Ditch the Cable or the Satellite! Join the Cut the Cord Community!

Scissors cutting through a TV shaped coaxial cable -- cord cutting conceptRecently my family decided to break away from DirecTV. There wasn’t anything wrong with the service, in fact it was top notch. But the bill that came every month took more out of our budget than we could bear. Through some quick internet research, I found some options and I decided to try them out. Immediately a wave of relief washed over me and before long, I was hooked!

In order to successfully cut the cord, here’s what you need:

indoor_antennaPurchase an Indoor or Outdoor HDTV Antenna – Depending on where you live, you might have to buy an outdoor antenna. The best way to find out is to head over to AntennaWeb. They’ll give you an idea of the signal strength in your area and the stations available.

Bump Up Your WiFi Speed – Streaming requires a hefty bandwidth so make sure your router can handle it. Contact your internet provider to up your package.

Roku_PremiereGet a Streaming Media Player – There are different options available. We’ve opted to use our Xbox One in the living room and the Roku Premiere for the bedroom. The Roku Premiere is cost effective and has some pretty exciting features, including the ability to download the remote app. Comes in handy when the remote (which is very small) gets lost under the bed.

Sign-Up for Streaming Services – Again, there are many different options available. We have chosen Sling, Hulu, and Netflix. These services are awesome in their own right, but we are still missing certain channels including OWN. I can’t wait until Oprah opens the floodgates and allows streaming of her shows.

We’ve saved a few bucks cutting the cord, how about you? What are your tips for kicking the cable or satellite companies to the curb?


It’s the Small Things to be Grateful for

dyslexia-awareness-monthLast school year was a complete disaster. My husband and I  fought most of the year to get our eldest an IEP to help her get the assistance she desperately needed. It was arduous work, fighting to get her professionally evaluated, emailing teachers and errant social workers, researching methods and acquiring help from the Michigan Alliance for Families and an advocate.

After fighting so vigorously to get her into the Extended School Year program, my husband had enough. We had investigated a private school that focuses on students with learning disabilities, but it is expensive and I felt that since we worked so hard to get the IEP we should try to stay with the public school system. Besides, the program had a three-part admission process and we were not sure she would get in.

But the Lord was on our side and they approved her. Today, she attends school in a class of only seven students that has a teacher and a certified teacher’s assistant. In addition, she gets one-on-one assistance at least once a week, doesn’t have a ton of homework every day, AND has recess TWICE a day (once in the morning to adjust to school and the other around lunch time). If my daughter were writing this post, she would also want you to know that she happily uses the microwave to heat her lunch (she hates cold food).

Needless to say she loves this school! And yet…I was still nervous. What if this new school doesn’t help her at all?

This morning, my daughter walks up to me while I am finishing packing up her lunch. Holding up her iPad (also required for this school) so that I can see the date, she sweetly says, “Mommy, today is Friday, October 7.”

It might not seem like much, but I literally almost bawled in front of her.

Maybe I can power down the helicopter Mommy and stop harassing her teacher so much…we are finally on the right track.

The Mommy Track

I now understand why women wait later on in their careers to have children. It can be difficult once you are getting started in your career to have a child because not only do you have to make sure that you do your job correctly and efficiently every day of the week (meaning getting a case of “Mommy Brain” is a major no-no.), but you also have to find a way to juggle the care of your family and maintain the high level corporate lifestyle you planned. Many of us are doing the best we can only to deviated to the “Mommy Track.”

Today I read an article about Goldman Sachs being sued by a former vice president who felt she was pushed onto the Mommy Track. Apparently, the woman was demoted when she came back from her first maternity leave and fired when she returned from her second maternity leave, after she switched to part-time; an option that is available to all employees.

The article reminded me of my experience with maternity leave. I planned my exit plan down to the last second of my pregnancy. I shared my plan with my supervisor and her supervisor in a meeting/writing. We agreed that I would be out for the typical time and that when I came back I would work part-time for the first two weeks so that I would be able to be get adjusted to the Mommy/Marketing Coordinator life. The result? Laid off the month after my return. Now granted the company wasn’t doing well, but in looking back I know I was on the list to terminate because my supervisor called me the week before my return to see when I was coming back. At the time, I thought they were genuinely interested in me coming back. I won’t be able to prove that allegation, but needless to say that it has caused me to plan my next pregnancy and be as prepared as possible for any negative consequences.

In the case of the woman from Goldman Sachs, that was case was dismissed, probably because this type of discrimination is extremely hard to prove. Especially since now many women are “trading money for family.” The lesson for all career-minded women who are considering having children is to do thorough research on the company you currently work for. Find out if there are women who have successfully gone on maternity leave and what was the result when they came back. And even though it shouldn’t matter, find a way to gauge your boss’s attitude about working mothers. This will help you find out whether you should look for another job or begin the baby making process!

For more information about the Mommy Track, take a gander at the following article from About.com

We’re Getting Our Own…The Benefits of Purchasing a Used Car

Today the Snead Clan is embarking on a new adventure: purchasing a used vehicle. For three years we have leased a Ford Fusion. Since the leasing of that vehicle, we have since had a child and increased our responsibilities (i.e. purchased a new keyboard and picking up kids for the youth group at church) and now we really need the room to move around.

The mileage going to and from the church was also killing us…so bad that I won’t even reveal how badly we went over our miles.  We were essentially left with no choice but to purchase used.  Thank goodness for our credit union, who happily pre-approved us for a vehicle loan.

And to think we thought getting approved was the hard part. Shopping for a vehicle can be difficult as well. We learned during this experience that high mileage vehicles while not the best option is most certainly not the worst. In fact, because of the current state of the economy, many people are opting to purchase vehicles with high mileages instead of leasing or buying vehicles with lower miles. The reason for this is because of the extended warranties offered and many dealerships are going the extra mile to fix up a vehicle for sale.

According to Cars.com, the advantages of purchasing a used car are endless:

  • increased choice: Both new and used-car dealers are feeling the side effects of a tough economy. The positive side of this is that consumers win in a bear market; as dealerships close prices of large, used SUVs and even midsized cars are down, and there should be more vehicles on lots due to slowing sales.
  • improving reliability: Although used vehicles typically don’t carry the same warranties as new ones, the original factory warranty on a new car is transferable to a second owner, usually at no charge. Buyers of certified pre-owned cars from an authorized dealer can purchase a late-model used car with the original warranty and then choose to add to it. The combination of a glut of late-model used vehicles, the greater reliability and durability of vehicles, and the availability of warranties make buying a used car less of a gamble.
  • just like new: Another trend that makes buying used a better option is the proliferation of certified pre-owned programs. The idea started with luxury brands such as Lexus and Mercedes-Benz and has become a popular alternative for car buyers.

Now that we have a used car, we have time to focus on a new topic, like putting gas in it!