It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….everywhere, literally everywhere you go. Is it just me or does it come earlier and earlier every year? It seems like Halloween isn’t even over and you start seeing Christmas decor. So this year instead of turning my head and thinking omg, I am so not ready. I decided to embrace the thought of decorating early. (See pic, this is my house, not bad for $60 spent at the Dollar Tree right?) Yes, our tree is already up!!!! since November 8th! I did this for several reasons. First of all last year was really hard emotionally and financially. I just left my husband after being Married 16 years. Just getting thru everyday was more of a priority. I put everything off but in the end with a little help I was able to have a great Christmas for my boys. Secondly, I feel like I’m just In a better position this year emotionally as well as financially. More reasons I wanted to get it out of the way because I am going back to school and working hard on a lot of projects. My boys love Christmas and my oldest son’s bday is Dec. 22 so I also have a bday the same week as Christmas…then mine is two weeks later. All of the best Christmas decorations are fully stocked. Waiting really limits the possibilities of getting what you want. As soon as Thanksgiving is over it is game on! And shopping becomes like wrestle mania! You have to fight for what you want. (Wait isn’t that true for really anything? Lol) I was able to get some awesome decor at the Dollar Tree, all of it fully stocked!!!! And super cheap got everything for $60! They really have stepped it up and got better quality items too. It would be a tragity to buy this stuff anywhere else. I think we saved around 75 percent by shopping here compared to maybe Target or Walmart Ok enough about decor…back to having an amazing Christmas on a tight budget. Here are some tips and tricks. #1 set a limit per child. Obviously older kids are going to want more expensive gifts so they may only get a few while the younger ones will get several smaller cheaper gifts. I only have young kids ages 2 and 4 so they don’t understand prices or brands which makes shopping easier. #2 Think outside of the box. Shop other stores you may have overlooked before. Ever thought to Christmas shop at Walgreens? I shop there every year to get toys. Now I don’t get all of the toys there but I finish my shopping there. I have been able to get two carts full of toys for less than $100 buy utilizing there sales with the buy two get one free or buy three get two free toys! Be on the lookout for those sales! #3 Use layaway. I usually only use Kmart for Christmas layaway but this year I think I will use Walmart and see if I can save more. The down side is not being able to put clothes on layaway so I may go to Kmart as well. Layaway is awesome because you can pay in payments and you don’t have to worry about hiding the gifts, you can pick up the week of Christmas wrap it all and find a temporary hiding spot. #4 If you are on a very tight budget and you are going through hard times and don’t see how you are going to pull off the holidays here are some ways you can get help. Call the Salvation Army and sign up for food baskets and toy giveaways. Call churches and see if they offer any help What organizations are you involved in? So many organizations offer help. My son’s school offers all kinds of resources (head start) a great program for low and moderate income kids and their families. Cal for referrals to other programs and resources. I don’t think you necessarily need to be homeless. It doesn’t hurt to call and ask. Social services can offer resources or give you some suggestions # 5 Plan early. Start as soon as possible, setting money aside and planning your Christmas budget. Also, prepare for unexpected guests and have little gifts on hand for gift giving like boxes of candy, lotions, small gift baskets, etc. #6 Start a change fund for Christmas in Jan. (While this won’t help this year it is an idea for next year so you won’t stress out last minute). How this works is put all of you change in a big jar or five gallon water jug. All of you change at the end of the day is put in it. If you save all coins you could have around $3000 on average at the end of the year. #7 Cut your budget per gift in half if you spent $20 on each giftlast year try cutting it to ten. There are so many good deals that this is easy with a little planning and you may have to shop several stores and have a little patience. #8 Does it have to be new? If you have really little kids to buy for, do they really care about the box? No, they just rip into them. They want the toy! If there is a toy your child wants that’s out of your budget you might be able to find it used on eBay or craigslist, or even a thrift store, yard sale or consignment store. Just make sure all the pieces are there and it’s clean and in good condition. You could even trade old toys for store credit to get new ones at some children’s consignment stores #9Sell old items like toys and clothing on capitalist and eBay for extra Christmas money. #10 Make gifts. If you are crafty you might be able to make things like leg warmers, scarfs, gloves, hats, blankets or jewelry. Try reusing materials. You can repurpose old clothes to make a quilt. For jewelry you might be able to redesign old costume jewelry and for leg warmers, think old sweaters. #11 Black Fiday and Cyber monday. If you can brave the long wait, crowds snd chaos uou can get some great deals. I personally like cyber monday better, it’s less stress for sure and a lot of stores offer free shipping. #12 Gift wrap cards and postage. Use flat rate priority for everything. This is a money and time save for several reasons. No weighing, if it fits it ships. Try redesigning the box to fit more. The flat rate envelopes can hold more if you make the bottom flat. Another plus, free tracking and insurance and drum roll.please, no stress, just schedule a pick up. The post office will come get it. Just print your labels at usps.gov and schedule a pick up. They will even drop the boxes off, just go to usps.gov to order supplies. Cards and gift wrap can be purchased at dollar stores. Why would u want to shop anywhere else? And spend double or even triple. You can even use fabric scraps and old ribbon to wrap gifts. Hope these tips helped relieve a little holiday stress! Wishing you and your families a wonderful holiday season!
As you probably know by now I have been following Dave Ramsey. Now I’m not taking his financial peace class but I am atudying his advice and watching his youtube videos. There was one video in particular that caught my eye. He was basically saying in order to get ahead financially you can not think like everyone else. You have to be ok with being different and doing things differently. You have to look at money, debt and really life in general from a different perspective. I’m going to call it ” think like your grandma”. Let’s think about this for a minute, in our grandparents generation they had no credit cards, they used what they had and they did not shop fir recreation. They bought what they needed and most importantly, they were content, they lived and they lived within their means. I think if we took a step back and re- adapted our life styles to these simple concepts we could really get a lot further. Say goodbye to the Jonses too. If the people in your life can’t understand your new way of thinking you have to re- evaluate who are the important people in your life. If you have to try to impress people, they aren’t your friends. Friends will stick by you during good time and in bad. No matter what sseason of life you are in. Just a little food for thought.
I decided it was time to re-evaluate my budget when my grocery bill per month got to $750 a month ( yes I got a little off track). I guess with everything that I’ve had going on in my life (divorce, moving, son in the hospital) the stress was too much and I stopped budgeting like I should have been. I used to clip coupons, meal plan, do make ahead meals, etc but all of that took the back burner for a while. So anyhow, now it’s time to put my foot down on spening too much!!!! I’m getting back on track. I have some goals in place (more on that later) and it’s time to make some changes. Here are some ways I am cutting our grocery bill down. One simple thing!!!! Shopping at the dollar tree! If you don’t have a Dollar Tree in your area maybe you have a .99 cent store or something similar. Just by know what to buy here you can save hundreds. Here are some of the things that I feel are a good value and I will do a price comparison Dollar Tree vs. Walmart Cream Cheese $1.00 vs. $2 @walmart (we go through a lot of this with bagels and crackers) Snack crackers $1 vs. $3-4 a box Bread or buns $1 vs. $3-4 Sour cream $1 vs. $2 Soda .25 a can about the same right now Juice $1 vs. $3 Pasta $1 vs. $2 Pasta sauce $1 vs. up to $4 Frozen waffles $1 vs. $2-3 Coffee and tea And hot cocoa $1 vs. up to $6 or more Snacks (this is the biggest budget breaker in our house) i would say just buying all your snacks here tou can save $50 a week (assuming you grocery shop once a week) Frozen foods $1 vs. 2 Misc Paper plates $1 vs $2 Tylenol $1 vs. $4 Band aids $1 vs. $3 Coufh or cold medicine $1 vs. uo to $10 Vitamins $1 vs. 4-$9 or more Tupperware $1 vs. 2-$3 See how fast the savings add up? You can basically cut your bill in half every week. I shop about once a week (big shopping trip) and a couple more for misc. items. So basically what I am now doing since the main stores i shop at are Walmart and the Dollar Tree, I am only buying milk, meat, eggs and produce at walmart. Everything else like pantry and household items I’m now getting at the Dollar Tree (not everything depending on sales but most)and I am back to clipping coupons. More on that in another post. Happy saving!
As I was lying in bed I couldn’t help but think about what success is, what it means to me and how we as as Americans define success. I couldn’t help but think about a conversation I had a couple weeks prior with an old friend. The way she defined success didnt sit well with me. She defined success as having a mortgage she can’t afford, a new car every year with a payment that she couldn’t afford ( really if you are financing a car you really can’t afford it let’s be honest), and a recent refi to make her new house better ( move over Joneses). And heres the biggie. She slaves away at a job she hates five days a week… This is success??? Living for the weekend? Buying a beautiful house that you never use and having a family you never see. Is this really what auccess is to most of us? To me it’s not. If you are happy, healthy and you have your bills paid and food on the table you are more successful than a lot of others I would say. I think we really have lost track of the important things in life. We are so consumed with accumulating stuff that we forget to enjoy that stuff we worked ao hard for. Are we working to live? Or living to work? I guess another reason this was running through my mind was becuase of Dave Ramsey. You know, the financial guru that teaches Financial Peace University? Well he was saying so many Americans are working ao hard for their money yet we don’t know how to make our money work for us. This is what we need to learn to change our lives. If we learn to do this we can work less and enjoy life more. So basically how this worka is tthis. If you don’t have the cash for it… You can’t afford it, so don’t buy it! Easy right? Well not really, but it can be if you change your perception. What I mean by change your perception is….stop trying to keep up with the Joneses!!!!! The Joneses are mot going to make that car payment for you. Stop trying to impress people who don’t care. Worry about your life, your financial goals and your own definition of success. I think this lesson has taken me some time to learn myself. It really took going through a divorce, living as a single mom with two boys under four and no help or financial support from my kids’ dad to realize this harsh leasson. I need to cut costs and only spend money I actually have. No credit cards! No car payments! I now live within my means. Not that I didn’t before but I did have a car payment and used credit cards from time to time. I don’t even buy furniture on credit now. I buy nothing on credit. If I can’t buy it then i save up for it. But otherwise I don’t need it. Its more important to pay yourself by saving than to pay a bank interest. Duh, right??? You would think that would be a no-brainer. Why they don’t teach finanical planning and credit to high school seniors is beyond me. I’m sure that would have changed so many peoples lives. Anyhow back to my point. My finances look a lot different. And I can honestly say I am happier and feel a hell of a lot wiser. Funny how divorce does that.😃 I have now cut my budget in half These are the only things I now pay for…. Rent Food Gas Utilites Cable ( this one is going bye-bye soon going to comcast and netflix for movies and t.v) Car maintenance Insurance only liability Misc household expenses Misc healthcare amd beauty products (hello Dollar Tree) Clothing (i have a couple friends that own thrift stores and i exchange clothes with friends So this one has been cut way down i would say $60 a month Kids clothing about $60 a month some months more like this month which will be back to school shopping so atound tjis time and Christmas more like $200. My set expenses are less than $1000 a month which I feel pretty good about. The rest there is some wiggle room. I will be doing some more posts on saving money after divorce as well as saving and earning more as a single mom. 😀