Budgeting Archives

Best Places to Find Cheap Christmas Gifts

canstockphoto15267563Christmas shopping can get quite expensive. There is a long list of family and friends that you want to shop for. Buying expensive gifts are unnecessary and will potentially leave you in a lot of debt if you aren’t careful. The good news is you don’t have to empty your wallet to provide a lovely, thoughtful Christmas gift for your loved ones.

Before heading out to the mall to do your Christmas shopping, make sure that you make a list of people you’re planning to buy gifts for. Planning ahead will help to ensure that you’re not leaving anyone out and this will also allow you to have your list handy while shopping. You can maximize your savings by writing down the maximum amount that you’re going to pay for each item to prevent going over your budget.

 

If you want to learn more about where you can find the best Christmas gifts on the cheap, here are a few ideas to get you going:

 

1. Homemade gifts. If you choose to give away homemade gifts, it is well received since you have taken a lot of time and effort to create it. There are a variety of homemade crafts that you can make with very little time, money and effort. For example, if you love to cook, you can bake a cake or even make canned jelly or preserves. You can simply use an old family recipe or search online for more ideas.

Other handmade gift ideas include scrapbooks, handmade jewelry and greeting cards. Personalized gifts show the recipients that you took a lot of time and thought to make them a special gift.

2. Visit thrift stores. This is another great way to save on Christmas gifts. Many of the items that’s sold at thrift shops are gently used, and will make great gifts. As you walk down the aisles, keep an open mind about the best gifts for the people on your list. In addition to selling clothes, most thrift stores have books, toys, household wares and other items that’ll make great gifts. This will help you find the hidden gems while you’re doing your shopping.

3. Look for deals at flea markets. Although flea markets are looked down by some, it’s still a great place to find high quality products at low prices. There are reputable vendors that sell anything from designer clothes to the latest gadgets. When shopping at flea markets you’ll have a better chance of negotiating a lower price with the sellers since they are trying to get rid of the merchandise.

4. Take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Waiting in long lines can be stressful, but the items that you’ll find may be well worth it. Look for advertisements in the newspaper and make a list of the items that you would like to purchase. Keep in mind that you may have to include alternative gift ideas since these products will be taken off the shelves rather quickly. If you want to avoid the long lines, visit bfads.net to find the best deals from popular retailers.

 

Christmas shopping can be very stressful, especially if you don’t have a lot of money to spend for expensive gifts. You will save a lot of money by searching for great deals and making your own gifts. Your family and friends will enjoy the gifts and spending the holidays with you. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

canstockphoto7412656Halloween is one of the most fun holidays of the year that both children and adults look forward to. After all, it has a unique tradition. In addition to taking your children to go trick or treating, Halloween parties are the best way to celebrate the holiday. Many people prefer to have parties to make sure their children are safe. However, having a Halloween party can get quite expensive. The good news is there are ways to for you to prevent overspending. Here are a few ways to find Halloween goodies on a budget:

 

1. Buy candy early or when it’s on sale. Check out retail stores like Walmart and Target. They usually have specials on candy and other snacks that’s typically sold during the Halloween season. You may also find these items at a discount at Wholesale Clubs and Dollar Stores. Look for sales on candy  in the weeks leading to Halloween or when the items are first displayed on the store shelves. Candy can be purchased year around since most lasts for a long time.

If you’re a savvy shopper, you’ll stock up on candy when they are at a deep discount when Halloween is over to keep until the following year. The days after the holiday is over is when you will find all types of candy at rock bottom prices. This is similar to buying a turkey the day after Thanksgiving.

2. Ask your guest to bring their favorite Halloween snacks. This will save you a lot of time and money on the snacks. You’ll also get to enjoy a variety of goodies that people will bring. You can focus more on the fun things like decorating and preparing the punch.

3. Buy cheap gift bags. You can find inexpensive gift bags at the dollar store or by visiting orientaltrading.com.  If you want to save money,  you can use freezer bags that you have in your cabinets.

4. Create your own invitations. You can use an online invitation website like evite.com to send email invitations to your guests. However, if you prefer the old school traditional invitations consider making it yourself. A simple design such as a cut-out black spider from construction paper glued to a white card is easy to make. If you’re not the crafty type, you can make them on your computer.

5. Set the mood with some Halloween music. Since we live in the digital age, you can find music quite cheaply. You can easily find a Halloween album or scary sound effects for only a few bucks. All you have to do is plug in your iPod or MP3 player to keep your guests entertained. You can go the extra mile by positioning the speakers in the windows in front of your home for partygoers as they’re approaching your house.

6. Carve some pumpkins. Retail stores typically have discounts on pumpkins. This is a fun and inexpensive activity for your guest to enjoy.

 

Speaking of decorations, you can find them at rock bottom prices right after the holiday. Consider checking out auction sites like eBay to find bargains. Making your own decorations is another way to save some money. If you have sheets, black dye and cotton balls lying around the house, these items are enough to create a scary scene. The cotton balls can be used to make spider webs and the sheets can either be used as a costume or  to decorate the table or wherever your mind takes you. On the other hand, if there will be small children at the party, you may want to prevent the decorations from being too scary since some children are afraid of certain things.

 

If you do some planning and get creative, it will be easy to enjoy a Halloween party on a budget. Make sure you plan ahead, ask others to contribute and embrace your creative side. Since Halloween only happens once a year, make the most of it and have a ball!

How to Save Money On Clothes

canstockphoto17170625Are you longing for the latest designer fashion on the rack? You may have spotted that beautiful dress that people can’t stop talking about. If you continue to purchase every designer clothing that catch your eye, this will eventually add up and will have you in a lot of debt before you know it.

Some fashion experts will argue that clothes can either make or break a person. They also explain that your personality is always reflected on the way you dress. You don’t have to break the bank to make a good fashion statement. There are ways you can save money on clothes with the latest fashion.

Here are some  tips you on How To Save Money On Clothes on your next shopping trip and find items that will grab a lot of attention without the thousand dollar price tag.

 

Do The Math

Saving money on clothing can be really tricky, unless you know how to do the math. Before you purchase a dress that will cost you hundreds of dollars, it is best to go places that are budget friendly. Whenever you shop at a store that sell high end items, you are more likely to pay $300 for a dress while you can find one with the same quality for as little as $20 at a retail or department store.

You would be amazed how many pieces of clothing that you can buy from a department store compared to high end companies.

 

Be On The Lookout For Closeout Sales

The big retailers such as Walmart, Target and Kmart have clearance sales as they’re making room for more inventory as the season changes. You can also check out your neighborhood Family Dollar Stores since they have nice clothing at rock bottom prices. These are all great places to look for bargains.

You can easily find online stores and catalogue companies that sell inexpensive outfits. They also offer free shipping and handling charges if you  make a purchase of a certain amount.

 

Drive Yourself to The Thrift Store

Thrift Stores are usually operated by non-profit organizations. This means that they are usually working for charity. They give a portion of the proceeds to some local charitable institutions. The prices of clothes that’s being sold in the thrift store is a lot cheaper than the items sold in department stores.

Even though some of  these items are hand me downs, they are usually in excellent condition. You may even come across some brand name products for as little as a few bucks. So that will mean big savings for you. It is absolutely fortunate that this will not only save you money, you are also doing a good deed.

 

Leave The Credit Cards at Home

You may be tempted to carry your credit cards whenever you decide to shop for some new clothes. Always pay for your items in cash to avoid paying high interest rates.  The money that you will pay in interest can be used towards paying off existing debts or added to your savings and investments.

 

Searching for bargains and paying cash for all of your purchases are the best ways to save money on clothes. Using these tips to your advantage will potentially put thousands of dollars in your pocket that will allow you to build enough money in your savings to send your children to college and live comfortably in your golden years.

canstockphoto3262685The first day of school is just around the corner. There are a few questions that come to mind when it’s time for parents to do their shopping such as “Where can I find the best deals on clothes, notebooks, backpacks and the list goes on. Education is a very important thing when it comes to our children, but at the same time some of these things can be quite costly. Here are  a few simple things you can do to save money on Back To School Supplies.

 

Plan a List 

Write out a list for all of the things that your children will need. The little things such as writing paper, pencils, and crayons may seem like it doesn’t cost that much, but if you purchase it at the retail price you could be wasting a lot of money. You should also involve your children while writing out the list. Depending on their ages, they have an idea of all the things that are needed and this will show them some responsibility.

 

Take Advantage of Tax Holidays

Tax Holiday specials are usually offered annually by many states during the back to school season. This will allow you to purchase school supplies without having to pay the sales tax on any of the items. You may want to do some research by looking in the Sunday’s edition of your local newspaper or by searching online.

 

Purchase By The Bulk

There is a basic economic principle- “The More You Buy, The More You Save.” Well this is relevant if you are making a purchase of a specific item that you will need in the near future. For example, if you are buying pencils you should buy it by the box instead of purchasing individually.

Face it, your children will be using these items throughout the school year. It will be smart to take advantage of the sales while these items are available at rock bottom prices.

 

Prepare Your Children’s Snacks

If your family is not qualified for the free lunch program, take the time to prepare snacks for your children. This will not only save you money, it will ensure that your children are consuming healthier meals. You should also discourage them from purchasing items from vending machines if it’s available at their school. It usually contain high sodium and sugary snacks and drinks. Even though it may cost only a dollar, the money will add up over time especially if it’s purchased on a daily basis. This money can be used to add to their savings.

 Transportation

You may want to consider getting your children a bicycle to bring to school. This of course is not always possible. Providing a cheap and safe way to get your children to school is your top priority . If you are concerned about their safety, you have the option to car pool with your neighbors or to use school bus transportation services in your local district which is usually provided free of charge. Contact the school where your children will be attending for more information.

Saving money on Back To School Supplies isn’t hard. If you follow one or more of these ideas, your savings will add up to a bright future for your family.

 

How to Plan a Wedding on a Budget

canstockphoto17336704Planning a wedding can be fun, but it can also be very expensive. Staying on budget is challenging, especially when trends change as well as making last minute purchases. Getting married doesn’t have to break the bank if you are living on a budget to begin with. Here are 5 Tips on How to Plan a Wedding on a Budget.

 

Do It Yourself

If you are creative, many aspects of your wedding will be easier and less expensive if you put your talent to good use. For example, designing and printing your own wedding invitations is a great way to cut back on the expenses.

Many wedding invitations are expensive while the cheaper ones tend to lack quality. You should get your family and friends to help you create the wedding invitations and other things such as the programs, escort cards and table numbers. You can easily save yourself hundreds of dollars by doing it yourself. Other items that can be done using your creativity are decorations such as the tables and flower arrangements.

 

Prepare a Strict Budget For Things That You Can’t Do Yourself

It’s obvious that you can’t be the jack of all trades at your wedding. If you are planning to provide some entertainment for your guest at the wedding reception, consider hiring caterers and a live band .When it comes to these services, do some comparison shopping. If you can’t afford to hire a caterer, ask your friends and family if they can prepare a dish. Instead of hiring a live band, get a deejay to keep your guest entertained since it’s often much cheaper. Keep in mind that you should never skimp on quality for the price. There’s an old saying “You get what you pay for.”

 

Find a Cheap High Quality Wedding Dress

Purchasing your wedding dress from a bridal shop is often cheaper than hiring a designer. If the mother of the bride still have her wedding dress that’s in great condition and is willing to allow the bride to keep or borrow the dress, this can also cut down on the expenses. You can also save money by purchasing a pre-owned wedding dress instead of buying a new one.

 

Find a Location to Have Your Wedding that Doesn’t Break the Bank

Besides having your family and friends around to celebrate your big day, the most important part of your wedding is the location. Almost any location can be made to create the perfect spot for your wedding ceremony. If you have a beautiful backyard, it can be the perfect place to have your wedding and the reception. Renting a couple of tents and placing covers and sashes over the chairs will add elegance to the décor.

Some banquet halls offer discounts if you plan your wedding on certain days of the week. Off- season weddings are typically offered at a lower rate as well.

 

Limit the Time Your Guest Spend at The Open Bar

One of the major expenses of a wedding comes from having an open bar, especially if you have friends and family that drink a lot. There are ways to cut down on these expenses. You should consider having an open bar for only the last hour. There is also an option to have an cash bar, but it is not recommended. The guest should not have to purchase their own drinks. You can easily save money by offering cheaper cocktails instead of the premium or purchase your own drinks instead.

 

Planning a wedding without going over the budget can be stressful if you don’t know what to do. However, if you plan ahead and use the above tips to your advantage, you can make the dreams of your special day a reality without going broke.

 

4 Ways to Get Through a Financial Emergency

canstockphoto6226763How do you get through a Financial Emergency? Just when you think you are on top of your finances and things are going smoothly, disaster strikes. It could be something as minor as getting a flat tire on your way to work or something big such as job loss or a medical emergency. If you plan ahead, you’ll get through it, even if you are going through hard times.

The purpose of creating a budget is to save money for the unexpected. Most financial gurus agree that everyone should have an emergency fund that will cover their expenses for at least six months. Even if you are doing well with your savings, it doesn’t mean that you should stop adding money to it.

Here are some tips on how to get through a Financial Emergency whether you think you are prepared or are in deep debt:

 

Review Your Budget

Although, you may have enough money in your emergency fund to pay for car repairs, you will still need to prepare yourself in case anything else happens. What if you or your loved ones are faced with a medical emergency that your insurance company won’t cover or what would you do if you were laid off from your job today? You will need to find ways to readjust your budget.

Reducing the amount of money that you spend on your cable bill is a great way to save money. If your contract has expired with your current provider, you can ask for a smaller plan or eliminate the service all together. You can also contact your cellular phone and internet service provider and ask for cheaper plans or find another company that has better deals.

Canceling magazine or newspaper subscriptions can also save you some money. There is a good chance that there are free online newspapers and websites where you will find the same information for free.

 

Earn Extra Money

If you are currently without a job, there are still ways you can earn some extra cash. You can provide a cleaning service, wash cars or provide a dog walking service for your neighbors. If you would like to make money in your pajamas, there are easy ways you can make money online. If you have items in your home that’s no longer in use, sell it on eBay. There is a good chance that someone is looking for that item as long as it’s in good condition.

You can even use your skills to make money as a freelancer. Check out places such as taskrabbit, fiverr, eLance and oDesk.

 

What if you don’t have enough money to cover the expenses?

Negotiate the Payments

If you are faced with high credit card bills or are behind on your mortgage, contact the company as soon as possible. Ask if there is a way that you can pay a lower monthly payment until your financial situation improve. Most companies will work with you, especially if you have a good history of making your payments on time.

If you had a medical emergency that’s not covered by your health insurance company, contact the financial department of the medical facility and ask if there is a way you can pay in monthly installments until it’s paid off. However, if the payment is more than you can afford, find out if there is a way you can send a lower amount.

 

Ask for Help

If you are going through hard times, swallow your pride and ask for help. Find out if there are charities in your area that donate food and clothing. If you have a disability, visit the Social Security Administration to sign up for SSI and food stamps. This will help out with your household expenses until you are able to get back on your feet.

 

These are a few ways to get you through a Financial Emergency. It may seem impossible at first, but if you follow these tips, you will become debt free before you know it.

What are the Costs of Having a Baby?

canstockphoto18071332If you are planning to have a baby in the near future, there are some things you will need to plan for. Making the decision to have a child is a major step in your life. Having a new born will change every aspect of your life, especially when it comes to your finances. In fact, it will get very expensive. The examples below will give you an idea of the Costs of Having a Baby.

 

Babies will need formula (if you choose not to breastfeed) and diapers. These two items are expensive. Your infant will need to be fed and changed continuously. Once your baby become a toddler, he or she will begin to eat table food. This will add more to the grocery bill, especially if you buy jarred baby food.

Clothing is another expense that you will have to consider. Babies grow very fast and will require you to buy them in a bigger size sooner than you realize. Clothes can be purchased at thrift stores to minimize the costs. It is not unusual for children to grow three or four sizes or even more within the first year. The price of clothing will get more expensive as children get older.

Do you have insurance? Medical insurance is needed to cover the expenses of  your pregnancy and the birth of your child. Typical pregnancies require between twelve and fifteen visits, depending on your doctor’s requests and the development of your pregnancy. If you have a high risk pregnancy, you will need to see a doctor more often which leads to more expenses.

If you are without medical insurance, the visits to the doctor’s office will add up to a lot of your out of pocket expenses. Medical insurance is also highly recommended for the birth of your child. Having good medical coverage will ensure that most of the expenses are covered.

After the baby is born, there will be several visits to the doctor to ensure that your baby is developing well. Most medical insurance companies will fully cover the visits to the pediatrician. If the insurance company won’t cover 100% of the costs, then you will just have to pay a small out-of-pocket co-pay. If you don’t have insurance, the visits are not covered and you are responsible for all of the procedures and the vaccinations that’s given to your child.

If you and your spouse or partner both have jobs, then you will need to pay for child care expenses. The price of a day care is almost as expensive as making monthly car payments. You can cut your expenses by working opposite work shifts.

 

Making the decision to have a child should be taken seriously. Many people are not aware of the Costs of Having a Baby and what it will take to raise a child. When you have a baby, you will have to put his or her needs before your own. Talk to friends and family members who have small children to prepare yourself for the physical, emotional and financial expenses that may lie ahead for you.

canstockphoto4510251You are so excited about your upcoming wedding. There are a list of things to do such as the catering, fitting of the wedding dress, tuxedo, rehearsals, invitations and so on. When you are planning for your wedding, the last thing you would like to think about is what should happen in case of a divorce.

As people are going into marriages these days with almost the same income levels, it is best to be honest with one another and have a discussion on how they would like their financial situation to be in case they decide to get a divorce.

Marriage is often the most significant financial decision to make. There may be some major changes depending on how the bills will be split and the assets that you will build together. Of course, the topic of Prenuptial Agreements is scary for both parties. However, if you’ve accumulated assets prior to the marriage, you should consider protecting what you worked so hard for.

Negotiating a Prenuptial Agreement  is the most common way for a couple to make a decision on how they would want to proceed financially in the event of a divorce. A Prenup is a legally binding contract that’s signed by both parties. It is always a good idea for each future spouse to have their own attorney to represent their best interests when the contract is drawn up.

There are a few things you should keep in mind if you’re considering a Prenup. The first thing to do is to make sure that all financial assets and property be disclosed and addressed in the agreement. There have been many cases where the courts refused to enforce a Prenuptial Agreement because one party failed to list a major asset.

Furthermore, the agreement can’t be entirely one-sided or unreasonable. For instance, there have been examples where a court decided to dismiss it on the grounds that the contract was unfair to one of the parties in the marriage. If the arrangement in the Prenuptial Agreement will leave one spouse empty handed after the divorce, then there is a good chance that it won’t be upheld in a court of law.

Some issues are not in the contract. Custody and visitation rights of children that were born during the marriage cannot be decided by a Prenup.  A Family Court judge will make a decision based on which party should get custody based on the best interest of the children.

Getting a Prenuptial Agreement has it’s pros and cons:

 

Pros:

-It can help each party maintain any financial assets that was accrued before the marriage.

-The spouse who becomes a full-time homemaker is entitled to alimony to rebuild his or her life once the divorce is final.

-It can make the divorce process go much quickly and reduce the emotional toll on both spouses.

 

Cons:

-It can be uncomfortable to bring up the topic in the months leading up to the wedding.

-Having this discussion could create animosity and distrust between the future spouses.

 

It is difficult to discuss the topic of a Prenuptial Agreement right in the middle of planning your wedding. You should keep in mind that unexpected issues may come up in your marriage that’s beyond your control that sometimes will lead to a divorce. It shouldn’t be viewed as a solution that will cover every issue that may arise during the divorce proceeding. In many cases, it can be a great way to protect both parties in case the unthinkable should happen.

 

 

canstockphoto2014300You have all that Loose Change sitting at the bottom of your purse, in your pants pocket or even find them between the seats of your sofa. What do you do with all of these coins? Do you save it or toss it aside? Saving change may not seem like much. After all, it’s just a few extra pennies here and there. But if you were to collect all of the change and add it up, you might be surprised at how much money will be saved up . It could be enough to take your friend out to lunch or buy yourself something special.

It won’t feel like it cost anything since this money was just sitting and not included in your budget.

Many people often treat Loose Change like it’s not real money. After all, what difference can a few cents make? As a result, it usually end up in the hands of the kids, on the counter or you allow the cashier to keep it. Collecting your change can add up quickly and pay for some extras that aren’t included in your budget.

Think about how much change that you collect in a month, or over a year. Even a few pennies here and there can make a difference and will add up in several months. If you find a way to start saving all of your coins, you could always put some aside for something fun such as a family outing.

The downside to this is your loose change will take time to count, depending on how much you’ve accumulated and it takes up a lot of room. You can easily solve these problems by counting it on your day off from work and by creating a designated place to keep it. Get a big jar and place the change in it until there is enough money to spend on groceries or whatever purchases that you would like to make.

You are probably not the only person in your household who’s spending money and carrying loose change in your pockets. There is a good chance that your spouse and kids have it too. You can increase your savings even more by getting everyone together to participate by placing their coins in the change jar. Place the jar where everyone can find it and put their left over change in the jar each day. You can add it up altogether as a family and plan what to do with it when the jar is full.

Set aside time each week or month to roll the coins that you already have. That way it won’t become a tedious task once the jar is full. Rolling your coins will help you keep track of how much money that you’ve saved.

You will have enough to spend on fun things like going to an amusement park . On the other hand, you can save it for a trip, use it to purchase Christmas gifts or donate to your favorite charity. If your family have a big goal to save for, you should tape a photo of it on the front of the jar to remind everyone to stay on track.

What if you don’t want to spend it? You can choose to let it sit or add it to your savings. Some banks will charge you a small fee for adding pennies or will accept it in limited quantities. Contact them first to find out their policy on depositing change into your account.

Saving your Loose Change will allow you to save up enough money for family outings, vacations and make big and small purchases. The next time you see coins lying around the house, put it in the jar and watch those pennies turn into dollars in no time.

 

 

 

canstockphoto3417830In today’s economy, it is important for moms to look for ways to make their dollars stretch. Being frugal is an excellent way to control your spending habits. Many people mistake frugality for giving up all things that they enjoy the most for the sake of saving a dollar. This is not the case. It actually allows you to look for ways to prevent overspending. There are several methods you can use to save money on your favorite things whether you’re shopping at the supermarket or for clothing.

 

Here are Five Money Saving Tips For Moms to stay on top of their budget:

 

Cook Dinner at Home. Preparing your own home-cooked meals instead of eating out is an excellent way to save you money. The food at restaurants are often overpriced and the portion sizes are not worth the money spent. For example, the price of one adult meal can possibly feed your family for two nights.

 

Clip Coupons. Clipping coupons is an important money saving strategy that will minimize the amount of money that you spend at the grocery store. Perusing flyers, preparing dinner by what’s on sale and using coupons can maximize your savings. Clipping coupons will help lower the cost at the cash register. Many supermarkets also double the face value of coupons up to 99 cents.

 

Pack Your Children’s Lunch. You should pack your children’s lunch rather than have them spend money buying school lunch or at the vending machine. The food and drinks in the vending machine are loaded with sodium and sugar. You will be better off packing their lunch with healthy snacks and avoid the prices of school lunch which have been steadily increasing over the last few years.

 

Make Your Own Coffee. Making your own morning cup of coffee instead of going to the café will add up, especially if you consume it on a daily basis. If your husband has a job and you’re a stay-at-home mom, prepare a travel mug for him as he is getting ready for work instead of spending money for coffee day after day.

 

Shop at Thrift Shops and Close Out Sales For Clothing. Most of the clothing at the thrift stores are gently used. Typically, worn out clothing is not accepted by thrift shop owners. It is possible that you will find brand name clothes at a small fraction of the regular price.

Another way for you to save money on clothing is by looking for close out sales. Find out if there are clothing shops that are going out of business in your area. They often have products at rock bottom prices to get rid of all of the items before they close their shop for good. You can even look for items at places like Walmart and Sears/Kmart on the clearance racks.  Shopping at back to school sales and on major holidays such as labor day and  black out sales will save you money on your favorite designer clothes.

 

Clipping coupons, cooking home-cooked meals for your family, preparing lunch for your children, making your own coffee and shopping at thrift shops are five best Money Saving Tips For Moms. Take these ideas and roll with them. It won’t be long before you will find other ways to save money on your purchases. Your budget will thank you for it.

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