Muscle Up Mommy: Lifestyle and News Blog + Brand

Back To School Shopping Guide: Tax-Free Weekend

Tax-Free Weekend Is Here and Shoppers are saving big

It’s tax-free weekend across several states and now is the perfect time to get back to school shopping done.

Backpack Wall and Sale Price at Walmart Stores in Houston, TX [Mykel B Davis/Muscle Up Mommy]
Backpack Wall at a Walmart Store in Houston, TX [Mykel B Davis/Muscle Up Mommy]

Tax-Free weekend gives consumers the opportunity to shop without accruing sales tax at the register. Most items are tax exempt including: clothing, footwear, school supplies, face masks, and backpacks. Uniforms for school and first-responders (nurses, police, fire, military, postal, and other careers) are also tax exempt.

Many stores have launched back-to-school sales and consumers are already saving big on top of having discounted items.

Walmart has priced tons of supplies for under $1.00. Wide Ruled spiral notebooks are as low as $0.25 each. A pack of 24 Crayola Crayons are marked down to $0.50 each. Elmer’s Glue sticks are priced as low as $0.54 each.

Competing stores like Kroger have launched 10 for $10 bundle deals giving consumers huge savings. A pack of 3 Paper Mate® erasers, a 10-pack of BIC® ballpoint pens, and 100 sheet composition notebooks are all priced at $1.00 each.

Another great choice for back-to-school shopping is Target. School supplies are priced as low as $0.25 each. Classroom essentials like disinfecting wipes, Kleenex®, and hand soap can be found for all under $5.00. Clothing items are even eligible for tax free weekend and can be found for as low as $5.00. Huge savings!

Comparing prices and shopping 100% online, I was able to complete my first graders school supply shopping list for a little under $40 and stock up on a few outfits for under $100 each.

I think it’s important to note that online sales are also eligible for tax-free weekend.

When is tax-free weekend for your state?

According to Good Morning America, dates for tax-free weekend are as follows:

  • Arkansas Aug. 6-7
  • Connecticut Aug. 21-27
  • Florida July 25 -Aug. 7
  • Iowa Aug. 5-6
  • Massachusetts Aug. 14-20
  • Mississippi July 29-30
  • Missouri Aug. 5-7
  • New Mexico Aug. 5-7
  • Ohio Aug. 5-6
  • Oklahoma Aug. 5-7*
  • South Carolina Aug. 5-7
  • Tennessee July 29-31
  • Texas Aug. 5-7
  • Virginia Aug. 5-7
  • West Virginia Aug. 5-8

Items marked with(*) has specific items that are exempt from tax-free sales. Only clothing items are eligible.

Back-To-School Supply Drives: Giving Back To Students In Need

Back-To-School Supply Drive Held by Today's Living Word Church - Tax-Free Weekend Opportunities
Back To School Flyer For Today’s Living Word Church

While shopping this weekend, there are several back-to-school drives that could use your help. One in particular is Today’s Living Word Church (TLW) with Dr. Michael and Dr. Martiese Lindsay.

They are collecting donations to help students in need and have pledged 30 backpacks and supplies. During their Live Stream Sunday Service, a member of the congregation pledged to match their goal to add an additional 30 backpacks of his own. If you’re able to donate or sponsor a child, please feel free to donate using the information above.

All donations to TLW are tax-deductible and can be used as a tax-write off for the upcoming tax year.

Have a safe and fun tax-free shopping weekend.

Banana Boat Sunscreen Recalled After Carcinogen Detected

Banana Boat Sunscreen 2022, Recalled Product
Banana Boat Hair & Scalp Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 has been recalled / Banana Boat

A popular Banana Boat sunscreen is being voluntarily recalled after benzene, classified as a human carcinogen, is detected in the product.

Edgewell Personal Care Company has announced on Friday that a voluntary nationwide recall is happening after three batches of the Banana Boat Hair & Scalp SPF 30 sunscreen had traces of Benzene.

Edgewell Personal Care Co. says benzene is not an ingredient used in Banana Boat products and the trace amounts of benzene were caused by the propellant that distributes product in the packaging, according to the press release.

“Banana Boat is voluntarily recalling three production batches of Banana Boat Hair & Scalp Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 aerosol sprays due to trace levels of benzene,” the statement read. “We know that you love our products, and we are conducting this recall out of an abundance of caution. Importantly, no other batches of Hair & Scalp (either before or after these batch codes) and no other Banana Boat products are in the scope of this recall and may continue to be used by consumers safely and as intended.”

The recalled batches have expiration dates of December 2022, February 2023 or April 2024 with the lot codes 20016AF, 20084BF, and 21139AF.

It is recommended they stop using them immediately and discard the product.

What happens when exposed to Benzene?

Benzene is considered to be a highly flammable chemical that is typically found in crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke.

Long term exposure at high levels can increase cancer risk, cause damage to the immune system, and prevent cells from functioning properly according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the shorter term, breathing in the carcinogen can cause dizziness, headaches, and other symptoms.

The Food and Drug Administration also shared the announcement and encourages consumers to discard of any products that could be possibly contaminated.

JetBlue To Buy Spirit Airlines For $3.8 Billion; 5th Largest Airline In The U.S.

JetBlue reaches $3.8B buyout deal with Spriit Airlines
Spirit Airlines plane on runway; JetBlue reaches 3.8 billion dollar deal to buy Spirit Airlines.
Jet Blue reached a 3.8 Billion dollar deal to buy Spirit Airlines [Shutterstock]

JetBlue Airways has reached a $3.8 billion deal to buy Spirit Airlines, which would make them the fifth-largest airline in the U.S.

On Wednesday, Spirit ended its merger agreement with Frontier Airlines, months after bidding war with JetBlue Airways.

The Spirit-Frontier deal was set to continue out their bare in-flight service in exchange for extremely low fares. Their executives agreed to keep it that way even if the airlines completed their $6.6 billion merger deal. The merger would’ve made Spirit-Frontier the 5th largest airline in the U.S. with Frontier having the controlling stake.

“Our business model is built on low fares — that stimulates travel,” Frontier CEO Barry Biffle said in an interview. “We’re going to give people even more low fares.”

What the Frontier-Spirit Deal means for Consumers?

The Frontier-Spirit deal would mean larger competition for the competing airlines, and also one less airline for travelers to choose from.

“We believe the merits of the deal — everyone wins,” Biffle said. “We think we should get a warm reception because the administration has been looking for ways to increase competition and we think this is the answer.”

Analysts feared that after the Spirit-Frontier merger, the airlines would have to raise it’s bare fare to compete with rival airlines and this would pose an issue for travelers and the airline’s bottom-line.

Analysts suggested that an increase in airfare with the Frontier-Spirit merger would more or less be counterproductive because of the rival fare pricing and traveler demands.

Why JetBlue and Spirit Merger May Be The Better Option?

During litigation of the Frontier-Spirit merger, Spirit said they would continue their “ongoing discussions with JetBlue as we pursue the best path forward for Spirit and our stockholders.”

As the original merger deal came to a halt on Wednesday, The new JetBlue-Spirit merger deal was announced Thursday morning. While this merge would still create the fifth-largest airline in the U.S, there are still some red tape that JetBlue and Spirit could be up against.

Spirit airlines lacked shareholder votes on the frontier-spirit merger as stock would have shifted giving Frontier the controlling stake.

According to CNBC, JetBlue is expecting that the merger would fast-track the growth of the airline by having access to a larger fleet of planes and trained pilots, which would give them a competitive advantage over carriers like American, Delta, United, and Southwest.

There has been reports of pilot shortages with carriers such as American Airlines, and the JetBlue-Spirit merger could aide with that against rival carriers as they control most of the U.S market.

What’s JetBlue’s Plan For The Merger?

JetBlue has plans to refurbish Spirit’s yellow planes with interiors in JetBlue style, featuring seatback screens and more legroom.

JetBlue said it will pay $33.50 a share in cash for Spirit, including a $2.50 per share prepayment if Spirit shareholders approve the deal and a 10 cent per month ticking fee starting next year until the deal closes.

Reports show Frontier shares were up 20% on Thursday afternoon. Spirit’s were up more than 4% and JetBlue’s were off nearly 2%.

If the JetBlue-Spirit merger happens, Frontier would likely reign over the ultra-low fares for its travelers while other airlines compete for the ladder with providing in-flight experiences to cater to business travelers.

This merger won’t come without a cost. According to Frontier, Spirit has to pay Frontier $25 million in merger-related costs because of the terminated agreement.

Helpful Styling Tips For Growing Girls Hair

Helpful Tips To Growing Girls Hair

There are so many regimens for growing hair, but I wanted to share my secret sauce.

Screenshot of styling process from Muscle Up Mommy’s YouTube

Choosing quick and easy hairstyles for my girls have been top priority for me since adding more to my to-do list.

For a while, I was struggling to manage their hair and as a result their 3C and 4B hair types became extremely dry, brittle and stalled in growth.

I’ve tried many products to help with reviving their moisture and getting their hair back growing, but it seemed as though one brand would work for one hair type and not the other.

Kyndall and Blair's 4-day old hairstyle, length check
Kyndall and Blair’s 4-day old hairstyle, length check

As you could imagine, the struggle of finding the right products significantly weighed in on my growing frustration of hair maintenance.

My 3 Growth Hack Secrets

1. Find a Good Brand Shampoo and Conditioner and Stick With It.

I’ve tried many brands, but I strongly recommend Crème of Nature Argan Oil. This brand has been great for reviving moisture, adding shine, and defining my girl’s natural curl pattern.

Crème Of Nature Argan Oil Bundle

I’ve spent a lot of time (and money) testing products on each of my girl’s hair types and I’ve found Crème Of Nature Argan Oil to be the best fitting for all of us.

I can’t begin to express how much of a time saver, money saver and life hack this has been to have one brand of products that we can share between us that work equally as well on our different hair types.

This goes without saying the importance of having a good wash and conditioning regimen, but starting with the products is key.

“Hair Care Growth Secrets On Kyndall And Blair [Muscle Up Mommy/Youtube]

2. Choose a Low-Maintenance Hair Style.

I tend to choose a braiding style that will last at least a week. This gives me time to style, have little to no maintenance in between, which ultimately let’s the hair rest and not have daily tension/stress to the hair shaft.

I’m not beauty professional, but to me, when you have to manipulate ANYTHING more, over-time it becomes tired, aggravated, and performs less.

I apply this same method when considering hair styles. Once the style is complete, I leave it alone until it’s time to wash, condition and repeat.

3. Don’t Be Afraid To Seek A Professional.

This may or may not come as a surprise but I’m a busy mama of twins, wife, full-time news editor and a host of other things.

My schedule doesn’t always allow for me to do research on hair care tips and styles, so I always turn to what I know, my mom.

After her 55 plus years on earth and having four girls of her own, she has been quite the hairstyling professional.

She helps me with styling, maintaining routine trims to get rid of split ends, and she let’s me know when it’s time to re-up on products.

If you don’t have a trusted family member to help with hair growth, contact a licensed haircare professional who specializes in natural hair. A lot of the time, stylists will provide a consultation free-to-low cost to help you get started with your journey.

Keep in mind that growth is not an overnight process and will happen over-time as you stay persistent with a regular schedule.

For more hair and lifestyle tips, be sure to subscribe to our news site.

Thousands Of Flights Dropped After American Airlines Scheduling Glitch

Thousands of flights dropped after American Airlines scheduling glitch left many flights unstaffed

More than 12,000 July flights delayed or canceled as a result of American Airlines crew scheduling error.

American Airlines had a scheduling glitch that allowed pilots to drop flights resulting in lack of crew members, the Allied Pilots Association said Saturday .

A glitch in American Airlines scheduling program allowed pilots to drop flight assignments for thousands of trips in July, the Allied Pilots Association said Saturday.

More than 12,000 flights were affected by the scheduling glitch, which left hundreds of flights without a pilot, first officer or both, after pilots dropped their pre-assigned flights.

The airline spoke to press in response to the ordeal and they say minimizing flight disruptions during the highest traveling season is something they aim to avoid.

“As a result of this technical glitch, certain trip trading transactions were able to be processed when it shouldn’t have been permitted,” the airline said in a statement. “We already have restored the vast majority of the affected trips and do not anticipate any operational impact because of this issue.”

Per Pilots scheduling program, they can routinely drop or pick up trips throughout the week, but time off in the summer or holidays is more difficult to do for airline employees due to the higher travel demand from travelers.

According to NBC News who referred to American Airlines internal tally, On Saturday alone, American Airlines had more than 3,000 mainline flights scheduled and they were 93% full.

American Airlines has temporarily suspended the scheduling program while the issue is investigated and is expected to work out the issues as quickly as possible.

“We understand these are important tools for our pilots and are working as quickly as possible. We will provide updates throughout the day as we learn more,” American told pilots in an email Saturday.

American’s pilots have recently went on strike against grueling schedules, something they want to be addressed in a new contract. Pilots at Delta and Southwest have picketed in recent weeks for similar reasons.

Unfortunately, many flights remain unstaffed and for others, expect delays.

CVS and Rite Aid Issue Purchase Limits On Plan B Pills After Demand Spikes

Plan B Pills are being limited to consumers around the world due to spike in demand

Retailers are beginning to place purchase limits on Plan B Pills and similar emergency contraceptives as demand surges.

Plan B Emergency Contraceptives Are Being Sold In Limits at CVS, Rite Aid and Walmart following the overturn of Roe v. Wade
Plan B, the brand name morning-after pill have new purchase limits as demand spikes following the overturn of Roe v. Wade

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and end the constructional right to abortion has led consumers to flee to retailers to purchase emergency contraceptive in large quantities.

On Tuesday morning, CVS and Rite Aid have confirmed to NBC News that purchases have been limited to three-per- person due to the extreme spike in demand.

Limits include Plan B One-Step and Aftera, which are both brand name products of the morning-after pill that include the hormone levonorgestrel. The products are intended to prevent ovulation, block fertilization or keep a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus within 72 hours of unprotected sex.

CVS told NBC it has “ample supply” of the medications but that the company wants to ensure “equitable access” and a consistent supply.

According to Wall Street Journal, Walmart has also weighed in on the subject allowing purchases of 4-6 per customer, but only on products that will not ship until next month.

Walgreens is reportedly not limiting purchases, though home delivery is not available at this time due to the demand.

Doctors and pharmacies urge consumers to note that the morning-after pill isn’t intended for regular use, and Plan B and similar brands are not abortion-inducing drugs.

Sunscreens You Should Avoid: J&J Neutrogena, Coppertone, And More

If you’re thinking about reusing your left over sunscreen from last year, think again.

Last spring, at least 15 brands and 25 million sunscreen and after-sun care products were recalled for containing low levels of a known carcinogen, benzene.

Benzene is considered to be a highly flammable chemical that is typically found in crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke. It can also be traced when manufacturing plastics, synthetic fibers, dyes, detergents, as well as pesticides.

Long term exposure at high levels can increase cancer risk, cause damage to the immune system, and prevent cells from functioning properly according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the shorter term, breathing in the carcinogen can cause dizziness, headaches, and other symptoms.

Before dabbling in last year’s leftover supply, recheck your labels for lot numbers to discard of any previously recalled items.

Recent Sunscreen Recalled List

Among the list of 78 sunscreens that tested positive for low levels of benzene, Johnson & Johnson recalled five of it’s products including:

  • Neutrogena Beach Defense Aerosol Sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Cool Dry Sport Aerosol Sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Invisible Daily Defense Aerosol Sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Aerosol Sunscreen
  • Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen

and Coppertone also recalled several of its products including:

  • Coppertone Pure & Simple SPF 50, 
  • Coppertone Pure & Simple Kids SPF 50
  • Coppertone Pure & Simple Baby SPF 50
  • Coppertone Sport Mineral SPF 50
  • Travel-size Coppertone Sport Spray SPF 50

While these brands removed their products from shelves temporarily, Johnson & Johnson said in a statement, “use of these products would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences” and were recalled “out of an abundance of caution.”

Woman putting on sunscreen
Woman applying sunscreen [Shutterstock]

Consumer Reports tested aerosol products for benzene in this year’s sunscreen ratings and test results came back negative for the carcinogen.

It’s important to note that benzene isn’t an active ingredient listed in the products, so label checking isn’t sufficient.

The Food and Drug Administration said in a statement, “This contamination may be related to inactive ingredients such as carbomers (thickening agents), isobutane (a spray propellant), or other drug components made from hydrocarbons,” according to Consumer Reports.

Experts say consumers should continue to use safe sunscreen options, as it helps avoid skin cancer and other sun-related damage.

Biden Administration Lifts Testing Requirement For International Travel

Travel Requirements To The United States Are Changing

The Biden Administration has lifted the requirement for travelers to receive a negative Covid-19 test before boarding international flights to the United States.

Travel Requirements To The United States Are Changing
Biden Administration Has Lifted Negative Covid-19 Test For International Travel Into The United States [shuttershock]

WASHINGTON – The Biden Administration announces the end its requirement for international travelers to have a negative covid-19 test within one day of their flight while traveling into the United States, lifting one of the final mandates in efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday June 10, 2022 that the requirement will end early Sunday morning. The CDC feels the requirement is no longer necessary and the health agency will continue to monitor the state of the pandemic every 90 days to determine if reconsideration will be needed if the situation changes.

“This step is possible because of the progress we’ve made in our fight against COVID-19,” said U.S. Health Secretary Xavier Becerra.

The initial mandate allowed those who were fully vaccinated to show proof of a negative test within three days of travel, while unvaccinated people had to present a test taken within one day of travel.

In mid-April, the Biden administration removed the mask mandate for all travel including in airports, travel by trains, buses and public transportation. The felt America was moving in the right direction with containing the spread of the virus and ruled that it was up to travelers to wear masks or not.

While domestic U.S. travel has returned nearly to pre-pandemic levels, international travel — which is very lucrative for the airlines — has continued to lag. In May, U.S. international air travel remained 24% below 2019 levels, with declines among both U.S. and foreign citizens, according to trade group Airlines for America.

Many other countries already began lifting and removing their international travel testing requirements as a means to increase tourism. “The whole industry has been waiting for this announcement,” said Martin Ferguson, a spokesman for American Express Global Business Travel, which advises companies on travel policy. 

Despite ending the testing requirement, the CDC said it still recommends COVID-19 testing prior to air travel of any kind as a safety precaution.

Tampon Shortage Running Rampant: Here’s What You Should Know

Tampons

It’s not just you. Tampons are getting harder to find on the shelves and pricier too.

Tampon Shelf [Shutterstock]

Nationwide shortages are not easing up as supply chain issues continue to persist and is now affecting feminine hygiene products.

First, we experienced the nationwide baby formula shortage, amid factory shutdown, and now we’re seeing shortages across the board including on tampons.

Why is there a tampon shortage?

Supply chain issues have been affecting Americans since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, when labor demands grew higher and wages were not increased.

For many businesses, they’ve struggled to hire new workers due to the unemployment pay that was ripping through the country surrounding the fear of in-person positions due to the covid-19 virus.

As a result, the downfall of laborers happened, international manufactures began running into skyrocketing costs of raw materials, and business owners have shifted their production plans to better suit the demand of buyers.

According to the New York Times, Andre Schulten, the chief financial officer of Procter & Gamble — which manufactures Tampax, the tampon giant that sells 4.5 billion boxes globally each year — said on a recent earnings call that it had been “costly and highly volatile” to acquire the raw materials needed for production, such as cotton and plastic.

Inflation costs are also making it more difficult to source the product and making them more expensive for consumers.

Bloomberg reported that the average price for a package of menstrual pads increased by just over 8 percent from the start of this year through the end of May, while the price of tampons increased by nearly 10 percent.

These global supply chain issues have been disrupting not only tampons, but also seeing shortages in other common goods such as toilet paper, cars, housing inventory, and kitchen appliances.

What to do if you’re running out of tampons?

There are a variety of other menstrual products available outside of tampons. Though tampons are a popular option, sanitary napkins, menstrual cups and disks, and an array of absorbing underwear are available where supplies are sold.

Many period underwear brands sell for $30-40 per pair, while cups and disks are sold anywhere from $25-$35 and can be reused.

Disposable and reusable options in conjunction with tampons may be the best alternative until temporary shortage is restored to normal inventory.

Drs. warn against stretching tampon wear for longer than average times, as toxic shock syndrome is rare, but can be life threatening when wearing chemical inserts for more than 8 hours or use one with too much absorbency.

Target Cutting Prices To Clear Out Inventory

Target Stores + Slashing Prices

Target is working to clear out inventory amid the economic downfall and holiday shopping seasons.

Target Stores + Slashing Prices
Target Stores Slashing Prices To Clear Out Inventory

Target is aggressively getting in front of the economic crisis and pitfall of amassed inventory flood by slashing prices, particularly in the home goods and clothing sections, to clear out bloated inventory.

Target told its investors on Tuesday that they may experience a short-term hit to profits as they slash their prices to get rid of unwanted inventory, cancels orders, and take necessary steps to get rid of inventory.

This news came after a pronounced spending shift by Americans, as they are spending less money investing in home upgrades and renovations, and making more selective purchases on groceries, travel, and other pre-pandemic routines.

“We thought it was prudent for us to be decisive, act quickly, get out in front of this, address and optimize our inventory in the second quarter — take those actions necessary to remove the excess inventory and set ourselves up to continue to be guest relevant with our assortment,” CEO Brian Cornell said in an interview with CNBC.

As inflation across the country steadily rises, Cornell says swift action will allow Target to fend of further pain, and make room for items that are in greater demand, such as groceries, beauty products, household essentials and even prepare for seasonal items like back-to-school and the holidays.

He says the company will begin to see a much healthier profit margin in the later half of the year, increasing from it’s current operating margin rate of two percent to projected six percent as they get rid of stale inventory like TVs, small kitchen appliances, and other merchandise that was in greater demand during the pandemic that would shy customers away.

This isn’t just news for Target and it’s investors. Other major retailers have reported similar pains of inflated inventory and small profit margins as well.

Walmart said at its annual shareholders’ meeting on Friday that 20% of its elevate inventory is items they wishes they never had. Gap also cited elevated inventory levels and says customers tend to skip over fleece, hoodies, and activewear and focuses more on party dresses, and office clothes.

“Retail inventory is elevated.” Michael Fiddelke, Target’s chief financial officer said in a phone interview to the Associated Press on Monday. “And they certainly are for us, in some of the categories that we misforecast. We determined that acting aggressively was the right way to continue to fuel the business.”

Fiddelke says Target is working with suppliers to use raw materials from canceled orders toward other goods that are more popular and relevant in today’s market. The canceled orders have production lead times of up to nine months, he said, and shifting their bottom line for end-of-year sales as supply chain issues cool down is believed to be in the best interest of the company.

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