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?




Take time to smell the roses…

I can’t believe my oldest daughter will be 8 years old next week.  To be exact, “nine days and counting,” as I was informed this morning by Alison.  And, if you want to get technical, she’s been counting down the days since she turned 7!

It’s like this every year.  Where to have their next birthday party is a major event to look forward to as a kid.  And, why not?  That’s how it should be when you’re a kid.  Because after all, you are a kid.  Now is the time to enjoy being young and carefree.  There will be plenty of time after your education to join in real life and all the responsibilities  that comes with it.

As a parent, it is our role to guide our children into mature, caring citizens.  We must thank teachers and other relatives and friends who also act as role models in our children’s lives.

It takes a village to raise a child.  I’d like to think that that child also aids in the value of your life as well.  Why not take some of their youth into your own life and drive with the windows down in your car and let your hair down?   Take a deep breath and kick back every once in a while.

Why is it that when you are young, you want to be older, and as you age, you want to be younger?  I know one thing holds true for all, take time and enjoy each day as best you can.  You’ll be a better person for it.




Out of the mouths of babes…

Last night when my husband, Doug, was tucking in our youngest daughter for bed, 5-year-old Lauren said, “Daddy, I can read the sign over my bed.  ‘Lauren’s Parking Only’.”

Doug: “That’s right!  That means that only Lauren sleeps in her bed.  Mommy and Daddy should get signs for over their bed too since Mommy and Daddy are the only ones who sleep in their bed.”

Lauren:  “Mommy should have her own sign that says ‘Mommy’s Parking Only’, and Daddy’s should say ‘Daddy’s Parking Only’. And, then in middle, it should say ‘Guest Parking’.”

Who can argue with that cuteness?  I guess she’ll be sleeping with us forever!

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.


My New Year’s Resolution… a little late

So it’s been a couple of weeks since the year 2011 began…. okay, 19 days.  I had planned to blog about my new year’s resolutions on the First but was caught up in the day-to-day stuff.  Isn’t it always that other stuff that keeps us distracted?  I am trying something new this year for 2011:  focusing on one thing at a time. That is my resolution.  You see, I’m a serial multi-tasker.  I am always doing two or three things at once.  But not this year.  I think multi-tasking is overrated.  It may feel like you are accomplishing a lot, but I’m unsure if the results prove that.   

The first weekend of the new year, I printed mailers for my clients; nothing else, just printing.  The second weekend of the new year I spent creating scrapbooks.  This weekend was one day of cleaning and rearranging furniture with my daughter and one day on the computer answering e-mails.  And that’s all I did.    I know, not very exciting — but a great feeling of accomplishment.   I will continue to load my dishwasher or fold laundry when I talk on the phone.  But that will be the extent of my multi-tasking. 

 Now is the ultimate multi-tasker on its own!  It simplifies gift giving for your family and friends.  It provides a place for you to write details about your special occasion or event.  It tells your family & friends about what your child wants for their occasion.  It helps you with acknowledging the gifts.  It keeps all the information and gifts in one place.  Spend 5 minutes on our website, then add a line to your e-mail invitation or printed invitation with your registry number and that’s it!   A great use of your time and a great use of everyone else’s time. 

 Let’s cheer to efficiency in 2011! 

-Leisa S.

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.“


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!

Welcome to the party TripleTheGift!

Hi, I’m Leisa, co-founder and CEO of  My other co-founders are my favorite (and only) sister Jen and my very good friend Andrea.  Andrea and I are both working mom’s looking for the “there has got to be a better way” solution.  We both work from home and we both are very involved in our children’s lives.  Life is complicated.  Everything takes three times as long to do when you have kids so we have to do things better.  With these thoughts in mind, we created TripleTheGift, an online gift registry for children.

When you have kids, very early on you realize that “the birthday party” is no ordinary event; it is similar to a wedding.  There is the theme, the party goods, the menu, the special invitations, the outfit, and of course, the perfect cake.  Because our kids start preschool at age 2, they have friends.  And there it begins – – a childhood full of parties.  So parties fall on the “complicated list” for Andrea and me.  If you have more than one child, it’s a multiple-times-per-year-complication.

I’m glad to report there has been significant progress over the last ten years (and I can vouch for that since my oldest is 13) in the party business.  Now, bowling alleys and gymnasiums and other similar places offer an “all inclusive” type of party where they include invitations, goody bags and sometimes even the food.  But what has not changed is the gifting process.

Take a typical conversation with invited guest (another mom or a family member):

Question: “What does your child like?”

Answer: “Everything” or “Nothing under $50”.

Question:  “What does your child need?”

Answer: “Nothing, mom/dad/grandparents buys them everything they need” or, “Nothing, they have too much stuff!”

The end result?  What us moms end up doing…

  1. Uh oh, totally forgot about the party and thinks where can I go in a two-mile radius and buy a gift?
  2. I’ll go stock up on gifts from the local discount store.  The toys either contain 1000+ pieces smaller than a pea or crafts that take an engineer to build but at least I have an inventory when I get an invitation.
  3. A gift card because everyone shops at this store.
  4. Cold hard cash … because there is always an ATM in close proximity to the party.

Enter TripleTheGift, the online gift registry we created!! So Andrea and I, the two moms, of the business, said to each other “Let’s make this part of our lives easier.”  What if we could take away all the stress that comes along with gift giving for kids?  And it happens on both sides – – what to get the niece, the nephew, the neighbors’ kid OR to answering what our kids want or need to “please don’t bring another stuffed animal-lego-puzzle-etc into my house…”

So what could we all use???

  • Money.   Gotta have it, Gotta love it!
  • College Savings.   Who is on top of this?  Really?  Even the financial side of me can’t get enough into that savings account.
  • Charity.   Even though we want and we need, we are most definitely more fortunate than others and wouldn’t mind sharing with a good cause.

Three gifts.  Simple.

We tell family and friends that the kids are registered at  They look up the registry on the website and in less than 5 minutes, make a gift of whatever dollar amount they want.  The kid gets three gifts –a gift card to purchase that perfect gift, a contribution to their college savings plan, and a donation to a charity of their choice on their behalf.

It’s stress free; no worries on either side; no driving to the mall or to the post office.  It fits into our solution to “there has got to be a better way”.   Make it fit into yours!

I hope this gives you some insight into our make-it-better-less-complicated way of thinking.  Lots more to come!