8. Remove pizza from the grill.
  9. Add sauce, sliced mozzarella, and prosciutto slices.
  10. Grill another 2 minutes.
  11. Remove from the grill and top with arugula and sliced cherry tomatoes.
  12. Serve immediately.

Make sure you roll the dough out thin. The thinner the better on the grill!

grilled pizza 2

Flip the dough after 2-3 minutes. You will know it’s ready to flip when it starts to smell like a pizza place.

grilled pizza 3

Look at those fabulous grill marks!! At this point my mouth is watering and I’m having trouble waiting another 7 minutes for the pizza to be done.

grilled pizza 4

Remove the grilled dough from the grill and add Bertolli sauce, sliced mozzarella, and prosciutto. Grill for another 3-4 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Remove from the grill and top with arugula and tomatoes.

grilled pizza 5

Slice, serve and enjoy.

grilled pizza 6

This pizza is quickly becoming my favorite food. In fact, the day I made it we were eating dinner with friends and they make almost the exact same pizza at home. I guess arugula on pizza is becoming a “thing.”

This pizza makes a great appetizer (cut up in smaller slices) or eat the entire thing yourself for lunch.






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Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (Dairy Free)

This dairy-free Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream never lasts long, and no one ever figures out there are healthy ingredients within!By contributing writer Tessa

We have been making this version of Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream for a couple of years now. While the green color is totally not necessary, we decided to get that fun hue naturally with plants! The spinach is never tasted and adds a nice mellow green hue. The batch never lasts long, and no one ever figures out there are healthy ingredients within!

Even though we do not have to be dairy free all the time now, we still love ice cream made with full fat coconut milk. It’s ultra creamy. Our favorite brand with no gums is Savoy Coconut Cream. We purchase it at our local Asian market for $2 per can. You are welcome to use dairy cream in place of the coconut milk.

This dairy-free Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream never lasts long, and no one ever figures out there are healthy ingredients within!

full fat coconut milk
  • 1 Haas avocado, flesh removed
  • 1 large handful spinach (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract, to taste
  • ½ cup mild honey
  • 1 tablespoon gelatin, softened in 3 tablespoons water
  • ½ - 1 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • Instructions
    1. Add all ingredients except for the chocolate to a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and add more peppermint or sweetener if you like.
    2. Pour mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's directions.
    3. When firm, stir the chocolate pieces in by hand.
    4. Serve immediately, or store in freezer for later.
    5. If frozen, leave on counter to soften for 20 minutes before serving.
    You may substitute equal amounts half and half and cream for the coconut milk.
    The spinach is for green color and can not be tasted.
    I use a few drops peppermint essential oil instead of peppermint extract.
    The gelatin helps to keep the ice cream soft.

    This dairy-free Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream never lasts long, and no one ever figures out there are healthy ingredients within!

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