Category Archives: Living Well

Thoughts about how to be an honorable person.

Our #JerseyLove Weekend

Our family recently accompanied my wife on a trip to New Jersey.  We stayed at Caesars in Atlantic City for 3 days as part of the #JerseyLove Social Moms for Social Good event.  The weekend was intended to highlight both sides of the Jersey shore’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy last November:  the work that has been completed and the ongoing work that still needs to be finished.

The Shore is Open for Business


The boy, sizing up a SurfSkimmer before heading over to the beach to try it out in the water.

We spent Friday afternoon at Belmar, which appeared to be as family-friendly as any beach town I have ever seen.  The boardwalk was destroyed by the hurricane in November, but a brand new replacement has been completed.  At a restaurant/bar called D’Jais, the leaders of the #JerseyLove event presented Mayor Matt Doherty with a check for $5000 from the #JerseyLove participants and D6 Sports to help Belmar citizens who are still displaced because of hurricane damage.  D6 also provided adults with surf lessons and allowed children, including our 10 year old son, to try out a fun, new beach product they are introducing this summer–the SurfSkimmer.

What Happens In Atlantic City…..


Hail, Caesar. (Hit me!)

The Name is Better.  Dad Knows Better.  I waited until our last night in town to try my luck in the casino.  When the kids went to sleep, I took a nap; then I got up around midnight to head downstairs to find a blackjack table.  Almost 4 hours of up and down rush as my stacks of chips grew and shrank put the icing on the weekend cake.  In the end, the $100 I was willing (though not exactly planning) to lose was safe and sound back in my pocket when I headed upstairs to call it a night–or, more precisely, to call it an early morning–along with a penny or two of the casino’s money.

Work Left To Be Done

The region is more than ready for families on vacation this summer.  But that’s not to say everything is back to normal.  While visiting the Absecon Lighthouse, we met a lady who shared that she is still not able to return to her home because of storm damage.  Hurricane Sandy dominated the news for a few days last fall; but for many people whose homes and businesses were flooded, it is still not time to move on to the next story.  Hopefully the return of tourism to the Jersey shore will help.


Belmar’s new boardwalk, ready for summer

Additional details about the Jersey Love weekend are available online at

Disclosure:  Caesars Entertainment hosted the official social media participants, including Mrs. DadKnowsBetter, better known as MusingsFromMe, and families, including our accommodations.  Families were invited to the sponsored ‘beach party’ lunch at D’Jais in Belmar, NJ.


Filed under Cool Products & Services, Living Well, Places to Go, Uncategorized, Vacation & Travel

Axe Me About A Cravebox

(See what I did there?)

I don’t expect to look quite like James Bond walking into M’s office when I leave the house, but I was raised to believe that a clean, neat appearance is important.  My father worked for almost 50 years in heavy construction, and whether he was an equipment operator (before I was born), a superintendent (when I was a kid), or the head of an entire division (for the last 20 or so years before he retired), he always left the house clean-shaven, with his somewhat limited hair neatly cropped & combed, and wearing sharply pressed clothes.  In fairness, my mother deserves part of the credit for that last part.  Anyway, like my dad, I very rarely even run out to the store on a Saturday morning without shaving and getting my fortunately-much-more-considerable-to-this-point hair under control.

So I was intrigued when I heard about something new this week:  A service called Cravebox is offering a collection of AXE hair styling products for $12, including shipping.  There are 3 AXE ‘looks’ from which to choose:  spiked, messy, or clean cut.axe_logo_hair_black_vertical

Sounded great, but I had no idea what a Cravebox was.  It turns out Cravebox is “a fun product discovery service that brings you fabulous products in beautiful, themed boxes.”   Each Cravebox is designed around a central theme, and includes 4 to 6 specially selected products.  The price is right for trying out something new:  $12-$18 each.  Craveboxes are themed around dozens of categories, such as:

  • cooking, entertaining, and grilling
  • kids, babies, and family
  • home products and home solutions
  • health, wellness, and beauty
  • hobbies, pets, arts & crafts

This video explains what the AXE Cravebox is all about:

For anyone, like myself, who is new to Cravebox, it gets even better:  There’s a contest.  For information about how to order and about the contest, read on….

  • To order the AXE Cravebox, click here.
  • The contest is for new members.
  • Enter Promo Code AXEMen on the Registration Page.
  • Don’t miss the Promo Code field. It’s right next to Zip Code, so don’t skip it.  (If you submit without it, there’s no going back to add it.)
  • The first 50 people who order an AXE Hair Styling Cravebox Kit will receive a Credit for a FREE future Cravebox.
  • If you’re not one of the first 50, you have a second chance to win.  Cravebox will also randomly pick 50 other people who purchase an AXE Hair Styling Cravebox Kit to WIN a credit for an upcoming Cravebox.

A few final thoughts that might be helpful:

  • Joining Cravebox is free.
  • Quantities are limited, so I would invite you to order today.
  • You can also join Cravebox online to learn more, rate products, and join the fun with Twitter, Facebook and Blog contests featuring cool prizes!

This is an amazing first: I was compensated to share information contained in this post.  All opinions are my own.

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Filed under Cool Products & Services, Dad Takes A Break, Living Well

The Unexpected Refinance

Eight years ago we thought we were done with refinancing forever after we moved from a 30 year to a 15 year mortgage at a then-competitive rate.  As the months passed by and the loan balance started to fall faster and faster, I looked forward to the days when most of one bi-weekly paycheck per month would not be reserved for the mortgage payment.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Over half-way through the 15 years, I was still committed to staying the course to pay off that loan in 2019.  But the plan has changed.  After listening to hundreds of radio ads over the last year or so about “historically low” interest rates, I decided I should at least look into the options.  I tend to be skeptical about advertising claims related to anything financial, so I was surprised when it turned out the lenders in those ads were not kidding.  A lot of internet research and a little pocket calculator time quickly showed me that we would actually LOSE money by paying off our 2004 loan over the next 6+ years.

Instead, by locking in a new rate that is less than half of our 2004 rate,we will save money over the long haul by re-starting the 15 year clock, even if we let the new loan run its full course through 2027.  If we pay down the principal to shorten the 15 years, so much the better.  Either way, we free up almost 1/3 of our old mortgage payment each month.

The highlights:

  • After looking into a variety of lenders, we found a great rate at our local credit union, my primary bank since I joined during my firstyear teaching.
  • Despite the fact that my wife is now self-employed, working from home, the application process was simpler and smoother than any of our previous mortgage experiences.
  • After just over 6 weeks, we were able to go to settlement–except we did not ‘go’ anywhere.
  • Our new lender recommended a title company that came to us.  No bank or lawyer’s office–we settled at our own kitchen table.

A single snag:

  • Because of Hurricane Sandy, which hit after our original appraisal in October, we had to pay a little extra for a follow-up ‘exterior-only’ inspection after the storm.  We probably could have talked them out of the $100 fee, but–at the risk of sounding naive–it seemed petty in light of what the hurricane cost so many other families, and life is too short to battle over everything.

How does this all fit into a “Dad Blog?”  Now that we have refinanced, we have more options.  Having a lower monthly payment frees up a notable amount of cash for family activities and school expenses–soon to include college tuition, room & board, textbooks….and the list goes on.  And over the long run we will be able to save thousands of dollars in interest compared to the path we were on just 2 months ago.

I have NO qualfications as a financial adviser, but I would encourage anyone to do a little research while the rates are still so low.  What you find may be…unexpected.

Note:  DadKnowsBetter has not received any compensation of any kind, including (unfortunately) waiver of the post-hurricane home inspection, related to writing this post.


Filed under Living Well, Money