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Seven days of Spring Break on a budget  

Spring Break

By Jessica Horton, Copywriter

Believe it or not, Spring Break is upon us. And while jetting off to an exotic location to bask in the sun’s warm rays as the kids frolic in the clear water may sound like the ideal way to spend those precious seven days, your Spring Break is probably more likely to involve jetting around the house after your dog as he frolics in the clean laundry while the kids bask in the blue rays emitting from the TV screen.

Just because you don't have the budget for a tropical getaway doesn’t mean you resign yourself to seven days of boredom. With a little creativity you can create a fun-filled – budget-friendly – week of activities that even the whole family will enjoy.

Day one: Take a tour of your town. Hit all of the tourist hot spots in your city. Experiencing your city from a different perspective may just give you a new appreciation for the place you live. If you aren’t sure what kind of touristy goodness your area serves up, contact your local chamber of commerce, visit your city’s website, or just browse the pamphlets at the nearest tourist center.

Day two: Go Grouponing. Websites such as Groupon and Living Social can be a great resource if you’re looking for great deals on local activities. For example, one of my local Groupon deals today is a “family-fun outing” to a local petting zoo – and it includes cones of feed for the animals and beverages for the humans – all for just $10. And thanks to Groupon’s new “Now! Deals,” you can find deals to purchase in your city that are only good for that day, which is convenient if you need a little inspiration for your outing.

Day three: Go camping – even if it’s in your own backyard. Pack up the car and head to the nearest state park for some all-natural fun. Do all of the classics – take a hike, cook some S’mores, tell some ghost stories, go star-gazing – you know the drill. And if you don’t have a park nearby, utilize your own backyard. It may not be the wilderness, but your kids will still enjoy the novelty of doing something different. Either way, you don’t have to forego the S'mores!

Day four: Pamper yourself with an at-home spa day. This activity is a lot of fun – especially for the females in your household. You can make homemade facial scrubs and peels, give each other (or yourself!) a manicure and pedicure and just spend the day relaxing and unwinding. Even a vacation (or in this case, a staycation) can be exhausting, so take a break – you deserve it!

Day five: Do something to give back. Donate a day to the city you’ve spent the week enjoying. Volunteer at a local animal shelter or soup kitchen. There are always organizations looking for helping hands, and they would be grateful for your time and talents. Even something as simple as visiting a nursing home can be very rewarding – for your family and the residents alike.

Day six: Get crafty with Pinterest. Pinterest is all the rage these days – and for good reason. This unique site is, for all intent and purposes, a virtual pinboard that allows you to organize and share all of the random, cool things you find on the Web. It's a great place to discover new recipes and Do-It-Yourself activities that you and your kids would enjoy. Follow MMI's Pinterest boards for great ideas to get you started! 

Day seven: Stay in and spend quality time together. Use this day to reflect on all of the fun things you did during the week. Share the activity you enjoyed the most. Most importantly, get some sleep – the vacation is over!

The most important things to remember is that it doesn't take a lot of money to make valuable family memories. With a little creativity you can create moments you'll cherish for a lifetime.

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Free eBook offers budget-friendly meal ideas

Try out some of these family-friendly recipes this Spring Break!    

MMI's Cheap Eats eBook is a great resources for more than just saving money on meals. You can also find some fun tips for throwing frugal parties. Just in time for Spring Break!

Cheap Eats 


Download the free Cheap Eats eBook 


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Tax-time tips to lower
your audit risk

Take steps to avoid these
common triggers

Tax season can be stressful for many Americans. And recent reports show that a key stressor is the fear of being audited by the Internal Revenue Service.

According to a TurboTax study, one of the top three concerns or fears of taxpayers is an audit. While in reality only 1 percent of returns are audited – and of those, about 20 percent result in a face-to-face encounter with the IRS – it’s still important to be aware of the types of claims that could cause your return to be flagged.

Common audit triggers include:

  • Claiming losses: For businesses, claiming anywhere from a $5,000 to a $10,000 loss can be a red flag. Claiming rental losses can also be a red flag for the IRS.
  • Claiming uncommon deductions: Red flags can occur if deductions are unusually high, or are somehow related to home office expenses. This is because some taxpayers have historically attempted to deduct non-business expenses (like home telephone service, living room or bedroom space, etc.) for tax purposes.
  • Large charitable contributions: Documentation requirements for charitable contributions have become more stringent.
  • Cash Businesses: The IRS knows that businesses dealing primarily in cash transactions (such as taxi driving and hair salons) can easily conceal income. Therefore, the IRS has created a new guide to cash-intensive businesses for its agents. As a result, meticulous documentation and reporting is advised.

If you do happen to get audited, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t panic. If you feel as though you need assistance, you should seek out a qualified tax professional who can guide you through the process.

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Update your account balances online. When you receive your monthly statement from your creditors, login to your MMI account and update your balances. It is important that we have the most accurate balance information possible on file. 

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About Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling, and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan, and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
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