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Simply Family

What I used during my first 3 months at home with a newborn…and what didn’t I use

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10 Things that I used during my first 3 months at home with a newborn…and 5 things I didn’t.

Every baby is different, but these are the items that I feel like added the most (and least) value to my home in the early months with a baby.

*Disclosure- Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission on purchase.


Must haves:

1. Velco swaddles- If you have been preparing to bring home baby you have probably read that swaddling babies can help keep them feeling snug and secure.  You are probably also aware of all of the safe sleep recommendations (alone, on their back, in a crib), so this means no cozy blankets.  Velco swaddles solve both of these issues.  They make swaddling (arms in or out) super easy, and they also act as a wearable blanket.

This is a must have in my book, but don’t go overboard.  Get one (maybe two) in a small infant size…your baby will grow out of it so quickly.  My little one is about to turn 1 year old and she has graduated out of swaddles, but still sleeps in a sleep sack.

Halo SleepSack Swaddle

2. Boppy lounger-  This little pillow was a life saver.  It allowed me to have a soft, clean, supported place to set my newborn down wherever we were at.  It is not practical to have a bouncy seat or swing in every room of your house, but let’s face it, you are going to want that baby sitting right next to you at all times.  That includes places like the kitchen and the bathroom (or even when you travel to visit family for the day).  Just be sure not to put the pillow up on a high surface since even little babies can wiggle and roll.  Honestly, I plopped this pillow right on the floor in my kitchen when I was making lunches or in the bathroom while I snuck a quick shower.

3. Bassinet-  Like a lot of new moms, I was determined to do everything just right!  This included following safe sleep guidelines.  This encourages that baby share your room, but not your bed.  Room sharing is also nice in those early months when you are waking up 2-3 times through the night for feedings.

There are so many great bassinets on the market that you will be able to find one that fits your needs.  Again, don’t go overboard with cost.  If your baby is anything like mine, she will be outgrown the bassinet in just a few short months and graduate to a crib.

One of my big concerns with room sharing was that we have curious cats that also sleep in our room and love to cuddle close to people.  I searched until I found a safe bassinet that would prevent our animals from climbing in to be with the baby.

4. Baby Carrier–  I was the mom that wanted to be able to do things around the house, but also never set my child down.  A baby carrier was an absolute must.  I would give up all the other things on this list just for my baby carrier.  It made my life that easy, and still does.  I use the baby carrier as I did simply chores around the house.    I use the baby carrier to prevent tired arms as I soothe a fussy baby who wants to be held and walked around.  I use the baby carrier if we are going out in a crowded public place.

That’s right, I use my baby carrier instead of a big bulky over-loaded stroller.  We put everything that we need in a back pack that my husband carriers and I put the baby in her carrier.  It is so much easier to navigate crowds this way.  It also prevents strangers from coming up to her and touching her. Plus, now that she is 22+ pounds; I can consider it my work out for the day 😊

5. Car seat/ nursing cover- When our little one was a newborn, I used this anytime we were in public with her in her car seat (grocery shopping, docs office, etc).  You would be surprised how many strangers think it is okay to walk up and touch your baby’s toes or pinch their little cheeks.  I was not okay with this.  The car seat cover was a physical barrier.  People didn’t even try.  Plus, it helped keep the bright overhead lights in stores from shining right in her eyes, which meant she was more likely to enjoy a nice little slumber while we shopped.

6. Waterproof changing pad liners-  These were the perfect thing in my diaper bag and also baby care stations around the house.  Even when you are quick during diaper changes, messes still happen.  Putting one of these down before diaper changes makes it so that you don’t have to worry.  It also acts as a clean surface to plop the baby on for diaper changes no matter where you’re at.  We only have one actual changing table in the house and it is in the nursery at the top of the stairs.  I was not (and still don’t) going to walk up the stairs for every diaper change (thinking back though…maybe the baby weight would have come off quicker if I did….oh well!).  The water proof pads turned my living room rug or couch into a changing table instantly.

I also used these pads for our diaper free time during the day.  Take the diaper off and lay baby on the pad.  If she pees, which she will, just pop it in the wash.

**NOTE: I would do this right after cleaning out a poopy diaper, which meant less of a risk of poop without a diaper on.  I tried to give my little one some fresh air on her bum for at least a few minutes a day to help keep diaper rash away (she’s almost 1 and hasn’t had a rash yet!).  This gets a lot harder to do once baby is on the move, so enjoy the contained mess on a water proof pad while you can!

7. White noise machine (or some kind of noise/ music player)-  Our house is NOT quiet.  At first, that was not a problem.  Our little one could sleep through just about anything, but as she approached the 1-2 month mark, our sleep routine took a bit more work.  A white noise machine is something that we added in.  We used it mostly for night time sleep, but it was the perfect soothing sound to keep the baby asleep.

This is the one that we were given at our baby shower.  It was portable and held a nice long charge.  That meant we could easily take it with us when we needed to have nap time out of the house.

The next 3 ideas are must have if you are planning to breastfeed

8. Reusable nursing pads- When I started breast feeding, I was blessed (kind of a curse) with an oversupply.  I felt like I was leaking all of the time and constantly tossing my disposible pads and putting new on.  Plus, the sticky backing seems to stick to everything except the inside of your nursing bra.  *Mom fail alert–I even accidently shoved one of the disposible ones back into my bra after a sleep deprived nighttime feeding; only to find at the next feeding that the sticky side was adhered to my tender cracked nipple. OUCHHH. After that, I ordered a few reusable pads and I am glad that I did.  They have lasted me an entire year of breast feeding, and no more worrying about the sticky side getting stuck where it is not supposed to stick.

9. A supportive nursing bra (or two)-  Do this before you have your baby!  Chances are, your pre-pregnancy bras are already too small and uncomfortable.  Do your self a favor and head to your nearest maternity store (we have a Motherhood Maternity near us).  When you get there, let the ladies measure you for the best size and fit.  I started wearing my ‘nursing’ bras way before I went into labor because they were the only thing that fit me properly.

I know that there are lots of DIY hacks to make your own nursing bras, but to me, this one was worth the splurge.  Breastfeeding is hard enough at the beginning and you will have your boobs out 10-15 times a day depending on your baby.  Make things easier on yourself…get the bra!

10. Nursing pillow- A nursing pillow serves so many purposes.  First, they are a great support to help you get into a good nursing position without killing your back.  Second, they can be used as a place to prop baby for a rest.  It also works as a way to give your baby a whole new elevated view during tummy time.

Don’t bother!

1. Fancy baby body wash and lotions-  We did not use any of our ‘baby’ body washes and lotions.  Our baby had such sensitive skin (especially as a newborn).  Our peds doc suggested aquaphor and that is what we have been using.  We use aquaphor body wash and aquaphor protectant ointment.  The ointment works on dry patches, red eczema patches, and even as a diaper area protectant.

2. Lots of newborn diapers and outfits-  We spent 1-2 weeks in newborn sized diapers and less than a month in newborn clothing.  We spent a bit more time in size 1 diapers and 3 month sized clothing, but we quickly outgrew that as well.  Babies grow so fast at the beginning.  Our little one started to slow growth down around 6 months so feel free to stock up with 6 month and larger items and diapers.

  • For example- My little one is 11 months old and we have been in size 3 diapers for almost 4 months now.  We still have room to go until they are too small.

3. Special seats to help baby sit-  There is such a small time frame when these seats can be used.  You can’t use them when the baby is super little because they need to be able to support their head before placing them in these seats.  A month or so after babies gain good head control, they begin to work on sitting up independently.  Why waste the money.  Prop baby up with some pillows if you want to have them sit before they are big enough.  Just watch that your little one doesn’t slouch down into the pillows and block the mouth and nose.

4. Shoes- Your infant does not need shoes.  There are plenty of cute socks out there.  Plus socks are way cheaper than shoes.

  • My little one wore her first pair of shoes at 9.5 months old, before that we just used socks.  She had no need for shoes before this, and we actually could have waited for her first pair of shoes until closer to 11 months when she started walking around more outside (with help).  From what I have read, babies actually learn to walk better in bare feet.  So to us, we just use shoes when her feet need to be protected or warm- like when we go outside.

5. Toys- (at least not right away)  I was so worried when we brought our little one home that she would get bored if we didn’t have any toys.  Well, newborns don’t know what toys are, they can’t see very well, and absoultely everything is new to them.  Simply showing baby a soft pillow or a cold water bottle will be just as stimulating as baby toys.  Young babies see high contrast patterns in black, white, and red best.  Find some high contrast objects and make them work as toys.

9 tips to help you survive the newborn stage
Simply Family

Mom Hacks- Tips for surviving the newborn stage

9 tips to help you survive the newborn stage

Mom hacks-  Tips for surviving the newborn stage

You will survive the newborn stage, I promise.  These hacks might just make adjusting to a new baby a little bit easier on you and your family.

*Disclosure- Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission on purchase.

1. Breastfeeding on a budget- cut straps off an old ‘spaghetti strap’ style tank.  This will turn it into a ‘tube top’.  Then layer your shirt over it.  This will allow you to pull your shirt up and the ‘tube top’ down to keep things covered up when you lift your shirt to nurse.

2. Baby wearing- I started wearing my baby in a wrap carrier at just a few weeks old.  After about a month I switched to a more structured carrier that will work for us all the way up to 45 lbs.  She is 11 months old and I still wear her around in this carrier.  Baby wearing has made life with a baby so much easier.  For me, benefits include: having two free hands while still being close to my baby, keeping a fussy baby calm and comforted, and being able to navigate large crowds without pushing a bulky stroller around.

3. Room sharing with a bassinet- This hack makes life much easier with a newborn in the early weeks….along with following the AAP guidelines for safe sleep.  My sweet little newborn only fit in her bassinet for about 2.5 months, but that was just long enough for her to start to learn to sleep longer stretches.  Before that, I was up every 3 hours nursing and changing her.  Having her right next to my bed (along with a stash of diapers, wipes, and water proof pads) allowed me to change and nurse her without even stepping a foot out of bed.

There are lots of great options out there.  My biggest worry was that our cats would climb in the bassinet and cuddle up too close to the baby’s face.  That is why I went with this bassinet.  The cats could (and would) literally sit on the cover and not get to the baby.

4. Use a delicates laundry bag for socks- I hung a command hook above the nursery laundry hamper.  I then hung an unzipped delicates/linen bag from the hook.  This made popping small items (suck as socks, hats, and mits) into it when I was tossing the larger items in the laundry.  Simply zip shut when you are ready and toss it in with your load of laundry.  No more missing socks that get lost in the dryer!

Below is the one that I use.  It has loops already there to hang from a hook.

TENRAI Delicates Laundry Bags

5. Use a clean diaper under dirty diaper to help keep baby’s butt from touching yucky surface-  This hack is especially important if you do not have a changing pad under baby.  Simply open the clean diaper and slide the back under the baby.  Then open the dirty diaper, clean the baby up, remove the old diaper, and apply the clean one.  If the diaper is soiled with poop, I sometime place a wipe down on the diaper to keep from accidentally dipping the clean bottom back into the poop until I am ready to pull out the dirty diaper.

To be honest, I used this hack more to protect my surfaces than to protect my baby.  There were so many times as a newborn that my little one would start to pee right as I was removing the old diaper.  If I didn’t have something under her butt my bed would have gotten soaked in pee.

6. Getting your sleepy little one to close their sweet eyes-  Have you been walking around bouncing your sweet baby for what seems like an hour.  You know they are tired, but they just won’t give in and close their sweet little eyes.  Try this!  Gently, but with some pressure, rub in downward  motion between their eyes with your thumb or pointer finger.  Go from forehead to tip of the nose.  Repeat a few times until their sweet little eyes stay closed even when you stop rubbing.

7. Stock your car-  I have a baby command station in my car.  This makes hopping in the car to go for a quick errand much easier.  No more packing up every item that you think you might need into a diaper bag and lugging it with you.  I still pack a diaper bag if we are going to be gone all day, but if we are just running to the store or off for a quick lunch, I have everything I need in my car.

My stocked area includes a changing pad clutch (that holds a few diapers and wipes).  I can use this for a backseat change or carry it with me into a store.  I also have extra diapers, a large package of wipes, a couple of cheap toys, a spare baby outfit, and an old tshirt for me.
Skip Hop Baby Pronto Portable Changing Station with Cushioned Changing Mat

8. Set up baby care stations in places that you spend most of your time-  For us we had a station in the livingroom, our bedroom, and of course, the nursery.  The nursery we kept fully stocked, while our other stations had just small baskets with some goodies.  These goodies included clean diapers, wipes, water proof pads, lotion/cream, and sometimes bulb suction.

Here are the water proof pads that I used when changing baby on random surfaces, such as my livingroom rug.  These pads were also a lifesaver to prevent messes on the floor during the times I let her get some fresh air on her hiney to keep rash away.

9. Invest in a nice refillable water bottle-  If you plan to nurse, you will be REALLYYYY thirsty.  The thirst always seems to hit at just the moment that your baby has finally latched (rendering you completely immobile).  Keep a large water bottle full and within arm’s reach at all times.  You will also want to be able to open it one handed, so stay away from twist off lids.  You will thank me!

Camelbak Eddy Bottle (1-Liter/33-Ounce,Charcoal)

What made life with a newborn easier for you?  Feel free to comment!

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Simply Family

What would you do with one hour uninterrupted time?

header image for blog postWhat would you do with one hour uninterrupted time?

I get an opportunity to answer this question on one evening of my choosing every week.

Like most new parents, I was struggling to maintain a balance between keeping up with chores around the hours while also spending quality time with family.  It is virtually impossible with a curious crawling baby awake to accomplish anything other than chasing her.  I found myself staying up late or waking up early to try to get stuff done.  Then I would just be tired and grumpy.  That’s when I came up with the one hour idea.

So what is this one hour I am talking about??

Well, one evening a week, after I get home from work and settled, I can tell my husband that I am redeeming my one hour.  That means for that hour, all childcare responsibilities shift to my husband.  I usually set a timer and play beat-the-clock to see how much cleaning I can get done, but I can use my one hour for whatever I want.  It can simply be for some me time, time to cook a nice meal without a toddler pulling on my leg, or time to catch up on other things.  It really amazes me just how much I can get done during my one hour.  Plus, I am usually within earshot of the family, so I can still enjoy them, just without all of the interruptions of a busy toddler.

For me, this one hour a week allows me to stay on top of things and elimates the overwhelming feeling that comes with trying to keep up.  If you are thinking about trying this, but you are feeling overwhelmed by everything you want to get done in one hours time; I suggest making a list.  Write down everything around that house that you want to get done.  Then, put a number by each one based on how important it is.  #1 being top priority, #2 being second, and so on.  Finally, systematically work down your list, making sure to take care of high priority items first.  I also really like making lists, because I then get to cross things off of them 🙂

AND, to keep things fair, my husband gets the same opportunity that I do.  If he has something that he needs some uniterrupted time, he will take use his hour.

What to you think?  Give it a try.  Feel free to comment with how you spent your one hour!

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Simple Living

Saving Money- 10 things you can start today!

image with blog title; saving moneyTry these 10 tricks to start saving more money right now!

When most people think about saving money there are some obvious things to do.  These are things such as going out to eat less, cutting back on shopping trips, and maybe less vacations.  Well, if you’ve already done those types of things and your finances are still stressing you out, then this is the post for you!

Below are 10 ways to help cut spending and finally get your monthly budget under control.


  1. Cut the cable bill- come on, I know that you’ve thought of this one, but I doubt you’ve taken the leap yet.  Do it!  Getting rid of cable (well DirecTV in our case) saved us $140/month.  Going without cable is much easier than you think.  Also, getting rid of cable does not mean getting rid of TV.  We now use Netflix and Apple TV, but there is also Hulu, Amazon fire-stick, and many more!


  1. Reduce the frequency of your grocery trips- Let’s face it.  We always leave with more than we actually need when we go to the grocery store.  So, it makes sense that if you go less, you spend less.  It really works!  Plus—think about the gas money that you will save by not having to drive an extra trip to and from the grocery store.  In my household, we go once every two weeks.  Find something that works for you, but the less you go to the store, the less you spend.


  1. Meal planning-  Planning will help you achieve trick #2. If you take some time to plan out your meals for the week before you go to the store, you will have a grocery list made perfectly for a week (or two) worth of cooking and eating with very little waste.

Having meals planned (and even made in advance) will also help prevent you from ordering take out last minute when you realize you are too busy or tired to cook.  My family does almost all of our cooking for the week on Sundays.  It is all packaged into perfectly sized portions so that all I need to do is grab a dish out of the fridge and heat it up….easy as take out!


  1. Recycle and Compost- If you live in an area when you pay for your trash removal services based on the amount of trash you produce, then this tip will help you.

Start recycling your plastics, aluminum, glass, and other items.  Call around to see if recycle pick up is available in your area.  If it is not available, many cities and townships have recycle drop off locations that are free.  We cut our trash production in half by recycling, plus it is good for the environment.

You can also start composting to reduce the amount of food scraps that you are tossing in your trash.  We have finally started our first compost pile.  We have a small container in our kitchen that we collect the scraps.  Then every few days we dump it onto the compost pile.


  1. Take a closer look at your bill statements- You may have already done a great job of getting rid of all of your unnecessary bills such as monthly subscriptions and cable, but you can reduce your bills even further.  This one isn’t fun, but I spent a lazy Sunday afternoon on my laptop with a Netflix movie on the TV while completing this. I looked at my internet bill, cell phone bill, electric bill, and insurance bills.  I found small changes that I could make to all of them!


  • Internet bill- there was a monthly equipment rental still on my bill, but we had purchased our own modem and router over a year ago…$5-10/month
  • Cell phone bill- there was still a monthly charge on our phone bill for an Ipad line that we don’t use anymore- $10/month
  • Insurance bills- homeowners and car insurance-  this one involves a bit more work, but it can be worth it!  Call around and compare rates, ask for loyalty or good driver discounts.  Just make sure you are comparing apples to apples and still getting the right amount of coverage.


  1. Google your item before purchasing- Okay, so you need to buy something.  You’ve found what you are looking for, it is in your shopping cart (online or in store), and you are about to purchase it.  WAIT!  Google it first.  Are there other stores that sell this item?  If so, is it cheaper anywhere else?


  1. Have a separate email account just for promotions-

I have a free email account dedicated just to signing up for coupons or giving my email address to cashiers.  That is the only info that goes to this account.  I love this trick for two reasons.

First, it helps to keep my primary email account less cluttered..

Second, if I would have these types of emails come to my regular email address, I would be wayyy too tempted to buy products and goods every time that a good deal comes along.

Speaking of good deals… that brings me to the next item


  1. Wait for deals!

Have something that you are planning to buy, but don’t NEED it right away.  Added it to your ‘wants’ shopping list and keep an eye on your apps and promotional email account for the perfect deal.


  1. Don’t take your purse with you! or don’t carry cash. 

I use this tip at work.  I pack my lunch every day so that I do not need to spend money in the cafeteria or at the vending machines.  Unfortunately, I found that if I had money with me in the office I would end up buying food (even though I packed).  Solution?  I leave my purse safely locked away in my car.  Now, even if I am tempted to spend money, I don’t have the option to.


  1. Coinstar- This tip isn’t a money saving trick as much as it is a ‘get some fast cash when you are in need’ trick. Collect all the random change that you have around your house.  Now, take it to a local coinstar or change counting machine.  Most machines take a certain percentage of your total as a fee.  However, some banks allow you to use the change counter machines with no fees if you deposit the earnings into your bank account.  I recently did a full house change sweep and ended up with $35 extra dollars in my pocket 😊


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Simple Living

Try these tips to save more money at the grocery store!

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I am by no means an extreme coupon-er.  I have never once gotten paid money back at the end of my checkout process.  Also, I do not spend my free time scouring the newspapers for weekly deals or coupons.

I do, however, follow these 9 rules to help me keep my monthly grocery expenses reasonable.

9 Things you must start right now to save you more money at the store!!

  1. Make a list- on your phone– and stick to it!- Chances are that you already know deviating from your grocery list result in a higher than expected grocery bill.  It also cost extra money…and time…to run back to the grocery store when you forget to buy something because you forgot it.  Things get even worse when you completely forget the list at home on your fridge and you are stuck ‘winging it’.

My solution?  Keep your list on the one item that you are guaranteed to have with you at all times; your phone!  Use the notes app on your phone to keep a running list of everything that you might need at the grocery store.  You will never have to worry about forgetting your list at home.  Also, you can add that random item that you think about needing even when you aren’t at home.

  1. Plan your meals-  I know that you’re busy, but this one thing will make a huge difference in saving money…and the time you put into this will save you even more time during the week.  I don’t mean plan a four-course meal complete with a dessert for every day of the week but take some time and plan ahead.  Think about at least 2-3 meals that you might want to have in the evenings, along with some lunch ideas.

Knowing what you are going to make helps you to shop for only what you need, and this equals money saved.  It also ensures that you are not running back to the store throughout the week to get things that you forgot- again, money and time saved.  Seriously, just give this a try.  My weeks have become much less stressful once I devoted an hour on my Sundays to figure out what we will be eating for the week.

**To save even more money, you can even start planning you weekly meals around items that are on sale at your grocery store that week.

  1. Shop your pantry-  Once you’ve decided what you are going to eat for the week, look at what you already have.  I do this right before I leave the house to go to the store.  It helps prevent you from buying duplicates of items just because you weren’t sure if you had it at home or not.


  1. Reduce frequency-  Once you get the whole meal planning thing down, you will see that this happens naturally.  With proper planning, you won’t have to do last minute stops at the grocery store to pick up a few items you need (and some items you don’t $$$).  The less you can go to the store, the less money you will spend.  We used to go to the store just once per week.  I thought that was pretty good, but we decided to try to stretch our weekly visits out to every two weeks instead. We save even more money this way.  Plus, that gives us more time at home instead of at the grocery store.


  1. Have a time crunch-  The idea behind this rule is that if you are on a time crunch you will spend less time browsing the isles.  In turn, you will be less likely to end up with random items in your cart that were not on the list.  Be careful, though, you might end up forgetting items that you need if you are in too big of a hurry.


  1. Shop the perimeter-  This tip is nothing new to people that are trying to eat healthy, but it can help you save money too.  The ‘real’ foods such as fruit, veggies, meat, and dairy are found on the perimeter of the grocery store.  Most of the processed snack and meal foods are found in the center isles.  Shop the perimeter of the store first, then, go down only the center isles that contain items that you need from your list.  This will keep that random package of cookies or bag of chips from sneaking in your cart and wrecking your budget (and your waistline).


  1. Bulk up- You don’t have to be a member of a wholesale club to take advantage of this one.  If you come across a good deal on something that you use…bulk up.  I like to do this when meat goes on sale.  I buy a large quantity and then freeze it.  This is great for using rule number 3 since it helps me keep more food that I will use on hand, which means it will save me money by not having to buy it at full price next time that food is on my weekly menu.


BE CAUTIOUS with this rule.  Not every sale is a deal.  Not every oversized package of toilet paper is actually cheaper.  Look at how much you normally spend on things to determine if bulking up during that particular sale will save you money.


  1. Needs vs. Wants- Planning what you want to eat for the week and following a list will help cut down on buying unnecessary items at the grocery store but take a second look at that list.  Do you actually NEED everything that you added to your list?  or are there certain things that you WANT?  If you are serious about saving money at the grocery store, it is time to get rid of your WANTS from the grocery list.  I did this recently, and it was hard a first, but the lower grocery bill has made things a lot easier.
    Here’s an example-  We drink a lot of water in my house.  We have good tap water and use reusable cups.  However, we got into the habit of using flavored water additive.  We were buying 3 bottles of ‘mio’ flavored water enhancer every week.  At $3.69 per bottle, that is $11.07/ week; or $575.64/ year.   I took one look at this math and I was done!  No more Mio for us.  To me, this was just a normal grocery item when we went to the store, but I realized that it was a want, NOT a need.  It took a week or two to adjust, but we got over it and now just drink plain water from the tap.


  1. Use Shopping Apps- Shopping applications are great!  I have an app for just about everything that I buy.  Some examples include:
  • Ebates
  • Ibotta
  • Raise

Ebates and Ibotta both give you money back on items that you are already going to buy, simply for using their app.  The money back adds up really quick too!  Raise is another great app.  You can use Raise to purchase discount gift cards.  Just hop on before you head out to the store and see if they have any discount gift cards available.  If you are already planning to spend money at a store, this is a great way to save money before you even get there. FYI-

I plan to make a post soon to provide details on how and when to use these apps.  I will add the link here when it is done!  For now, feel free to click the links below to sign up today!  They make it super easy to get money back.