There are a ton of toys out there that claim to teach kids any number of skills, from simple computers for your future techie to board games that encourage budding writers. For the future banker (or just a child who understands money basics), finance toys are available. But do they work? Let's take a look at a few.

Cash Registers and Play Money

February has a way of turning our thoughts to romance and dates and the like. While it's wonderful to spend time one-on-one with your siginifcant other, if you're a parent, there's someone else in your life who could benefit from some alone time with you: your kiddos.

About eight years ago, when my husband and I moved from a tiny shoebox of an apartment to our current home, my two sisters-in-law and I got together and divided the three main holidays between us. I got, and still have, Easter. Which I'm thankful for, because a ham, to me, is less stressful than a turkey. Anyway, even though we have "our" holidays, we each still contribute to the holiday meal. What I'm often asked to bring is a dessert and/or a side dish.

As Melinda continues her series on cheap places, she has decided to broaden her focus area to include some of the most exciting and fun locations across the United States. However, she needs our help. If you know of any cheap places to take the family, let us know in the comments below! For now, let’s take a look at my neck of the woods: Northeast Iowa.

For years, I had heard about my brother, who is some years older than me, and his high school buddies meeting once a year for a long weekend guys' trip.  One year it was in Vegas, another it was skiing in Colorado, and another was the sunny shores of Florida.  Then, I heard that Nancy, my sister-in-law, did the same sort of thing with a group of her friends - an annual girls' retreat of sorts.