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By Dave Wolf on Feb 18 2015, 5:34 PM
Have you ever wondered how artists like Avicii, DeadMau5, Afrojack and Martin Garrix make their hits?  Well they use a very simple and cost effective program called FL Studio which is also known as Fruity Loops Studio.  It's probably the most popular music production software in the world.  It's very easy to pickup since it's relatively cheap and there are a countless array of free tutorials online.  It's also professional software that you can actually use to make the next big hit.  Don't believe me, here is a video of how Martin Garrix created his mega hit "Animals" with FL Studio. 

The only downside of the program is that it only works with Windows but you can get the mobile version in both IOS and Android.  You can download a full demo version of FL Studio here. It will allow you to do everything with the program and get a feel for it but you have to buy the software to open saved files.  Once you're ready to buy I recommend getting the "Signature Bundle" which will give you a few nice plugins and free updates for life for about $300.  Use the discount code BDBDEFIB546 to get at least 10% off.  

You might be tempted to download a torrent of FL Studio.
By Dave Wolf on Apr 20 2014, 4:01 PM

Have you ever been in the situation for business or pleasure where you took a trip last minute?  I would think most of us have and let's face it, it could be a pain in the ass to find a good hotel room that's available at a decent price.  

I could remember a few years back where I booked a hotel through Orbitz.com in Miami only to get to the hotel and find out that the hotel was over booked.  I was stuck, I needed a hotel fast and I knew I was going to lose out on the discounts from booking early in a package.  The Hotel Tonight app for IOS and Android would of worked out perfectly in this situation because I could of just looked at what was available in seconds and at a great discount.

The name "Hotel Tonight" implies that you have to get the hotel on the night that you're staying.  That used to be true but now you can book about a week in advance.  If you love to save money, like to take chances and aren't set on a specific hotel then this app is perfect for you.  

If you sign up with the invite code "DWOLF53" you will get a $25 discount for your first hotel purchase.
By Melissa Bailey on Apr 1 2014, 9:02 AM
So often when you plan your vacation it's not the hotel or airplane tickets that can break the budget - it's the activities once you arrive! To give you an idea of some going ticket prices to some of the country's most popular destinations, let's take a look at 2014 Prices:

1 - Day Ticket To Disney World, $99
1 - Day Ticket To Disney Land, $92
1 - Day Ticket To Universal Studios Florida, $96
1 - Day Ticket To Sea World, $50.00

As you can imagine, with a family of 4, doing some of the more popular vacation destinations across the country can get incredibly costly very quickly! Here are a few helpful ways you can save on vacation and still have a great time:

1. Shop Daily Deal Sites
Just about every Daily Deal Site has an "Events and Activities" category (or the equivalent) where they post special ticket prices to shows and events. Why pay $30 to Whale Watch off the Pacific coast when you can pay $15? These sites are a great way to save money and enjoy some wonderful family activities. Be sure and check local and nearby cities when searching around your destination and you should find some great deals.

2. Look For Discount Codes
All of the major amusement parks offer discounts for some national corporations. For example, Southwest Airlines employees get reduced rates at Disney and if any member of your family is an active member of the military, discounts should be easy to find! Even though booking online can be convenient, when it comes to tickets, the best way to get these discounts is to call.
By Melissa Bailey on Mar 14 2014, 12:54 AM
Most often a budget is not blown from big purchases, but rather it's the small items that we spend money on that can add up. From time to time my husband and I take a look at our budget to make sure little spendings here and there have not created big holes. With the promise of Spring on the horizon, we decided to take the leap and make sure our budget was right on track.

Here are a few little things that might be costing you (and me) BIG money:

1. Work lunches & coffee
I understand what it's like to work in an office. It's easy to oversleep, stumble out of bed and head to the office without taking the time to brew coffee and pack a lunch. For many families (ours included) an incredible amount of money is spent on unexpected expenses throughout the work week. Whether it's a $2 cup of coffee at the local cafe or a $6 lunch at your favorite taco place, such spending can add up quickly.

A great way to decrease work related expenses is to set a spending budget and carry that money around in cash. You will be more conscious of what you are spending as you slowly see the wad of cash deplete.

2. Eating out and pizza delivery
Life moves at such a fast pace! If we're not careful, weeks come and go and grocery trips are sporadic and ill-planned, leaving our family with few options when it comes to dinner: eating out or ordering pizza. I realize that schedules are busy. We get off work and are too exhausted to cook dinner.
By Melissa Bailey on Feb 23 2014, 8:17 PM
It seems as if I blinked and my son is turning five years old! This is the first year that we're going all out and hosting a party with 11 other kids coming ready party it up Angry Birds style! Like all things in life, we have set a budget and are trying are best to stick to that budget. Here are my thoughts on how to have a great party for your kids on a budget, without sacrificing any of the fun and festivities!

1. View the party as a gift
Growing up, it was always clear to me that my birthday party was the biggest gift from my parents. They did a great job of involving me in the planning and making it all feel very special. I've passed along this same tradition to my children, letting them know that a birthday party is the best gift of all because your friends get to share in the celebration. This way they expect a few small presents and are excited about their "big"present - the party.

2. Make your own cake/cupcakes
I was very tempted to order a store bought cake for my son's birthday. Of all that needs to be done on the big day, this was one area that I could outsource. However, a store bought cake will set me back about $30. For about $5 I can purchase all the necessary ingredients to make a simple yet great cake!

3. Go easy on the goody bags
Even though this is our first child's party to host, we have been on the receiving end of many birthdays. While goodie bags are fun for the kids, it can consume much of your party budget if not closely monitored.
By Melissa Bailey on Feb 15 2014, 12:40 PM
Everyone has that friend that knows how to find incredible hotel deals. It seems like they are constantly receiving 2-star prices for great deals on 4-star hotels. Here are some tips to help you get incredible deals on hotels to maximize your travel budget:

1. Always check hotel websites
While discount websites are popular, it never hurts to check the hotel website to see if they are offering the same deal. This can often give you more flexibility when it comes to cancellation and can also earn points for reward programs. Some hotel chains won't let you earn points for your stay if booked through a third party. If you find a better deal on a travel website, it never hurts to call the hotel directly and see if they'll match the offer.

2. If possible, wait until the last minute
Some of my best hotel deals have happened when I waited until the very last minute to book my hotel. For example, my husband and I received a great deal on a 4-star hotel in downtown Chicago on the riverfront. We paid $75 (all taxes included) for the one night stay by booking the hotel in the car on the way downtown.

3. If you feel daring, book through a blind search
Many popular websites offer significantly reduced hotel stays when you agree to find out the name of the hotel AFTER the booking. This is a great way to get a 4-star hotel for dirt cheap if you are willing to take the risk.

4. Always search for discount codes
Discount codes are often found in the least obvious places.
By Melissa Bailey on Feb 11 2014, 8:46 AM
If you are having a hard time believing it is already Valentine's Day, you are not alone! This holiday always sneaks up on me - just far enough away from Christmas to forget about and yet close enough to cause a little bit of panic. If you are still feeling the pain of Christmas shopping, there's no reason to fear! Valentine's Day is all about emphasizing your love and appreciation for others and there's no rule stating this must come with a hefty price tag. Here are some great inexpensive Valentine's Day ideas to make your loved ones feel special:

1. Write a love letter or poem
This idea is never too cheesy and it's never too cliche! My husband and I have kept all of our hand-written and typed love notes and cards through the years. Periodically, we get out our boxes and re-read the notes to each other. More than anything, it's a written history of our relationship that floods our mind with memories.

2. Bake a special treat
Expensive boxed chocolates may be nice, but sometimes a homemade goodie can save the day. Think about your loved ones favorite cake, cookie or dessert and spend some time baking good old fashioned desserts.

3. Make paper flowers
If you are really hard on cash this holiday then cut rose petals out of construction paper and write a meaningful thing about your significant other on each petal. This creates a deconstructed bouquet of flowers where your spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend can appreciate your thoughtfulness instead of focusing on the cost.
By Melissa Bailey on Feb 3 2014, 11:29 AM
With the recent glitch in Gmail service, it might be a good time to discuss FREE email services and what you can expect from each one. If you are in the dark as to what happened with Gmail, Google announced last week that their system experienced a technical glitch from January 15 to January 22. During this time, the system may have deleted emails or sent important emails into Spam. This begs the question of which FREE email services are good options that can best protect you and your information.

In no particular order:

1. Outlook.com (Formerly Hotmail)
I'm a little old school when it comes to email as I still have a Hotmail account (to me, it will always be Hotmail!). The server has plenty of free storage and is a great tool for a junk email account or if you need a simple account that simply houses alerts from other accounts. I wish Hotmail did a better job at organizing my emails and finding Spam, but overall it is an easy to use option if you are a low tech user that needs something easy to understand.

2. Yahoo.com
I use my Yahoo.com for my junk email folder and find it to be incredibly user friendly. I enjoy being able to split the screen to see both a list of current emails as well as a preview of a specific email in the same window. Yahoo also saves searches in a separate tab which means I can search for "Amazon" and pull up all of my emails from that company into a separate tab that I can continue to reference.
By Melissa Bailey on Jan 27 2014, 12:14 AM
If you had walked up to me two years ago and asked me to talk about coconut oil, I would have given you that deer in the headlights look! Not only had I never heard of coconut oil, if coconut wasn't in a candy bar or in a coconut cream pie, I didn't even realize it existed. Thankfully, my eyes were opened and I have seen the light into this amazing product!

Coconut oil is an incredibly versatile oil with some amazing health benefits. Since I am not a nutritionist, I don't feel comfortable talking about the various health benefits in detail. What I do have is experience on the many other uses for coconut oil, especially in the beauty department! From your head to your toes, coconut oil is a natural way to heal, moisturize and benefit your entire body.

I purchase a 16 oz jar of coconut oil from Trader Joe's for $5.99. The jar typically lasts me three weeks (I use for both beauty and cooking) which makes for an incredibly affordable solution! If you want exhaustive lists, you can find websites that have 300+ uses for the oil. I thought it would be more helpful to share the few that I have tried and found to be successful: 

If you have dry hair, then coconut oil is an answer to prayer! When your hair is wet, take one or two tablespoons from the jar. Melt small amounts of the oil in your hand and then rub throughout your hair and scalp. Let it sit on your head for 45 minutes before shampooing. I do this once a week to maintain silky smooth hair.
By Melissa Bailey on Jan 19 2014, 1:55 PM
A common theme among family and friends this year is a commitment to a healthier lifestyle as we enter 2014. From working out on a regular basis, to eating right, to losing those few unwanted pounds, I imagine there are a lot of us who would like to see some changes in this next year.

Eating healthy doesn't have to break the bank! If you have committed to eating right and staying within budget, then here are a few recipes to help you succeed, along with helpful websites where you can find even more:

Budget-Friendly Kale and Sausage Sauté

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 links Italian style chicken sausage (about 3 ounces each), diced
1 onion, diced
10 ounce bag chopped kale
½ cup low sodium, fat-free chicken broth
1-15.5 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt (optional)
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Instructions: Add olive oil to a large sauté pan over medium heat.Add diced sausage and onion and sauté until onions begin to turn golden brown.Add the kale and chicken broth and sauté until kale softens.Add remaining ingredients and sauté 3-4 more minutes to heat the beans through. 

(This recipe is from the American Diabetes Association.