Debt Free Planning: 52 week challenge

It's that time of year again.
Our main goal is to be Debt FREE and that not only means for Christmas but for every aspect of our lives. Being Debt Free is a HUGE goal and takes some planning in our lives.
I know that this 52 Challenge is all over the internet and hard to pin point who actually came up with it first but I thought that my readers would like to join me in planning for Christmas 2018.

This 52 week challenge is pretty simple, you save the dollar amount that corresponds with that week. So the week of Jan 1st you save $1,
the week of Jan 7th you deposit $2 and so on,
by the end of the year you will have $1378 in cash for anything you choose.

You can also do this challenge backwards where you save the $52 on Jan 1st and take away $1 every week. 
I like things more uniformed so I think for me I like the 52 Week Challenge EVEN plan. I will just deposit $27 in my envelope every week and by the time Christmas comes I will have $1404. 

This challenge and everything else is 100% up to you. You don't have to use these particular plan or if you feel you need more or less money at the end of the year change your weekly deposits. This is totally up to you and your families needs.

Click on any of the forms above to the printable version.

SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium in Vegas | Fun for the whole Family

Did you know that Vegas has an interactive aquarium?  I had NO idea! I was given the opportunity to go and check it out. 

The SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium is located at the Boulevard Mall in Maryland Parkway. I wasn't really sure what to think about an aquarium. We have taken the kids to zoos and aquariums before and I have to say they are a bit boring. You look at the fish, shark or animal and then move along. 

That is not what the SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium is. In fact, we were actually there for hours. We even got splashed repeatedly by this little one. This stingray wanted our attention (or food) and wanted to make sure we saw that he/she was there. 

If the stingray splashes weren't enough we also got to feed the fish, feed the birds and hold a snake. 

Did you catch that, I said "hold a snake". When I hear the word aquarium I was under the impression that we would only be seeing Aquatic animals: like Octopus, Sharks, Stingrays, Jellyfish, Eels, Dory, Nemo etc. That's not what happened. We saw so much more like Birds, Amphibians and reptiles.

The first thing that we felt is that the staff really want to be there. They know the animals and seem to want to teach everyone about them. They were friendly and helpful. 

Did you know that the color of feathers on these particular birds represent where they're from? If you are like me, you just learned something new. You're welcome! :)

Some of the animals you can feed for an additional charge. My husband liked feeding the Mandarin Duck by hand. I think he is crazy but the kids thought he was cool. 

All in all we had a great time and if you are looking for something a little different off the Vegas strip, you should give the SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium a try. 

How the Total Money Makeover Changed Our Lives!

It feels like yesterday but this journey started 9 years ago last April. I was pregnant with munchkin #2 and we finally got the van I had been saving and saving for. We had $6100 to put down on that van, which took us 2 years to save, not bad right? I was so happy to get that van because the one stroller didn't fit in my Ford Escort, I knew that a double stroller was not going to work.
Our payments were lots for us, (about twice as much as my last car loan) but we were going to make it work. We had a 5 year loan at $491.91 per month. I don't think I will ever forget that amount. About 2 weeks after we purchased the van our church handed out a book called "The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness". I read the book and knew I want to become financially free. In the book Dave talks about car loans, he says that if you cannot pay the car loan in 18 months you can't afford that car.  How do I say this.... I was SO MAD! "Are you kidding me Dave, do you know how long it took for me to save for this van!!!" I decided then that we were going to follow the baby steps of the Total Money Makeover and get ALL of our debt paid off and start saving for Financial FREEDOM!

We did everything that book said, we put a "name to all of our money". We knew where every penny is going. We took this money makeover head on.
Every extra dime we had went to pay off the van, if I used a coupon, then the value of the coupon went to toward that van. If my husband worked extra hours, it went toward that van.
With the "gazelle intensity" we were able to pay off that van ($29,000) in 12 months, on one income, with 2 babies in the house. Did you read that right? YEP 12 months $29,000 and that van is MINE!!!!  I am hooked. I can't tell you the happiness we feel every month now that we don't have a car loan.  I know that this works and we are now on a CASH ONLY budget. We are not using Credit Cards or Debit Cards.

At this point in our lives we only have the mortgage as our debt. I want to have that paid off and be truly financially free! (I mean really.... can you imagine having NO MORTGAGE?    I can't wait)

Fun Stuff in Las Vegas: SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium

Did you know that Vegas had an Aquarium? I had no idea but the kids are so excited to head over there and check it out! This is an interactive aquarium, meaning it's hands on learning for the entire family!  SeaQuest has various hands on encounters such as feeding sharks, stingrays, capybara, giant sulcata tortoises, large exotic birds species, and thousands of other creatures along the way.

Anyone in search of a more daring experience can enjoy walk-in bird aviaries, feeding caiman alligators or snorkeling in their giant snorkel tank filled with reef sharks, stingrays and hundreds of other tropical fish.

Sea Quest Interactive Aquarium also offers an exclusive private event venue which is ideal for school field trips, birthday parties, and private events. Explore, discover and learn more about the world we live in, as well as create lasting memories for the entire family and kids of all ages at SeaQuest Interactive Aquariums.

The SeaQuest Online Gift Package Sale Is ON!  @usfg

My Review: Hickies Lacing System

I can't be the only one to pick up my kids from school and look down to see this! I have to say that it's really annoying and not only because she can fall, but it's just one of the many ways I have realized I am turning into my mom. 😨

I was given an incredible opportunity to give these Hickies a try. I have to say that I have never heard of this product before but if I don't have to see shoe laces all over the place it's worth a try.
For those like me who have no idea what Hickies are, they are a lacing system is universal by design and is crafted to work with any shoe, as long as it has eyelets. You can wear them in your sneakers, work shoes, boots, and even dress shoes. 

I am so glad that these Hickies came with instructions. I am that personality that needs step by step instructions. (I know, I know).  If that's not awesome enough I found some diagrams on the website to help even more.

We were given 2 sets to try out: one bright colored kids Hickies 10pk, which match perfectly with my daughters pink shoes and a set of black Hickies 14pk. The black ones don't say kids on them so I am assuming they are adult size.

My daughter and I had a great time trying to get these Hickies on and figure out the right style. She really wanted to do it all and I was all for it. It would be bad if these were harder than I thought to put together and she couldn't do it unless I was with her.

I am happy to report that my 10 year old was able to put it all together. She did have a little bit of problems "snapping" them but we decided to make them on the loose setting except the last snap where it was regular. This way she is able to slide her feet in the shoes but they are still tight enough for her to run and jump in them. 

I wasn't sure if my son was going to want them but I was wrong. We put the black "adult" Hickies on his shoes and since we had 6 left over we were able to put them on my daughter's school shoes as well. 
We decided to use the extra tight method with these. I am not 100% if they are different sizes or just get more in a pack with the kids vs adults. I guess I should have put them side by side to tell. I can tell you that the same loose method was way too big so that's why we went with the extra tight.
They both decided to have the slip on method so they don't have to mess with the snaps. We were having so much fun taking pictures of the shoes that even our dog got in on the action.

I wasn't really sure what to think when we first received these but I am surprised and pleased at the outcome. The kids love them, shoes are staying on, I'm not having to deal with untied shoes all day. It's really a win/win situation.

Hickies is offering my readers an awesome deal of 25% off w/ code USFAM2 but hurry this deal is now thru Oct. 31st!