Category: family life

The Best Car Seats That Are Affordable

car seatsSo, you want the best car seats to keep your children safe, but you don’t want to have to spend an arm and a leg?

You’ve come to the right place.

We reviewed the best convertible car seats, the ones that can grow and change as your child ages, to get you the most for your money.

The best part? All of these are under $200.

Let’s break it down.

The 3 Best Car Seats Under $200

The most important factors to consider when shopping for car seats are:

  • safety
  • durability
  • comfort
  • and cost (in that order)

Keeping your child safe from impact, air bags, and other dangers in the car is obviously the most important factor.

Once you find a car seat that meets safety standards, you’ll want one that is going to survive spills, crumbs, crafts, and tantrums.

You’ll also need one that can keep your child comfortable enough to nap in and help them stay happy in the car.

Here are our top 3 choices:

1. The Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat

This versatile car seat can hold children from 22-50 pounds as a car seat and 40-110 pounds when converted to a booster.

This car seat is definitely safe, as it was awarded Best Bet by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

It is easy to install and transfer between vehicles because it is lightweight and comes compatible with standard LATCH systems.

The pad is comfortable and machine washable, making spills and messes no problem to clean up.

Believe it or not, this car seat and booster is super affordable: at only $80!

2. The Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Car Seat

3-in-1 car seats will cost you a little more up front, but their outstanding lasting power will save you from having to buy a new car seat every time they outgrow a weight class.

This one, however, is still super affordable at only $169.99.

It has superior side impact protection, an easy in, easy out harness system, and a machine washable pad.

This seat can start off rear facing with your newborn as small as 5 pounds. It can support rear facing seating up to 40 pounds, so you don’t have to switch to the traditional front facing until their legs outgrow it.

It can then convert to front facing and hold up to 65 pounds until you’ll eventually need to convert it into a booster.

3. Baby Trend EZ Ride 5 Travel System

This is the best jogging stroller and carseat combo. If you’re constantly on the move, this is the right car seat for you and your child.

Surprisingly, it’s only $139!

The car seat can support up to 50 pounds and has incredible versatility features to make it fit your needs.

It has a height adjustable handle, a drink and snack tray, a 5 point harness system. All this and it only weighs 36 pounds altogether.

Now You Know!

See? A great and versatile car seat can be affordable! The trick is to decide which features are most important to your lifestyle.

If you liked this post, check out some other recent highlights, like this one on cutting waste or this one on eating healthy!

Awesome Sweet 16 Party Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank

sweet 16 partyIs your daughter about to turn 16?

She might imagine stretch limos and pop stars at her party, complete with 200 of her closest friends.

You as a parent probably have a more realistic vision. You certainly want to celebrate her big day in style, but you don’t want to break the bank doing it.

Don’t worry. Planning an awesome sweet 16 party doesn’t have to cost a fortune. With a little research and creativity, you can throw a party she’ll remember forever.

Here are some tips for planning a sweet 16 party on a budget.

Prioritize

If you’re on a tight budget, a surprise party probably isn’t the way to go. A better option would be to sit down with your daughter and find out what’s most important to her.

Does she want a big guest list or just a few close friends? Would she like the party to be at home or a different venue? What type of food, music and decor does she want?

Depending on her preferences, you may be able to pick one area to splurge while saving in another. If you need help estimating costs, try downloading a free event budget template.

By talking openly about the party, you can plan an event that will thrill your daughter without draining your bank account.

Take Advantage of Technology

Back in the “good old days,” throwing a birthday party often meant hiring a professional photographer and a live DJ.

But this is 2017, and times have changed. All your daughter’s friends certainly have cell phones, and they’ll probably spend most of the night snapping selfies. Then everyone can upload their pictures to a photo-sharing site or a Cloud folder after the party.

There’s no need to spend money on a DJ, either. Have your daughter create a playlist of her favorite songs or use a streaming service like Pandora to pump music into the party.

Sweet 16 Party Invitations

In today’s age of electronics, traditional paper invitations are becoming a rare sight.

Impress your daughter (and her friends) by creating beautiful custom invitations for her sweet 16 party. Use fun scrolling fonts and bright colors to match the decor and festive spirit.

Not only will this turn the party into a proper event, but it makes a great memento for a scrapbook.

Get Crafty

For party planning on a budget, there’s no better way to save money than to roll up your sleeves and get creative.

Why order an expensive cake from the bakery when you could bake one yourself? Cupcakes are another popular, easy-to-make option.

Rather than ordering centerpieces from a florist, why not make a colorful “candy bouquet” instead? Cover a floral foam box with colorful wrapping paper and make a bouquet of lollipops and suckers. Pop it into a bright box with some tissue paper, and your centerpieces are good to go!

Party favors don’t have to break the bank, either. You could make up a batch of mint lemonade lip scrub for the girls to use during the party. Better yet, divvy it up for them to take home afterward.

With a little ingenuity, you can host an awesome sweet 16 party for your daughter. Check out my craft blogs for more great DIY ideas!

How to Buy Safe Trampolines for Kids and Toddlers

trampolines for kidsKeeping yourself and your kids entertained is not always easy. You can try crafty DIY projects and games, but everybody wants to get outside and get moving eventually. What better way to keep your kids healthy and engaged than with a trampoline?

Trampolining has been shown to have many health benefits. However, for safety purposes, buying trampolines for kids requires a little bit of research beforehand. Ready to find out what kind of trampoline is best for you and your kids? Read on!

Top Things to Keep in Mind When Buying Trampolines for Kids

Trampolines come in many shapes and sizes. There are certain things to look for when purchasing trampolines for kids. The top things to keep in mind are:

Indoors or Outdoors

There are great options for both outdoor and indoor trampolines. When deciding which is right for you, consider the average weather in your area, and also the space available in both categories.

Size

The age of your children and the intention you have for their usage of the trampoline are both important to consider when considering size.

Will they jump on a very small trampoline while inside, watching TV or listening to music? Will they want to jump with their friends or siblings on a larger trampoline outside?

The size of a trampoline is also related to its height off the ground. Since smaller trampolines are generally closer to the ground, they often work better when buying trampolines for kids, and vice versa for the larger ones.

Shape

Trampolines come in a variety of shapes, including circles, rectangles, ovals, and squares.

While you might think a square would be more spatially efficient, the circle is generally the most common. Rectangular trampolines tend to come in larger sizes and are preferred by gymnasts.

Price

Generally, the price of a trampoline goes up with the size. Circle trampolines tend to be cheaper than other models.

Looking for more ways to save? Check out these hot deals.

Ready to start scoping out trampolines for kids? Here are some trampolines for sale!

Tips for Safety

Buying trampolines are a great way to encourage fitness in a fun way, but without careful consideration, they can be a dangerous toy. Here are a few ways to minimize the safety risks of trampolining without diminishing the fun.

Include a Net

The height of a trampoline poses a safety issue, even if you were just walking on it. Add jumping to the mix, and the need for a net becomes abundantly clear.

Trampoline nets should be a minimum of six feet, with a working closure, and maintained in good condition.

Be Cautious of Size to Person Ratio

The space you’re willing to devote to a trampoline is obviously a limit to how big your purchase may be, but the size of the trampoline also limits how many people should use it at any one time.

Small trampolines pose a risk of in-air collisions. For example, any trampoline under 10 feet should be used by only one person at a time.

In contrast, a larger trampoline, like one with a 12-foot diameter, can accommodate two children at the same time.

Not Your Mama’s Baby Buggy: Stroller Style and Tech

baby buggySome people say that motherhood brings with it immeasurable joy. Some people, however, have never actually been tasked with raising infants or toddlers.

Parents still have to go about their daily activities while they lug their new bundles of joy around with them. Needless to say, completing some tasks with a baby attached to the hips is less than ideal.

Parents new and old will be happy to hear, then, that there is a baby buggy for every occasion. There is almost nothing that parents can’t do with the right baby-friendly equipment and accessories.

Traveling? Sure thing. Exercising. Yep.

Interested in finding out what types of baby buggy options are on the market today? Hold tight.

Travel Systems

Moms don’t have to stop traveling just because they have young children in tow. Life must go on, which is exactly why some families go on the hunt for the perfect travel-friendly baby buggy.

Luckily for these parents, there are several travel systems on the market. These systems usually consist of multiple pieces. Sometimes these sets come with a stroller and a few accessories whereas they come with car seats other times.

The sets which come with car seats are especially valuable to traveling families. They allow families to have both a stroller and a car seat so that their children are always safe and accommodated for when they go out of town.

Of course, parents who are traveling need more than strollers and car seats. They need to plan carefully to make sure that their babies can adapt to their schedules while on vacation. Fortunately, there are already some travel hacks that should help them make the most of their family vacations.

Car Seat Carriers

A new addition to the family can be somewhat expensive. Babies and toddlers require all sorts of specialized items to live comfortably, and some of them are costly. Strollers and car seats can be among these expensive items.

What if, though, parents chose not to buy both items? That is to say, what if they found a cheaper compromise that still kept their little ones safe?

Well, this cheaper alternative already exists, and it’s called a car seat carrier. Though technically not a stroller, a car seat carrier functions similarly to any other baby buggy. Car seats are placed on top of frames and properly secured in order to carry infants and toddlers around.

Car seat carriers also have the added benefit of allowing parents to avoid disturbing their babies while taking them out of cars. Instead of moving their children from a car seat to a stroller, they simply put their car seats on top of a frame and go.

Jogger Strollers

Once parents have children, it can be tempting to develop bad habits. Maybe they’re too busy to mind their eating habits or go and out exercise. Doing so is, however, not okay, so parents should continue leading healthy lives.

This is especially true for mothers who are no doubt going to be exhausted after delivering their babies. How, though, can mothers make time for exercise when they have babies to take care of?

Enter the jogger stroller, a baby buggy which is designed to allow parents to go for jogs with their infants or toddlers. Jogger strollers usually have two rear wheels and one front wheel to allow for smooth jogging sessions.

Despite their convenience, they’re not appropriate for children of all ages. It is not recommended to take an infant younger than six months of age on a jog. Rapid motion can have some dangerous repercussions for babies, so parents should avoid exposing them to it.

Strollers For All Terrains

Some families aren’t super adventurous, which means that most of their adventures probably take place in the backyards. While families can certainly have some summer fun in their yards, some people like braving more uncertain terrains.

Believe it or not, all-terrain strollers exist for those occasions on which families will be strolling through rougher terrains. And, yes, these rougher terrains even include mountainous regions.

Of course, many families probably won’t be navigating rocky terrains with their babies. If they do, though, that’s totally fine. They just need to make sure that they keep their infants and toddlers safe in those types of environments.

Double Strollers

Lots of people have probably heard of double strollers. They are designed for families who need to carry around two children instead of one.

Twins are obvious candidates for double strollers, but parents don’t need twins to make good use of them. If parents have two children who happen to be close in age, double strollers should work just fine for them as well.

Note that not all double strollers have the same features. Some allow moms and dads to change the direction in which their children are facing. That said, do check out some buggy reviews before purchasing a double stroller.

Strollers for Infants and Toddlers

Strollers for infants and toddlers have to be some of the best budget-friendly baby buggies on the market. Some of these are customizable, meaning parents can make small tweaks as their babies grow older. Parents get a lot more use out of them in the long run.

If parents on a budget, they can also invest in convertible strollers which fall under some of the other categories listed here as well. There are, for instance, convertible single strollers which can be turned into double strollers.

Get the Perfect Baby Buggy for Your Little Ones

As frustrating as being a parent can be, it is also full of rewards. Before those rewards can be reaped, though, parents have to learn how to keep their babies safe, baby buggy and all.

But, hey, look at the bright side. They might not have to spend as much money on their buggies if they drop by Thrifty Momma every now and then. We have giveaways and life hacks which should help families keep to their budgets.

Oh, and if anyone has any stroller recommendations for the Thrifty Moms who are reading this, don’t hesitate to share them. We, as well as our mommas, love a good tip.

The Best Flashlights to Have On an Outdoor Adventure

best flashlightsSummertime is here! And you know what that means – plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures.

Whether you’ve been looking forward to a camping trip all year or you’re planning a last-minute vacation, it’s essential to have the right gear.

You probably already have items like backpacks, tents, and sleeping bags on your list of outdoor gear. But what about flashlights?

Flashlights are an often overlooked but essential item for any outdoor adventure. How do you know which type of flashlight you need?

Here’s a list of the best flashlights for your upcoming excursion.

Handheld Flashlights

For a camping trip or day hike, a standard handheld flashlight should be sufficient.

Here are a few of the best flashlights:

  • 511 Tactical Light For Life. Used by ETMs and police officers, this flashlight charges in just 90 seconds and lasts up to four hours.
  • Lumens Pelican 3310PL LED Flashlight. Perfect for overnight trips, this flashlight features a glow-in-the-dark shell and a run time of up to 190 hours.
  • PeakPlus Flashlight Kit. This versatile flashlight can zoom in or light an area up to 100 yards. It also has an SOS mode in case you run into trouble.
  • LE Adjustable Focus Mini LED Flashlight Torch. This lightweight but dependable flashlight is small enough to fit in your pocket.
  • Fenix E Series. Bright, compact, and economical, these flashlights are some of the most popular LED devices on the market. Use this link for more information on Fenix flashlights.

Headlamps For Camping and Night Hiking

For hands-free illumination, a headlamp may be the most practical choice.

Some of the best headlamps on the market include:

  • Fenix HL10 Series. Easy to use and incredibly bright, these headlamps are perfect for any nighttime activity. They’re waterproof for up to 30 minutes underwater.
  • Shining Buddy LED Headlamp. With four settings and a lamp that swivels down 45 degrees, these headlamps comfortably fit any head or hat.
  • Luxolite LED Headlamp Flashlight. This headlamp features two buttons – one for a white light and one for a red light. It also has a long battery life of 30 hours.

Camping Lights and Lanterns

For anything you need to do around the campsite after the sun sets, a lantern is a practical choice.

Here are a few of the best camping lanterns:

  • Etekcity 2 Pack Portable Outdoor Camping Lanterns. These lanterns feature 30 low-powered LED bulbs to illuminate your campsite or the path to the restroom. Because they’re water resistant and battery operated, they can be safely used inside a tent, a camper, or outside.
  • SUBOOS Gen 2 ULTIMATE Rechargeable Camping Tent Lantern. Perfect for backpacking, this small, lightweight lantern features three light settings and a hanging clip.
  • Suaoki LED Camping Lantern. For those who love to go green, this compact lantern features a solar panel for daytime charging.

Final Thoughts on the Best Flashlights

With so many flashlights on the market, it can be difficult to choose the right one for your needs. Now that you know the best flashlights, you’re ready for your outdoor adventure!

Need ideas for your upcoming trip or other family-friendly activities? Be sure to check out my family life section for fresh inspiration.

5 Fun and Unique Gifts for Men

best man gifts It’s that time again. It’s another birthday or anniversary or holiday, and there you are, searching for the perfect gift for the man who already has everything.

We bet you’re tired of going the generic cash route or boring gift card route. But, even if coming up with a creative idea feels overwhelming, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered.

Let’s get into the best man gifts for the dear husband, brother, boyfriend, or friend in your life!

Top Five Best Man Gifts

Food & Drink

Yes, it sounds simple, but we’ve never heard of someone complaining about an edible gift!

Some fun ideas to get you started (and hungry):

  • Homemade batch of his favorite dessert
  • A new spin on a classic favorite? (Lucky Charms Snack Mix, anyone?)
  • Collection of sauces
  • Cooking kit or subscription box to learn how to cook
  • Anything bacon-flavored. Cause, ya know, bacon
  • Favorite bottle of wine/case of beer
  • Gift card to a favorite restaurant or trendy restaurant for you both to try
  • Basket of all his favorite snacks

Clothes He’ll Actually Wear

News flash: male fashion is on the rise, and some of the best man gifts include catering to his specific tastes.

Is your guy into sports? Look into his favorite team jersey.

Into casual clothing that makes a mark? Look into funky smile more shirts or sweatshirts that send a great statement out to the world!

And, what about shoes? Get the lowdown on his shoe size and surprise him with some new digs!

Experience & Outings

Great gifts don’t just come in pretty packages. Consider planning an experience or outing for the man in your life. Some of our favorites include:

  • Booking a weekend getaway
  • Concert or sports tickets
  • Special dinner for two
  • Road trip to a local fun destination
  • Something ridiculously adventurous (skydiving, bungee jumping!)

Gadgets, Gadgets, & Gadgets

Trying to buy a gift for someone who’s always staring at a screen? Consider a gift in the technology department. Remember, even if he has the gadget, chances are, he’d benefit from adding some accessories.

For example, maybe he’s got the tablet, but he needs a keyboard.

Maybe he has the newest and trendiest phone, but he’s looking for an indestructible case.

Maybe he’s into digital photography, but he also needs a waterproof camera he can rely on.

Handmade Goods

For something truly one-of-a-kind, consider tapping into your creative side. Channel your inner artist and paint him a picture. Write him a beautiful love note. Get crafty with identifying how much he means to you. Restore a favorite piece of furniture. Write a sweet poem. Even coupon books can go a long way!

Remember, it doesn’t need to be professional or expensive to leave a lasting impression.

Final Thoughts

The top best man gifts are the ones that demonstrate how much you value the guy in your life.

You don’t need to complicate it. Most men aren’t looking for a crazy, over-the-top gift. They just want something that shows you understand their needs or desires. With these top five gifts as suggestions, you’re guaranteed to get him a gift he’s going to love!

5 Tips for Booking a Trip to Rome on a Budget

dreamstime s 89889321One of the best ways to make memories with your family is through travel. However,  it can be very expensive if you don’t plan right.

Italy is an ideal place for family travel: great weather,  history, and pizza!

It is possible to take a trip to Rome on a budget. Here are 5 tips which will help you enjoy this amazing city without breaking the bank.

1. Shop around for airfare

There are many ways to find deals for international travel to Rome.

Obviously, you should explore using your travel points if you belong to a frequent flyer program.

Many airlines fly to Rome, so do some comparison shopping.

You might find deals on some low-cost airlines like Ryanair or Easy Jet.

You can also fly into neighboring cities like Milan, and take a train to Rome.

2. Stay in the suburbs

Hotels in the center of Rome can be very expensive, especially if you are traveling with kids and need more than one room.

AirBnB and other home sharing apps have changed the way families can travel. Consider renting an apartment or small house on the outskirts of the city.

You can easily take public transportation to see the sights. You will also have a kitchen, giving you the option of preparing your own meals and avoiding the high prices at restaurants.

3. Plan meals carefully

If you are taking a trip to Rome on a budget, you need to consider the high costs of eating out.

Italian food is some of the best in the world,  but it can cost a lot for a family to go to restaurants in cities like Rome.

If you are renting a house or apartment,  take a trip to the local grocery store and pick up provisions. It will give you and your children a chance to sample the local bread, produce and pasta.

Shopping locally and cooking fresh food during your trip to Rome on a budget will give your family an authentic Italian experience.

If you choose local street food like pizza (delicious!) while you are out and about, you might be able to splurge once on dinner at a real Italian trattoria during your visit.

4. Use public transportation-  or walk

Many of Rome’s biggest attractions are accessible by foot.

Make sure everyone in your party has comfortable shoes and a good map.

You can plan out efficient walking tours to give you a glimpse of some of Europe’s most iconic sights: the Colosseum, the Forum, the Vatican.

The Metro is Rome’s subway system, and it offers a convenient, cheaper way to get around than taxis.

5. Look for deals on tours

Part of planning a trip to Rome on a budget includes knowing when you want to spend a little money in order to get the best experience possible.

Sometimes it’s worth it to purchase a guided tour of major attractions. Prebooking an excursion like the Colosseum Area Floor tour ensures that you and your kids will learn everything you can about this historic locale.

Search for deals online before you go so you can maximize your savings.

Arrivederci!

With some forethought and planning, a family trip to Rome on a budget can be a joyous experience.

Do your research for deals before you go for both travel, accommodation, and attractions,  and you and your family will be able to enjoy the trip of a lifetime without too much damage to your pocketbook.