Archive for the ‘Reviews & Sponsored’ Category

I Checked CHET Out

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

This post was sponsored on behalf of Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET). All opinions and photos are my own.

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Want to feel old? Think for a second about how many years it will be until your oldest kid goes to college. In my case, the answer is ELEVEN. ELEVEN YEARS. That is less time than I have been married, less time than it’s been since I graduated from college, and WAY less time than it’s been since I myself was 18 and headed off to college. Along with feeling really old, the thought of sending my kids to college fills me with fear and dread. Do you know what college costs? I don’t. I know the answer is somewhere between “a lot” and “an amount you will never be able to afford by the time it is your turn to pay for it”. The average cost for a 4-year private college in New England is more than $52,000. I have three (and a half) kids. This is the part where I usually throw my hands up and turn on HGTV and think relaxing thoughts about renovating my backyard to include a fire pit and a water feature. These tiny homework-doers can just stay small and live with me forever.

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But denial is not a good way to stop things from happening (see also: birth, child vomit, lactose intolerance) and these kids are getting older and smarter by the day. Making a plan is the only real option, so I finally sat down at my computer with my Important Papers file and looked at the Connecticut Higher Education Trust website.

Here are the quick facts about CHET:

    • The Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET) is Connecticut’s 529 college savings plan.
    • CHET works like a Roth Retirement account, your contributions grow tax-free along the way, and are tax-free when you use the money for college.
    • PLUS for CT taxpayers there is a CT state tax deduction on the contributions you make to CHET each year, up to $10K for joint filers and $5K for single filers.
    • Money saved with CHET can be used at accredited colleges or universities in the country as well as some abroad.
    • CHET funds can be used for wide variety of college costs, tuition, room & board, computer, any supplies required by the school, etc.
    • If you don’t use the savings (for example, if your child gets a scholarship) you can roll the money to another child.

And here’s how it actually worked out:

I went to the site and clicked on “Open an Account”. They asked for my social security number and info, then Evan’s social security numbers and info. I entered our banking information so I could make the required opening contribution (it’s only $25) directly, then chose which investments I wanted to put the money in.

This was the part where I normally get stressed and run away, because I am not a financial guru or investment specialist. I am a person who has definitely HEARD the word “index fund” before but can’t quite remember where. There is a ton of information about each option on the website and there are actual humans you can call and talk to if you want, but my eyes and brain quickly start blurring when I feel overwhelmed by the choices. I ended up reading some of the advice, showing the options to E, and then just picking something, because a fear of choosing the wrong option 11 years before he goes to college shouldn’t stop me from investing in Evan’s future. There was an option to set up reoccurring contributions with lots of flexibility, but you don’t HAVE to. It asked me to agree to the risks and terms, asked me to set up a username and password for managing my account, then I was done. Repeating the process for each of my other children took less than 2 minutes, since they were all under my same account and the info was saved.

After I set them all up, I sent my mom an email for each account with an easy link so she can make contributions herself, either online or by mail. You can send them to anyone in your address book on special occasions (birthdays, holidays, etc) or “just because”. I think she was probably ready to just set up the accounts on her own (you can do that! you don’t have to be the parent, so if you have grandkids or nieces or nephews who you think need a 529 absolutely look into it!) but now I am done and she can rest easy.

Right now, CHET is running a contest in honor of 5/29 day (May 29th). One winner will win a $1,529 contribution to their account and two runners up will win $529 contributions. Free money?? YES PLEASE. You can check it out and enter easily here.

ALSO. If you had a baby in the last year (or you happen to be having one soon), CHET has an amazing Baby Scholars program, where they will give you up to $250 for free just for putting money in your kid’s 529. It’s not a complicated, convoluting system either – you put money in, they add money. I am kicking myself SO HARD that I didn’t do that for Lincoln before it was too late.

I feel like that was a LOT of words to talk about something that seems really boring, but it’s one of those things that’s been on my to-do list literally for years and I am so glad I can finally cross it off. Give yourself an A+ in adulting today and check CHET out.

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Free Stuff: The PINCHMe Sample Box

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

I have no idea how I ended up on the blogger list for PINCHMe, but they keep sending me boxes of cool stuff and I love it. It’s a monthly box that sends you new (free!) samples every month in exchange for reviewing your samples on their site. No shipping costs, no credit card, no monies at all required. You do have to sign up for a member profile and fill out some details about yourself – if you have pets or kids, how old they are – so they know what kinds of samples would fit your life. I’ve gotten everything from nail polish to pet food coupons and I’m almost out of Olay body wash from my last box so I’m happy to see I got another one this time.

Because they’re giving free stuff away, PINCHMe is pretty popular and they sometimes run out of some of the samples. This month’s Sample Tuesday is on February 23rd at 12 Noon EST, so login and claim new free samples ASAP to get the best stuff. Otherwise you’ll be sad, like my friend who only got a kitchen sponge.

Here’s Linc and I opening this month’s box:

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That NextStep milk box was gone before I even finished taking photos of the rest of the stuff. Linc is a fan.

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Luckily there was a delicious granola bar to sustain me.

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Linc and I are both excited about these Boon Snug sippy lids – you can put them over any cup to make a sippy. Very handy when all of our’s are disgusting and rotting under the couch, or at restaurants, or when we visit childless people who think a plastic cup is child-friendly enough (only if you want juice poured on your cable box).

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The, uh, PERSONAL ITEMS samples. Plus coupons. I love coupons.

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Yesssssss another month where I don’t have to buy body wash. And that’s a huge jar of fancy moisturizer!

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Baby stuffs! So handy when you have a baby who insists on pooping a million times a day.

Don’t forget! PINCHme is a monthly subscription site that lets you try products from leading brands, completely for FREE! All they ask is for your feedback on the products. Every month, an amazing range of free samples are released on PINCHme for members to claim. These samples include grocery, baby, pet, beauty, home and personal care. Be sure to visit PINCHme for this month’s Sample Tuesday on February 23rd at 12 Noon EST to claim new free samples!

PINCHMe sends me boxes from their program in exchange for social media posts but no other compensation is exchanged or required and all opinions are my own.

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Sofa Fort City {Sponsored by Wayfair}

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

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Our big (ugly) family room couch is one of those sausage-casing monstrosities, where all the cushions are attached, with built-in recliners and cup holders. It’s truly hideous. But while we’re in the “Oh my god where did you get that yogurt?!” stage of children, there’s no point in having NICE furniture, so I settled for comfy and functional in a beige color that hides dirt.

The biggest problem with that kind of couch (besides ugly) is that it’s pretty useless when it comes to couch forts, and couch forts are an essential part of childhood. Luckily, when I was trying to fancy-up our living room last year I found a nice mini-sized couch that a) is also a good dirt-hiding shade of beige and b) has two nice huge cushions that make an excellent fort wall. The kids LOVE that couch – it’s the perfect size for them to spread out and watch iPad, set up all the dolls into elaborate tableaus or just climb all over while they hit each other with lightsabers. Lovingly, obviously. Lovingly hit each other with lightsabers.

I got an email from Wayfair saying they put together some super cute sofa fort plans and asking if my kids would be interested in building one. They even sent a super cozy Lush throw blanket to get us started. Check out their fun ideas:

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We chose the Dreadship Blanket and got to work rearranging the furniture, finding supplies and collecting throw blankets and pillows.

Real life talk: This is what passes for “super clean and organized” in our living/play room. It’s half grown-up, finished space (art! mirrored table! fireplace! throw pillows!) and half kid zone (toys! more toys! even more toys!!!). Please ignore the photobombing cat.

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And here’s what happened when we created our own Dreadship Blanket:

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We left the fort up for a week before I wanted my living room back for a grown up event, but pretty much any time they want to rebuild a couch fort I’m on board. It’s the kind of fun, creative, independent play that ends up with about 80% cooperation and only 20% screaming at each other. In case you don’t have multiple kids, those are REALLY good percentages.

Thank you again Wayfair for the fun idea!

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Finding New Roads – Meet Tiffany Joyce Photography {Sponsored by #ChevySalutes}

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Friends, meet Tiffany. She’s cool. She’s a photographer. She’s also a Navy wife who just arrived in beautiful Connecticut. Well, actually, she arrived just in time for the Endless Winter Of Snow And Despair, but somehow managed to stick it out until things improved and is now enjoying the absolutely PERFECT weather we New Englanders like to pretend we get 90% of the time. We’re very good at lying to ourselves.

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Monday, May 11th, 2015

It’s summer!

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