Ways To Save On Thanksgiving Dinner

I got the opportunity to share some Thanksgiving tips over at CouponCabin, did you use any of them this year?

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Find The Right Gift For Your Little Ones When On A Budget

Sometimes looking for the right gift for your kiddos can seem so easy until you actually hit the stores and try to find that right gift within your budget! We try not to over do it too much with a large variety of children toys and only buy one large gift and 5 or 6 smaller gifts. We have extended family that purchases gifts for our girls so they tend to get a lot of gifts and we don’t want them to become spoiled and loose the trued meaning of Christmas.

So we tend to try and buy their number 1 item of their Christmas list as their big gift! But then the smaller gifts more personalized, educational items, things they need and items they will keep for years to come. Whether it be the latest Wii Game, LeapPad or a engraved locket there is a lot of work that goes into finding gifts that mean something! Here are some tips as to how we try and find the right gifts for our kiddos and stay on budget:

  • What is on their Christmas list: Any parent wants to make their kiddos happy and make sure they think Santa is the best, so we tend to try and buy their most wanted gift as their bigger gift since that item tends to be the most expensive. But after that we do keep in mind what they want but don’t want to fill the tree with tons of toys that they will play with for a few weeks and then forget about them. Find gifts that you know will help enrich their minds or something they will cherish for years to come. I know what kids wants something they will cherish, but in the long run finding the balance between 2 will be the best option!
  • What is your budget for these gifts: Budget can be the biggest factor as to what gifts you buy and how many you can get. So figuring out what you can afford will help you get the most for your money. Sit down and come up with a number and then go through their Christmas list: is there just one item you can afford or are you able to purchase multiple smaller items?
  • Do Your Research: Make sure whatever you buy is worth your hard earned money and not something that is going to fall apart come January! Also be sure that the gift is age appropriate, will withstand the abuse of your child and of course affordable. Almost every online store offers customer feedback. This feedback can give you insight as to what other parents have experienced with certain products. Read them, it will help you understand the item, what is good and bad!
  • Additional Costs: Our 11 year old is on a mission to get a phone this year for Christmas. Although we do not feel that she is ready or needs a phone just quite yet, we need to figure in the additional costs of getting a phone for her. Many gifts can be a great idea, but when the gift receiver has to continue playing monthly access fees or purchase additional items to use it, the gift may not be the best idea. Consider everything that goes with it and what you may need to continue to purchase to continue using it!
  • All in all, are they gonna love it: Even though we want to purchase some items that they will get educational value from or keep and use for a long time, in the end it has to be something they really want! You can’t give a 4 year old a engraved gold necklace and get upset that they don’t jump up and down with joy that they didn’t get the latest Buzz Lightyear toy! Find a happy medium and get gifts that make them happy, make you happy and are easy on your pocket book!
Although this post was sponsored by Tesco my opinion is 100% my own.

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Tips for Planning a Holiday Party On a Budget

Dollar Tree

The holiday is quickly approaching and plans have already been underway for our family Christmas party! With this comes lots of shopping and lots of spending! But this year I am going to try and see how little we can spend on this normally expensive event! I will look to our local dollar stores, like Dollar Tree, to help me keep our party on a strict budget! Here are some tips I will use this year to save us money on our holiday party planning:

  • Make a List: I keep lots of lists, everything from what I am going to do that day, to birthday gift ideas, Christmas shopping ideas, etc. But I will keep a list of items that I need for our Christmas party- food, decorations, party supplies, etc. This way I will only purchase what I need but most importantly I will not purchase duplicates, which I tend to do pretty often!
  • Make a Menu: I have already planned out everything that I will need to purchase for our meal for Christmas. As I see items go on sale, I will buy them and hold onto them until I need them! Waiting til the week of, will cost you a lot more since not everything you need will go on sale that week! Plan ahead!
  • Ask Guests to Bring a Dish: Every year we have Christmas dinner at our house and we provide the majority of the food and drinks! But we do ask our guests to bring a side dish and or dessert to share with everyone. This helps make sure we have plenty of food with out the added cost of buying all of it!
  • Just Decorate the Main Areas: Decorate just the areas in which you will guests, dining room, living room, kitchen and maybe a bathroom or 2, no need to decorate rooms that no one will see!  Although I have about 10 large totes filled with Christmas decorations, you may not have as much as I do. So I tend to hit the Dollar Tree to look for cute vases to fill with ornaments, holiday candy dishes, holiday table cloths, etc. This will keep the cost low, while keeping your place looking festive!
  • Buy Holiday Paper Products: Although this may cost a little more than using our regular holiday plates and cups, it will save me time of not washing dishes and my sanity of knowing we will not run out of silverware and plates!

So what plans do you have this year for the holiday, any tips you want to share on keeping the cost low for your next festive party, leave a comment and share!

Dollar TreeThis post was sponsored by Dollar Tree. My opinion is 100% my own.

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Ways To Save: Repurpose An Old Wipes Container

When you have little ones, you always have a large collection of these wipes containers! Here is a great way to reuse them, thanks to Mission To Save!

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Ways To Save: Repurpose Old Paper For Printing Coupons

Looking for a way to save on paper cost while printing those hot printable coupons? Check out how Mission to Save does just that!

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Ways to Save: Back To School & Sport Photos

School has been in full swing for a few weeks now, meaning big time money spent! You bought/paid for school supplies, new clothes, new bookbags, new shoes, new haircuts, hair accessories and the list goes on and on! If you are not careful you could spend up to $500-$600 per child just in the first month of school! This doesn’t include school fees and our favorite cost, school pictures!

With 3 kiddos in school now and all of them playing some sport that requires pictures, we get new pictures taken at least every other month! We also have Christmas pictures taken and every few years birthday pictures (they all have summer birthdays, so we group them together). This can get pretty pricey! School pictures this year are $42 each child per package, sports pictures range anywhere from $10-$40 per child, Christmas pictures are usually $40-$80 for a family package and birthday packages can cost in the range of $70-$80! So all said and done we could spend $500 a year just on pictures! YIKES!!!

With this, I have started to realize that we do not need to buy all of these pictures or at least find ways to save while purchasing them! Here are a few tips we use to save big on pictures each year:

  • Help Out at School on Picture Day: This is probably my biggest way to save on school pictures. The photography company that comes to our school, offers parents a certain $ amount off per hour they work in a form of a coupon voucher. This is a very easy job! Helping the students comb their hair, wipe off the milk mustache from morning breakfast, button shirts, etc. Our school packages usually run $42 per child, I was able to get all 3 of our girls school pictures last fall for just $30 out of pocket. I worked a few hours at each of their picture days and got enough picture vouchers to save $96!
  • Skip Individual Pictures: With our girls playing 2 and 3 sports a year, we tend to pile up on team pictures, individual pictures, action pictures, etc. So last year we skipped the individual pictures and just purchased the team photo, which in most cases was around $5-$7. Instead we took our own individual pictures! We love to get those pictures of each of them in front of the same tree each year at the beginning and end of each season or school year- uniforms, soccer balls, etc!
  • Take Your Own Individual Pictures: With so many new cameras out there offering amazing tools to create photos that look as if they came straight from a professional, you can take some great photos all on your own!
  • Ask for a Discount: The economy stinks right now and the photography companies are looking to make every sale they can. So if you tell them no, then they get nothing and you get nothing. But if you talk to them and ask for either a discount or a smaller package that may not be available on the order form, they may be willing to work with you to get you the pictures you want and make the sale!
  • Just Order The Disc: Some companies offer you a disc of all the photos they take for a decent price. Most of these companies will also include the copyright to print your own photos as you want. You can then check Walmart or Shutterfly to grab a hot deal on FREE prints or .10 prints! Only print the ones you want now and save the rest on a compact disc!

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Saving Money on Utility Bills

Saving Money on Utility Bills

 Who wouldn’t love to pay less when the utility bills come due? Your home needs to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter and there is no chance that you can do without electricity in general. But there are ways to cut back the cost. Some are just common sense ideas and others may require an initial investment. There are times when you need to spend money now to save in the long run.

Spend to Save

Are you considering opening up a new savings account with the help of Money Super Market? Before you tuck any more money away, consider making a few investments in your home.

The latest in compact florescent bulbs will cost more than the traditional bulbs, but over the course of your lifetime, the savings on your electric bills could be considerable. Replace as many bulbs in your home as possible to cut costs.

Does your water heater need a jacket? In the winter, your water heater may be working harder than it needs to maintain heat. A local home improvement store may offer a special blanket that can be wrapped around it in order to insulate it from the outdoor temperatures.

Maintenance is another important aspect of saving money on your utilities. Your heater and air conditioning should be serviced at least every year or two. A technician will be able to tell you if the equipment is running efficiently.

If not, even a small repair may be well worth the cost when your next utility bill arrives. The same is true for an appointment with a plumber. One appointment can point out your leaks and help you to lower your water bill.

Cutting Back

Turn off your electronic devices and appliances. Even though you are not using the blender or the coffee maker, they are both still drawing out electricity if they are plugged in. Most people don’t realize just how much money is wasted on plugged in electronics.

How often do you use cold water in your washing machine? There are many instances when cold water will get the job done just as well as warm water without the added cost. Consider making this change for a month or two and see if you can tell the difference in your gas bill.

One of the most obvious ways to cut your cost is by turning off the lights when you aren’t using them. Make sure that every member in the family understands the importance of this. When you leave a room, turn out the lights. When you walk out the door, do a double check to make sure that all the lights are out. If you have concerns about having the lights off when you arrive home at night, consider investing in a timer.

Thanks MoneySupermarket– a price comparison site that helps you save big!

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Financial Tips for Surviving the Upcoming School Year

AshleeMcCullen

Financial Tips for Surviving the Upcoming School Year

It’s expensive enough being a parent. It only gets worse when your kids become school-age. So save yourself a headache or two and plan ahead for the costs of school-year fees, supplies, and (heaven help me) high school dances.

Between schools passing costs of extracurricular activities to parents, and the rising expectations for events like prom and quinceaneras, you will want to create a realistic budget. And doing so before the school year will help you and your kids save up and make wise spending decisions.

Costs to Consider

Here, briefly, are the primary pain points that come with the school year.

  • Clothes:  Yes, you’ll want to stock up on new outfits for your growing kids, with consideration for winter gear.
  • Supplies:  Those binders, colored pencils, and graphic calculators aren’t going to buy themselves. Consider age-appropriate needs and what your school does and doesn’t provide.
  • In-School Activities: Is your kid a budding artist or the next Yo-Yo Ma? That’ll set you back quite a bit. A decent, student-grade trumpet, for instance, will cost about $300 new. Find out if you’ll be paying for uniform rentals, trips, and registration fees.
  • Extracurricular Activities: This is very similar to school activities but also includes church groups, sports teams, and any kind of private lessons or classes.
  • Special Events: Oy vey. I’d rather not think about this one, which mostly applies to older kids. Parents these days are spending ridiculous gobs of money on prom, for instance (and let’s not blame it all on the kids; it can be a vehicle for parents to show status).  

Create a Plan of Action

  • Determine a Budget: If you’re already budgeting, then good for you. If not, this is as good a time as any to learn how to make a family budget.
  • Let Them Contribute: If your kids are high school age, encourage them to raise funds beyond what you can or want to provide.  It may seem early to think about dresses for prom in 2013 or paying for their scout troop’s Spring break white water rafting trip.  But thinking ahead gives both of you time to save up.

With a realistic budget, and perhaps even a savings plan in place, you can better prepare not only for paying for stuff, but helping your kids enjoy the things they love. Plus, they’ll learn a whole lot about finances quickly if they need to be careful in their spending.

 

Ashlee McCullen is a staff writer for Apron Addicts, a website about kitchen fashion and home style. She also writes about mobile technology, travel, food, and whatever else strikes her fancy at the moment. When she’s not writing, she takes care of her two small children, finds new ways to organize and decorate her home, and takes immense pride in her killer cheesecake brownies.-

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Summer Saving Tips: Keeping Summer Under Budget

Summer is busy and keeping costs down can slip away as the fun and busyness begins. Here are some quick tips to make it easier from Savings Angel!

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