Sponsored Content

Smart Shopping for Fall Savings

Created especially for MomsGetReal from the people at BuyVia

The end of summer can be a mournful time of year for some: students and teachers head back to school, while the rest of us see an end to backyard barbecues, lazy days by the swimming pool, and cocktail parties on the deck. On the other hand, fall also brings an end to 100 degree days, mosquito bites, and parents’ worries about how to pay for babysitting or summer camp for their kids during the months-long vacation.

Another thing fall can bring is savings for consumers savvy enough to take advantage of its many seasonal sales. Having the patience to wait to purchase back-to-school items, Halloween costumes, and Thanksgiving electronics can enable you to take advantage of sharp discounts as stores become anxious to get these season-specific products out of the store in order to make room for the next big thing.

Here are some tips on the top items to purchase during the fall, from a savings point of view.

1. Buy summer items inexpensively:

Now that summer is over, stores will be left with bicycles and gas grills and even pools that they need to unload in order to make way for more seasonally appropriate items. That makes this a great time to get good deals. This type of shopping is especially sensible for those who plan to travel to warmer areas like Florida or the Southwest for vacation, or even to spend the entire winter there. Similarly, you can stock up on discounted summer clothing items like sundresses and swimsuits and shorts for the future, as well.

2. Buy older versions of big-ticket items once the newer models are released:

Apple often releases new models of big items like the iPhone in September or October — just last week, the release of the iPhone 5S underscores that consumers can now get the iPhone 4S for free with a two-year contract. Likewise, Samsung is currently offering great deals on the Galaxy SIII, now that the fourth generation model is out.

Similarly, new models of cars generally come out in September. Once these heavily-marketed new cars and phones come out, the older versions will drop in price, even though there is rarely a significant difference in quality between them and the newer versions. Generally, the new models simply offer a few extra features or a fancier design. Buying the older model is a good choice to save big while not sacrificing much in terms of actual utility.

3. Plan holidays and vacations in advance:

Once fall starts, it’s a good time to look ahead to holiday travel. Whether you are going to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving or flying college students back home for Christmas, the earlier you book your tickets, the cheaper they (generally) will be. Remember that planes aren’t your only option – look into Amtrak and Greyhound as well. Travel by train or bus often offers more flexibility with regard to dates. Whereas you may pay big bucks to change the day you fly, you can often change the date you take the train or bus for free. No matter what type of transportation you choose, planning ahead will save you money and reduce your stress level.

4. Re-purpose seasonal items or save them for next year:

Once the back-to-school rush is over, most school supplies are steeply discounted. Know which items tend to go right away and which tend to stick around. You can buy the basics in early fall (whatever your child needs right away) and stock up on the rest once they go on sale. You can also buy items that are always needed – paper, folders, notebooks – and save them for next year, while re-purposing other materials for arts and crafts throughout the year.

The same goes for Halloween items. Once the holiday is over, their sales value and price will drop dramatically. Buy and store non-perishable items like decorations, makeup, and even one-size-fits-all costume items like hats and masks, and save them for the next year or two’s holidays. Likewise, although the big draw on Black Friday is the $100 iPad or the newest model of flat-screen TV going for what seems like virtually nothing, there are very few of these items available and most will be gone ten to fifteen minutes after stores open. Take advantage of the next few days when stores try to unload the stock that didn’t go during the big sales.

A little creative thinking can go a long way. What are some strategies you use to save big during the fall?

Norman Fong is Co-Founder of BuyVia, an online and iOS App smart shopping service that lists reputable products from top online stores, at the best price available. By downloading the BuyVia iOS App to their iPhone or iPad, consumers can be alerted to the best deals on the most popular products, anywhere and anytime.

Crafts with Kids

Make Your Own Gift Wrap

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

Whether it’s Christmas, a birthday, Valentine’s Day or any other gift-giving moment, you probably spend an extraordinary amount of time searching for and buying (or making) the perfect gift. The perfect gift is then unceremoniously dropped into a nondescript bag and with some tissue paper stuffed around it.

Wouldn’t it be even better if the wrap was as much a part of the gift as what is inside the package? With the price of gift wrap and gift bags, this can be a practical choice, too.

Making your own gift wrap is quick and easy, not to mention a fun project for the kids.  Start with brown packing paper, white meat packing paper, or even paper scraps that would otherwise be tossed out (you can even use leftover wrap inside out so that the white side is showing).  Using stamps, crayons, paints, or markers, turn your kids loose decorating the paper.

For birthday gifts, add a list of all the pertinent things that happened during the year of their birth. For a mother’s day or father’s day gift, include the kids’ handprints. If it’s a Valentine’s gift, put lipstick on everyone and put kisses all over the package. If you would like to prevent lip prints from smudging, you can cover them with clear fingernail polish or lightly spray just the lip print with hairspray.

Did you child make a beautiful fridge-quality piece of art?  Use it for gift wrap! Do you have some beautiful scraps of leftover fabrics?  You guessed it, they can either be glued on as accents or used alone as gift wrap.

Oh—and if you still want to drop the gift into a bag, all of these decorating ideas can be used just as easily on plain brown paper gift bags (with or without handles).



Let's Talk Self-Improvement

Beauty on a Budget

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

What have we learned by surviving the recession, the housing market meltdown, unemployment rates in the double digits, and a volatile political season?

Our family has learned that you can do more with less. We have learned to prioritize what’s really important and that most of the “stuff” of life is not really important, especially if you’re buying it because of the brand, the label, or the promises made.

We have learned that simple is best, in all things.

One of the biggest money wasters (besides the weight loss industry) is the beauty industry. While I wish more women would simply be happier with who they are in their natural state, beauty is one place where simple is best.

Stand in the shampoo aisle at the store sometime and read the ingredients. You’ll find there’s not much difference between the one you pay $8-10 for and the one you can get for $1.29. But it’s not just the shampoo where you can save money and shop smart. There are many natural beauty solutions that don’t cost anything and work way better than the $30-per-ounce wrinkle cream you think you need.

Here are some of my favorites:

1. Sunscreen. If you really want to prevent aging, protect your skin from too much sun exposure with the use of sunscreen. I don’t believe in buying the uber-expensive made-for-your-face, $30-for-five-ounces sunscreen, either. I buy sunscreen made for babies…it’s the gentlest you can buy and much cheaper per ounce than the fancy stuff.

2. Vaseline. Skip the expensive moisturizers and wrinkle creams and use vaseline. It’s very inexpensive per ounce, can be used safely around your eyes, on your neck, and even on your feet (lather your feet in vaseline, slip sandwich baggies over them, then tube socks. You’ll never need a pumice stone again). Vaseline also makes a great lip gloss, and you can treat your hands the same way you treat your feet if they get rough in the dry winter air.

3. Olive oil. Not just a delicious salad dressing condiment, olive oil is perfect for home manicures (soak your fingers in a small amount of olive oil to treat the cuticles, strengthen nails, and moisten your fingers). Olive oil is also the perfect deep conditioner for your hair.

4. Baking soda and peroxide. Two of the cheapest ingredients on earth combine to create the perfect teeth whitener and breath freshener. This inexpensive concoction also works to replace nasty chemical cleaners in your home.

5. Obsessing over removing every scrap of hair permanently from your body is pricey. Instead, save laser, electrolysis, and waxing for very visible or troubling spots, and do home waxing or shaving on the rest.

6.  Rely on natural, easily available ingredients for home spa treatments: honey and sugar makes a great facial scrub, coffee grounds work better than any store-bought treatment to minimize cellulite, lemon juice is an excellent astringent.


The best beauty regimen doesn’t take money. Drink water, exercise, and eat right. Fruits and veggies are full of the vitamins and minerals that keep your skin healthy and your cells strong; water helps flush toxins from your body to keep you looking your best, and exercise keeps you youthful. Oh – and the best way to prevent wrinkles?


Frugal Living

10 Money-Saving Tips to Stretch Your Budget

What would you add to this list?
It is likely that when asking the question, “Do you want to save money?” everyone in this world would say that it is something they strongly desire and would love to be able to do. Here are ten tips for saving money that everyone can do now.
1. Turn off the lights. Making sure that you are using the least amount of energy as possible has many benefits. It will lower your electricity bills, allowing you to save money. It will also allow you and your household to be more sustainable, which is great for the environment.

2. Employ the 15 day rule in your house. Thinking of making a purchase that you do not technically need? Wait 15 days. If you have gotten along fine without it for those 15 days then you probably do not need it. If you still want it but are also interested in conserving your funds, set aside a “Save Up” jar and put extra money in the jar until you have enough to fund your purchase. DON’T USE CREDIT CARDS TO BUY THINGS YOU CAN LIVE WITHOUT!!

3. Write a list before you go shopping. A problem that a lot of people have at the store is buying things they had not intended to buy. Only go shopping with a purpose. Make a list of what you truly need and only buy the things on that list.

4. Limit how often you go out to eat. Although dining out can be fun, it is always more expensive than a meal that could be made at home. If you do not want to stop eating out all together, set aside a budget for eating expenses. Once that fund has run out for the month, no more eating out!

5. Drink lots of water. Some may think this is a strange money saving habit, but it works on many levels. For one it will fill you up before meals, making you eat less, therefore saving you money. It is also a healthier alternative to sodas and juices, which can be expensive.

6. Take full advantage of yard sales, thrift stores, and second hand stores. It is inevitable that at some point you will need to buy something new, but why not let it be new just to you? Yard sales, thrift stores, and second hand stores are great resources for getting cheap items. They will feel new to you and not empty your pockets.

7. Be an extreme couponer. We’ve all seen the show, or at least heard of it. Extreme couponing is a craze that is sweeping the nation. Although some of these extreme couponers look a bit crazy, there is a method to their madness. Coupons are a good source of saving and basing your shopping trip on what deals are available is a great money-saving habit to get in to.

8. Stay away from online shopping. It is all too easy to see a new top online and think “I must have that!” It’s even easier to buy it if your credit card is linked to those online accounts already. Just say “No!”

9. Try out the generic brand. Although some generic brands are not as tasty or don’t work as well, a good number of them are just as good as the real thing. Going generic is great for money saving and may be so good that you don’t know the difference.

10. Carpool – or better yet, walk. These days gas prices are through the roof. Saving any money on transportation is a great idea. Know someone who’s going to the same place as you are? Go together! This is a good opportunity for bonding and money-saving! Close enough you can get some exercise? Do it! Have public transportation at your disposal? Take it!
Frugal Living Let's Talk

Frugal Living – The True Secret to Budgeting

Getting Real With Sara Haley

There are a million and one articles out there on the internet that promise to give you the tricks of the trade to saving money. From couponing to cutting your expenses, I’ve read it all. And I’m sure you have, too. But when it comes down to it, there is only one secret, and it’s not even a secret at all. It all comes down to living within your means. But what exactly does this mean?

Too many families and individuals live in an “instant gratification” world. If you want it, get it. Regardless of price, regardless of if you truly need it, just buy it. Don’t have the money in your bank account? No worries, there’s always the credit card or long-term financing! These days, you can get a personal loan for just about anything. From redecorating your home to cosmetic surgery, you can get money for pretty much everything. The problem? Each of these finance options come with monthly payments. And interest. And months, sometimes years, of paying them off.

You know what some of our parents, and grandparents, did when they wanted something? They saved their money. And if they didn’t have the money, you know what they did?  They didn’t buy it. That’s right. They went without.

I think a lot of Americans need to understand that their financial situations are likely a result of their own selfishness. I’m reading some of these “frugal living” articles and I’m baffled. To save money each month, they’re telling me I should lower my extra cable television channels.  To save money each month, they’re telling me I should cut the number of days I eat out at restaurants. To save money each month, they’re telling me I should shorten my vacation or consider a stay-cation instead.  You know what I say to all this?


You know how I have saved money? I don’t even have cable. I don’t eat out much at all unless I can get a great deal on it or someone is treating me. And vacation?! I wish!!!

The problem with today’s families is they think that they are entitled to all of these things. Take cable TV, for example. Really? For most families who have parents that work outside of the home for 40 hours a week, and then spend the evenings hauling their kids to extracurricular activities after school and running through a drive-thru for dinner, the idea of even having cable is absurd.  Someone please explain to me when these people have time to even watch television enough to justify the hundred-something dollars a month just to have.

The key to living frugally is this: live like you’re poor. You heard me. Instead of trying to cut back on extravagant things you have become accustomed to, eliminate them altogether. Let me explain this idea further.

I was married. I was a stay-at-home mom to my daughter and step-son. I left my husband for a number of reasons, and when I did so, I took my daughter and rented an apartment. I was a stay-at-home mom that did minimal freelance work, and the idea of figuring out how to make it financially on my own was, well, intimidating. But I did it. I was dirt poor and knew it, and my purchases and bills reflected this accordingly. I kept everything to a bare minimum. Rent and utilities I couldn’t get around, nor could I get around my car payment. But everything else was adjusted accordingly. I didn’t get cable. I didn’t even get the standard channels that “everyone” gets. TV did not exist in my home. I got bottom-of-the-line internet service because I needed that to work. I borrowed a twin bed for my room, ate at a card table for months, and went without a lot of your common “luxuries.”  Why?

Because I had no choice.

That’s the difference. When it comes down to it, I didn’t need a TV.  I didn’t need new clothes–I literally wore mine out.  I didn’t need XM Radio, Hulu Plus, McDonald’s, or any of those other things that most families just couldn’t live without in their lives.  My life was pretty bare bones, and I was okay with that.

As I built my clientele and was able to start supporting myself a little better, I slowly started adding in things that I knew my daughter and I would not only enjoy, but benefit from. One month I started paying for Rhapsody music streaming, because it’s nice to be able to listen to some music while I work. A few months ago, I finally rented out a garage at my apartment complex to store my daughter’s outside toys and to protect my car from the weather. I found a gorgeous wooden dollhouse for my daughter at a fraction of the retail price from a Craigslist poster–and gave it to her for Christmas. She plays with it every single day. I started saving up for the things I needed. Over time, I was able to buy a bed. A kitchen table. A computer desk to work on. And I wasn’t afraid to buy used, either. Why? Again–because I had no choice. I couldn’t afford to do it otherwise.

Things are going okay, a year and a half later. I’ve got a roof over my head, food in my cupboard, and clothing in my closet. And for that, I’m grateful. I don’t rely on credit cards. If I don’t have the money for it, I don’t buy it. If it is not of value, I don’t get it. If it is not something I will use regularly, I consider buying it used. In fact, I rarely buy anything new. I always use coupons when I shop for groceries, typically saving about 70% off of my grocery bill. I have completely changed the way I look at most everything I purchase. I ask myself one question when I’m considering buying something: do I really need it? Unless it’s groceries, the answer is likely “no.”

This, my friends, is the secret to living a frugal lifestyle. It’s a different take on the whole “minimalist” attitude. As long as you have everything that you need, you shall not want.  Everything else in life is unnecessary clutter, and likely a waste of your money.

And you know what?

I still don’t have television in my house, and I sincerely do not miss it at all!

Work at Home

Become a Corporate Refugee and Work from Home Successfully

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

The unemployment situation is not improving and with more people exceeding the limit of their unemployment benefits, it’s likely that we are going to have to start thinking about alternate ways to survive and maintain our financial health. I believe that in the long run, these changes might actually be good for us as a country, forcing more of us to dig deep and rediscover that innovative part of us that was the foundation of our country.

I walked away from my corporate job in 2007. It has not always been easy, and while I’ve achieved a comfortable level of success, part of that comes from being frugal and careful with our budget to make the money stretch. But knowing that I can’t get fired, that I am in control of my own financial future, that I have the opportunity to build my life around my own schedule – and THAT makes it all worth it.

I take vacation time whenever I need or want to. If my kids are sick, there’s no boss telling me it’s not ok for me to use my sick leave to care for them. If I want to take a 2 hour lunch with my husband, I can. If I want to work through lunch and be done at one in the afternoon and spend the rest of the day at the mall with my daughter, I can. Better yet, I can choose what kind of work I do. I love to write, and I love to help others become successful. I have carved out a niche for myself that allows me to do what I love while supporting my family.

My business is focused on writing, editing, and social media management. It wasn’t an accident; I’ve been writing my entire life. My first article was published in my school newspaper when I was in second grade. It is my passion. That’s the secret, of course – you don’t need to be a writer, but you need to choose work that you can be passionate about.

I encourage you – whether you are dissatisfied with your job, unable to find employment, or simply need to make a little extra money, to consider pursuing your passions. I’m including some resources to help – some of them are writer-specific, but many offer opportunities to help you find work at home jobs in any field of interest.

What does it take to be successful (besides a little bit of luck)?

  1. Tenacity. Don’t let those who say no get you down. I submitted articles and bid on projects through Guru and suffered through many more rejections than I thought possible, but along the way, I picked up clients, did my very best work for them, always kept my promises and met my deadlines, and began to build a reputation.
  2. Be committed. If you really want to work at home or be your own boss or open your own business, you need to be professional, treat it seriously, and show up. You can’t just say you’re working from home and then spend the day in front of the TV. I get up and come to my office every single day of the business week; I do not have a TV in my office to distract me, and I don’t spend the afternoon shopping when I have no work – that’s the time you need to spend hustling up more clients!
  3. Get organized. You won’t last long in any business if you can’t keep track of when things are due to clients or what time the conference call is. You may not want to work for a corporation, but you can definitely steal some of their ideas for project management, organization, and logistics.
  4. Give yourself time to succeed. Have some savings set aside before you jump the corporate ship. Be patient enough to let your hard work pay off before you give up. And remember, even (or especially) when you work for yourself, you have to do the grunt work too. Taking the job that isn’t glamorous may lead to 10 that are, and they all add to your experience and credentials.

I’m happy to answer questions about how to work from home successfully, so feel free to get in touch with me at or leave a comment here.

Shadra’s favorite work from home resources:

Work at Home Moms
Upwork (formerly Elance)
Media Bistro

Get Real With Us…Tell Us About Your Favorite Work from Home Resources! Join the conversation on Facebook

Health Let's Talk

I Am the Self in Self-Cleaning

Getting Real With Veronica Ibarra

Domestic living isn’t glamorous, and is often taken for granted. But the trash doesn’t magically disappear, toys don’t dance back into toy boxes, clothes don’t clean themselves, and meals don’t fall from the sky like so much manna. Remember the old adage If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself?  Well, that’s life.

As a mother of two energetic kids and a wife of one workaholic husband—a mixed blessing if ever there was one—I am the self that makes domestic living a cozy home for my family. No, I don’t do everything. Yes, everyone who lives in the house helps keep it up. But let’s face it, the bulk of the upkeep falls on me.

If I’m not the one doing it, I’m the one directing the others as to what needs doing. We’ve played this game long enough that it’s just the way we have to operate now. If I say nothing the clutter will continue to pile up until one or all of the others begin to complain. This usually happens when I secretly go on strike, which I do once a month or so for a few days just to test my hypothesis turned theory.

During my secret strikes, when the complaining begins, these are some of my favorite comebacks:

  • You don’t have any clean socks? Why don’t you put all your dirty clothes in the hamper so they will get washed?
  • No clean plates? I used a bowl, but if you want clean plates the dishwasher is empty, why don’t you fill it?
  • Your juice spilled? That’s a shame; here’s a towel.
  • If you found the mess, you clean the mess.
  • If you made the mess, you clean the mess.
  • Well, look at that! We DO have a closet full of cleaning supplies!

OK, so I become very snarky and the least liked person in the house. But every now and then it just becomes too much to be the one doing most of the work…repeatedly. This is one of my coping skills, though, admittedly, not my best.

My secret strikes don’t last for more than a few days. Even I get tired of the clutter, and eventually I run out of dishes and clothes. Sometimes I view what I do as my being a house slave, that’s when I feel a strike coming on. When I don’t get thanked for anything, and they complain about everything that hasn’t been done yet. However, most of the time I think of our home as mine.

I want to live in a clean, mostly organized home. I want a warm cozy bed waiting for me at the end of the day. I want my closet and dresser full of clean clothes waiting to be coordinated. I want delicious meals to eat off clean plates. I want a bathroom that ironically smells like a rose garden. I want these things. Because I want them, I make it so.

Frugal Living Let's Talk

Saving a Stained Shirt from the Trash Pile

Getting Real With Wanda Morrissey

I have been on a real craft kick lately. I’ve been surfing the net looking for new ideas that I can try. I discovered something called ‘freezer paper stenciling’. Apparently, it’s been around for some time but I’m just discovering it now. It looked so simple that I had to try it. I’ve done two stenciling projects this way and I’ve got a couple more lined up.

One night while sharing zombie-like at my computer screen, I failed to notice that I was leaning on an uncapped pen and ended up with an ink stain on the oatmeal colored shirt I was wearing. My initial reaction was that my shirt was ruined but then I thought that it would be a good chance to experiment with freezer paper stenciling. If the project didn’t turn out, no harm no foul, the shirt was already ruined.

Starting simply, I printed out a picture of star. I taped it to a piece of freezer paper and used a craft knife to cut out the shape. The next step was to iron my stencil unto the shirt. Freezer paper has a thin coat of plastic on one side, if you put the plastic side down on the fabric and iron over the paper side it’ll stick to the fabric, holding your stencil in place and eliminating the need to pin it down.

Then I got my fabric paint and painted over it. I thought that one star would look out of place, so I added two more. Once the paint dries, you just peel the freezer off. Tada, a brand new shirt, sort of.

Considering this was an experimental piece, I thought that it turned out really well. I used black paint which I think was too dark for the shirt but I needed it dark enough to cover blue ink. And I should have put a little more thought into the position of the stars, you can tell it’s amateur work. But all thing considered, I didn’t have to throw away a perfectly good shirt. I’ll just save it for the days I’m bumming around the house or doing messy work.

Frugal Living Let's Talk

Membership Does Have Its Benefits for the Frugal

Getting Real With Veronica Ibarra

In my quest to keep my kids entertained for the summer I have been on a hunt for anything with the word FREE listed in the price. Through the local arts council I have found the free Sunday in the Park series of musical performances, First Fridays downtown, Wednesday lunchtime music in Center City Park, and Monday & Wednesday morning Fitness by the Fountain. All that here in Greensboro, NC, but I know that if you check with your local arts council you’ll find similar activities, many family friendly.

While FREE is my preferred method of entertainment, I like cheap, thrifty, and low cost, too. However, sometimes I forget the big picture value of memberships due to the high up-front cost. Recently as part of a summer gift for my kids, their grandparents gave us some money to purchase a family membership to our Natural Science Center. I was very excited about this because the Natural Science Center has two floors of exhibits with exploration theaters, play areas, the Omnishere Theater, Animal Discovery Zoological Park, and all manner of educational programs and workshops throughout the year. I mean, best gift ever, right? Well, let me tell you, this is the gift that keeps on giving!

I’ve never paid enough attention to the membership spiel before to know this, but the old adage is true. Membership does have its benefits. Other than newsletters and advance notice of special events, there is this little thing called reciprocal admission to affiliates. I’m talking up to a 50% discount on admission to other zoological parks, discounts at gift shops and in some cases FREE admission, like in our case, to the NC Aquariums. But the list includes over 300 science museums nationwide as well as other Association of Zoos & Aquariums accredited organizations.

Let me put it mathematically.  One trip to the Natural Science Center would currently cost my two kids and me $22.  A family membership for two adults and ALL the children in the household under 18 costs $70. (we got a $5 discount for being local residents – who knew).  If I take the kids just twice more the membership will more than have paid for itself, and that doesn’t even account for my husband if he wants to come along.  Now we can make plans to visit the NC Aquariums, and other museums that had previously been off our list of consideration this summer.

This is a total win!

Frugal Living Let's Talk Travel

Cheap Weekend Escapes

by Shadra Bruce

When your budget is shot, your kids are bored, and you just need an escape, it’s time to think outside of the box! Here are some fun ideas for a getaway that won’t break the bank.

Spring is here, and lots of people are dreaming of hitting the road. Everyone likes to get out of town for a weekend now and then, if for no other reason than to enjoy room service and an indoor heated pool with no beds to make the next day. With fuel costs becoming the most expensive part of travel, why not book a room at a local hotel?

Whether you and your family do nothing but laze by the pool for the weekend or literally become tourists in your own town, this is a fun and inexpensive option for a weekend getaway. Bonus: no getting lost or having to ask for directions to get where you want to go.

If even the thought of a hotel bill is more than you want to contemplate, arrange a weekend house swap with a friend or family member in a nearby town. They’re probably just as eager as you to get away for a weekend. A little planning on your part and they’ll feel like it’s a hotel, too: put out fresh towels, put fresh sheets on the beds and leave a gift basket of fresh fruit in the entryway.

Have a vacation at home! Wake up and leave the beds unmade and the dishes in the sink. Cancel all the weekend chores, order out for pizza, rent a movie, and make some popcorn.

OK, so this is not the same as gallivanting off to Paris for the weekend, but it beats hearing “I’m bored” one more time, and the change of pace can lead to a change of attitude!