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Melissa Batai
Melissa is a former college instructor who recently quit her job to be a stay home mom with her three children ages 7, 2 and 1. She is a personal finance writer for several online publications, and she blogs at her own blog, Mom's Plans, where she documents her family's journey to live a fulfilling life on less and Dining Out Challenge, where the motto is, "Never pay full price to dine out again." She enjoys cooking, writing, reading, and watching movies.

eMeals Review & Coupon Code – Low-Cost Meal Planning Service

By Melissa Batai

Limited Time Offer: Click here and sign up for eMeals using coupon code MONEYCRASHERS to get 15% off during your first 3 months!

emeals logoIf you’re busy, you may have considered outsourcing your housecleaning and lawn maintenance – but did you know you can also outsource your family meal planning and grocery list preparation for a mere $5 a month? eMeals (formerly e-Mealz) offers you just that opportunity.

eMeals is an online service that allows you to pick a meal plan based on your dietary preferences, your cooking style, the number of people in your family, and the grocery stores you frequent. In addition to giving you a weekly meal plan, it also provides a detailed grocery list.

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13 Healthy Meals & Snacks to Bring on Your Next Road Trip or Vacation

By Melissa Batai

road tripDepending on the size of your family, you could spend $400 or more by eating each meal out during a five-day road trip. Considering that you must already pay the inflated price of gas, that could be an added expense you simply can’t afford. Instead, consider packing your own food. By bringing meals and snacks that keep everyone satisfied, you can use the money on other things, such as souvenirs and sightseeing – or, save it for your next vacation.

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Using “Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day” by Teri Crane

By Melissa Batai

potty train your child in just one dayIf you tell experienced moms that you plan to potty train your child in one day, you may get reactions that range from a chuckle to a patronizing look that seems to say, “Now, now dear, we all wish we could have potty trained our children in one day, but that just isn’t possible.”

However, using a book, “Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day” by Teri Crane, I was able to potty train my oldest child in one day. Sounds too good to be true? It isn’t. Potty training your child in one day is possible. Crane uses a two-fold approach for success.

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“The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke” by Suze Orman – Book Review

By Melissa Batai

suze orman money bookBefore becoming a world-renowned financial guru and television personality, Suze Orman was a broke waitress. Her story is one of success, and in recent years she has listened to the pleas of twenty- and thirty-somethings who want advice specific to them and the current economic climate. College students are graduating deep in student loan debt – and often credit card debt – and are facing an economic climate that makes it difficult to get a job right out of college.

In “The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke,” Suze Orman addresses the unique concerns of this group of individuals, and offers some advice that is contrary to what many of us may have learned.

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What Is Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) – Companies, Tips & Scams

By Melissa Batai

multi-level marketingMulti-level marketing first appeared on the U.S. scene in the 1940s. Carl Rehnborg, an American businessman, sold a product called Nutrilite, which was said to relieve a variety of ills including allergies, asthma, and irregular heartbeat. His customers told their friends about the products, and the friends then wanted to buy Nutrilite. Rather than selling directly to friends of friends, Rehnborg began to give his customers a commission for every product they sold.

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Sittercity Review – Connecting Parents With Babysitters & Nannies

By Melissa Batai

Limited Time Offer: Click here and sign up for Sittercity using coupon code JULY30 to get 30% off a 3-month membership.

sittercity logoSittercity is to babysitters and parents what Match.com is to singles looking for love. The online service provides connections; it’s a way for babysitters to find more work, and for parents to find a good babysitter to watch their children. However, babysitters are not the only household help you can find on the site. If you are in the market for a nanny, pet sitter, senior care worker, house cleaner, or tutor, you can also find available candidates.

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Peapod Review – Online Grocery Store & Home Delivery Service

By Melissa Batai

peapod logoPerhaps you dislike grocery shopping, or you’re unable to frequently leave your home due to an injury or a new baby joining the home. Or maybe you have a schedule that is so busy you have trouble making it to the supermarket. If this is the case, you may want to start using an online grocery service such as Peapod.

My family first began using Peapod in the winter of 2008 after my second child was born. She was a sickly baby, and that winter was a cold one, so rather than taking her out to the grocery store, I utilized Peapod and enjoyed having groceries delivered right to my home. I was especially surprised by the fresh fruits and vegetables available.

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How to Find a Good Babysitter to Care for Your Kids

By Melissa Batai

babysitterWhen I was in college, I made all of my spending money by babysitting. I started out with one job babysitting a two-year-old boy, and by the time I graduated I had six families for whom I regularly babysat. Now, I am on the opposite side as a mother in search of someone reliable to take care of my children.

If you are going to leave your children with a babysitter, you want to make sure he or she is reliable and responsible. You will trust this person to take care of and protect your children. The decision cannot be taken lightly.

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5 Ways to Make Money With Paid Medical Research Studies & Donations

By Melissa Batai

medical ways to make moneyIn difficult economic times, many people look for ways to make extra money, and you may be considering some creative options to pay down debt. One way to make money is by using your body. No, I’m not talking about hard labor, but rather the ways that your good health and bodily functions can help you bring in some extra cash – and help people at the same time.

First and foremost, you must carefully consider your medical decisions, and always discuss these ideas with your doctor.

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8 Frugal & Fun Martin Luther King Day Activities for Kids

By Melissa Batai

atlanta, georgiaTo many young children – and even some adults – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is simply a day off from school or work. However, kids are very often interested in learning new things, and this holiday is a great opportunity to teach them about Dr. King and America’s painful history of injustice, the Civil Rights Movement, and the long, ongoing march toward equality.

This year, make Martin Luther King, Jr. Day more meaningful for your children by providing them with some history as to why we celebrate. Take the time to inform and entertain your children with these educational, affordable activities.

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Debt Snowflaking – 25 Ways to Find Extra Money and Pay Down Debt

By Melissa Batai

snowflaking debtIf you have debt, you may feel a sense of desperation and a desire to eliminate it as soon as possible. Reducing your monthly expenses and developing an aggressive debt repayment plan is a great start. Depending on the severity of your situation, you may want to stop using credit cards during this time as well.

Even if you aren’t creating additional debt, you may still feel discouraged by how long it will take to rid yourself of your existing debt. Fortunately, you’re far from helpless. To accelerate your debt repayment, consider snowflaking.

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“The Money Saving Mom’s Budget” by Crystal Paine – Book Review

By Melissa Batai

money saving moms budget book coverCrystal Paine and her husband, Jesse, lived on an income of less than $1,000 per month when her husband was in law school so that he could graduate without any student loan or consumer debt.

During this time, Paine began a blog, Money Saving Mom, to share the ways that her family was saving money and staying within a budget.

Both her blog and her family’s finances continued to grow after her husband graduated and began working as a lawyer. Just last year, she and her husband paid for their first home outright in cash.

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17 Ways to Pay for & Afford College Without Student Loan Debt

By Melissa Batai

students studying libraryAttending college, while not essential, can give graduates a financial boost that will benefit them throughout their lives. The U.S. Census has determined that the average college graduate makes $19,550 more per year than the average high school grad.

Furthermore, the Pew Research Center stated that even after deducting time spent not earning money while in college, as well as the associated costs, the average college graduate earns a whopping $550,000 more than a high school graduate over a 40-year career.

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Food on the Table Review – Free Family Meal Planning Service

By Melissa Batai

food on the table logoIf you’re like most people, you’re busy, and you may have trouble finding the time to prepare eating plans or make dinner. But going through the drive-thru or eating out every night is not good for the budget or the body.

Fortunately, several sites will not only help you find the best deals on groceries, but they will also provide family meal planning menus and recipes for weekly meals. One well known site is E-mealz, which is endorsed by Dave Ramsey. I love E-mealz, but I also like a newer site called Food on the Table. While Food on the Table offers many of the same benefits as E-Mealz, it also offers more flexibility, which is particularly good if you have a picky eater in the family. Moreover, it’s free at the basic subscription level.

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35 Fun, Free Things to Do in Washington, D.C. for Families with Kids

By Melissa Batai

washington dcMy husband recently had the opportunity to present at a conference in Washington, D.C. So, on a whim, we decided to take the whole family. We had never before considered Washington, D.C. as a vacation destination – a mistake on our part. Beyond its aesthetic beauty, Washington, D.C. offers a number of sightseeing opportunities to visit with kids, especially on a travel budget, because the city offers so many worthwhile free attractions.

We only had three days to spend in the city and we packed in as much as we could. Cheap accommodations in Washington, D.C. may be hard to come by, but the cost for a hotel is mitigated by the many free attractions for children and adults.

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