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Are you Black Friday is broke?

Black FridayDid you get bitten by the Black Friday bug last weekend? These advertisers know what they are doing, making you feel that you will totally miss out on the best deals ever by not being first on line in front of their big box store at 5:30 in the morning.

So how many of us take the day off work. We crawl out of bed, leave behind a sink full of Thanksgiving dishes to drive over the nearest superstore. Only to fight out way to what we are told is a great deal. If you don’t go then someone else will get all those sweet deals. Right?

Well, maybe not.

Remember it was only a few years ago that Black Friday sales actually started to creep into Thursday evening. It began as a midnight madness type of sale but then inched closer and closer to 4:00 pm. The Black Friday frenzy was overtaking Thanksgiving dinner. Retail employees we’re wolfing down their turkey and stuffing because they had to head out to work on a day that was designated specifically for home and family.

Luckily, after a few years of consumer pushback many stores dropped the early Thursday sales and moved it back to Friday where it belonged. However, that didn’t necessarily stop shopping. They just moved it to cyber space.

According to NBSNews Black Friday Online sales it a new high this year. These followed quickly by Cyber Monday show that more people are buying online for the holiday’s. And why not it’s easy, convenient and might be less expensive. Or is it?

The online ease of time sensitive flash sales are still tapping into a buyers urgency to not miss out on the savings. I know from my own experience that I have said to myself, “I better buy this (insert useless item I don’t really need) because I won’t ever see it for this price again.”

I don’t care what it is at that price I need it!!

The issue then isn’t the price of the item it becomes the fear that you will miss out on these insanely low prices. (which are usually not insanely low at all by comparison.) Advertisers have become so adept at creating a feeling of scarcity we don’t think twice about parting ways with our money for the Memory Form cat bed, (although cats can find comfort on a car tire.) We really need that water resistant shower speaker (can’t sing in the shower without one…oh wait you can.) Can’t forget about the Ukulele Starter Pack (because one day you will sing tiny bubbles in the shower to your cat on their form bed.)

Cyber Monday

Black Friday and its online twin Cyber Monday help you fulfill that Christmas anxiety with the words BUY NOW. But when you look at the credit card bill sticker shock is an understatement. I remember thinking “What did I buy?”

There is something to be said for the physical presence of counting out bills that makes you more aware of what you are spending. Couple a click of a mouse with the new internet urgency and you have the makings for an overspending disaster. That is no way to have a happy holiday.

Black Friday sales can be a force of good if you give yourself limits. Here are 5 ways to use the Black Friday frenzy to your advantage.

  1. Know what you intend to purchase before the sales come out.
  2. Remember most sales are cyclical and these prices will come and go.
  3. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer a single day event but have been extended to weeklong sales with most merchants so do not rush into anything. Take time to consider your purchases.
  4. Just like Santa says make a list of what you intend to buy for whom. More importantly make a budget plan and stick to it.
  5. If you missed Black Friday don’t forget you can still compare prices between stores and prices match at some retailers to pay the least for an item.
  • Most importantly…remember the holiday season is not about your Black Friday 50 inch TV or other electronic item. Matter of fact it is not about things at all. It is about  people. You are giving gifts from the heart to show people you love them. Despite what advertisers tell you it is not about putting yourself into debt impulsively buying to combat the feeling of FOMO. (Fear of Missing Out.)
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Five Reasons to Shop Small

Small Buisness SaturdayHometown businesses, local artisens, and handmade gifts when you purchase from these types of vendors your money is not going to a big corporation that has an army of faceless nameless employees or an home office states away. It goes into the pockets of neighbors, communities and friends.

This year I have pledged to by as many Holiday gifts from small business owners, handmade crafters and locally known shops. Small business Saturday is November 26 by why wait until then to start your shopping.  Here are 5 reasons to shop local and small.

Your money is fund a dream

When you buy from small business you directly support the business owners and their family. Maybe for the owner this shop was always a dream for them. By using their business you are helping fund that dream.

Your money goes to people and families you know

By purchasing from a local business, direct seller or small business owner you are helping people that you know. Does your neighbor sell at a craft fair? Does that mom at the PTA sell Avon? Look around at the people you know you will be surprised to find how many people have a business on the side that you could contribute to.

You money helps your local economy

When you buy from local business, that business owner will most likely spend that money locally, it might be dance lessons for their daughter or supplies from a local manufacturer or a dinner out at a local restaurant.

You can find something unique

If you have not perused handmade online marketplaces like Etsy you are missing out. Handmade crafts are unique, and one of a kind. They are crafted with skill and caring not found in mass produced items. When you order handmade you don’t just get a gift you get an experience from the packaging to the hand-written notes it goes far beyond a Target bag.

If you can’t find a local business that fits your needs, check out direct sales

I am a big supporter of direct sales businesses. There is a pride in knowing when I purchase from direct sellers I am helping a friend. I’m supporting the future of a stay at home mother, and a newly made entrepreneur to grown in their business.

If you are a handmade business owner, direct seller or you want to give a local shop a shout out please leave a link in the comment below. Let’s share the love this holiday season and shop local, handmade and small business.

How to Get Back on Track When Financial Calamity Strikes

When financial calamity strikesUggg…bye-bye savings, hello debt… again.

These are moments when financial emergencies erase everything you have worked so hard to achieve. Dave Ramsey would say it is in those moments when Murphy comes to visit… as in Murphy’s Law. It happens to us all from time to time and well it just sucks. It is hard to watch your progress be undone, your savings melt away, or your fun money become not so fun.  When the planets collide, the stars explode, and everything conspire to screw you.

It is those moments when a calamity of costly events converge. For example, you find yourself with illness or injuries that require medical attention (aka doctor bills.) At the same time your car breaks down, your roof leaks and the washing machine explodes. It is during these times when you feel like you are being buried financially.  Really it is all just the timing of things. If we planned a little better we might have been able to avoid the stress of converging events.

So then we have to ask ourselves what could we have done set ourselves up better when these things occur. Lets face it, stuff happens and more often then not it is going to happen at the most inconvenient time. Like right before a major trip, or after you just finished unburdening yourself from a large debt. Here are some things to consider when financial calamity parks itself at your door.

Don’t beat yourself up

Sometimes all the planning in the world won’t prevent Murphy from coming to town. The best thing you can do is accept the situation and make a plan to prevent it from happening again. Yes, it sucks. Give yourself a few minutes to feel bad, then get down to the work of digging your way back out.

Know it is only temporary

You got out of debt once your will do it again. Even though your situation might seem like it will never go away (like the college loan that takes forever to pay off.) If you keep in mind that you have already know the way to get out of debt and get on better financial footing. So this time around it will not take as long to recover.

Don’t give up

I know it is easy to start spending when you are already outlaying a huge chunk of money for car repair, home repair or another big expense. You might think, “what is another few grand I might as well tack on a couch or vacation expenses to the bill.” This will only dig you in deeper. It is a slippery slope once you start to spend. Soon you will find an excuse to wipe out your hard earned savings or run up that credit card you worked so hard to pay off.

Make a new plan

The key to this experience is to get though it and learn from it. After going through a major financial set back you are that much more educated to prevent it from ever happening to you again. We can all be caught off guard when these things happen. That is why an emergency fund is used from “emergencies.”  Here is your opportunity to make a new step by step plan to avoid this type of setback in the future.

Travel Lessons from a Frugal Grandma

travel lessons from a frugal grandmaTraveling is something I have always enjoyed ever since high school. Growing up my family did not travel anywhere but our yearly trip to Florida where we  visited the grandparents. And no unfortunately this trip did not include a theme park visit. However, I still have fond memories of my travels to visit the Grandparents. I think  that is how I got bitten by the traveling bug, one summer when visiting my grandmother Mildred.

My Grandma the World Traveler

Written on the back by my grandma "Peace Treaty Signed 1919 Verselle France"

Written on the back by my grandma “Peace Treaty Signed 1919 Verselle France”

During one of our visits, she showed my some amazing photos of her recent trips. It turns out that grandma was doing more then just playing pinochle and going to the clubhouse during her retirement, she had become a world traveler. Going all over Europe, and Asia.

My grandmother Mildred was a working mom before there were working mom’s. She was fairly serious and never very talkative or emotional but you could tell sharing these pictures was a joy to her. Being able to travel the way she had is something I had wanted to do ever since she described her photos to me.

During that time I asked her a ton of questions about her trips. I asked about how she had planned for traveling, what she would have done different and where she liked to travel best. She gave me some great advice.

Something else I learned was that my grandmother was not only adventurous but she was a frugal planner who was ahead of her time. Her careful handling of finances are what made these trips possible.

My grandmother has long since passed away but many off her lessons stay with me. I realize now, I am a lot like her in that I want to see and explore the world. Also like her handling of the family finances are what will make my dreams of traveling possible.

Written on the back "8/86 Le River Guliane China"

Written on the back “8/86 Le River Guliane China”

She approached life in a frugal way with the end goal being to retire and travel. Although I want to travel, I do not want to wait for retirement to do it. So what does that mean for a working mom with two kids? Planning.

Here are some of the nuggets of wisdom that helped her save enough to travel in retirement.

Plan out your trip cost long before your travel date

She advised me to get as clear an idea of where I wanted to go and estimate how much those visits will cost. Have a long timeline to save for these trips, and break them down into time increments to save for. Credit was should not be an option. It wasn’t for her.

If possible travel Europe when you are young and save the U.S for retirement age

She said it was much easier to travel in the U.S at an advanced age. There were more senior discounts for attractions and travel and it was easier to navigate then Europe. She added due to the age and make-up of most of Europe it is not as easy for older bodies to handle cobblestone streets an centuries old staircases.

Don’t be afraid to have experiences when travel

I will never forget a picture my grandmother showed me of her standing in front a plane. It was taken in Communist China and she admitted that she felt pretty scared when she was there but was grateful she got to see a part of China usually restricted to travelers.

Written on back "Aug 86 Beijing China, Great Wall"

Written on back “Aug 86 Beijing China, Great Wall”

Sacrifice now to reach your travel goals

My grandmother always functioned in a frugal manner with her end goal of travel in mind. Like with any type of goal setting, you want to having a clear picture of what to achieve and formulated plan on how to achieve it. This will probably mean making sacrifices and being creative with your finances in order to free up money for travel. It mean giving up some things now (like those expensive lattes and dinners out.) to save for travel later.

 

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Save Yourself Time and Money Doing This One Thing

Save yourself time and money by doing this one thing

It’s called Simple Stockpiling

With the fall season descending upon us, the start of school, football and the return to routines, I have been thinking of ways a working mother can save time and stream line life. The return to the busy school schedule, working, and managing a household can really take a toll on time and money.

To free up more of the precious commodity of time and save some dollars for the coming holiday season (It is only 16 more weekends till Christmas!), I have started to stockpile household items I use frequently. Like a squirrel collecting nuts to store for the winter, stockpiling can be a great fall habit that can free up time and money for a working mom.

I know what you are thinking. I don’t mean stockpiling like the show “Hoaders,” or “Extreame Couponing.” But a little prep during the fall can really help cut down on needless trips to the store. With these concepts in mind and a little planning now you can be fully stocked to hold you over for months.

This doesn’t have to be done on a grand scale, just pick up a few extra jars of tomato sauce and pasta and you will always have the makings for a quick dinner. Add a few extra tubes of toothpaste to your shopping cart when they are on sale. This simple stockpiling can give you piece of mind and these small efforts will add up giving your more of what you need most, time an money.

It doesn’t have to be racks and racks of floor to ceiling cereal boxes in your garage. There are a few things you can think about when out shopping that can save you time, energy and money based on some stockpiling principals.

Watch for sales and buy multiples during them

Don’t have to go crazy and buy the whole store out. But if it an item that has a long shelf life and you can get it for a good price. Take advantage!

Only buy what you know you will use

The key to a stockpile that will save you time is to only purchase what you will actually use. This will prevent you from having to run out to the store for an ingredient. It also will save you from having to eat out when your pantry is empty. Have a few staples stocked up will prevent this from happening. In the end you will have to shop less giving you more time to send with family.

If you can only stockpile one thing make it toiletries

Items like toothpaste, shampoo conditioner ect. have a longer shelf life then food items. They also tend to have a higher price point on non sale weeks. It saves you time and energy to know you will always have these items on hand when you need them. No more worrying about running out of TP. (Trust me…we have all been there.)

 

5 Free and Cheap Ways to Save on Your Child’s Party

5 free and cheap ways to save money on your childs birthday partyIt is one of the most heart-warming feelings to see the ear to ear grin of your child after they blow out their birthday candles. Another successful birthday party organized by mom.

Most people (unless they are other mother’s) attending a child’s birthday don’t realize all the hard work, planning and expense that go in child’s party. Decorations, cake, venue, favors… it can all run into quite a hefty bill once you add it together. But based on your circumstances, the time of year and your craft prowess there are ways to save money  and still have an awesome and memorable party for your child.  Here are some ideas to explore when trying to reduce the cost of your child’s birthday celebration.

Have a combine party

We did for the first time this year. Not only did it save a ton of money. It also reduced the amount of jealously and fighting between the children. Each opened separate presents instead of one watching the other open gifts while they sat empty handed. It halved the expense by only planning one party. I was afraid one of the children might feel slighted but to my surprise both children enjoyed celebrated the time together. Explore the idea of going in with a friend who has a child with a birth date around the same time as yours. This not only reduces the planning load, it also halves the bill.

Have it at home for free

Although it can be a hassle in set up and clean, it saves you a bundle over paying for a venue like Chuck E Cheese, or a bounce house center like Monkey Joe’s. If having it at home is not an option look into local clubhouses, church’s or parks that might rent space for a low price. I found renting a pavilion at a park near was only $25 for the day.

Make it a pot-luck

cakesf

Homemade cake for my daughters birthday party. Don’t be to impressed Olaf’s head fell off

This will save you greatly in food costs and it also allows others to make a special and involved in the party by making a signature dish. We did this for my daughters first birthday and it added so much the party. It can make the event even more memorable when grandma makes your child’s favorite cookies, or her homemade chocolate cake. It also removes some of the expense and menu planning hassle. Also many hands make light work.

Choose a theme and DIY the decorations

Personally, this was the best part of party planning. There are a ton of sources all over the internet and Pinterest on how to do DIY party decorations for less money that still looks great. My son had a Star Wars birthday a few years ago and I had such a blast making Storm Trooper faces on white balloons and personalizing the party décor.ballon

Make it a travel/ experience birthday

This works great for an older child who has kind of out grown a party. Also this is an option for a child on the shy side that doesn’t like being the center of attention. Have them chosen a trip in honor of their birthday or an experience they would like to have instead of a party.

If you can combine a family vacation you might have been planning anyway with a birthday experience or trip, this will save you the cost of a party and still make the kid feel special. We have let our kids do this every other year to forgo the cost of back to back birthday parties. It has been such a wonderful experience. Our kids feel empowered and special in choosing the vacation. Plus the birthday boy/girls suggestions give us new vacation ideas we might not have considered.

Take a look at some of these sites for great party planning tips and ideas.

http://mimisdollhouse.com/

http://www.bystephanielynn.com/

Hostess with the Mostess

You can also check out a recent post about creating a DIY Candy Buffet.


For People about to Blow Their Wad: 5 Ways Not to Spend Money

5 ways not to spend moneyI know what you are thinking. Is this girl nuts? We need food. We need clothing. How do you not spend money? I know that sounds weird. Eventually, we all need to buy stuff. There comes a time when we have to spend some money right?

But what if you didn’t have to always spend money. What if we worked to make spending less of a habit? What if you could change your mindset so that buying was not the first impulse. If you are trying to save for a large purchase, pay off debt or recover from some other large outlay of money this might be your a pretty good option.

I get it. It is so easy to need that instant gratification and want to loosen the purse strings. Society in general reinforces spending instead of saving. It becomes harder ad harder to watch new things advertised and talked about and not feel like you need them. See that’s the key…do you really need them? It is almost as if we can no longer tell ourselves “NO”. That not buying lunch out or not purchasing new is no longer socially acceptable behavior. Buying and spending has become so commonplace it has become the norm. But if we can shift our perspective the financial benefits could be great.

So how do we get into a saving mindset and not spend money? Here are 5 ways to shift your thinking and get away from a free spending attitude.

  1. Use what you have – In past generations this was the norm. They would never have gone out and purchased a new car for example, unless the old one just stopped working. Past generations didn’t feel the need to fall pray to the newest shiniest new toy on the block. Surprisingly, to us they lived perfectly happy lives without things we feel are necessities like TV, cell phones and programmable coffee pots.  If we really examine our possessions, most of the time we have more than enough items just lying around unused or even forgotten that we had even purchased. That shirt we bought months ago on sale, that electronic gadget we had to have, you get the idea. Look through what you already have and well…use it.
  2. Create something new out of something old – There has been a resurgence in creating new home furnishings out of driveway discards. There is good reason for this since most of what we throw away is still in good condition, we just want it to be new. Most of what we throw away can be transformed or reused into another purpose. This might take some imagination and creativity. Many people have found it fairly easy to refinish a piece of furniture and create a like-new functional item for their home. All you need to do is look at things from a different perspective and see if you can find a new use for something you already have instead of discarding it and buying it new.
  3. Clean stuff up – Often a bit of elbow grease will do the trick in. Instead of purchasing new, search Pinterest for a way to clean something old and bring it back to life. I tried this with my car headlights instead of having them replaced. You will be amazed at the results.
  4. Stay in – Sometimes we lose track of how much we spend when we go out to dinner, a concert or movie. There is more than just tickets and entrance fees, there is additional food and beverages, t-shirts and souvenirs. More often than not it is healthier, easier and cheaper to cook it at home or watch it on video. Plus you will get the best seat in the house.
  5. Remember people mean more than things – In our over-consumptive society, we feel an intense need to buy, shop and consume in order to feel connected to the latest trends, hottest events and newest things. What really matters is the people that we share our time with. Spending time with a friend over coffee means more than all the overpriced lattes consumed on our own. Sharing a walk with your family means more then the next complicated computer game. Making time to spend with the important people in your life has more value then working overtime to pay off purchases you never really needed in the first place.
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