Tools for 2018: Finances

Tools for 2018: Finances

Each week on Thursday for the month of January we are sharing Tools for 2018. We are currently in week three of our tools for success this year. To check out the other weekly topics – click here: Week One: Getting Healthy with Meals or Week Two: Getting Healthy with Fitness

Finances, budgeting, plans, savings, and more! When it comes to finances there is always something to be done. Personally, we made some changes to our finances and it has already made a huge difference!

Here are some examples in no particular order:

  • Use a budgeting app, website or system

This is HUGE for me and my family! There are plenty of options for systems to help you with your finances., Quickbooks, and more. My favorite is YNAB (You Need a Budget). You can check it out by clicking here. I highly recommend it!

  • Implement a cash system

We made this change about 7 years ago. It does take some tweaking but using cash to pay for some items definitely makes you save money! Click here to see more details about this cash envelope system.

  • Speak with a financial advisor

Maybe you could save money on your insurance plan or possibly your mortgage/rent. Or what about retirement? Are you currently saving for retirement?

If you’ve been looking for a local person to help guide you, Kurt with Arseneau Advisory is NOW OPEN in Vickery Village! He has written two fabulous articles for us to glean knowledge from.

Check them out here: Here’s Why Your Friends Are Going Broke and How To Budget Your Next Vacation

And don’t forget to be sure to like Arseneau Advisory on Facebook. **They are having a FREE Shredding Event on 1/27!**

  • Call your utility companies

Every year I call each of my utility companies one by one to see if they had any deals coming up. Every time I end up surprised! Most of the time, because of my good payment history, I’m able to lower almost every one of my bills. My motto is – it never hurts to ask!

Any other ideas for helping with finances?

Here’s Why Your Friends Are Going Broke

Here’s Why Your Friends Are Going Broke

Most of the time when I meet with people and talk about personal finances, topics include credit card debt, savings, investments, insurance, and taxes creep into the discussion. Since nobody wears their net worth on the back of their shirt like a number, we truly have no idea what our friends or neighbor’s real personal financial situation is. What I have found to be very true is what appears to be huge success around you is nothing more than a mirage of people living to pay their bills on a month to month basis. None of these people will ever tell you they are drowning, but people around you are going broke every day and here are the reasons why.

  1. Ego – Our is ego is something that can make us stronger or become an obstacle to achieving success. The part of your mind that contains your ego, is your memory. This is where your planning and reality take shape. When it comes to money, ego is one of the main drivers that can make people around you go broke. This doesn’t mean that they are living in a home that is ready to be torn down, but it does mean they are fulfilled by trying to keep up with the Jones’. They are eating out on a regular basis, hitting the new latest and greatest restaurants, and paying for the entire tab when they are out with you. Think to yourself how your ego will react when your friend or neighbor puts in a new pool, buys that new boat, or takes that Italian vacation you have dreamed of.
  2. Education – In my opinion, time is now the number one money killer in today’s society. We have so much information coming at us, it becomes very difficult to decipher fact from fiction. People you know who are going broker or are broke, are too ashamed to ask for help because of the embarrassment they hold. They assume searching on the internet for the answers will give them all the information they need.   However, purchasing decisions and investment decisions have become more complex. Your benefits at work have become more complex and difficult to understand. Even your credit card company is requiring you to read the fine print, that seems to be 3 pages long now. At the end of the day, just because you are college educated, doesn’t mean that you are financially educated. When was the last time you took a personal finance class either in the classroom or online?
  3. Irrationality – The truth is that most of the people around you, including your friends, make irrational decisions around their money in spite of the facts in front of them. For instance, some people don’t take advantage of the free match in their 401(k) from work. They simply don’t believe they can save money. I mean come on, we are talking about FREE money! We are in a great bull run in the market, however many of you are sitting their riding out this roller coaster. It may make sense to take some of those gains, depending on your situation, because will this market continue to go up forever? It is similar to playing black jack, thinking you can beat the dealer forever. We even convince ourselves, that putting in a pool will raise the value of our home, even when all the statistics say otherwise. For these exact reasons, it is important to have outside counsel when making these important financial decisions.

The reality behind all of this is knowing and doing are two very different concepts. We all know we need to exercise, yet without a weekly regimen most of us never get off the couch. If you ask your friends what their biggest worry is in life, they won’t say their health, 99% of them will respond with one word “money.” If this is the case, then why are so many people, including your friends, going broke and living to just meet the standard of life that they have built for themselves?

More About Kurt Arseneau:

Kurt has been in the financial services industry for over 15 years. He previously owned 4 companies in the Chicago area that primarily helped financial advisors with marketing and financial planning support. He currently serves as the primary Investment Advisor Representative at Arseneau Advisory Group.

Kurt has been featured in publications with ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC to name a few. Recently, Kurt became one of the few Asset Lock Equipped Advisors in the country. Asset Lock is a proprietary technology tool used to monitor a person’s 401k, TSP, 403b, IRA, or brokerage account. Arseneau Advisory was built on being Holistic, Unbiased, and a client-first company.

Kurt and his wife Brynn (currently the CFO of Arseneau Advisory Group) live in Cumming with their 3 daughters. In their spare time, they volunteer at church, love to travel and spend time with family and friends.

Connect with Arseneau Advisory Online: Website | Facebook

How to Budget Your Next Vacation

How to Budget Your Next Vacation

Now that the holidays have passed our focus now moves to spring break and summer break. While most of us want to go somewhere for spring break, the reality is that most of us can not afford such an excursion unless we plan for this vacation. Same holds true for those long two-week summer vacations that we all day dream about from 3-5pm on a Friday afternoon when it is raining. If you want to do spring break or that two week long vacation, now is the time to plan.

Here are a few steps on how to budget for that next vacation:

  1. Plan your spending money – It’s vacation and normally when you are on vacation you relax and open that wallet. The key is to not run your credit cards up to their limits. To control your spending on vacation, bring cash. You should always bring cash for tourist attractions, meals, souvenirs, and any other extracurricular activities. Even bringing envelopes that have been labeled for such items and stuffing them with the budgeted amount of cash will save you big in the long run. Besides, when the kids start screaming, how quickly will you pull out that credit card?
  2. Do you have any points available – Yes it is popular to travel during the high seasons, Christmas, Spring break, summer, etc. However, check into blackout periods for airlines and hotel point programs to make sure you can actually use them for your trip. It’s important to maximize these points programs because it may leave you with only paying some basic taxes, resort fees, or ticketing fees.
  3. Decide what you want to get out of the vacation – You want to set the expectations in your head along with your children’s head if possible. Start considering the following: what purpose is this vacation for? Am I making memories for me as a parent why I spend time with my kids? What kinds activities do we want to do on this vacation? If some of these questions go unanswered and you are a people pleaser, like most of us are, you may over spend at a fancy hotel. If you are taking little kids on a trip, don’t get caught up in spending oodles of money at the Magic Kingdom for things that won’t remember. Don’t get me wrong, the Magic Kingdom is fun, but they probably won’t remember 90% of it. The best memories are normally made at the hotel people anyway.
  4. The money – Vacations should be a line item on every family’s finances, it has to be planned for and budgeted for. We like to plan 2% to 3% of your household income. If your house makes $100,000, then you should plan on spending $2,000 to $3,000. Be careful, if this is not a line on the budget, you will drastically over spend in this category. Once you start pushing to the 5% of household income, you have entered dangerous territory.

Having planned out many family finances over our 15+ years, vacation spending is black hole that you deal with each and every year. Now is the time to make a plan for spring break, summer, and even the holidays. If you don’t, the next article you will be searching is how to get out of credit card debt.

More About Kurt Arseneau:

Kurt has been in the financial services industry for over 15 years. He previously owned 4 companies in the Chicago area that primarily helped financial advisors with marketing and financial planning support. He currently serves as the primary Investment Advisor Representative at Arseneau Advisory Group.

Kurt has been featured in publications with ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC to name a few. Recently, Kurt became one of the few Asset Lock Equipped Advisors in the country. Asset Lock is a proprietary technology tool used to monitor a person’s 401k, TSP, 403b, IRA, or brokerage account. Arseneau Advisory was built on being Holistic, Unbiased, and a client-first company.

Kurt and his wife Brynn (currently the CFO of Arseneau Advisory Group) live in Cumming with their 3 daughters. In their spare time, they volunteer at church, love to travel and spend time with family and friends.

Connect with Arseneau Advisory Online: Website | Facebook

Daddy Daughter Date Night Chick-fil-A Forsyth County {2018}

Daddy Daughter Date Night

Daddy Daughter Date Night Chick-fil-A Forsyth County {2018}

Calling all Forsyth County Dads: It’s time to take your daughter(s) for a date night. And Chick-fil-A makes it easy for you! They are having a special night on February 3th at both of our Chick-fil-A locations. Daddy Daughter Date Night at Chick-fil-A in Forsyth County is sure to be a fun evening for you and your daughter(s). Registration opens at midnight on January 20th.

Below are the options (be sure and register fast as this event does fill up):

Daddy Daughter Date Night at The Collection
Time: Sessions available at 4:30pm, 5:30pm, 6:30pm, and 7:30pm
Address: 430 Peachtree Pkwy, Cumming, GA 30041
Cost: You will just order food at regular pricing and will be served.

Register here

Daddy Daughter Date Night at Lanier Crossing
Time: Session available at 4:30pm, 5:30pm & 6:30pm
Address: Lanier Crossing Shopping Center – 653 Atlanta Rd Cumming, GA 30040
Cost: Event will be held in event in a tent with a photo booth, live music and a buffet. Cost is TBD.

Register here 


Daddy Daughter Date Night at Dawsonville
Time: 3:30pm, 6:30pm, 7:30pm, and 8:30pm
Address: 231 Power Center Dr, Dawsonville, GA 30534
Cost: Dad tickets $10 / Daughter tickets $7

Register here 

Remember that this will fill up so register today!

Martin Luther King Day in Forsyth County {2018}

Things to Do: Martin Luther King Day in Forsyth County {2018}

On Monday – January 15th, Forsyth County Schools will be closed in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday – that means we have a long weekend!   Click here for our full Calendar of Events.

There will also be many events taking place in & throughout Atlanta to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day.  If you’re looking for some of those events, be sure to check out the round-up from our friends at 365 Atlanta Family.

But if you’ll be staying in Cumming & Forsyth County for Martin Luther King Day and looking for something to do just to have fun with the kids during the long weekend and on their day off school, check out some of these opportunities:

Enjoy an Indoor Playcenter

Go Rollerskating:  Let’s Roll Skate ‘n’ Fun Center

Let’s Roll is also usually closed on Mondays; however, they do open on all Forsyth County School Holidays & Early Release Days and will be open Monday from 12pm to 5pm! $7 Admission $3 Skate Rental

Go Ice Skating:  The Ice 

Go ice-skating!  Usually closed on Monday, The Ice will offer Public Skate on Monday from 3-5pm.

The Ice Online  |  Phone:  678.845.0103

See a Movie

There are some great movies out that you could see with the family. The Greatest Showman, Ferdinand, Coco, Star Wars, Jumanji & Wonder – just to name a few!

Here are links to the Movie Theaters in Forsyth County:

Go Bowling, Lazer Tag & More:  Stars & Strikes

Painting at Pinot’s Palette

Click here for more information and to register

Go See the Atlanta Hawks Game

Go Out to Eat

  • For the whole month of January, Happy Belly Kitchen is offering kids eat free from 5-7pm with the purchase of at least $12 in an adult meal. Offer valid for children 12 and under. Click here for more details.
  • There are 9 restaurants that offer Kids Eat Free deals on Mondays. Check our guide and pick one of them to eat at – Kids Eat Free Guide.

Need more ideas?

Click here to view our full Calendar of Events.  And as always, it’s recommended that you confirm details prior to your visit as information can change at anytime. Enjoy your weekend!

Tools for 2018: Getting Healthy with Fitness

healthy with fitness

Tools for 2018 – Getting Healthy with Fitness

Each week on Thursday for the month of January we are sharing Tools for 2018. If you’d like to review the other weeks in the Tools for 2018, click here: Week One – Getting Healthy with Meals,  Week Three – Relax, and Week Four – Finances. (Please note: the links will be put in as those weeks become available.)

Do you know what the top New Year’s resolution is? Drumroll please . . . it’s to get healthy! Everyone needs to change their habits and get healthy in some way. This week we are discussing getting healthy with fitness.

Here are some examples in no particular order:

  • Join a Gym

There are plenty of gyms around Forsyth County and Cumming GA. But we will highlight a few:

1. Cumming Strength & Fitness: My good friends run this particular gym. Anyone that has tried it has ended up joining. Check them out by clicking here.

2. YMCA: This gym is a great facility – they also have childcare! Click here for more info.

3. Cumming Dance Academy: Ok, I know it’s not technically a gym. But dancing is a great work out! Click here for class information.

4. Anytime Fitness: There are three locations in Cumming. This is a great gym because it’s open 24 hours a day. Check it out by clicking here.

5. OneLife Fitness: Great classes, gym equipment & childcare at this gym located close to Vickery Village or Windermere. Personally, I have a membership here and have loved taking the group classes. BodyCombat and BodyPump are my favorites. Let me know if you want to join me sometime! Click here for more information. 

Also, we have a round-up of all the reader recommended gyms in Cumming: Click here to see that list.

  • Exercise at Home

There are plenty of exercises that can be done at home. Here are a few examples for you:

1- You could take a walk or run around your neighborhood. If it’s not too cold outside!

2 – Early morning workouts in your home. I like to do squats, jumping jacks, crunches, and push-ups. That really gets my blood pumping! For more ideas you can check out our Pinterest page by clicking here. I created a whole board on fitness tips and ideas.

3- Make better choices. What I mean by that is . . . instead of riding the elevator take the stairs or park father away from the store so you have to walk more. I wear a fitbit and it helps me to take more steps. I try to do at least 10,000 steps per day!

  • See a Chiropractor

I go to the chiropractor every 3 weeks to get adjusted. I fully believe that keeping everything in line helps me to be healthier. We would recommend Essential Wellness. Click here for more information.

  • Dance!

This is my favorite way to get fit! Most nights during the week after dinner, we turn up the kid’s dance mix on Pandora, and have a dance party. The kids love it. And we all get a great workout! Plus it’s lots of fun with the family.

Any more ideas for getting healthy with fitness that you could share?

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links – meaning if you purchase the deal from the links provided Cumming Local will receive a small percentage of the sale. Cumming Local is thankful for all our sponsors and affiliates as it allows us to keep this site up to date & active!

Tools for 2018 – Getting Healthy with Meals

healthy with meals

Tools for 2018 – Getting Healthy with Meals

Do you know what the top New Year’s resolution is? Drumroll please . . . it’s to get healthy! Everyone needs to change their habits and get healthy in some way. This week we are discussing getting healthy with meals.

If you’d like to review the other weeks in the Tools for 2018, click here: Week Two: Getting Healthy with Fitness, Week Three: Finances, Week Four, Relax (Please note – these links will be added in once they are available)

Here are some examples in no particular order:

  • Quit drinking soda

Recently I read an article that said if you give up drinking soda that you could lose up to 15 lbs in a year. Isn’t that crazy!? Now, I love me some diet coke. But the sugary carbonated drink is just not good for me. I gave it up a few years ago. I still remember that the withdrawals stops after day 14. And I’ve been better since I gave it up. Now I can just have it for a treat every so often.

  • Count your calories

This seems like such a simple thing. But once you start counting calories you become way more aware of how many calories you were eating. There are plenty of apps out there that you can use on your smart phone. I like My Fitness Pal.

  • Portion control

It’s all about portion control. Here in America we all over-eat! A few years ago, I began portioning out our meals. You get what’s on your plate but nothing more. That has helped to keep us healthy. And now when we go out to eat, I typically get a to-go box before I even start eating.

  • Take a Whole30 challenge

This is big in the CrossFit world. But it’s actually a great concept. It has you cut out sugar, dairy, gluten, legumes, and grains for 30 days. Basically you are eating fruits, vegetables, and meat.  If the thought of planning those 30 days is overwhelming to you. Don’t let it be! Here is a link to blog called Eat at Home. She has a list of 31 meals that you could eat on the challenge. She also offers several type of meal plans. You can check those out by clicking here. 

And until January 11th, you can get 30% off the meal plan subscriptions. They just added a new No Flour/No Sugar meal plan, so you get access to FOUR meal plans every week (Traditional, Whole Foods, Slow Cooker, and No Flour/No Sugar).

Dream Dinners offers different type of meal plans. All of the meals show the nutrition information. So pick some with lower calories and make sure your portion it out!  This will take the trouble of you trying to figure out what to eat away and provide you with some delicious and healthy meals! Click here to find out more.

  • Eat MORE salads!

Circle A Lettuce is a local farm growing delicious hydroponic lettuce greens. Their Greenhouse is located just 5 minutes from downtown Cumming. To pick up their lettuce greens, you can either go by the Greenhouse or if you are in their delivery zones they will deliver right to your porch!

Click here to find out more about the Circle A Lettuce Greenhouse.

Click here to find out more about their Delivery program. 

  • Try out a NEW healthy recipe

I have been dairy and gluten free since the beginning of 2017. Let me tell you that I feel so good! I have also been limiting sugars and grains. I like to say that I’m basically Paleoish. I eat mostly paleo but I treat myself to gluten free bread every once in a while.

Here are a few recipes that I’ve put together: 

Blueberry Crisp | Breakfast Casserole | Zuppa Toscana (Potato Soup with Kale)

Any more ideas for getting healthy with meals that you could share?

Winter Music Lessons with Music Authority

Try Something Different This Winter: Learn To Play An Instrument

Did you know that research has shown that both listening to music and playing a musical instrument stimulate your brain and can increase your memory? If you are looking for something different for your child or yourself this winter – why not check out the winter music lessons at Music Authority.

Music Authority offers lessons on many different instruments and to students of all ages.  From the future Rock Star, just starting guitar at the age of seven, to the adult who always wanted to learn piano but never had the chance – they have the teacher just for you!  Their instructors are fun, engaging, and professional educators.

Pricing & Special Offer

Private lessons and classes are $105 per month.  If you mention this article you will receive $15 off your first month’s tuition.

Benefits of Music Lessons

  1. Physical Skill Development: There are a few instruments like drums, that help to progress coordination and motor skills because they requirement movement from your hands, feet & arms. Some other instruments can help develop ambidexterity. And hey, who wouldn’t just love to have that skill?!
  2. Academic Improvements: When you understand beat, scales & rhythm you are learning to divide, recognize patterns & create fractions. As you can see – math and music go together. As time goes by, memorization takes place in the form of short-term and eventually long-term memory.
  3. Discipline and Patience Refining: A great lesson for children to learn is delayed gratification. Many instruments will have a learning curve to start playing them. Leaning to play an instrument also teaches perseverance as you wade through hours, days, weeks, etc of practicing to be made perfect.
  4. Self-Esteem Booster: Learning how to take criticism is an important life skill. In the end, it does make you better to turn negative into positive feedback. Also, learning how to play an instrument publicly will aid in confidence to do public speaking.
  5. Aids in Social Skill Development: Communication, teamwork, collaboration are all experiences that will take place in a group lesson format. These social skills are imperative for a child to learn. And what better a place to learn these social skills than to be learning how to play an instrument as well.

Don’t take it just from us, take a moment to read Jackson’s story of how music changed him for the better in this article –  Music Makes A Difference.

Learn more about Music Authority:

MusicAuthority-LogoMusic Authority is a single location music store and music school in Cumming, Georgia, just north of Atlanta. It sees 500 students each week and contracts with almost twenty instructors.

Aside from private lessons, Music Authority offers two Rock Camps, two Showcase Bands, two large Rock-Style concerts, a String Ensemble, a Jazz Ensemble, an adult Choir, a Teens-Only New Year’s Eve Concert, and monthly Student Jam Nights, Open Mic Nights, and Adult Jams. In August Music Authority will be open its own intimate fifty-seat performance venue.

On any given weekend Music Authority alumni can be seen playing music in small and large venues from Savannah to Los Angeles. Since 2002 Music Authority has touched the lives of thousands of students, the young and shall we say the young at heart.

Connect with Music Authority online: Facebook | Website

Overcoming Four Things People Dread About Weeknight Dinner

Weeknight Dinner

Overcoming Four Things People Dread About Weeknight Dinner

When you look back over the year, how do you feel your meal times went? I think every year we can improve. Meal times are super important for your family’s growth. It’s a perfect time to connect as a family. During our dinners, we use the time to share highs and lows with one another.  The questions in this book always make for good conversation as well.

I am thrilled to introduce my friend and fellow blogger, Tiffany from Eat at Home. On her website she shares meal plans, tips, and lots of great recipes to incorporate at your home. Her goal is to get more families around the dinner table. For the next few weeks, she will be sharing some tips and giving away some free downloads. Today, I am sharing week one…

Week One

In this video update, Tiffany has shared some simple solutions and strategies for cooking, clean-up & compiling family members. To watch week one’s video, click here.

Weeknight Dinner

Also, I have an announcement about Eat at Home for 2018…

NEW FROM EAT AT HOME: A No Flour/No Sugar plan will be available in 2018. No Flour/No Sugar plan will have five meals each week, plus one “salad of the week” that can be used as lunches, side dishes or an extra dinner.

Get a head start by downloading these snack ideas: 85 Simple No Flour/No Sugar snack ideas.

I’ve already downloaded my copy of the snacks and I am LOVING it! It’s helpful to have a handy list as my guide. Next week, I will have another free download from Eat at Home! But for now, make sure you keep an eye out for the next blog. It will include a video titled “Four Types of Recipes to Master for Easy Weeknight Dinners” plus a free download – “Let’s Eat: 8 Simple Dinner Recipes.”

Clifford The Big Red Dog Helps Families Kick Off Reading Resolutions

Clifford The Big Red Dog Helps Families Kick Off Reading Resolutions

It’s that time of year when nearly everyone is thinking about making a new year’s resolution. For parents and families resolving to spend more quality time with their young children, Forsyth County Public Library has a bit of advice: read.

“Not only is reading aloud with children a wonderful way to snuggle up and share a good story, but it’s also one of the best ways to prepare a young child for learning to read when they enter kindergarten,” says Outreach and Program Manager Tracy Walker.

In addition to encouraging families to make a resolution to read in 2018, the library will host a series of three early literacy events featuring beloved children’s book character Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Clifford will visit special 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten storytimes on Tuesday, January 2 at 11:15 a.m. at the Post Road Library, on Wednesday, January 3 at 10:30 a.m. at the Cumming Library, and Thursday, January 4 at 11:15 a.m. at the Hampton Park Library.

All three events are free and are designed for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers up to age five, with a caregiver.

“Each of these 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten storytimes will feature Clifford stories, songs, and crafts, as well as a chance for the children to meet Clifford. We believe that learning begins at home, so we’ll also be sharing practical reading tips that families can incorporate into everyday activities they’re already doing,” explains Walker.