Tips to Help Get Organized…

If you’re like me, you need to write something down or else you’ll forget to do it.  Trying to get everything done during the day is hard.  Forgetting to do something puts you in a panic once you realize you forgot to do it!

I have some tips that I learned along the way to help me stay focused and organized.  First rule:  only touch something once.  For example, once you open that piece of mail, file it immediately if no action is required.  This will prevent your piles from becoming even bigger.

Second, have your bills sent electronically.  Going paperless is great for the environment and it will help make spare room in your filing cabinets.

Third, shred any old bills that are more than 3 years old.  (Check your state statute of limitations since each state varies).  While preparing for filing my taxes this year, I found I was holding on to water and gas bills from the year we bought out house!

Fourth, try to set a goal to complete one task at a time.  Instead of getting overwhelmed and not completing any of your tasks, just checking off one item on your list can give you a boost of confidence to push on to the next item.

And, lastly, set aside an hour to file that large pile of papers sitting on your desk, or floor, if the case may be!   Once you start filing, you’ll find that once the hour is up, you’re in such a groove to finish, that  you’ll complete the filing in one sitting.

I know, I know, it all sounds simple to do “on paper”.  However, getting things checked off your to do list will leave more room for relaxing in the evening and spending your weekends doing fun things with your friends and family.

Now, if only I could remember where I put my list?




Giving From The Heart

In today’s economy, everyone is watching where they spend money.   However, while giving to charity may be lessened, the gift of giving still remains present.  With so many charities out there, choosing which charity to give to seems daunting.  My best advice – pick a charity that “speaks” to your heart.

When we first created, we partnered up with Share Our Strength. Their vision “is to end hunger and poverty in the United States and abroad.”  Especially with Leisa and me being moms, we both agree that no child should grow up hungry.

I think that through your life, certain charities speak louder to you.  Depending on where you are in your life can determine what is most important to you at the time.  My favorite charity is The Compassionate Friends (TCF).  The mission of The Compassionate Friends “is to assist families toward the positive resolution of grief following the death of a child of any age and to provide information to help others be supportive.”  Unfortunately, the way I learned about TCF was after my younger brother, Jon, passed away in May of 2009.  For me, being able to give back to this charity that has, and continues to be, a source of strength to me, is worth giving to.

One way that I am able to donate money is thru  For each event in my daughter’s life, I take a percentage of their gift and make a donation in memory of their  Uncle Jonny.  Whether it was a gift from their birthday, or the holidays, Alison & Lauren know that they are doing something to honor their Uncle, and make their mom proud in the process.

What charity is closest to your heart?  Is it to help a rescued animal, or donate money to Share Our Strength?  Whichever charity it is, there is no wrong way when giving from the heart.


Ordering online – which one is for you?

Ordering online gifts is pretty commonplace in today’s world.  Not only is it convenient, but also eco-friendly.  While there are many online vendors to choose from, how does one go about picking the right one?

There are many factors that go into finding the right vendor for your purchase.  Most of the time, money plays a big part.  How much money do you want to spend on the gift?  Is shipping additional? Another factor is the guarantee of what you see online will actually be the product you want.

The great part of ordering online at is the fact that you get what you pay for, because you decide how much you want to spend.  The unique twist to this online gift registry is that each gift is three gifts in one.  A percentage of your gift is divided three ways – contribution to your child’s college fund, a charitable donation, and a gift card.  It is easy to set up a registry – and it’s free!  Go online today to register your child’s special upcoming event.


Have an Eco-Friendly Christmas!

If you’re like me, going out in the cold during the Holiday season to buy  gifts is not my cup of tea.  In fact, I’d rather be at home drinking tea while ordering online!  Another reason I like shopping online is the fact that it is convenient and eco-friendly.

According to the December 4th online story by Benjamin Koconis of The Washington Informer, “Online holiday spending in general is up from last year.  ‘For the holiday season-to-date, $11.64 billion has been spent online, marking a 13-percent increase versus the corresponding days last year,’ comScore said.”

The article continues, that “For many shoppers, the hustle and bustle of large shopping malls is more trouble than it’s worth, leaving them searching for other ways to buy gifts. Online shopping provides a comfortable alternative to many of the pitfalls associated with holiday shopping, such as traffic congestion, large crowds, and physical fatigue.”

Ordering online with not only saves you money on gas, but also offers no packaging, no wrapping paper and no trips to the Post Office.  Since delivery trucks are not involved, using a service like is the best way to make your holiday shopping Eco-friendly!



The holiday season has begun – ready or not!

A friend of mine was shopping in a local department store this weekend and heard Christmas music.  Really?  We just got thru Halloween and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet!  You know what that means, the holiday season has begun – ready or not!

According to the November 3rd Business Wire report from New York, “Though recent reports suggest retailers are optimistic about holiday sales and expect to see better year-over-year results, shoppers disagree and are planning to be more frugal than they were last year when it comes to holiday spending, according to a survey released today by global business-advisory firm AlixPartners LLP. The survey of U.S. consumers asked about their spending patterns over the past year and their plans for the upcoming holiday season. Notably, the survey found that consumers plan to spend an average of 8% less on holiday products and gifts than they did during last year’s holiday season.”

With increased online shopping in the forecast, I have  registered my daughters at and will do so this year again.  I feel this is the best way to communicate with family and friends about what my girl’s want and need.   This way, my family and friends have stress-free gifting and can spend whatever they’d like.

Once I set up individual registries online for my daughters, I am able to e-mail my family and friends a link to their registries and our wish for gift giving through  As a result, my daughters are able to have money put away in their college funds, donate money to their favorite charity, and not be bombarded with too many toys.  My daughters love getting a gift card to go shopping for that perfect gift, and as an added bonus, they learn about the value of a dollar.



Teaching Kids About Money

Now that my youngest has entered elementary school, I can finally breathe a little easier knowing both girls are on the same schedule.  At least during the school day!  However, with elementary school welcomes a lot of new friends.  Our once preschool small knit family has now morphed into double, even triple the amount of school friends in our lives.  I’m not complaining, I believe in social interaction amongst kids, but when it comes to birthday party planning, I need help!

Try telling your child he/she can only invite “x” number of friends to their party.  It can get out of control, and expensive! And, furthermore, I don’t’ even know the parents of these “new” friends/classmates!  So, what’s a mom to do?

I encountered this dilemma 2 years ago with my oldest daughter.   The solution:  registered Alison at and was able to put her registry number and information on the invitation.  That way, the moms I didn’t know were able to look at the registry and see Alison’s gift choices.

Upon receiving college savings as well as donating money to her favorite charity, Alison was able to receive a gift card and purchase her own gift. Not only is she understanding the value of the dollar, but she also gets to pick out the gift of her choice.

As explained in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to a Well-Behaved Child, “kids need to know how the economy works. No, not stocks, interest rates, and world markets!  I mean the basic ins and outs of a family economy. You can start when your kids are very young by helping them understand the difference between needs and wants, that money comes from working, what money looks like, and that everybody has a job (a kid’s job is to learn things, to play, and to participate in the family). As they get older (once they know that a nickel is worth less than a dime, even though it’s larger), you can talk with them about credit cards, bank interest, and so on. Kids can learn about budgeting from the time they are about seven. Remember that a solid money education is one of the best tools you can give your kids—it will aid them the rest of their lives.“


Tuition Room & Board over $57,000 per year? Help!

Earlier this month, named Sarah Lawrence College in New York the most expensive school in America with tuition, room and board adding up to over $57,000 per year.   Wait, let me get my calculator…  $228,000 for a four-year education!  Yikes!  Okay, I know, that’s one end of the spectrum, BUT make no mistake, tuition, room and board, fees, books, personal expenses and travel to and from can easily be $50,000 per year for a student attending a private college.  How do you get to $200,000 of college savings by the time your child is 18?  $500 per month for 18 years straight (assuming a 7% annual return).  That’s like an extra car payment each month without the car.

Many of us do not start saving for college on day one.  We have mortgages, car payments, new furniture… lots of other obligations when the baby is born.  No matter how old your child is,  it’s never too late to start.  And despite whatever gloom and doom you hear about with the stock market or the economy, there is no such thing as a bad time to start.  Just do it!

There are many calculators on the web to figure out how much to save for college.  The calculator at is really easy to use.

Once you figure out how much you need to invest, the next step is choosing how to invest.  I really like the 529 plans because of the tax benefits and the ease of use.  One of the big advantages with the 529 plans are the investment choices.   If you don’t want to be the investment manager, worrying day in and day out about the underlying investments, then you can choose an age based fund. The Fund Manager manages the fund based on the child’s age (or the expected year they will start college). So, if the target age is for a child 5 or under, the Fund Manager will invest with more aggressive investments. If the child is older, and closer to starting college, the Fund Manager will invest with more conservative investments. The beauty of the age based funds is that the manager re-allocates the fund each year into more conservative investments as the child gets closer to starting college. And, since their expertise is in investments, they decide when to make the strategic moves.

You can always use TripleTheGift to get started with your child’s college savings or to supplement what you already have.  Everyone can use a little extra.  Or what about for a new baby?  If your girlfriend is having her third child and really doesn’t need the furnishings and  accessories, think about how much she would appreciate a nice amount to start off that college savings account.   How about high school graduation?  Just because they are going off to college in a few months doesn’t mean they wouldn’t benefit from some additional savings.  Remember, there are four or more years of tuition payments and letting money grow for a couple of  years in a savings account is bound to help.  It’s like when you find a $20 bill in the winter coat you haven’t worn in a year; it feels good!

-Leisa S.

Do you have a college savings plan for your children?

Hi, I’m Andrea, co-founder and Executive Director of with Leisa & Jen.  As Leisa told you in the previous blog, I am a working mom who is always looking for the easiest way to handle gift giving.  One of the benefits of is the saving for college part.  To be honest, it wasn’t until we created this registry that I started planning for my daughters’ college fund.  My girls are 7 and 5 year’s old and it’s never too late to start saving.  This was the motivation I needed to setting up each of their savings accounts.

There are so many college saving plans, also known as “529 Plans”,  out there.  Which one will most benefit my children?  Will my children be able to choose a college that is in state only where I live, or will the girls be able to use their fund at any state college nationwide?  Do I have to contribute monthly or annually?  All of this was foreign to me.

There are many good plans out there to choose from. Some have unique features which may interest you. After a lot of research on our end, we recommend the college savings plan offered by the State of Iowa, College Savings Iowa. There are many features of this plan that we believe are helpful to our customers, especially the low amount of the deposit required to get started. Here’s what we like about the College Savings Iowa plan:

  • Enrollment is free; Just a $25 deposit is needed to get started.
  • You can open and manage your account online, takes just minutes.
  • You can invest as little as $25 each time you contribute.
  • Investment management services provided by well known, top rated Vanguard Investments.
  • Take advantage of Upromise rewards to grow your account balance.

By using a college savings plan, your choice of school is not affected by the state sponsoring your 529 savings plan. For example, you can be a Maryland resident, invest in a College Savings Iowa plan and send your child to a university in California.

Additionally, college savings plans are reported on the federal aid application as an asset of the parent (assuming the parent is the account owner which we recommend), not the child. Any distributions (withdrawals) from the plan that are used to pay for the child (beneficiary’s) education expenses are not counted as either parent or student income. Ultimately, there is little affect on receiving Financial Aid while having a huge upside of additional savings for your child at a time they will most need it.

Please note, does not receive any commission for accounts opened with College Savings Iowa nor is affiliated with College Savings Iowa. College Savings Iowa is a non-advisor plan.

Starting a college plan is easy to do!  Whichever college plan you set up or are currently enrolled in, knowing that is there to help us with gift giving and providing for the future makes me a happy mom!