At LifeHacker there is a listing of free online college classes. Classes are offered for computer science & technology, Finance & economics, Science & Medicine, Mathematics, Law and more. Classes offered in the finance & economics category consist of budgeting, personal finances for different ages, Finding money to start a business and more. The classes are taught by professors from MIT, Yale, Berkley and more.

I looked briefly at the Budgeting class information and Personal finance information. It appears to be helpful information on budgeting and personal finance planning. The classes I took a look at was information you could work at your own pace and start at any time.

Here is what LifeHacker has to say about their online university:

“The beautiful thing about taking classes online is that you can pick and choose the classes you want to attend, skip lectures and come back to them later(in some cases – some classes require your regular attendance and participation!), and do examinations and quizzes on your own time. You can load up with as many classes as you choose, or take a light course load and come back to some of the classes you meant to take at another time that’s more convenient for you.
With Lifehacker U, you’re free to take as many or as few of these classes as you like, and we’ll update this course guide every term with a fresh list of courses on new and interesting topics, some of which are only available during that academic term.”

Nancy Kvamme

With school and other activities starting it may be getting more difficult to find time to cook meals. Following are a couple blog posts I found with ideas of quick meals and crockpot meals.

Jessica from wrote a post about quick meals and crockpot meals. On there was a post about crockpot freezer meals. These are recipes where you put the ingredients together ahead of time and store in the freezer. Then you just need to thaw the bag and put the ingredients in the crockpot to cook. Most of the recipes in the post do not need to be thawed before putting in the crockpot.

I made these brownies a couple weeks ago and they were easy to make and tasted great.

Nancy Kvamme

The MoneySmart family system was written by Steve & Annette Economides who are known as America’s Cheapest Family.

The book covers the steps they used to teach their kids about money and finances. One of the things they use is the 5/50/500 rule of life. Each chapter ends with ideas to use the 5/50/500 rule in relation to the topic of the chapter.

There are five stages to the 5/50/500 money rule:
The $5 stage: ages 0 to 5
The $50 stage: ages 6 to 11
The $500 stage: ages 12 to 17
The $5,000 stage: ages 18 to 23
The $50,000 stage: ages 24 and beyond

Some of the other topics covered in the book are saving, spending, giving and sharing. Instead of giving their children allowances they each have a Point System, where they get paid for each point they earned.

The 4 categories of their Point System are:
1) Morning point – They earned a point they had to eat breakfast and get ready without complaining or procrastinating
2) School point – a point was earned for following the instructions they were given from their teachers and parents. It also included doing their homework.
3) Chore point – Each child had some daily age and ability appropriate chores.
4) Round-up point – Round-up time is at the end of the day where the kids and parents round-up all of the items they left out during the day. They earned a point by helping with the round-up.

As with other books, all of the ideas may not work for you but there may be ideas you can use in your family.

Nancy Kvamme

I realize school is just starting but it is also a great time to start your holiday planning if you haven’t already. Here is a blog post I wrote last year about saving money and time by planning ahead for holiday expenses.

One way to purchase items over a period of time is with layaway. Walmart is offering holiday layaway beginning September 16 and running thru December 14. Items that can be put on layaway include toys, electronics, small home appliances and select sporting goods such as trampolines and large exercise equipment. Each item must be at least $15 and the total layaway purchase must be at least $50.

A down payment of 10 percent or $10, whichever is greater, is required and will be applied to the purchase. There is also a $15 fee to open an account. If the order is cancelled or not paid in full, the $15 is not refunded. Shoppers who make their final layaway payment get a refund of the $15 fee in the form of a Wal-Mart gift card.
Layaway plans are also offered by Kmart, Sears and ToysRUs.

Even though with layaway programs you avoid credit card debt and fees, you still need to monitor what you are spending so you are able to make the payments as they are scheduled.

One way you may be able to save time or money when planning a party is by having a party bar. Once you pick a theme, have ingredients ready and the guests can make their own treats. There are various ideas such as breakfast bars, pasta bars, chili bars, cupcake fondue and more.

Nancy Kvamme

You can make your own coloring pages from your own photos. On the website you can upload a photo and it will instantly create a coloring page that you can print.

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Nancy Kvamme

If you are looking for information on couponing you may want to check out Pick Another Checkout Lane Honey. Through September 15 they are offering get two copies for the price of one.

I have not read the book but I ordered the two books and have seen great reviews of it online. It includes information on where to find coupons, how to “stack” coupons and other tips on using coupons.

UPDATE: After I wrote this post last night I looked it up on Amazon and the Kindle book was $4.24.

Many people think couponing is too difficult but if you start small to get the hang of it, you may be able to eventually save substantial money on your grocery shopping. One tip is to clip any coupon you think you will need, many times stores run sales on items that you may have coupons for to make the savings even higher. Recently, I found a box of cupcake mix in the clearance cart and I had a coupon for it. I ended up getting a $3.00 box of cupcake mix for $0.25.

Nancy Kvamme

One way to save money is to make your own convenience items. One idea is to buy chips, crackers and other items in a larger quantity and package in smaller snack size storage bags. It may be considerably cheaper to do this than to buy the products already in snack sizes. Another idea is to make our own oatmeal packets. By making your own you can save money and you can make the flavors you want. If you buy variety packs you may get flavors that you don’t necessarily like. Also, you know the ingredients that are in the homemade packets. If you won’t be using them fairly quickly you can keep them in the freezer to keep them fresh. I have also heard of people storing the used bags in the freezer until they make another batch.

By searching online you can find several recipes for making your own convenience items.

With my birthday coming up next week, I have started getting free birthday offers in my email. Here is a list of some birthday deals

You can get a free meal at Grazies on your birthday. Paradiso and Mexican Village offer a free meal on your birthday. At the SpeakEasy if you show your ID on your birthday you will receive a $10 gift card to use anytime throughout the year. At Tutti Fruitti you can get a free 12 ounce yogurt on your birthday.

There are some deals that are available for days besides your birthday. By signing up on their websites you can get a free meal at Huhot, free noodles at Noodles & Company and a free drink at Caribou Coffee. The Huhot coupon is valid the week before and after your birthday. I received the Noodles & Company coupon about a week before my birthday and it is valid until about 2 weeks after my birthday. I got a coupon from The Spicy Pie for a free slice with up to 3 toppings. I received the coupon about 5 days before my birthday and it expires on my birthday.

There may be other offers that I am not aware of and I did not check all of the offers mentioned so some may not be valid.

For some of the deals you need to register on the company’s website and some you only need to show an ID.

Nancy Kvamme

I discovered a couple recipes on pinterest recently. I made these brownies last night and they were great. You could make up several bags of the dry ingredients since you have them out and add the wet ingredients when you want to bake them. The blog post states that the cost per bag is $0.30 compared to over $2.00 for the mixes you buy in the store.

Here is a Peanut Butter cookie recipe with 4 ingredients. I haven’t tried them, but the Pinterest comments said they are supposed to be the best.

Nancy Kvamme