A Financial Education Event
 

8 Ways to Thank a Veteran Today and Every Day

 

As far a military families go, I’m brat, a grandbrat, a wifebrat and a mombrat. Yes, military service runs deep in the Kay family. My Grampa died as an aircrew member in WWII; my dad retired as a Chief Master SGT in the US Air Force; my hubby flew fighter aircraft in the Air Force for 30 years; one of my sons graduated from the Naval Academy and is an active duty Marine; another son graduated this year from the United States Air Force Academy and is at pilot training; and my youngest son is a junior at WestPoint. So when it comes to thanking our troops for their service, I really appreciate those of you who take the time to say thanks.  Here are some more easy ways to express your appreciation:

1.       Say “Thanks” – The fact that you are reading this blog, indicates that you probably already thank those in uniform when you see them. When people say “Thank you for your service” to my Marine son, he responds with, “Proud to serve.”  Be sure to also thank family members, including parents of service members, for the way they serve by supporting their military members. You can also say thanks by donating to Heroes at Home, which provides financial readiness for military readiness. In our Heroes at Home events I explain that when people say thanks to them, it’s their way of being patriotic.

2.      Say “Welcome Home” – As we all know, the Vietnam War was not a popular conflict, and those who served were greeted with jeers, taunts or just plain apathy. There are also those who returned from the Korean War who were never properly welcomed back. So when you see an older vet, ask them what war they served in and if it’s one of those two, then ask one more question, “Were you ever welcomed home?” If they say, “no” then simply say, “Well you have been now, welcome home soldier, thank you for your service.” I’ve done this many times and all were deeply thankful for the sentiments, and some were so deeply moved, they even had tears in their eyes. In our Heroes at Home Events, I encourage our young service members to welcome home these Veterans and just how much it means for someone currently serving to thank those who have served.

3.      Pick Up Dinner – Every year, restaurants give free meals and discounts for Veterans and those who are serving now and at The Military Wallet, you can get this year’s update. But why not keep it going year round? Once a year, or more, depending on your budget, pay for a military member’s meal. You may see a service member with his or her family or a group of military dudes and dudettes in a small group at a restaurant. Don’t go up to the soldier, sailor or airman to ask if you can pay for their meal. Instead, go to the manager or the waitress and ask for their bill, then pay it as you leave and tell the waitress to give them a simple message: “Thank you for your service.”

4.       Operation Gratitude – During Veterans day week, our USAFA parents club volunteered to help put together care packages for the troops. Lots of volunteers put together over 7,000 care packages in one day! Each time I went through the assembly line with my boxes, it took all my self control not to slip that package of Rocky Mountain Factory fudge into my pocket. You can also donate DVDs, Girl Scout cookies, trial-sized toiletries, candy, scarves, gloves, small stuffed animals, books and more to the effort.

5.      Mow A Yard – Or rake leaves, or plant rosebushes, or paint an outhouse, or… you get the idea, for the military family of a deployed service member in your neighborhood, church or community.  When Bob was gone and I was left home alone with a house full of kids, I really appreciated that help. The best help comes from people you know, where that military family is comfortable knowing you are not a creeper!

6.      Donate Your Old Cell – If you are like most of the Kay family members, you get a new phone about once every 18 months or so (it seems to be an inalienable right in our clan). Instead of trading in when you trade up, give it to Cell Phones for Soldiers.

7.      Calling All Coupon Queens – I started out in the financial area as a Coupon Queen and eventually evolved to “America’s Family Financial Expert” ®. Along the way, I’ve encouraged families to donate their expired coupons to military units overseas. They can use your castoffs for up to six months past the expiration date. For more information, email us at assistant@elliekay.com and put “Expired Coupons” in the subject line.


8.     
Care for Critters – If you are like my hubby, you are a critter person. He sits in his easy chair each evening and instantly—voila!—three mini schnauzers appear in his lap. They were his constant pet therapy when he broke his back a couple years ago, thereby ending his career as a fighter pilot. If you love critters, then you can offer to provide foster care by taking in a dog or cat of a wounded or deployed military member while he or she is receiving medical treatment or on duty.  For more on this, go to Guardian Angels for Soldiers.

Thank you to all our Veterans and their families, and a special thanks to my husband, LTC Bob Kay, the World’s Greatest Fighter Pilot for his 30 years of service, to my Marine, Airman and Soldier. I’m so proud of all of you!

Ellie Kay

www.elliekay.com

8 Ways to Thank a Veteran Today and Every Day

 

As far a military families go, I’m brat, a grandbrat, a wifebrat and a mombrat. Yes, military service runs deep in the Kay family. My Grampa died as an aircrew member in WWII; my dad retired as a Chief Master SGT in the US Air Force; my hubby flew fighter aircraft in the Air Force for 30 years; one of my sons graduated from the Naval Academy and is an active duty Marine; another son graduated this year from the United States Air Force Academy and is at pilot training; and my youngest son is a junior at WestPoint. So when it comes to thanking our troops for their service, I really appreciate those of you who take the time to say thanks.  Here are some more easy ways to express your appreciation:

1.       Say “Thanks” – The fact that you are reading this blog, indicates that you probably already thank those in uniform when you see them. When people say “Thank you for your service” to my Marine baby boy, he responds with, “Proud to serve.”  Be sure to also thank family members, including parents of service members, for the way they serve by supporting their military members. If you like the football, then get in on the NFL’s way of saying “thanks,” both online and in football stadiums across America in the next few weeks. Participate in the million fan salute. When you vote a “salute” for your team, then your local military earns rewards from this USAA sponsored initiative.

2.      Say “Welcome Home” – As we all know, the Vietnam War was not a popular conflict, and those who served were greeted with jeers, taunts or just plain apathy. There are also those who returned from the Korean War who were never properly welcomed back. So when you see an older vet, ask them what war they served in and if it’s one of those two, then ask one more question, “Were you ever welcomed home?” If they say, “no” then simply say, “Well you have been now, welcome home soldier, thank you for your service.” I’ve done this many times and all were deeply thankful for the sentiments, and some were so deeply moved, they even had tears in their eyes. Making a grown man cry never felt so good.

3.      Pick Up Dinner – Every year, restaurants give free meals and discounts for Veterans and those who are serving now and at The Military Wallet, you can get this year’s update. But why not keep it going year round? Once a year, or more, depending on your budget, pay for a military member’s meal. You may see a service member with his or her family or a group of military dudes and dudettes in a small group at a restaurant. Don’t go up to the soldier, sailor or airman to ask if you can pay for their meal. Instead, go to the manager or the waitress and ask for their bill, then pay it as you leave and tell the waitress to give them a simple message: “Thank you for your service.”

4.       Operation Gratitude – During Veterans day week, our USAFA parents club volunteered to help put together care packages for the troops. Lots of volunteers put together over 7,000 care packages in one day! Each time I went through the assembly line with my boxes, it took all my self control not to slip that package of Rocky Mountain Factory fudge into my pocket. You can also donate DVDs, Girl Scout cookies, trial-sized toiletries, candy, scarves, gloves, small stuffed animals, books and more to the effort.

5.      Mow A Yard – Or rake leaves, or plant rosebushes, or paint an outhouse, or… you get the idea, for the military family of a deployed service member in your neighborhood, church or community.  When Bob was gone and I was left home alone with a house full of kids, I really appreciated that help. The best help comes from people you know, where that military family is comfortable knowing you are not a creeper!

6.      Donate Your Old Cell – If you are like most of the Kay family members, you get a new phone about once every 18 months or so (it seems to be an inalienable right in our clan). Instead of trading in when you trade up, give it to Cell Phones for Soldiers. Go to http://www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com/.

7.      Calling All Coupon Queens – I started out in the financial area as a Coupon Queen and eventually evolved to “America’s Family Financial Expert” ®. Along the way, I’ve encouraged families to donate their expired coupons to military units overseas. They can use your castoffs for up to six months past the expiration date. For more information, email us at assistant@elliekay.com and put “Expired Coupons” in the subject line.

8.      Care for Critters – If you are like my hubby, you are a critter person. He sits in his easy chair each evening and instantly—voila!—three mini schnauzers appear in his lap. They were his constant pet therapy when he broke his back a couple years ago, thereby ending his career as a fighter pilot. If you love critters, then you can offer to provide foster care by taking in a dog or cat of a wounded or deployed military member while he or she is receiving medical treatment or on duty.  For more on this, go to http://www.guardianangelsforsoldierspet.org/.

Thank you to all our Veterans and their families, and a special thanks to my husband, LTC Bob Kay, the World’s Greatest Fighter Pilot for his 30 years of service, to my Marine, Airman and Soldier. I’m so proud of all of you!

Ellie Kay

www.elliekay.com

8 Free Apps to Save You Money

Earlier this week, we talked about how you can save money on your smart phone. But what about saving money with your smart phone? There are hundreds of apps out there that help simplify your life, but here are a few that are free, but will save you money.

  • The Coupon App—Coupons for stores and services around the country right on your phone. Not only are there real time apps, but you can find the cheapest gas prices at local stations, price comparison shopping tool with the barcode scanner, and you can share coupons through text and email.
  • The Coupon App—Coupons for stores and services around the country right on your phone. Not only are there real time apps, but you can find the cheapest gas prices at local stations, price comparison shopping tool with the barcode scanner, and you can share coupons through text and email.
  • RetailMeNot—This is one of my favorite websites, and you may have heard me refer to it before, but now they have an app! Save at your favorite stores with these coupons. One of the things I love about this app is that it alerts you of special coupons and deals in your favorite stores when you are out shopping at the mall.
  • Belly—This one-of-a-kind loyalty app allows you to get unique free rewards for the things you buy most. You simply scan your app at participating stores and let the points rack up. In the app store, look for a blue icon with a dog. Unfortunately, it is only available in select cities nation-wide, but it is spreading fast. To see if your city utilizes Belly, go to http://bellycard.com/locations/. If you don’t see it in your location, check out Spot On as well. It is another great rewards app to save you money.
  • Starbucks—I don’t know how much of a coffee drinker you are, but I know my family consumes gallons daily. Make sure you are getting your rewards! This app makes it simple to not only track your rewards, but pay with your phone as well. Even if you aren’t much of a Starbucks fan, the app also sends select song downloads to your phone weekly.
  • LivingSocial, Groupon, Google Offers—What is your favorite deal site? Chances are they have an app that goes along with it. You are able to find the deals, and often you can redeem them directly from your phone. Some of these apps even let you discover awesome deals close to wherever you are or alert you when there is a great deal right next to you. I will never forget the time I was able to get a massage and eat at a nice restaurant in the same day, both deals from an alert from one of these apps.
  • Eventsbite—This is a great app for finding awesome events happening near you all year long. This app helps you find upcoming events for the week or weekend, and recommends events happening near you. My daughter, Bethany and her friend, Darbi,(see photo) were able to get VIP tickets to a fun, fashion week event in Chicago using this app. They had a great time and won prizes. You never know what adventures could be in store for you!
  • Google Field Trip–Looking for something to do with the kids this summer? Google is offering free admission to some of the nation’s most popular zoos and museums through its Field Trip app. An offer spanning 23 locations, options include everything from President Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington D.C. to the Bronx Zoo in New York City. Admission just requires showing a free pass to the attraction, which will appear automatically in the “Nearby” tab when you’re at a participating zoo or museum.
  • RoadNinja—Road trips just got a little bit easier with RoadNinja in your pocket. Billboards become redundant when users can learn the locations of restaurants, gas stations and points of interest near every highway exit. View real-time gas prices and access RoadNinja special offers and coupons.

What are YOUR favorite apps to use to save money?

Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert (R) 

Five Apps To Save Money in the Store

I don’t dumpster dive, hound my friends for coupons, or store up a years’ worth of toilet paper in my garage–but I did manage to save $160,000 on coupons! That’s enough money to put seven kids through college or buy a modest airplane for my hubby (he votes for the airplane, I vote for college and guess whose vote counts DOUBLE?).

You don’t have to clip coupons to save with all the wonderful apps that are available on your smart phone. So there’s really no excuse to pay full price in the store! Here are some of my favorite apps:

Five Apps to Save Money in the Store

1. Shopper –One of the reasons people overspend at the grocery store is because they impulse buy or get things they really do not need. Making a list saves money and is easy when you use Shopper. This app lets you make several lists at a time for different stores, it calculates sales tax, allows for quantities, tracks your coupons and is secure because you need a password to open it (just in case you’re putting those Reeces on the list and your hubby never sees them.) It costs .99

2. Check and Compare 1024 — Ever wonder how much money you are spending at the store while shopping and if you’re getting the best price? Just enter your item prices and quantities and “Checkout” will show you just how much your bill will be at the register. The “Compare” portion allows you to compare prices based on quantity and size to show the best value. You can then transfer the best value price to the checkout price field. The Budget tool can be set and keeps track of your remaining budget for one or multiple shopping trips until cleared. This app costs $2.99

3. Coupon Sherpa – This FREE app eliminates the need for a traditional coupon book by providing hundreds of in-store coupons for many merchants on your iPhone or iPod Touch. The coupons can be scanned by optical scanners right from your phone! Save money on food, clothing, shoes, restaurants, electronics, travel, jewelry, sporting goods, books and more. You can find coupons by category or store name, email coupons to friends, create your own favorites list of stores and find the store nearest you.

4. Yowza – This is another FREE app to launch on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or android phone and it instantly goes about finding deals and coupons in your geographic area. When you walk up to the cashier, just show the deal on your device and let them scan the barcode or type in the coupon code. No clipping. No stashing coupons in your wallet or purse. No need to remember which location that restaurant coupon was good for. It features city and zip code based coupon searches, notifications when your favorite store adds a coupon and you can share your savings via Twitter, Facebook, or Email.

5. Amazon Mobile — The FREE Amazon Mobile app allows you to quickly search, shop, compare prices, read reviews, and make purchases on Amazon.com using a simple, interface. Amazon customers have full access to their existing account. It also includes “Amazon Remembers” that allows you to use the camera on your iPhone to create a visual list. The photos you take from the app are stored on both the Amazon Mobile app and Amazon’s website. If the item you want to remember is a product, Amazon Remembers will try to find a product similar to your photo for sale on the web. If they do, they’ll send you an e-mail alert and post the result along with the photo.

Happy Savings!
Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

Cell Phone Savings So Simple, Even A Child Can Do It!

According to statistics provided by “Pews Study of the State of the Media”, 80% of Americans have a cell phone and 2/3 use it for something other than making calls. Nearly half of all American adults report that they get at least some local news and information on their cellphone or tablet computer. More and more families have more than one cell phone and they not longer have a home land line, opting to use their cells instead. And all of these trends are rapidly accelerating. How can you get the most value for your cell phone plan? Here are ways to save that your cell phone sales rep will not tell you.

Just Say “No” – We have to resist temptation when it comes to cell phone plans,especially when your contract obligation expires. If you do nothing for a few weeks, you’ll begin to get all kinds of incentives and good deals that might be better than if you ugraded right away.

Timing is Everything There is a better time of the month to buy a plan or upgrade one and that is at the end of their accounting period when sales teams are trying to meet quotas or reach incentives. This usually occurs at the end of the month.

Don’t Pay for Information — There’s also a way to save on 411 calls, instead of getting gouged with ridiculously high fees for an information call. Just enter this free phone number in your address book: 800-FREE411 or 800-CALL411.

Rebates or FreeBates – I’m often asked if I think that phone rebates are they a deal or a dud? They are only a deal if you apply for them. Cell phone providers make money on rebates because many customers won’t go through the hassle. Be sure you get all the info and apply online the same day you get the phone. That way, it won’t get lost on your “to do” list.

Don’t be All Wet! — Protect your phone by securing it when you’re around water (doing laundry, bathing the kids, etc) and don’t even put it in the bathroom when you’re taking a shower. Don’t have it close to your skin when you’re working out either! The results of a steamy shower or workout can be as bad as dropping it in the toilet. If you get your phone wet, then immediately dry off what you can, separate the battery and the phone, then submerge both in an air tight container of rice for 24 hours. This should absorb most of the moisture and may save your phone!

Kids Will Be Kids – So let’s say, hypothetically, that you have a child who goes way over their minutes or text messages one month. You could end up paying outrageous fees for extra minutes. If the billing cycle hasn’t closed yet, then call your company and upgrade to the next plan. It could save you 35 to 45 cents extra (per minute or text) for all the extra activity.

Little Known Discounts – When one of our teens, Jonathan, went in to see how much a new phone would cost, he decided to ask them if there were any extra discounts we could qualify for. We found out that my hubby’s corporation, Northrup,offered a 28% discount for employees. Be sure to ask if your large company, government agency or credit union association can get you an additional discount on your already exisiting plan. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

The Gift of Communication – Christmas Gifts that Keep Giving

In my series on “Gifts that Keep on Giving” I’m reminded of my college daughter, Bunny, and the fun we had staying at the Drake hotel in Chicago on a business trip. I really miss seeing her and today’s gift is perfect for her and her friends, it’s the “gift of communication.” When she was little, she talked non stop and now that she’s grown, she still love to chat whenever possible!

In my work with families who are on a budget, I have found that many have had to rethink their cell phone plan. In an effort to pay the bills, they may have had to cancel a cell phone plan or in some cases, they don’t have the credit to establish that service. In my quest to find a great communication alternative, I came across a cool new partnership in prepaid plans. This year, if you want to give the gift of communication to a family who is on a budget or a struggling college student, you can do so through a prepaid phone from Boost and Virgin Mobile as well as prepaid mobile broadband with Virgin Mobile’s Broadband2Go plans.

This is a partnership that is easy for me to talk about because it really benefits people who are on a budget. Let’s face it, those who need to limit their expenses, still need the ability to have a cell phone or connect to the internet. Whether you are happily employed or unemployed, it’s important to be able to pursue work situations through the use of a cell phone and through broadband connectivity.

Prepaid cell phones:



I think that prepaid cell phones are perfect for those who might not otherwise be able to afford or have the credit to qualify for a contract plan. I’ve also found they are a good option for families who have members who routinely go over their traditional cell phone limits, sometimes costing their parents lots of dollars in extra charges each month. (Ahem, not that this has ever happened to the Kay family! All I will say is: the leaves were raked and the laundry was folded by penitent teens for the several weeks.)



Prepaid plans from companies like Boost and Virgin Mobile were created for consumers such as college students who want to be able to afford freedom and independence on a budget. However, economics aside, cell phone plans such as the Virgin Mobile $25 Beyond Talk plan or the Boost Mobile $50 Unlimited plan keep both students and their parents happy. Parents appreciate being able to keep in contact with their kids, especially if there’s an emergency. On the other hand, students, many of whom spend little time in their dorm rooms or apartments, like the flexibility and convenience of not having check if they’ve gone over their monthly allotted minutes.

Prepaid Mobile Broadband:

Another great gift of communication involves giving the gift of connectivity! Whether you are searching for a job, or the best price on a new pair of jeans, you need to be connected. Virgin Mobile’s Broadband2Go plans offer unlimited 3G, nationwide internet access for $40 a month with no contract. The Virgin Mobile MiFi device allows up 5 wireless enabled devices to connect at one time, so college roommates can share their gift all year long & divide the costs among themselves.

When you are selecting your gifts this year, be purposeful and try to give a gift that will keep on giving the whole year through. And Bunny, keep on calling, I love to hear how those finals are coming along!



Merry Christmas!


Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert ®