It’s so easy to overspend on groceries that there are plenty of ways to cut back. However, you’ll want to pace yourself so you don’t get overwhelmed — try one of the following savings tips at a time. [Read more…]
Did you start this year with every intention of starting to save for Christmas in January, or start buying gifts early? It’s now November and you haven’t started and you’re stressed out? I know I’ve been there and it can be stressful. Though we’ve learned from it, and will start come January 2016, for now we have to focus on this year and what we can do to make the most of it. There is still time to come up with some creative ways to make money for Christmas plans.
Become a Local Vendor
By late fall, Christmas markets in towns of all sizes start popping up and for a small fee you can become a vendor. Sell cookies, bake pies, knit scarves, the possibilities are endless! Stay away from larger cities and concentrate on small towns for the biggest bang for your buck. The rental fee is usually much lower and there is less competition. A friend of mine decided to sell cookies this year to earn some extra income. In one evening at a small town Christmas fair he sold $600 worth of cookies. It took him two days to bake and about $40 worth of ingredients, not bad for a few hours’ worth of work!
Even though we budget for Christmas, this is something I am seriously considering doing for next year anyway for some extra money. I’m not 100% sure what I’ll be selling but it will likely be my (semi-famous) cookies!
Make Use of Online Auctions
Consider selling things you already own online either through online auction sites or online classifieds. If you have a keen eye you could also consider flipping items from garage sales and thrift stores to sell online. There is a woman in town who paid her entire way through university by hitting up local thrift stores for high end vintage clothes and re selling them online. If you have a keen eye for something, you may be able to make some good money fast through online sales.
Offer a Seasonal Service
There is a woman in town who is offering to come in and decorate your house. She used to work in a high end retailer and for a small fee will come in and decorate your house and/or tree like you see in fancy department stores. Though I personally wouldn’t necessarily pay for this service, I know many people who would. Another option may be to offer cleaning and house prepping services before Christmas. I know I like to do a good deep clean before dragging all the decorations out and would love the help.
Spending a day to come up with a creative way to earn some extra money might be a good use of time. It’s easy to get frustrated but sometimes investing a little money into some materials ends up paying you back many times over. Make sure, whatever you decided to do, you price things out and do a little research.
Have you ever done anything creative to earn extra money for Christmas?
It’s no secret that kids can be quite the expensive investment, especially when you’re on your second or third pup. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to save money when you’ve got kids however. In fact, there are quite a few things you can do to keep the costs down as much as possible even with a few extra people in your home.
Bills and Utilities
More people in your home means more electricity being used up every month. It’s important to assess Texas Electricity Providers (or whatever local energy providers you’ve got) and compare the prices per kilowatt to see if you can save quite a bit of money each month on your utility bills. When you have kids it’s difficult to keep tabs on your energy consumption all the time so having a lower electricity rate will help keep costs down.
Food and Clothes
When you’ve got kids you should start looking into buying things in bulk. Buying items that you use constantly in bulk is going to be the best and most cost effective way of purchasing things. When you buy in wholesale you’ll get quite a discount on the items and it isn’t like you aren’t going to end up using them, so it’s probably your best bet for things that aren’t perishable.
As you start to spend more money when you’ve got kids, you’ll need to find ways to cut down your other expenses as much as possible. This means you’re going to have to start using coupons and looking for things that are on sale. While it might be a little difficult to get into these types of behaviors initially, you’ll find that it does tend to get easier as time goes on and once you get into the routine, you’ll start looking for sales and coupons without even thinking about it.
Furnitures and Other Goods
Look on Craigslist or eBay, or start searching for yard sales to grab stuff for a lot cheaper than you would buy them otherwise. These are great resources when it comes to finding furniture or children’s toys and more often than not, you can find things that are in quite good condition. Some of these might even be free and you can end up cutting down a few hundred dollars that you would have spent had you not gone the cheaper route.
Not all vacations or activities need to have a hefty price tag on them in order for them to be fun. You’ll find that a lot of kids can have an enjoyable time in almost every situation as long as you find ways to keep their attention, so don’t think you have to spend a ton of money for a weekend trip.
Something as simple as a day outside can mean a lot to your kids and as long as you’re spending legitimate time with them, they probably won’t mind that you haven’t gone to the latest amusement park. Try doing more home-based activities or going to attractions when they’re offered for free and you’ll end up saving a ton of cash.
Kids aren’t cheap, but that doesn’t mean they have to be necessarily expensive. There are different ways you can save money while keeping your kids happy as long as you’re conscious about what you’re doing and spend a little effort. Coupons and free items are going to end up saving you a ton of money and having fun at home is priceless.
I love Thanksgiving weekend because it is a nice break from work, and it’s a nice time to spend some time with family. However, 4 days does tend to drag on, and I don’t know about you, but here is how I spent my Thanksgiving weekend.
I did a lot of eating! Starting on Thursday, I spent a lot of time eating. In the morning I helped get the turkey ready with my wife, and then we headed over to my aunt’s house for dinner. It was great to see all of the family, and even better to enjoy the food. I love getting together with family because everyone brings such different dishes. I got to have a little bit of everything, and I promise you I filled my plate more than once.
I’m not going to lie, but I was one of the millions of shoppers who shopped on Grey Thursday this year. I actually don’t mind going shopping on Thanksgiving night, and I don’t know what all the fuss was about on the news.
Instead of waking up early, I got to eat dinner, and then do some shopping before I went to bed. I found it to be incredibly convenient, and based on what others in line were saying, I think they found it convenient too. My wife wanted to do Black Friday shopping last year, and staying up until like 4am was terrible. This year I was back home and in bed at midnight.
That’s not to say we didn’t go out again on Friday, because we did go shopping that day too!
But you know what, I did spend a lot of time being bored over the holiday break. It wasn’t a bad thing – it was nice to have a break from work. The trouble is that I found myself wasting time playing on sites like JackpotCity Online Casino, which cost me a few pennies. That’s okay though, because in the end it was worth it!
How did you spend your Thanksgiving?
I love buying clothes. Doesn’t it make you feel fantastic to be wearing something you truly love and feel amazing in? For me the answer is yes! Since becoming a work-at-home-mom, I haven’t really invested in clothes that make me feel awesome. Instead, I usually choose items that are more practical, this way when I get paint, glitter or glue all over them I don’t freak out. It’s not that I wear sweats or yoga pants all the time — I’m actually more of a jeans girl. Now that the boys are getting older and we are way past the spit up stage, I think it’s semi-safe for me to wear things that are comfortable but perhaps a bit more fashionable than what I have been wearing over the past 4 years. This means that I want to invest a little more money into my wardrobe but of course I don’t want to spend a fortune doing it either.
In the past (before kids of course) I would have headed to the mall and shopped my little heart out without considering what I was buying, how much I was spending or considering that I might be able to find the same item – or something similar – for less. But alas, those days are over. Actually, even if I wanted to be that frivolous, we can’t afford it — plus, I have learned so much about saving money since having the boys that even if money wasn’t an issue, I couldn’t do it without thinking about how silly I was being just throwing money away. So I have come up with some simple and painless ways to expand my wardrobe without busting our budget or adding credit card debt.
1. Shop Secondhand
I have learned a few things about shopping secondhand over the past few years. It’s easy and it can save you so much money!!! My secondhand stores of choice are consignment shops. I have taken the boys’ gently used clothing and toys to one of my favorite children’s consignment store in our area and have gotten some amazing deals! Depending on how much money I have earned from the sale of the boys’ previously worn items, I can get a bag full of “new” clothes for next to nothing. Even if I don’t have any credits I can still get great name brand clothing that looks new for an amazing price. There are women’s and men’s consignment shops too. At these stores you can purchase designer clothes for exceptional prices. Many times the items in these shops are not consigned because they aren’t stylish, often it’s because someone has either lost or gained weight — or they just like to clear their closets so they can buy more clothes. Go ahead, give secondhand shopping a try.
2. Visit Discount Stores
There are many stores such as Ross Dress for Less, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, and others who benefit from overstocks or store clearance. I have purchased some beautiful items for amazing deals. These stores are also great for purchasing fashion accessories, shoes, handbags and even home decor at super low prices.
3. Surf the Web
You can get some great deals by shopping online. Amazon, Ebay, Esty, etc. are ideal for finding good deals on clothing and accessories. Even shopping from some of your favorite department stores online can save you money. Many stores offer better deals online than they do in store because they don’t have the overhead of a brick and mortar store. Many stores offer free shipping if you pick the item up at a store near you. Be sure to check for coupon codes before you checkout; this will also help to save you money. Make sure you know the return/exchange policies before you buy. Most stores make returns and exchanges easy as long as you have the receipt. Shopping online also gives to the ability to quickly price check to find the best deals.
4. Shop Clearance
End of season clearance is the BEST time to buy new clothing. You can save 50%, 60% or even 80% when stores are clearing out thir inventory to make room for the new season’s fashion. I just picked up a Simply Vera (Vera Wang) purse for $25 it was regularly $125. I almost bought it when it was 1/2 off but decided not to since Christmas was just around the corner. Boy am I glad I waited. It certainly paid off! Often times you will still get a lot of wear out of an item before the season actually ends. It’s January and I’ve already seen bikinis and other summer fashions proudly displayed (at regular price) in stores. I bought a swimming suit last year for 75% off because it was September. I don’t have to worry about getting one now, I just have to worry about getting in shape so I’ll look good in it.
5. Make the Old New Again
Take inventory of what is already in your closet and find new and exciting ways to wear them. Mix different pieces, patterns and colors together. Just take some time out to play around with the clothes you already have. Put things together you may not have thought of before; you might be very surprised how how good certain things look together. You can also buy new (or new to you) clothing pieces like sweaters, jackets, scarves, hats, etc. to jazz up these well-loved ensembles and make them feel fresh and updated.
6. Host a Clothing Swap
Get some of your favorite girls together and even some of their friends and host a clothing swap. These ladies can bring in things that they are tired of, don’t fit in or wonder “Now why did I buy this? This is so not my color.” Make a fun girl’s night event out of it. If you want to bring along kids clothes to swap to, that can be double the fun. Get creative and enjoy!!!
I hope I have been able to give you some great ideas.
Do you have any other tips on how to save money on your clothing budget? I’d love to hear them!
I have ventured out on Black Friday a time or two. The first time I ever did this was during the Furby craze! These annoying little robotic toys were all the rage during Christmas season 1998 or 1999. I didn’t have children at the time but one of my BFFs did. These chatty creatures were in such high demand that each customer was only allowed to purchase one at a time — and my friend had two kids. I thought it would be fun adventure to get out there with all the other bargain hunters — plus, I wanted to help my friend. So we met at a department store at 3:30am the day after Thanksgiving.
For those of you who are avid Black Friday shoppers you are probably thinking, “What? 3:30am? You must have been at the back of the line!” The rest of you are probably wondering, “What the heck were you thinking?”
Well, we got our Furbies but it was pretty wild out there. My friend and I made our Black Friday outing an annual tradition for about 4 years. I think the only other super great deal we got was a Barbie Dream House for her daughter, which was normally $100 and I think it was on sale for $40. Even though we were far from the front of the line we got it and it was worth it — her daughter was thrilled on Christmas morning.
Is Black Friday really worth the hype?
For many people the answer is yes. For me? The answer is yes and no. Sure there are great deals to be had but you have to to get up ridiculously early to even have a chance at some of the hottest items. I’m not saying you won’t save money because you will, as long as the items you go out for are still in stock by the time you get there. Retailers leure you into their stores with promises of crazy low prices on specific items but they usually only have a few of these items in stock. So let’s say that you see a 32″ HD TV advertised for only $99. If you are one of the very first people at the front of the line you have a good chance at getting this item. The bad news is, you may have to skip the pumpkin pie to start standing in line before the sun even sets on your Thanksgiving Day.
Online retailers take notice of Black Friday sales and the folks at Amazon.com are constantly dropping their prices to one up other retailers. So if you don’t want to wait out in the freezing cold or throw elbows with the big boys and girls, you might just want to start shopping early and do some research so you can find the best deals on and offline. Another great thing is that a lot of stores today will price match competitors if you have the ad with you. This can help save you time and money.
Now for the record I’m not saying shopping on Black Friday is a bust. I do like to hit the stores after I have slept off the tryptophan from the day before and had a few cups of coffee. I usually get out around 10-11am. By this time the crazy has settled and there are still a few Early Bird Specials to be had.
If you do want to venture out:
Have a plan
Look at the ads and decide which stores and what deals you want to take advantage of. Write it down!
Bring those too. There are often retail coupons, which you can find online that can be used in addition to sale prices but read the fine print just to be sure.
Don’t take it too seriously
Have fun! Make a plan to shop till you drop, then meet friends for breakfast or lunch. This can help you de-stress. Plus, it’s fun to compare deals.
What do you think about Black Friday? Are you a die hard shopper or do you stay away from the stores as much as possible on that day?
More and more parents are having to work harder to make that extra buck so not only is saving money a concern but also making sure the time you have to spend with your family is maximized. As a parent, I am constantly challenged to find interesting and cost-effective ways to have fun with the kids. This can be tough considering how technology makes it tempting to spend and use expensive outlets for fun. All is not lost though as there are still lots of ways to spend qulity time with the kids and save at the same time
Here are some year-round activities you can engage in that won’t burn a hole in your pocket.
For the indoors:
1. You can build your kids’ creativity and imagination by creating an art wall that can display artwork made all times of the year. First, allocate a part of the wall in your kids room for this. Mark it off by sticking letter cut-outs of thier names. You can make this from old magazines or use stencils to cut out handy art paper. Have your kids join the fun by having them sitck their names themselves. This can be educational too! Next, have them draw anything they want to display on the wall. It can be a drawing of your family, a cartoon character, a lesson in school, the ideas are limitless. And you can recycle these works of art to keep it fresh.
2. Have a rewards chart that you can make a household activity fun and a lesson at the same time. You can use old cardboard and markers to create a billboard that you can prop on the side, hang on the wall, or stick near your art center. Take a photo of each child and place it on the top and bottom or left and right side of the chart. Decorate the chart sides to match the personalities of each child. You can again use handy art material or old magazines. Every day, set aside times where you have them do easy chores like fixing their toys, or cleaning their room. Activities done successfully can be rewarded by a star or a picture tacked to the chart. At the end of the week you will have collected a number of markers. Set a limit and make this limit rewardable with a favorite snack or a favorite show or a favorite outdoor activity. Your kids learn how to be responsible, you have fun with them while doing chores, and you save money.
For the outdoors:
You can extend the rewards to the outside and make these money saving activities as well by choosing the places you visit.
1. You can have a picnic in the park on nice, sunny days. You have full control over what food you bring and the kids have access to a free playground.
2. You can visit the bookstore and take advantage of the kids section which allows free reading of kids books.
3. You can go to the local indoor pool for cold and overcast days and have a small swimming party.
4. And, if you really want to keep it simple, and multi-purpose, you can go grocery shopping and make it an adventure by having your kids help choose your grocery items. They will learn all about “good” food and how to budget as well. My kids love our Saturday afternoon grocery trips.
Remember that kids don’t mind simple activities as long as they are able to spend fun, quality-time with you. So saving and being with your kids need not be opposing activities.
Make the most of the simple things offered out there and you can’t go wrong!
What cheap and fun activities do you do with your kids?