School/Work Lunch Ideas

One of the easiest ways to save money is to pack lunches. Say, you eat out everyday with co-workers and you spend $10 each day, that adds up to about $200 per month or $2400 per year! That’s huge! That’s $2400 that could have been invested in a retirement account, or paid off debt. Instead of going out to lunch everyday, why not spend a little time the night before and pack your lunch. It will save you money and calories! Here are some easy ideas for school lunches for the kiddos, or for yourself!

  • Classic: Peanut butter and jelly. Who doesn’t love a good ole PB&J? If you’ve tired of this timeless combination, try some variations like peanut butter and banana (my personal favorite), or peanut butter and honey. Branch out and try different nut butters like almond butter or hazelnut spread.
  • Chicken salad: Mix chopped chicken (canned or rotisserie), light mayo, nuts, apples, grapes and a little cayenne pepper and you can have great chicken salad to spread on bread, wrap in a tortilla or eat with crackers.
  • Salad: In a large container, mix your favorite greens (my favorite is spinach and romaine) with some veggies, nuts, a little cheese and the dressing on the side. When you’re ready to eat, pour in the dressing, put on the top and shake to toss.
  • Leftovers: Don’t throw out the leftovers from dinner the night before! Pop them in a container and it will be easy to grab and go in the morning.

Hope that gives you a few ideas to get you started saving!


Free Ways to Get Active This Fall

I hope that everyone has been able to spend some time outside over the past few days! We have really been enjoying the cooler weather. The Fall is a great time incorporating more activity into your life. After a summer full of vacations, ice cream and laying by the pool, chances are good that we are all in need of a little jump start. Fall provides cooler temperatures, which means exercise can be taken outdoors. The best part about working out outside? It’s free! No gym required. Here are a few things you can do outside to get yourself moving:

  • Walking- Walking is something that people at any fitness level can benefit from. If you are a beginner to exercise, start by walking for 30 minutes, three days a week. Over the course of a month, build up to 30 minutes a day for five days a week. Squeeze in a walk on your lunch break, or take two 15 minute walks a day. The results will surprise you! Once you’ve been walking for a month or so, try…
  • Running- Yep, I said it. I know it sounds scary, but running is a great form of cardio, and doesn’t require any equipment besides a good pair of shoes. Click here for a great beginners plan that I used when I started running three years ago.
  • Biking- I love biking because the whole family can do it! Take a trip to Shelby Farms or ride the Greenline together.
  • Yardwork– This is my least favorite option, but yardwork totally counts as exercise. Think about all the effort it takes to rake a whole yard full of leaves. You will be exhausted, sore and sleep well that night.
  • Outdoor games- Play kickball, basketball, baseball, Red Rover, Simon Says or jump on the trampoline with your kids. Not only will you feel great from the activity, you’ll get quality time with your kids.

Now you have no excuse not to get active this Fall. Enjoy!


Disclaimer: Author is a certified personal trainer through NASM. Always get your doctor’s approval before starting a new exercise program. 

Fayette County Cotton Festival

It’s that time of year again! On September 8, 2012, the 13th annual Fayette County Cotton Festival is coming to the Somerville, TN town square. This a wonderful local event that’s great for the whole  family. There will be a children’s art contest that will be open to children in grades K-6 enrolled in Fayette county schools (public or private, or homeschooled students living in Fayette county). On August 18, there will be the Ms. Fayette County Cotton Festival Beauty Pageant held at First Baptist Church in Oakland. There will also be the annual Cotton Pickin 5K (my very first 5K I ever completed!), benefitting Fayette Cares, held at 8:30am on September 8 at First United Methodist Church. Follow any of the links to get more information for any of these events or to register online. Registration is also open for vendors, sponsors and volunteers. Everyone come out and have fun at the Cotton Festival!

Tax Free Weekend

Every year, Tennessee offers a tax holiday beginning the first Friday of August and ending Sunday night. This year, tax free weekend will begin on Friday, August 3 at12:01am and end on Sunday, August 5 at 11:59pm. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • All clothing with a price of $100 or less per item is tax free. This includes jackets, school uniforms, jeans, and all other clothing. It does not include accessories such as jewelry and bags.
  • All school supplies with a price of $100 or less per item is tax free. This includes art supplies, backpacks, lunch boxes, and any other supplies. It does not include instructional materials, such as textbooks.
  • All computers with a price tag of less $1500 are tax free. This includes laptops, desktops and tablets and their included equipment. It does not include additional software, storage devices, e-readers, printers, etc.

Make sure to take advantage of this weekend! I’m sure stores will be packed, so plan to go early. For more information on what is exempt and what is not, click here.

Celebrating the 4th of July

I hope that you are all staying cool in this heat! Triple digit temps must mean that the 4th is right around the corner! The 4th is a great holiday to reflect on the huge blessing it is to live in a country like ours. May we never forget that! It’s also a great time to take some time off with you family and get out of town. We are usually on vacation the week of the 4th, but I wanted to get a list together of some local events that you can take advantage of. If your town is offering a fireworks display or any other public event, please let me know so I can add them to our list. Here ya go!

– Oakland- fireworks tomorrow night at West Junior High
– Memphis area- click here for a post from the I Love Memphis blog that includes all the Memphis area 4th activities (including Collierville)

Please be mindful of your town’s laws on noise and fireworks while enjoying the holiday. Have a wonderful and safe 4th of July!

Local Farmers’ Markets

We are privileged to live in an area abundant in locally grown foods. The easiest way to support these local farmers is to shop at any of our many area farmers’ markets. Farmers’ markets are not exclusive to food, they also provide handmade crafts and family activities, depending on your location. Visiting a local market is a great way to support your community and spend time with your family (and get a little grocery shopping done while you’re at it!). Here is a list of some of our local farmers’ markets:

  • Fayette County Farmers’ Market- This market is open Tuesday and Friday mornings in the parking lot across the street from the Methodist church in Somerville. They offer organic foods, crafts and locally grown produce.
  • The Agricenter’s Farmers’ Market- This market is the only one in the area open six days a week, May-October. It’s probably also the largest.
  • Arlington Open Air Market- This market is open on Fridays and Saturdays all day at 12015 Walker Street in Arlington.
  • Bolivar’s Farmers’ Market- This market is located at the corner or Lafayette and Washington and is open from 7am until sell-out on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
  • Selmer Farmers’ Market- This market is available everyday for any farmers that would like to come. Located at 100 Front Street near the park.

Let’s try to get out this weekend and support our local farmers!

Local Libraries

Going to the library is one of our favorite things to do. Libraries are free and they cater to any age. We are privileged to have many local libraries that offer numerous services for free. Most libraries have summer reading programs, book clubs and story-times for children, as well as activities for adults. My kids love to hear a very animated librarian read them a story. Their love of books is contagious! Libraries aren’t just for books, they also have magazines, movies, audiobooks and many other types of media available for check out. Most libraries also have several e-books available to “check out” on your e-reader (Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc.). Here is a list of some of the libraries close by:

  • Fayette County Library, 216 W. Market Street, Somerville
  • Jack McConnico Memorial Library, 225 Oakgrove Road, Selmer
  • Bolivar-Hardeman County Library, 213 N. Washington Street, Bolivar
  • Lucius and Elsie Burch Library, 501 Poplar View Parkway, Collierville
  • Benjamin L Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar Avenue, Memphis

*If you have never been to the Benjamin Hooks Central Library, you are missing a treat! Their children’s section is a child’s dream!

VBS Schedule

We thought it would be helpful to compile a list of local VBS programs to post here on the blog. If you would like to add your church, please leave a comment below with the details.

  • LaGrange Methodist- June 25-29 from 9am-12pm
  • Hickory Grove Baptist Church- July 9-13 from 6:30pm-8:00pm
  • Morris Memorial Baptist Church- June 11-15 from 5:30pm-8:30pm
  • Somerville First Presbyterian Church- June 24-27 from 5:30-8:00pm
  • Somerville First Methodist Church- June 18-22 from 9:00am-12:00pm
  • Bethlehem Baptist Church (Whiteville, TN)- June 18-22
  • Warren Community Church- June 25-29 from 9am-12pm
  • First Baptist Church Collierville- June 18-22 from 8:30am-11:30am
  • Piperton Baptist Church- July 16-20

Music in the Park

The Bank will be sponsoring Music in the Park on June 7 from 7-8pm. The event will be held at Yancey Park in Somerville. Bring out the whole family to enjoy live bluegrass music, cookies from Great American Cookie, and lemonade. This is a wonderful, free event that can be enjoyed with the family, friends and neighbors in the community. Hope to see you there!

Ideas for Graduates

It’s that time of year again! Time for school to let out, and new graduates to embark on the next chapter of their lives. I’ll be doing a small series here on the blog to help you get through the summer without breaking the bank. First item to discuss…graduation gift ideas.

Graduating from high school was a big deal. In a sense, childhood was over and adulthood was beginning. Whether you were continuing education or entering the workforce, it was a very exciting time full of possibilities! Gift cards are wonderful for graduates. They allow you to control the amount you want to spend, so you can easily stay in your gift buying budget. Here are some options for store to purchase from if the graduate is continuing to college:

  • Amazon offers endless goods (including textbooks!) to help the graduate get ready for the next level.
  • Target– If they are moving out of the house, Target can help them get set up in their new residence.
  • Bed, Bath and Beyond. This is the go-to store for dorm room life.

You could also purchase a Visa™ giftcard in amy amount from any of our branches. The graduate can use the card anywhere Visa™ is accepted.

If your budget allows, technology is a wonderful tool for the modern student. Here are some great gadgets that would be a fantastic idea for any graduate:

  • iPad– The ultimate in portable productivity. An iPad can fit easily into a purse or backpack and go anywhere the student goes. There are numerous educational apps, textbooks and many other resources that make it perfect for students. Not to mention, FaceTime capability to keep in touch with family.
  • iPod– Allows students to take along music wherever they are…from the car ride home to the library.
  • Livescribe Smartpen– I wish this product was available when I was in school! This pen writes, records and transfers notes to your computer! You can search your notes for keywords, play back lectures from class, and share your notes with friends via email all in one device.

Students will need more than technology and gift cards! Here are some other ideas for great gifts:

  • Luggage/tote bag– Even if the student isn’t going far from home, a nice duffle bag will be put to use carrying books and laptops back and forth.
  • Coffee pot– Students can save a lot of money by brewing their own coffee for all-nighter study sessions.
  • Planner– The adjustment to college can be difficult. Help students keep track of everything in one place.

I hope that helps you come up with the perfect gift for the graduates in your life!