Thursday, April 26, 2012

5 Dates to Beat the Summer Heat

Sunset on North Beach at Fort De Soto Park

Yesterday, I was quite surprised to see the thermometer break 100 degrees and we are not even to may yet. Well, that got me to thinking about what dates my wife and I can do as the mercury starts to rise.

So here are a few ideas:

1. Spend an afternoon at a lake or nearby beach and enjoy some swimming.

2. Go out for ice cream or smoothies for a nice refreshing treat.

3. Go to a community pool together and enjoy a refreshing swim.  Checkout your local YWCA or YMCA also they often have evenings where you can go swim for a reasonable price.

4. Be juvenile and have a water balloon fight in your backyard.

5. Go out and enjoy your favorite beverage together.  Many chains like Sonic have happy hours where you can get great deals on cold drinks in the summer.

Try a few of these ideas to keep your dates cool, and save the rising mercury for fun in the bedroom with your spouse.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How to get a unique blog design on a budget

I am a business owner, husband, and father who has recently taken up blogging in some of my free time. Being a very technical person, but not always the most creative when it comes to designing graphics I started searching for ways to get nice website and blog designs on a budget. There are many sites where you can buy themes and templates for WordPress, but I was looking for a way to get a truly original design without breaking the bank. While it is ok to buy pre-made themes starting out, at some point you will want your blog to have its own unique design the helps communicate your message.

After quite a bit of searching I found Design Crowd. It is a site with over 70,000 designers worldwide. The way it works is you submit a brief that describes what you want designed and any specific details such as general color palettes you like etc. When you setup your project, you will be asked to name your budget. A basic logo starts at $240 and a small website design starts at $340. Once you complete your project setup, you may browse designer portfolios and invite designers to your project. In 24-48 hours you will usually start getting designs. As designs come, you continue to give the designers feedback to get it just right. When your project reaches its ending deadline, you pick the design you like and the money is released to the designer. Design Crowd offers a 100% money back guarantee if you are not satisfied. Thus far, I’ve been happy with the results I’ve received and haven’t found the need to get a refund.

There are a few things to consider when setting your budget, the higher your budget the better designs you will get. I generally don't start at the minimum budget allowed, but usually increase it so that the designer will get $300-$400 out of the project. After all, as Christians it is important to pay someone what their time and skills are worth. Also, don’t expect the first designs received to be the best it is an iterative process.

I have used this on a couple of websites that I am creating and it is working great so far. I hope that other bloggers and Christian web master's out there find this useful. You can also watch the short video below for a quick overview of how Design Crowd works.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

10 Ideas for dating on a budget

With gas prices soaring and the recession lingering, I've heard of too many couples forgoing a regular date night because of the cost.   Dating can be expensive - a movie for two can range from $12-$20 just for tickets.  Dinner out at a nice restaurant is hard to escape for less than $10 a piece.  And if you have small children you can add on $20-$30 bucks for a sitter.   Here's some ideas to help you save:

10 Ideas for dating on a budget
  1. Sign up for daily deals from Groupon or livingsocial.   Don't purchase every deal that comes along, but I find that I can find one great restaurant deal every 2 months or so that often leads to a 50% savings.
  2. Check with your church friends who also have kids to see if you can swap watching each others kids.   You can also see if relatives or grandparents mind watching the kiddos.
  3. Instead of dining out, go on a picnic to the park.
  4. Visit a museum together, many are free or cost very little to get in.
  5. Have dinner at home, and then visit a coffee shop on your date.  This is often less expensive than a full dine out meal.
  6. Do a movie night at home after the kids go to bed.
  7. Go dancing at home in your own living room.  Dress up or down and enjoy your favorite selection of dance tunes.  You can do this after the kids to bed, or arrange for them to go to a trustworthy friend's house.
  8. Redeem debit/credit card points for gift cards to your favorite restaurants.
  9. Go to a drive in movie.   There aren't many of these left, but often they allow you to bring your own food and snacks in.
  10. Search your local yellow page directory for coupons on food or recreation.

I'd love to hear your ideas on how to date on a budget.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Got a Tax Refund?

Did you get a tax refund this year? Well, maybe you should treat your spouse to a nice date with a portion of your refund.  Treat your husband or wife to a nice dinner, a movie, or if you had a really big refund maybe even a night at a nice hotel.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Love Your Wife - Prepare Your Family's Taxes before the Deadline

Today's tip for loving your wife is to step up to the plate and relieve taxation stress from your wife.  I'm not sure how many wives out there figure the family taxes, but I'm guessing it's quite a few.  Show your wife love and take the initiative to figure all of the income taxes for your family.  If you already do this for your wife and family, take it a step further and do your best to not become irritable or angry while getting them all prepared.   Spare your wife the collateral stress by trying to maintain your composure.  Ask God to help you handle your stress.  Trust Him for His peace and His provision for your family.

May God bless you and your family.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Date Idea #13 - Go See October Baby

If you haven't already seen October Baby, it is a great movie to take your wife to on a movie date.  It's powerful story about the value of life and the healing found in forgiveness.   You can watch a short trailer below:

Click here to find a theater showing October Baby near you.