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Holiday Cooking with Tetra Pak Cartons!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Carton Smart for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I was recently contacted and asked to do a post telling you all about Tetra Pak products.  What the heck is Tetra Pak?  Well, it's those cool food cartons that you are starting to see more and more of.  There are now carton versions of canned soup, broth, cranberry sauce, pumpkin puree and more!

We were send a carton of chicken stock, pumpkin puree and cranberry sauce to help us get the "Become Carton Smart" message out.  See images below.

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I like these cartons for several reasons.  They are made from recycled materiels and can be recycled themselves.  They are also safe to close and use later, unlike metal cans.  The part I like the most about these Tetra Pak containers is the amount of space they take up.  When they are new, they take up less space than cans, but the kicker is when they are used.  It's not the easiest thing to crush a can of tomato soup, but you can easily flatten a Tetra Pak and use way less space in your recycle bin.  This is handy for us because our city just went to an every-other-week recycle pickup, so space is at a premium to say the least!

Using one of the products they sent us, we made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  Check them out!

I encourage you to check out Tetra Pak products from Pacific Foods and give them a shot.  It's the packaging of the future and I like what I see!

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You can also Tweet @CartonSmart and let them know how you will be #CartonSmart this season or Follow #CartonSmart on Pinterest for more great recipes.

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Canning Season is Coming! Get Some Ideas and the Perfect Labels Here!

It's canning season and Mabel's Labels has the perfect product for you! Wash Away Labels are dissolvable and perfect for potluck dishes, bottles for daycare, frozen foods, containers of leftovers and of course canning jars! When no longer needed, simply pop in the dishwasher or under running water to rinse off. Organizing your canning jars has never been this easy! Be sure to shop Mabel's Labels today. Happy Canning!

To see some awesome canning ideas, check out trusty ole' Pinterest.

Debt consolidation tips: Ways to Shed Your Financial Burden

debt consolidation
The following is a guest post from Audric Stevens. Audric is an expert in the field of debt consolidation and is a part of Debt Consolidation Care.

There is no doubt in the fact that debt consolidation is one of the many options to shed your overwhelming financial obligations without having to file bankruptcy. One of the main reasons to opt for it is that it can lower your monthly debt repayment amount and provide you with the convenience of making a single monthly payment.

As you can see, there are many benefits of having your debts consolidated but then you should be careful about it, or else you may ruin your financial health further that may even force you to file bankruptcy.

Debt consolidation loan and increased interest payment.

One of the hidden problems of debt consolidation loans is increased interest amount over the term of its repayment. While it may reduce your monthly payments, however, those payments usually come with strings attached, i.e., extra interest payments.

This happens because of the reduced monthly payments that is stretched over a couple of years or so. Therefore, debt consolidation loan, in its most basic term, functions like a 7-year car loan instead of a 3-year one.

As a result, even if you are paying less, but then you’ll be paying a lot of extra interest on the loan. This will hold true, even if you are paying a reduced monthly payment amount due to lowered rate of interest.

In case you’re saddled with excessive credit card balances or other kinds of financial obligations, then you may do well by paying them off one by one. This particular debt repayment strategy will provide you with a huge amount of interest savings till the time you are left with no delinquent credit account.

However, if you choose otherwise to get your debts consolidated to make your credit accounts more manageable, then you may just make minimum monthly payments. In such a scenario, you’ll have to pay a lot of interest over the life of the consolidation loan.

To find out what’s feasible for you, keeping your financial needs and current income in mind, you may take advantage of an online debt calculator to determine the total cost of the loan consolidation process and the overall savings it’ll incur for you in interest that’ll help you to rethink your debt repayment strategy, if the situation demands so.

What to consider before using a debt consolidation loan.

Prior to taking out a debt consolidation loan, it is crucial to find out the new interest rate that’ll be applied on it. This includes all the additional costs as well as fees to originate and process the same.

Ideally, these costs should be lower as compared to the ones for whom you’ve opted to get them consolidated in the first place. So, if you are paying exorbitant interest rate, then you are aggravating your financial woes further.

Apart from that, you should be wary of illegal lending practices and various unscrupulous debt consolidation services that may be offered to you by a company only to earn a commission by suggesting you to refinance your loans.

About the Author -- Audric Stevens
Audric Stevens is a financial expert and a contemporary writer. He is involved in various online activities through which he imparts financial lessons to people with diverse needs. In addition to that, he is closely working with the ‘debtconsolidationcare community’ at the moment that has several interesting and prudent financial tips for people to use. If you like this article please follow us here.

Macy’s Bridal Registry ~ Our Macy’s Registry Experience and Wonderful Benefits!

Wedding Registry 101 - Creating a Macy's Registry

Creating a Wedding Registry at Macy's is a very smart thing to do if you're getting married.
There are tremendous benefits to choosing to register at Macy's. Their selection of products is virtually endless, and gift givers can shop online or in store to their hearts content!
We were more than satisfied with our Macy's registry from start to finish. From the time we registered, we were treated like a royal couple! Even after our wedding, we were treated with special care to make sure our shopping/returning/completion process was perfect.

As we have made known on here quite a few times, we indeed got married (got hitched, tied the knot, etc etc etc) on May 20 of last year. It was the best day ever. But that is not the point of this post. The point of this post is to tell you just how great of a decision it was to create our wedding registry at Macy’s. (Side note: Registering was one of the most fun events of my life. They give you a funky hand scanner thing which is actually quite heavy – I recommend letting the groom carry that one – and you get to walk all around the store scanning objects willy nilly. 50000 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets? Don’t mind if I do! It’s like FREE shopping! And we all know shopping is therapeutic.) Needless to say, registering was one of my favorite parts of the getting married process. Plus, we attended a fun little event exclusively for registered couples called Sip & Scan, with yummy food and beverages and they even sent us home with some fancy Macy's champagne flutes, all free! (Have I mentioned I like free stuff?) Let me break it down for you, the top reasons to register at Macy’s, if you will.
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1. Swag bag! Yes! Now, who doesn't like a good swag bag, am I right? When we registered, we were treated like royalty in that little heavenly section of the store, tucked to the side by all of the pretty crystal vases and breakable dishes. The Wedding Section. *Cue angel chorus* And upon registering, we were promptly given all of these fun freebies! I got a tote bag just full of goodies. Macy’s must have had some agreement with Clinique, because for the bride, you get a nice little collection of Clinique samples, including mascara and a full-sized lipgloss (which I did, indeed, end up wearing on our wedding day!) Free makeup is definitely one way to a girl’s heart. A+ to Macy’s for that one.
Macy's Wedding Registry

2. Free gifts! We were given a list of gifts that we could get simply by registering for a certain dollar amount of specific brands. For example, we got a Calphalon knife for FREE just by registering for $500 worth of Calphalon products. This is just for REGISTERING for these products, not purchasing! And if you do end up with some of these products you don’t really want? The return process is super easy!
For a complete list of free gifts available, go here.
Macy's Bridal Registry

3. Completion discount of 10% that is good for any purchases that you make. ANY purchases, whether they are on your Registry or not. The completion discount is raised to 15% on jewelry through 3/31/12! So, you have an additional discount that you get to use every time you shop at Macy’s! Need a new bathing suit for the summer? Why not use that 10% completion discount, and stacked with the other promotions and sales that Macy’s is constantly having, you end up saving lots of money! Just another great perk of registering with Macy’s. And of getting married. ;) The website says this completion discount lasts up to 90 days after the wedding date, but we got ours even 6 months later! All we do is print our registry in store, which is still saved in the system, and it works just fine!

4. If you sign up for the free Macy’s Star Rewards, you get 5% of what everyone else spends on you from your Registry and 10% of what you spend on a Rewards card about a month after your wedding! Macys Registry RewardsYes, that’s right! Free money! In case everything else wasn’t enough, this is a nice little bonus treat they throw in.

5. You can also create your own personal wedding website through Macy's! We did not take advantage of this, but it is another freebie available if you choose to use it!

So there you have it. Are you engaged? Know somebody that is? We definitely recommend Macy's as a great place to register for your wedding! Remember, the possessions are not what's important, it's that feeling of knowing you've found true love and spending the rest of your life with someone who will always be by your side, through thick and thin. The registry gifts are just added bonuses.

Thanks for reading our Wedding Registry tips for Macy's!

To see how to save money on everything else, check out our home page and subscribe to our free daily email or follow us on Facebook or Twitter to get all of our updates!

*Disclaimer: This is not in any way a sponsored post. We received no financial incentives for writing this. We chose to create a Macy's wedding registry on our own. The views and opinions are our own.*

Wedding Paper Divas Save the Date Card Sale

Living Beyond Our Means

living beyond our meansWe just spend the past 7 days doing just that. We lived waaaay beyond our means. We worked hard to be able to do it and we will work equally as hard to be able to pay for it. (Yes, we overspent. Gasp!) :)

We splurged for a much, much needed 7 night vacation at the Hyatt Resort in Huntington Beach. For both of us personally, the year could not have had a more difficult start. This was one of those rare occasions where I feel that blowing a budget and going beyond our means was entirely worth it. There are very few things in life that you simply do and figure out how to pay for them later, and this was one of them.

Thanks to a family member who has worked his butt off to obtain a high level position with the Hyatt, we got a great rate on our room. There would have been no way in hell we would have been able to do this without the deal he got us. We also were greeted with a lovely welcome package which made us feel completely awesome:wine and cheeseand then had this waiting for us one night to celebrate our anniversary:
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The trip was spent walking and laying on the beach, riding bikes to neighboring Newport Beach, eating good food and drinking good drinks.

We made a few smart financial decisions while we were there, but I took care not to worry about money as much as possible. I think there is a difference between worrying about money and being smart with money. Anyway, back to our good decisions...

- We became experts in finding happy hours at local restaurants and bars.
- We didn't use our car for the entire time we were there. I knew we were going to tip at least $5 every time they brought the car up, so we just left it there. Plus, I hate driving during vacation anyway!
- We joined the hotel's reward program and applied our entire stay to it. Thus earning us 2 free future nights!

We did a couple of other things to get the most our of our money on this trip:

Our stay spanned from Wednesday through Wednesday. Upon arrival, we got a normal room with a courtyard view. We noticed they had an event going on for Vans store employees that seemingly filled the hotel. Then the weekend was coming up. I had a plan for Sunday though. Since we knew a lot of people would be checking out Sunday, we hit the lobby at around noon Sunday and asked if we could move rooms, and possibly even get one with a view. Sure enough, with the simple click of the mouse, the awesome customer service lady had us upgraded to a larger room with a full ocean view. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, we enjoyed a room that was absolutely exquisite. All because we asked.

Upon checkout, I thought I would mention the $34/night valet parking fee that we were hit with. Now I'm no cheapskate, but $34 a night is absurd. I simply asked if anything could be done about the parking charges. We were give 3 nights free. All because I asked. A 5 second question which required no groveling from either side, saved us $102.

Even when you're spending a lot of money, saving a little here and there really does make a difference. I estimate that we saved $500+ during our trip just by making smart financial decisions while not short-changing our vacation.

When we were given the receipt at checkout with all of our expenses, Katie saw it and said, "now that's called, living beyond your means". It sure was, but it was worth every penny.

Stay tuned to see how we're going to pay off the extra $1,000 that we spent on this trip! :)

What do you splurge on? How to you save for it?