24 Cheap Activities To Keep Kids Busy

We found the top 24 best activities to keep kids busy this summer for less than the price of toilet paper, unless you use discounted gift cards  

1. Put colored tape on the carpet to make roads for your kid’s toy cars.

Put colored tape on the carpet to make roads for your kid's toy cars.

The tape comes up easily when you’re done.

2. Tape can also be used to create a fun outdoor board game.

Tape can also be used to create a fun outdoor board game.

Learn more here.

3. A couple sponges and a box of chalk are all you need to turn your driveway into a bull’s-eye target game.

A couple sponges and a box of chalk are all you need to turn your driveway into a bull's-eye target game.

4. Exploding Paint Bags turn your sidewalk into a work of art.

Exploding Paint Bags turn your sidewalk into a work of art.

These are totally kid-friendly and can be made with items you likely already have in the kitchen.

5. Paint on wet glue with food coloring.

Paint on wet glue with food coloring.

Save lids to cottage cheese, butter, or Cool Whip for “canvases.” Learn more here.

6. Use leftover bubble wrap to make Stomp Paintings.

Use leftover bubble wrap to make Stomp Paintings .

Kids will get a good laugh while exploring their artistic side.

7. DIY a throwing tarp.

DIY a throwing tarp.

Tarp, rope, scissors, marker, tape… Play ball.

Tape a paper towel roll to the wall to keep toddlers busy.

Toddlers will drop the pom-poms into the bowl over and over, and develop their fine motor skills in the process.

9. Some pipe cleaners and a colander will also keep toddlers occupied.

Some pipe cleaners and a colander will also keep toddlers occupied.

10. Burlap (from a gardening center) can be used to make a preschooler-appropriate sewing station.

Burlap (from a gardening center) can be used to make a preschooler-appropriate sewing station.

This one is great for developing fine motor skills too. Find the how-to here.

11. Preschoolers can also continue to learn how to draw letters with this easy-to-make sugar-writing tray.

Preschoolers can also continue to learn how to draw letters with this easy-to-make sugar-writing tray .

12. Experiment with water marbles.

Experiment with water marbles .

Buy a 2-ounce pack for $7.99 here.

13. Another super-cool science experiment lets kids extract DNA from strawberries.

Another super-cool science experiment lets kids extract DNA from strawberries.

Learn more here.

14. Super-fun balloon rockets also teach an important science lesson.

Super-fun balloon rockets also teach an important science lesson.

Kids learn the concept of “action and reaction” while having a blast.

15. Pencil erasers and a marble make a surprisingly addictive at-home bowling game.

Pencil erasers and a marble make a surprisingly addictive at-home bowling game.

Find the how-to here.

16. Well-placed yarn is all you need to let your kids get their Mission Impossible on.

Well-placed yarn is all you need to let your kids get their Mission Impossible on.

17. Play “Escape the Volcano” to teach kids about color recognition, shape names, counting, and more.

Play "Escape the Volcano" to teach kids about color recognition, shape names, counting, and more.

Find instructions and templates here.

18. Put a bar of soap in the microwave to make soap clouds.

Put a bar of soap in the microwave to make soap clouds .

19. Make a bowl of popcorn and challenge your kids to play the Popcorn Olympics.

Make a bowl of popcorn and challenge your kids to play the Popcorn Olympics.

Find a list of popcorn games, like “straw blow” and “distance throw,” here.

20. Painter’s tape and some balled up newspaper are all you need for this “sticky spiderweb” activity.

Painter's tape and some balled up newspaper are all you need for this "sticky spiderweb" activity.

21. Turn an old box into an indoor slide.

Turn an old box into an indoor slide.

This one needs lots of parental supervision, obviously.

22. Make a Rainbow Bubble Snake from materials you undoubtedly already have around your home.

Make a Rainbow Bubble Snake from materials you undoubtedly already have around your home.

23. Cut a pool noodle in half to make a marble track race.

Cut a pool noodle in half to make a marble track race.

Find the tutorial here.

24. Pool noodles can also be used to make a backyard obstacle course.

Pool noodles can also be used to make a backyard obstacle course.

Find more fun and safe ideas for pool noodles here.

Find these and more cheap activities to keep kids busy on Buzzfeed.

Smart Saving is More Saving

Saving money is a good habit to adapt for anyone regardless of their financial state. Many of the nations wealthiest people became financially secure by saving more and spending less. If you are smart saving then you wont even notice where you are getting the extra cash.

Smart saving

Pay Your Bills Online

Using online services saves you money in postage and paying for checks. Not only will you be saving money but you will save time and trees!

Shop with Cash Only

Studies show that shoppers spend at least 30% more money if they are shopping with a credit card. When you shop with cash you are less likely to impulse shop and more considerate on how you are spending your hard earned money.

Plan a budget and track your spending

Seeing where you are spending your money will help you to realize what is unnecessary spending, then you can make changes accordingly.

Shop with a list

Shopping with a list will help to eliminate being persuaded by product marketing to purchase more expensive products. Go to the store with a purpose, browsing will lead to spending more money on products that you don’t need.

Pay more each month

Set aside a little extra cash each month to put towards significant debt. Paying an extra $50 a month on your car or house loan will save you thousands of dollars.

Go to the library

Skip spending money on movie tickets and check out what your local library has to offer in the movie section. Renting books and magazines is also much more efficient than paying for monthly subscriptions.

Buy discounted gift cards

If you plan your shopping outings going to websites such as giftcardrescue.com and purchasing a discounted gift card for your favorite stores could save you a lot of money!

Avoid bank fees

Make sure you use your own banks ATM, or just take out a certain amount of cash at the beginning of the week.

Photo Credit: Weheartit

9 Healthy Protein Pancake Recipes

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Incorporating a high protein breakfast will curb cravings all day long. Imagine if you could make your favorite breakfast food a healthy meal! These healthy protein pancake recipes from homemadeprotein, are sure to make pancakes your new favorite protein packed health food. I use discounted gift cards from Whole Foods to purchase all my groceries at a discounted price. For more on healthy alternatives.

1. Pumpkin Spice Protein Pancakes (14 g protein)

Protein Pancake Recipes 
Pumpkin gets extra love each fall — but you can taste the benefits any time of year. These flour-free pancakes deliver a protein-packed breakfast, thanks to one scoop of protein powder, real pumpkin and oats. Add egg whites and baking powder and they’re ready for lift-off. Photo and Recipe: Katie Farrell / Dashing Dish  

2. Vanilla-Spiked Protein Pancakes (9 g protein)

Vanilla Spiked Protein Pancakes 
The protein in these pancakes comes from three eggs and a half-cup of cottage cheese. A quarter-cup of flour holds it all together, and vanilla extract and coconut oil give the cakes a unique — and crave-worthy — flavor. Top with fresh fruit, your favorite nut butter or Greek yogurt for a well-rounded meal. Photo and Recipe: Emma / Better with Cake

3. Red Quinoa Pancakes (9 g protein)

Protein Pancake Recipes
These pancakes get their dose of protein from an unexpected source: quinoa. In addition to lending protein, the quinoa creates a great slightly crunchy, slightly chewy texture without losing typical pancake fluffiness. Top with fresh berries and fruit syrup. Photo and Recipe: Kayley / The Kitchen McCabe

4. Gluten-Free Almond Joy Pancakes (11 g protein)

Protein Pancake Recipes 
Low-carb pancakes packed with protein and fiber — need we say more? Two of these cakes provide 11 grams of protein and nine grams of fiber, which comes primarily from the half-cup of coconut flour and six eggs in the recipe. All that great Almond Joy flavor is thanks to almond extract and (of course) dark chocolate. Fry them up in coconut oil for a slightly sweet crunch. Photo and Recipe: Carolyn / All Day I Dream About Food via The Lemon Bowl

5. Cinnamon Roll Protein Pancakes (38.5 g protein)

Protein Pancake Recipes
Instant oats, vanilla protein powder, egg whites and Greek yogurt make up the protein-packed base of these decadent (but healthy!) pancakes, while banana and cream cheese create a decadent flavor and texture. Whip up this batter at night and store in the fridge before cooking in the morning for a quick and filling hot breakfast. Photo and Recipe: Claire /The Slender Student

6. Peaches and Cream Protein Pancakes (22 g protein)

Protein Pancake Recipes 
These peachy cakes bring the taste of summer into your kitchen. Oat flour, coconut flour and vanilla protein powder combine for the base of these fruit-filled cakes. Peach-flavored Greek yogurt, diced peaches, coconut and almond extract add sweetness, a bit of texture, and fresh flavors to the mix as well. Top with freshly toasted coconut, roasted almonds and fresh, diced peaches for an even more exciting dish and varied texture. Photo and Recipe: Heather Powers / Kiss My Broccoli  

7. Vanilla Coconut Protein Pancakes (29 g protein)

vanillacoconutproteinpancakes1
Nuts for coconut? These vanilla and coconut-scented pancakes are made from spelt flour, almond meal and protein powder. Chia seeds add a bit of texture and a healthy kick ofomega-3 fatty acids. Top with a mix of Greek yogurt and maple syrup and toasted coconut.Photo and Recipe: Karla / Foodologie

8. Whole-Wheat Greek Yogurt Pancakes (25 g protein)

Protein Pancake Recipes 
It can’t get more simple than these whole-wheat Greek yogurt pancakes: Just combine Greek yogurt, an egg, whole-wheat flour and baking soda, mix it up, and cook in a skillet. Add whatever flavors you like, and choose your favorite toppings. (We’re big fans of fresh berries or banana!) Photo and Recipe: Ali / Veggies by Candlelight

9. Peanut Butter, Banana, and Chocolate Chip Protein Pancakes (11.7 g protein)

Protein Pancake Recipes 
Greek yogurt and vanilla protein powder put the “pow” in these protein pancakes. Oats give the cakes some body, while customized toppings add an irresistible peanut-buttery-banana-chocolaty flavor. Prefer other fixins? Use the basic recipe and top with whatever your heart desires! Photo and Recipe: Erin / Dinners, Dishes & Desserts

Deep-Fried Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

It’s national chocolate chip cookie day! Why not celebrate with this amazing goodness.

Deep-Fried Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
yield: about 20 cookies

chocolate chip cookie day

For the Cookie Dough:
4 oz butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

To Batter and Fry:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup + 2 tbsp milk
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 quart oil, for frying
Candy/Deep Fry thermometer

Make the Cookie Dough:
Combine the butter and both sugars in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat them together for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the egg and vanilla extract and beat on low speed until combined. Stop the mixer, add the flour and salt, and mix again on low speed until most of the flour streaks are gone.

Stop mixing, add the chocolate chips, and stir everything together with a spatula until it’s well-mixed. Use a 1-inch cookie scoop or a spoon to form the dough into 1-inch balls, and place them on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. You should get about 20 cookies from this recipe. Chill the dough in the refrigerator until the balls are firm, at least 1 hour. Dough can be made several days in advance and kept, well-wrapped, in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Batter and Fry:
To make the batter, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the milk and 2 tsp of vegetable oil, and whisk until the batter is smooth and free of lumps.Pour the frying oil into a medium saucepan so that it’s 2 inches deep. Insert a candy/deep fry thermometer  and heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 360 F (182 C). Once at 360 F, take a chilled ball of cookie dough and dip it in the batter, turning it over with your hands until it’s completely covered. Let excess batter drip back into the bowl, then gently drop it into the oil. Repeat with 2-3 more dough balls, so you’re frying 3-4 at a time.

Fry the balls for about 2 minutes per side, flipping as necessary so that they cook evenly.Fry the cookie dough balls until they’re puffed and a dark golden brown on all sides. Remove them from the oil using a frying skimmer or slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Repeat with the rest of the cookie dough balls and batter. Watch the temperature of the oil and keep it between 360 F-370 F (182 – 188 C)—remove it from the heat if it gets too hot, or let it warm up in between batches if the temperature drops too much.

These balls are best served warm, but not hot. Garnish them with a drizzle of chocolate sauce, a side of whipped cream, a sprinkling of powdered sugar, or nothing at all!

Recipe/image from Sugarhero

7 Ways To Get Rich By Being Frugal

Learning to live frugally is a difficult but fruitful lesson. Many of the millionaires in today’s society get rich by being frugal. There seven Frugal Habits will give you financial freedom. Simple techniques like only purchasing items on sale, using coupons, and buying discounted gift cards before you shop can make huge strides in attaining your long term goals.

Financial freedom

Habit One: Be Proactive

The first habit to develop is to take responsibility; if you fail, you have no one to blame but yourself. Regardless of how you were raised or how you were treated at school, you can choose your behavior now. Being proactive means understanding that YOU are in control of your day-to-day interactions, and thereby, the direction your life takes. This is in stark comparison to a reactive person, who is often affected by their environment and will find external sources to blame for their behavior. For example, if the weather is good, they’re in a good mood, but if the weather is bad, it affects them and they blame the weather for their bad mood.

What most people forget is that though you can’t control the stimulus, you can control your response. One of your most important choices is your words; the language you use is an effective indication of how you see yourself. If you use proactive language, such as “I can” or “I will,” you’re starting with a more positive attitude than someone who uses language like “I can’t” or “I have to” or “If only.”

How to be proactive for effective frugality:

  • Take the first step. You cannot take control of your finances until you make the commitment to do so; the more you ignore the situation, the worse it will get. Instead, take a long hard look at your finances — your budget, debts, income, and expenses, and try to understand where your money is going and where you can budget better. (To help you out, here are 25 ways to pay off your debt more easily.)
  • Tell people. Using proactive language to vocalize your hope of being more financially responsible not only helps you crystallize your goal, but it can also help you avoid the peer pressure that makes budgeting and frugality hard. If you explain to your friends and family that you’re trying to live a more frugal lifestyle, they’ll be less likely to pressure you into one more round of drinks or another dinner out.
  • Listen. Listen to yourself and to the reasons you give each time you make a purchase outside of your budget or decide not to put spare money into your savings account. Taking the time to stop and listen to the reasons you give yourself for spending more than you earn will give you the opportunity to hear just how shallow many of those reasons are. This can stop you from making purchases that impede your goal of effective frugality.

Finish the article on Moneyning

9 Habits To Heat Up Your Exercise Relationship

Just as working out too little can be bad for you, so can working out too much. Here are 9 habits to heat up your exercise relationship to a healthy level.

Heat up your relationship with exercise

1. Know the difference between a good burn and true pain.

“You hear so much about the whole ‘no pain, no gain’ attitude,” says Cohn. “I think we really have to redefine what pain is.” Yes, you want to feel like you worked hard, you want some fatigue; you might even relish your second-day soreness. But feeling discomfort in joints, or feeling so exhausted you just want to drop at the end of the day is not normal, says Cohn. Pain can be serious, and pushing through could cause worse injury. People with a health relationship to exercise know when to say when.

2. Take rest days.

And when they are in pain or are exhausted, they know it’s time to skip a sweat session. “It’s the same as that chocolate cake,” says Cohn. “It’s delicious, you want to have another piece, but you know it’s not good for you, and you need to stop eating now.” No matter how much you love working out, there is such a thing as too much exercise, and the people with the healthiest relationships to exercise enjoy their off days. Carter recommends taking at least one a week.

3. Don’t exercise to eat, eat to exercise.

Exercising purely to “influence weight or shape”, says Carter, can be a slippery slope into obsession and disorder. For a healthy athlete or exerciser, food is fuel, not the enemy. Our bodies require a bare minimum amount of calories simply to survive, and we need to provide extra energy for physical activity. Rather than exercising “to allow themselves to eat,” says Carter, people with a healthy relationship to exercise eat to allow themselves to exercise. Eating whatever you want just because you exercised today doesn’t cut it either, even if you just want to maintain weight, she says. Of course we’d never say the occasional brownie was completely off limits, but “‘occasional’ doesn’t mean every dinner warrants a dessert!” Carter says.

4. Go with the flow.

Many experts recommend scheduling exercise into your day like you would any other appointment to help you stick with your fitness plan. But there also needs to be some flexibility in the scheduling. One sign it’s become too restrictive is if straying from the usual routine causes extreme upset. Take traveling, says Carter. Someone with a healthy relationship to exercise won’t panic if her day-to-day routine is a little off. Someone with an unhealthy relationship to exercise might skip out on important events or exciting moments or wake up drastically early to fit in a workout. “The exercise becomes number one,” says Carter.

On those days where a regular workout gets bumped from the schedule, Cohn helps clients keep things in perspective by focusing on other ways in which they are physically active. Even walking just a few more steps a day — whether it’s by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or commuting by foot — is still physical, and can help ease anxiety over skipping a sweat session.

5. Know what you like.

“Balanced or healthy exercise is exercise that you like, not exercise that you dislike,” says Carter. “If you’re doing something that you hate, you’re not going to keep doing it.” That might mean running marathons for some and practicing Bikram yoga for others, but what’s important is that you don’t feel like you’re torturing yourself — and that you don’t feel obligated to try every single fitness fad.

The same principle applies to exercise intensity, says Carter. Some people love high intensity workouts like CrossFit, and others will simply find moderate intensity movement more tolerable, she says.

6. But still mix things up.

“Doing the elliptical every day at the same intensity level is just a repetitive motion,” says Cohn, not one you’re going to see huge results from. People with the healthiest relationships to exercise balance their workout routines with a mixture of activities, whether that’s high and low impact, cardio and strength training, or arm days and leg days, she says. And it doesn’t require pricey sessions with a personal trainer or a degree in exercise science to add a little more balance to your regular routine, she says. Simply reading the directions on a machine at the gym you’ve never tried before, for example, can be surprisingly helpful, she says.

7. Do it on your terms.

Along with finding a fitness plan they enjoy, people with a healthy relationship to exercise also work out when and where they like. Yes, there are big benefits to a morning workout, like fewer cravings and greater energy, but it comes down to personal preference, says Carter. “Some people like to exercise in the morning, some people hate mornings,” she says. “You don’t have to force it.”

8. Seek support.

Everyone has their off days, even people with a healthy relationship to exercise. Whether it’s a lack of motivation to stick to healthy exercise or a compulsion to overdo it, Carter says one of the most effective safety nets is having a workout buddy. “It’s harder to do the compulsive thing when you’ve got someone with you to encourage something a little more moderate, and it’s a great motivator for [others],” she says. Of course, if exercise — or lack of it — is truly interfering with someone’s health, it may be safer to consult a dietitian, a physician or a mental health professional, “or a mixture of all three,” says Carter.

9. Do it for the mental benefits.

“We know so much about the mental health benefits of exercise,” says Carter, and yet many unbalanced exercisers only consider breaking a sweat helpful for altering weight or shape. For many, exercise is an effective coping method for stress, anxiety and depression, and healthy exercisers harness these powers for good.

Article written with some help from HuffingtownPost.

8 Ways To Spoil Mom This Mother’s Day

It’s your mother, she has done so much for you, and on her special day, she should be spoiled. If none of the ways to spoil mom,below, appeal to you, getting her a gift card to her favorite store or restaurant is never a bad idea. Discounted gift cards allow you to save money and give your mom more this Mothers Day!

1. For The Fruity Mom

If your mom is the kind who lives for dried mango slices and fresh juice, give her the gift of fruit in the most indulgent (and stress-relieving) form. While fresh fruit has become quite the fixture at day spas, consider throwing your mom a citrus-relaxation zone of her own! Follow these instructions to treat her to a homemade spa bath and citrus mask, and make sure to fill the room with some lovely essential oils. As a post-relaxation goodie bag, treat her to a beautifully wrapped, delicious smelling candle (such as this grapefruit scented one).

2. For The ‘Cinnamon, Spice And Everything Nice’ Mom

The smell of home can mean different things to different people, but no one can deny that cinnamon-like goodness can pull at the nostalgic heartstrings like nothing else. If your mom is the type who spends long hours whipping up delicious, cinnamon and nutmeg filled delicacies, treat her to a little bit of her own sweetness. If you are looking to go all out, surprise her with a trip to the Ocean House’s OH! Spa for a cinnamon-maple body scrub. Alternatively, you can always gift her this fantastic-smelling cinnamon scented candle, and create your own cinnamon scrub at home.

3. For The Tea-Loving Mom

A wise woman once told me, “tea is not just a drink; it’s an experience.” Take this adage to the next level and give your mom some tender tea love. You can create a tea-themed gift bag for her, including this delicious looking tea soap bar, and a scented candle. In addition, green tea pedicures are all the rage at many nail salons! Treat your mom to a tea-filled day, and make sure to have a steaming cup ready for her when she is done.

4. For The Classic Chocolate-Loving Mom

Does your mom go crazy for cocoa? If so, try thinking outside the box and give her some deliciously indulgent “me” time. A number of spas offer chocolate body wraps, foot scrubs and more. However, if you are looking to pull out all the stops, Chocolate For Your Body, a spa in Chicago offers an entire day of blissful cocoa-licious treatments including a chocolate body wrap, facial, mani, pedi and a chocolate martini to top it off. Go with something more creative and make your mom some amazing brownies.

5. For The Pinot Noir Mom

For some mothers, the simple pleasure of a glass of wine is more than enough to ease the stress of a long day. Channel that mindset through some healthy-for-your-body wine uses. Give your mom an adorable wine bottle candle, and treat her to one of these wine-inspired spa treatments.

6. For The Caffeinated Mom

Is coffee the way to your mother’s heart? No matter if she’s the dark roast macchiato-type, or just jonesing for her morning drip — treat her to the touch and smell of a coffee-filled treatment. Go the extra step with some DIY coffee crafts: try making this rustic looking candle, or an insanely easy coffee body scrub. Alternatively, you can go all out and take her java habit straight to the spa.

7. For The Nutty Mom

All moms are nutty, but let’s admit it: Some wear their silly better than others. If your mom falls into this category, show her how much you love her zany side by treating her with some funky treatments. Seek out the rare candlenut, a type of tree nut that can actually be used as a candle all on it’s own. Alternatively, you can treat her to a set of almond body products, which treats weary skin and smells incredible all at the same time.

8. For The Herbal Mom

Does your mom live for gardening? If so, she probably feels a special kinship with the scent and feel of hearty, fresh herbs. Indulge her clean and natural side with a set of basil scented soaps and candles from Mrs. Meyer’s, and give her feet the treat they deserve with an herbal spa pedicure.

Original article on HuffingtonPost

11 Trees Not To Plant In Your Yard

There are certain types of trees that you probably don’t want to be planting at your home. Roots, stability, or tremendous upkeep can all be major problems that might be overlooked when picking a tree to plant. Houselogic experts explain the 11 different trees not to plant in your yard, and why they are such a hassle.

Lowe’s and Home Depot are a great place to find the perfect tree for your yard. Before you go, get discounted gift cards for Lowe’s and Home Depot online and you can save up enough money to update your living room as well.

1. Silver maple (Acer saccharinum)

Big, fast-growing, and a dandy shade tree, silver maple is widespread in eastern states and the Midwest. Unfortunately, the speed at which the tree grows makes for weak, brittle wood that may break during severe storms. The shallow root system invades sewage pipes and drain fields, and is notorious for cracking driveways and walkways.

2. Ash (Fraxinus)

Sturdy and tough, the many varieties of ash that populate North America are some of our most beloved trees. Professional baseball bats are made from its wood — how American is that? But the venerable ash is threatened by the emerald ash borer, a tiny beetle that’s on track to wipe out the species. If you’re looking for a long-term tree for your yard, look elsewhere.

3. Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)

The aspen is found in northern climes and higher elevations. Its white bark and gently vibrating leaves are attractive, but its root system is insidious, sending up dozens of suckers that relentlessly try to turn into new trees. Once established, it’s war. In fact, the largest living organism in the world is a Colorado aspen root system called Pando. It weighs 6,600 tons and is thought to be 80,000 years old. Try digging that out!

4. Hybrid Poplars (Populus)

Hybrid poplars are created by cross-pollinating two or more poplar species together. The result can be a fast-growing tree that looks good in your yard — for a while. Hybrid poplars are especially susceptible to diseases, and most won’t last more than 15 years. This poor fellow is dying … quickly.

5. Willow (Salix)

With its long, slender branches that hang down like Rapunzel’s tresses, the willow is one of the most recognizable of all trees. Beautiful on the outside, yes, but the willow has an aggressive, water-hungry root system that terrorizes drain fields, sewer lines, and irrigation pipes. The wood is weak and prone to cracking, and the tree is relatively short-lived, lasting only about 30 years.

6. Eucalyptus

Imported from Australia and popularized for their speedy growth — some varieties will shoot up 10 feet in a year — the eucalyptus has a bad rap for suddenly and unexpectedly dropping big, heavy, resin-filled branches. In some areas of Australia, campers are warned not to pitch tents under eucalyptus trees. Its showy bark peels off annually and adds to seasonal maintenance chores.

7. Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana)

The Bradford pear was imported to the U.S. from China in the early 1900s as replacement for orchard trees that were dying. With its compact shape and profusion of spring blossoms, the Bradford pear became a suburban favorite — until folks realized that it was highly prone to splitting and cracking when it reached maturity. And those blossoms? They’re on the stinky side of the fragrance scale.

8. Mountain cedar (Juniperus ashei)

Stay away from the mountain cedar in late winter. This bushy tree, native to the south central U.S., releases massive amounts of pollen during the cooler months, causing severe allergic reactions in many people. Even if you don’t have allergies, planting one in your yard may affect your neighbors.

9. Mulberry (Morus)

Big surface roots, lots of pollen, messy fruit, and shade so dense that grass refuses to grow underneath. What’s to like about the mulberry? If you’re a silkworm, the answer is: Plenty! The mulberry is the silkworm’s only source of food. Silkworm farmers should plant away! Otherwise, you’ll be happier with a different kind of tree in your yard.

10. Black walnut (Juglans nigra)

Native to North America, this well-known shade tree produces prized cabinet- and furniture-making wood. It also produces pollen and plenty of fruit that’ll drive you, well, nuts when you have to clean it all up in the fall. It’s true sinister side, however, is that it secretes growth-inhibiting toxins that kill nearby plants, wreaking havoc on flower beds and vegetable gardens.

11. Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii)

These fast-growing evergreen trees are favored for their ability to quickly create a living privacy screen. However, they require constant upkeep and trimming to keep them healthy, and as they get taller they’re increasingly likely to uproot during storms. The center of the tree forms a mass of dried twigs and branches that are considered such a fire hazard that many communities officially caution residents against planting them.

5 Ways To Be a Financially Secure Woman

Being financially secure means different things to different people but we can all agree that saving money and smart money spending decisions can lead to financial freedom. By taking advantage of options that are available to you such as websites like giftcardrescue.com, that allows you to buy and sell gift cards at a discounted price, you can purchase your everyday necessities for less!

Mary Beth Storjohanna certified financial planner, from DailyFinance explains ways to be a financially secure woman in todays world. 

1. Knowing Where Your Money Is Going — and Coming From

Whether you’re a full-time employee or self-employed, it’s impossible to create or build a plan around your finances if you don’t know what’s happening with your money first. Use a website like MintYou Need a Budget, or Manilla as a starting point for tracking your money and build a spending plan. If you’re on a variable income, it’s even more important for you to get a handle on things. Once you’re synced up, you’re going to see the areas in which you’re over- (or under-) spending and where you need to make adjustments. Take note on what’s going towards saving for your future self and how much is going towards debt pay down.

2. Saving Routinely –- Set it and Forget it

Since women are known to live longer than men on an average basis – it’s even more important to build up an adequate cushion for those extra years. Saving on an ongoing, automatic basis sets you on a direct path to a healthy financial future. And not only are you training yourself to treat your savings like a bill payment, but you’re also taking advantage of compound growth along the way. If you’re using your savings account to fund your lifestyle when your checking account balance gets low, or throwing money aside “if” you have some left over, break those habits. Start saving routinely for emergency funds, retirement, and future goals.

3. Using Credit Wisely

Knowledge is power when it comes to the difference between good debt and bad debt. Student loans and mortgages are typically on the good end, while credit card and other consumer debt are on the bad end. Saving money into a “splurge” account to use instead of whipping out the plastic for impulse purchases is a great way to curb credit card use. Get into the habit of checking your credit score annually and being responsible by paying balances off in full each month or more than the minimum due to save interest build-up and reduce stress.

4. Knowing When to Say Yes and No

Saying no to items that can derail your financial plan, like last-minute vacations, dining out and impulse purchases. I’m not saying you can’t do these things. Savvy ladies just have a plan for these expenses. Say yes to career and educational experiences that add to your value and ability to earn an income. Women still earn less than men, on average. Your most valuable asset as a young professional is your ability to earn an income (human capital). Taking continuing education classes, reading personal development books, seeking out a mentor and staying current on trends and developments within your industry will enhance your earning power and ability to save.

5. Having Protection

As a powerhouse young woman, having the right kinds of protection in place will guard you against potential future income loss. Check on your disability, life, health, auto and home or renters insurance annually or when there are changes to your situation. Ensure you understand coverages, premiums and deductibles. Disability insurance is a big one. If something happened to you, taking you out of the workforce for an extended period, what would you live off of? Is your income protected? Also, having an estate plan in place if you’re over the age of 18 is just plain smart. Get a will and powers of attorney in case something happened to you. Communicate with those you designate powers to and make sure your wishes are documented. This habit makes it easier for you –- and your family and friends as well.