Not In Jersey: October 2018 October 2018 - Not In Jersey

How to Save Money for Family Vacations

Wednesday, October 31, 2018


Spending quality time together with your family is one of the best things that you can do. Surrounding yourself with people who love and inspire you can boost anyone’s mood, and make you live a happier life as a result. Traveling to new places can have the same effect on people, and if you combine travel with valuable family time, you have the ultimate recipe for a good time. The downside, however, is that vacations are not free. If it were, many people wouldn’t work anymore but instead, spend their days sipping cocktails on the beach! However, since this isn’t a reality for everyone, you need to learn how to save for family vacation properly. Here are a few tips that will help you save money better.

1. Your bank plans

Before you start saving, you need a reliable banking system set up. You no doubt already have a bank set up with a particular institution, but you need to determine if they are the best choice for you. Moreover, if you let yourself get into debt at one point and have been flagged by a bank for not being financially responsible, it will be hard to open up a new line of credit. In these scenarios, you would need to go for a bank who does not use ChexSystems. Doing so will give you a second chance, for which you can read more information on Once you have this set up and sorted, you can start saving for your family vacation. Keep an eye out for banks that give you the option of travel rewards in particular because you can use these towards your next family vacation.

2. Prioritize

There is always a difference between needs versus wants, and you need to determine what those are for you and your family. Doing so will help you save money better, and avoid those unnecessary expenses. For instance, do you need to spend a lot of money on decorating your living room in the span of a few months, when you could spend it towards your family vacation? There is only so much money that you can save for spending purposes at one time.

3. Budget plan

Looking at how much you make each month, set aside a budget for your vacation. While it may be easy to determine a number, the hard part will be sticking to it. This is why you need to keep in mind the priorities mentioned previously, as well as setting aside a realistic number. If you have a hard time determining how much you should set aside, you could always opt to speak to a financial advisor. It will not only help you for travel purposes but assist you and your family to become more financially responsible for years to come.

4. Timing and destination

Timing is everything with taking a vacation, and it will be worth your while to choose a spot when it is off-season. If you do, the costs associated with it will be less, and there will also be fewer people there. Why go to a place that is over-crowded with tourists? This will only cause you and your family some level of stress, and the point is to go on vacation so that you can all relax and strengthen your family bonds.

5. Research ahead

At the end of the day, the important thing to remember is that you need to research ahead and plan your trip in advance. Not only will the cost of the accommodation and your travel ticket be less expensive, but you can also find deals for various activities and tours while you are there. Moreover, the sooner you start planning it, the less stressed everyone will be, giving you a chance to relax when you are there. The whole point of the vacation is to take a break from work and other responsibilities! Check the weather in advance, pack everything you need so that you don’t spend extra money and so on.

There is nothing more important than family. They are people who support you and can put a smile on your face after a long and stressful day. The memories that you create together will last a lifetime, and for this reason, you should always opt for doing activities together that you all enjoy. Travel is one example among various other pastimes, but it’s something that none of you will ever forget. The key is to budget and not let yourself get into debt, as this will only ruin the experience after the fact and cause unnecessary amounts of stress for the weeks or months following the trip.

This post was written by Bill Clark. Bill is a freelance journalist who specialises in writing about culture and the arts, however will write about anything that piques his interest including business, travel and lifestyle. He can be reached on Twitter @BilboClark01.

What’s Up Wednesday–October



Another month has passed by. I found myself surprised that October was almost over when I was talking to a friend about the farm we went to and said it was open until the end of October – but that was only a few days away! Here’s what we’ve been up to this month.

1. What We’re Eating This Month…

Tacos have joined our weekly rotation because all the kids will eat them. Simon likes his with just cheese and Zachary likes his on a tortilla instead of a taco, but at least we only have to make one meal! We use the vegetarian meat from Trader Joe’s and we all enjoy it.

2. What I’m Reminiscing About…

This month I finished blogging about our Yellowstone road trip with posts about Salt Lake City and Park City Utah, Dinosaur National Monument, and the stops we made in Kansas. I also started blogging about my New Orleans trip.

3. What I’m Loving…

We are actually seeing fall colors this year and it’s so pretty!

DSC_8602  DSC_8605DSC_8628DSC_8629DSC_8680

4. What We’ve Been Up To…

The month started with the conclusion of the fall holidays and then the kids had 2 full weeks of school – except that Simon got sick so he missed a day during the 2nd week! Gabbie didn’t want to go on her school camping trip so she stayed home and she and I went on an overnight trip. It rained a lot and a lot of our plans were canceled. Zachary let me take his picture for one of my photography challenges and I went for a walk in the West Bottoms for another. Simon and I went to a fun fall farm, Dave, the boys, and I went to Weston, MO and saw some pretty leaves (some pictured above), and then all of the kids went with me to the lake and the boys did a bit of biking.


5. What I’m Dreading…

I feel like bad things come in threes. First, a friend passed away. Then there was a synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. I sure hope nothing else happens.

6. What I’m Working On…

My latest 52 Frames photos:

[inspired by a photo]



[wabi sabi – this photo was chosen for the 52 picks album!]


7. What I’m Excited About…

There are a lot of things coming up to look forward to, including Thanksgiving and a chance to meet my great-nieces that I haven’t gotten to meet yet and a chance to meet my favorite actor!

8. What I’m Watching / Reading…

I’m embarrassed to tell you all the shows I’ve been watching, but some of my favorites right now include 9-1-1, Manifest, This Is Us, New Amsterdam, A Million Little Things, and Criminal Minds.

As usual, you can see my latest book reviews here, and hopefully I’ll be sharing a few more soon. Also, after two years of reading, I finished reading the Harry Potter books to the kids! Now we need a new series to start!

9. What I’m Listening To…

Billy Joel Radio came back to Sirius and it’s my favorite. This time they even played some rare tracks instead of just repeating the same ones over and over!

10. What I’m Wearing…

Old Navy jeans and hoodies are my usual go to.

11. What I’m Doing This Weekend…

Simon has a birthday party to go to but otherwise, I’m not sure yet.

12. What I’m Looking Forward To Next Month…

Thanksgiving, as I mentioned before.

13. What Else Is New…

In case you missed it, check out my posts about 52 Frames Quarter 3, 10 Favorite Recipes, Boots, Fall Movies, and Goldfish Swim School!

What’s up with you lately?


Fall Farm Fun at Faulkner’s Ranch–Local Tourist Link Up

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Fall Farm Fun at Faulkner’s Ranch

On Friday, Simon was off from school while the older kids were not, so he and I had a chance to check out a local pumpkin patch at Faulkner’s Ranch. We had never been to this particular farm before and we really enjoyed all the fall farm fun available there! For me, it is especially nice to be able to do what one child wants to do and not have to force all three to agree. So Simon was in charge and we did the activities that he wanted to do!


We visited the animals and fed some of them.


The goats have a playground and you can use a pulley to send them food, but they get in the way trying to grab the food before it goes up to the top!


We took a ride in a wagon pulled by a tractor. It brings you up and around a pond and is a pretty fun ride.

Ways That Goldfish Swim School Helps My Child Grow

Monday, October 29, 2018

Ways That Goldfish Swim School Helps My Child Grow

I am partnering with Goldfish Swim School for this post. All opinions are my own.

After another month of lessons, we are still loving Goldfish Swim School! I feel like I’ve seen a big difference in Simon in more than just his swim skills. His lessons have been helping him grow as a swimmer and as a confident kid!

1. Just knowing he CAN swim gives him that much more confidence. He went to a swim party last weekend and happily swam with his friends the whole time. I think this will make a big difference in the future when we are swimming as a family or when Simon is at camp or otherwise on his own.


2. He wants to get better and is trying hard to improve his skills. He has the most difficulty with the back float.


He is also working on getting his arms out of the water when he does the crawl stroke. He is learning to set goals based on what he needs to improve on to move to the next level swim class.


3. He is also becoming more outgoing with the kids in his class. He may be a bit silly a lot of the time, but I think he and his little friend are so cute together!


4. Although he’s been showering himself at home for over a year, Simon is now also happy to shower off himself after class. This past week he even dried his hair!


5. I think Simon also really likes having an activity of his own. When he was sick a few weeks ago, I asked him why he didn’t go to the nurse at school and he said because he didn’t want to have to miss swimming!


This week Simon gets to go to swim lessons twice because he is making up the class he missed when he was sick! He is very excited!


Hooray, It’s Friday! Boots and Voting

Friday, October 26, 2018


Time for another random Friday update!


Remember my boots post? I ended up ordering a pair from Target and although they aren’t exactly what I was thinking of, I think they will work! I chose these:

Charlene Stitch Detail Fashion Boots


I somehow ended up with awful itchy skin on my arms. It itches like dry skin but my skin doesn’t feel dry, it feels more bumpy. I dug out a sample I had received of Adamia Therapeutic Repair Lotion and it seems to be relieving the itch somewhat. I hope it also repairs the problem!



I went to early voting on Monday and it was packed! It didn’t take too long though. Now I really can’t wait for the election to be over so the phone can stop ringing constantly. I took Gabbie with me to vote and she got a future voter sticker and talks about who “we” voted for, so I think it was a good experience for her!

I put my sticker on my water bottle on top of my previous sticker from two years ago that was all faded!


Scenes from my trip with Gabbie (with more to follow):

IMG_5060  IMG_5072IMG_5074  IMG_5099
If you can guess where we were, I’ll send you a prize!


In case you missed it, this week I posted about:

movie  wabisabi

Have a great weekend!


Tips For Visiting New Orleans When You’re 40

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Tips For Visiting New Orleans When You’re 40

In honor of our 40th birthdays (his was in May and mine is in November), Dave and I took a small trip to New Orleans. Since neither of us had been there before and since Louisiana was a state we needed to check off on our quest to visit all 50 states, we knew we wanted to visit New Orleans. We also knew it wasn’t a place we wanted to bring the kids, so we arranged for Dave’s parents to visit and then watch the kids while we went on our trip. Being that we are about 20 years past the typical age of a New Orleans tourist, here are some tips for visiting New Orleans when you’re not in college!

1. Stay in the Garden District. We stayed at the Pontchartain Hotel, which was quiet and comfortable while still being on the streetcar route with easy access to Bourbon Street. There is also a rooftop bar and some interesting décor to check out!


2. If you want to learn about the history of New Orleans, there are tour guides walking the streets and you can join their tours if you choose. When we visited the Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District, we met Carla of Phantoms, Facts, and Folklore and she taught us all about the customs and stories of the cemetery. We later met her for an evening tour of the French Quarter, which was very interesting and unique!


3. If you don’t want to make use of a tour guide, you can also do a self-guided tour. We used this site to explore the Garden District and learn about the houses and architecture. I will do a post dedicated to the interesting things we discovered soon!


4. Have an open mind. We happened to be in New Orleans on the weekend of the annual Southern Decadence gay pride event. It was extremely crowded on Bourbon Street on our first night in the city, so much so that we were unable to walk down the street without getting stuck! There was a lot of partying going on and plenty of people in almost no clothing, so one would have to be open to seeing such things even if not participating.


5. Eat. Many times on my trips I can’t be a foodie, but New Orleans actually has a lot of kosher food options! I got to try jambalaya at the Kosher Cajun NY Deli and Grocery and the famous Café du Monde is kosher too!


6. Drink. 40 year olds can drink too, but we didn’t go crazy! We checked out some of the bars on this list. My favorite is the Carousel bar, where the bar area actually rotates!


7. Explore! There are so many colors and textures to see, if you pay attention!


Have you been to New Orleans?