Thursday, April 23, 2015

Five Easy Ways to Keep College Costs Down!

College costs are quadrupling every year, maybe even twice a year! I may be exaggerating but not really. You hear it in the news constantly that tuition is going up to attend college! Who has extra dough laying around when this happens? I sure don't! Here are five easy ways to keep college costs down!

  • If your kid is still in high school, encourage them to take those Advanced Placement (AP) courses and even enroll in the local community college concurrently or take classes over the summer following 11th and 12th grade.  They can get a head start in earning credits needed for that college degree.  The costs for a class at the community college are substantially lower than the university and the cost for an Advanced Placement test is an exceptional value if your kid passes with a high enough score! I have personally known kids who finished college in three years because of their AP credits and community college credits.
  • As a parent of a college kid, you will be purchasing a laptop, printer, or tablet and maybe all three! Buy the warranty and buy from a chain store with a location near your kid!  Spend the extra $20 in case something goes wrong, and your kid can go to the nearest store and get the problem taken care of.  In most cases, the store can look up your account and verify that a warranty has been purchased. Save your receipts too, because if the cost is high enough you may be able to claim an item on your insurance if it is stolen.
  • Once your kid has declared a major, encourage them to join a study group preferably with students who are ahead of them.  This gives your child three advantages:  
           1) Your kid will receive invaluable advice/insight from their older friends on everything from which                  classes to take to which professors would be most suited to them.
           2) Instant tutors are now available to help them understand the material.
           3)These friends can pass down their notes, study guides, and most importantly BOOKS to your                       child. 
  • Another money saving strategy is, if your kid chooses to live with roommates, they can take turns purchasing the basic needs such as toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags, anything that all the roommates use and share the cost. Everyone benefits but you only pay once in awhile.  
  • Finally, have your kid barter their services. Yes, back to the old trade and barter system. Every kid has something to negotiate with. Maybe your kid has the transportation and doesn't like to cook. In exchange for rides, your child gets home-cooked meals. Or maybe your kid is the one who does like to cook, everyone chips in a standard amount of $$  and he/she cooks 2-3 meals for the week and your kid doesn't pay anything.  Sounds like a win-win situation to me.
These were Five Easy Ways to Keep College Costs Down! I hope they help! Have a suggestion? Please share in the comments below!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Let's go to the Expo! The 2015 San Diego Kids Expo!

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San Diego is such a family friendly city, with our sunshine, beaches, and places like the Zoo, Sea World, Legoland, Balboa Park, there's always something to see and do. An event happening the last weekend in April that might be your next place to make a family memory is the 2015 San Diego Kids Expo at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
Displaying Kidsfest 1.jpg150 local and national companies will have exhibits to show parents products that make your child's life better. These include cooking demonstrations, sports and fitness products, learning devices, safety products, health and nutrition, horticulture and natural products, activity equipment, summer camps, and more.  There will be a Baby Zone featuring story time, parachute fun, and even a Diaper Derby! The Kids Zone area will feature a zipline, euro trampoline bungee, a rock wall and even laser tag! Cheerleading, karate, modeling and soccer demos will take place and kids can make and take an item at the Home Depot Kids Workshop!  The Expo will also feature live bands, and special appearances by characters. NEW this year is the GyroXtreme a new ride designed for two riders and is just like the ones used by NASA for astronaut training. Face painting, remote control cars, and 2 electric trains will have the kids busy doing fun interactive activities all weekend.  Also NEW this year is an outside venue called Playland that is set up just for the littler kids 2 – 10 years of age. Among other activities, Playland will have mini laser tag, carnival games and the bubble suits. The best part of Playland is that everything inside is FREE with only $5 admission per child. And when you need a break from all the festivity, take a breather in the Mommy and Daddy lounge to recharge! The Expo will begin 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., both Saturday, April 25 and Sunday, April 26. Tickets, available at the door, are $8 for adults and children 12 and under get in for free! The new Playland tickets are $5 per child for unlimited use. For more information on the event, visit the website

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I have a family pack to give away to one family which includes two adult tickets and unlimited kids under 12 valid for either day of the Expo (parking fee and extra attractions are not included).  All you have to do is leave me a comment as to what you are excited to see at the San Diego Kids Expo and I'll pick a winner by the end of the week!  Hope to see you there!

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post for San Diego Kids Expo. Complimentary tickets were provided. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

7 Tips for Easy Back to School Mornings!

I remember the days when my husband worked night shift and after teaching all day, I had the second shift at home alone.  Those were some of the most stressful times in my life. There were mornings where kids didn't know what clothes to put on, socks couldn't be found, homework also was lost, and I was saying to myself, "Where are the car keys?!" Murphy's Law was in full effect!  And when a morning starts out like this, tempers flare and can seriously affect the mood you are in when you arrive to school or work.  I utilized a few strategies to help avoid morning meltdowns for me and the girls and although the girls are in college now, I still have a fourth grader so I use these strategies up to this day.

Here are my tips!

1) All stuff needed for the next day is located on a table right by the front door and  is ready to grab and go. This includes keys, sunglasses, school items, work items, purse, and even a pile of clean socks sits on the table near the door.  Everyone knows this table is home base for all things!

2) School and work outfits are selected on Sunday and lined up in the closet for the week ahead.

3) Jackets are also hung on the base of my stair handrail, also near the front door. The routine for my son is to put socks/shoes on right when he comes downstairs while sitting on the bottom stair step and then put on the jacket on right after.

4) Lunch items (ones that don't need refrigeration) are parceled out into ziplock bags on Sunday and put into a basket on the counter. This makes for easy lunch packing the rest of the week. Capri suns are kept frozen so when it's lunch time, its kinda like a slushie, that's how my son likes it. You do have to remember to add this to the kid's lunch bag in the morning.

5) Breakfast is made the night before and only needs reheating. I usually heat up breakfast while my son is putting on his shoes and socks.

6) Baths/showers are taken at night,  keeping things simple and on schedule in the morning.

7) When we come home, all items go back on the table, shoes come off near the door, jacket is hung, and empty lunch bag is ready to be packed for the next day.

These are 7 ways that I avoid morning meltdowns!  Have one to share? Please leave a comment below.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Ototo Sushi Co.- Food Makes Friends!

This place had a wait of 30 minutes on a Thursday night! What the heck? I totally planned for me and my friend, Cynthia,  to walk in, try this Japanese joint and then head over to 85C for some dessert! Once I took a look at the menu though, I realized why this place was packed, the sushi is very affordable!!  The prices ranged from $3.50- $8.50 even for rolls that would be considered "specialty rolls" elsewhere.
For a place that hasn't been opened very long, it seems like they worked out all the kinks.  Service was good, and everything looked pretty that was coming out of the kitchen and I noticed good sized rolls and a hamachi collar that passed by too! Some places don't even serve that! They didn't seem to skimp on the fish or garnishes on the rolls and not too much rice either! I don't like it when there's a lot of rice on my sushi rolls.
We got seated in a corner table for two which I didn't mind, but Cynthia and I are both about 5'1" so we had to kind of hop onto the chair and her onto the bench.  I was swinging my legs like a little kid off and on throughout our dinner.  I couldn't help it, I couldn't touch the ground! If you are also vertically challenged, be careful when you come off your seat. Don't want to tumble down now, I almost did! It was that high!
For appetizers, we ordered tempura (yummy crunchy shrimp, sweet potato, carrot, and broccolli), kamikaze fries and I got a miso soup that was included with my dinner entree. These were $4 and $3.75. The tempura and fries were pretty good, but its hard to mess up fried food.  We also tried the Rincon roll  which was tasty and $8. Cynthia ordered the red tonkatsu ramen, $9.50, she said the broth was a little too spicy for her taste but it came with the whole nine - pork slices and a whole egg cut in half floating on top, etc...some place only give you half an egg! This was a huge bowl of noodles too! Point scored! I got the mahi mahi dinner which came with the miso soup, salad, rice, and two and half pieces of the biggest fillets I've ever been served for dinner - for $10!  My dessert and drink at 85C across the parking lot I think cost more!!  Another point scored! To tell you the truth, Cynthia and I have dinner once a year for our birthdays so I was too engrossed in our conversation to really concentrate on the food. The price of all that food was really unbelievable, so I give that two thumbs up. I'm bringing the hubs next time to savor the sushi, have my son try the ramen (not this spicy one though) and hopefully upgrade my star rating for Ototo Sushi Co.! Oh and the bill comes in these cute little notebooks that you can write comments in and read what others have written, like the chance to automatically yelp when you pay!  Tip: Don't wait until after dinner to buy your goodies at 85C, slim pickings by the time we got over there. Put your name on the list for Ototo and then go grab your baked goods while you wait!
Kamikazi fries, tempura appetizer, and Rincon sushi roll
Red Tonkatsu Ramen
Mahi Mahi Dinner-they practically gave me the whole fish, maybe two!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Don't Miss Out on YOUR Birthday Month Freebies!

Live it up during your birthday month with these freebies in San Diego! 

It's my birthday month so I thought I would share these freebies offered to me! Most freebies are sent to your email address so you do need to join their member clubs, which is also free! And most freebies are good to use during your entire birthday month, but check expiration dates because some are good even a week into the next month.

Free Food!
  1. Benihana's - Buy one lunch or dinner entree and get $30 off on your next visit. Kids get a free Kabuki ceramic drink holder that makes a great souvenir!
  2. Red Robin - Free Birthday burger. Kids also get a free kid's meal!
  3. Rubio's - Free entree with the purchase of a drink!
  4. Buffalo Wild Wings - Free snack size wings!
  5. Shakey's - Free pizza buffet with purchase of beverage!
  6. AMC - Free large drink!
  7. Boudin Bakery/Boudin SF - Free cookie!
  8. Boat House Restaurant - Free prime rib entree on designated monthly birthday night identified by the restaurant.
  9. Starbucks - Free drink or food item!
  10. Denny's- Free breakfast meal on your actual birthday!
  11. Panera Bread - Free birthday pastry!
  12. Hometown Buffet - BOGO dinner buffet!
  13. Barona Casino - Free buffet for you and a guest and Freeplay (I got $10, but based on your play)!
  14. Sycuan Casino - Free buffet for you and a guest and $20 Birthday Freeplay (again could be more, based on your past play)!
  15. Nothing Bundt Cake - Free bundlet!
  16. BR 31 - Free 2.5 scoop or 3 oz soft serve!
  17. IHOP - Free Rooty Tooty pancakes!
  18. Nuyo - Free 3 oz yogurt
  19. Goldilocks - Free Halo Halo!
Other Freebies!
  1. Viejas Casino- Fireworks and cake reception on a designated monthly birthday night, $10 Freeplay and Free Bingo Package !
  2. Sephora - Free Birthday Gift! I got two NARS pencil lipsticks, which I love!
  3. Southwest Airlines - Promo code for $50 off vacation package.
  4. Kohls - $10 Kohls Cash!
  5. Macys - In the past I got a $10 off a $30 purchase and a free brow waxing at one of their counters! I didn't do it though, my skin is sensitive. This year I received a $10 off promotional card.
  6. Michael's - 20% off entire purchase, including sale items!
  7. Brunswick Bowling - Two free games, just pay shoe rental!
  8. Hollywood Jamul Casino - Birthday package - sunglasses, beads, t-shirt, cupcake and $20 dining offer.
  9. Local Hallmark Shop - Save $5 on a purchase of $25 or more or Save $2 on a purchase of $10 or more.
  10. Sunglass Hut at Macy's - $20 Off a purchase of $100 or more or $50 off a purchase of $200 or more.
Ceramic Ninja Cup from Benihana!
Know of any more Birthday Freebies? Please share by commenting below!!

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