Five Ways to Save on Summer Fun

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I LOVE summer. It is probably my favorite time of year, which is one of the reasons I moved to Florida, it’s always summer!

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I love the long days, warm weather, and late nights together as a family. There are so many fun family activities that are inexpensive and will build memories for years to come!

Visit the Library

Do you have a library card? Your local library is probably filled with awesome books, movies, and other resources that can keep you entertained all summer.

Libraries are great for rainy summer days or days when it is just too hot to do anything else. My kids love to read through entire series of books during the summer or read books that teach them new skills.

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One of my daughter’s favorite things to do is check out cookbooks so she can try new recipes over the summer. Another fun family activity is to dress up like your favorite characters from a book and act out the story.

Movie Nights

We have a projector so we will often watch a movie in the yard and invite friends over to join us. You don’t have to have a projector to pop a huge bowl of popcorn, pour some lemonade, and invite friends over to watch a movie in your living room.

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Movie night is probably one of my favorite family activities. You can check out movies free from your local library or rent them from Redbox for a few dollars.

Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival

Sidewalk chalk is one of the cheapest, cleanest art projects you can do with your kids! You all know how I struggle with the mess of art projects in the house, which is why I LOVE sidewalk chalk.

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You can buy a box of chalk for a few dollars at almost any store during the summer and the kids can create awesome artwork, write stories, or play hopscotch or four square in the front yard.

Water Fun

We spend our summer days in the pool, at the beach, or playing in the sprinkler. There is nothing my kids like more than to cool off in the water on a hot day.

Even before we had a pool, we always had a slip and slide, sprinkler, or water guns to make the hottest days more bearable.

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Sometimes we don’t even bother to change into our suits!

Cool Snacks

My kids love to cool off with frozen treats during the summer. Actually they love frozen treats all year round, but what kid doesn’t?

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We are kicking off our summer this week, and what better way to celebrate that with some delicious ice cream and popsicle treats!

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We prefer treats you can eat with one hand so there’s less mess and no dirty dishes!

Right now at participating Winn-Dixie and BI-LO stores you can snag some of your favorite summertime ice cream treats at a great price. Klondike, Fruttare, Good Humor, Popsicle, Magnum, and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream are all on sale right now!

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  • Buy 2 Popsicle, Good Humor and Fruttare for $6
  • Buy 2 Klondike, Ben & Jerry’s and Magnum for $7
  • Offer valid: 5/20 – 6/2 + 6/24 – 7/7 + 7/29 – 8/11

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We picked up some of our favorite Popsicle treats to celebrate the end of the school year this week.

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Here’s a quick tip, if you pick up ice cream for your kids on your way home, they will be very, very happy to see you. :-)

To help you kick off summer I’m giving away a $50 gift card to Winn-Dixie or BI-LO. To enter to win this contest you’ll need to respond to this tweet with your best cure for summer boredom. Make sure you include the hashtag #SummerUnbored with your response.

This is a Twitter giveaway only, so you must tweet me with your boredom cure to enter. Giveaway ends May 29, 2015. You can find all the rules to the sweepstakes here.

This post is sponsored by Lunchbox. All opinions, cute kids, and leftover popsicles are mine.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Common Military Acronyms – Making it in the Military

Common Military Acronyms - Because learning what all those letters stand for makes military life much easier - Making it in the Military
Yes, the military does speak a different language. In fact, when I was researching this post, I found out that there are over 12,000 military specific terms and acronyms. No wonder family members get confused!

Learning what all those letters stand for makes military life much easier. Below is a list of common military acronyms. If I left any out feel free to add yours in the comments, as long as they are “G” rated. :)

A-B


  • AAFES – Army and Air Force Exchange Service (This is the tax-free department store for military members, retirees, and their dependents.)
  • ACUArmy Combat Uniform
  • ADActive Duty
  • AFPFTAir Force Physical Fitness Test
  • APFTArmy Physical Fitness Test
  • APOArmy Post Office (Address used for overseas duty locations. Mailing to an APO costs the same as mailing to a US address.)
  • ASVAB – Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (Test recruits take that helps determine what their job will be in the service.)
  • AWOLAbsent Without Leave
  • BAH – Basic Allowance For Housing (paid to a service member based on location and dependents.)
  • BASBasic Allowance for Substinence (The money a service member receives for food.)

C-D


  • CDOCommand Duty Officer
  • CINCCommander In Chief
  • COCommanding Officer (The one in charge.)
  • COLACost of Living Allowance (Extra pay given to service members in high cost areas, based on area and number of dependents.)
  • CONUSContinental United States
  • DEERS – Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (You must be enrolled in this to be eligible for benefits.)
  • DITYDo-It-Yourself move
  • DODDepartment of Defense
  • DSDrill Sargeant

E-M


  • EFMPExceptional Family Member Program (Program for military dependents who need have special physical and or mental needs.)
  • FPO Fleet Post Office
  • IGInspector General
  • JAGJudge Advocate General (Military Lawyers)
  • LESLeave and Earning Statment (This form, which is available online is your pay stub.)
  • TDYTemporary Duty (Military member is temporarily assigned to a different duty station, may or may not involve travel.)
  • MAC Military Airlift Command
  • MCCSMarine Corps Community Service
  • MEPSMilitary Entrance Processing Center (Entrance point for your military career.)
  • MPMilitary Police
  • MWR – Morale, Welfare, and Recreation. (Comprehensive network of support and leisure services designed to enhance the lives of soldiers, their families, civilian employees, military retirees, and other eligible participants.)

N-T


  • NCONon Commissioned Officer
  • NCIOCNon-commissioned Officer In Charge
  • NEXNavy Exchange (Same thing as AAFES, but for the Navy)
  • OCONUSOutside Continental United States (Used to describe duty station location)
  • OCSOfficer Candidate School (Boot camp for officers)
  • OPROfficer Performance Report
  • PCSPermanent Change of Station (time to call the movers!)
  • PFTPhysical Fitness Test
  • POAPower of Attorney (Every military family must have one of these!)
  • POVPersonally Owned Vehicle (Your car, truck, van, bus, etc)
  • PRT – Physical Readiness Test (Navy)
  • TADTemporary Additional Duty (Marines & Navy)
  • TAP –  Transition Assistance Program  (Program to help separating service members during their period of transition into civilian life by offering job-search assistance and related services)

U-X


  • USAUnited States Army
  • USAFUnited States Air Force
  • USCG United States Coast Guard
  • USMCUnited States Marine Corps
  • USN United States Navy
  • WOWarrant Officer
  • XOExecutive Officer (Second in Command)

Didn’t see what you are looking for? Check out this site for a comprehensive listing of military acronyms.

More Making it in the Military

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Girl’s Night In: Strange Magic Movie Night

My girls are wrapping up their school year and have enjoyed three movie nights in a row this past week! Movie nights are probably my family’s favorite way to hang out and relax.

Almost all of our movie nights involve popcorn, because it’s easy and everyone loves it!

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This weekend I made a popcorn bar (details on that coming later) which included something my girls absolutely loved, pink and purple popcorn!

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If you want to impress your little girls make pink popcorn, that will probably get you mother of the year!

One of our movie nights included the movie Strange Magic a new animated fairy tale musical inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

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The movie includes popular songs from the past sixty years that tell the tale of a battle over a potion between goblins, elves, fairies, and imps.

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My girls LOVE musicals ( I mean seriously love them) so this movie was a big hit. To go along with the movie we made some glow in the dark bracelets and did lots of singing and dancing with their new karaoke machine.

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My girls have been singing the music from Strange Magic for the entire day.

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No really, the entire day!

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Other fun girls night in activities included painting pictures, painting nails, and eating a few cupcakes!

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Well maybe more than a few cupcakes…

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Movie nights are a great way to spend time with the family and incorporating the theme of the movie into your activities for the evening is a great way to get everyone involved. We focused on singing our little hearts out with Strange Magic (even my boys got involved) and making our friendship bracelets.

You can host your very own Strange Magic Girls Night In with these free activity sheets from the movie. Click on the image below to download your activity sheets.

Download Host A Strange Magic Party

Strange Magic was released on DVD today! So make your next movie night a Strange Magic night in!

 

 

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Disney World on a Budget

My family loves going to Walt Disney World for vacation. It isn’t the cheapest vacation spot, but there are ways to save on a Disney vacation and still have an awesome experience.

Ideas for planning a trip to disney on a budget. From park tickets to saving in the parks you can have a great Disney vacation without breaking the bank.

Growing up in Orlando, I feel like Walt Disney World has grown up with me and my family has made many awesome memories there over the years.

Over the years we’ve done of variety of different things to save and some have been awesome and some have been total flops! I wanted to share with you some of my favorite ways to save on a Disney family vacation.

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Visit Disney during the off season.

This is the best and easiest way to save on a trip to Disney. Spring Break, the summer months, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are all busy times at the parks. Not only will the waits be longer on the rides, the hotel, food, and airfare prices go up significantly during the peak seasons.

If you can manage to visit Disney during the slower months you will find great savings on a hotel (in all of Orlando).

You will also get more done at the parks since they won’t be as crowded.

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Stay at a Disney resort.

The absolute best place to stay at Disney is Cinderella’s Castle, but since that isn’t something you can book the next best place is a Disney resort. :-)

It took me a while to believe that staying at a Disney resort was more economical than staying off property, but unless you have family in the area with an extra bedroom, I highly recommend staying at a Disney resort.

Disney has several value resorts (Art of Animation, All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, All-Star Movies, and Pop Century) which are comparable to other Disney area hotels. These hotels are equipped with mini fridges which which makes eating some meals in your room convenient and less expensive.

There are no microwaves in the room, but there is a microwave you can use at the cafeteria at the value resorts.

So, why pay more to stay on Disney property?

1. Extra Magic Hours:

The Disney parks are open earlier and later on select days for Disney resort guests. This is a great time to ride some of your favorite rides without waiting in long lines.

2. Transportation:

If you are flying into Orlando, you can book a ride on the Magical Express from the Orlando Airport to your resort. This is a free service that drops you right at your resort.

When you are a guest at a Disney resort you also have free transportation via bus, boat, or monorail to the Disney parks. You can also park at the parks for free which is a savings of $17 a day!

Disney on a budget

3. Fast Passes:

Fast passes are available to all Disney ticket holders, however if you have your tickets purchased and your Disney resort room booked you can enjoy first access to reserve a selection of Disney FastPass+ attractions, shows and more up to 60 days before you arrive!

4. Fun resort activities:

All of the Disney resorts offer fun activities like free movies, activities, and games depending on the resort. If you are staying on Disney property, it is easy to bring a child back to the room for a nap or a swim and then go back to the park in the evening when it is cooler.

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Skip the Park Hopper Pass.

When you are buying your Disney tickets, consider buying a ticket that does not include the option to switch parks throughout the day. While I think there are many benefits to jumping parks, it is not economical and there is plenty to do at each park for an entire day.

For a 4-day ticket, adding the park hopper option increases the ticket price by $64. For a family of four that is over a $200 increase just to switch parks throughout the day.

Camp at Disney.

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Did you know you can camp at Disney and save a ton? Fort Wilderness offers campsites for RV’s and tent campers for significantly less than a Disney resort.

Fort Wilderness offers four types of campsites to accommodate everything from tents to 45-foot and longer RVs, with a maximum of 10 Guests per site. Each campsite is equipped with privacy-enhancing landscaping, water, cable television and electrical hook-ups, a picnic table and a charcoal grill. Most campsites also include a sewer hook-up, and some even permit pets.

Fort Wilderness also has a great pool with a water slide, complimentary transportation to the parks, high speed internet,    and even airport transportation! Campsites start at $69 a night.

Bring your own food.

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Like any theme park, the food at Disney can be pricey. We usually eat at least one meal in our hotel room and also bring snacks with us into the park.

No hard sided coolers are allowed in the parks, but we’ve never had problem bringing water bottles or snacks in a backpack. Most Disney hotels have a small store that sell milk and other cold products, so even if you are flying you can pack a suitcase full of snacks and buy a few refrigerated staples once you arrive.

If you are driving to Orlando, bring a cooler or stop at the grocery store on your way into town and pick up some meals and snacks for the trip.

You can also use a service called the Garden Grocer which will deliver groceries to your hotel. The prices are higher than a typical grocery store, but less expensive than eating all your meals out.

Character Dine for breakfast.

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There’s no way around it, character dining is expensive! But if you have your heart set on dining with the characters consider making breakfast reservations to save money. Breakfast is the cheapest option for character dining and you can make reservations for breakfast as late as 10am so it can almost be a brunch for your family for additional savings.

Bring your own water bottle, poncho, stroller, etc.

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Disney World is located in Central Florida, which means it will probably rain at some point during your vacation. Florida is known for its afternoon Thunderstorms, especially in the summer.

The good news is that these storms cool the air and usually clear out the parks. Disney sells ponchos at almost every gift shop, but you will save big if you bring your own from home.

Disney also rents single and double strollers for $15 and $31 a day. You can save a little by renting them for multiple days (the price goes down to $13 and $27 per day) but you will save the most by bringing your own stroller to the parks.

There are several local companies in Orlando that rent strollers. They drop them off and pick up at your hotel, for a little less than what Disney charges (especially if you are renting for several days). Google “stroller rental Orlando” to find the companies and compare prices.

Another way to save is to bring your own reusable water bottles with you. Florida is hot and humid and it is easy to get dehydrated! You don’t want to spend your vacation in the ER, so bring your own water bottle and fill it up at the numerous water fountains at the parks and hotels.

Also, a cup of ice water is free at Disney restaurants with your meal, so stay hydrated and save money when you dine.

Buy souvenirs before your trip.

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The toys, clothes, and trinkets at stores inside the parks and resorts are expensive. You can find similar items at Target, Walmart, and Kohl’s in your local town. Buy items before you go and give them to the kids while you are visiting the parks.

The kids can still have fun Disney themed merchandise but you will be paying about half the price.

Plan Ahead

While you won’t find tons of discounts on Disney parks and hotels, they are available. If you are a Florida resident or a member of the Armed Forces there are discounts offered throughout the year of up to 40%. Combining off season rates, with a resident discount can add up to big savings.

Just recently Disney ran a dining special, so if you are planning ahead you can take advantage of these deals.

If you are a mega fan consider getting a Disney Visa card.

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A few years ago when we were planning a Disney vacation we stumbled across the Disney Visa from Chase. Now I’m not a big fan of credit cards and have only had one credit card for years. However the Disney card has some cool benefits for Disney fans.

  • Character Meet ‘N’ Greet at our private Cardmember location*
  • 10% off select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at select locations at Walt Disney World® Resort, the Disneyland® Resort, Disney’s Beach Resort Destinations and Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawaiʻi*
  • 10% off select dining locations at Walt Disney World® Resort and the Disneyland® Resort.
  • 15% off the non-discounted price of select guided tours and recreation experiences at Walt Disney World® Resort and select guided tours at the Disneyland® Resort*
  • Cardmembers save 10% on select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at Disney Store and DisneyStore.com*
  • Earn 1% in reward dollars on card purchases*
  • Earn an additional 1% in reward dollars on card purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and most Disney locations for a total of 2% in these categories*
  • There’s no limit to the number of reward dollars you can earn

During our recent trip to Disney we saved at almost every place we shopped using our Disney Visa. There are two Disney Visa’s one has no annual fee and the premiere card charges a $49 fee. You’ll need to thoroughly compare the two cards to find what is best for your family.

Explore Central Florida while you are here.

If you have time to get away for a week or more, consider spending three or four days at Disney and then exploring other parts of Central Florida.

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The beach is less than an hour away, there are numerous springs, lakes and rivers to explore, we have a fun downtown area, Legoland, Universal Studios, Sea World, Gatorland, the Space Center, professional sports teams, and tons of free or very cheap activities on the weekend throughout the area.

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If you aren’t planning an Orlando vacation this year, there’s still additional ways to save in your local area!

Check out all the staycation ideas for the cities below.

A – D

Phoenix, Arizona — Saving For Someday
Fresno, California — Living A Frugal Life
Orange County, California — More With Less Today
San Diego, California — Southern Cali Saver
Denver, Colorado — Bargain Blessings
Washington, District of Columbia — Kidventurous

F – I

Disney World, Florida — The Happy Housewife
Jacksonville, Florida — Saving The Family Money
Orlando, Florida — Coupon Mamacita
St Augustine, Florida — Simply St. Augustine
Tallahasse, Florida — SwagGrabber
Tampa Bay, Florida — LaToyaEdwards.net
Atlanta, Georgia — Pretty Frugal Diva
Dahlonega, Georgia — Kathys Cluttered Mind
Savannah, Georgia — This Mommy Saves Money
Aurora/Chicago, Illinois — A Savings WOW!
Chicago, Illinois — Entertaining Chicago
Indianapolis, Indiana — Chaos Is Bliss

K – P

Lexington, Kentucky — Homeschool Village
Louisville, Kentucky — The Kennedy Adventures
Northern Kentucky, Kentucky — Simply Sherryl
Carroll County, Maryland — Looking at life CreativLEI
Boston, Massachusetts — Maven of Savin
Battle Creek, Michigan — Pichea Place
Grand Rapids, Michigan — Give Me Neither
Metro Detroit, Michigan — Saving Dollars and Sense
Kansas City Area, Missouri/Kansas — Redefined Mom
Omaha, Nebraska — Family Fun in Omaha
Central, New Jersey — Our Good Life
Cincinnati, Ohio — Adventure Mom
Cleveland, Ohio — Kosher on a Budget
Columbus, Ohio — Cleverly Simple
Dayton, Ohio — Savings Lifestyle
Mansfield & Richland County, Ohio — The Traveling Praters
Miami County, Ohio — Something 2 Offer
Northeast, Ohio — Sisters Shopping on a Shoestring
Portland, Oregon — Frugal Living NW
Harrisburg/Central, PA — Family Balance Sheet
Erie, Pennsylvania — Growing Kids Ministry
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — Moms Need To Know
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — The Coupon High

R – W

Arlington, Texas — Grocery Shop For FREE
Fort Worth, Texas — Coupons and Freebies Mom
Houston, Texas — Melissa’s Bargains
Katy, Texas — Moms Confession
San Antonio, Texas — How to Homeschool My Child
Tyler, Texas — iLoveMy5Kids
Charlottesville, Virgina — How to Have it All
Norfolk, Virgina — The Talking Suitcase
Richmond, Virgina — Vacation Maybe
Seattle, Washington — Thrifty NW Mom
Tacoma/South Puget Sound, Washington — Queen Bee Coupons
Oshkosh, Wisconsin — A Little Bit of This and That

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.