Building Family Wealth Over The Next 5 Years

Building Family Wealth Over The Next 5 Years

Building Family Wealth Over The Next 5 Years | Keeping Current Matters

As the economy continues to improve, more and more Americans are seeing their personal financial situations also improving. Instead of just getting by, many are now beginning to save and find other ways to build their net worth. One way to dramatically increase their family wealth is through the acquisition of real estate.

For example, let’s assume a young couple purchases and closes on a $250,000 home in January. What will that home be worth five years down the road?

Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists every quarter. They ask them to project how residential prices will appreciate over the next five years. According to their latest survey, here is how much value that $250,000 house will gain in the coming years.

Family Wealth Earned with Home Equity | Keeping Current Matters

Over a five year period, that homeowner can build their home equity to over $40,000. And, in many cases, home equity is large portion of a family’s overall net worth.

Bottom Line

If you are looking to better your family’s long-term financial situation, buying your dream home might be a great option.

36 Snow Day Activities and Ideas for Your Kids


36 Snow Day Activities and Ideas for Your Kids


If you’re kids are getting stir crazy, here’s a few boredom busters and sanity savers for you.

1. Make Use of the Snow

Might as well embrace the snow. Toss your kiddos outside with a shovel and have them shovel the driveway and sidewalks. If they have extra energy and can stand the cold, suggest they shovel the neighbor’s drive way too.

2. Hot Coco Magic

Provide your kids with bowls, scoop up the snow and add it to your sauce pan. They will love watching it melt into chocolately goodness on the stove top with you.

Here’s a great recipe.

3. Maple Syrup Goodness

This makes another sweet snack for your kids. Boil real maple syrup for 10 minutes, stirring often. Then carefully take the syrup outside. Have your kids find a smooth, clean area and pour the syrup into the snow. Have fun and draw your kids names in the snow with it. Just be sure the syrup has cooled before picking it up and nibbling on it. You can find another recipe at Family Go.Com

4. Snowman Marshmallows

Marshmallow snowmen: put three jumbo marshmallows on a plate to create the snowman’s body. Add chocolate chips for eyes and buttons and a butterscotch chip for the nose. Then, stick the whole thing in the microwave for about 7 seconds. Take out and attach thin pretzel sticks for arms. Then, enjoy this gooey treat!

5. Polar Express

Create a train like atmosphere with your furniture. Have your kids make train tickets. Then read the story and let their imagination take off. My kids love playing “train” or “Polar Train”

6. Spa Day

I have two girls, we round up our mani & pedi supplies and stake out a place near the fireplace. You can do this with your girls, paint toes and giving facials.

7. Game On

Mostly boys? They love competition, consider a Wii tournament or Uno.

8. Make Snow Ice Cream

Scoop up snow in waffle cones or cups.

  • 1/2 cups half & half or whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 cups of clean snow or shaved ice

Blend the milk, sugar and vanilla together until the sugar dissolves.  Mix 4 cups of snow & stir until you get the same consistency of ice cream.  Add toppings or chocolate syrup to make a Snowy Sundae!

Here’s more about homemade ice cream.

9. Have an indoor picnic

Who needs a table and nice cooked meals? Make cookies and other finger foods ahead of time and let your kids decide where (within reason) to picnic.

10. Make homemade play dough

1 cup flour 1/2 cup salt 2 tbsp. cream of tartar 2 tbsp. oil 1 cup water food coloring (optional) Scent (cinnamon, vanilla, mint, etc. – also optional)

In a saucepan, mix flour, salt, cream of tartar, scent ingredient, and oil. Slowly mix in water until it’s all smooth. Then turn the heat on medium and stir until it forms a ball of dough. I used a heat-resistant rubber spatula so I could scrape the bottom of the pan easily. Once it’s a ball, plop it onto some wax paper until it’s cool enough for you to touch.

Here are six other recipes for play dough

11. Make homemade finger paints ( I found this one at Thrifty Fun)

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup of cornstarch
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup dishwashing soap
  • food coloring

Put the sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan and then slowly mix in cold water. Then cook the mixture over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly until you have a smooth gel. Let cool and then add dishwashing soap. Divide into as many containers as you would like colors and then mix in food coloring drops until you have you desired color. If you have colored dishwashing soap that can influence all the colors you try to create, which isn’t always a bad thing. Here’s another recipe for finger paint.

If homemade paints is for the birds, simply break out your store bought paints and let them go to town on creating. If you’re really brave, let them add glitter to their masterpieces. 

12. Make Balloon Marbles

Jen and I both have made these. Here is her article, she tweaked the idea and made it more efficient and fun. Her Pinspiration: Ice Balloons. 

13. Taffy Time

Have a Taffy Pull in your kitchen with your kids. I remember doing this every Christmas with my grandma. I may have to purchase some supplies and do it. You can find the directions here: Berkshire Cottage.

14. Indoor Snow Castles

My kids love this but be prepared for a little bit of mess. Bring in your kiddie pool and add buckets of snow. Provide your kids with their sand making supplies. OR add the snow to your tub. I like the tub, easier and less mess.

15.  Color Free Printables

There just isn’t enough time in the day to be creative. Consider finding free printable coloring pages for your kids. Most sites like Nick Jr, Disney, etc have printables.

16. Computer time

There are several sites online for your child’s education use and fun. We use ABC Mouse and, Other sites we like are Nick Jr and PBS Kids.

17. Snow Fun

There is always the best traditions of snow angels and snow ball fights. Take pictures and capture the moments.

18. Snow Fort

Too cold to go outside? Make a fort inside, using blankets and pillows, watch a movie from the fort!

19. Melted Crayon’s, Funnel Hearts and more.

V-day just passed and chances are you still have some left over supplies from making those crafts. Here is another list of 14 crafts you can do with your kids, including Tic Tac Toe with hearts. Valentine Ideas for your Kids.  Or Natural Valentine Ideas

20. Fashion Shoot

Hang up some sparkly sheets and beads, add tulle or anything fun fabric, then have your girls dress up in their favorite costumes and have a fashion shoot!

21. Sock Toss

My kids loved the sock toss when they were toddlers. Arrange baskets, buckets, or paper bags in the middle of your living room floor, stuff socks into balls. Whoever gets the most socks in the baskets wins.   (Or make a sock fishing game like we did here.)

22. Borax Crystals.

This one takes overnight, but hey – if it is a snow day – you have the time!  I was intimidated by it at first, but it is WAY easier than I thought.  All you need is Borox, a glass, water, pipe cleaner and a string.  So cool.  The whole recipe is right here.

23. Science Fun!

Satisfy your pint-sized scientist.  Volcano, rockets, super gel.  Most of the stuff is made from things already in your house.  Just check it out here.

24. Make some cookies!

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg

Cream the butter & sugar.  Add eggs & Vanilla.  Add the rest.  Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.  YUMMY!

25. Skype Grandma and Grandpa

Do you have a Skype account?  Facebook?  Google Plus?  All of them have video chats now.  And if you can’t video chat, just call!  Grandma and grandpa would LOVE to hear from their grandkids!!

26. Bring the snow INSIDE!!

Grab a few buckets of snow and put it in the bathtub.  Have your kids put on gloves and go to town.  The mess is minimal and the fun is maximum!  Plus, you don’t have to worry about kiddos getting too cold!

27. Feed the birds!

When it is snowing the birds have a harder time finding food.  Now’s your chance to help out and give the kids an educational something to do! You can roll a toilet paper or papertowel holder with peanut butter and popcorn (or bird seed if you have some) or check out these other ways to make simple feeders.  Or you can check out how we used gelatin to make a feeder.

28. Masking Tape City

Have kids who love cars?  Get them started on a living room city project.  The tape outlines the streets.  Then the cars can drive around and even up and over some couches, chairs and such.

29. Octopus Spaghetti Use hot dogs and spaghetti.  Mix with cheese.  All kinds of kid fun.     **If it is cold:  FREEZE BUBBLES!!

30. Moon Sand!! 

Baby oil + flour.  COOL!  You can see some pictures here.

31. Read a Book from your library.

No – Don’t go out in the snow.  But you CAN check out books from your library on your tables or iPad!!  You may have to log on to their web site or call for directions.

32. Treasure hunt!!

Hide something in your house.  Then post clues for your kids to find them.

OR – just play ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ telling your kids they’re getting ‘warmer’ when they’re getting closer… and ‘colder’ when they’re walking away from the ‘treasure’

OR – Have one of your older kids hide a treasure and draw a ‘map’ of how to find it.

33. Snowflakes!

Use coffee filters.  They’re pre-cut in circles.  Just fold them in half and half again. Then cut out some circles and triangles.

34. When you’re ready to go outside – Make some art!

A couple squirts of food coloring in a squirt bottle or squirt gun and then send the kids outside in the snow to ‘paint’ the snow.  This is also fun for decorating snowmen and women.


(inside) Put a piece of paper on a cookie sheet, pile snow on top of it, then squeeze a few drops of color on the top of the paint.  When the snow melts, you’ll have a neat water color picture!

36. Frozen Paint!!

If you have paint, set it outside (or in your freezer) overnight to freeze it!  Then kids can color with the frozen paint.

Bonus!  (A new one):

6 Things to do with Shaving Cream

Seriously – I did most of these with just ONE container.  Plus, an idea to save for Easter.

Bonus #2 

This one’s going CRAY CRAY on our site right now.  I thought I’d share it here since many people seem to be finding this post:  Hammer Time!!
Cotton balls, hammers and fun.

Bonus #3:  There’s an Ap for That!!

How to Winterize a Car

How to Winterize a Car

A cold-weather survival guide for your car

Last updated: November 2015

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The winter months are hard on your vehicle. Cold temperatures, dirt, and road-salt residue can all cause problems. However, there are some simple checks and maintenance items you can do that will help your vehicle stay in top condition.

Good Visibility is Vital

If your wipers are leaving streaks of water on the windshield, or if the wiper-blade rubber shows any signs of cracking or stiffness, replace them with a new set. Use a brush and a scraper to remove ice and snow from the windshield rather than your wipers; a heavy load of snow (or ice sticking the blades to the glass) can overload the motor. If the vehicle is parked outside, lift the wipers off the glass before an overnight snow to keep them from freezing to the windshield.

With dirt, mud, and salt residue being kicked up off the road, it’s likely that you’ll be using your windshield washers a lot. Be sure to keep your windshield washer reservoir filled with a washer solution that contains an antifreeze agent. (The standard blue stuff will suffice; just don’t use water, as it can freeze in the washer lines.) Make sure that your car’s heater is functioning properly and that plenty of warm air is being directed to the windshield when it’s in the defrost mode. If your car has a separate A/C button, turn it on when defrosting; even with the temperature set to hot, the air conditioner dehumidifies the air which speeds defogging. (Most cars will automatically turn on the air conditioner with the defroster.) Don’t use the recirculate mode.

Finally, check that all the vehicle’s lights are working properly and clear of snow and ice, so that you’ll have optimum visibility at night and other motorists will be able to see you.

Consider a Switch to Winter Tires

If you drive a lot in slippery conditions, it’s a good idea to replace summer or all-season tires with a set of dedicated winter tires, which have tread patterns and rubber compounds specially designed for optimum traction on slick roads. Winter tires typically have shorter tread life and generate more road noise than the all-season tires that your vehicle came with, but the extra safety they provide is generally worth the compromise. (See our tire ratings.)

If you’ll be using winter tires, you might consider having them mounted on inexpensive steel wheels. This will make it easier to switch between the two sets of tires, plus it will save your more expensive alloy wheels from the damage inflicted by harsh winter conditions.

For extreme conditions, studded snow tires or even tire chains may be warranted. Because they can be tough on road surfaces, check if they’re legal in your area before making the investment. Some states require snow chains on certain roads.

Keep the Battery in Good Shape

Cold temperatures reduce your battery’s cranking power—in fact, at about zero degrees F, your battery only has about half the cranking power it has at 80 degrees. At the same time, the thickened oil in a cold engine makes it harder to turn over. Following are a few easy checks to make sure it’s in as good condition as possible.

On conventional batteries, remove the plastic caps on top of the battery and check the fluid level (see your owner’s manual). If the fluid is low, add distilled water. On maintenance-free batteries, check that the window at the top of the battery indicates a fully charged state (check in your owner’s manual). If it isn’t, have the battery professionally tested at a service station, auto parts store, or repair shop. It may just need to be charged. But if it’s defective, it’s best to replace it before it goes completely dead. (See our battery Ratings and buying advice.)

If you’ll be using winter tires, you might consider having them mounted on inexpensive steel wheels. This will make it easier to switch between the two sets of tires, plus it will save your more expensive alloy wheels from the damage inflicted by harsh winter conditions.

For extreme conditions, studded snow tires or even tire chains may be warranted. Because they can be tough on road surfaces, check if they’re legal in your area before making the investment. Some states require snow chains on certain roads.

Make Sure You Use the Right Engine Oil

Engine oil thickens when cold, making it harder for the engine to turn over. Modern cars use multi-weight oil that is suitable for a wide range of temperatures, but some manufacturers recommend specific grades of oil for specific temperature ranges. Check your owner’s manual and plan your oil changes so your engine has the right grade of oil for the right time of year.

If you expect to experience extremely low temperatures, you can have an engine block heater installed in the engine. When plugged into a household electrical outlet, it keeps the engine oil from getting cold and thick.

Check Your Cooling System

Extreme cold can cause rubber parts to become brittle and fail. When the engine is cold, check the radiator and heater hoses for cracking, leaking, or contamination from oil or grease. The hoses should be firm yet pliable when you squeeze them. Replace them if they feel brittle or overly soft.

For most vehicles, the cooling system should be flushed at least every two years (check your owner’s manual). This helps keep corrosion from building up in the system. If a flush is almost due, have it done before the cold weather hits. The system should be refilled with a mixture of antifreeze and water, typically in a 50/50 ratio. (Coolant can be purchased either full-strength or pre-mixed; be sure you know what you are buying.) This will keep your coolant from freezing to well below zero. Colder conditions, however, can call for ratios of 60/40 or 70/30. Check your owner’s manual or the back of the antifreeze container. Under no circumstances should you use a higher antifreeze-to-water ratio than specified by the manufacturer.

Prevent Freeze-ups

Water can get into door and trunk locks and then freeze, locking you out of the vehicle. To prevent this, lubricate the locks with a silicone spray or door-lock lubricant. If they’re already frozen, use a lock antifreeze product to thaw them.

Protection for Inside and Out

The dirt and salt of winter can attack your car’s paint finish. To help protect it, give the car a fresh coat of wax before the snow flies and wash it regularly during the winter months. With modern vehicles, rust isn’t as big a problem as it used to be, but it’s still a good idea to have the wheel wells and underbody washed regularly to prevent road salt from building up. If your vehicle has alloy wheels, apply a coat of wax to them to help prevent pitting and corrosion.

If you don’t already have floormats in your car, you should pick up a pair. Even inexpensive ones will protect your car’s carpet from the water and mud that tends to get tracked into the vehicle. For maximum protection, a set of rubber all-weather floor mats will keep salty snow from seeping through the carpet and into the car’s floorboards. If you do buy aftermarket floor mats, be sure they won’t interfere with operation of the pedals.

Let the Engine Warm Up

In years past, cars would cough, stumble, and stall if not given sufficient time to warm up. Modern cars can be put in gear and driven away as soon as they are started, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the warm-up entirely. A brief bit of idling time before you drive gives the oil a chance to heat up, thin out and flow more smoothly, and you’ll want that to happen before you ask your engine to do any serious work. Letting your car idle while you brush the snow off of it should be sufficient. (By the way, there’s no need to rev the engine; it’ll warm up just fine at idle.) If your car idles higher than normal when first started, waiting until the idle speed drops before putting the car in gear will save wear and tear on your automatic transmission.

Drive gently until the temperature gauge starts to move off the bottom peg or until the cold engine light (usually blue) goes out. Remember, cars can still overheat in winter, especially if the radiator grille is clogged with snow.