In between overdoing it

Posts tagged ‘budget’

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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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.

You spent how much on school supplies?????

school suppliesRemember when back to school meant getting some new clothes, maybe a new pair of sneakers, and socks. Remember when the only school supplies asked for were a few pencils and pens, notebooks and a compass (what did we even use that for except to stab our seat neighbor with the pointy end.) My kids attend public school and this year I was floored by the laundry list of school supplies needed for my daughter entering 4th grade. There are personal items, classroom items and community items. These together stretched down the page.

My sons list was not as long being that he is only going into first grade, but still it is a lot of supplies. Let me preface this all by adding that on the list it is stated that these are voluntary donation. However, if parents don’t bring these supplies who is paying for them? Apparently not the school board any longer.

Don’t get me wrong I am not blaming teachers in any way. I know that if parents don’t provide these supplies most good hearted teachers will dip into there personal paycheck to get needed items for the classroom. Which I also don’t feel is right thing either. After tallying up the cost of school supplies for each kids my total came to over…$150. and I used BOGO’s people!!!

I am sorry, I just don’t get it what has changed so dramatically in the 20 or so years since I have been out of school? Why can the school system, funded by the lottery, taxes and government programs, no longer provide pens, and paper? I mean that is kind of a schools life blood. Reading, writing and arithmetic. For the writing you can’t really go without pens and paper. And I only have 2 kids. I can’t imagine the cost for supplies in larger families. It must be like a mortgage payment for school supplies.

It’s not like clothes, you can’t hand me down supplies. Plus after asking for an absurd amount of supplies (like 144 pencils for 1 student) they have the nerve to be brand specific! You need to get the premium crayons. Only Crayola will do, as specified in bold on the school supplied sheet. No low class Rose Art or sub-par Target brand, no cutting corners here.

There are many school districts that are hurting and need the additional parental support and this is not about them. This is about the schools who clearly can cover the cost of copy paper and are being excessive in the (donation??) request of supplies. These schools now have to use what was school supply funds to pay for something dumb, unnecessary or redundant.

In my high school there was an entire wing of the school that no student ever went to because it was for administrators only. What? If you are not interacting with the students what exactly are you administrating over? Look, I really don’t know what goes on in the hallow halls of the administration wing but clearly it is not as much a benefit to students or teachers if they are sequestered away, given tenure and no parent has a clue what they do. I sure don’t.

What I do know is I am not only paying for them to “administer,” I am also paying for the paper they do it on. If my rant is ill placed and I am totally off base with this feel free to educate me. I have never been a teacher,  or in the education field so I welcome anyone in the field to explain to me how things have gotten this way. Thank you all for listening to my rant. Now to load the massive amount of crayons, pencils and notebooks (and my paycheck) in a suitcase (Yes a suitcase!) and hand them over to the people in charge of educating my children.

7 Ways to Save While Planning Your Vacation

7 ways to save on your next vacationSo you went on summer vacation.

Had a fantastic time and made a ton of wonderful memories. You arrive home unpack your suitcase and there it is. Staring at you like a dog waiting for dinner( Which mine are doing as I write this)…The credit card bill. You know you need to open it but really don’t want to face the damage you have done.

In your head you run a quick tally of what you think you might have spent on vacation. That souvenir T-shirt, drinks at dinner, the novelty tote bag…did I really spend that much? It is all adding up in your brain and it comes to more then you expected. While we are away it is so easy to lose track of spending. We tell ourselves “I’m on vacation I can spend fast and free.” We live it up and pretend that there is no bill to come home to. It’s fun and freeing for the moment. Then the moment ends and the bill comes.

I’m not saying this to be Debbie Downer, only that I have done this myself. Have spent more on vacation then I should have and had to dig myself out of debt upon returning home. It puts a damper on your happy memories and makes you wary of relaxing the purse strings on your next trip away.

But life shouldn’t be that way. We should be able to enjoy out vacation without the fear of getting in debt hanging over our head. With a little planning this could be the case and believe me you will enjoy your vacation a whole lot more knowing there is no ballooning credit card bill waiting in your mailbox.

Here are 7 ways to plan out your vacation and save a little money in the process.

  1. Book your vacation as far in advance as possible – This give you ample time to save for the trip. You will be completely aware of the true cost of your vacation and can make adjustments in your household spending to put aside for the cost of your travels.
  2. Be as flexible as possible with your travel dates – This will save you money in airfare, car rental and hotel bookings. You can shop around for the lowest prices based on the date.
  3. Monitor your travel bookings to see if the fare goes down in price -With many travel sites and companies if you see that the price is cheaper, they will allow you to rebook the fare at the lower price. If the price drops in the first 24 hours many airlines will allow you to rebook at a lower price and refund the difference without change fees.
  4. Prepay your vacation – This may seem obvious but it is often overlooked. Even if you pay a small amount per month towards your vacation, that small amount overtime adds up! It can take the sting out of the full vacation bill.
  5. Investigate before buying dining, photo, or beverage packages – For some families this may be a savings. However, in most cases there are many stipulations to these programs that prevent them from really saving you anything. Find out before you go and don’t sign up for these programs on a whim or under pressure.
  6. Look for no/low cost souvenirs – Do you really need another fridge magnet or coffee mug? Look for souvenirs that cost little or no money but will hold all the memory of your vacation, like a coaster from your favorite restaurant or postcard of your most beloved attraction.
  7. Have a Staycation – During 2008 when there was massive job loss, and financial uncertainty, the Staycation became the new vacation. Look around your town, your city or your state even. Are there local spots that want to see but never got a chance? Is there a great attraction within a days drive from your home? Explore the world right outside your front yard. Forgo the hotel stay and save yourself a bundle.

It’s Finally Here!! My new Online Budget EBook!!

I am so excited to finally release my new ebook…Since it is release week, look towards to bottom of this page for a special introductory price. This is only good for this week only.

How to choose an online budgeting tool that will save you $$$$ 

Are you struggling to get your finances in order but don’t know where to begin? Do you want to set up an online budget but don’t really have the time? Are you tired of sorting through spreadsheets and high tech programs just create a simple budget?

I know how you feel. I have been there. All I wanted to do was find some information about online budgeting programs. All I really wanted to know was which one would be the easiest to maintain with the least amount of hassle to set up? Problem was I could not find a simple review and comparison that would tell me what I needed to know.

So I created one.

Through a blog series I embarked on a journey review four of the most popular online budgeting programs. The results of over four months of research are right here in “How to choose an online budgeting tool that will save you money.” My aim in this book was to sort through on-line budgeting programs and see which one offered the most bang for your buck (or for no bucks.)

When I was looking for an online budget to use for my personal finance, I had difficulty determining which one would be the best fit for me. The reviews I found were sparse and lacked the amount of quick consumable detail I was interested in. Truthfully, I didn’t have the time or inclination to stop and start each program. I figured if I was on a hunt for this information then other people might be as well.

You can save yourself the time and effort of having to wade through each of the online budget programs yourself. It is all right here. Avoid the hassle of setting up multiple online profiles only to find that program wasn’t the right fit for you.

I review BudgetSimple, EveryDollar, Budget Tracker and Mint.com, four of the most popular free, on-line budget programs on the internet.

In the pages of “How to choose an online budgeting tool that will save you money.” you get a detailed, step-by-step walk-thru. There I review each tab and section available for free within these programs. I tell you the positives and negatives of so you can make an informed decision on which would be right for you. I complete the series by revealing which one I choose and why.

The reviews I found we’re sparse and lacked the amount of quick consumable detail I was interested in. Truthfully, I didn’t have the time or inclination to stop and start each program. I figured if I was on a hunt for this information then other people might be as well.

To make things even easier, I created a free checklist available with email sign-up, of what information you might need to gather before setting up an online budgeting account.

With the checklist and ebook  you can get setup with the right online budget for you and be ready to get started on your way towards easy budgeting today.

monySpecial Release Week Price of $2.99

[wpepdd name=”Online budget ebook” price=”2.99″ url=”http://inbetweenmoderation.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Save_money_with_online_budget.pdf” align=”center”]

Online Budget Checklist Freebie

free online budget checklist

 

Use this checklist to make online budgeting easier to setup

on line budgetingI know when I first decided to set-up an online budget, it was a pain to constantly search through my files and documents to find pay stubs and account information.

I would be part of the way through the set-up and have to stop what I was doing, go back to my bill folder to find another piece of account information.

This constant stop and start made it so much more inconvenience to create a budget at all. It would have been so much easier if there was a checklist to guide me. If I could have had everything I needed right there in front of me before I started it would have made the Save money with online budgetwhole process so much easier.

That is why I created this checklist. It will help you before, during and after the process so you can overcome the overwhelm budgeting creation might cause. This checklist is designed to go along with the upcoming release of my new e-book ‘How to choose the Online Budgeting tool that will save you Money,” due out July 23.[ctt title=”I created this helpful list to make online budgeting easier for you. Get yours today! #freebie, #budget” tweet=”I created this helpful list to make online budgeting easier for you. Get yours today! #freebie, #budget” coverup=”d61bR”]

With the checklist and e-book together you can get setup with the right online budget for you and be ready to get started on your way towards easy budgeting.

 

Sign up for your FREE Online Budgeting Checklist

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