August 15

Christmas is Coming

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My youngest daughter looks pretty freaked out about Christmas in this photo, and I usually feel the same way about the holiday once the excitement of the back to school rush settles down. By Halloween I’m practically hyperventilating about all the gifts I have to buy, food I have to cook and visits to family that I should, but probably won’t, get around to making.

Sound familiar?

Dave Ramsey (oh, God, I love that man!) always says that it shouldn’t come as any surprise to us that we will need to budget for Christmas. It’s not an unexpected emergency, and it always happens at the same time every year. But, still, many of us freak out and do some crazy silly things during the holidays.

My personal bad habit is twofold; I overspend and don’t budget enough for gifts. Or, rather, I set an amount that looks reasonable on paper but once I get into the stores my husband and I can’t seem to accommodate all our gifts on the suddenly miniscule budget.

This year, I’m ahead of the game. Hopefully. I figured that if I put aside $25 each week, starting this week, I’ll have nearly $500 by Christmas. That will definitely help cover the cost of all those gifts and goodies during the holiday season!

Consider this: If you can only manage $10 each week, starting from today, you’ll have $190 put away for the holidays. That’s like, two McDonalds breakfasts a week, or a couple of ‘good’ coffees. You can probably even shave ten bucks off your grocery expenses each week and slide that money over into a red and green envelope for some real holiday fun! Better yet, keep it up all year long for an almost effortless $520 bucks for next year.

See if your bank offers a Christmas club account that holds your savings, possibly pays a little interest, and mails you a check sometime in October or November. Set up an automatic transfer of ten bucks, or whatever you can afford, each week from your checking to the Christmas account, and lose a whole lot of stress in the process!

Excuse me while I go pat myself on the back for being ahead of the game, LOL! I think I’ll indulge in a little early Christmas shopping. If you want, feel free to join me over at My British Christmas !

Got any tips for saving for Christmas? Please share…we love it when you do!

May 23

Gifts Your Kid's Teacher Won't Hate

This time of year is frantic for most families with school-aged children. There are the end of the year parties, teacher gifts, yearbooks, field trips and about a million other expenses associated with the end of the school year. It can hit parents hard. Most people don’t budget for these extra expenses…heck, most people don’t budget for the rest of the year, either, but I’m going to forgive them that little indiscretion. After all, you’ve only known me for like, two minutes, so you can’t possibly know how passionate I am about budgeting. (Take that last bit with a pinch of salt, lol!)

Anyhoo, the year’s almost up, summer’s looming large, and you really want to get your teacher the ultimate teacher gift because she has put up with your children and their inherited weirdness all year long. There’s only one problem…money. As in, there is none left in the budget for teacher gifts! Don’t panic, (save that for when you realize you have your little darlings all to yourself for three months) I have some great options for teacher gifts that your child’s teacher will actually like and want to take home with her.

Summer Survival Kit

This is what we did one year when I wanted to give my daughter’s teacher a gift but only had like ten bucks to spend. I went to the dollar store and picked out a cute plastic basket with handles. I then proceeded to fill the basket with all the fun summer items it would hold. We bought popsicle molds, Kool-Aid mix, candies, lip balm, a pretty journal and pen, and some big pink sunglasses. I knew that this particular teacher had a small child and would definitely use the popsicle molds, but was guessing at the other stuff. The whole shebang came to about ten dollars, including tax, and the teacher loved it!

Make it, With Love

One year I decided to get crafty and make travel tissue packet covers for all the teachers that my kids had. They weren’t the prettiest, but they were useful and the teachers actually did use them. If you have any mad crafting skills, put them to use and make something, well, useful. Teachers always need a place to organize and store things in the classroom, so make a nifty hold-all or pen holder for them to use the next year. Pretty, personalized tote bags are good, but better if you make a matching fabric tablet case to go with it. Really, the possibilities are endless. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at Pinterest for inspiration. Just remember to stop looking long enough to make the gift, okay?

Give Her Credit

Know a teacher who loves to read? A gift card to a book store is perfect, but if you don’t have money there is an alternative. Check your local book stores to see if they provide store credit for trade in books. Many do, and some will give you your credit in the form of a gift card or gift certificate that can be used later on to buy items in the store.

This is my favorite for several reasons; it promotes reading, something I am extremely passionate about. It promotes the use of small local businesses, another thing I am fairly in love with. And it costs you nothing, something I would up and marry in a heartbeat if it asked me to.