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30 May 2020   ·   0

10 Questions You Should Ask Before Signing a Lease

Thinking about renting a home? Be sure you know about these important questions to ask before signing a lease!

Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease

“I’m a wife and mom of 3. My husband and I may be selling our home to be in a better financial situation. I share your heart for wanting to bless others and we’re ready to get out of debt. We would need to rent for a few years at least. Would you mind sharing some questions you should ask before signing a lease?” – Maria

Because we always had a goal to pay cash for a home, we have rented for 11 of our 17 years of marriage.

We’ve been in multiple different rentals — including apartments, duplexes, and houses. So we have a lot of experience renting different types of homes.

We’ve also been on the other side of the coin, because we were landlords for years and rented out three houses in Kansas for quite a while.

If you’re getting ready to rent a home, these are the top 10 questions I would recommend you ask before signing a lease…

Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease

1. What is your landlord like?

Who are the landlords and will they take good care of you? Having good landlords is the #1 thing I recommend when it comes to renting a home.

More than anything else, your landlords are going to make or break your rental experience.

It doesn’t matter if it’s the most amazing house in the most amazing area with everything you ever wanted in a home. You’ll have a bad experience if you have terrible landlords.

You’re dependent on your landlords if something goes wrong and there’s a problem. You need the kind of landlords that will step in and help you out.

If they’re hard to get a hold of, don’t care, are rude or mean, or aren’t helpful, it’s going to be very difficult when you encounter a problem.

Over the years we’ve had to contact landlords for a lot of issues — including getting termites, having a hot water heater break, and the AC going out. And having good landlords made those situations much more bearable.

Pay attention to how landlords and apartment managers interact/engage with you — if they’re responsive, if they seem to care about you as people and will take care of you, whether they answer your questions,  and if they seem like they want you to have a great experience.

And be sure to look online at reviews of property management companies and apartment complexes. Do your research!

2. What is the rental lease agreement?

Pay really close attention to the rental lease agreement and make sure to read all of the fine print.

Look for answers to these important questions:

  • Can you get out of the agreement? If so, what does that look like? Are there consequences for breaking the lease?
  • How much notice do you need to give if you don’t plan to renew?
  • Does the landlord have plans to sell the home at any point while you’re renting?
  • How long is the rental term agreement?
  • How do you get the deposit back at the end of the lease? What are the requirements for that?

Some of these questions might seem silly or obvious, but we once didn’t get our deposit back, simply because we hadn’t fully swept out the garage!

So be sure to protect yourself and be prepared by reading and understanding all the terms of the rental agreement. And also be sure to get renter’s insurance for extra protection.

3. Will the home serve your family well?

Make sure you can walk through the house/apartment before signing the lease.

(We had to rent a house sight unseen when we moved to TN, and even though we had friends do a video tour for us, I do not recommend it.)

As you do the walk-through, imagine you and your family living out a typical day in the home. Does it have everything you’d need or want in a home?

Is anything missing? If so, can you live without it? Or is it a non-negotiable that makes the home not suitable to your family’s needs?

It’s never going to be perfect, but as much as is possible, try to find a home that you’ll be comfortable in and that will serve your family well.

4. What is the neighborhood like?

I recommend exploring the potential neighborhood at several different times of day to get a feel for the neighborhood and make sure you like the area.

If you want to get an idea of the types of neighbors you’ll have, you might stop by around the time people get off work.

And if at all possible, check out what the neighborhood is like at night. A lot of times, neighborhoods are totally different at night than during the day. You might discover that neighbors throw parties or play loud music late at night.

It’s important to like the area you live, so don’t forget to ask yourself this question before signing a lease!

5. How convenient is it?

Look on Google Earth and drive around some. Make sure it’s convenient and works for your family.

How long will it take to get to the nearest grocery store or gas station?

Where will you shop? Where will your kids go to school?

All of these things are important!

6. How do repairs & maintenance work?

Make sure you understand how the repairs work in the home you’ll be renting:

  • Who does the repairs? How do you contact that person?
  • What is the time frame you can expect repairs to be done in?
  • Do you have to pay up front and get reimbursed? Or will it be paid for?

Also, be sure you ask what exterior maintenance you’re responsible for. Some landlords take care of lawn maintenance and others expect you to take care of it yourself.

7. What are the rules about improving & decorating the home?

Make certain you clearly understand the rules about improving on the home.

Can you paint the walls? Can you hang photos? Are you allowed to do upgrades?

One time while renting, we got approval to do some improvements on the house we were in…only to find out that we were expected to undo all of it before moving out — even though it was adding value to the home!

So you never know. It’s always important to ask this question before signing a lease.

8. What extra costs are you responsible for?

Make sure you know what extra costs you’re responsible for and which costs the landlord pays.

For example, you might want to ask:

  • Are utilities included?
  • If not, what are the typical costs? (You can call the power company and ask what the bill typically runs for that address.)
  • Is there a washer/dryer or will you have to pay for a laundromat?
  • Do you have to pay for a trash/recycling service?

9. What’s the pet policy?

If you have pets, make sure you know the pet policy.

  • Do they allow pets at all? If so, which kinds?
  • Are there any size or breed restrictions?
  • Is there a pet deposit? Is there pet rent each month?
  • Are they willing to make any exceptions to those rules?

If pets are an important part of your family, don’t forget to ask this question before signing a lease!

10. Are there any amenities that you get access to?

If you’re in an apartment, town home, or gated community, be sure to ask about amenities that are available.

There might be perks you don’t even know about if you don’t ask — such as a pool, exercise room, playground, and more!

And if you do have access to these amenities, make sure you understand how to access them easily.

Every family is unique and has different needs, but if you go in prepared, you’re much more likely to have a better renting experience!


Are there any other questions you’d recommend asking before signing as lease?

30 May 2020   ·   2

Amazon Music Unlimited | Free Trial for 90 Days!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Looking for an Amazon Music Unlimited promo code or deal? Don’t miss this latest offer to get a free trial of Amazon Music Unlimited for 90 days!!

Psst! Don’t forget you can also currently get a FREE 2-month Kindle Unlimited trial and a FREE 30-day Audible trial with a bonus audiobook!

Amazon Music Unlimited promo code

Amazon Music Unlimited Free Trial

If you’re a Prime member who has never tried Amazon Music Unlimited, then be sure to check out this deal to get a FREE 90-day subscription!

This is a HOT deal, because you typically only get 30 days for free and then pay $7.99 each month after that. That means you’re getting an extra 2 months completely free — a savings of $23.97!

When you sign up, you’ll get:

  • Completely ad-free music streaming.
  • Tens of millions of songs and thousands of expert-programmed playlists and stations.
  • The ability to listen to any song, anytime, anywhere, on all your devices – smartphone, tablet, PC/Mac, Fire TV, and Alexa-enabled devices like Amazon Echo.
  • Personalized recommendations based on your listening habits.
  • Offline listening with downloadable songs and playlists.
  • The hottest new releases from today’s most popular artists.
  • The choice of an individual or family plan.

*Note: After your first 90 -day Amazon Music Unlimited free trial, your plan will automatically renew at the monthly rate of $7.99 per month. If you don’t wish to continue at the full price each month, be sure to cancel before your first 90 days is up.

Valid ONLY for Prime members who are new subscribers, for a limited time only.

Go here to get started with your free 90-day subscription.

30 May 2020   ·   0

New Checkout 51 Offers: Nivea, Nathan’s, Country Crock, plus more!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Have you signed up for Checkout 51 yet? It’s a great way to save money on groceries and more—without clipping coupons! And there are some great new Checkout 51 offers today!

Psst! Did you see you can now get Checkout 51 gas rewards?!

New Checkout 51 Rebates

Some new Checkout 51 offers were added this week — for Nathan’s, Nivea, Country Crock, Minute Maid, and more! Check them out here.

What is Checkout 51?

Checkout 51 helps you save money on the brands you love. Every Thursday morning, Checkout 51 updates with a new list of offers. All you have to do is pick the ones you like, purchase them at any store, and upload a photo of your receipt through their mobile app or website. When your account reaches $20, Checkout 51 sends you a check.

You can download the Checkout 51 app or use Checkout 51 straight from your home computer.

How Checkout 51 Works

More tips for using Checkout 51:

  • Offers go live on Thursdays at 12:00 AM in each time zone. They expire the following Wednesday at 11:59 PM in each time zone. You must submit the receipts while the offers are live.
  • Offers are available in limited quantities. Check your offer list before you go shopping to ensure that the offer is still available, and upload the receipt immediately after purchase to avoid disappointment.
  • A quantity of (1) of each offer is eligible for cash back per member.
  • Each receipt can only be used once.
  • They can only give cash back for the exact product listed, so please read carefully.
  • You are permitted to use Checkout 51 cash back offers with any other coupon or discount unless otherwise stated.
  • Items purchased from online retailers are eligible for cash back. Packing slips are accepted as proof of purchase. Online purchases are subject to the same submission timelines as receipts.

Go here to sign up for Checkout 51.

30 May 2020   ·   1

Brigette’s $96 Grocery Shopping Trip and Weekly Menu Plan for 6


1 jar Pasta Sauce – $0.85

4 cans Green Beans – $1.52

1 bag Mini Sweet Peppers – $2.59

1 3-lb bag Sweet Potatoes – $2.19

2 pkgs Zucchini – $3.21

2 bags Romaine Hearts – $3.98

1 large jar Unsweetened Applesauce – $1.95

1 Cauliflower – $1.99

1 Cabbage – $1.79

1 pkg Broccoli Crowns – $1.88

1 bag Mini Cucumbers – $2.19

1 large tub Organic Spring Mix – $3.59

1 bag Baby Carrots – $0.89

1 3-lb bag Pazazz Apples – $2.79

4 cartons Strawberries – $3.96

1 carton Grape Tomatoes – $1.49

1 pkg String Cheese – $1.99

1 8-oz pkg Sliced Cheese – $1.33

1/2 gallon Orange Juice – $1.59

1 gallon 1% Milk – $0.97

1/2 gallon Unsweetened Almond Milk – $1.65

1 gallon Whole Milk – $0.97

1 32-oz carton Half and Half – $1.55

1 16-oz carton Heavy Whipping Cream – $1.55

1 32-oz carton Plain Greek Yogurt – $3.45

1 canister Quick Oats – $2.36

1 pkg Pepperoni – $2.19

1-lb Sausage – $1.89

2 1-lb pkgs Deli Meat – $5.70

1 can Chicken Breast – $1.99

1 pkg Turkey Kielbasa – $2.35

1 32-oz carton Egg Whites – $2.95

2 16-oz bags Shredded Cheddar Cheese – $5.50

2 16-oz bags Shredded Mozzarella Cheese – $5.50

1 24-oz carton Cottage Cheese – $1.59

1 large box Corn Flakes – $0.99

1 box Crisp Rice – $1.36

1 box Raisin Bran – $1.59

1 1-lb box Butter Quarters – $2.66

1 pkg Rice Cakes – $1.55

1 bag Veggie Straws – $1.99

1 pkg Hamburger Buns – $0.25

1 loaf Sandwich Bread – $0.67

4 Skyr Yogurts – $1.96

Weekly Grocery Total: $96.95

Weekly Menu Plan


Everyone is responsible for making/cleaning up their own breakfast. Choices include:

Oatmeal, Cereal, Fruit, Yogurt, Toast, Scrambled/Boiled/Fried Eggs, Veggie Omelets


Deli Meat/Cheese Sandwiches, Applesauce, Mini Cucumbers x 2

Salad Bar x 2

Veggie Straws, Cheese Sticks, Hard Boiled Eggs, Peppers

Leftovers x 2


Crustless Quiche (I’ll use deli meat in this), Broccoli, Tossed Salad

Grilled Hobo Packets, Easy Whole Wheat Muffins, Strawberries

Venison Roast in the Crockpot, Baked Sweet Potatoe Fries, Tossed Salad

Taco Salad (I use seasoned ground venison), Rice

Upside Down Pizza (using pepperoni instead of ground beef), Green Beans

Dinner Out with Friends (yay for indoor dining in SC!)

Biscuits and Gravy, Roasted Zucchini

30 May 2020   ·   0
Wikki Stix

Free Kid’s Online Summer Camp with Wikki Stix

Do your kids love Wikki Stix? Here’s a FUN freebie for them this summer!

Wikki Stix

Starting June 17th, Wikki Stix is offering a free Online Summer Camp for Kids!

Each Wednesday for five weeks, fun activities will be emailed to you. These activities will use simple, inexpensive household items like paper plates, paper towel or toilet paper cores, lunch sacks, soup cans, cupcake liners and more.

Recommended for ages 4 to 12.

Sign up here to be part of the fun!

Thanks, Hip2Save!

30 May 2020   ·   0
free summer science bundle

Free Summer Science Enrichment Bundle

Sign up for a free science bundle for some fun summer learning!

free summer science bundle

Looking for some educational resources for the summer? Sign up for this free Summer Science Enrichment Bundle!

The project bundle includes a Parent Guide with project instructions, discussion starters, scientific background, Scriptural connections, and extra resources. The bundle also includes a Student Lab Notebook where students can brainstorm, record observations, and interact with Scripture.

This is free for a limited time only.

29 May 2020   ·   3

10 Ways to Make Music Lessons More Affordable

Do your kids want to take music lessons, but you’re struggling to find extra room in the budget? Don’t miss these great budget-friendly tips to make music lessons more affordable!

affordable music lessons

Guest post from Lora of Lessonface:

Musical training teaches children much more than just music. Music teaches discipline, creativity, and motivation. It enriches lives, boosts brain function and memory, provides an outlet for self-expression, and strengthens relationships with families and friends.

All of those wonderful benefits can sometimes come with a hefty price tag, though. From purchasing instruments to monthly lessons, it can be easy for your music budget to get out of hand very quickly.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Don’t let the potential costs of music training put your children’s musical dreams on hold.

Here are 10 simple ways you can cut costs without having to sacrifice great instruction or good quality instruments.

1. Focus on one instrument.

If you have a large family, there’s a good chance everyone wants to learn a different instrument. That means purchasing a different instrument and different books for every child. You will also spend more time and money driving to lessons for every music teacher.

Having everyone start out on one instrument will not only save you money, but it could also help your children’s musical ability in the long run.

The piano is a great place to start and allows children to focus on music basics before learning more advanced instruments.

Unlike other instruments, you don’t have to buy different sized pianos to accommodate every child. Purchasing one single piano or keyboard can work for small beginners as well as full-grown teenagers. Plus, students who have a basic knowledge of the piano generally progress much faster when they learn an instrument with a steeper learning curve, like violin or cello.

2. Double up on lessons.

Having multiple children learning the same instrument means you may be able to have two lessons for the price of one. If children are relatively close in age and around the same musical level, sharing a lesson works well.

Not all teachers will allow lesson times to be shared, but it’s worth asking. Sharing instruction can sometimes cut your lesson costs in half.

little kid hands playing piano

3. Take longer lessons.

Many teachers charge less per minute for hour lessons as opposed to thirty or forty-five-minute lessons. It’s a way to encourage students to take longer lessons.

While signing up for the longer lesson may be more costly at first, you’re saving money by paying less per minute. Think of it as buying in bulk.

Consider taking an hour lesson every other week as opposed to a thirty-minute lesson every week. You will be able to cover more information since you’ll spend less time unpacking, tuning, etc.

Or, see if your teacher will give you a reduced rate if you have multiple children taking lessons.

4. Create a group class.

If you can assemble a group of students who all want to learn the same instrument, you may be able to create a group class. Ask your teacher if they would be willing to teach a group of students.

Music teachers all have different policies when it comes to group classes, but if you already have a handful of students ready to learn, teachers will generally work something out with you.

Splitting a teacher’s hourly rate between four or five other students can greatly reduce your overall costs.

5. Research youth orchestras, bands, and group lessons in your area.

Many music schools offer large beginner classes. Instruction will not be as personalized as private lessons, but group classes can be an ideal way to learn the basic principles of your instrument.

You may have to pay for the whole semester upfront, but once you split the cost between all the lessons, you’ll find these courses can save you a lot of money.

6. Consider online lessons.

Traditional in-person lessons can mean extra costs and extra stress.

With today’s technology, online lessons offer the same quality instruction as in-person lessons without all the time wasted driving, sitting, and waiting while your child takes the lesson.

With online lessons you also have a bigger selection of teachers, allowing you to shop around for the best price.

7. Rent to own.

Purchasing an instrument can be the biggest upfront expense that deters many families from pursuing music. However, most music stores offer options that make owning an instrument more affordable.

Ask about renting to own or payment plans. Not all music stores advertise these options so doing some research can really help you save.

Little Girl Playing Guitar

8. Buy used instruments.

Consider buying a used instrument or an instrument with blemishes.

But before you pick up that violin at the thrift store or agree to purchase your neighbor’s used trumpet, ask a music teacher for their opinion on the instrument you are thinking about buying. Buying any used instrument might seem like a great way to save money, but you can end up spending more than the instrument is worth on repairs or replacement parts.

If you are interested in buying a used instrument, your teacher will usually be able to connect you with websites, stores, or other students selling good quality, used instruments.

9. Avoid cheap instruments.

While some instruments on online megastores seem like unbeatable deals, these instruments are often of such poor quality that they are completely unplayable.

They can lead to wasted money, wasted time, and wasted motivation.

Shop at local music stores or ask your teacher what they recommend for cheap, beginner instruments. Purchasing a decent instrument may cost a little more upfront, but you will reap many benefits, be able to learn more, and save money in the long run.

10. Encourage regular practicing.

To get the most out of your lesson time, make sure that your child practices regularly.

One of the biggest wastes of money (when it comes to music) is being unprepared for lessons. The more prepared a student is, the more the teacher can teach them—which means more bang for your buck!

Students who make consistent progress are less likely to complain about practicing or want to stop playing after a few months.

Anytime a child starts a new instrument, they are generally very motivated to practice and enjoy playing. Take advantage of this precious time! Encourage children to practice as much as they can. The more progress a student makes early on, the more likely they are to stick with it and enjoy all the rewards that musical training can offer.

Bonus Tip: If you are unsure about all the unknown costs learning a musical instrument might entail, ask a music teacher!

Even if you aren’t currently taking lessons, music teachers are more than happy to talk to you about all the potential costs. They can also give you detailed information about purchasing the best (and cheapest) beginner instruments and accessories.

The lessons a child learns playing a musical instrument can help them for the rest of their lives. Studies consistently show that music helps brain development, motor skills, language, literacy, social, emotional, and intellectual abilities.

Don’t let the potential costs of learning music keep your child from experiencing all of the wonderful benefits music has to offer. Start learning music today!

Lora Gallman has been teaching violin lessons for 15 years. When not playing violin, she enjoys spending time with anything that has wings—including birds, chickens, and airplanes. She holds a Master’s Degree in Music Education and currently teaches online violin lessons at Lessonface.

29 May 2020   ·   3
The Children’s Place Kids Shorts as Low as $2.38 Shipped

*HOT* The Children’s Place: Kid’s Shorts as low as $1.99 shipped!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Get some new pairs of kid’s shorts for summer!

The Children’s Place Kids Shorts as Low as $2.38 Shipped

The Children’s Place has Kid’s Shorts as low as $1.99 right now! Plus, shipping is free on all orders!

Here are some deal ideas…

Get these Girls Cartwheel & Bike Shorts for as low as $1.99 shipped!

Get these Girls Pull-On Shorts for as low as $2.99 shipped!

Get these Baby and Toddler Boy’s Basketball Shorts for just $3.29 shipped!

Get these Girls Denim Shorts for as low as $6.78 shipped!

Get these Boys Cargo Shorts for as low as $5.99 shipped!

Get these Boys Jogging Shorts for as low as $5.99 shipped!

29 May 2020   ·   0

*HOT* Up to 70% off Disney Toys, Apparel & Accessories + Free Shipping!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Calling all Disney fans! Don’t miss this hot sale on Disney toys, apparel and accessories!

Today only, ShopDisney is offering an extra 30% off clearance items when you use the promo code EXTRA30 at checkout!

Even better, sign up for the email list at the bottom of the page and you will receive a promo code for free shipping!

There are SO many fun items included in this sale so be sure to check them all out here. Here are some deal ideas…

Get this Nala Talking Plush The Lion King 2019 for just $8.15 shipped after the promo codes (regularly $34.95)!

Get this Anna and Elsa Long Sleeve Nightshirt for Girls Frozen 2 for just $6.99 shipped after the promo codes!

Get this Olaf Mini Backpack by Loungefly for just $47.25 shipped after the promo codes!

Get this Belle iPhone Xs Max Case – Beauty and the Beast for just $10.50 shipped after the promo codes!

Get this Donald Duck 85th Anniversary Metallic Plush for just $6.99 shipped after the promo codes!

Get this Minnie Mouse Sequined Mini Backpack Wristlet for just $21 shipped after the promo codes!

Shop the entire clearance sale here.

Valid today only, May 29, 2020.

29 May 2020   ·   0

Columbia Women’s Feather River Tanks only $11.99 shipped (Reg. $30!)

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Need some new tanks for summer? This Columbia Women’s Feather River Tanks are perfect for summer adventures!

Columbia has this Women’s Feather River Tank for only $11.99 right now when you use the promo code SAVEINMAY at checkout! And shipping is FREE if you’re a Columbia Rewards Member (it’s free to sign up)!

This tank is made from Omni-Wick and features a comfort stretch making it the perfect shirt for all your summer adventures!

Choose from five colors.

Valid through May 31, 2020.

29 May 2020   ·   0
MUK LUKS® Brielle Flip Flops

MUK LUKS Brielle Flip Flops only $9.99 shipped (Reg. $39!)

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

These MUK LUKS Brielle Flip Flops have amazing reviews!

MUK LUKS® Brielle Flip Flops

Jane has these MUK LUKS Brielle Flip Flops for just $9.99 shipped today!

Choose from three colors.

These are regularly $39 and have amazing reviews.

Psst! We love Jane! Looking for other great Jane deals? Check out our custom Jane page for more of our hand-picked favorite deals each day!

29 May 2020   ·   0

*HOT* The Children’s Place: Kid’s Tanks only $1.99 shipped!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Whoa!! This is a great time to grab some new tanks for your kids!

The Children’s Place has Baby, Toddler and Kid’s Tanks for as low as $1.99 shipped right now!

There are tons of tanks included in this sale with lots of colors and styles.

Hurry – sizes will sell out quickly.

Psst! You can also get Kid’s Shorts for as low as $2.38 shipped!

29 May 2020   ·   0

Disney Tumblers with Straws only $7 shipped!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Know someone who loves Disney? These Tumblers would make such fun gift ideas!

Right now, ShopDisney has these Disney Snowglobe or Lightup with Straws for just $7!

Plus, sign up for their email list at the bottom of the page and you’ll get a promo code for free shipping.

There are so many cute ones to pick from. These would make fun gift ideas.

Thanks, Hip2Save!