Sammy Makes Six
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The Unsung Hero: The Single Parent

Thank you to The Motherhood for sponsoring this post where I get to talk to you about the hardest, yet most rewarding part of my life, being a parent.

Today I want to talk about the unsung hero - the single parent. There's a stigma around single parents, especially single moms. People are so quick to judge and make assumptions, without knowing the full story. I don't think anybody sets out to be a single parent by choice, and instead of us celebrating those parents, who do the work of two, we tend to shame them.  

Single parents are heroes: they have to work full-time jobs, sometimes more than one, in order to pay the bills, and do the job of both parents. Parenting is the hardest job you will ever have, even with two parents around, now imagine how hard it must be if you're doing it alone. 

I became a single mom of four kids after 6ish years of marriage. Having not worked for the last 5 years of my marriage, it came as a shock to go back to the workforce knowing I had to pay a full rent, bills, food and care for four kids, plus myself. It was also the first time I had to live on my own - rent my own apartments, set up utilities, etc. It was scary stuff for a dumb girl who'd let her husband take care of everything previously. But I think what most terrified me was wondering how I was going to take care of the financial responsibilities. It took me years and years to sort out child support for my girls and even after I had it, the financial weight of all of my responsibilities was a lot more than I earned, even with countless overtime hours.

Some single parents do have the help of the other parent, or maybe the kids go back and forth between two households. That was not the case for us. Besides a lot of behind the scenes struggles, there was no help. That's why it's hard for me to think back to those first years, to think of how many times I failed my kids. I never got to pick them up or drop them off at school, I never attended daytime school functions, and rarely got home before dinner and wasn't around much during the week besides a few evening hours. It really was the girls that had to bear the brunt of it though. My two oldest, they were the mom and dad during those times, they fed the two youngest, walked them to class and took care of them after school. 

My family is and has always been a big help to me. Because of them I can say I was not alone. I was lucky to have them, especially those first three years. After that my girls started growing up and even though the problems seemed to get more serious, I was more prepared to deal with them. We had to move a few times because my lease was not renewed because they had kids over while I was not home or I had to pull them out of school because of bullying problems, I also had one kid who loved taking my car out for joyrides. Those were the years I started getting gray hairs, each one earned like a badge of honor. 

As hard as being a single parent was, I would not trade a single second of it. Those years are the ones that shaped me into the person that I am today, those are the years where I found out my worth as a person. I didn't have to live with my mom, I didn't have to ask for government assistance (not that doing so is wrong) and even though we struggled at first, we never stopped living. We had our yearly trips to Disney, we were always out on weekends, and I was able to spoil them later for what they lacked those first years. I was not, still am not, the perfect parent - but I have always tried my best. 

My oldest girls are now all over the age of 21, we made it! When I see a young single mom or dad, I think back to my days in their position and wish I could tell them that it's going to be ok, I want to tell them that they are doing a great job. I don't think single parents hear that enough. 

Single Parenting Facts

  • There are 12 million single parent families in the U.S.
  • Eighty-four percent (9.8 million) of single parent households are single mother families and 16 percent are single father families.
  • The 2013 median income for families led by a single mother was about $26,000, one-third the median for married couple families ($84,000). Nearly half of single mother households have an annual income less than $25,000. Thirty-nine percent of single dads have an annual family income of $50,000 or more.
  • The annual cost of center-based infant care averaged more than 40 percent of the state median income for a single mother.

Angel Soft® recognizes the joys and challenges of being a single parent and wants to honor these everyday heroes. Debuting on March 20, the National Single Parent's Day video shares the stories of three single parents, we invite you to check it out. You will be able to see the video on Angel Soft's Facebook page and website. We ask that you help us share the video to build awareness for National Single Parent's Day. National Single Parent's Day is March 21.

5 Tips To Stretch Your Tax Refund

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #YourTaxCash #CollectiveBias

It's tax season and for many people it's tax refund time. If you're one of those lucky people who is getting a refund from your taxes this year, versus paying, then you're pretty lucky. I've gotten to do both and the refund is my favorite of the two, for sure. But what do you do with your tax refund once you get it: do you forget all responsibilities and blow it on a girls weekend to Las Vegas, do you pay your car off or do you put it in the bank to grow interest?

My mom and older sister would say to not spend a penny and put it all in the bank. But that's not how I think. I already save a portion of my monthly income and my tax refund is for other things. With it I can pay some bills, get a new computer or phones for the family, and have some fun with it. 

Pay off high interest rate credit cards: I have four credit cards that I pay down every month, along with one card that carries a balance, which will go into a high interest rate next month. That means that by April 13th I have to zero it out or pay that high interest on the balance. I'm expecting my refund in a week and it will be the first thing I pay with it. Once it's paid off I can relax, look at what's left of my refund and decide what to do with the balance.

You can do the same by taking a look at all of your credit cards. Maybe you can't zero them out or pay them all, but look at the ones with the higher interest rates and pay off a portion of each. Paying off bills with your tax refund isn't the most fun way to spend it, but imagine how much you will save just from those high interest fees.

Switch to an affordable cell phone plan: If you've been on one of the larger cell phone carrier plans, you know how expensive it can be every single month, especially if you have a large family like mine.

Walmart Family Mobile has been the plan for my family for over three years now. It's the plan that my older girls started on and now the plan we have for all of the kids. The Walmart Family Mobile PLUS Plan is perfect for me and my family. 

Walmart Family Mobile Plus PlanUnlimited* Talk, Text, & Data which includes up to 10GB of 4G LTE then 2G plus a free VUDU movie credit every month ($7 value) per line for $49.88. (*Includes up to 10GB of 4G LTE† data then 2G).

Starting Walmart Family Mobile is easy, head to Walmart, just pick a phone or Bring Your Own, and get your SIM Kit for only $19.88.

Add kids to your family cell plan: In my family the two older kids have had cell phones for a few years and it's time do add another. Being able to stay in contact with the kids now that they all go to different schools and have after school activities separately, is an absolute necessity. I am thankful we have an affordable data plan carrier so paying the bills is not a nightmare. 

The new phone we picked out is the Samsung Galaxy On5. This phone is regularly priced at  $119.00 and is a great starter phone,

Have a family movie night versus going to the theater: With the WFM Unlimited Plus plan you get a free monthly movie credit ($7 value which is the same as a new release rental) on VUDU, which we watch on our smart tv at home. This free movie frees up a rather expensive movie night out with the kids so we can do something more fun with the extra cash.

Plan a family trip: Paying off bills and taking care of responsibilities is not the only thing you can do with your tax refund. You and the family should get to do something fun with your money, even if it's not something huge. This year I am getting a smaller refund so there is no 4-day vacation for us, but we can still take a few road trips and enjoy some family time shopping and just being out in amazing Southern California.

Getting a tax refund is a nice windfall of money that can really go a long way if you plan how to spend it carefully. Adulting isn't always fun and believe me, I would rather go on a nice vacation with the kids, but if you're careful you can be responsible AND still enjoy some of that money. Why not, you earned it!

What are some tips you can share with us for stretching our tax refunds even further? 

Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to or your local Walmart for current pricing.

A Day at Oceanside Pier

5 Tips For Shopping With The Family

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A big thank you to Sears Mastercard for sponsoring this post where I get to share some of the ways that I stretch my budget as much as possible. As you know, I have a big family. I have 5 daughters, the youngest who is nine and just starting to really get into shopping and fashion. I also have 4 grandkids, who by luck, are always with me. We're not the family who likes to stay home, we love to pack in the car and head out to spend our days road tripping, shopping and just having fun. 

That's usually seven people packed in a car, ready to spend, spend, spend. That means that my money has to go a very LONG way. Even though I don't deny the kids much of anything while we are out: we eat, we play, we spend, I still look for ways to get the most bang for my buck.

5 Tips To Stretch Your Money Further While Shopping With The Family

Look for stores that offer rewards: Everything from my morning cup of coffee to my online shopping is through a rewards program. Even in-store, I try to shop at retailers that offer some sort of rewards incentive. I've always loved the Sears Shop Your Way Rewards program. Earning rewards on all of my purchases is a great incentive for me to shop at a retailer because I can use those rewards to score even better deals.

Size up in kids clothes: If you have growing kids you have to know how quickly they outgrow clothes. My daughter goes to a uniform only school and twice a year I have to buy a new set of clothes because she outgrows the first set within six months. That's why when we shop for her, I tend do go one size up on anything like pants, tops and jackets. I would rather do some sewing, or do a lot of folding than have her outgrow complete outfits after only a few wears.

Shop with a credit card that gives you the best rewards: Shopping with a credit card like the Sears Mastercard with Shop Your Way, which offers great point incentives is the way to go for us. I later redeem those points when shopping at Sears for everything from clothes for the kids to household appliances. 

Stack the savings: We eat out a lot. Not the best way to save money but if your family is the same, there are still ways to stretch your money. Look for restaurants that have a Kids Eat Free Night or places that offer rewards like a free meal after a certain amount of paid meals. Top those savings by paying with a credit card that gives you cash back, like the Sears Mastercard which gives you 1% in points on eligible purchases. 

Earn 5% in points at the pump: Putting gas in the car is one of the most expensive things to do, especially if you're like us, always on-the-go. Earning 5% back in points on eligible purchases made at gas stations with the Sears Mastercard is a  no-brainer. Those 5% in points will mean that our next shopping trip to Sears will cost a lot less.

All new Sears Mastercard with Citibank customers can earn more Shop Your Way points on a complimentary basis with no fee for 12 months from the date the account is open, including:

  • 5% back in points on eligible purchases made at gas stations
  • 3% back in points on eligible purchases at grocery stores and restaurants; [5% and 3% back on the first $10,000 of combined eligible purchases made on gas, groceries and restaurants and 1% thereafter]
  • 2% back in points on eligible purchases made at Sears and Kmart; and
  • 1% back in points on all other eligible purchases.

Keeping these kids looking their best and having a fun lifestyle with such a big family is not cheap, but it can be done even while on budget. I've always had to look for the best way to stretch my money and these days it's pretty easy to find ways to do so. Look for those extra incentives that give you more bang for your buck and get to enjoying your life, while spending less. 

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sears Mastercard.

For My Busy Life

This is part of a sponsored collaboration with Dove and DiMe Media, however all opinions expressed are my own. 

You already know that I love Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant. Not only does Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant offer me 48-hours of odor and wetness protection, it also provides my very delicate underarm area with skin care benefits. 

But really, why is Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant the deodorant that I reach for every day?

Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant is my #1 deodorant pick because it can handle my life. I don't save this deodorant for special occasions, vacations, or other moments in my life that could be super stressful or exciting. I use Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant everyday because my everyday life includes all those things: stress, excitement, anger, fatigue, horror, etc. I have five kids, so yes, all of these emotions apply in my daily life. And for that, I need a deodorant that can keep me dry and odor free. I don't want to have to do a smell check throughout my day, know what I mean? I have enough to do without having to add smelling my underarms every few hours.

When I get up at six every morning it is knowing that I have about 30 minutes to get myself ready to face a very long, and very busy day. As a work at home mom, I really feel that I have double the work of somebody who works out of the home, or is a stay at home mom. Why is that? Because when you work from home and have family, you still have to do everything that a stay at home mom does plus get enough work done to make a living. That my friends, is where the STRESS comes in. . 

Morning and afternoon carpool, grocery shopping, taking care of 5 pets, checking in on my mom AND making an income is not always easy. But that's the name of the game when you're a work from home mom and the last thing I want to do is be smelly while getting it all done. That's why the products that I choose to put on everyday are super important. Everything from my perfume to my eyebrow pencil, has to be something that will still be there when I am done for the day. 

In my life there's no time for touchup's, that's why I use Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant.

Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant offers 48-hours of odor and wetness protection. With that kind of protection I can feel confident knowing that I am at my best, at least in my underarm area. But not only does this deodorant keep me dry and fresh, it also provides skincare benefits of Dove 1/4 Moisturizers and Nutrium Moisture for softer, smoother underarms. Who doesn't want softer, smoother underarm. I DO!

Are you a busy woman on-the-go? I challenge you to use Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant for two weeks and see what kind of a difference it makes in your life.