5/24/16

Weekly Giveaway Linky - Wednesday Wealth (May 25 - 31)



Upromise MasterCard® Benefits for Parents of Future (and current) College Students

Disclosure: Please note that I was compensated by Upromise for the content in this post.
However, all opinions expressed below are my own, based on my personal experience with Upromise.
As a college graduate, married to a college graduate, and parent to three children who went to college, I know all too well the great expense of earning a higher education. Even with scholarships, grants, and loans, there are still more out-of-pocket costs, both planned and unplanned. My husband and I are still trying to pay off our own student loans! The Upromise MasterCard® is perfect for the parents of future and current college students looking to boost college savings or pay down an existing student loan. It means more cash back to help students and parents reach their savings goals.
According to the new study from Sallie Mae and Ipsos, “Majoring in Money: HowAmerican College Students Manage Their Finances” 68 percent of college students said their parents influenced their decision on which great card to get first. The Upromise MasterCard® is the perfect card for parents to use regularly and not only build credit, but also cash back rewards. The potential to earn cash back for your child’s college fund or student loan(s) is not only smart for you, but a great lesson to teach your child! The card offers significant cash back options, with up to 10 percent cash back for college!
Parents can easily put their cash back toward saving for college or paying down an existing eligible student loan. You can earn up to five percent back through Upromise by Sallie Mae, when you shop at more than 850 online retail partners at Upromise.com, dine at more than 10,000 Upromise participating restaurants, and book travel at major travel sites via Upromise.com, and an additional five percent from using the Upromise MasterCard®, plus you can also earn two percent cash back when using the Upromise MasterCard® for in-store shopping at major department stores and at movie theaters. All other purchases with the card are eligible for one percent cash back. New cardmembers can also earn a one-time special offer of $50 cash-back bonus after making a purchase, cash advance transaction, or balance transfer within 90 days of opening an account.
The cash back earned on everyday purchases can be invested in an eligible 529 college savings plan, used to help pay down an eligible student loan, transferred into an FDIC-insured Upromise GoalSaver account, or withdrawn by check. Upromise GoalSaver is a free online savings account that lets families save toward a specific goal, or even multiple goals all in one place. With Upromise GoalSaver, students and families see and track their progress. Unlike other credit cards that offer points that expire or you may simply never redeem, the Upromise MasterCard® means cash back. There are no limits to how much cash back you can earn, no expirations, no annual fees, and no rotating cash-back categories. In addition, you’ll stay on top of your credit with free access to your FICO® Credit Score, and enjoy $0 fraud liability on unauthorized transactions. Cardmembers also receive special cash back offers via email.
When you open the Upromise MasterCard®, you’re automatically enrolled in Upromise by Sallie Mae, a program that allows families to earn cash back on everyday purchases. With more than 850 online retail partners, more than 10,000 restaurants, and multiple major travel sites, chances are most families are already shopping, dining, or booking travel through a Upromise partner. So it makes sense to earn cash back and start boosting savings on purchases from major retailers travel sites like Travelocity, Hotels.com, and Expedia. What’s more, by applying for the Upromise MasterCard® - issued by Barclaycard - students and families can take saving for college and other financial goals to the next level. Upromise by Sallie Mae members can earn higher cash-back rewards and grow their college savings more quickly with the Upromise MasterCard®. Last year, cardmembers earned $42 million in cash back rewards.
Get your Upromise MasterCard® today!

5/23/16

My Next Adventure: Hawaii #travel #travelblogger

Aloha! I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am about my next adventure. I visited Hawaii some 27 years ago and it was the most beautiful place I'd ever seen. I've been trying to get back there ever since. In just one short week, I'll be headed back to Hawaii and this time I get to explore the island of Oahu with my husband. He has two weeks of vacation time and we're going to see and do as much as we possibly can.

Our flight leaves very early on Monday morning, with a plane change in Los Angeles, before landing in Honolulu. We'll be staying at hotels in the Waikiki area, so we'll be very close to the beach. I've packed three swimsuits and two pair of flip-flops -- beach time is always on my list! We also want to do the Pearl Harbor Tour. I want to try snorkeling and Johnny is looking forward to the waterfalls. I hope to see dolphins, whales, and sea turtles. Oh, and I can't wait to see those beautiful Hawaiian sunsets!

I guess, in a way, this is our honeymoon trip. When we got married in 2001, we already had three kids, ages 9 and 4, so we only spent one night in a hotel in downtown Austin. I am beyond excited to visit Hawaii again, and am so happy I get to share it with my husband. He's never been to Hawaii and it's been a long time since I've been there, so this is going to be such an adventure!

If you would like to follow along on my trip, I'll be posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as sharing through blog posts. You can make sure you are following my accounts by clicking on my social media buttons on the left-hand side of my blog.

5/17/16

Weekly Giveaway Linky - Wednesday Wealth (May 18 - 24)



We Sold Our House Before We Even Listed with Watters International

This post is NOT sponsored or paid for in any way; just a personal recommendation!
You may have noticed I haven't been online much the past few weeks. We have been very busy selling our home. The real estate market in the Austin area is simply booming right now and we were ready for a change. We'd seen the advertisements about a realtor named Chris Watters, who guarantees he will sell your home or buy it himself, so we contacted them to set up an appointment to chat about listing our house. Michael Dixon, one of the realtors from Watters International, came out to our home, explained their procedures to sell homes, and we were impressed enough to hire him. The next day, a "coming soon" sign was posted in the yard, and an appointment was scheduled for our home to be photographed. The pictures in this post are just a few of the beautiful ones their professional photographer shot.
We had about two weeks until our listing was going to go on the market, so it was time to start sorting out things to toss, to donate, to sell, and to pack for the move. We went through one room at a time, listing items for sale on craigslist, in facebook garage sale groups, and on the nextdoor neighborhood app. The house was a mess for several weeks, with piles of stuff everywhere, waiting for buyers to come pick up what they were buying. We even had a tools-only garage sale one weekend so Johnny could minimize what was in the garage.
As I started selling off the extra stuff, I noticed how good it felt to be creating space. As more and more seldom-used items left my house, I felt this huge sense of relief, to no longer be burdened down by all the material possessions I've apparently collected over my many years. I was also meeting some wonderful new friends, through the local garage sale group on Facebook, and many of the same people came out week after week to pick up what they bought from my online sales. When it finally came down to moving day, there wasn't much to move at all, and it was a fabulous feeling. 
Just a few days after the "coming soon" sign was posted in our yard, my husband and I were relaxing in our recliners, watching some evening television, and enjoying some Blue Bell ice cream straight out of the carton, when we heard a knock upon the door. I opened it to find a real estate agent and a lovely older couple, asking if they could walk through the house. I explained that it wasn't yet clean for showings and that it wasn't exactly on the market yet, but told her if they wanted to see it, we were okay with that. They were in and out in less than ten minutes.
First thing the next morning, they had an offer on our realtor's desk. They loved the house so much that they didn't even want to wait for us to list it on the MLS. They even offered us a bit more than we were originally going to list it at, so we decided it was too good of an offer to pass up. Yes, Watters International sold our house before we even listed it! We were happy, the buyers were happy, what could possibly go wrong? Given my past real estate transaction experiences, I know that anything and everything can go wrong, and it usually does. 
Then followed inspection, appraisal, and then the signing of the closing papers, all within 30 days, and on exactly the date we agreed upon in the beginning. It was amazingly easy, virtually stress-free, and the most pleasant real estate transaction of my entire life. If you are buying or selling in the Austin area, I highly recommend the Chris Watters' team of real estate professionals. Our realtor, Michael Dixon, was great, and his assistant, Tammy Spracklen, is THE most organized, most knowledgeable, most patient, and most friendly real estate professional I've ever met. The title company, Mint Title, was also fantastic to work with, in every aspect of closing. Buying or selling your home in central Texas? Start HERE
Stay tuned to see what's next for us!

5/9/16

Giveaway! Driver's Little Helper

Welcome to the Hello Baby Giveaway Hop hosted by Karen’s Got Mail! I have teamed up with a fantastic group of bloggers to share some awesome giveaways with our readers. Be sure to hop around to the participating blogs listed below and enter some fabulous giveaways, all of which are worth a minimum of $25!

I'm giving away a
Driver's Little Helper
ARV $79.99
Driver's Little Helper is a baby monitor that prevents child car death. You think it could never happen to you! But it happens to good parents far too often, it is incomprehensible and heartbreaking. A child is left in a hot car and found dead of heat stroke. A child is unrestrained and gets killed in a car accident. A fatal mistake by an otherwise loving parent getting distracted, upset, or confused by a change in the daily routine. Every day a child dies in a car. The developers of a new high tech child car seat monitor, Driver’s Little Helper, are on a mission to stop these accidents from happening. On average over 37 children die of vehicular heatstroke each year.

Who is more likely to leave a child behind in a car?
Just about anyone can. 

According to the Dept. of Meteorology and Climate Science, between 1998 and 2014 of the 636 infants and children who died, 34% were forgotten by fathers, 29% by mothers, 10% by both parents, 4% by Grandmothers and 5% by female and male caregivers. Pulitzer Prize winner Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post wrote a compelling article on this topic, Fatal Distractions, and he reports “The wealthy do, it turns out. And the poor, and the middle class. Parents of all ages and ethnicities do it. Mothers are just as likely to do it as fathers. It happens to the chronically absent-minded and to the fanatically organized, to the college-educated and to the marginally literate. In the last 10 years, it has happened to a dentist. A postal clerk. A social worker. A police officer. An accountant. A soldier. A paralegal. An electrician. A Protestant clergyman. A rabbinical student. A nurse. A construction worker. An assistant principal. It happened to a mental health counselor, a college professor and a pizza chef. It happened to a pediatrician. It happened to a rocket scientist.”

A real solution is a car seat monitor that prevents accidents from happening. One that works with any car seat and is affordable. Bob Steffen is the developer of Driver’s Little Helper and father of three from St. Louis, MO. When Bob’s son wiggled out of his car seat as a toddler, Bob recognized the dangers. He worked with a Ford engineer to perfect the design. And after eight years of design and development, Bob got his first patent. He found a manufacturer and went to market. And today there is a smartphone-enabled car seat alert system called Driver’s Little Helper, available to parents who cares enough about safety and preventing accidents from happening.

Just recently Driver’s Little Helper was awarded the Mom’s Choice Award, honoring excellence in family-friendly media, products and service. “This is a proactive monitor,” says Steffen. “It’s not like a smoke detector. We don’t wait for the fire. We let you know beforehand that something could go wrong, so you have time to adjust and keep your kids safe.”

Driver’s Little Helper is the only product on the market that monitors three important events: it alerts parents and caregivers if the temperature inside the car is too hot or cold, when a child leaves the car seat, and if a child is left behind in the seat after the vehicle has stopped moving.

The bundle, which includes the sensor pad, a battery pack, app information and an instructional booklet, retails for $79.99 and is available today at DriversLittleHelper.com, Amazon.com and Sears.com.

Enter to win Driver's Little Helper!
To enter, just fill in the giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents, ages 18 and up. Giveaway ends on 5/24/16. Good luck!

Enter my other giveaways HERE!
Follow me on Facebook HERE!

5/8/16

Giveaway! 40-Count K-Cups Variety Sampler Pack

Welcome to the
April Showers Bring May Flowers
Giveaway Hop
Hosted by LeahSay's Views
May 9-23

Each blogger on the list below is hosting a giveaway
worth at least $25 and you can enter them all. 

I'm giving away a
40-count Variety Sampler Pack of K-Cups
ARV $28.00
To enter, just fill in the giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents, ages 18 and up. Giveaway ends on 5/23/16. Good luck!

Enter my other giveaways HERE.
Follow me on Facebook HERE.

5/6/16

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

You gave me breath, and I know you often wanted to choke it out of me.

You gave me rules, and loved me even when I broke them.

You taught me to walk, and let me come home after I ran away.

You dragged me to church, and made sure I knew the real meaning of unconditional love.

You let me yell, scream, and pout my way through my first 18 years, and stood by me.

You were my rock, as I struggled to become an adult and a mom.

You have never failed me, even when I failed you.

The words "thank you" seem so lame in comparison to what you've done for me.

But, thank you.

Happy Mother's Day!

All my love,
Lisa

5/3/16

Evolution of a Wanderer's Soul #travel

Dead Sea, Israel
I have always had a wanderer's soul. As a child, I did quite a lot of domestic travel with my family. My parents loaded up the four of us girls into our station wagon to journey from our home in Missouri to Florida, Michigan, and many of the states east of the Mississippi. We usually camped, first in a large tent, then a pop-up trailer, and finally in an RV trailer. When I reached the rebellious age of 17, I hitch-hiked from Missouri to California and back -- okay, in reality I was running away from home and then realized my stupid mistake, but it still counts as travel.
Island of Nevis
As a young adult, I was offered the opportunity to go to Hawaii and stay with a friend for six weeks, so I took a leave of absence from my job as a hotel desk clerk, and spent the time exploring the island of Oahu. It was incredibly difficult to leave the beautiful island and go back to a minimum-wage job in Missouri. While sitting on the plane during the return flight, I vowed that I would someday see the world. I enrolled in college to get a degree that would allow me to be a fashion buyer so I could travel to markets Milan, Paris, and London.
Angel Canyon, Utah
Shortly thereafter, I became a parent and I put all my dreams of world travel aside to raise my kids. My husband, the kids, and I have taken a few trips to visit family over the years, and I've won a few amazing trips through sweepstakes, but it hasn't been the travel lifestyle that has always tugged at my soul. The kids were raised in Texas, where I finished my college degrees, and now they are all grown adults. When I started my blog in 2011, I never dreamed I'd have the opportunity to visit wonderful places across the globe and write about my experiences. I have been so incredibly blessed to travel to Israel, Nevis, Mexico, New York, Utah, North Carolina, and many other places I'd never seen.
Cozumel, Mexico
Yet, as I sit here writing at home, I'm still dreaming of traveling. I scour websites for travel stories, watch travel shows on television, and take virtual trips through online interactive maps. There is great difference between living and existing. For me, now, living is experiencing all that this amazing planet has to offer. As I've gotten older, I have realized I've probably lived more than half of my life and I feel an urgency to live with more enthusiasm. I've successfully raised my kids to adulthood and the only responsibility I have now is to finish my life with a story that will engage, encourage, and inspire others. I am not slowing down, I'm just getting started.
New York City, New York
You can read some of my travel stories HERE. And stay tuned, because I'm ready to live and there is so much to see!

4/30/16

Giveaway! Two Children's Picture Books by Lisa Weidknecht

Welcome to the
Children's Book Week Giveaway Hop
Hosted by BookHounds
May 1-8, 2016

I can't think of a better time to give away
the children's books that I wrote!

After you enter my giveaway, hop around the blogger list below
and enter to win prizes on every blog!

FOUR WINNERS
will win a copy of both
"Raindrop Dream"
and
"E is for Emotions"
by Lisa Weidknecht
Raindrop Dream is a story that teaches perseverance and determination. Readers will also learn concepts about weather, seasons, and the water cycle. Most importantly, children will be inspired to dream big and follow their dreams. ARV $16.99
Buy it HERE!
"E is for Emotions" will help your young child learn to recognize the multitude of feelings he or she experiences. Through the use of rhymes, one for each letter of the alphabet, this book helps to develop children's social and emotional skills. The story is told from a child's point of view and an example is given for each emotion. Sure to be a favorite alphabet book! ARV $21.99
Buy it HERE!

FOUR WINNERS will each win a copy of both books!
To enter, just fill in the giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents, ages 18 and up. Giveaway ends on 5/8/2016. Good luck!

Enter my other giveaways HERE.
Follow me on Facebook and Twitter.