Creative Ways to Save for Vacation

After posing a question to our Facebook friends if they preferred SNOW or SUN, we had an overwhelming response of straight up – B E A C H!  I guess the mountain folk have spoken… we love the ocean and sunshine!  Are you dreaming of your next (or first) trip to the surf and sun?  Check out these tips to help you achieve that goal!

beach-healing.jpg1. Open a Dedicated Savings Account

Ready, set, GO! If you are serious about planning that dream trip than put your money where you mouth is…  It’s much easier to achieve your  travel goals if you do it directly and methodically, rather than out of whatever is in your bank account when your travel date comes around.  Open a dedicated savings account.  This keeps you from mingling your regular accounts with your “trip money,” guaranteeing that the money you set aside for the trip is the money you actually spend. Using a single, dedicated account will also help you keep on budget during your trip, as the easiest way to know how much you are spending is to track the balance of your dedicated travel account. You can keep an eye on your balance as your trip progresses, and track the true cost of your trip without too much effort.

2. Set Up Automatic Transfers

Once you have a dedicated travel savings account set up, you have to fund it. Consider setting up an automatic transfer at a regular interval to do it for you. This is easy to set up and can really add up over time. A transfer of $20/week ($2.86/day) adds up to nearly $1040 by the end of a year. Look into package deals, and you can sometimes take a whole vacation for not much more than that. If you’ve set up a recurring direct deposit for your paycheck, often you can work with your employer to have your deposits split among multiple accounts.

3. The Trusty Change Jar

We’ve all seen “the change jar”  – either our parents had one when we were kids or we already have one of our own.  It’s pretty much the grown up piggy bank.  When I was a kid my parents would save change for the whole year until it was vacation time. You can accumulate a lot more than you think by this old school trick.  It only takes $1.37/day to end up saving $500 in a year. If you empty your pockets/purse everyday into the grown up piggy bank, the silver adds up fast.

4. GET RID OF IT…Directly into a Travel Fund

Sometimes we need motivation to have that garage sale, ebay those items etc. Everyone has these items sitting around and they just need the motivation to get it done.  How about jumping on that task and then putting all the proceeds directly into your travel account?

EASY, TANGIBLE WAYS TO SAVE….

5. Cut the coffee – Love your Starbucks? Well, Starbucks loves your money. Coffee is a daily expense that quietly drains your bank account without you ever noticing. The daily $5 coffee costs you $150 per month. That’s $1,800 per year! What’s more important: your daily cup of joe or spending more time on the beaches? Give up the brew drive-through on a daily basis and picture yourself living the good life on the beach for a week.

6. Get your cook on! – We all like to go out to a restaurant, but you can save so much money by cutting your eating out down to two times per week. Plan your meals in advance to make grocery shopping quick and easy and then you can also take the leftovers from dinner for lunch the next day, saving even more. Cooking can also be a lot of fun.  If you have children, you can get them involved and make memories.  Need a change up for date night? Cook a fun and creative meal at home together!

7. Get a new credit card – A travel credit card can give you free money, free rooms, or free flights. After accruing miles and rewards points with your card on everyday purchases, you can redeem them for free travel on your trip. Travel credit cards are a big weapon in a traveler’s arsenal. Most times you’ll even earn huge sign-up bonus when you get a new card. When used properly, these cards generate free money. Start early. As soon as you decide to travel the world, get a travel-related credit card and begin earning points on your daily purchases.

beach-wallpaper-4.jpgWant more great tips? Check out this great article by travelandleisure.com

Take a Hike – Friday FAVORITES

As the weather gets warmer, Grand Valley residents and visitors take to the hills and we can’t blame them.  Here are our 3 top favorite Grand Valley Hikes!  Let us know your favorite trails to adventure and watch for them to possibly featured this spring!

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  1.  Mount Garfield – We’re starting off with the best in our opinion! If you have not hiked Mt. Garfield yet, you need to wait for a warm day and do it!  It’s a challenging hike for sure, with a very steep incline at the start.  This hike is VERY challenging and VERY rewarding! The view is most definitely your reward for the miles you climb.  And don’t forget to watch for the wild mustangs.   3.6 miles, located near Palisade. 

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    Mount Garfield
  2. Devils Kitchen –   This trailhead is easily accessible from the Colorado National Monuments west entrance and full of beautiful scenery. Within the tall rocks is a “natural rock room” where you can stand surrounded. It’s quite an experience. And there are always the infamous LEMON SQUEEZERS close by if you dare.  1.2 miles, South End of the Colorado National Monument

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    Devils Kitchen
  3. Liberty Cap – Liberty Cap is a 160 million year old remnant sand dune that is slowly succumbing to the forces of nature. It’s only about 50 feet high and only one of seemingly countless rock outcrops in the monument. It’s prominently visible from many points in the area and it is one of the many formations that drew the attention of John Otto, who led the way to make the area a National Park. Even still, it bears his mark. 4 miles, Wildwood Trailhead

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    Liberty Cap

Merry Little Traditions

Christmas week is finally here!  There are people that look forward to it all year long and others that feel like they “just can’t believe it’s already here”.  Whichever one you happen to be, you cannot deny the magic that comes during this week.  One of the best parts of the holidays are traditions.  Does your family have special things they do each year?  Here’s a few from our team… I wonder if you can guess who’s traditions is who’s.

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  1. Christmas Eve Jammie Movie Night – Every year we open one present on Christmas Eve and it’s Christmas jammies. We choose a favorite Christmas movie, make hot cocoa, chocolate drizzled popcorn and snuggle up and drink in the magic. We end the night with kids in sleeping bags next to the Christmas tree.
  2. The Christmas pickle – Ever since the kids were little we have done The Christmas Pickle.  A decoration in the shape of a pickle is hidden on a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning the kids crowd around the tree to see who can find it first. The finder gets a special Christmas gift!
  3.  Jesus Birthday Cake – We love to take time to each year to put the focus on what we feel is the most important part of the holiday – JESUS.  On Christmas Eve we take time to bake a birthday cake for JESUS and talk about the story of His birth. We bake a white cake and ice it white as well to symbolize us being as white as snow thanks to his gift to us.  Best gift ever!
  4. Secret Santa Jammie Exchange – On Thanksgiving we take turns drawing names from a hat with our entire family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins etc) to buy Christmas jammies and then we all exchange on Christmas Eve.  It’s so fun to see all the different jammies that everyone picks out for each other!

So who do you think each tradition belongs to?

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Not your average cocoa

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The cold weather has arrived on the WEST SLOPE!  Ready or not it’s here and with it comes yummy treats and fun family traditions.  We’ll visit on family traditions soon but let’s chat about one of my favorite treats today – HOT COCOA!

Now there is nothing wrong with a little Swiss Miss but why stop with that when you can make something super delicious that your family and friends will remember and crave each year as the weather picks up a chill. Here’s a few fun recipes you can give a try.  Don’t forget to submit to us your own favorite recipe by either commenting below or emailing us at info@mavesgroup.com

WHITE HOT COCOA

Ingredients:

4 cups milk of choice (You can substitute half and half, heavy cream, or a mixture.)
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz. white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
Whipped Cream or marshmallows for topping
  1. Stir together milk, chocolate and vanilla in small saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the white hot chocolate comes to a simmer. (Do not let it come to a boil.)
  3. Remove from heat and serve immediately, topped with whipped cream or marshmallows if desired.

PEPPERMINT HOT COCOA

Ingredients:

4 cups milk
4 candy canes, crushed
3 oz. dark chocolate (or 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips)

Optional:

  • 4 candy canes to use as stir sticks
  • whipped cream
  • crushed candy cane for garnish
  1. Add milk, crushed candy canes, and chocolate to a medium sauce pan.
  2. Cook over a medium flame, whisking occasionally as the candy canes and chocolate melt.
  3. As the candy and chocolate melt, whisk more vigorously to incorporate ingredients.
  4. Do not let the milk boil as that will cause it to form a skin.
  5. Divide the hot cocoa between 4 cups; top with whipped cream and crushed candy canes. Add a candy cane stirring stick.

MEXICAN SPICED HOT COCOA

Ingredients:
4 cups whole milk1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups whole milk
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup sugar1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
  1. Place 1 cup of milk to a medium saucepan.
  2. Cook over a medium flame until the milk just begins to simmer
  3. Add cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon and cayenne powder to the milk.
  4. Whisk until cocoa, sugar, spices and milk are thoroughly combined.
  5. Slowly add remaining 3 cups of milk, whisking to combine.
  6. Cook over a low flame until the hot cocoa is warmed through.
  7. Server immediately.

DAIRY FREE HOT COCOA

Ingredients:
4 cups Silk Cashew milk
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces

1 tablespoon sugar1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Add Silk Cashew milk and chocolate to a medium sauce pan.
  2. Cook over a medium flame, whisking occasionally as the chocolate melts.
  3. As the chocolate melts, whisk more vigorously to incorporate ingredients.
  4. Do not let the milk boil as that will cause it to form a skin.
  5. Divide the hot cocoa between 4 cups; top with dairy-free whipped cream and chocolate pieces

CROCKPOT NUTELLA HOT COCOA

Ingredients:
5 cups Milk
½ cup Hershey’s Cocoa
½ cup Nutella
½ cup White Sugar

1 cup Hot Water

  1. Combine Cocoa, Sugar, Nutella, and Hot Water in large pan. Stir, and bring to gentle boil.
  2. Transfer mixture to Crockpot, add Milk, and Stir well.
  3. Cook on HIGH for 2 hours or LOW for 4 hours, or until hot.
  4. Pour into mugs or Mason Jar Mugs, then top with Whip Cream and Sprinkles! ENJOY!!
Recipe can be doubled for a larger batch.
If serving at a party, let simmer on LOW for a delicious holiday or party drink!

CROCKPOT NUTELLA HOT COCOA

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
2 teaspoons Truvia sweetener (more if you want it sweeter)
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (orange extract can be used for even more flavor)
Whipped cream or marshmallows, for topping
Add all ingredients except the whipped cream into your Vitamix blender. If you have a Vitamix Blender that has a hot soup preset option set it and forget it! (Well, don’t forget it…drink it after it’s done) After your hot chocolate is finished pour it into a mug, top with whipped cream or marshmallows. If your Vitamix does not have a preset option simple blend on high until hot. This will take about 4 minutes.

* If you don’t have a Vitamix (or Blendtec) you could simply add all ingredients (except marshmallows and whipped cream) to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until fully melted and combined.

FRIDAY FAVORITES

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Well HELLO Friday! You may just be our favorite day of the week.  This edition of Friday Favorites is focusing on 4 of our favorite iPhone Apps. Let us know what you think of these great apps and what your favorites are as well!

JIB JAB

You may remember JIB JAB from years ago when they began the craze of dancing elves across the internet where you could feature you and your your friends dancing your cutest Christmas elf dance ever.  Well now JIB JAB has stepped it up and have made it to where you can snap a selfie or add a friend’s face without leaving iMessage. Not only that, the themes are outrageously fun.  Take a look at the girls getting their “all the single ladies” on! I think we need to frame this one!

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ANANDA –

This is hands down the best and most useful app we have found in years!  Ananda helps you sleep,  focus and relax with progressive binaural tones and high quality peaceful sounds.  This is for all you insomniacs out there or for those who would just like a more quality nights sleep.  We were skeptical but when a local medical professional recommended it, we decided to give it a go and have been using it ever since.  The initial download is free but you will want to upgrade for $2.99 to unlock the full version and really take advantage of it’s great benefits.  You can chose from things like…

  • Restorative Sleep
  • Relaxation
  • Lucid Dreaming
  • Focus and Concentration
  • Energize
  • Power Nap and more!

 

SWORKIT – 

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AS SEEN ON SHARK TANK!

Sworkit is your own personal trainer at your finger tips. No longer can we use the excuse that we don’t have time for the gym. You don’t need a gym!

Simply select the part of your body you want to work out by choosing from over 20 pre-built workouts, or create your own workout.
– Choose from strength, cardio, yoga or stretching.
– Select any time from 5 to 60 minutes.

FREE and PREMIUM versions available.

 

DARK SKY – iphone_hyperlocal

Dark Sky, the perfect app for the WestSlope where we know the weather is always subject to change in a blink.  What do they say?  “Don’t like the weather in Colorado? Wait a minute!”

Dark Sky can tell you at a glance exactly when it will rain (or snow) up to an hour in advance, so you’re free to walk the dog or run out to lunch and know you’ll stay dry. You can also explore the most beautiful weather animation you’ve ever seen, both forward in time or back.

So for all of us that are outdoor adventurers we can keep an eye out to make sure we have the best weather possible and keep adventuring!

What are people saying about this app?

  •  Best Watch App –Apple
  • “Visually Stunning Weather App” – New York Times
  • “Scarily accurate predictions.” – The Verge
  • “A slick app.” – The Wall Street Journal

 

Friday Favorites

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Happy Friday! Today for our Friday Favorites edition we want to focus on some of our favorite Colorado towns to adventure in and through during these cooler autumn months.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – There are many lovely things about Glenwood Spring’s but the newest hot spot is the Iron Mountain Hot Springs.  It offers 16 soaking pools and a freshwater family pool with a jetted spa. The Iron Mountain Springs are located alongside the Colorado River with Rocky Mountain views that soothe and inspire. What a great time to take a dip these beautiful hot springs with the cool crisp air around you while you soak in the warm bath temp waters.

OURAY – The Switzerland of America! The first time I visited Colorado I begged my parents to move to this quaint, picturesque town because it was borderline enchanting.  As an adult I still feel the same way.  Not only is Ouray visually captivating but has so much adventure in such a tiny space. Here’s a few things you can do this fall/winter season.

  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Jeep Tours
  • Ice Climing
  • Ice Skating
  • Soak in the hot springs (currently under renovation)
  • Cross Country Ski
  • Snowmobile
  • SnowShoe
  • Shop
  • Visit a ghost town
  • Box Canyon Falls
  • Hot air ballooning
  • and more!

Are you as mesmerized by this little Colorado hotspot?

INDEPENDENCE PASS– Make plans quickly to drive over the nationally known Independence Pass because it usually closes due to weather November 1st. The Pass is part of Colorado State Highway 82 and passes over the Continental Divide between Leadville and Aspen. In addition to being a scenic byway, Independence Pass is a favorite recreation location during the summer months, for those visitors willing to travel just east of Aspen. This scenic mountain pass is the highest paved pass in Colorado!

 

Make sure to share with us some of your favorite Colorado cool weather adventures so we can add them to our list of great places to see!