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7 Cheap & Exciting Things to Do This 4th of July

4th of July

The 4th of July is right around the corner, and that means it’s time to break out those summer activities! Whether you plan to celebrate on the 4th this year or the weekend before, there are tons of cheap and fun options for making the most out of our independence day.

So, without further ado, here are seven cheap and exciting things you can do to celebrate our country this summer!

1. Host a BBQ or Potluck

Just because you’re hosting a party doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money. Make your 4th of July BBQ a potluck. You provide the backyard and make the burgers and have your friends and family handle the rest! What better way to celebrate than to spend time with those closest to you?

2. Watch Local Firework Displays

You could go out and buy your own fireworks, or you could just attend one of the many free firework displays taking place nearby. Not only is it much cheaper to go to a local display but chances are that their fireworks will also be much more impressive. Get there early with your blankets and chairs and spend time soaking up the summer before the show starts. You can turn this into a double activity by getting there early and…

3. Have Your Very Own Picnic!

Whether you are bringing a dinner picnic to your local fireworks display or packing a lunch picnic for a nearby festival (see #5!), picnics are always a great option for celebrating the summer. Pack some sandwiches and maybe even mix up some sangria and hit the road!

5. Explore a Festival

What summer would be complete without taking part in a festival or two? Luckily, the 4th of July is a prime chance to attend free festivals all over the country. Hop on Google and search for 4th of July celebrations near you, chances are you will find at least a few fun excursions the weekend before this great holiday.

6. Attend a Concert

The 4th of July is a prime time to get to watch local brass bands, symphonies, and philharmonics for free. See what instrument groups are performing nearby and take a trip to your local bandshell to take in the show (picnics are often a great option for these concerts as well)!

7. Watch a Patriotic Movie Marathon

Are you reading through all of these choices and just thinking, “eww. I don’t want to deal with all those crowds”? If so, what about hosting your very own Patriotic Movie Marathon in your own wonderfully air-conditioned home? Pick out some of your favorite patriotic movies, pop some red, white, and blue popcorn and settle in for a quiet celebration at home. Stumped on where to begin? Here are some movies to get you started: National Treasure, Saving Private Ryan, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Glory, or Capitan America.

Regardless of how you choose to spend your 4th of July this year, I hope that you celebrate by enjoying the things that you hold most dear and remember all of those who have fought to keep us free.

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30 Songs to Get You Into The Holiday Spirit

Santa Claus with tablet

With Christmas right around the corner, I would like to share with you some of my favorite holiday songs.

Click on the video below to listen to my top 30 songs to get you into the holiday spirit!

Or, if you would like to find the music on your own, here is a list of the 30 songs included in the above playlist.

  1. Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer – Ella Fitzgerald
  2. Holly Jolly Christmas – Michael Bublé
  3. Rockin Around The Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
  4. Let it Snow! – Dean Martin
  5. White Christmas – Bing Crosby
  6. 4 Carats – Kelly Clarkson
  7. Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Dean Martin
  8. Welcome Christmas – How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  9. Mistletoe – Colbie Caillat
  10. Mistletoe And Holly – Frank Sinatra
  11. Somewhere In My Memory – John Williams
  12. We Need A Little Christmas – “Mame” the Musical
  13. Frosty The Snowman – Jimmy Durante
  14. Oh Santa! – Mariah Carey
  15. Little Saint Nick – The Beach Boys
  16. Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms
  17. I Can’t Wait for Christmas – Mindi Abair
  18. Hey Santa – Ashanti
  19. Grown Up Christmas List – Michael Bublé
  20. Good King Wenceslas – Bing Crosby
  21. The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole
  22. Christmas Lights – Coldplay
  23. Christmas in America – Melissa Etheridge
  24. The 12 Days Of Christmas – Straight No Chaser
  25. I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas – Gayla Peevey
  26. Santa Baby! – Eartha Kitt
  27. All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
  28. Last Christmas – Wham!
  29. I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Doris Day
  30. Mary, Did You Know? – Pentatonix

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This Midlife Crisis is Just a Game: Want to Play?

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Today I bring you some amusement from the past.

Behold, Mid-Life Crisis, the game!

Nearly 35 years ago, in 1982, this game graced the board game shelves. Its tagline was “can you survive your mid-life crisis without cracking up, breaking up, or going broke?”

The game was produced in California by The Game Works, Inc in 1982 and was re-released in 1993. According to an article in The New York Times from 1993, the original version of the game sold 700,000 copies. I’m not sure when it went out of production, but it definitely is not easy to find today. It takes about an hour to play, requires 4-6 players, and is only intended for people over the age of 18.

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Each game came with the above certificate.

So, how do you play?

The objective of the game was simply to make it through your midlife with more money, less stress, and fewer divorce points than the other players, and (most importantly) to avoid having to declare a mid-life crisis where you go broke, get divorced, or crack up before the game is over.

To start the game, each player is given a score card and a pawn to place on start. Each player starts the game with a career, $25,000, 500 stress points, and a marriage. To play, each player rolls the die, moves forward the respective number of spaces, and follows the direction on whichever space they land on. Each space can either add or subtract stress points, award or take away money, add or subtract divorce points, or have you use a crisis card or zap card.

An example of a Zap Card:

“PANIC – Your period is late. Go to Doctor and SUBTRACT $1,000 or have the child and ADD 300 STRESS POINTS.”

Basically, crisis cards are things that happen to you and zap cards are things you can make happen to other players. There are also special spaces including career spaces, retreats, and passage spaces.

An example of a Crisis Card:

“Your spouse keeps telling the kids that you are going through the change. Deny everything, talk about personal growth and self exploration. ADD 200 STRESS POINTS.”

When you land on a career space, you must pay the designated amount of money to the player who has that career. Retreats are the 3 big spaces in the middle of the board and they are the spaces you are sent to if you lose your mind, get divorced, or go broke. If you have over 1,500 stress points, you are required to go to Crack-up Ranch for “therapy”. If you get 3 divorce points you have to go to Divorce Gulch to attempt to reconcile with your spouse. If you go bankrupt, you must go to Bankrupt City where you basically become a homeless person begging for change.

The passage spaces are spaces that you cannot skip over. If you roll a 5 and there is a passage space 3 spaces ahead, you must stop there. These spaces make it possible for other players to force a crisis onto you.

The winner is the person with the most money. Each zap card, 100 stress points, or divorce point is equal to $1,000 that you must deduct from your total amount of money at the end of the game.

So, what do you think? Would you survive your midlife crisis?

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The Top 12 Apps Everyone in Midlife Needs (+5 Bonus Apps)

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In our busy world, apps make everything easier. After all, the phrase “there’s an app for that” wasn’t coined for nothing. Especially when you are in midlife, things can get hectic. Between family and work, sometimes it’s hard to keep everything straight. That’s why I came up with this list. These apps are guaranteed to make your life simpler. Don’t believe me? Check them out for yourself!

To Avoid Traffic

wazeWaze

Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Other Waze users share real-time traffic and road information to make everyone’s drive better. Getting alerts on traffic is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this app. Waze can also tell you if there is debris in the road, how bad that accident ahead really is, if there is a cop hiding out around the corner, and so much more. Ultimately, Waze makes it possible to outsmart traffic, together.

To Get (and Stay) Fit

FitnessBuilder.PNGFitnessBuilder

The free version of this app offers plenty for anyone looking to start a fitness routine. At the free level you have access to 16 different multi-week fitness plans, 200 videos and pictures explaining how to do different exercises, and over 400 individual workouts. You also have the ability to pick your specific workout goal, your current fitness level, and specify which equipment you have available to make sure that your workouts are perfect for you. If you choose to pay for the Plus membership ($6.99/month or $59.99/year), you have access to over 1,000 different workouts, over 7,000 videos and pictures, and 22 different fitness plans. You also gain the ability to ask a trainer questions about your workout and create your own exercises. Regardless of the option that works for you, you have the ability to track and log all of your workouts, record your body measurements, and chart your progress.

c25kC25K

C25K literally stands for “Couch to 5K” and I feel that title says it all. If you want to train for a 5K or even just learn how to become a runner, this app is for you. This app is an 8-week program where you schedule 3 times a week to go running. Each session includes a warm-up and a cool-down and lasts less than 45 minutes. C25K has you start slow by alternating walking for 90 seconds and then jogging for 60 seconds. As the weeks progress, you begin running more and more. It also gives you the ability to have music play through the app so that you can listen to your music and the cues to start walking or jogging at the same time. The best part, it’s all free!

To Be Productive

any.do.PNGany.do

This app syncs your personal tasks, work projects, and shared lists so you have a clear path moving forward. With any.do you can create the most comprehensive to do lists you have ever made. You can separate your tasks into sections like work, school, or home. Then within those sections you can break down tasks by day and even have sub-tasks for each of your tasks. You can also create team tasks. For example, if you are working on a group project at work you can create a team of your co-workers where everyone can see, edit, and add to the list. And the teams aren’t limited to your work life. Make a team of two with you and your spouse. Need your spouse to pick up groceries on their way home? Just send them a group list with what you need. These are just some of the features that set any.do apart from it’s competiton. Check it out for yourself to see what else you can accomplish.

To Find the Best Deals

retailmenotTo Find Coupons: RetailMeNot

RetailMeNot has just about every online and in-store coupon at your fingertips. When you are out shopping, just pull up this app while you are in the checkout line and by the time you reach the cashier you can have a 25% off coupon in your hand. This app also can notify you of nearby sales and deals as you drive around town and give you access to discounted gift cards. If you’re always looking for a deal, this app is for you.

key-ringTo Declutter Your Key Ring: Key Ring

Between the loyalty cards on your key ring and the loyalty cards in your wallet how many do you have? Chances are, you have enough that you feel like you are always searching for the right on. Well this app was created to solve that problem, as well as help clean out your wallet and key ring. You can scan any of your loyalty cards into this app and then those cards will be available through the app! No more carrying around endless loyalty cards or searching for the right one. But that isn’t all Key Ring can do. You can also scan the weekly ads from the stores where you have loyalty cards and make shopping lists based on what you find.

SnipSnap.PNGTo Never Forget a Physical Coupon Again: SnipSnap

If you are anything like me, you have a pile of coupons sitting at home and that pile stays there until you’re at the store and find yourself thinking, “I had a coupon for that!”. SnipSnap was created to fix that problem. When you get a coupon, just scan it into the app and then it will be waiting on your phone when you’re ready for it. The other awesome feature of this app is that you can snap a picture of an item you want to purchase and SnipSnap will search for deals on that item! If you’re bad at couponing, this app can change your life.

To Find Books to Read (& To Find Time to Read Them)

goodreads.PNGGoodreads

If you are a reading enthusiast, this app is for you. Goodreads is the world’s largest social network for readers. You can find thousands of book reviews by Goodreads members, keep a virtual bookshelf of what you’ve read, and build your to-read list as you discover great books on the app. This app makes it possible for you to search, rate, and review virtually any book. It also has a handy barcode scanner where you can scan your books onto your virtual bookshelf and scan books into your “to read” list.

audibleAudible

This is the app for someone who enjoys reading but can’t seem to find the time to actually read. Audible is the worlds largest provider of premium audiobooks, with over 150 thousand titles to choose from. The best part is that, because it’s an app, you can listen to your books anywhere and anytime. Plus, right now you can get your first audiobook free when you sign up.

To Become a Master Budgeter

mintMint

Mint is a money manager, personal finance tracker, and budgeter all rolled into one. First it puts all of your financial information into one location so you can see the big picture. It also has budgeting tools, free credit score tools, alerts and advice based on your spending habits, automatic categorization (so you know exactly how much you spend where), and investment tracking (so you can compare your portfolio compared to the market and more). Mint knows that putting all of your financial information can be scary so it takes your security very seriously. Beyond it’s own security measures, it also is analyzed and certified by multiple third party security providers.

To Sleep Well

sleep-cycleSleep Cycle

Everyone knows that getting a good nights sleep is important, but how many of us actually get the sleep we need? That’s where Sleep Cycle comes in. Set your phone next to you while you sleep and this app will measure just how much sleep you’re really getting. It tracks your sleep cycle so that you know how much of your night is spent in a deep sleep versus a light sleep. While tracking your sleep is interesting, the coolest feature of this app is it’s alarm clock. You can set an alarm and sleep cycle will wake you up when you are naturally sleeping the lightest. This makes it easier for you to get up and get going while feeling refreshed.

To Wake Up On Time

Morning Routine.PNGMorning Routine (Android)

This is an app that I use religiously – and not just to wake up in the morning. If you are someone that absolutely hates getting out of bed in the morning, this app is perfect. You can set a series of alarms to get you up and moving. The alarm slowly gets louder to gently nudge you awake (plus you can pick whichever alarm you wish), but that’s just the beginning. To turn off your alarm you can choose to either push a button, scan a barcode, scan a specific barcode, or any combination of those options. For example, I start with pushing a button. Ten minutes later I have to scan a barcode in the bathroom. This way I can force myself to actually start my day. The best part (or the worst part depending on your opinion) is that you cannot turn off the alarm until you scan the correct barcode. You also can make the alarm a series of tasks so you don’t just wake up, you actually go through your entire morning routine.

walk-upWalk Up (iPhone)

Walk Up is the closest option to Morning Routine that I could find for iPhones. Unlike Morning Routine, it doesn’t have you scan specific items. Instead, you have to walk a certain distance to turn off the alarm (you can pick anywhere between 10 and 100 steps). The alarms tend to be more urgent and dramatic than Morning Routine, simply to help force you up quickly. There are also themes, “doomsday” countdowns, and the “evil mode” where you can’t snooze the alarm. If you need to get up and get up fast – this is your answer.

To Get Your Groove On

iheartradioiHeartRadio

iHeartRadio is another app that I use regularly. Not only can you listen to your favorite radio stations anywhere, but you can also pick out playlists based on specific artists, listen to podcasts, and pick playlists based on your current activities (work, cleaning the house, exercising, etc.). iHearRadio also keeps track of your favorite stations and recent stations so you never forget what you’ve been listening to. As an added bonus, it also has alarm clocks and sleep timers that you can have open to a specific station.

To Send & Receive Payments

Venmo.PNGVenmo

In a world where physical dollar bills are becoming more and more obsolete, Venmo has created a way to exchange money as easily as handing someone cash. With a Venmo account you can transfer money from your bank account to your friend’s account with a click of a button. Do you owe someone money for coffee? No problem, just send it to them with Venmo. Never worry about running to an ATM again.

To Get Rid of Unwanted Junk Mail

paperkarma.PNGPaperKarma

This app is the high-tech answer to your low-tech problems. You know the junk mail that  plagues your actual mailbox? PaperKarma is the answer to your woes. When you receive junk mail, simply snap a picture of it and submit it on PaperKarma. The app will then contact the organization sending the junk mail and get you removed from their list. Ultimately, PaperKarma is the end of your junk mail as you know it!

To Know Who’s Calling

truecallerTruecaller

With landlines disappearing and cellphones taking over, telemarketers are calling cellphones more and more. That is where Truecaller comes in. By installing this app, you can know exactly who is calling you, regardless of if they are in your contacts. You will not only see the name of who is calling you, but also a picture of them. With Truecaller you can also block spam callers and telemarketers, search for someone who isn’t in your contacts, see when your friends are free to talk, and back trace phone numbers from anywhere.

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