Winner, Winner – That’s Me!

I won a Disney Vacation!  Yes, you read that correctly – I won a 3 night vacation in a Disney Resort Hotel and park tickets for 4 people through a contest sponsored by Family Finds Fun and Friends.

Disney Vacation - I won

Have you ever noticed contests online but didn’t enter because you figured you wouldn’t win?  Well, I’m proof that people do win those contests.

Way back in June, I entered several travel contests.   I completed the entry form and even forgot I had entered.   When I did think about them, I thought I hadn’t heard from anyone so I assumed I didn’t win.

And then one day, I got an email…”Do you remember entering a Disney Contest?   You are the winner of a Disney Vacation!”

Now how about that?  At first, I wasn’t sure if it was a joke or if it was true.  Then the person asked me to verify my entry with a copy of the comment I made on Facebook when I entered.   Once I provided the proof, I was confirmed as the winner of the vacation.

Winner

Now the interesting part of the story. There were over 17,000 entries and I was NOT the first person selected to win.  In fact, I think I was number 5 or 7.  When they notified people about winning they had 48 hours to respond.  Some people never responded even after a week.   Others just didn’t verify their entry.  So those people forfeited their trip.

I was quick to respond.  Who doesn’t want a free Disney vacation???

My family had visited Disney in July of this year, and I knew the week in Dec. when the trip was planned was around finals for my son at college.  So when I won, I decided to bless some other special people in my life and take my mom, sister, and aunt with me on the trip.    We are making it a girl’s trip!  My mother and aunt have never seen Disney decorated for Christmas.  They are in for a beautiful surprise.

We leave tomorrow.

The trip did not include airfare, but I found an incredibly great deal on airline tickets out of Latrobe to Orlando on Spirit.   I had flown out of there before and it is an easy drive and free parking, so it was a win.

Our vacation includes staying at Disney’s Old Key West Resort.

Old Key West Resort

We will be visiting the Magic Kingdom, Disney Springs, and either Epcot or Hollywood Studios.

Disney Tickets

We will be posting on social media so feel free to follow along on our trip via Facebook or Instagram.

So the moral of this story is…

  1.  Don’t be afraid to enter online contests.   They do pick a winner and that winner could be YOU!
  2. Check your email on a regular basis, so you don’t miss a winning message.
  3. Respond when they announce the winner.  Don’t let a fantastic trip slip through your fingers.

Going to go pack my suitcase now using my Disney Packing List!

Thank you to Maggie Miller at Family Finds Fun and all her friends who sponsored the Disney Vacation contest.  We can’t wait to get to Disney!

Going to go pack my suitcase now using my Disney Packing List!

 

The Best Educational Gifts for Kids

Education is important for all children and at the top of the parenting list. Many parents wonder how to make education fun and interesting for their kids. That’s where educational games and toys come in.

Educational Gifts for Kids

The Best Educational Gifts for Kids

Educational games and toys make perfect gifts for children. Not only do they give kids something to play with, but also give them the advantages of learning. Here are the best educational gifts for kids!

Suspend:

Suspend is a game of balance, created by Melissa & Doug. In this game, for 1 – 4 children, kids attempt to balance metal rods and not make the whole tower fall over!

This is a great game to teach visual-spatial skills while giving kids a challenge that will keep them interested for a long time to come. Get everyone involved and support learning with family time.

Scientific Explorer Tasty Science Kit:

Cooking and baking are entirely science and are wonderful ways to teach about basic science skills. This kit comes with everything needed to make several tasty treats, while helpfully explaining why things happen. Why does soda fizz? Why does a cake rise? These questions, and much more are answered!

Hide & Seek Geocache:

Hide and seek geocacheWe have all heard of geocaching. It’s like a huge scavenger hunt for the whole family! Hide & Seek Geocaching comes with a Geomate Jr GPS device and a box to leave your very own geocache for others to find.

Geocaching teaches kids navigation and orientation skills, plus it gets them outside and walking around.

SpinAgain:

This is a stacking toy for toddlers that is different from all the rest. When you stack, the colorful gears spin to the bottom and stack up to the top.

After all the gears are stacked, kids flip the whole tower over and watch all of the gears spin off! Sounds like fun to me! This is a great toy for toddlers, to teach cause and effect.

Perplexus:

Perplexus is for the puzzle-loving kids out there, who like one heck of a challenge. You have to guide a steel ball through all sorts of obstacles and pathways. The catch? All of these obstacles are contained in a large plastic ball!

There are two versions of Perplexus – Original, and Epic, so the fun will never end. This is a great puzzle toy for teaching kids strategy and problem-solving skills.

Educational Insights My First Microscope:

All children love to see their world in new ways. My First Microscope can give your kid a new way to look at all things very close up!

What does the yellow center of a flower look like? Simply have children place the flower on the viewing tray, and let them look away with magnification that goes up to 8x normal eyesight and a LED light! My First Microscope is a great way to introduce basic science and investigation skills to young children.

Educational toys and games are a really fun way to spark interest. They are best gifts for kids because educational games and toys can create a lifelong love of learning in new and interesting ways. Learn and play on!

 

What to Buy Before Thanksgiving Week

If you are like me, you procrastinate what you need to do until the very last second. This means you wait until the week before Thanksgiving to do all your Thanksgiving shopping.

What to Buy before thanksgiving

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What to Buy Before Thanksgiving Week

Well, I am here to tell you that even though many stores mail out their ads for huge sales that week, it pays to shop for Thanksgiving dinner well in advance. You may still need to get items Thanksgiving week, but it is a quick in and out process. Here’s what to buy before the week of Thanksgiving:

Turkeys

The week before Thanksgiving, turkey may sound like it’s on sale. All the ads say they are having a sale. If you buy your turkey in September or October, you can get your turkey for as little as $10 instead of the outrageous $30. Buy your turkey a month or two before Thanksgiving and plop it in the freezer. You will be glad you did.

Ham

Some families have ham and turkey for Thanksgiving. Whether you do or not, Christmas is around the corner as well. Buy your ham a few months before Thanksgiving. Did you know you could get a nice size ham for as little as $8? Spend less and get it now.

Decorations

If you like to make your home festive for Thanksgiving, you want to buy decorations early. As it gets closer to Thanksgiving, everyone is scouring the shelves for the perfect decorations. Get out there and buy your decorations before the pickings are slim.

Canned Goods

You can stock up on corn, Yams, green beans, cranberry sauce, and any other canned good you can think of. This stuff really doesn’t go on sale, and you can get it for the same price most of the year.

Bakeware  You can’t cook a Thanksgiving dinner without all the supplies. Bakeware tends to go up in price as Thanksgiving draws near. You can get disposable bakeware at local dollar stores, or you can buy glassware from box stores near you.

Breads and Non-perishables

Rolls, macaroni, and other non-perishables.You want to get most of your shopping list done and out of the way before the week of thanksgiving. Buy as many non-perishable items as you can.

Paper and Plastic Products

Paper plates, plastic forks, and knives. Cleaning up plates and glassware can get overwhelming if you have a large family. Instead, stock up on paper and plastic to use for your Thanksgiving dinner. You can find great deals on these at party shops around your area.

The Week of Thanksgiving

Of course, you can’t get all the items you need in advance. Sometimes you forget things, things get eaten, or you have to do some last minute shopping. Here’s a list of last minute items you may have forgotten:

  1. Butter:
  2. Eggs
  3. Milk
  4. Salt
  5. Pepper
  6. French’s Fried Onions
  7. Appetizers
  8. Salad or fruit trays

Being prepared and shopping early really pays off. Often you will have a better selection and you most certainly have less stress.

What other items do you buy before Thanksgiving week? Share your Thanksgiving shopping tips in the comments below for others to benefit!

Top Christmas Presents for Amazon Shoppers

Amazon Shoppersaffiliate_disclaimerTop Christmas Presents for Amazon Shoppers

Amazon is just amazing, and if you aren’t one that likes crowds, this is the best place to shop during Christmas. No matter what kind of gift you are looking for, you can most likely find it on Amazon. However, it’s always nice to know what’s popular this year. Here’re the top Christmas presents to buy on Amazon:

Fire Kids Edition Tablet

This is a full-featured tablet with front and rear cameras. Though real, it is perfectly equipped for parents to turn it into a kid’s tablet.

Star Wars Anything

Star Wars is all the rave this year. Both kids and Star War fans alike will love the Star Wars light sabers, games, and Legos.

American Girl Doll

Girls across the country love dolls. American Girl Dolls are big enough to dress, yet small enough to take along wherever your girl goes.

Fisher Price Power Wheels

Power wheels are just as popular this year as they have been in previous years. All youngsters like to drive just like mom and dad.

A variety of models are available along with a wide range of costs. Sure to be a hit under the tree.

The New Echo Dot

Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-activated device that has a small built-in speaker. It is the perfect gift for your teen, for dad, or even for mom this Christmas.

Kindle Paperwhite E-reader

With being able to get unlimited books every month for $9.99 on Amazon, the Kindle Paperwhite E-reader makes the perfect gift for the book lovers in your family.

Call of Duty Infinite Warfare

If you want to please the gamer in your life, there is no better gift than the Call of Duty Infinite Warfare game.

Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit

With the new STEM learning in place, you can get your kids having fun learning the basics of science and chemical reactions while learning science vocabulary.

Cards Against Humanity

In a world full of serious adulating, sometimes the adults in your life need a little fun. With humor and fun, Cards Against Humanity is the perfect gift for any adult in your life.

Fisher Price Think and Learn Code-a-Pillar

Much like coding, kids connect segments to make their caterpillar go forward, backward, left, or right.

Sony PlayStation 4 Pro

The PlayStation 4 makes the perfect gift for the whole family. From watching Netflix to playing games, everyone will find something they love about it.

Disney Princess Dress Up Trunk

Playing dress up spikes creativity and encourages learning. Of course, Disney Princesses are always popular among little girls.

WowWee Chip Interactive Robot Pet Dog

This smart, affectionate, trainable robot dog is the perfect “pet” for your kids. No need to clean up dog poop.

Build-A-Bear Workshop

No need to spend countless hours in the mall waiting for your kids to make their bears. Now they can “build a bear” right at home.

Remember, Amazon participates in Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Keep an eye out to score killer deals on these 2016 Christmas presents!  Happy Shopping!

 

Credit Cards and Holiday Shopping, What You Need to Know

Due to the possibility of excessive spending, many financial experts recommend foregoing the use of credit cards for holiday spending.

Credit Cards andWhat You Need To Know

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Credit Cards and Holiday Shopping

While over-spending can be a problem, there are several reasons to consider this form of payment for gift buying purposes.

Take Advantage of Rewards

Many credit cards offer a variety of bonuses and rewards for your purchases, especially during the holiday season. These reward programs typically involve earning points or cash back based on how much you spend.

Choosing to use a credit card for your holiday purchases has the potential to give you that little bit extra you may need for the perfect gift.  A great example is Discover Card.  I plan to use the money I have earned in rewards towards restaurant gift cards.  In most cases, $45 in reward money will get you a $50 gift card so that is a great bonus.


Stay Safe From Fraud

Both credit and debit cards offer protection against fraudulent or unauthorized charges. However, credit cards are better able to keep your funds safe, in the case of theft. While fraudulent debit card purchases take funds from your account immediately, credit card charges that aren’t authorized can be contested before your funds are actually debited.

I had someone purchasing items from India on one of my cards.  Luckily my credit card company thought it was strange and contacted me.  We were able to close my account and get a new card.  I was not liable for the $500 the person had charged.

Protect Yourself Online

It’s no secret that the online shopping business is booming. It’s truly one of the most convenient ways to purchase holiday gifts. But, it’s not fool-proof. There’s always the chance of receiving the wrong or damaged products. Even worse, you may not get the item or at all. That’s where credit card protection steps in.

Depending on the seller’s return policy, it is often difficult to get a refund  using your debit card. On the other hand, all credit card purchases are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. The act protects buyers who use a credit card and don’t get the product they were promised. When this happens, many credit card issuers offer temporary credit until the issue is resolved.

Earn Extended Warranty Protection

Many expensive gifts (especially electronic devices) include an option to pay for a manufacturer’s warranty in case the item is damaged or broken.

Why pay, if you don’t have to?

Your credit card may offer its own extended warranty, at no cost, as long as you pay using the card. Typically, these extended warranties offer as much as one year of coverage after the original warranty expires.

Potential Price Protection

Finding a lower price on the gifts you just purchased can be more than a little bit frustrating. Fortunately, some credit card providers offer a price protection program in which they refund you the difference in price.

You generally need  a receipt of the original purchase, in addition to a sale ad or other proof of the reduced price. There may be a time limit in regard to how long you have to make price the protection claim. So, make sure you are familiar with the policies of your credit card company.

Added Protection

There you have it, five plausible reasons to at least consider using a credit card for holiday shopping. Doing so offers buyers an added level of protection in the event of fraud, product damage, etc.

Stay Within Your Budget

To reduce the possibility of spending more than you can afford, try this. Make a shopping budget, which includes an individual spending limit for each person on your list. If you stick to it, you probably won’t go over budget. However, you’ll still be privy to the protection credit cards provide.