5 No-Heat Meals That Will Save You Money This Summer

It’s hard to justify using heat to cook when it only makes you lose money, and time, so read on for some great no-heat meals to make now.

This summer, try preparing no-heat meals to save money on air conditioning and expensive foods that require heat. Using your stove and oven in the summer can release extra heat into your home — the last thing you want during the warmest months. This extra heat means turning up your air conditioning, resulting in extra expenses. Even when grilling, the cost of coals or fuel can quickly add up.

If you want to avoid using heat to cook because it cuts into your comfort or your budget, read on for some great no-heat meals to make now.

1. Barbecue Chicken Sandwich

If you can’t stay away from meat, opt for a previously cooked option like rotisserie chicken because it’s easy to pick up from your local store. You can slice, pull or shred it to add protein to any no-heat dish. Additionally, a rotisserie chicken can serve four to five people for only $5. You can make a barbecue chicken sandwich using rotisserie chicken, store-bought barbecue sauce and pickled vegetables, like cucumbers, to create a hearty meal perfect for a quick dinner or lunch in the summer. Even if barbecue isn’t your thing, food website Delish has plenty of sandwich recipes that use rotisserie chicken. Bonus: All the components can be prepared ahead of time, making them perfect for picnics or travel.

2. Tomato Gazpacho

Summer is tomato harvesting season, so take advantage of the cheaper produce offerings with a refreshing tomato gazpacho. This cold soup is perfect because it’s vegetarian, low-calorie and has 10 or fewer ingredients. RealSimple.com has a version of gazpacho that features corn and cucumbers, two more staple summer vegetables. If you like, you can serve the gazpacho with garlic-rubbed crostini to add an element with contrasting texture.

3. Vegetable Salad With Peanut Butter Dressing

Salads are a great healthy option and the slightly decadent peanut butter dressing adds just the right amount of sweetness and richness to the dish. The Kitchn has a recipe for tofu and broccoli salad that also uses peanut butter dressing. The salad is so fun and colorful it might help persuade your kids to eat their vegetables. Some recipes call for baked tofu, but for a no-heat version of this dish you can use raw tofu. Opting for vegetarian meals will also help you cut costs, as tofu is cheaper than meat and just as versatile.

4. Unicorn Summer Rolls

One of the hottest trends right now is rainbow, or unicorn, food. From bagels to sushi to cake, people are making all their favorite foods colorful. No-heat unicorn summer rolls are perfect to make to keep up with trends while maintaining a budget. Today.com has a great version of this easy recipe. Fresh, seasonal produce can be inexpensive, and it’s easy to chop and shred everything on your own. Plus, a key ingredient, rice paper wrappers, are only 10 cents each. With their color and veggies, these rolls are fun for everyone and filling enough for an affordable summer lunch.

5. Picnic in a Glass

One of the greatest summer pastimes is having a picnic. Nothing beats heading to the beach or park with friends to enjoy fresh air and a flavorful meal. A “Picnic in a Glass” is an ideal no-heat dish to bring to a real picnic, or enjoy from the comfort of your own home. Made in a mason jar, this dish is convenient and pre-portioned, which makes serving and cleanup a breeze. If you’re looking for a recipe, MyRecipes.com has an easy one. A tangy yogurt dressing adds dimension to leftover or store-bought shredded chicken. Load the jar up with vegetables to complete your no-heat meal.

While shopping for ingredients for these no-bake summer meals, consider using rewards cards for extra value. There are plenty of great grocery store rewards cards but they often require decent credit. Before applying, see where you stand. You can check two credit scores for free at Credit.com.

Image: Geber86

The post 5 No-Heat Meals That Will Save You Money This Summer appeared first on Credit.com.

25 Places to Buy a Vacation Home on a Budget

A summer vacation home might just fit into your budget if you choose the right location.

If you’re dreaming of a vacation home but also have a budget to manage, there’s some great news for you. Throughout the U.S., there are plenty of places where a vacation home can be accessible and budget friendly. If you can afford it, these locations are definitely worth looking into for a summer vacation home. Remember, when buying any house your credit plays a huge role. Check your credit score for free on Credit.com.

Daren Blomquist, senior vice president of ATTOM Data Solutions, leading provider for real estate data, calculated the best places to buy a vacation home for 2017. Variables include median sales prices, crime, five-year home appreciation, average summer temperature and the percentage of good air quality days. Here are some of the best and most affordable areas to buy summer vacation homes.

Best Places to Buy a Summer Vacation Home

25. Venice, Florida

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $225,000

5-Year Home Appreciation: 67%

24. Sun City Center, Florida

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $154,000

5-Year Home Appreciation: 86%

23. Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $450,000

5-Year Home Appreciation: 76%

22. Kissimmee, Florida

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $174,000

5-Year Home Appreciation: 87%

21. North Fort Myers, Florida

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $180,000

5-Year Home Appreciation: 93%

20. Sun City, Arizona

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $151,425

5-Year Home Appreciation: 81%

19. Palm Coast, Florida

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $178,000

5-Year Home Appreciation: 59%

18. Lake Placid, Florida

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $125,000

5-Year Home Appreciation: 56%

17. Jackson, Georgia

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $120,000

5-Year Home Appreciation: 56%

16. Green Valley, Arizona

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $149,900

5-Year Home Appreciation: 20%

15. Medford, Oregon

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $238,450

5-Year Home Appreciation: 62%

14. Berlin, Maryland

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $206,600

5-Year Home Appreciation: 9%

13. North Port, Florida

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $175,000

5-Year Home Appreciation: 90%

12. Fort Pierce, Florida

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $144,000

5-Year Home Appreciation: 100%

11. Satellite Beach, Florida

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $253,000

5-Year Home Appreciation: 49%

10. Cape Coral, Florida

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $205,000

5-Year Home Appreciation: 82%

9. Beverly Hills, Florida

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $80,900

5-Year Home Appreciation: 50%

8. Ocean City, Maryland

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $230,000

5-Year Home Appreciation: 0%

7. Delray Beach, Florida

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $175,000

5-Year Home Appreciation: 123%

6. Deerfield Beach, Florida

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $140,000

5-Year Home Appreciation: 109%

5. Weaverville, North Carolina

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $265,000

5-Year Home Appreciation: 33%

4. Asheville, North Carolina

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $259,500

5-Year Home Appreciation: 40%

3. Port Charlotte, Florida

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $150,500

5-Year Home Appreciation: 115%

2. Waynesville, North Carolina

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $195,000

5-Year Home Appreciation: 30%

1. Crossville, Tennessee

YTD 2017 Median Sale Prices: $87,500

5-Year Home Appreciation: 34%

Image: stellalevi

The post 25 Places to Buy a Vacation Home on a Budget appeared first on Credit.com.

5 Awesome Summer Gifts for Your Wired Kids

You'll never have to hear those dreaded words, "I'm bored!" with these cool, techy toys.

Summer is nearly upon us, and if you have kids, you know that means coming up with activities to keep them from getting bored. Cool tech toys that keep their brains and bodies active can help keep them occupied between the swim lessons, away camp and other activities. We tapped retail expert Rebecca Lehmann of Brad’s Deals for some toys that are sure to impress your wired kids this summer so you’ll never have to hear those words “I’m boooored!” Here are her techy picks.

1. Cozmo by Anki

The robotics startup that stole the show at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in 2013 is back, this time with Cozmo, a “real-life robot like you’ve only seen in the movies,” Anki’s site says. Use the app to check Cozmo’s Daily Goals, a list of recommended activities for keeping him healthy and energized. The more you hang out, the more skills Cozmo learns — and the more he wants to play, which kids will love, Lehmann said. (Cozmo will send you a message if you leave the Cozmo App open so it doesn’t drain the battery.) Cozmo is available at various retailers starting at about $180.

2. Hatchimals by Spin Master

The toy that took the holidays by storm is still available, and popular as ever. Like Cozmo, Hatchimals “learn and evolve as you interact with them,” said Lehmann, specifically by requiring your kids’ touch in order to hatch. Kids can teach these colorful furry creatures to walk, talk, dance and play, and engage them by listening to their heartbeat, tapping and more. Hatchimals are available starting at about $55 at Target, Walmart and Kmart, as well as sites like Amazon and the children’s entertainment company Spin Master.

3. Love2Learn Elmo by Playskool

The cuddly toy responsible for Black Friday madness all those years ago has gotten an upgrade. Now the beloved Sesame Street character encourages little ones’ daily routines, like cleaning after themselves and brushing their teeth. Clap Elmo’s hands to learn all about numbers, letters, colors and shapes, or play games to see his real-time responses. Parents can also program Elmo with an app, said Lehmann, which is available on select Apple and Android devices. Playskool’s Love2Learn Elmo is available on Amazon, starting at about $32.

4. PlayStation VR by Nintendo

Sony’s new, long-awaited headset has moved hundreds of thousands of units, according to PlayStation executive Jim Ryan, and for good reason: Virtual reality is hot. Though not every gamer’s convinced the PSVR is a must-buy gift, it’s still an affordable foray into virtual reality, even at around $400 on Amazon. From the funny (“Job Simulator”) to the scary (“Until Dawn: Rush of Blood”), these games will keep your kids busy.

5. Nerf N-Strike Elite TerraScout Remote Control Drone Blaster

“There’s a whole new crop of toy drones,” Lehmann said, noting Nerf’s ultra high-tech N-Strike Elite TerraScout Remote Control Drone Blaster. Priced at a cool $249.99 on Toys R Us, the toy lets kids record the fun in photos and videos, command remote-controlled dart blasts and use the controller to adjust the angle of the blaster. There’s also a live video feed for viewing out-of-sight targets because this blaster takes dart-launching seriously.

Tips for Spending on Toys

With some toys costing hundreds of dollars, some parents may be wondering how they’ll pay for them without going into debt — should they opt to use layaway, savings, low-interest credit cards or something else? No matter what you do, you’ll want to make sure you don’t hurt your budget. (You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.) You may also want to take a look at these 13 ways to save at Babies R Us if you plan to shop there.

Beyond that, parents may want to ensure the toys are safe for their kids to begin with. For recall information and other news on potentially dangerous products, you can visit the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Image: Imgorthand

The post 5 Awesome Summer Gifts for Your Wired Kids appeared first on Credit.com.

5 Awesome Summer Gifts for Your Wired Kids

You'll never have to hear those dreaded words, "I'm bored!" with these cool, techy toys.

Summer is nearly upon us, and if you have kids, you know that means coming up with activities to keep them from getting bored. Cool tech toys that keep their brains and bodies active can help keep them occupied between the swim lessons, away camp and other activities. We tapped retail expert Rebecca Lehmann of Brad’s Deals for some toys that are sure to impress your wired kids this summer so you’ll never have to hear those words “I’m boooored!” Here are her techy picks.

1. Cozmo by Anki

The robotics startup that stole the show at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in 2013 is back, this time with Cozmo, a “real-life robot like you’ve only seen in the movies,” Anki’s site says. Use the app to check Cozmo’s Daily Goals, a list of recommended activities for keeping him healthy and energized. The more you hang out, the more skills Cozmo learns — and the more he wants to play, which kids will love, Lehmann said. (Cozmo will send you a message if you leave the Cozmo App open so it doesn’t drain the battery.) Cozmo is available at various retailers starting at about $180.

2. Hatchimals by Spin Master

The toy that took the holidays by storm is still available, and popular as ever. Like Cozmo, Hatchimals “learn and evolve as you interact with them,” said Lehmann, specifically by requiring your kids’ touch in order to hatch. Kids can teach these colorful furry creatures to walk, talk, dance and play, and engage them by listening to their heartbeat, tapping and more. Hatchimals are available starting at about $55 at Target, Walmart and Kmart, as well as sites like Amazon and the children’s entertainment company Spin Master.

3. Love2Learn Elmo by Playskool

The cuddly toy responsible for Black Friday madness all those years ago has gotten an upgrade. Now the beloved Sesame Street character encourages little ones’ daily routines, like cleaning after themselves and brushing their teeth. Clap Elmo’s hands to learn all about numbers, letters, colors and shapes, or play games to see his real-time responses. Parents can also program Elmo with an app, said Lehmann, which is available on select Apple and Android devices. Playskool’s Love2Learn Elmo is available on Amazon, starting at about $32.

4. PlayStation VR by Nintendo

Sony’s new, long-awaited headset has moved hundreds of thousands of units, according to PlayStation executive Jim Ryan, and for good reason: Virtual reality is hot. Though not every gamer’s convinced the PSVR is a must-buy gift, it’s still an affordable foray into virtual reality, even at around $400 on Amazon. From the funny (“Job Simulator”) to the scary (“Until Dawn: Rush of Blood”), these games will keep your kids busy.

5. Nerf N-Strike Elite TerraScout Remote Control Drone Blaster

“There’s a whole new crop of toy drones,” Lehmann said, noting Nerf’s ultra high-tech N-Strike Elite TerraScout Remote Control Drone Blaster. Priced at a cool $249.99 on Toys R Us, the toy lets kids record the fun in photos and videos, command remote-controlled dart blasts and use the controller to adjust the angle of the blaster. There’s also a live video feed for viewing out-of-sight targets because this blaster takes dart-launching seriously.

Tips for Spending on Toys

With some toys costing hundreds of dollars, some parents may be wondering how they’ll pay for them without going into debt — should they opt to use layaway, savings, low-interest credit cards or something else? No matter what you do, you’ll want to make sure you don’t hurt your budget. (You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.) You may also want to take a look at these 13 ways to save at Babies R Us if you plan to shop there.

Beyond that, parents may want to ensure the toys are safe for their kids to begin with. For recall information and other news on potentially dangerous products, you can visit the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Image: Imgorthand

The post 5 Awesome Summer Gifts for Your Wired Kids appeared first on Credit.com.

5 Awesome Summer Gifts for Your Wired Kids

You'll never have to hear those dreaded words, "I'm bored!" with these cool, techy toys.

Summer is nearly upon us, and if you have kids, you know that means coming up with activities to keep them from getting bored. Cool tech toys that keep their brains and bodies active can help keep them occupied between the swim lessons, away camp and other activities. We tapped retail expert Rebecca Lehmann of Brad’s Deals for some toys that are sure to impress your wired kids this summer so you’ll never have to hear those words “I’m boooored!” Here are her techy picks.

1. Cozmo by Anki

The robotics startup that stole the show at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in 2013 is back, this time with Cozmo, a “real-life robot like you’ve only seen in the movies,” Anki’s site says. Use the app to check Cozmo’s Daily Goals, a list of recommended activities for keeping him healthy and energized. The more you hang out, the more skills Cozmo learns — and the more he wants to play, which kids will love, Lehmann said. (Cozmo will send you a message if you leave the Cozmo App open so it doesn’t drain the battery.) Cozmo is available at various retailers starting at about $180.

2. Hatchimals by Spin Master

The toy that took the holidays by storm is still available, and popular as ever. Like Cozmo, Hatchimals “learn and evolve as you interact with them,” said Lehmann, specifically by requiring your kids’ touch in order to hatch. Kids can teach these colorful furry creatures to walk, talk, dance and play, and engage them by listening to their heartbeat, tapping and more. Hatchimals are available starting at about $55 at Target, Walmart and Kmart, as well as sites like Amazon and the children’s entertainment company Spin Master.

3. Love2Learn Elmo by Playskool

The cuddly toy responsible for Black Friday madness all those years ago has gotten an upgrade. Now the beloved Sesame Street character encourages little ones’ daily routines, like cleaning after themselves and brushing their teeth. Clap Elmo’s hands to learn all about numbers, letters, colors and shapes, or play games to see his real-time responses. Parents can also program Elmo with an app, said Lehmann, which is available on select Apple and Android devices. Playskool’s Love2Learn Elmo is available on Amazon, starting at about $32.

4. PlayStation VR by Nintendo

Sony’s new, long-awaited headset has moved hundreds of thousands of units, according to PlayStation executive Jim Ryan, and for good reason: Virtual reality is hot. Though not every gamer’s convinced the PSVR is a must-buy gift, it’s still an affordable foray into virtual reality, even at around $400 on Amazon. From the funny (“Job Simulator”) to the scary (“Until Dawn: Rush of Blood”), these games will keep your kids busy.

5. Nerf N-Strike Elite TerraScout Remote Control Drone Blaster

“There’s a whole new crop of toy drones,” Lehmann said, noting Nerf’s ultra high-tech N-Strike Elite TerraScout Remote Control Drone Blaster. Priced at a cool $249.99 on Toys R Us, the toy lets kids record the fun in photos and videos, command remote-controlled dart blasts and use the controller to adjust the angle of the blaster. There’s also a live video feed for viewing out-of-sight targets because this blaster takes dart-launching seriously.

Tips for Spending on Toys

With some toys costing hundreds of dollars, some parents may be wondering how they’ll pay for them without going into debt — should they opt to use layaway, savings, low-interest credit cards or something else? No matter what you do, you’ll want to make sure you don’t hurt your budget. (You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.) You may also want to take a look at these 13 ways to save at Babies R Us if you plan to shop there.

Beyond that, parents may want to ensure the toys are safe for their kids to begin with. For recall information and other news on potentially dangerous products, you can visit the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Image: Imgorthand

The post 5 Awesome Summer Gifts for Your Wired Kids appeared first on Credit.com.

12 Cheap Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy This Summer

cheap_summer_fun

Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or a working parent, it’s likely that summertime gets tough. When kids are home all day, or at least out of the routine of school, they get bored easily. Boredom often leads to whining or other forms of mischief.

So what if you’re looking to keep your kids busy, but don’t want to spend loads of money on a trip to the local zoo twice a week? Here are some cheap options to maintain your sanity, I mean, keep your kids busy for the summer.

1. Let Them Be Bored

Step One in surviving summer as a parent is to let your kids be bored. As kids these days experience ever more scheduled lives, they’re left less and less often to their own devices. So, of course, as soon as you let them be, they’re bored because they need to learn to play on their own and be creative. In fact, experts say boredom is essential for learning creativity!

So number one on your list is also the easiest option: give your kids down time. Provide them with space and time to come up with things to do, and don’t immediately fill up their schedules when boredom inevitably strikes. It doesn’t get much cheaper than that!

2. Institute a Chore Chart

You might as well keep your kids busy and get something out of it. If you don’t already, now is the time to teach them responsibility with a chore chart. This could include unpaid daily chores like making their beds, feeding the family pet, etc. Or you could step up your game a notch with commission-based paid chores. Just make a list or chart of chores kids can get paid for, including the chores’ monetary value. When kids check a chore off the list to your satisfaction, they get paid.

Sure, you’ve got to invest some money in this one. But it’s a great way to teach kids responsibility and help them start managing their own money.

3. Visit the Local Library

These days, most local libraries run summer reading programs. These can incentivize even non-readers to pick up a book this summer. Just make a habit of stopping by the library once a week or more often, and be sure to let kids pick appropriate books that they find interesting (even if you don’t see the attraction). This is a two-birds-one-stone approach, since visiting the library makes for a fun outing, and reading all those books whiles away hours of the summer.

4. Create a Craft Station

Got creative kids? Consolidate all of your crafting materials into one place, and let them go to town. Warning: this will get messy!

You don’t have to go buy a bunch of brand-name craft kits, either. Start collecting things like used printer paper, old crayons, toilet paper rolls, and nature items. Keep these, along with basic supplies like craft paper, scissors, and glue, in the craft area. Let kids go to town on their own, or use social media sites like Pinterest for inspiration on projects they can create.

5. Check Out Your Local Parks & Recreation Department

Just need the kids out of the house for a day or several this summer? Summer camps can be prohibitively expensive if you’re on a tight budget. But, often times, local parks and recreation departments run day camps that are much cheaper, and allow kids to get outdoors and burn off some energy.

Even if your local department doesn’t run camps where they’ll actually take your kids for the day, chances are they’re hosting some cheap or free summer events you can attend as a family.

6. Plant a Garden

Get kids out of the house and into a healthy pastime with gardening. Even small kids can help plant corn if you’ve got room, as it’s easy to grow in many U.S. climates. Or talk to your local gardening center about fruits, vegetables, or flowers that are particularly easy to grow in your area.

Be sure to give the kids some autonomy over this project, to really let them get involved. They should be able to help choose the plants and the layout. But they should also be responsible for weeding, watering, and other garden maintenance. This is a great skill building activity that can also keep kids busy all summer long.

7. Get to Know Free Activities in Your Area

The internet is rife with great blogs highlighting local activities, especially for families with kids. Run a quick Google search for your area, and get familiar with what’s out there. Often times, these blogs will keep calendars of family-friendly activities, often free or cheap ones, throughout the summer.

8. Create an Activity Bucket

Often times, there’s plenty to do around your house, but the kids aren’t great at sussing out the next best idea. Write down potential activities on popsicle sticks, and stick them in a jar or bucket. Let the kids choose one activity each day, and make it happen.

This could include things like making homemade ice cream, building a bicycle ramp in the back yard, creating a sprinkler out of an old two liter bottle, or building a fort in the living room. Try to come up with ideas using only materials you’ve got on hand, especially if they’re things the kids can do largely unsupervised.

9. Explore New Local Parks

Make it a goal to go to one new park each week this summer. If you’re in a medium to large metropolitan area, there are probably loads of neighborhood parks you’ve never even heard of. And you might discover a few new favorites. Just set aside one afternoon each week, pack a picnic lunch, and try out a new park.

10. Create a Summer Memory Board

Kids love to collect things, whether it’s movie ticket stubs or rocks from each park you visit. And if you’re like many parents, you like to take photos of your kids having fun. Combine all these memory-sparking items and photos onto a summer memory board.

All you need is a large cork board, which you can get for a few bucks at a local craft store. Each time you try something new or create new memories, add to your board. Looking at the board may help spark new activity ideas for your kids, and it’ll be a great memento to have at the end of the summer.

11. Pick Up Some Board Games

Board games for kids have come a long way since Candy Land. While the old games are still great, many new games teach skills like resource management, teamwork, and basic strategy skills. You’ll need to invest some money up front in these board games, but you can get most kids’ games for $20 or less. And if your kids end up loving them, it’s an investment you won’t regret!

12. Start a Small Business

If you want to keep your kids really busy this summer, get them thinking about how to earn, save, and invest money. Young kids can plan for a garage sale late in the summer, spending the summer sorting through clothes and toys they no longer need. Bigger kids can mow lawns or pull weeds for the neighbors, or act as mother’s helpers, taking care of little kids while mom is still around.

Just be sure to start your young entrepreneur off right with a checking account and savings tool. A regular savings account or piggy bank may work, but you could also start teaching your kids the basics of investing with an IRA

[Editor’s Note: You also want to be sure to keep track of your own finances over the summer. High levels of debt related to summer spending could hurt your credit score. You can see where you currently stand by viewing your two free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com.]

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Image: ArtMarie

The post 12 Cheap Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy This Summer appeared first on Credit.com.