Learn more about: My new Book - order now!
Disney World Savings Secrets
Almost every family loves Disney World....but high gas prices and the sour economy threaten to dash the vacation plans of many Disney fans this year.
Lisa shared some of her secrets with me... beginning with visiting during off season.
Off Season Deals
From August 24 to September 20th, you can eat free, if you stay at a Disney Resort.
Lisa says she tries to take advantage of "the end of august and beginning of september, because of their free dining plan." She'll take the kids out of school for a day over Labor day weekend....and make a 4 day getaway.
Also, hotel and package prices are lower in September and October.
But even in peak season, she says, the $37 a day Disney Dining Plan is worth buying if youre staying onsite.
"Buying everything a la carte," she says, "You'll pay more than $40 a day for food per adult!"
Save on Souvenirs
Speaking of a la carte... Lisa buys souvenirs, like a $3 Mickey Mouse t-shirt she found, before entering the park, where a shirt can cost $30.
She's philosophical about it. "Your kids never need to know they didn't come from Disney World."
If you must shop at the park, she says the best kept souvenir secret is "Mickey's Mart" in Downtown Disney...Where everything is under $10. Its much cheaper than buying a stuffed animal at the gift shop at the end of every ride.
Stay on site or off?
Lisa actually recommends staying in the park -- not offsite --where driving and parking can be expensive and a hassle.
Lisa says the "value" properties such as the "All Star Resort" or "Pop Century Resort" are as affordable as off site hotels.
She says "off season you can get it as low as $89 a night."
Other Money-Saving Tips
Among Lisa's other money saving gems: Avoid spring break, Christmas week, June, and July: It's expensive and crowded. In July, it's expensive, crowded, and HOT.
She says skip the pricey "Park Hopper" pass --which lets you visit 3 parks in one day. A multi day "Magic your Way" pass is cheaper. And who really does 3 parks in one day?
Skip expensive "character" dinners: Choose a character breakfast or lunch instead, where the kids meet Goofy and Princesses during a much less expensive meal.
Also, bring your own bottled water into the park, and -- if you see any -- purchase a reusable drink mug (sold at most of the on-site hotels)
Don't forget Discounts
Finally, Lisa says be sure to ask about special discounts for AAA members, military families, and Florida residents...if you have relatives living in Florida.
And she recommends check the money saving website mousesavers.com where you will find many more ideas...so you Don't waste your money.
Walt Disney Board for savings
There I was watching my son play in the back yard. This boy has way to much energy for me and even a greater imagination [ gets it from me ]. There he was running to and fro with his army helmet on and a drummers stick for his weapon. Pow, Pow, shoot, shot... Spitting as he pretended to be shooting a machine gun. Ofcourse he had his imaginary enemies but most of all - he had his imaginary troops.
He’d run to one side of the pool and yell go over there! Then run to another spot and scream "look out here they come!" all the while making his shooting sounds.
But what was most interesting was when he some how went to save a friend [ imaginary one ] and was shot by the bad guys [ I don’t know if it’s aliens or nazis - he just calls them bad guys ]. To my surprise he had a wonderful death scene..... Yet, when he noticed my camera the theatrics came to a complete stop. It's getting harder and harder to get this kid on film [ or digital camera ] I did however get one shot of his death scene..
This is Amazing - on one hand they say they need money [ the banks ] from the government [ really the tax payers ] to survive and they promise to help with the struggling economy and they start imposing fees on unemployeed people who are collecting unemployement ??? What the heck is going on - Read the article below - blew my mind...
Hey - Whats Obama Doing ??
Jobless hit with bank fees on benefits
By CHRISTOPHER LEONARD AP Business Writer The Associated Press
Friday, February 20, 2009 12:25 AM EST
For hundreds of thousands of workers losing their jobs during the recession, there's a new twist to their financial pain: Even as they're collecting unemployment benefits, they're paying bank fees just to get access to their money.
Thirty states have struck such deals with banks that include Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp., JP Morgan Chase and US Bancorp, an Associated Press review of the agreements found. All the programs carry fees, and in several states the unemployed have no choice but to use the debit cards. Some banks even charge overdraft fees of up to $20 — even though they could decline charges for more than what's on the card.
"It's a racket. It's a scam," said Rachel Davis, a 38-year-old dental technician from St. Louis who was laid off in October. Davis was given a MasterCard issued through Central Bank of Jefferson City and recently paid $6 to make two $40 withdrawals.
The banks say their programs offer convenience. They also provide at least one way to tap the money at no charge, such as using a single free withdrawal to get all the cash at once from a bank teller. But the banks benefit from human nature, as people end up treating the cards like all the other plastic in their wallets.
The fees are raising questions from lawmakers who just recently voted to infuse banks with taxpayer money to keep them afloat.
Steven Adamske, spokesman for the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, said he wasn't aware of the debit card programs before he was contacted by the AP, but was concerned about card holder fees.
"Our hope ... would be that banks who are getting federal assistance would forgo these kinds of fees as we're trying to help everyone in society deal with this recession," Adamske said.
Some banks, depending on the agreement negotiated with each state, also make money on the interest they earn after the state deposits the money and before it's spent. The banks and credit card companies also get roughly 1 percent to 3 percent off the top of each transaction made with the cards.
Neither banks nor credit card companies will say how much money they are making off the programs, or what proportion of the revenue comes from user versus merchant fees or interest. It's difficult to estimate the profits because they depend on how often recipients use their cards and where they use them.
But the potential is clear.
In Missouri, for instance, 94,883 people claimed unemployment benefits through debit cards from Central Bank. Analysts say a recipient uses a card an average of six to 10 times a month. If each cardholder makes three withdrawals at an out-of-network ATM, at a fee of $1.75, the bank would collect nearly $500,000. If half of the cardholders also dial customer service three times in any given week (the first time is free; after that, it's 25 cents a call), the bank's revenue would jump to more than $521,000. That would yield $6.3 million a year.
Rachel Storch, a Democratic state representative, received a wave of complaints about the fees from autoworkers laid off from a suburban St. Louis Chrysler plant. She recently urged Gov. Jay Nixon to review the state's contract with Central Bank with an eye toward reducing the fees.
"I think the contract is unfair and potentially illegal to unemployment recipients," she said.
Central Bank did not return two messages seeking comment.
Glenn Campbell, a spokesman for Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo., said the congressman would support a review of the debit card programs nationwide.
Another 10 states — including the unemployment hot spots of California, Florida and South Carolina — are considering such programs or have signed contracts. The remainder still use traditional checks or direct deposit.
With the national unemployment rate now at 7.6 percent, the market for bank-issued unemployment cards is booming. In 2003, states paid only $4 million of unemployment insurance through debit cards. By 2007, it had ballooned to $2.8 billion, and by 2010 it will likely rise to $10.5 billion, according to a study conducted by Mercator Advisory Group, a financial industry consulting firm.
The economic stimulus plan signed by President Barack Obama this week will increase federal unemployment benefits by $40 billion this year. Subsequently, there will be more money from which banks can collect fees. The U.S. Department of Labor allows the fees as long as states create a way for recipients to get their money for free, spokeswoman Suzy Bohnert said.
"Beyond that, the individual decides how to manage his drawdowns using the debit card," she said in an e-mail.
A typical contract looks like the agreement between Citigroup and the state of Kansas, which took effect in November. The state expects to save $300,000 a year by wiring payments to Citigroup instead of printing and mailing checks.
Citigroup's bill to the state: zero. The bank collects its revenue from fees paid by merchants and the unemployed.
"If you use your card the right way, you're not going to pay fees at all," said Paul Simpson, Citigroup's global head of public sector, health care and wholesale cards.
But that's not always practical.
Arthur Santa-Maria, a laid-off engineer who lives just outside Albuquerque, N.M., said he didn't pay any fees the first time he was laid off, for several months in 2007. His unemployment benefits were paid by paper checks. He found a new job last year but was laid off again last fall.
This time, he was issued a Bank of America debit card — a "prepaid" card in industry lingo — but he was surprised to learn he had to pay fees to get his money. He asked the bank to waive them. It said no. That's when Santa-Maria called back to ask how to check his account online. He logged on and saw that the call cost him a half dollar. To avoid more fees, Santa-Maria found a Bank of America ATM at a strip mall and withdrew $80 at no charge. When he got back to his car, he decided to take out the rest of his money — $250 — and deposit it in his bank account.
Afterward, Santa-Maria logged on to his account and saw a charge of $1.50 for two withdrawals in one day.
"They're trying to use my money to make money," Stanta-Maria said. "I just see banks trying to make that 50 cents or a buck and a half when I should be given the service for free."
New Mexico authorities bargained with Bank of America to get lower fees for unemployment recipients, said Carrie Moritomo, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Workforce Solutions. The state saves up to $1.5 million annually by switching from checks to debit cards.
Bank of America spokeswoman Britney Sheehan pointed out that the fees charged in New Mexico are similar to those charged in the 29 other states with unemployment debit cards. The bank believes "the fee schedule is reasonable and consistent with similar programs," she said.
Banks could issue unemployment debit cards with no fees for cardholders, but that would likely mean that states would have to pay more of the administrative costs, said Mark Harrington, director of marketing for Citigroup's prepaid card services. If a state demanded no cardholder fees and could pay the difference, Citigroup might enter such a contract.
"We would be open to that," Harrington said. "We're not looking to structure any programs where we would lose money, but we're definitely flexible."
Simpson noted that the cards can save money for jobless workers who have no bank accounts. In the past, these people had to use corner check-cashing shops that charged fees as high as 2 percent, or $6 for a $300 check. Now, they can swipe their cards at McDonald's, Wal-Mart or elsewhere for free.
Kenna Gortler, a laid-off paper mill worker in Oregon, said her union is advising members to avoid the debit cards and sign up to get their benefits through direct deposit. More than 300 of her fellow workers have lost their jobs at the mill in the last three months, and horror stories about ATM fees and overdraft charges are starting to filter back to others who are just now signing up for their benefits.
"It's discouraging," Gortler said. "People have limited funds and they don't need to be giving money to the banks. They need to be keeping that money to feed their families and pay bills."
Here I was looking thru the thousands of pictures I have of my children and I started to notice something weird. You know - one of those odd things only parents do with their children.
I don’t know if this was planned [ by my wife ] or if she just subconsciously did it but I found photos of my son sitting on the toilet. Now it might not sound odd at first - but she took one in 2005, took one in 2006 and then another in 2007...?
I have a few of the pictures here on the blog - ain't he cute?
Now yeah, she was probably proud of my little man and his progress with his “poddy training”...
but these pictures are 3 years apart ?
Ofcourse these are the kinds of pics we all wish Mom never had - because they most certainly will come out of the closet when we bring our date over to visit.. Boy, I remember the day my Mom brought out some baby pictures of me to show my girlfriend how cute I was as a baby [ never mind I was 3 years old in a crib and sucking a pacifier ] Couldn't she have found something manly like me in an army suit shooting terrorist.
But you have to admit - my little man looks so cute sitting on the pot reading his newspaper as he does his thing.
I wonder where he got that from .... LOL
The funny thing is that I found a picture of my son picking his nose. Now I wonder - why would anyone take an upclose picture of that boy picking his nose if not to embarasse him when he brings over his first date.....
Come on son, you'll look back at this and luagh...... Lol
The Wild Luaghing kid
Unlimited calling to the numbers you call the most. Anywhere in America. Anytime.
As many know by now that Verizon purchased ALLTEL - not merged, but purchased. And one of the things paople have been asking me is - What will verizon do? Will they keep some of the plans Alltell has? But most importantly how will it effect thier calling plans?
So here you have it - New and secretly posted [ on the same time of thier luanch so I don't get sued ] :
Verizons : Friends & Family Unlimited calling plan [ in truth "feature" not a plan ]
You can choose the 5 most or ten people you want to talk with the most. And just like Alltels circle plan - you can call them [ unlimited talk ] for free! You use none of your minutes.
The best part about Verizons "Family & Friends" feature is that unlike other cariers - you can change your friends and family daily. So if you want to talk to uncle Bob tommorow and you know he talks alot and will it up your minutes - you just go in the night before [ plan changes take effect the following day ] and change one of the top 5 or 10 to uncle bob and the next day when you call him - no worries becuase he can talk until he is blue in his face and non - i said none of your minutes are used.
Heres how it works:
single plan : you get 5 top friends and Family
1-you have to have a 900 minute plan or more to be eligible. [ unlimited talk plan not eligible ]
2-you have to sign up for Myverizonwireless.com
3- you better know how to work a computer - it's a totally "self Serve" system.
you can not call up verizon and ask to have friends changed - it's all on you.
Family share : you get 10 top friends and family
1-you have to have a 1400 minute plan or more to be eligible. [ unlimited talk plans uneligible ]
2-you have to sign up for Myverizonwireless.com
3- you better know how to work a computer - it's a totally "self Serve" system.
you can not call up verizon and ask to have friends changed - it's all on you.
What numbers are eligle for the "Friends and Family" feature?
1-you can use land lines, other cariers [ at&t, sprint , etc.. ]
2-you can use 800 numbers
1- your own number or message service numbers.
2- 411 or service numbers like 900 numbers...
** Theres so much more to this that verizon has put into in this Plan [ feature ] - an example would be that you could even use it with verizons voice and email plans.... It truly is a nice way to give more value to it's customers and help the savey verizon customer save money.
Don’t take this as an offence or a sign of cruelty - but “when are you too Old to drive ?”
I have friends who always bad mouth Senior [ old ] drivers. They make fun of them - they point out the fact that their unable to drive because of their age. ofcourse I always come to their defense. Not because I don’t think they are great drivers - but because it’s a right - a privilege to drive and I count that as one of our American freedoms. No one should be told they can’t do what they want - when it is within the law, their rights and sanctioned by government. So if they have a car, a drivers license, who am I to tell them no. I certainly wouldn’t want someone to decide for me when I couldn’t do something.
My problems is - they make themselves easy targets. - Senior [old] drivers that is. Take for example:
Here I am at the turning lane - it’s only one way and no room for anyone to pass me on the side and here comes this car. Forget that my truck is 300 times bigger than this car, that there are signs posted saying not an exit, do not enter, - but this car just keeps coming straight at me. At first in my disbelief I just kept staring at the grill of this car - when was it going to stop?
When the car got so close to my car that I thought it would hit me - I look at the driver ready to give this guy a - “hey stupid “ what your doing look - and to my surprised I see this little old [senior] lady looking shocked that my car was in her way. It took her a full 2 minutes to realize she was going the wrong way and that she wasn’t going to get around my big truck. Then she hurriedly back-up the car onto on coming traffic and went on her little way like nothing happen.
Come on, how can I defend your right to drive when you give us plenty of reason to keep you off the public roads…..
Ok, So I admit it, it wasn’t a real bull - but a mechanical bull or a real one - I am ashamed to say I failed.
I saw the bull ride from more than twenty yards away and I wanted to ride that bad boy. Flashes of all the cow boy movies I’ve ever seen danced thru my head and for a minute - I thought I was going to break the record. I convinced myself that this was my day. I was going to ride the mechanical bull and I was going to be better than everyone else. Yep - me, city slicker turned country boy - today I would ride into county fair history. NOT!
When I got to the line and saw what some of the first bull riders had gone thru - flailing around on that mechanical monster - I thought - "is this thing safe"? I noticed how the mechanical bull operator was more gentle on the kids than she was on adults - and again I thought, is this safe?
Then I got to the sign up sheet and just before I wrote my name down I read the fine print that was way above of the page. It was a disclaimer - it read in summary - that if you sign up for the mechanical bull and you get injured which was a possibility - you would not hold “liable” [ responsible ] the fair, the owner of the bull or the operator of this mechanical bull. So I froze - my question was - "is this safe?"... And even though I recorded a video of a little girl ridding the bull [ as proof for you ] I couldn’t help think that if I got on this thing - the operator would find some perverse pleasure in making sure I looked the fool as I fell “hard” off this mechanical death trap. So, in the end, I quietly walked away and failed to mention to my friends and family that fear and the mechanical bull had won the day.
I’m such a coward
It's not becuase I'm to clingy - it's becuase I know what can and does happen out there in the "REAL WORLD".
What is my point? I ran across this article titled : How to protect your children.
Good read and informative - But I think it would fall on deaf ears for most parents. I watch parents act like the minute thier child turns 4 years old they should be able to fend for themselves. Even worst is those parents that for no reason I can comprehend act like thier children are to much work and effort and should just be left alone to do what they want becuase hey - if they can walk and talk they should be able to "leave them alone"... ok so I'm being harsh. But really... Even in my current quite neighborhood in a quite part of florida - I still hear stories. How about the simple fact of letting your child get the mail - I heard how a 5 year old came running into her home screaming to her parents that some man in a car was trying to pull her into his car right on her own drive way. And my wife wonders why I keep such a watchful eye. I'm not overly clingy - just too experinced to think that nothing could ever happen to my child.
Take for instance who your children hang out with. As a parent I prefer my child bring her friends to my house rather than she being sent to thiers. Why? - becuase one: I want to know her friends [ I mean know them - not just say hi and send them off to a secluded bedroom where you don't know whats going on ]. Second - Who are these parents of this child, who is living in that house and who are their nieghbors?? [ ofcourse the same could be said about me - but if this parent is so willing to have my child go over, they should have no problem sending thiers over to my home - if I had my way, trust me - we wouldn't have any friends coming over......]
But - like most parents no one wants to take the time to learn much about thier kids friends much less take an extra step like running a simple back ground check on someone.. Thats right - a back ground check.. Sounds over the top but think about it...
Teachers sleeping with elementary school kids. Principals accused of molesting children. Police or sheriff officers accused of sleeping with highschool children. What about the fact that a child molester can be living right next door to you.
Are you going to wait until it's to late - so you could say, "what if I had done more?"
There is so much out there - people who simply want to do harm to anyone that crosses thier path - I prefer to be protective than to wonder, "could I have done more...."
A section from : How to protect your childrenThere are many sites available for you to check someone out. By simply typing in a name, you can get access to information about their civil and criminal records, warrants, phone number and address and even marriage licenses and death certificates. This will help you determine whether the person your child is with is safe or not. Never trust someone simply because they seem nice. Sometimes thieves, murderers and others that are up to no good can come across as being nice people. While most of the time, you will find that the people your child spends time with are very safe and clean, there are many instances where a parent took that for granted and ended up being wrong. You do not want to be one of those people who will spend the rest of their lives wishing they had just checked a little better. Be vigilant, and sleep well at night knowing that you have done your best to make sure your child is safe.
Is Mom a Pole Dancer?
I got this in my email this morning - I think it's so funny - children I tell you. Mom explians child's Homework - always check your childs homework ....
VERY FUNNY !!!
(Here's the reply the teacher received the following day)
Dear Mrs. Jones, I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer. I work at Home Depot and I told my daughter how hectic it was last week before the blizzard hit. I told her we sold out every single shovel we had, and then I found one more in the back room, and that several people were fighting over who would get it. Her picture doesn't show me dancing around a pole. It's supposed to depict me selling the last snow shovel we had at Home Depot. From now on I will remember to check her homework more thoroughly before she turns it in. Sincerely, Mrs. Smith