Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Monday, December 26, 2016

How To Start Saving Money For Next Christmas


What do you mean next Christmas? Christmas was, like, yesterday!

I know, I know. However, now is the time to set your budget for next Christmas and to start saving money for it. You know how much you spent on gifts, food, entertainment, and all the little extras. If you don't know, now is a good time to find the receipts and add them up. 

Now that you might be in shock over how much you spent, you need to take the time now to come up with a plan for next year. My goal is to pay cash or have the money in my checking account to pay for Christmas. I start early buying gifts so I can spread out the spending more. Saving money now allows me to start buying early because I have the money already saved.

If you were forced to use credit cards to pay for Christmas this year, this plan is for you too. Pay off those credit cards as quickly as possible and start putting some money away for next Christmas. If you used credit cards for the points and cash backs and can pay them off right away, that last little bit was directed at you. I understand using credit cards for those sort of things. Just be able to pay them off right away, okay?

Saving money for next Christmas can be painless, but might also require a little sacrifice of time, money, and giving up a guilty pleasure or two. You are trying to not stress about how to pay for Christmas when December rolls around. You want to give the best Christmas you can reasonably afford to. This is how you can do that. 

How To Start Saving Money For Next Christmas:

1. Set a budget! Look at how much you spent for this previous Christmas. Did you spend more than you thought? Were there some surprises you were not anticipating? Do you or your significant other like to go overboard with the gifts? Now is the time to look at these things. 

You can set your budget according to what you spent this year. If you thought you spent way too much, set a specific dollar amount you will spend on the kids, grandkids, parents, and everyone else that you bought for. If you know that you will have to chip in on a gift for the boss or a coach, figure that in. Then set a budget for food, the extras, and entertainment. 

For the rest of the steps, my estimated budget is $1000 (which is close, but I using this amount for figuring the rest of the steps). 

2. Come up with a savings plan. You know how many paychecks you will have between now and next Christmas. In my case, exactly 26 paychecks will happen. How much can you spare from your budget to save for next Christmas? I know I can usually spare $25 a pay period (and that is being stingy). At roughly $50 a month, I will be saving $600. 

An easy way to make sure the money is being saved is to have it automatically taken out of your account and put directly into a savings account. You can do this by having it direct deposited from your paycheck or setting up an automatic transfer with your bank. If you have good self-discipline, you can do the transferring yourself. 

Some people prefer to save money as cash and to use cash. You can still withdraw the money every pay period and put in an envelope marked for Christmas. If you think you might have trouble with spending it on other things, put it somewhere safe in the house and not in your purse/wallet. Otherwise, leave it with a trusted family member or friend who will also not spend it for you.

3. Figure out how to make up the deficit. If you cannot save enough money from just your paychecks, you need to figure out how to make up the difference. As you can figure, I still have $400 to come up with to make up the difference. Honestly, this is just making extra money and we should all know how to do this by now. If not, here are some ideas:

  • Side Jobs
  • Tax Refund
  • Selling Unused or Not Needed Things
  • Redeeming Cans and Bottles for the Deposit (If you have this option)
  • Selling Things on Consignment
  • Babysitting, Pet-sitting, and House-sitting

Put this money away in the Christmas savings. If you earn more money than you need, then keep saving it for other things. You can never have too much money saved, especially in the emergency fund!

4. When you do decide to start shopping, spend wisely. You never know when you might trip over a deal of the lifetime on something you wanted to give as a gift. When you do spend, use the cash you saved or transfer the money into your checking account. 

5. Keep a careful accounting of what you are spending through the year. You can use this for the following year's Christmas budget. Sometimes, surprises happen and you have to spend money on a gift you were not planning on. Keep the receipts in an envelope with a small ledger of what spending has occurred. This way, you can figure that in for next year. 

How do you save money for Christmas? 

Thanks for reading, 
Erica


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

10 Money Saving Hacks For A Happier (And Cheaper) Holidays!


In 10 Money Saving Tips for a Frugal Holidays, I focused on how to save money on gifts and stockings. Those tips have saved people a lot of money since the post was published. However, during the holidays, saving money on gifts is not the only way to save money!

During the holidays, normally frugal people can even go crazy and spend money that they know better than to spend! Something about the holiday spirit makes people throw out their budgets and good caution. We want to be generous, treat people well, and generally have a good time. That is great to do, but we can all practice good sense with these money saving hacks listed below!

1. Respect the traditions. If you have certain things you do every year and you know your family will miss them if you don't do them, keep the traditions alive as long as you can afford it. The costs of these traditions should already be in your holiday budget. If you take the whole family to a big show every year, that costs should already be figured into your budget. Another idea would be to make that big show a gift to the family members that go.

If the traditions become too much and cause too much of a strain on your budget, maybe it is time to reconsider. Which leads to...

2. Create new traditions. Think about the things you really love about the holidays and set up a new tradition that supports what you love. Do you love the extra time you get to spend with family? Start a Christmas movie night and have popcorn, hot chocolate, and cookies while watching the movies. Love the holiday lights? Take a driving tour of the lights in your city. Love to sing? Go caroling with your family and neighbors and take a plate of cookies to the elderly.

3. Set a menu and a meal plan. If you know you are hosting the big meal, are contributing to a potluck, and/or will have family around for a few days, time to meal plan. Remember to include some of the family favorites, have a soup night, a leftover night, and a pizza night! This way you know what to buy, how much to budget, and you can buy in one trip. Hopefully, you will avoid having to send someone to the grocery store!

4. Make the big meals potluck. Big holiday meals can be such a strain on the host! To make this holiday season easy on everyone, make the meal a potluck. You can still make the meat and a side, but assign someone to bringing bread, salads, appetizers, side dishes, desserts, and even drinks. The variety is great and your day will be much easier (and cheaper)!

5. Do Not Buy Your Wrapping Paper or Christmas Cards Until After Christmas! This should go without saying, but buy your wrapping paper and cards after the holidays for the following year. You can save 50-75% off!

6. Use what you have for decorations. More than likely, you do not need any more decorations. Personally, I have enough decorations for three trees and I only put one. Not to much the knick-knacks, the garland, and the million of other holiday things I have. You are probably in the same boat. Get creative and ban yourself from buying anymore Christmas decorations!

7. Stick with homemade goodies instead of store bought. You can plan ahead and freeze the cookies that can be frozen. Store bought goodies look so good, but those cookies and cakes are so expensive. The inflated cost on them is ridiculous! If you are a novice baker, offer to host a cookie swap. Everyone can bake together or just bring what they baked. Then you can swap with each other and bring home some different and delicious goodies!

8. Think simple in terms of decorations, food, and festivities. It is much more frugal to be simple in your approach to the holidays. Going overboard is nothing but a big pain in the wallet! You might like to "wow" your guests, but your guests will appreciate whatever you serve and your presentation. The point of the festivities is to spend time together! Going overboard can complicate that and make your guests feel overwhelmed or inadequate.

9. Have small, intimate gatherings instead of big parties. Everyone will get more quality time together, the food and drink expenses will be cheaper, and you won't have the potential clean-up expenses from a large crowd. You could go a step further and specify "no gifts" to keep the costs down more. This is about spending time together during the holidays, not about who can spend the most.


10. Ditch the matching holiday outfits. Unless you can truly afford it, ditch the cute Christmas dresses for little girls and stop trying to find matching pajamas for everyone in the family. I have heard of people spending hundreds of dollars just for everyone to match and look just so. You are trying to save money, not spend more! The cute little holiday dresses only get worn a few times before the season is over. If you are lucky, you can pass them down. Otherwise, the dresses and the outgrown pajamas end up being donated or thrown away. Just avoid it! Save your money!

These tips are just small things you can do to save money over the holidays, but they can save you a lot of money! Little things can add up in terms of spending and saving money. Christmas is a great time to show your love and appreciation of those around you, but keep the spending within your budget. Do not let the little things and the desire to impress others ruin your budget!

What do you do to save money during the holidays?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Sunday, November 20, 2016

What Does Your Prepper Want For Christmas? This Prepper's Top 10 Christmas Wishlist!


Christmas is a hard time for me. People ask me what I want for Christmas and I have a tough time telling them what I want! Of course, I have an Amazon wishlist and a mental wishlist. However, I still am not sure what to tell my loved ones what I want.

Then there is also the small problem of that I tell them some things I want, but they won't buy them anyway! Anyhoo...

The special prepper in your life can be hard to shop for. You know they love gadgets, but they have so many already! You know all about the "two is one and one is none" theory, but how many of one thing do they really need? Is a bucket of emergency storage food really a gift (yes, it is!)?

I am here to help! I have complied a list of things I want or have gotten that I think would make great gifts. I have picked all prices ranges for those with a smaller and bigger holiday budget,

In no particular order or priority is This Prepper's Top 10 Christmas Wishlist:

1. A Generator! I prefer to have smaller generators that I can move around myself (although I wouldn't turn down a big one!). This WEN Gas Powered Generator would be perfect for the prepper in your life. It can be used for camping, home, and emergencies.

2. Books! All preppers need a good reference library. I prefer my reference library to be in print versus electronic. Some good book suggestions would be:


3. Pressure Canner and/or a Water Canner! Actually, I have a water canner because I got that for Christmas just a few years ago! However, I would love another pressure canner! This is the pressure canner that has sitting on my wishlist for awhile. If you are in the market for a water canner, this canner is the one I have and love!

4. Lights. Nothing is more important than good lighting when you are trying to see in the dark. Whether you choose a flashlight, a LED lantern, or an oil lamp, lighting can make a situation a lot less important. A good prepper knows you cannot have too many sources of lights.

5. Solar anything! I would love solar chargers of any sort! Most preppers do because it is a vital source of charging when the power is out or you want to be off-grid even more. Some of the things are:


6. Two Way Radios! Communication will always be important in an emergency or when needing to protect your property. Cell phones are not always reliable or may not work. These Baofeng two-way radios have been on my list for quite a while!

7. A Personal Water Filter! I actually have two Lifestraws, but I couldn't think of a better gift to give or receive! There are other options out there for personal water filters, but I think it is important to have one in the car and in your go-to bag.

8. Alternative forms of cooking! When the power goes out or you want to be off-grid a little more, having non-electrical forms of cooking is the ticket! I have had this Eco-Zoom Rocket Stove on my list for awhile and I love what I have heard about it!

9. An emergency and weather radio! I do have a couple, but my favorite is this Kaito 5 Way Powered Emergency and Weather Radio with Flashlight, Reading Lamp and Charger. This is a great tool to have when the power goes out and you need to know what is going on!

10. A Foodsaver! Yes, a Foodsaver. I use this for storing food in the freezer and for being able to store more in my 72 hour kit and go-to bags. I use this to store my dehydrated goods, seeds, and grains. This Foodsaver has a lot more uses besides storing food!

I didn't include any knives or personal protection items. I think this is a personal choice and I am not the best one to give advice on that. However, if that special prepper in your life gives you a specific idea of what they want, GO FOR IT! 

What would you add to this list? What is on your Christmas prepping wishlist?

(Yes, this post contains a lot of affiliate links. They do not cost you anything if you should decide to buy something. I do receive a small commission that will help my family out greatly! Thanks!)

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Saturday, November 28, 2015

10 Money Saving Tips for a Frugal Holidays!


Christmas time can just be a crazy time! So many people you want to give gifts to, so many things your kids want, and only so much money to spend in your wallet! What is a person suppose to do?

I am here to help you! I use these tips to help me save money at Christmas and still feel good about the holidays. These tips can help you too!

1. Set a budget! I set a budget for each kid of $75 each and try extremely hard to be under that. I don't have a budget for stockings, but I try to find item cheaply and that will take up some room!

2. Make some of the gifts yourself. Beware: some gifts cost more to make than to just buy. Be a thrifty present maker! Make sure it is a labor of love and not on your wallet.

3. Decide carefully who you are buying gifts for and who you are not. Despite the generosity of the season, not everyone needs a gift. A card stating your appreciation for all they do can be enough. A small plate of cookies are fine too. However, teachers can only get so many cups and plaques before they don't have room for them anymore!

4. After you decide who needs gifts, decide what. Be specific. Make a list. Your child's teacher does not need an elaborate gift. Be reasonable. Most teachers would appreciate a handmade card from your child stating their appreciation of their teacher.

5. Offer your services instead of a gift. Offer a night of free babysitting. Offer free snow shoveling. Offer to make them a meal when you know they will have a crazy busy night. Offer free baking lessons to a younger child or a teen. These gifts are very appreciated and will more than likely be used quickly!

6. Shop the clearance items year round. Stores are trying to get rid of toys in anticipation of the holiday seasons throughout the year. You can snag some great deals that way. Even during the Christmas season, I find a lot of presents from the clearance shelves.

7. Shop Black Friday or Cyber Monday. I can't stand the craziness of Black Friday, but the deals are awesome on a lot of things. They are just as good on Cyber Monday when a computer and a cup of tea are all you need. Just don't spend more than you need to!

8. Used can be as good as new. My kids have gotten a lot of used things as gifts. Heck, I am not sure some of the things they got were ever used, but I found them at thrift shops and garage sales. I buy a lot of the books I give them used for very little money. When I score like that, I can't get much happier!

9. Think practical on Christmas stockings. I have two broke college students now who appreciate the practical things like lip balm, pocket tissues, fingernail clippers, razors, tweezers, pens, ponytail holders, bobby pins, hair bands, and so on. I put a few fun things in the stockings too, but the kids always appreciate the practical things too. I usually get a "Oh cool, I needed some of these!".

10. Limit the gifts! I give my kids four gifts each and a full stocking. I also buy 2-3 movies as a family gifts. I keep the gift count down to four to make reasonable, practical, and not to set unrealistic expectations for my kids. I don't worry about how much I spend on each kid because I have a budget (see #1) and I stick to it.

How do you make your holidays a frugal affair?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Homemade Apple Fritters


Homemade apple fritters are a family tradition. And no wonder! They are so good! My mom makes these every Christmas morning. She loves to tell the story about who used to make them and where the recipe came from. In fact, when I emailed her to ask her if I could share this recipe, she sent me this:

"Your Great-Grandma Marie Jebsen Kopp made that recipe a family tradition using either apples or raisins. Your dad prefers the apple one so that has become our tradition. I heard the recipe came from her mother, so your Great-Great Grandmother Amanda Wohlert Jebsen. They would use dried apples and reconstitute them by boiling in water a little while. Raisins were also treated to a hot bath. Raisins were a treat for those living in the Midwest back in those days, they usually only bought them at Christmas or Easter time. They were not readily available in this part of the country most of the year or if they were they didn't spend money on them until the holidays."

I love the history behind this recipe. All these ingredients would have been pantry staples except the raisins. The apples would have been preserved in the fall for use year round. I know raisins were a delicacy. I never have had this recipe with raisins in the fritters.


Homemade Apple Fritters

Makes 12-15 fritters. (I often double the recipe when making for my own family.)

1 cup flour
1 tsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Mix these together very well in a large bowl.

1 egg
1/4 cup milk

Beat together, then add to the dry ingredients. This dough comes together well and you should have a ball of dough when you are done.

2 pared, diced apples

Stir or use your hands to mix the apples in. I prefer to use my hands.

Heat oil or shortening to 375 degrees. I use an electric skillet and use about 1-1/2 inches of oil. My mom uses an electric dutch oven and uses 3 inches of oil. If you have a fryer, that works too.

When the oil is hot, drop in the batter by spoonfuls.

If they don't turn over themselves, you must flip them over when they are brown on the bottom. If you are using an electric skillet, you will have to flip them yourself. For everything else, they should flip themselves over.

When golden brown and the oil is bubbling lightly around the fritter, remove from oil. Drain on paper towels.

You can dip the fritters in sugar to eat (what my family does) or you can roll them in powdered sugar. I have gone to eating them plain, but still sometimes dip them in a little sugar!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Shared on The HomeAcre Hop


Friday, January 24, 2014

Christmas 2013 Gifts

Christmas 2013 (left to right) Shali, Paige, Dane, and Jordan

Today I thought I would share with you what I did for Christmas for the kids. I try really hard to follow the four present rule: one gift to wear, one gift of need, one gift of want, and one gift to read. I also give a stuffed full stocking.

The following is a list of what the kids got and how well or not so well I followed the four present rule:

Shali: A new winter coat (need)
         2 pairs of pajama pants (wear)
         cosmetic travel bag (want)
         Barnes and Noble $25 gift card (read)

Jordan: A new robe (wear)
            hair straightener (need in her mind)
            cosmetic travel bag (want)
            Amazon Kindle $25 gift card (read)

Paige: 2 pairs of pajama pants (wear)
          large utility tote (need)
          handmade snow globe (made by me!) (want)
          3 new books (read)

Dane: A new shirt and pants (wear)
          Mindcraft Lego set (want)
          Star Wars snap together model kit (want)
          3 new books (read)

Dane was much, much more difficult to shop for this year in the way of presents and stocking. I had no idea what to get him! He gave me a complete list of his wants this year, but he rarely has any needs because he is the last child, is low maintenance, and receives many hand-me-downs. He got two wants, but I purposely picked these out because they require no technology and are quite challenging. He needs that.

I also really try to get books for each kid, but the older two girls did not know what books they wanted. I am sure by now their gift cards for books are gone!

I do not have a set limit for what I will spend for Christmas. I just do not want to go overboard because I think that sends the wrong message. I try to keep it under $100 for each kid and shop all the sales and specials I can. I spent about $75 - $90 on each child not including stockings. Next year I will try to keep track of what I spent on each stocking, but I am estimating it to be about $20 with the older girls being a little more. I buy them a lot of little stuff they may need like hair brushes and whatnot.

A very good Christmas was had by all and they loved their gifts!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Birthdays

Gotta love Christmas birthdays! My Paige was born three days before Christmas and on my dad's birthday. At the time, I didn't realize how tough it would be to keep her birthday separate from Christmas!


Birthday parties need to be planned and held in advance! As with all my kids, I do not throw big blowout celebrations every year. They get a big one when they turn seven with all their classmates invited. When they turn thirteen, they get a party and sleepover with the friends they want to invite. When they turn sixteen, they get a night out with their friends - usually that involves dinner out, the movie theater, and a sleepover.

The birthdays before and in between are usually just family only with maybe a friend or two over and maybe a sleepover with that friend depending on what is going on. This way, I stay sane and the birthdays do not wreck my pocketbook. My kids know that their birthday is a special day, but they will not have a huge blowout affair that will spoil them or give them unreasonable expectations.

Christmas birthdays take a little more planning. With Paige's 13th (!) birthday party this year, we are holding the sleepover/party the weekend before her birthday weekend. So many people have Christmas celebrations the weekend before Christmas so that is not a good time. If we wait until after Christmas, it might get forgotten in the busyness of January.

Within our immediate family, we celebrate with supper (usually lasagna), dessert/cake, and opening of gifts. Grandparents are invited if they can make it. Otherwise, we might have a little celebration at their grandparents' house too.

For Paige's, my niece Sadie's (she is shortly after Christmas) and my dad's birthday, we celebrate at noon on Christmas Eve at my parents' house. We have the birthday celebration at noon and Christmas celebration at supper. By doing it this way, they stay separate and unique. We open birthday presents after lunch and wait a little bit later to open Christmas presents.

I think it is important to keep the specialness of birthday separate from Christmas. The kids who are born around Christmas did not pick that time to be born and should be given a special celebration just like their siblings get.

As you can see in the picture, I even try to avoid having any Christmas decorations in the picture. This does not always happen, but I try. Luckily for me, Paige just loves Christmas so she does not mind! All the same, we keep the birthday a birthday and separate from Christmas!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Are You Struggling Financially This Christmas?


How is Christmas going for you this year?

With Christmas being just two weeks away, are you feeling overwhelmed or joyous? Wondering when that Christmas "miracle" is coming so you can afford to get some gifts? Wondering how you can buy gifts when the bills are piling up? Wondering how you can get presents for everyone?

This time of year is difficult for most people, but those struggling to make ends meet already feel the pressure even more. The temptation to put the gifts on a credit card or not pay other bills to buy gifts is very, very great. The pressure to get gifts for everyone and make everyone happy is overwhelming.

How can anyone feel joyous when they don't how to make it all work?

I have been there. I am still there for the most part. Even with my frugal lifestyle, Christmas creates panic in my heart and sanity. Every year, I tell myself it will be different. With small changes every year, it has become a little different. I would like to share what I have done and what you can do to make Christmas easier for you.

This ideas are intended for the immediate time before Christmas. There is plenty you can do for next year's Christmas and I hope to address that in future articles. For right now, this is ideas for the present!

1. Do not feel the need to buy gifts for everyone. I know it is nice to show your appreciation to your kids' teachers, your clergy, your neighbors, your Sunday School teachers, friends, etc. I believe in showing appreciation whenever possible. However, you do not need to buy them a gift!

A card and/or a plate of goodies would be more than enough. Is there something you specialize in or make very well like caramels or brownies? Make that your signature thing to give to them for the holidays! Find something you can give with what you have on hand to give. If you have kids, let the kids draw a picture or write a note of appreciation for the intended recipients. Or let these gifts go this year. Most people will understand or not even notice. Just don't feel pressured to run out and buy gifts.

2. Do not feel pressured to make your kids' Christmas a huge blow out affair. Too many gifts are overwhelming and most of the presents will not be played with anyway. Just give your kids 3-4 things that are well-thought out and meaningful. Put useful things as well as some fun things in their stockings. Christmas can be a lot of fun even when you are not spending the big bucks!



3. Make Christmas about the memories and not the money spent. The time spent together as family and friends will be more treasured in the future than what you bought for people. Do you have a favorite family Christmas movie? Make some popcorn or have some Christmas goodies and make some hot chocolate or cider. Watch the movie together. Take the scenic route home from a game or get-together to look at the Christmas lights together. Take a moonlight walk around town. Participate in your local community Christmas activities. Decorate cookies together. Find free things to do as a family and with friends.

4. Create alternatives to presents. My brother, sister-in-law, and I have done this at different times. We would go out to dinner together and maybe go bowling or another activity instead of giving gifts. This year, instead of giving each other kids presents, we are going to have a fun day swimming and hanging out instead together. The kids will have a blast and money is not being spent on stuff that is not played with or outgrown quickly. The bonus is that we can do this after the holidays when the money crunch is lessened.

5. Do not exchange gifts with your spouse or significant other. I know this one is hard, but sometimes a sacrifice needs to be made to make Christmas easier on the wallet. Besides that, do you really need to get them something for Christmas? Not that they don't deserve it, but giving gifts when you could be making memories in other ways may be more meaningful. Have a special Christmas dinner together and make a dish the both of you love (and your kids don't!). Watch a movie or spend some special time together in peace and quiet. Write a letter to each other. Create a memory together without spending the money.

6. When someone says "you don't need to give me anything", take them at their word. More than likely, they mean it! More than likely, they want you to just to come over and spend time with them! My parents love it when we are all there together. It may be crazy with the kids running everywhere, but they like to have family around. Most people just want your time instead of a gift. Make that time for them.

Hope your Christmas is merry, frugal, fun, and meaningful!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday Shopping: Is the Headache Worth It?

Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday shopping can be crazy. Stores opening at midnight if they even closed at all. Standing in line and getting a ticket to buy an item at a significant savings. Missing out time with family and friends to go shopping. Employees missing time with family and friends on a holiday to satisfy a corporation's greediness.

No, I don't agree with stores being open on Thanksgiving Day. It is a holiday after all and just because someone works retail doesn't mean they need to pay that price. I don't agree with stores opening at ungodly hours to satisfy their bottom lines while offering deals that are irresistible to shoppers. I don't like the whole craziness of these shopping days and what they stand for. I personally try to never participate if I can help it. Last year, I got one thing online and regretted it because despite the reviews, it was cheaply made.

The problem with Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday shopping is that the people are feeding the problem. The stores are offering these deals and opening at ungodly hours. The public flocks to these sales forsaking their families, work, and sleep. The workers are scheduled and, in a lot of cases, forced to work on the holiday because they are told they cannot take those days off or call in sick.

Quite frankly, the public is a huge part of this problem. If they would not shop at the sales, the stores would not feel the need to be open. Standing in lines for hours, collecting a ticket, rushing the doors, and rioting just brings out the ugliness of the whole situation. Stores make everyone stand in line if they want the item and get a ticket so they can purchase it. When did honor and morals go out the window while shopping? Just ridiculous.

Trust me, I understand the lure of the sale. I understand why shoppers do go to get a good deal on a item. If the shopper really needs the item, it would be very difficult to pass up the good deal. I usually advocate saving money any way you can, but for some reason I can not condone Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday shopping. I see a lot of people going in debt and using credit cards to pay for items they cannot afford. People buy gifts for their families and friends that will be played with or used a few times and discarded just because they were able to get that gift at such a "great" price.

Do yourself and your family a favor. Stay home on Thanksgiving. If you feel the need to be out on Black Friday, do so at a reasonable hour. Camping out at a store, battling others for the sale items, and spending you do not have is not the way to make great memories. Send the stores a message that their early sales and being open on a holiday is just not what consumers want.

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Planning for Christmas - Week 3

With Week 1 and Week 2 down, the planning has begun, the wish lists have been given to you, and you have your lists ready. Right?

If you don't, don't feel bad! You have plenty of time yet to get going!

This week we will be focusing on three things. None of them are very difficult, but all of them need some time to get accomplished. That means getting started now!

1. If any homemade gifts or stocking stuffers need to be started, start now. If you are doing anything like homemade extracts, jams, jellies, butters, vinegars, candles, or whatnot, start now. Anything that needs time to cure or develop flavor should be started now. Anything you can do now should be started so you are not stressed out later!

2. Now is also the time to start purchasing gifts. To make it easier on your budget and your wallet, start purchasing now. I have a few gifts already for Dane, one for Paige, and one for each of the girls. I also have a good deal of the stocking stuffers bought, but I do that all year. Don't forget to check out the clearance sections at the stores like Hobby Lobby or Target. A lot of great things have been picked there in the past!

3. Make your Christmas card list! I still do this, but I have scaled it back in the last few years. However, I love getting the cards in the mail so I still send them! If you are making cards, knowing how many to send now will save you time and trouble later.

That is it for this week! Not much, but enough to get started!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

(So sorry about the delay in this series! I will be back on track now!)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Planning for Christmas - Week 2

(I was a bit busy this week and am a bit behind. Monday's frugal update will be next Monday! Thanks!)

With Week 1's Planning for Christmas, we got our holiday notebooks and our list of people we wanted to give presents to written in it. This week will be building upon it.

First, I want you to write your family traditions in your holiday notebooks. Anything you do for the holidays that your family loves to do, you love to do, food you love to make, and whatever else you consider a tradition. Think about what your family loves to do at the holidays.

Notice I use the word "love". If you have a family tradition that seems like a burden, reconsider that tradition. This is all about making the holidays fun, easier, frugal, and organized. If a tradition is a burden, it is becomes a chore and that is not what the holidays are about.

After writing down your traditions, make a list of things you need to make those traditions happen. Whether it be food, gifts, craft supplies, paper, printer ink, etc., write it down on the list. Also make notes for yourself on a calendar if you need to make appointments to do things, buy tickets, reminders to find out when events are happening, and whatnot.

Secondly, start working on wish lists from your family and kids. Honestly, these wish lists are a wondrous tool for me! I like having an idea about what to shop for. My kids still don't know what they are getting. I have diverted from their wish lists in the past, but I love the ideas about what to get them. They make my holiday shopping infinitely easier!

My kids search the internet, catalogs, store shelves, and question friends and myself about what they should put on the list for Christmas. I do tell them they can put whatever they like on their list because I also share these lists with grandparents, aunts/uncles, siblings, and cousins. Some things they list will never happen, but that hasn't stopped the request for a pony from showing up every year!

When the kids are done with their wish lists, store them in the notebook or stash them in your purse. You can even take a picture of them to store in your phone for quick access! I staple the wish lists in my notebook so I don't lose them!

Lastly, in your notebook, start jotting down gift ideas for the people on your shopping list. What do you want to give them? Do you have ideas already? Have you bought something for them already? Write it down! I get so busy that I forget what I have done! I am sure you do too so get those ideas on paper!

This should be plenty of things for everyone to get done! I can't wait until next week to get more done!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Planning for Christmas - Week 1

As I mentioned in the Christmas in September post last week, we will be getting ready for Christmas one week at a time! We have plenty of time, we just need to get it planned!

This week we will be doing a couple of things. None of them are too difficult and will help you keep it altogether!

First, find yourself a notebook to write in. This can be anything that contains paper! You might want a small notebook that you can fit into your purse or a school notebook that is big enough to not lose. You can use an old notebook or a new notebook. Whatever floats your boat! Just make sure there is plenty of paper so you can keep multiple years in the notebook.

Next, in that notebook, I want you to write down anyone you need or want to buy Christmas presents for. If you have birthdays coming up, you may want to write down those too so you can keep the birthday gifts separate from Christmas gifts. Paige's birthday is right before Christmas so I find including her birthday keeps me sane and makes certain I have enough gifts for her.

Since I give four presents for each kid for Christmas and birthdays, I number four lines for each kid. That way I don't lose track of what I have bought or overlook something. I also add a "stocking done" on a line for each kid so I can keep track of that too.

This is what my notebook page looks like:


Nothing fancy, but works great! This is the format I have been using for a few years now with excellent results!

That is it! Very simple start! If you want to get a jump start on next week, start a new page and jot down ideas about what you want to give as gifts.

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Christmas in September - What?!?!


 (From Christmas 2010 - My kids were so little!)

Time to start thinking about Christmas!

What that you say, Erica? Not ready for that Christmas thing!

Me neither, but let's get a positive attitude about it!

We have three months and two weeks until Christmas! I also have two birthdays in that time so a little more creative planning is involved. I like to think ahead about these things and get the ball rolling.

I have simplified Christmas to only giving my kids four gifts and a stocking stuffed full. This makes my shopping easier, but I still get to buy sixteen gifts total. Oy!

I have the kids' gifts broken up into four areas:
(1) Something to wear
(2) Something to read (usually about 3-4 books)
(3) Something they want
(4) Something they need

I ask nicely (maybe I mean demand) wish lists from all of them. That way I know what they want, especially the teenagers. They can be the tricky ones! This year I have a college student too. New territory for this mama! I have no idea what to buy for her!

If I want to make anything homemade, I need to start thinking about this now. Usually my grandma and the other women in my life get homemade gifts and gift baskets. I also want to make some homemade things for the stockings this year so I need to find ideas for that. I have a ton of ideas pinned already to my Pinterest board for gift ideas and craft ideas.

I also used to send out a picture of my kids altogether so everyone to see how much they have changed. I would like to get back to that! Maybe even send out Christmas cards....

And then, we do have to talk about the Christmas goodies. Can't forget about food! 

Christmas takes some planning and some doing. It can be done frugally and with a lot of considerate thought. Every week from now until Christmas, I will be doing a post to help you (and me!) get ready for Christmas whether it is to tackle the shopping, the crafting, the idea making, the scheduling, and the other things that take time at Christmas.

Are you ready? Are you with me? Yeah!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

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