Success Strategies for Saving Money at the Holidays, Part 1

The best way to save money at the holidays is to be honest with yourself and others about what you can and can’t afford. Don’t burden yourself with debt, or feel guilty if you don’t have much or indeed any money for the holidays.

The holidays seem to be synonymous with gifts, parties, food and alcohol. But not that long ago in England, the Christmas stockings hung from the mantelpiece by the fire were considered stuffed to the brim if there was an orange and a sixpence in them (about a dime).

We are not sure how things have become so commercialized in the past few decades, but with the current economic recession still biting hard, this year is the right time to get back to basics. For example, do you really need to buy a gift for everyone in the family? Or more than one gift per person. Is quality important, or quantity?

Each family will have to decide these things for themselves, but it is important to ask the question. If you have a large family, can you do a Secret Santa in order to just gift to one? Or can all the adults agree that Christmas this year will just be for the children, and that they get to ask for a list of three things and Santa will be bringing them one as a surprise?
(Continued in Part 2)


Success Strategies for Saving Money at the Holidays, Part 2

Success Strategies for Saving Money at the Holidays, Part 2

Continued from Part 1
You can create a lot of family fun without having to spend a lot on food and alcohol. If you do want to indulge yourself by going out for a meal or drinks, don’t starve yourself all day in preparation for a feast. Also don’t buy a lot of expensive and watered down drinks. Your friends might consider taking turns hosting and getting in cases of beer from the warehouse club, or larger bottles of wine. In many cases the whole bottle will be cheaper than what you are paying for one glass of wine in a restaurant.

Have a potluck holiday supper in which everyone brings a dish, or you assign people appetizer, main course, sides and so on. You can provide all the cutlery and drinks or have everything bring a bottle or six pack and you provide the tableware, glasses and desserts.

Make do with the decorations you already have, or get some free resources online and use crayons, colored pencils and whatever else you already have in the house to make your own decorations with the children. Spend time using the toys that the kids got last year for the holidays and probably have not played with since.

In fact, one great way to spend early December planning for the holidays is to take the time to start clearing out things in your house and especially in each child’s room and start gathering all the things that you and the children don’t use or have outgrown.

If they are decent quality, put them on sale at eBay or donate them to the Salvation Army and be sure to get a receipt. Then look on their website to calculate the values for the items and deduct those amounts from your taxes next April.

Use the money you earn on eBay or the money you save on your taxes as the foundation for next year’s Christmas savings account. Don’t feel pressured to spend what you don’t have. Practice saying, “I can’t afford it,” or “If we want it, we have to save up for it.”

Also be sure to revise your Christmas list in light of what you find as you do your holiday cleaning and sorting. You may find yourself crossing a lot of items off the list.

Try to stick to practical gifts for your loved ones, such as attractive items that double as school supplies, for instance, can make great stocking stuffers. Clothes, shoes, boots, a new back pack and so on also make excellent gifts, especially if they are at the right price and your child did not get very many new back to school supplies.

As for re-gifting, we are all in favor of it provided it is not fruitcake. But seriously, if you have no use for it, by all means pass it on to someone who will appreciate it, so long as no one will find out or expect you to use or wear the item you were gifted. Also consider if it is genuinely that person’s taste or not. Re-gifting can help fill in blanks in your list, and it can also enable you to give a gift to someone you would like to be able to give one to, but might not have in the budget.

Everyone has different perspectives on Christmas and what they wish to spend versus what they can afford. If your gap has widened this year, be honest about it and focus on all the fun and free ways you can celebrate the holidays. The new found financial freedom you start creating for yourself and your family will be well worth it and the best gift you can give to your children.

For more top tips on how to save money at the holidays, see How to Save Money this Holiday Season


Frugal Halloween Costumes

Dressing up in costume for Halloween is one of the most enjoyable parts of the month of October, but costumes can be expensive to purchase. This is especially true when you’re purchasing for several children at the same time. Kids’ costumes can add up quickly in price, but you can save a significant amount of money by either re-using the ones that you bought last year, or creating your own.

Re-use the costumes from last year
If your children are the same gender and similar in age, pass along the costume to the next child. If the costume has parts to it that can be used, by all means do so. For example, a black cape can be great for a vampire, witch, warlock or magician. A red dress can be great for a vampire, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White with the addition of a white apron, Heidi with the addition of a white pinafore, a salsa dancer with the addition of some multicolored ruffles at the hem and some maracas, and so on.

Make Your Own

If you need to start from scratch because nothing fits or you already got rid of it or gave it away to a charity shop (a great source of cheap costumes, then try creating one of these frugal and fun costume ideas for your kids this year:

1. Weatherman (or Weathergirl).
If your child already has rain gear, such as a yellow jacket and rain boots, you can easily add to this attire for a creative costume. Outfit a large umbrella with craft paper lightning bolts and raindrops or snowflakes strung up on fishing line. This simple costume is super cute and very cheap to make.
Many “occupational” costumes are simple to make using materials you already have in your home. You may need to buy a costume hardhat to finish off a carpenter or construction costume, for example, but the cost is much lower when you can use your own blue jeans/carpenter’s jeans, flannel shirt and tool belt from home. For a policeman costume, you would need a blue shirt, dark trousers and a badge or emblem such as NYPD.

2. Crayon.
This is another fun costume you can make with things you may already have. Take a solid color shirt and pant set and adhesive-backed felt. Create “CRAYON” or a color label with black felt. Make accents for the wrists and ankles that coordinate with a typical “Crayola.” Finally, top it off with a pointed party hat in a coordinated color for the perfect sharpened tip on your crayon. You can also roll them in a craft paper tube in the appropriate color with CRAYON written on it, and the hat. Hold up the crayon roll with shoulder straps made out of the craft paper or a couple of matching socks stapled to the paper.

3. Animal costumes.
Animal costumes are easy to make, beginning with a leotard or a single-colored outfit and a coordinating fabric or felt. Attach ears to a headband, and create a tail that you can safety-pin to the waistband. A little face paint goes a long way, but doesn’t cost much to acquire. Dogs and cats work well as quick animal costume ideas.

Get more creative with lizards, birds and other animal costumes depending on what materials you have at hand. Ear headbands and various animal headpieces can be found in a party store but are easy to make. For young children, you can striped or fluffy fabric to turn your child into a lion or tiger. You can find free patterns online that will help you judge just how much fabric and trim you will need.

With enough planning, you can create your own costumes quickly and easily, often with items that you already have at home. This will allow your children to get the most out of their Halloween experience without forcing you to spend more than you can afford.
Halloween is now an important holiday that many schools participate in, with parties, costume parades, bakes goods and more. Your child will not want to be left out, but luckily you can get them a great costume if you refurbish last year’s, shop at a charity store for one, or make your own at home.

Further Reading
YOUR RECESSION SURVIVAL GUIDE: How to Save Money and Even Boost Your Income in This Recession

Smart Spending Strategies


Creative Ways to Eliminate Holiday Debt

Do you find yourself worrying about holiday debt when it’s not even the holidays any more? Do you worry how you are going to afford Christmas this year? Worse still, do you live on starvation rations through January and even February because you overspent and are struggling to cope with the bills?

Creative Ways to Eliminate Holiday Debt is a surefire way of starting off on the right step with the holiday season this year.

The holidays are to be filled with joy, not anxiety. The feeling of overwhelming stress over money can actually give you panic attacks, depression and even upset your relationships.

Doctors are reporting an increase of over 25% in the number of patients reporting stress and insomnia as a result of the current economic crisis.

This book will not only help you with getting out and staying out of holiday debt, but it can help you have the stress-free, peaceful life that you deserve to have, freed from constant anxiety about money.

Creative Ways to Eliminate Holiday Debt will help you face the hard facts of just how much debt you are in, how much you truly owe, and how to start working towards paying it off.

With the easy step-by-step guide that Kris Roop gives you in this book, you’ll be paying off your debt and keeping it at bay in no time.

In this guide you will discover:

* How do we get into holiday debt in the first place?

* How to create a budget

* Tips on saving money and finding new money

* Strategies for dealing with the credit card companies, such as finding the best interest rate

* Creative ways to keep holiday debt from coming back

* Much, much more!

Studies show that about 19% of American homeowners owe more than $100,000 and about 43% of American families spend more than they earn. Start facing your debts, find a plan, and take action with The Creative Ways to Eliminate Holiday Debt guide.

You won’t just use it this holiday season, but all year round to stay on the right track financially.

Creative Ways to Eliminate Holiday Debt