JoAnn Asselin | Westfield Real Estate, Agawam Real Estate, West Springfield Real Estate


You may be someone that just loves planning, shopping, and cooking for your family. You have the tried and true recipes that dazzle your family all tucked up in your head. When you enter the grocery store, you have a regular route as you gather all the ingredients needed to create your family's favorite meals. You can stealthily take advantage of the weekly sales and layer on the coupons for incredible discounts. However, if you struggle with cooking meals that your family considers edible, then maybe you will appreciate a little direction.

What is on the Menu?

Most people shop for groceries right around their payday. So you arrive at a well-stocked store, since the grocer knows your shopping habits, now what? Where to start? Honestly, you need to rewind a bit and start about a day or two in the past. Schedule yourself a planning time either by yourself or with the whole family. You can take this time to decide what dishes you and everyone else would like to have served. Like most families, you will have your tried-and-true meals that have a heavier rotation on a meal plan schedule. Once you have a list of meals for a predetermined time-frame, you can now build a grocery list. Before you hop in the car and zoom off to conquer that list, you may want to check your current supply. Have your family help with this. You can make it into a sort of scavenger hunt. Once you have taken a quick inventory, you can clearly see what you need to purchase.

Search for the Sales

Now, if you have a favorite grocery store and there is nowhere else you would shop, then go for it. However, if you don't mind making a few stops, you can peruse the weekly circulars and see which grocers have competitive prices on the items you need to buy. Here is where you can spot any huge money-saving deals and perhaps adjust a meal or two to take advantage of a reduced price. Alternatively, if you have a freezer large enough to hold some extra items or a deep freezer you can easily stock up when the sales are on. Now you are ready to fill up that cart with what you need to make those completed meals without all the anxiety.

Try making a list of five to eight of your family's favorite meals, including all the ingredients for each and keep this list as your starting point for future meal planning sessions.


Thrift stores, consignment shops, or otherwise know as second-hand shopping hold hidden treasures that you can comb through. Everything from limited editions to designer brands or that one item that reminds you of visiting your grandparents' house. When your kids are growing out of clothes every time you turn around thrift stores can be an excellent resource. If you are a collector of any kind, the second-hand stores can be a treasure trove of items. Finding those items that you may only need for a limited time and don't want to invest a lot of money into is where the resale store really helps out. 

Frugal Fashion 

Many resale shops carry a variety of clothing, shoes, and accessories that can clothe everyone no matter what age or size. If you have a person in your family who prefers name brands and gently used items, many consignment stores will have options for them. You can find today's fashions in not only clothing but footwear, wallets, belts, and purses. Think about not only shopping but taking your gently used items and cosign them for either cash or store credit. Store credit you can use to make your dollar stretch even further.

Collecting Treasure on a Dime

As a hobby collecting can be a costly pastime. When you shop in resale stores, your dollar can go further. Places like pawn shops can inventory some high-quality collectibles for a bargain. Investing the time to go into a second-hand location and work your way through the sometimes-disorganized store can pay off in found treasures. You could parlay this type of treasure hunting into an online second-hand store for yourself. 

Keep the Start-Up Costs Down

Using the thrift store as an affordable entry point for purchasing equipment to try a new activity. For example, your kid comes home and announces a new-found interest in learning to snow ski. You can fully equip them without breaking the bank with a little research and a good second-hand store. Whether they take a shining to the sport you or change their mind the next month, you are set. What about taking up a new instrument? Often you can buy from a second-hand store and have the item tuned or repaired for less than a new one. 

Finally, should you live in a climate that doesn't get too cold during the winter but need to have a one or two items on hand just in case, you can get snow boots and winter gear for a bargain. The local thrift store is an excellent resource for almost anything you need or want.


Children are adorable creatures, but sometimes they may make you hit the ceiling. Like when? Well, like when they use a crayon to draw caricatures of Sponge Bob on your wall. In such situations, it's important to keep a cool head. There is no need for yelling or spanking anyone; there are ways to remove crayons from walls easily. Before you use any method on this post, make sure your test is on a small area of the wall to make sure it won't spoil your wall or paint. Here are a few of them: 

Toothpaste 

Wait a minute... toothpaste? Yes, you read it correctly, toothpaste is not only for cleaning teeth or clearing acne. Toothpaste can be used to wipe away crayon marks from your wall. All you need to do is to squirt a non-gel toothpaste onto the wall and scrub it off with a brush. Wondering how this works? Well, toothpaste contains abrasives that will tackle the crayon marks as you scrub with the brush. This method is rigorous but effective if you don’t mind scrubbing.

Baking Soda 

Yes, the good old baking soda can get rid of the alphabets your kids wrote with crayon on your wall. For this procedure, get a damp cloth, dip it into a small amount of baking soda. Next, use the dampened washcloth to scrub the crayon marks on the wall gently. This method is effective and doesn't require too much scrubbing. 

WD-40 

This method works like magic. All you need is to get a can of WD-40, shake it properly and spray it on to the crayon doodles and leave it for some few minutes, preferably 5-7 minutes. Next, grab a clean rag and gently wipe off WD-40 off your wall and the crayon marks will wipe away with it.

Vinegar 

Vinegar is not only useful for cleaning the toilet, But It also works wonders too in removing crayon marks from walls. Get a toothbrush, dip it in vinegar and gently scrub off the crayon marks and wipe it clean with a microfiber cloth.

Water and Soap Combo 

This method is simple and effective. You'll need is a sponge and a bowl of hot water mixed with liquid. Plunge the sponge into the mixture and scrub off the crayon marks with it. So, if you have children who use your wall as their coloring book, no need to fret, just apply any of these methods.


Children. You love them with all your being. But the mess they can make of the house? Not so much. Keep reading for four tips on how to keep your home clean despite your children’s best efforts. You might even be able to get them to join in on the fun! 

1. Cleanup after playtime. Build the habit of cleaning up one set of toys before moving on to the next, this not only keeps the floor from becoming littered in toys but also makes cleaning up more manageable for little ones. A large mess can easily overwhelm small children and by cleaning up along the way you make the task easier for them to participate in.

2. Have an organizational system for corralling toys that works for you and more importantly your children. Make cleanup easy by storing toys in bins and baskets that toys can easily be tossed into. Cleanup is made even easier when you give everything a designated place so there isn’t a chance for toys to end up in organizational limbo. Do a walk through of the house sweep once little ones are in bed to ensure everything has been put in its place.

3. The easiest way to keep things clean is to minimize the amount of stuff you and your children own. Of course, this is harder to implement with little ones but regular clean outs of toys helps to balance the influx of toys that come during holidays and birthdays. Include kiddos in on the process to pick out their favorites and get them excited to donate toys to other children. You can put some toys in storage and swap them out regularly throughout the year to minimize the amount kept in the home and reignite your child’s interest in them as well.

4. Create regular routines around the house to instill clean up habits in your child early on. Create designated areas around the house for play time, quiet time or even homework. This helps children adjust to focus on the task at hand as well as prevent toys from ending up all over the house. By keeping a routine time of day to do a  household chore you’ll also teach little ones the importance of having work ethic around the home. You can even involve curious kiddos in the chore by buying them a child-sized broom or vacuum to “help”. 

Keeping a tidy home with little ones in the house isn’t the easiest of tasks. But by minimizing the amount of stuff you own and instilling a regular clean up habits you can keep on top of messes. You can even create some fond memories and bonding time with your child by including them in on the fun. Happy cleaning!