Tips to Make the Most of Your Beach Vacation

Saving Dollarsand Sense

4.17 Tips to Make the Most of Your Beach Vacation IMAGE

For a lot of people summer is centered on a trip to the beach!

Heading to the salty sand shores of a beautiful beach is such an exciting family vacation and can be an incredibly relaxing with a little planning ahead.

Here are a few ways to make the most of your beach vacation.

Shop and Eat Local

Chances are the beach will be covered with hyped up franchise establishments ready to feed you and take your money. However, if you look around and ask the locals, you will be able to find some really great local places to shop and eat.

Look for a local antique store to find one of a kind souvenirs. Ask for suggestions for that hole-in-the-wall yet best food you’ve ever eaten oyster pub. Find a few quaint and locally owned beach shops to spend your day shopping around.

There’s nothing wrong with checking out the mega gift shops and franchised seafood restaurants, but it will really add a great element to your stay if you can find those local gems to patronize as well.

Find Adventure

Think outside of the box when looking for a couple vacation adventures. The glaringly obvious options will be all up and down the beach – parasailing, swimming with dolphins, etc. But if you ask the right people and do a bit of research, you can find out what the locals do for fun.

Look for nearby creeks or springs to canoe down. Ask the locals where the best places to go to sea comb are. Find a museum or local park to enjoy. Looking for the less obvious activities is a great way to save money and to add rich experiences to your trip.

Purchase There vs. Bring from Home

There are some items that you will do best to purchase at home and others that you should purchase there if you need to pack light. Sunscreen, aloe, toiletries, and other such necessities are going to be more expensive at the local stores. They are in high demand there and you really can’t avoid purchasing them, so the stores know they can increase the price. Make sure to bring those types of essentials from home where they will be much less expensive. Just remember to pack the larger liquid items in your checked bag instead of carry-on if you’re flying. 

If you need to pack light, some larger items could be purchased there. Sand toys, beach chairs, and things of that nature are simple to purchase once you get there and then you can find a family just starting their vacation to leave them with, which will totally brighten someone’s day.

You don’t have to pay full price for this kind of thing. Look for a local thrift or second hand store that is likely to have these types of items for much less than the stores.

Where to Stay

Think outside of the box when deciding on accommodations for your vacation. If it is just you and your spouse, a hotel or condo right on the beach will probably suffice just fine. But you’d be surprised how many quaint places are available for as much as or less than you’d pay for a hotel.

Check with places like VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner), Craigslist, and sites such as that. You’ll find lots of options there of single-owner properties that have excellent amenities and charming personal touch that the hotel chains will lack.

A Few Essentials

Lastly, here are a few lesser known beach essentials that will help make your trip more convenient and enjoyable.

  • Baby Powder – a great way to get wet sand off of your skin as you get off the beach.
  • Skin Glide Stick – chaffed legs is a terrible way to end a beach vacation! These products are so great and easy to use to keep bare thighs from rubbing together while spending a day in your swimsuit.
  • Bed Sheet – a larger flat bed sheet is a great item to lay out on the sand to keep your bags clean and give your whole family a sand free spot to rest. You may want to bring one from home as most rentals have a policy of not bringing linens to the beach.
  • Food Cooler and Containers – Grab a box of Ziploc bags to keep snacks and other items sand free. Make sure and get a cooler as well if only to keep a few waters cold.

These are just a few suggestions of ways to make your beach vacation more enjoyable. Are any of you planning a beach trip this summer? What are some tips you’ve found useful to make your vacation more fun?

More Saving Dollars and Sense Travel Tips:

Tips for a Stress Free Family Vacation

Tips for Road Trips With Kids


Target Summer Styles Mix & Match

Saving Dollarsand Sense

4.14 Mix & Match Fashion - Target Summer Styles VERTICAL

I have to admit that I am super excited to see the weather warming up so that I can wear my cute outfits for the spring and summer. I love choosing items that I can easily mix

Vanilla Star Destructed Skinny Jeans — $27.99

Doll House Destructed Boyfriend Jeans — $34.99

Merona Chino Shorts — $19.99

Dollhouse Destructed Denim Shorts — $29.99

Nitrogen Crepe Elastic Pants — $64.99

4.14 Mix & Match Fashion - Target Summer Styles 1-5Soul Cakes V-Neck Tee — $22.99

J’aime Inkblot Print Tank — $29.99

John Paul Richard Pleated Tank — $27.99

K by Kersch Graphic Tank — $29.99

Mossimo Denim Button Up Shirt — $22.99
4.14 Mix & Match Fashion - Target Summer Styles 6-10Merona Jana Thong Sandals — $15.99

Merona Celine Ballet Flats — $22.99

Merona Floral Infinity Scarf — $14.99

Double Pocket Belted Crossbody Bag — $39.99

MMS Studio Canvas Tote — $34.994.14 Mix & Match Fashion - Target Summer Styles 11-15

Now that you have your new summer wardrobe figured out, check out these 20 Must Have Fashion Accessories starting at just $6.99 each!

Good Report Card Freebies

Saving Dollarsand Sense

Good Report Card

Good Report Card Freebies 2016

Now that the end of the school year is approaching I thought this would be a good time to reshare the current list of Good Report Card Freebies for kids who bring home good report cards!  This way you can use them as incentives to motivate your kids to finish the year odd strong!

Chuck E. Cheese – Chuck E. Cheese believes in the value of a good education. Choose from the Super Student Award or Graduation Certificate and receive FREE tokens for being a good student.

Krispy Kreme – Get a free original glazed donut for each A (up to 6 A’s).

Chick-fil-A – Bring in your all A’s and B’s report card and receive a FREE 8 pack nuggets! Call ahead to your location to see if they are participating

Pizza Hut – Each marking period, any child who has 3 A’s or the equivalent thereof, will receive one Personal Pan Pizza and a small soft drink or carton of milk by presenting his or her report card to the manager. This offer is good for Elementary and Middle School students. Dine-in only. Student must be present and the original report card must be presented. Available at participating locations.

McDonalds – If your child has a straight “A” report card, he/she can receive a FREE Happy Meal. This may vary by location so call ahead first!

Family Video – Throughout the month of June, Family Video gives a FREE overnight movie or game rental to
students for every ‘A’ they receive on their final report card in any core subjects designed to ensure that we are an active, participating member of the community in which our store is located.

Cheryl’s Cookies – Get up to 3 FREE Cookies for A’s.

Cold Stone Creamery – Not on a national level, but the stores are individual owned & operated so the best thing to do would be to ask your local store as some have offered them in the past.

Bank Rewards – A reader sent in the tip to check with your local banks and credit unions as many of them offer money rewards for good grades as well.

Applebee’s – Designed for grade school students, this reward card for teachers is available to motivate positive behavior (you set the criteria), and is yours for the asking!

Wendy’s – A report card with A’s and B’s earns a treat. Show the cashier your report card before ordering.

Kudzoo App – Middle school and college students can download the FREE Kudzoo app and build Kudzoo cash to use in your favorite places, from restaurants to concerts. Earn the grades, scan the report cards then spend your Kudzoo cash! There is also a daily challenge round and coupons to help college students boost their savings!

good report card freebies


Although I did contact each company to verify their participation again this year, I always suggest calling ahead to be sure that your area business is participating. The last thing you want is a disappointed child with a good report card right?

Also if you are a homeschooling family, check out this list of links to free printable report cards.

If you know of any more offers that should be added to the list feel free to email me krsawicki(at)yahoo(dot)com, or leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list for everyone to see!

Also, please Join us on Facebook or Follow me on Twitter where I share even more of the great deals and freebies I come across!

Tips for a Stress Free Large Family Vacation

Saving Dollarsand Sense

4.17 Tips for a Stress Free Large Family Vacation IMAGE

If you are part of a large family or large extended family, it may be overwhelming to think of everyone trying to vacation together. However, vacationing together as a large family can be so incredibly fun and bonding. Here are a few tips on how to make a large family vacation a little more seamless.

Advance Planning

A family vacation, especially one with a large group of people, requires a lot of planning in advance to keep things stress free. Talk with your siblings or family members to decide what things need to be planned for in advance. You may find it helpful to have a smaller group of adults that work together to make the majority of the plans.

Consider having one person who is in charge of the finances of the trip such as collecting everyone’s money to pay for accommodations. If you have time to plan far enough in advance, you could set up a family vacation savings account that family members can set up monthly deposits into to make saving for the trip more budget friendly.

Decide far in advance, with your family’s help, vacation specifics such as where you’ll be going, how large of a hotel or condo you’ll need, who all will be able to make it, and other such details. Having a plan is key to a fun and stress free family vacation.

Dinner Assignments

It can be quite pricey to eat out each meal on a family vacation. Consider looking for a home or condo that has a full kitchen to be able to prepare some meals to eat together on a night in. Divide out dinner assignments where different people or family groups are in charge of cooking for everyone for one night of your stay.

You could even make these assignments really entertaining by encouraging each person to choose a theme for the evening. Such as taco night with salsa dancing, dinner and a movie with a Hollywood theme and other fun themed nights. This can provide budget friendly entertainment and a fun evening for everyone!

Tentative Schedule

Talk with your family members ahead of time to create a tentative schedule for your vacation. Find out what everyone is interested in doing and try to accommodate those plans. 

The key word here is a tentative schedule. It is totally okay to have a plan and then deviate from that plan once you are actually on your vacation. Everyone being open minded to adjusting the plans will help to create a more peaceful vacation. Also, be open minded to the group splitting up occasionally to do their own thing when desired. 

Try to encourage everyone to participate as much as possible in events as a family and to also enjoy the vacation on an individual basis as well. 

Ideal Accommodations

Where you choose to stay can really make or break your vacation. Make sure to choose accommodations that are comfortable and have enough amenities to keep everyone relaxed and entertained. You don’t have to spend a fortune and stay in a four star resort to make this happen.

Check places like Craigslist or VRBO to find great deals on the ideal place to stay. These places are often owned by a single person as opposed to a large property management company and will have cheaper rates. Plus, you will get a more one-on-one experience that can be really helpful as well.


Communication is essential to a successful and enjoyable family vacation, especially when there are lots of people involved. One great way to keep everyone in the loop is to create a Facebook group for the family vacation. You and others can post updates there as accommodations are made, reminders of funds that are due to book the vacation, and to get suggestions for events, dinners, and more.

Involving everyone in major decisions and being very clear on what plans are made is a great way to keep everyone on the same page and make things go more smoothly.

Enjoy Yourself

Most importantly, don’t get so wrapped up in having the perfect plan and the perfect vacation that you don’t enjoy yourself. Go ahead and decide that things are going to go wrong, there will most likely be hiccups to the plans especially when there are lots of people involved – and that is okay. 

What is most important is to relax, enjoy yourself, and use this time to connect with the members of your family and close friends who are spending the vacation with you.

Free Kids Gardening Curriculum

Saving Dollarsand Sense


Organic Gardening is offering a FREE Kids Gardening Curriculum!

This is a fun and educational way to keep your kids happy on long Summer days, while teaching them new and valuable lessons.

When my kids were growing up, I always included them in my gardening.  There is evidence to suggest that kids who garden are more interested in eating their veggies along the way!

In fact even their friends from the neighborhood would come over looking for fun things to eat from the garden, helping me pull weeds, harvesting seeds, and watering the garden which almost always turned into a water fight!

Many recent studies have been conducted which prove that gardening increases nutritional awareness and may even affect children’s vegetable consumption!

This statistic, coupled with the fact that kids today spend two hours less on sports and activities per week than they did 20 years ago, makes DIG, PLANT, GROW! not just a fun educational tool, but a necessary one – getting children outside, seeing the fruits (literally!) of their labor is a great way to teach lifelong valuable lessons and empower kids to build a sustainable agricultural future.

Might I suggest the Sweetpea TeePee for a fun way to create a fort your kids will love!

Get your FREE Kids Gardening Curriculum today!

20 Must Have Summer Fashion Accessories

Saving Dollarsand Sense

Must Have Summer Fashion Accessories

I am happy to say that it appears that the nicer weather and longer days are here with us to stay.

It is time to take a look at your summer wardrobe to see what items you might want to add to what you already have.

Below I have found the best floppy hats, beach totes, sunglasses, and flip flops starting at just $6.99!!!

Summer Must Have Accessories

*Saving Dollars and Sense Tip: All prices were current at the time that I posted this. Prices are subject to change, please make sure you are paying the price you want to pay before completing the checkout process.
Floppy Hats:
  1. Vince Camuto Striped Floppy Hat — $14.35
  2. MG Solid Peak Toyo Sun Hat — $29.97
  3. NYFashion101 Felt Braided Trim Hat — $24.99
  4. Funnywe Straw Bow Floppy Hat — $25.99
  5. Luxury Divas Wide Brim Hat — $27.99