The word finances makes many newly-married couples cringe in fear. While everyone recommends budgeting, saving, watching credit scores, and tracking financial growth, these tasks bring with them extra time and energy demands that are often unrelenting. New and old families alike know they are supposed to do those things, but often do not know how to get started. And that is where the age of technology comes in! Over the past few months I have been using a very popular mobile app called Mint by Intuit to help me wrangle in those pesky tasks and hopefully plot a course of financial security. I will be going through some pros and cons of this service and hopefully allow those looking for a way to budget efficiently decide if this product is the right choice for them.
- The user base is huge! To be honest, the reason that I am reviewing Mint is that it was one of the first apps that showed up when I searched for budgeting tools on the iOS app store. The good news is when an app has a large active user base, the company that manages that platform is more likely to keep the app up-to-date and to respond to suggestions and emerging technologies. This puts users in a good spot since they know that they are syncing their personal financial information with a widely used and respected service and not some shady back-alley app.
- It is free! This has to be on this list. An app gets put in many people’s good graces, including mine, when it can be downloaded for free. And the free train doesn’t stop there; the service does not have any premium or “pro” features that require a subscription service, meaning it is a truly free app—not one of those sneaky mostly-free ones.
- Automated! Using technology is supposed to make life easier, right? Well in this case, the answer is yes! Once you sync your bank account to this secure application, Mint does the rest! It creates charts and tracks spending patterns automatically and religiously. Before using this app I did not know to the exact percentage point what I was spending on entertainment, but now I do. With the information that is ready at your fingertips immediately after signing up, it is simple to start making plans and adjusting habits to align better with your financial goals. My wife and I were able to see that we were doing super well on some categories (food, clothes, and movies) but could use some work on others (eating out).
- Ads. While the service is completely free, we do live in a world where money, unfortunately, does not grow on trees. As such, Intuit has decided to display banner style ads throughout the app and saturate the “Suggested Investment Products” feature of the app with its own systems. So while I revel in the app’s freeness, I do note that purchasing any other services strictly from the in-app recommendations without any third party advice is probably not the most recommended course of action.
- Automated. I know this appears on both lists, but for good reason. The automation does wonders on productivity, but I kept feeling like I was missing out on truly learning how to budget and plan the family’s finances. When the system was doing everything for me I realized that while I had great information now, I hadn’t learned anything. For those that want to learn budgeting, and not have it done for them, there may be better options explored in the future.
All in all Mint is a great product. It looks clean, it is easy to set up and use, and it has provided me with wonderful information that my wife and I have begun to use to our advantage. It truly is important for every family to budget and work toward financial security. With that being said, Mint just may be the right app for you to get on that road to financial success.
Photo by William Iven on Unsplash
BY JOSHUA HANSEN
I’ve never been to Mississippi, but I am oh so grateful for all of the amazing people that live there now, thanks to this pot roast. IT CHANGES LIVES.
I was on Pinterest, looking for fast, easy meals and this blessing popped up on my screen. As with all my Pinterest meals, I was a bit hesitant, but after the first bite I was sold. It’s honestly that easy and good—so good that my husband volunteers to make it for dinner at least once a month.
Some people serve it over mashed potatoes, others take leftovers to make a sub sandwich with a slice of mozzarella cheese and a diced up pepperoncini pepper. In the end, you do you, and enjoy! (But in my house, the only way we have leftovers of this particular meal is if we buy a 5 lb chuck roast . . . for the two of us. Anything less is eaten in one sitting. Oops.)
If you’re worried about the peppers burning your mouth off, there’s no need to stress. The peppers are more of a background flavor that make everything that much better. However, if you’re like me and love a meal that has a kick to it, you can also pour some of the pepper juice into the mixture to cook and then slice up the peppers into the meal when serving.
(1) 3-5 lb. chuck roast
2 tbsp. olive oil (or vegetable oil)
salt & pepper, to taste
1 packet ranch dressing mix
1 packet dry onion soup mix
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) – REAL salted butter, not margarine
8 pepperoncini peppers
*If you’re in a hurry you can skip steps 1–5 and just season the meat before putting it into the crockpot*
- Heat up oil in a large skillet on high. You want it really hot to brown the beef quickly.
- Dry both sides of the pot roast with a paper towel.
- Season with a little bit of salt and pepper and add the roast to the hot oil.
- Allow the roast to cook for 2–3 minutes.
- Flip the meat over and sear the other side of the roast for another 2–3 minutes.
- Transfer meat to slow cooker.
- Sprinkle packets of dry ranch dressing & onion soup mixes over pot roast
- Top with a stick of butter then place peppers on and around roast.
- Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 4.5–5 hours)
- Slice or shred meat before serving. Be sure to throw away any fatty pieces.
- ENJOY. ENJOY.
Cook’s Notes: If you are sensitive to sodium, you could use unsalted butter for this. Be sure to use butter and not margarine. Margarine is basically oil. We did not find this recipe salty at all if you use this exact recipe, but be sure to adjust to your preferences.
Credit to “The Country Cook” at https://www.thecountrycook.net/crock-pot-mississippi-pot-roast/
BY CARLY CALLISTER
Every Saturday while I was growing up, my dad would make either pancakes, crepes, or waffles. The waffles were always my favorite. As I got older I began to pay more attention to how he made the waffles, and I asked him to teach me. Eventually I would make the waffles for the family whenever Dad wasn’t there for whatever reason. The recipe is pretty easy and it makes a lot of food! The number of waffles the recipe makes depends on the size of your waffle iron, but a medium sized iron will make around 20.
1 stick butter
2 c. flour
½ c. sugar
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 c. water
- Preheat waffle iron.
- Melt the butter and beat all of the ingredients together into a big bowl until smooth.
- Pour into waffle iron and cook for four minutes.
BY MONICA ALLEN
Fred and Rick were golfing. Fred says to Rick, “My mother-in-law is an angel.”
Rick replies, “You’re lucky. Mine is still alive.”
One of the trickiest parts of becoming united as a new couple is deciding how to handle in-law situations. While there are many jokes about in-laws, they don’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, most of the time they become a wonderful part of your life. It just takes a little bit of adjusting.
When I first got married—so long ago I can hardly remember—I found myself getting grumpy about how my in-laws did this or that. It wasn’t that they were doing anything bad, it was just different from what I was used to. I allowed myself to be disgruntled and even gripe a little about their habits and choices. One day it occurred to me that there was a different perspective available to me. I realized that my in-laws had raised my husband to be the wonderful person that I loved and wanted to be with forever. Therefore, they had done something right. Could it be there were other things they did right? Of course there were. From that day on, I chose to embrace all the good things my in-laws did and ignore the inconsequential things that had bugged me before. My relationship with my in-laws improved dramatically, and I am continually grateful to them for blessing my life.
As a new family unit, it’s important for newlywed couples to make decisions on their own in every aspect of life. These decisions include happenings such as family dinners and Christmas traditions. Parents, remember that while it’s easy and often fun to encourage your newlyweds to join you for various events, it’s critical that you do not put pressure on them to conform to YOUR traditions. It’s time to let them make their own.
Here are some basic guidelines to follow when it comes to your in-laws. Stick to these, and your family reunions could go from slightly uncomfortable to events you look forward to all year long!
- Be grateful. Your in-laws raised that wonderful spouse of yours. If you fell in love with him or her enough to agree to spend your life together, then you need to give your in-laws some credit. They obviously did many things right. Once you give them credit for the good, it’s easier to ignore the other inconsequential things. It’s ok that they do things differently than you do. Odds are, so do your own parents. So, cut them the same slack and spend your energy getting to know their personalities.
- Look for the good. If you want to moan and groan, you will be able to find plenty to moan and groan about. But if you look for the good, you’ll be amazed at how great those in-laws are. And never criticize your in-laws publicly. In fact, pass out compliments every opportunity that comes your way—trust me, they’ll hear about it.
- Let them go. You raised your children with the idea that they would go out in the world and start their own family. LET THEM. Do not insist they come to Sunday dinner every week. Do not expect them to come for Christmas and participate in YOUR traditions. Allow them to come and go as they choose, and if they choose to join you, welcome them. Remember how fun it was for you to get to make your own way? Or remember how much you hated being forced to do things the way your parents wanted?
- Recognize how wonderful your in-laws are. This works both ways. Look at the talents they have. Notice how each in-law is perfect for his or her spouse. Allow them to be themselves, and compliment every great thing you observe. And tell them often how grateful you are that they married your son or daughter.
- Remember, there is more than enough love to go around. Don’t be stingy with your love. Allow the new in-laws a place in your heart and you will increase your joy and happiness more than you ever expected.
BY PHYLLIS ROSEN