Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"

My family needs more of everything. Including data.

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #DataAndAMovie #CollectiveBias

Our growing family uses more of everything. Including data. #DataAndAMovie

We’ve been home with our new son for almost a month now, and I must say that I’m pleasantly surprised at how well things have been going. Sure, every day has its share of awkward moments, but we get through them. And we’re growing through those awkward moments as we navigate through our new normal as a family of six.

One thing that has surprised us about adding a teenage boy to our family is how much more we need of everything. The amount of laundry has increased exponentially.We go through an insane amount of milk and juice each week. And, over the last month, I think I’ve flipped more pancakes and scrambled more eggs than I did during the entire year last year. OK. I might be exaggerating just a little bit. But I think you get the point. Continue reading My family needs more of everything. Including data.

7 must-have apps for international travel

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #Tips4Trips #CollectiveBias

7 Must-Have Apps for International Travel #Tips4Trips #ad #cbias

As mentioned earlier, a lot of moving pieces finally came together at just the right time in just the right way in order for Christy to be able to meet “W,” the teenage boy we are in the process of adopting. Late Sunday night/early Monday morning, I drove Christy to the airport. Nearly 18 hours later, she landed in Ethiopia. There were times where I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to pull the whole thing together. With my full time job, Christy’s responsibilities at her school, and taxiing the kids to and from sports practices, church activities, and camp, it just felt like too daunting of a task to get together all of her necessities plus a bag full of donations in less than two weeks’ time. I honestly don’t think we could have done it without our unlimited talk, text, and data/web from Walmart Family Mobile.

Ethiopia or Bust #Tips4Trips

If you’re looking for the lowest priced unlimited plans with access to a network that covers over 280 people, Walmart Family Mobile is the place you should look first. Their Unlimited Talk, Text, and Data service plan starts at $29.88 a month for the first line. In addition to unlimited talking and texting, you also get access to up to 1G of 4G LTE data per month. Plus, they have a variety of phones available at some pretty incredible prices, including the Alcatel One Touch Pop Astro for only  $64.88.

Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to this link or your local Walmart for current pricing.

#Tips4Trips Store Collage at Walmart

While we’ve taken several vacations in the States, I think it’s safe to say that we’re no world travelers. And we definitely haven’t made a habit of jet-setting around the globe. So when it was finally decided that Christy was going to make this trip by herself, life became a bit more hectic. And life was already hectic with the kids’ activity schedules.

We had travel agents to call. And social workers to call. And our adoption agency to call. We had to make sure my work schedule was arranged in such a way that I could be home as much as possible. We had doctors to call. We had family to contact. We had to collect items – diapers, wipes, educational supplies, DVDs – that we were going to donate to the Care Center. The to-do lists kept piling up, adding more and more chaos to this whirlwind.

You know what we didn’t need during this mad rush to get everything done and ready for Christy to get on a plane? A phone service that dropped all of my calls. Or a phone that was so slow that it would be easier to send documents via passenger pigeon or the Pony Express. Been there. Done that. Not going back.

Ever.

Luggage and phone at the airport #Tips4Trips

That’s what I love about using Walmart Family Mobile. I don’t have to worry about wonky Internet connection. And I can be confident that I’ll be able to have an actual conversation on my phone without worrying about how many minutes I’m using. That’s pretty important when you’re in a time crunch.

And the phones are pretty cool, too.

In preparation for this great journey, I discovered some pretty cool apps. I think these are some tools that every traveler should have in their digital suitcase. They’re very helpful. And they’re free, although some can be enhanced with in-app purchases.

7 must-have apps for international travel:

Android Apps SmartTraveler #Tips4Trips

SmartTraveler

Provided by the U.S. State Department , SmartTraveler gives a plethora of information about countries around the globe, including local customs and laws, political climate, and the location of the U.S. embassy. It also keeps you up to date on travel alerts and warnings that have been issued by the State Department.

 

Android Apps iBlueButton #Tips4TripsiBlueButton

You never plan on having a medical emergency while traveling. But just in case the unforeseen does happen, it’s a good idea to have iBlueButton. It keeps all of your medical information and medical history in one place so you can access it with just the swipe of your finger.

 

Android App Google Hangouts #Tips4TripsGoogle Hangouts

This was pre-installed on our Androids, and although it’s gotten some negative press in the past, Christy and I have been using it to communicate over the the thousands of miles between us. You can use it to send text messages. You can also use it for free video calls via wifi, too.

Christy checking the phone at the airport #Tips4Trips

Android Apps iTranslate #Tips4Trips

iTranslate

With over 90 languages available on this app, you can translate words and phrases in a matter of moments. With an extensive dictionary library, you’ll be able to discern contextual clues and dialects. It’s easy to use and essential for a world traveler.

 

 

Android App Google Goggles #Tips4TripsGoogle Goggles

Let’s say you’re overseas and you see a landmark some 30 miles away but you don’t have any idea what it is. It looks important, but that’s about all you know. With Google Goggles, you can take a picture and search the web with that image. This app has some serious potential.

 

Android App FlightAware #Tips4TripsFlightAware

FlightAware was the perfect app for me to use while Christy was up in the air. No matter where I went that day, I could check the app and track her flight. And if you’re using it while traveling, you’ll be able to keep up to date on the flight schedule and which terminal you have to go to. That’s amazingly helpful if you have a short layover.

 

Android App XE Currency #Tips4TripsXE Currency

You can keep up to date on the exchange rates with this app. It’s a great way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your currency.

It’s also helpful if you’re trying to plan and budget your trip.

 

There are so many apps available that are related to travel. I’m sure I’ve missed some good ones. Now that Christy’s begun her journey, I can start planning for my trip to Ethiopia, which should happen within the next few months.  What apps should I add to my list? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

#Tips4Trips Phone and suitcase

 

A perfect date night thanks to unlimited talk, text, and data/web

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #MyDataMyWay #CollectiveBias

Perfect Date Night #MyDataMyWayI’ve talked before about how Walmart Family Mobile’s affordable plans help keep our family connected. It’s the only way we can juggle everyone’s schedules. With their unlimited talk, text and data/web plan, I’m able to use my data my way. And in the process, make a few memories with my wife. How cool is that? We live in some pretty amazing times.

Walmart Family Mobile store display #MyDataMyWay

The Walmart Family Mobile plan is extremely affordable and reliable. They also have a great selection of phones. Their Unlimited Talk, Text and Data service plan is only $29.88 a month* for the first line. This plan includes up to 500 MB of 4G LTE data. Their coverage is pretty great. You can check it out here if you don’t believe me. Access to unlimited talk, text, and data/web helps me plan and execute the perfect date night. That’s how I use my data my way.

To Do List #MyDataMyWay

With all the apps available for phones like the Alcatel Fierce 2, you can customize your data experience to fit your needs. I know a lot of people use their phones to play games, but my phone has replaced the old-school day timer and Personal Digital Assistant. So I like to use apps like Evernote or OneNote to write down my thoughts, save articles to read later, create to-do lists, and basically keep my life organized. As you can see, I have a notebook specifically for planning date nights. I probably have more ideas than opportunities to execute them, but that’s OK. It helps keep my creative juices flowing.

For one simple date night, Walmart Family Mobile’s lowest priced unlimited plans help me stay on track. I can use the data to search the web for a great recipe. For example, I found a simple one for shrimp scampi.

Shrimp Scampi recipe screenshot #MyDataMyWay

I can easily add the ingredients to a shopping list on my phone and head to a nearby Walmart to gather the ingredients that are not already have on-hand. While shopping, it is easy to double-check with my mother inlaw to make sure she’s still planning on taking the kids away for an evening. I can also check with area florists to see if they are running any specials.

Shopping Cart #MyDataMyWay

I can access a music service like Spotify or Pandora and listen to my favorite songs while driving to and from the store. Once I’m home, I can update my playlist to make sure the atmosphere for the evening is just right. And if I have any questions about how to perform a certain cooking technique, like deveining shrimp or how to properly place a table setting, I have that information right at my fingertips.

Date Night Music #MyDataMyWay

Using my data my way helps me get stuff done. It helps me keep track of what I need to do. It helps eliminate surprises so I can focus on what really matters: spending time with my wife and making memories with her.

Do you realize how far we’ve come in just a few short years? Think about it. In 1943, the chairman of IBM had this to say about the future of computers:

“I think there is a world market for about five computers” – Thomas Watson

I know. It sounds pretty short-sighted. And it probably was. Because 70 years later, computers are everywhere. But I can’t pick on just the chairman of IBM. I once said something that turned out just as myopic. It was at the beginning of the Internet revolution and a professor of mine declared that we were soon going to have computers in every room of the house, including the kitchen.

“You’re crazy,” I thought to myself. “There’s no way anyone would ever need a computer in their kitchen.”

Yeah. I was wrong. But in my defense, smartphones and access to unlimited talk, text, and data/web were only available in the realm of science fiction. But those dreams are now reality. Like I said, these are some pretty amazing times. I use my phone, which is really just a hand-held computer, in every room of the house, but especially in the kitchen. Using this technology to do what I can to sweep my wife off her feet: That’s how I use my data my way.

What’s your favorite date night idea? Leave your idea in the comments and inspire someone else!

Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to this link or your local Walmart for current pricing.

These cheap(est) wireless plans help keep our family connected

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias

walmart Best plans

The problem

Having three kids in school means you have to juggle calendars – a lot. When you add extracurricular activities like football, volleyball, student council, and other after school events into the mix, things can get a little chaotic. Throw in some doctor’s appointments and there are weeks where it feels like our family calendar teeters dangerously close to the realm of insanity. Since the majority of the school week involves rushing children from one place to another, it’s easy to lose track of who is going where. We need to be able to contact each other easily. We decided to purchase cheap wireless plans for our two oldest kids. That way they don’t have to borrow someone else’s phone if their after-school meetings end early or if we happen to forget to pick them up.

Admit it. You’ve forgotten what time your child’s after school activity was over, too. That’s why our kids have phones now. We’ll be reminded if we do inadvertently forget what time we’re supposed to pick them up.

While shopping for phones for the kids, it became very obvious that Christy was in desperate need of a new phone. My wife never complained about the quality of her phone, but it was pretty apparent that her not-quite-smartphone really wasn’t going to cut the mustard anymore. She needed something that was lightweight, durable, and could manage all of our calendars and contact information. And a good camera would be nice. Oh yeah. It also needed to be affordable. And it needed to be part of a reliable network. Dropped calls are not acceptable.

Finding a quality phone and plan that fit our budget started to feel like a tall order.

#Phones4School Walmart location

Walmart best plans to the rescue!

Just in time for back to school shopping, Walmart has an incredible rollback deal on the Alcatel One Touch Evolve smartphone. Regularly priced at $79.88, it’s currently available for $29.88. That’s perfect for your #Phones4School shopping!

It’s really tough to beat Walmart Family Mobile as your service provider. They have recently dropped the price of their Unlimited Talk, Text & Web plan to only $34.88 a month. It’s a pretty remarkable deal. One we couldn’t pass up.

Walmart #Phones4School Collage

In addition to the great deal on the phone and the lowest priced unlimited plans around, Walmart Family Mobile has also taken to twitter to share some great tips for your phone. Oh, and they also have a sense of humor…

Why not give them a follow? It’ll be worth it.

Alcatel One Touch Evolve #Phones4School

As you can see, the phone comes with your standard equipment: a battery and a charger. It feels pretty sturdy for a smartphone. It comes with plenty of apps already loaded on it, but I went ahead and downloaded Instagram so it would be ready for Christy to start sharing her amazing photography skills. Because the camera? It’s pretty good.

Photo of a Photo

Now that we have upgraded Christy’s phone and her plan, we’ll be able to keep our family connected throughout the school year. Christy and I can sync our calendars to make sure we don’t miss any important appointments. If I’m sneaky enough, maybe I’ll be able to schedule a surprise date night or two on her calendar, too. We’ll have to wait and see about that one, though.

And if we do happen to miss an appointment for some unexpected reason? Walmart’s best plans will keep our family connected all school year long.

I found the best wireless plan. Watch out, future fantasy football foes!

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client.

Wedgie Wayne's World football Helmet #FamilyMobileSaves, #cbias #shop

With my Samsung Galaxy S4 from Walmart Family Mobile, I have been able to keep track of my players’ stats and catch up-to-the-minute status updates about players who are uncertain to play on any given Thursday, Sunday, or Monday. It’s amazing how many things you are announced right before kickoff. Fortunately, I’ve been able to avoid a couple of bad starts because of my improved access to player news and information. All that being said, I’ve fallen into a very familiar pattern and it’s time to break out of it.

It seems like my fantasy football success, or lack thereof, follows a pattern almost every year. It’s so efficient that you can set your calendar by it.

I usually lose my first game. It’s usually a blowout. Then I rattle off a string of two or three wins followed by two or three losses. By the middle of the season, I’m usually hovering around .500.

Although I haven’t done it the last few seasons for some unknown reason, I used to make an announcement on the league message boards at the mid point of the season. And maybe that’s why I haven’t had very many good seasons in the recent past. I’ve forgotten to make The Announcement. Well, the time has come.

Fantasy football screenshot from my Samsung Galaxy S4 #FamilyMobileSaves, #cbias #shop

But before that, I need to give a brief update on the wheeling and dealing that has happened in the front office of my fantasy football team. In honor of a world-class Ethiopian runner, the team has been named the Baby Faced Destroyers and has called Addis Ababa its home. Due to his injury earlier this year, a certain star wide receiver out of our hometown team is out for the season. In honor of his contributions to the hometown team and my fantasy team, the ownership (read: me, myself, and I) of the Baby Faced Destroyers decided relocate the team under cover of night and bring them to the Midwest. They also took on a new name: Wedgie Wayne’s World.

With a new home, new name, new colors, and a new logo, ownership decided it was also time to give the players a new look. The team was not heading in the right direction so it was time for some mid-season shaking up. And thanks to finally having a phone and wireless plan that that could give me real-time access to the most up to date player news, I’m feeling confident about the new look of my fantasy football team.

Fantasy football screenshot from my Samsung Galaxy S4 #FamilyMobileSaves, #cbias #shop

And it’s about time, too. After this weekend, I’ll be sitting at 4-5 after a horrible losing skid. So now is the time. Management agrees that with the new identity and new look of my fantasy football team, it’s time to make The Announcement to all of my fantasy football opponents…

Fear the Blue W!!

I’ve spotted y’all enough losses, so now I have you right where I want you. No more Mr. Nice Guy and no more losses. You heard of rope-a-dope? Well that’s what I just did to you. There might’ve been a little bit of possum playing, too. I’ve sufficiently lulled everyone into a false sense of security so it’s time to run the table! NO MERCY!!

Hey, it’s worked before. It’s not uncommon for me to go on a nice little winning streak after making The Announcement. At this point, I’ll do whatever I can to qualify for the top tier of the playoffs. If making The Announcement does the trick, then I’m OK with that.

My Samsung Galaxy S4 #FamilyMobileSaves, #cbias #shop

And even if I don’t win, it’ll be fun to use my Galaxy S4 to follow Wedgie Wayne’s World’s exploits in the coming weeks thanks to Walmart Family Mobile. Because I’ve discovered that in the world of phones, once you go smart, there’s no going back.

My quest to find the best wireless for our family

#shop #cbias

#FamilyMobileSaves, #cbias #shop
The Todd family in Tennessee. We really wanted reliable coverage. We were disappointed.

OK, here’s the deal. Our family has not had the best of luck with wireless service over the years. Like most families, we want access to a reliable, but cheap wireless plan. Sometimes that hasn’t turned out very well.

When we lived in Tennessee, our calls were dropped. A lot. I know the Appalachian mountains can make it tough to get a good signal. But even in open areas, we lost service quite a bit. But we managed to get by.

When we lived in Muncie, things didn’t get much better. We tried a pay-as-you-go service. And while it served its purpose, it was nothing to really write home about. There really wasn’t anything exciting about the service.

We’re using another pay-as-you-go service now. It might be my least favorite of the plans we’ve used. It’s moderately affordable. We pay $75 a month for two phone numbers. But the quality of the calls isn’t very good, and we’ve also discovered that we’re probably only receiving 85% of the texts that are sent to us. And web service? That’s kind of laughable at this point.

#Shop #FamilyMobileSaves #cbiasThat’s why I’m excited to have the opportunity to try out Walmart Family Mobile. The cost is affordable. It’ll be close to the same amount we’re already paying for two numbers. It’s powered by T-Mobile, so the coverage looks pretty good. I’m looking forward to having quality service that’s affordable with no contract to sign! Unlimited text, talk, and web without being locked into a long-term commitment? Sign me up!

The availability of high-quality, affordable smartphones is an added bonus. Up until this past Christmas, I had been using a flip phone. I’ve recently made the switch to a smartphone, but it has become somewhat unpredictable. It was a refurbished phone so I really can’t complain. But after having a taste of the smartphone experience, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I’m ready for the big leagues. Fortunately, it won’t cost an arm an a leg to get my hands on one of these beauties. And I’ll be able to keep my old phone number, so there won’t be any confusion with any of my family and friends.

#FamilyMobileSaves #Shop #cbias

I have high hopes for this phone. I need something to help me keep organized. I’ve looked into some of the apps that are available for the Samsung Galaxy S4 and they’re pretty impressive. It will be very nice to have all of my information and calendars and to do lists in one place. I’m also hoping that having ready access to this information will help me finally get an edge in my fantasy football league. After winning the league nearly ten years ago, I’ve been in a slump and finished towards the bottom of the league over the last few years. Hopefully, better access to up-to-date information will help me finally right the ship and make things the way they should be, with the Baby Faced Destroyers dominating my league once again.

I especially want to beat this guy. Bragging rights are kind of a big deal.
#FamilyMobileSaves #shop #cbias
I’ll be sharing my journey to discover the best wireless for me and my family. You’re welcome to follow along.