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All posts for the month November, 2014

Acorns Investment App Review

Published November 30, 2014 by suejansons

Lately, I am all about saving money for our family. We went through a tough time recently and I want to do everything I can to make sure we can survive any set backs in the future. I am couponing like a crazy person. Well, maybe not a crazy person, but compared to what I used to do, it sure seems like it!

Anyway, my husband told me to check out this app called Acorns. It is an investment app. You link your debit or credit card and it tracks your spending. Every time you make a purchase, it rounds up your total to the next whole dollar. Once your total reaches $ 5.00, the app will withdraw that money and invest it for you! How ingenious!

The app is free to download. The set up process is easy and doesn’t take a long time. There are fees, but in my opinion, they are minimal. They charge you $ 1.00 per month once you invest. There is also a small management fee of .25% – .5% of your balance. When you look at other investment sites, this is very low.

You can also choose the way you invest. They have 5 different levels to invest in, depending on how aggressive you want to be. It also shows you what your expected return will be based on how much you invest each month on a timeline by age for each level of investment. I really like this feature. I chose the moderate portfolio, but I may change to the aggressive since retirement is not very far away anymore. That is another great feature. You can change to a different portfolio at any time.

You can also choose to invest money at any point. Just plug in the amount you want to invest on the deposit screen and the app takes care of it for you. I have been adding more money into my account as I am sort of using this as a savings account. You are also able to withdraw your funds at any time without any fees. That is a great feature, too. My Acorns account is my emergency fund at the moment.

You can check on your investments at anytime, too! Just open the app and it shows you on a graph how your money is doing. It really could not be any easier! I usually check on it at lunch time. I am a control freak like that. Hahaha!

The thing I like most about Acorns is that it takes $ 5.00 at a time to invest. Most people won’t even miss that money. You can always add more if you wish. I think its great for young people especially. Imagine the compound interest you can get on this! I wish there were investment opportunities like this when I was 20. I might be retired by now!

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is security. When you set up the account, there are quite a few checks and balances that you have to go through to make sure that you own the card you are linking. They also verify your email address. I feel the security level is very good. They even notify you if anything suspicious goes on with your account. You need a password just to open the app.

I give Acorns a 4.5 out of 5. I think it is an awesome investing/savings tool. The only thing that I would improve on is the historical data on the investments themselves. It would be nice to see how the stocks have done in previous months or even years. I would like to think that as time goes on, they will be able to improve on this.

So, check out Acorns and see if this app is for you! If I have left anything out, please let me know. I tried to cover all the bases. If you choose to use Acorns, I would love to hear what you think!

Gaylord Palms Ice! A Review

Published November 29, 2014 by suejansons

If you have never been to one of the Gaylord Hotels during the holidays to see ICE! you must go! We have gone almost every year and love this tradition. It is really amazing what these artists can do with blocks of ice. Each year they have a theme, and this year’s theme is The Nutcracker. I am really happy about this because the last few years, the theme’s had nothing to do with Christmas or the holidays.

The admission prices are: Online in Advance $ 28.99 for adults, $ 26.99 for Seniors (55+) and $ 14.99 for kids up to 12. Kids 3 and under are free. If you buy tickets at the hotel, adults are $ 1 more and seniors and kids are $ 2 more (There are discount offers available. Check the website). You are provided a heavy parka so you can deal with the 9 degree temperature in the exhibit. There are no pockets in these coats and gloves are not provided. If you are in Orlando, you can purchase tickets here http://www.marriott.com/hotel-info/mcogp-gaylord-palms-resort-and-convention-center/christmas-at-gaylord-palms/csyr9pd/ice.mi

Ice TrainIce ToysIce Pegasus

I really loved the theme and their choice of scenes. Throughout the exhibit they are also playing the music from The Nutcracker which I thought just made it more enjoyable.

New this year is the addition of an ice bar called On The Blocks. Adults 21 and over can upgrade their ICE! experience to enjoy a sampling of Johnny Appleseed sweet, intense and gluten-free cider poured through an ice luge, and a choice of our Maker’s Mark specialty drink, Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio or Rutherford Hill Merlot served in a souvenir glass—yours to keep! Ambient lighting, music and fun photo opportunities set the mood for this unique VIP experience. It costs $ 15.99 per person but you get 2 drinks and tip is included. Is it worth it? If you haven’t been to an ice bar, I would say yes. The downside to this experience was the placement of the bar at the very beginning of the exhibit. Improvements that I would make would be to keep the bar separated from the rest of the exhibit and to offer a place to warm up. Drinking two drinks in there without gloves made it a bit uncomfortable. But we enjoyed the experience. On a side note, we felt bad for our bartender. He had lost his voice due to being in the cold for long periods of time.

Ice Blocks Us

One thing that ICE! offers each year is the ice slide. We didn’t choose to go on it this year, but it is definitely a different experience. Kids really enjoy it.

Ice Ballerina Slide

Not the best picture of the slides, but we were frozen at this point.

Another new feature this year is the Frostbite Factory. There is an ice sculptor working on an ice statue so you can see it first hand. It also has many displays showing you how they make all the sculptures and how they add color to the ice. It was very interesting and I think it is an awesome addition.

Ice Sculptor

Here are some more pics from the exhibit:

Ice Teddybear

Ice Nutcracker

Ice Us Soldiers

This really is an amazing exhibit, which is why we love to go each year. And of course, the grand finale each year is the larger than life size nativity scene. Always beautiful and always amazing.

Ice Full Nativity

There are other attractions you can add to this experience. They offer snow tubing and a gingerbread decorating bakery for the kids. We did not choose to do these this year. In the past we did do the snow tubing which was actually quite fun. They make a bunch of snow and form hills for you to slide down in a tube. In the past, they also had a snowball area. Not sure if they still offer that or not though.

While we had a great time freezing our buns off, there was one thing that we were very disappointed with. We stayed for about 1.5-2 hours and we were charged $19.26 for parking! This is insanity! So, here is the tip we learned too late. If you eat at one of the restaurants while you are there, they will validate your parking. Do take advantage of this. Paying that much for parking for a short time is crazy. Yes, we will go again, and we will be eating a meal there too.

And the restaurants there are very good. We happened to go on Thanksgiving night so we were not even close to hungry.

If you decide to go, let me know what you think. I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I cannot wait to share more holiday posts with you!

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