Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts

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


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Want to Make America Great Again? Here Are 12 Ways You Can Do Just That!


A lot of my Facebook news feed this morning has been how the country has been let down by our newly elected President. This is a guy who promised to make America great again. However, he is not who is going to make America great again. You know who is going to make America great again? 

You and I are. 

The American people are what make America great. However, we have forgotten this. We have forgotten that we, the people, are the ones who make this great country what it is. Our elected leaders set the policies and laws for which we live under and follow, but they are not entirely responsible for making America great. We, however, are the representatives of this country and we are the ones responsible for making America great. 

So how can we make America great again?

1. Treat others how you would like to be treated. 

2. Smile at everyone and say hello to all you meet.

3. Be polite to everyone even if they do not deserve it.

4. Offer to help your family, friends, and neighbors. Take care of each other. Take a meal to the sick. Mow the lawn for the injured. Take care of our military families and veterans. Feed the homeless. 

5. Take care of your surroundings. Do not litter. Recycle.

6. Learn to rely on yourself to take care of yourself. Do not depend upon the government or other agencies to save you. While help is great, sometimes you will not get help. 

7. Raise your children to honor and respect our flag, say the Pledge of Allegiance, sing The Star Spangled Banner, and to be proud to be an American. 

8. Remember that no one is better than you and you are not better than anyone else regardless of anything. 

9. Take care of the elderly, learn from them, and treat them like your grandparents. 

10. Honor and respect our traditions, our Constitution, our Declaration of Independence, and our history. 

11. Show respect for our military, veterans, and police officers who work diligently every day to protect you. 

12. Follow and obey the laws of our land. If you disagree, then respectfully disagree without causing a riot or massive damage to other peoples' properties and businesses. 

Seems pretty simple, right? Be a good citizen and ambassador of this great country and we will make America great again!

Thanks for reading, 
Erica


Friday, February 12, 2016

Make Valentine's Day Cheap and Easy!


Valentine's Day can be so expensive! Flowers, candy, cards, stuffed animals, expensive night-outs, expensive dinners at equally expensive restaurants, and the list can go on. Guys and gals alike throw away huge amounts of money and for what? A holiday they might remember? 

What a huge waste of money!

I used to work at a florist shop and I just could not believe that guys would spend $150 on two dozen roses, balloons, and the works. I was not as frugal then as I am now, but the cost would just about stagger me. I always really hoped that the wife or girlfriend was really worth it or really appreciated it. 

Don't get me wrong. I love getting flowers or a plant! I think they are beautiful, but not on Valentine's Day! Do you realize how much those items are marked up? Never mind that the flowers are usually out of season, making the flowers even more expensive!

How can you get around this? 

Take a vow to make Valentine's Day cheap and easy!

Here are some ideas for you:

1. Have a nice dinner at home. Even if you buy the steaks at the grocery store, you are saving a ton of money by cooking them yourself and staying home. If you want a romantic dinner for two, find a babysitter or eat after the kids go to bed.

2. Watch a movie at home. Want a new movie to watch? Hit up a Redbox, see what Netflix or Amazon Prime has for free or rent, or borrow one from a friend. 

3. Make cards for each other. Write a heartfelt note on the card.

4. Make your own decorations using ideas from Pinterest or the free printables on the internet. 

5. Make your kids' Valentines for school using free printables from the internet. I found some really cool Star Wars Valentines for my son to give at school. We also taped a pack of 5 Juicy Fruit gum on the back of each one as the favor.

6. Go visit an art gallery or museum. Most places are free or free passes can be obtained to visit. 

7. Play a card or board game at home. We love to play UNO together. It can be vicious with the kids involved, but we didn't teach them to play to lose! 

8. Take a walk or sit together on the couch and spend some time just talking to each other. Communication is important in any relationship and is free!

9. Go on a drive and visit some places that mean a lot to you both. While driving is not always cheap, gas prices are low right now. Plus there is no cost for being sentimental. Visit the places where you first met, had your first date, had a great time at, a favorite spot for both of you, etc.

10. Make breakfast in bed. Who doesn't appreciate having a great breakfast made and served to you in bed? 

11. Make a book of favors to give to your special one. Have coupons for free massages, supper of their choice, clean their vehicle, etc. You can make these as nice or intimate as you want!

12. Make a batch of Valentine's cookies to give to kids or neighbors. 

13. Swap babysitting with another family to have a free night for just the two of you!

14. Make a special dessert for just the two of you or the whole family to share. Cheesecake with cherry or strawberry topping is always a hit in my family!

15. Fill a jar with little love notes to open in the year to come. Just a note saying "I love you" or "Your're the best" can really lift someone's spirit!

I am sure there are more ideas to think of, but this is a good list to get started with. I know some people do not celebrate this holiday and that is fine too. I think you should express your love and appreciation all year round and not just one day. However, some people think it is special day and want to celebrate accordingly. Just do it cheaply!

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10 Ways To Enjoy A Frugal Hallowe'en


Hallowe'en is so much fun! I love seeing all the kiddos dressed up in costumes, pumpkin carving, pumpkin flavored everything, and the creativity that is part of it all. I think I even like Hallowe'en a little more than Christmas, but that may be because I don't like all the commercialism that goes with Christmas!

Hallowe'en can be done frugally, very frugally. For several years, we have not bought many costumes nor spent a lot for decorations. I am not one to put out many (if any) holiday decorations, but my kids do put out a few as does my mother. That decorating gene skipped a generation in me.

10 Ways To Enjoy A Frugal Hallowe'en

Paige's costume was a cat. Grandma made the headband and tail. The rest we had!

1. Make your own costumes. This may be a "duh" thing, but so many people find it easier to buy the costumes (including me). However, my girls would use their play clothes as costumes and love it. My mom made them costumes a couple times. We also passed costumes down from kid to kid and borrowed costumes from others. We also bought two non-gender specific costumes when they were babies and toddlers that all my kids wore. The first year they were Pooh and the second year they were Tigger.

Dane decided to be many different superheroes in one. Paige was a ladybug. Part of her costume was purchased and part of it was things we had.

2. If you have to buy a Hallowe'en costume, wait until they are 40-50% off or raid your local thrift shop. Also, buy the costume a size or two too big. That way you can get two years or more out of the costume. My kids would also add their costumes to the dress up box and wear them all year round. You might as well get your money's worth out of them.

3. Make your own masks for Hallowe'en. In Iowa, the weather is rather unpredictable at Hallowe'en time. We could have warm, mild weather and we could have a very cold, breezy weather. Sometimes the kids are so bundled up that it isn't worth dressing up in a costume. Just wearing a mask makes sense. You can use flexible cardboard, brown paper bags, some elastic to hold it on, and let the kids decorate it however they want.

4. Use cloth grocery bags for trick and treat bags. Seriously, these bags are the bomb! They don't rip easily. They can handle being dragged by your kids walking down the sidewalk. They can hold a lot of weight. If you are concerned about the colors of the bags not being right, use black, orange, or purple ones. However, I am not worried about such things.

5. Make your own treats. I know this might not work in a big city, but in our small community we can get away with this. Make popcorn balls, trail mix, cookies, or something small to give as treats. Give out apples or oranges if you are thinking healthy. You can also make a small treat that is non-food or a tag for a pencil. Use your imagination, but you do not have to buy bags of candy. (Yes I know there is a stigma about homemade treats, but you should only be trick and treating at homes of people you trust anyway.)

6. Have a truck and treat. If you don't want to spend long hours walking or driving around, gather a group of friends into a big driveway or parking lot. Most people decorate their car trunks and have the kids go around getting treats. Sometimes they also play games, have some drinks like apple cider or punch, and maybe even a potluck. You only have to have a certain amount of treats and you save money on fuel. To me, this sounds like a lot of fun!

7. Carve and/or decorate pumpkins. This is one of those things that can be incredibly messy, but fun! You don't need to have carving kits to do this. You can find patterns online for free if you want to go that direction. You can use paint or markers. I would wait to do this though until the week of Hallowe'en. The pumpkins can deteriorate quickly if done earlier. If the pumpkins are still in good shape after Hallowe'en, you can cut them in half and roast them for them. The pumpkin seeds can be roasted and eaten. The pumpkin pulp can be used in cookies, pies, muffins, etc.

8. Choose an area that you can walk to all the house you want to go to for trick and treating. Driving around and stopping a lot wastes a lot of gas. We live in the country and usually head to the closest small community. Very few of my neighbors have treats for trick and treating so this works well for us.

9. Have supper ready to go when you get home from trick and treating. I usually have something in the oven or in the slow cooker. This will help you avoid going out for supper because you are tired. It will also help the kids absorb the sugar better instead of bouncing off the walls all night. Better yet, they will eat less candy because they ate a filling meal.

10. Decorate with items that can be used longer than Hallowe'en. I have a tendency to decorate for fall rather than Hallowe'en. I use pumpkins, candles, runners, and maybe corn stalks. I like to decorate for several months at once and use things that can be reused or made into food later. I don't use gourds as I find them a waste (what do you do with them afterwards?). Most of my decorations are either given to me or I get for free. Just ask around for pumpkins or let your kids go on 4-H trips to the local pumpkin patch. They also come home with one or two.

That is how we celebrate Hallowe'en frugally! What ideas do you have?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day...

...And this is a holiday that I don't care for.

Commercials proclaiming "Show her your love on this special day." Really? If you really are in love, shouldn't you be showing her or him your love everyday?

To me, love is not flowers, jewelry, expensive clothes, expensive dinners, and whatnot. Those things are nice and can show appreciation, but to me they do not show love.

Love is changing the oil in the car, changing the light bulb when it goes out, fixing the door, holding hands, an occasional hug, a just because card, fixing dinner for the other or together, calling just because, laughing together, and all the other everyday things that happen.

Love is appreciating the person beside you by doing the little things for them. 

Love is showing someone everyday you care.

Love is going through a tough time together and becoming stronger because you did together. 

Love is buying them Caramel De-Lites because you know they love them (yes he did love them!).

Love is running out to get ice cream because she is craving some at the moment (yes he did that!).

I used to work for a florist. That should just about sum up why I don't like the holiday, but that is not all. I would see guys buy expensive flowers just because it was Valentine's Day. I would see that same couple the next day yelling and screaming at each other. I would see guys buy their wives flowers and having an affair behind their back. I would see people buying expensive flowers when they didn't have the money for them, but they were expected to buy them.

Money and things are not love.

Don't get me wrong, I love flowers! I don't want those flowers just because it is a holiday to show his love. I want those flowers because he was thinking of me and thought I would like them. I want them because he could afford a little something extra and he thought of me. I want them because he thought I needed cheering up and that would do it.

Every day should be Valentine's Day.

Every day you should show that someone you love them, care for them, appreciate them, and are thinking about them.

Make every day Valentine's Day!

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

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Now that Christmas is over with...

We can get back to the daily life business that suits me so much better. I do apologize for the lack of Christmas posts this year and promise I will have some pre-written and ready to go for next year. I just was not in the Christmas spirit this year. I am not exactly sure how or why, but life sent us a few curve balls before Christmas that did not help. Namely sickness and a lot of doctor's visits.

Part of the problem may also be that I am not a traditionalist. I rarely remember what we did the year before to do again next year. I also like to try new things all the time (except change the furniture which is another post) so doing the same thing year after year does not always appeal to me. Some things do stay the same, however.

Christmas Eve will always be at my parents. We do a birthday lunch because my dad and my Paige have birthdays on the 22nd and my niece has a birthday on the 14th of the next month. After lunch, we start with birthday presents and then go to Christmas presents. Supper is usually leftovers from dinner because we are all stuffed from lunch and the goodies put out after lunch. Supper also becomes optional. But the apple did not fall far from the tree here either. Rarely do things happen the same twice at my parents for various reasons. Things get forgotten. People can't remember what was done the year before. But it is all good.

Christmas morning is at home. I did insist upon this from the time Jordan was a baby. With Shali, I really didn't think it was too big of a deal to have our family Christmas wherever we landed. When Jordan was born, I decided that we would have our own Christmas in our own home Christmas morning. I like the consistency of this as well as having our own time as a family. I have no idea how I will address this when the kids get married and have lives of their own, but that is in the future and not now.

We usually have breakfast of French toast and, sometimes, apple fritters, on Christmas morning. French toast is a family favorite and very easy to do in the morning. Apple Fritters is a recipe from my great-grandmother and are delicious! I love them. I didn't get them made this year, but there is always New Years Day! Maybe with Lemon Ricotta Beignets....yum!

Christmas lunch may be at home or the kids may go to their other grandparents. Afternoon and supper may also be at home with company. Now that we have entered the realm of dating, sometimes the girls have gone to their boyfriend's family Christmas celebrations. This is actually fairly new for us and I am still adjusting a bit because I would just like to have everyone home!

The kids will have Christmas this weekend with their father, grandparents, and the rest of the family as well as a birthday celebration for the birthdays that are around Christmas. Hopefully, I will be starting to feel a little better and I will be out of town for the weekend.

I am grateful that Paige took the initiative to get the house decorated for Christmas. Although she swears she did not use every ornament and decoration we have, the house seems to say something else. Christmas baking did not get done at all due to the illness and busyness of our schedule. Jordan and I made our annual right before Christmas shopping trip. We went on the 23rd and found some excellent deals for presents. I thought we would be battling crowds more, but they were not too bad.

Now that the actual holiday is over, but the twelve days of Christmas are not, I am looking towards next year as well as looking back over the last year. While I am not trying to borrow trouble, I do see some troublesome things coming on the horizon for the country and think we may see some problems. I am also looking towards things we need to get done as a family as well as things I would like to post here. I am also looking for ways to make this blog more user-friendly and what I envision this blog to be.

Thank you to all of you who follow this faithfully and put up with my randomness as well as my busy schedule. I have several articles written already for this next year and I can't wait to share them with you! We do go through some changes in our household and I have changed some of the ways we do things so I will be sharing those with you as well.

Happy New Years to You All and Thanks for Reading!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Peppermint-Mini Marshmallow Bark

Today's holiday recipe is one that we discovered last year and fell in love with. I will not claim it is healthy, but we all know that mint is palate cleanser! (hehehe!) This recipe is from the Food Network and all honors shall go to them!

Peppermint-Mini Marshmallow Bark 

1 pound white chocolate  
1/2 cup chopped peppermints  
1/2 cup mini marshmallows 
    Line a baking sheet with foil, shiny-side up; smooth out the creases. Make sure all your tools are dry. 

    Chop the white chocolate into 1/2-inch pieces with a large knife. Place all but 1 cup of the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 30 seconds, then stir with a rubber spatula. Continue microwaving and stirring at 30-second intervals until melted, 3 to 5 minutes total. Immediately add the reserved chopped chocolate to the bowl; stir vigorously until melted and shiny. Don't worry if there are a few small unmelted pieces. 

    Pour the white chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet; use the rubber spatula to spread it into a 10-to-12-inch circle, about 1/4 inch thick. 

    Press the peppermints and marshmallows into the chocolate, arranging them so each bite has a mix of flavors and textures. Let the bark harden completely at room temperature, about 1 hour. (If the room is warm, you may need to freeze the bark for a few minutes.) Break into pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks. 

    Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    Crispy Covered Marshmellows

    This recipe is again from my mom. I am not sure where she got the recipe, but I love these too.

    Warning!!! There is nothing healthy or naturally good about this recipe. This is just pure sinful deliciousness!

    Crispy Covered Marshmellows

    20-24 ounces large puffed marshmellows, frozen on a tray
    13 ounce box Rice Crispies

    Heat together using a double boiler:
      1 can sweetened condensed milk
      40 caramels
      1 cup butter

    When the mixture is heated through and caramels are melted, dip the marshmellows in caramel sauce using a fork. Then roll the marshmellows in the Rice Crispies. Set the covered marshmellows on waxed paper until cool.

    Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Molasses Cookies

    This recipe was passed down from my Great-Grandmother Youde through the generations to me! I am very thankful for the wonderful recipes that get passed down for us to enjoy.


    Molasses Cookies

    3/4 cup shortening or butter (my preference)
    1 cup sugar
    1 egg
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    4 Tablespoon molasses

    2 cups flour
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ginger

    Mix the first five ingredients together by first creaming the butter and sugar together, then adding the egg, salt, and molasses. Mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and ginger in a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.

    Roll dough into the size of a walnut, dip in sugar, and place on the ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten the balls on dough with the bottom of a glass. Bake at 350 degrees F for 7-8 minutes. Do not overbake! Let cool for 10 minutes then remove from the pan to a cooling rack.

    For a holiday cookies, these can not be beat! I love Molasses Cookies! Soft and chewy, yum!

    Thanks for reading,
    Erica

    Friday, December 9, 2011

    Pumpkin Cookies

    Over the next week, I want to share some of my favorite Christmas recipes. One of my most favorite holiday cookies is Pumpkin Cookies. These are simple cookies, but really yummy! This recipe came from my mom!

    Jordan and my Mom!

    Pumpkin Cookies

    1/2 cup butter
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup pumpkin
    1 tsp. vanilla
    2 cups flour
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. baking powder
    1/4 tsp. salt

    Alternatives:
    For the gluten-free crowd, I have on good authority that you can substitute the flour with one cup of all-purpose gluten-free flour and one cup of coconut flour. 
    Instead of just cinnamon, you can substitute with pumpkin pie seasoning. (Delish!)

    Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the pumpkin and vanilla to the creamed mixture. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and mix well. 

    Drop 1 teaspoon size balls of dough on a preheated cookie heat. Bake for 350 degrees F. for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack or on a brown paper sack. 

    We like to frost our pumpkin cookies. This is the frosting recipe. Sorry I don't have a better sounding or healthier recipe. If you have a frosting recipe that would work with these, please let me know!

    Frosting for Pumpkin Cookies

    3 cups powdered sugar
    1 tsp. butter
    2-3 drops of maple flavoring
    enough milk to make smooth (only add a tablespoon or two of milk at a time. This comes together very quickly!)

    Combine sugar, butter, and maple flavoring. Add milk to get the right consistency. Frost pumpkin cookies. 

    This recipe is very flexible so make substitutions that work for you. I use unbleached all-purpose flour, but I plan to substitute one cup of wheat flour for the all-purpose flour. I also use sea salt instead of regular table salt. 

    Sorry about the lack of pictures. Jordan has made the last several batches and she doesn't take pictures as she bakes. Besides that, the mess she creates would make most people shudder.

    Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Give The Gift of Books This Christmas!

    One of the few Christmas traditions I have set is giving books for Christmas presents to my kids. I love, love, love to read and I wanted to pass that on to my kids. They now love to read also! I usually give them 4-6 books every year and most of the time they have them read by the end of Christmas vacation. I think that is great because that means they were not in front of the screen as much.

    Books can be expensive when purchased new! Holy smokes! But I have a few tricks to giving books at Christmas while cutting the cost of the books.

    1. Scour your local thrift and consignments shops. Many, many good deals out there on almost brand new books and they cost about a quarter of the original price or less. My kids do not care if the books are brand new - they just want to read the book!

    2. Shop Half.com, Ebay, and Amazon for books. I can find books on these sites very cheaply. Again, I do not buy brand new books unless they are for sale for $1.50 or less. I find great deals on books especially hard to find books.

    3. Buy books they will want to read. Find books that cater to their interests. Find out their favorite authors and look for those books. If you buy books that do not interest them, they will not read them. I want them to read so I find books they want to read. For example, Dane is really into Star Wars right now so I bought him Star Wars books. He will love them and he will be reading them!

    4. Buy from school book orders. If you can get your school and/or teacher to do this, buy from the book orders from Scholastic Books. They have a lot of books at great deals and the school usually get free books also. A win-win situation!

    5. Give a magazine! Magazine subscriptions are great gifts and they will be the gift that will keep giving. If you watch sites such as Moms Need To Know, you can find year-long magazine subscriptions for as little as $5.00 or less a year! Great deal!

    Give your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, whoever books for a gift! They will not be disappointed!

    Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

    Posted on:

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Time To Get Serious

    Time to get serious about my spending and tighten down the hatches. And maybe, just maybe, if I tell you all about this I will have to be more accountable for myself.

    First of all:

    DID YOU KNOW THAT WE ONLY HAVE 72 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS?!?!


    If that wasn't enough to inspire panic in my (and possibly your) heart, I have another problem. Until next spring, I have a $165 a month car payment. Add to that, a raise in car insurance of $50 a month. Yikes!!!

    My monthly available income has been severely reduced. Not good when I have Paige's birthday and Christmas coming. The good things in my favor is that Paige's birthday shopping is done, the Christmas stockings for each kid is almost done (girls are done, Dane just needs a few more things), and I have started Christmas shopping.

    I need to cut down the Christmas spending. Fortunately, I have gotten really good at this in the past years. First thing I realized was that my kids did not care if everything they got was brand new or used! I buy them all books as one of their presents. I usually get them from eBay and half.com for less than half the cost for very high quality used books. The same happens with DVDs and Wii games. I have also shopped eBay and Goodwill stores for brand new toys that are pennies on the dollar.


    Second of all, I limit the presents they get on Christmas. Besides a full stocking, they usually only get four presents each from me/Santa. Granted, one of those presents might include 3-4 books, but I limit the gifts. I have never been about a big blow out Christmas and that sends the wrong message to kids.  I also try to keep the cost to around $75 - $100 for each child. If I can get it under that I am even more thrilled!

    Another idea for kids and the others on your Christmas list is handmade/homemade goods. I give a lot of cookie mix in jar and bread in jar gifts. These do not cost a lot to put together, but the thought that goes into them is great! Another great idea is make a plate of cookies, candies, a cake, or some bread to give to your neighbors, teachers, and fellow church people.

    A great idea for older people is to make a basket of goods for them. Last year I made my Grandma Rene a basket that included a potato soup mix in a jar, homemade chicken and rice packets with small cans of chicken, cookie mix in a jar, and a box of assorted teas. She loved it! The best thing about this was I made everything single serving except the potato soup and gave instructions on how to make it. I will probably shake it up a bit this year, but do something similar.

    One idea that has been popular is giving magazine subscriptions. If you shop around a bit or use sites such as magazines.com or valuemags.com you can save quite a bit on subscriptions. I like the idea that it is a gift that keeps on giving.

    I am looking for some new ideas this year so I would welcome any suggestions anyone has! I have more ideas that I will post in future blog posts. I hope to help you save money at Christmas especially if you are like me and saw an increase in your monthly bills!

    Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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