11/29/2010

Cyber Monday

Just because Black Friday has ended, that doesn't mean that good savings are completely gone. Cyber Monday, the  marketing term for the Monday immediately following Black Friday, the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Cyber Monday sales last for about eight days, typically from the last Monday in November to the first Monday in December. Online retailers will be ready for the surge in sales, and many are offering extra incentives to encourage people to shop online. Deals will range from free shipping to gifts with purchase to percentages off.

According to the article, Cyber Monday Shopping Ramps Up  by CNNMoney.com, "The NRF reported 212 million shoppers went to stores and websites over the weekend, up from 195 million shoppers during the same period last year. The average shopper spent $365.34 during Black Friday weekend 2010, compared to $343.31 during the same weekend last year, the NRF said. Total spending for the weekend was $45 billion."

Some tips to protect your rights and your privacy are as follows:
  • Shop at secure sites-
  • Research the websites before you order
  • Read the websites privacy and security polices
  • Be aware of cookies and behavioral marketing
  • NEVER give out your social security number
  • Disclose only the bare facts when you order
  • Check the website address
  • ALWAYS print copies of your orders
  • Learn the merchants cancellation, complaint, and return polices
  • Use shopper's intuition
  • Be wary of identity theft
For more detailed information on what to look for and how to protect yourself on Cyber Monday visit Online Shopping Tips: E-Commerce and You

Beware of scammers. Scammers can pretend to be selling a product, often very cheaply, in order to steal your information. They may take your money and give you a worthless item, or nothing at all. Most online auction sites put a lot of effort into spotting scammers, which is why scammers will often try to get people to make a deal outside the auction site.

Here are some warning signs to protect yourself from being scammed http://tinyurl.com/28aafg
  • A product is advertised at a very low price.
  • The seller and any initial bidders have a very poor rating on an auction site.
  • The other party wants to complete the sale outside of the auction site (if you do this, you lose any protections that the site operator offer to their users).
  • The other party insists on immediate payment, or payment by electronic funds transfer or a wire service.
  • The online shopping website does not provide adequate information about privacy, terms and conditions of use, dispute resolution or contact details.
Other Resources to Save You Money:

New vs. Used: Where to Spend and Where to Save- What popluar items should we spend money on? Which one's should we buy used? This artical explains the details.

5 Items Worth Waiting For- What to Buy After the Holidays- With so many of us returning gifts after the holiday season, here are a few items to wait on giving to your family and to yourself. The best deals are often found after the holiday season and into the new year.
Gift Giving Ideas for the Holidays: Gifts From the Heart- Holidays can be even more complicated when finances (especially credit cards) become overwhelming. Focus on alternative gifts to your family and friends without spending a fortune.

P.R.E.S.E.N.T.S More Tips On How to Save

Click Here For More Gift Giving Ideas

11/24/2010

Five Stress Busters for the Hoilday Season

Holidays can be stressful with family, friends, and co-workers. Planning ahead can help reduce stress, and give you peace of mind for the season. Here are some other tips to help make the holidays more manageable this season.

1. Plan, plan, plan. Don't wait until the last second. Be realistic about the holidays. Understand that you can't do everything, so choose the things that you can accomplish and enjoy.

2. Create a budget, stick to it, and limit the number of guests attending your holiday parties. Ask each person to RSVP ahead of time, a day or two before the party, so that you are aware of the number of guests that are attending.

3. Simplify. You don't need to have 20 pies sitting on the table or 10 different appetizers. Remember that the main course is the star of your show. Set your menu in advance and remember to say NO.  If family members or friends want additional items on the table consider hosting a potluck.

With each guest responsible for a side-dish and their own beverage, you can enjoy the weather and company without sacrificing your pocketbook. Track your progress towards a savings goal by becoming a Virginia Saver, you can utilize the My Savings Tracker for free to record deposits and monitor your progress.

4. Set a schedule. There's a lot to do, and the best way to get it all done—and keep your cool—is to make a plan. Instead of keeping a to-do list in your head, write all your tasks down and then create a schedule so you can finish everything. Be tolerant of disappointment and changes in plans and remain flexible.

5. Remember: take a meditative moment at least once a day to breathe deeply, clear your mind of all the clutter. Also get good sleep. Six to eight hours of sleep is recommended to help rejuvenate your body, maintain proper immune function and aid indigestion.

11/19/2010

The Holiday Party Blues: How to Have a Great Party on a Budget

As we try to keep the holidays frugal and festive, there comes the question holiday parties. The idea is to have a great time with family and friends, but it is very hard not to overspend. The easiest ways to save is to create a budget, stick to it, and limit the number of guests attending the party. Ask each person to RSVP ahead of time, a day or two before the party, so that you are aware of the number of guests that are attending.

If you want to minimize the food costs, have a gathering at a time of the day when people have already eaten, such as mid afternoon and you will only need to provide snacks. How about an appetizer or dessert party? These ideas keep your food requirements to a minimum. Plan on making most of the food yourself to cut costs on catering. Or better yet have a potluck and have each person bring an item to the party!

You can also send your invitations via email. There is a great website, http://www.evite.com/, where you can create an online invite and email everyone on your list for free.

Kids ADORE the goodie bag, but there is no reason for sending out or bringing home a plastic bag full of items that broken or forgotte, in in seconds--and having to pay for it! It is  100x more worthwhile to give out one nice, memorable item. However, this item does not have to be expensive.

Doubling a craft as a favor is a great idea. Photographs make great party favors. Snap shots while at the party and have each child make and decorate their frames. Here are how-to links for popsicle stick crafts, which are inexpensive and fun to make- Craft Stick Picture Frames, Santa Ornaments, and Penguin Pals Ornaments.

11/17/2010

5 Items Worth Waiting For: What to Buy After the Holidays

With so many of us returning gifts after the holiday season, here are a few items to wait on giving to your family and to yourself. The best deals are often found after the holiday season and into the new year.

1. Baking Ingredients-During the holidays stores stock up on baking ingredients to meet customer needs. After the holidays have passed, they mark these prices down out of necessity. The same goes for red and green candy. You can sprinkle broken candy pieces, of melt them into cookie or brownie batter for unique creations.

2.Wine- Bottles go on sale around the holidays and the prices get slashed even further the weeks that follow.

3. Electronics- Open box, and clearance models of computers and other electronics usually pop up around January. The stores are trying to clear away older inventory in order to make room for the latest and greatest models.

4. Refurbished Goods- Expect stores’ “refurbished” bins - where returned appliances and gadgets get a 10 to 20% discount - to be well-stocked after the holidays, as people return unwanted gifts. A note of caution however, make sure that these items are coming from dealers that offer a manufacturer’s warranty. That way you are guaranteed that the protect works before you purchase it, as some items may have a no-return policy.

5. Holiday Cards- These items are usually marked down 50% after the holidays have passed, but if you wait until January, holiday cards and wrapping paper are often offered up to 75% off. This is a great time to stock up on bags, tissue paper, and accessories, if you have the extra storage space. Holiday lights also fall into this category.

11/12/2010

Building Your Emergency Fund

The success of any long-range savings plan depends on consistently putting money away and leaving it there.People who are living on a lean-and-mean budget will have the toughest time setting aside money for emergencies. For beginning and more advanced savers, nothing is more important than the emergency fund. As the cornerstone of your savings plan, an emergency fund is your protection against unexpected, but inevitable, expenses.


Figure out your goal & a place to save. Having an emergency savings fund may be the most important difference between those who manage to stay afloat and those who are sinking financially. That's because maintaining emergency savings of $500 to $1,000 allows you to easily meet unexpected financial challenges such as a car repair or medical bill and avoid high interest, short-term loans.
 
Treat the emergency fund as a bill, and make sure to pay yourself first. If you don’t have much to save, it doesn’t matter — the important thing is just to start. Even if it’s only $25 per paycheck, just start. The savings will build. If you have discipline problems, there are accounts where you can have the amount deducted directly from your paycheck, before it’s deposited into your checking account.Individuals who save automatically are more than six times more likely to be successful long-term.
 
Quite often, people who don’t have an emergency fund see the idea of having to save up money as some form of punishment – Wrong. Having an emergency fund gives you more room to breathe if something does happen, instead of having to squeeze the expense onto a credit card, or beg a friend for extra cash.
 
If you want to have a savings account for big splurges, that’s great – start a “splurge fund,” too, if it makes sense for you. Many people see the emergency savings as being too tempting. They see that extra $500 dollars in savings as a trip, or a TV... and that's exactly what they spend it on.  It’s important, though, to just leave the emergency fund completely alone until you need it. Don’t even look at the balance until an actual emergency occurs.
 
Track your progress. By enrolling as a Virginia Saver, you can utilize the Virginia Saves Savings Tracker for free to record deposits and monitor your progress. If you’re not sure where to find the money to start saving, cutting down expenses can be easier than you think. Institute a “no-spend day” and for each dollar you don’t spend, add to your emergency fun. Stay tuned for next week for even more ways to save on everyday expenditures!
 
Some Tips to Help You Start:
  • Start Small- Build High: one great way to start is to set a goal that’s more reasonable. Make it your initial goal to have an emergency fund of just $250 or $500.
  • Focus on the Little Changes: Small ways to save money are everywhere. Packing your lunch, carpooling to work with friends, and transfering one monthly spluge like dining out to your savings by staying home can result in big savings.
  • Set Reasonable Milestones: Once you reach your smaller goals, set larger ones. You can build wealth!

New vs. Used: Where to Spend and Where to Save

We could do a lot of saving of the environment and our pocketbooks by becoming the second owner of a few items. There are some things like laptops that you should not buy used. However, lots of other stuff depreciates quickly while still having plenty of usable life left. Here are some of the dos and the don’ts…


Books: USED: the reality is that most books don't get read more than once, if that, and they're astonishingly easy to find used at steep discounts -- if not absolutely free. Your local library, for example, may allow you to reserve titles online. This is the same for DVDs and CDs. The used versions of movies and CD's are  lot cheaper. Amazon, Barns & Noble , and Half.com offer deals on used items. An exception to this rule are reference books that you will use over and over again. However, you can usually find them used as well. Also, there are websites for textbook rentals for students. chegg.com is one of the websites that will allow you to rent textbooks, but also offers free shipping for sending them back to their store.


Sports Equipment: USED: Happy hunting grounds: yard sales, newspaper and online ads, resale stores like Play It Again Sports. We buy many different types of equipment with the full intention of using it, but more often than not, they end up sitting gathering dust. However, an exceptions to this rule are shoes, and anything else that molds to the wearer's body.


Helmets: NEW: A crash typically crushes the foam inside the helmet casing, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, so the damage may not be visible. Since, you cannot tell if a helmet has been involved in an accident, it is much smarter to buy new. Kid's sports and bike helmets retail for about $20; you'll pay $30 to $40 for the adult size. Motorcycle helmets usually start around $100. Spend the money. It is far less costly than a funeral for a loved one.


Car Seats: NEW: A car seat that's been in one accident may not protect your child in another. And damaged car seats aren't uncommon. Brand-new car seats can often be purchased for as little as $50, and safety technology tends to improve with each year. If you do decide to use one from a family member or someone that you trust check with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to make sure the model you're getting hasn't been recalled. Also, here is a National Highway Traffic Administration link to the Children's Safety Seat Inspection Station Locator. These services are often free of charge.


Hand Tools: USED: If you're not going to use a tool frequently, you may be able to rent it or borrow from a friend or neighbor rather than buying. Well made tools can last for years. If you're looking at power tools, and are a busy do-it-yourselfer, you may want to buy new because power tools have a limited lifespan.


Formal Wear: USED: Sometimes you'll need to buy formal clothing for special occasions, such as weddings or prom. Most people will take good care of formal clothing but will only wear it once or twice. Thrift stores, yard sales, online sellers and even some dress shops offer fantastic buys on used formal wear. Also many students donate their dresses. donatemydress.org offers information on where to donate and receive dresses.


DVD Players, Laptops, and Camera Equipment: NEW: If you're going to spend the money on these high end items, you might as well buy new. While it’s smart to buy used DVDs, this doesn’t apply to DVD players. DVD players have lasers that will eventually wear out. The cost to repair or replace may cost more than the player is worth. Because of their portability, laptops are prone to all abuse and problems. Unless it has been refurbished, you don’t get the warranties and tech support that come with buying new.


Vaccum Cleaners: NEW: Vacuums are among the heavy-duty household items that  get a lot of use and abuse. They can also cost more to fix than if you bought them new right from the start.

Feasting for Less

First the larger turkeys are cheaper than the smaller ones, so buy the largest one that you can. If you don't want tons of leftovers, the local national chain grocery store butcher will cut the turkey in half for you. Just freeze the other half for a later date. Without so many leftovers the family may be more willing to have turkey again. Also, that's one less thing to purchase for a later date when family and friends are gathering.

Frozen turkey is the least expensive kind to purchase since they have a longer shelf life than fresh turkeys. However frozen turkeys require more preparation time since the bird needs to be defrosted ahead of time which can take up to several days. You need to consider how busy you anticipate being on Thanksgiving Day to weigh if a fresh or pre-seasoned turkey's cost is worth the time it saves you in preparation.

Go potluck this year. Contact your guests to let them know the planned meal. If some of them offer to help, have them bring a portion of that meal. Not only is this a frugal time and money saver for you, your guests will more than likely be happy that they were able to contribute.

If you are open to considering a vegetarian holiday, it is a great way to save because rice, beans, and vegetables are a lot cheaper than meat and healthier for you too! Also, selecting recipes based on the ingredients already in your pantry, spice rack or refrigerator is a smart way to save. Balance "expensive" and "cheap" dishes. Limit the number of dishes requiring expensive ingredients. Choose your family's favorites and serve inexpensive dishes to complement them.

Boxed wine is dramatically cheaper than bottled wine. On average, one box of wine is equivalent to four bottles. Most boxed wine is $20 or less, which equates to $5 per bottle. Water, coffee (.03¢ per 8oz serving), tea (.04¢ per serving) and Kool-Aid (.05¢ per serving) are about the least expensive beverages available.

Shop smart, buy non-perishable items months in advance when they are on sale. Be a savvy shopper. Take advantage of each store's specials without falling into the extra spending trap. Watch those "giveaways". Don't let the idea of getting something free entice you to buy extras you wouldn't normally purchase.

Other Resources:

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11/09/2010

How to Create Your Budget

The first thing that anyone who wants to make a budget must do is to compare their income versus their expenses. The good thing is that it is easy to do. It's as simple as that expenses that are greater than income are bad, and income that is greater than total expenses.

There are two rules to a simple budget. 
  1. You can’t spend more than you earn – carrying a balance on a credit card is not allowed.
  2. Money must go to the budget categories as soon you get paid
Remember: 
  • Track where your money is going: Look at where your money is going over the course of a week or a month.
  • You also need to make a list of expenses that, while not regular monthly bills, occur periodically and must be accounted for. 

Make choices and consider the structure of your budget. Most pre-designed systems are designed on a monthly budget cycle.

Rather than having twenty or thirty different categories, focus on the main ones. A sample of this would be as follows:

Monthly Budget:
$3000 per month
Net income (income after withholding) $2160

Housing: $800
Utilities: $300
Groceries $500
Emergency: 120
Medical Insurance and transportation: $100 
Other Credit: $100
Misc. Expenses: $50
Entertainment: $20
Savings: $20

More Resources:

The 25 Days of Holiday Savings: Decorating Ideas on a Budget

Decorating for the Holidays can be stressful, not to mention expensive. The tinsel, trappings, and thingamabobs start to add up. However, there are lots of other ways to decorate your home. Here are 25 easy ways to redecorate for the season.

1. Decorate with holiday ribbon. The ribbon can be tied to curtains, banisters, windows, and placed on mantles with a few unlit candles.
2. Bring the outdoors indoors. Don't be afraid to use pine cones and needles for decorations. The cones can also be painted or dipped in glitter for unique ornaments.
3.Want a unique table runner? Use an old holiday scarf instead!
4.Wrap your doors in Christmas wrapping paper and attach large bows make from fabric or purchased at your local craft store.
5. Use a holiday pop-up book as a centerpiece. Just open the book up to a desirable picture and place the open book in the center of your table.
6.Trim door frames, window frames and the edges of mirrors with Christmas garland.
7. Create an red and green display in your kitchen using a collection standard food items. Jars of olives, sun dried tomatoes, pickles, red peppers, cans with red or green labels.
8. For convincing "snow" on your tree  lay lengths of rolled cotton, available at drugstores, on the branches.
9. Stuffing potpourri in bowls or baskets is another great idea to make a beautiful centerpiece.
10. Tie cinnamon sticks with ribbons and hang them from the mantle, Christmas tree, etc.
11.Hang old greeting cards from the Christmas tree. You can also make a collage of the cards and decorate the wall behind the fireplace with it.
12. Make your own garlands with the help of popcorn, buttons, beads, cranberries, charms, candies, etc. Use these garlands for decorating the house.
13. Decorate with a candy canes. Place in a clear tall vase and tie with a ribbon for a festive centerpiece.
14.  Hang mistletoe everywhere.
15. Many of us have collected small treasures over the years: knick-knacks that embody the memories of past Christmas festivities. One approach is to place them sparsely, one or two per room. This can turn the whole home into a memory lane.

16.Take your throw pillows and tie them with holiday colored ribbons either once around the middle or like a holiday gift.
17. Take soup, vegetable or peanut cans and create new places for gift stuffing. Decorate with holiday wrapping paper or children's drawings.
18. Take household bottles and spray paint them in holiday colors. Place flowers, candles, or twigs inside for an inexpensive accent piece.
19.Put metal cookie cutters into a bowl with a pretty Christmas ribbon.
20.Put a teddy bear on a stack of holiday books
21.Food is a large part of Christmas and you can use fruits and nuts as a natural way to decorate.Use apples, oranges, and nuts.
22.Use helium balloons with fancy ribbons tied to little decorative sandbags. They are very inexpensive and look great.
23.Make a gingerbread house for a beautiful centerpiece.
24.Have a lot of scrap Christmas fabric from years past? Use it to make a simple square patchwork quilt as a throw for the couch, and add a lot of holiday spirit to the room!
25.Take down your pictures and wrap them then hang them back on the wall for great holiday cheer!

Remember:
Garage sales are a treasure trove of Christmas decorations. Summer and fall is the peak of garage sale season and is a good time to stock up on holiday decorations. Thrift stores also have interesting items, that may be used for very little cost.  As an extra resource, here are 101 Decorating Ideas for around the house.  

11/07/2010

The Cost of Holiday Credit

With holiday sales beginning for the 2010 season, you will likely see offers for discounts if you use your store credit cards.  Retailers are very aware of studies that indicate that if you are swiping plastic for your purchases, you are likely to spend on average 10% more than if you paid with cash.  Credit cards can provide convenience for shoppers, but buyer beware: unless you are disciplined in repayment, these card purchases can cost you more in the long run than any discount you may have received.

Using a cool calculator we found on bankrate.com http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/managing-debt/minimum-payment-calculator.aspx  that calculates both the interest paid and the total length of credit card debt, we found that by inputting the average family holiday credit of $500, that if I make the minimum payment on these purchases, I will be in debt for over four years and pay as much as $450 in interest.  That increases the total cost of my holiday from $500 to up to $950!

Because of the new credit card laws that were inacted in 2010, you can easily see the cost of making minimum payments.  One way you can avoid the debt trap during the holiday season is to check out Virginia Saves new Holiday Treasure Kit.  This is a compilation of great ideas for saving on food, decorations and giving during the holidays.  Also, there are great tools for getting greater financial control into 2011.  You can get your Holiday Treasure Kit by visiting http://www.virginiasaves.org/.  While there, sign up to become a saver for great savings and debt reduction strategies throughout the year. 

Don't be a victim, but be a victor as you establish solid financial strategies that will sustain you all year long.

11/01/2010

Four Golden Rings! The Four Kinds of Savings

Financial advisors recommend four different kinds of savings:



1. Savings for irregular expenses: vacations, weddings, birthdays and holidays don't happen every month, but we know they are coming. Here are some ideas for saving for those special events: a. know how much you are going to spend in advance. Many times these expenses can throw our budget into a death spiral because we didn't plan in advance. For example: earmark savings for vacation to be say $500. That seems like a lot of money, but if you save throughouth the year it translates into $41.67 per month. Some banks and credit unions offer special accounts like Christmas clubs and special savings accounts to keep you on track with your savings plan. These can also be used to be collateral for a small loan as you are building your credit (another topic).

2. Savings for unexpected costs: this is what is known as an emergency fund or a contingency fund. On average every family experiences about $2,000 in unexpected costs each year whether it is an appliance failure, car repair, acts of God like weather, or an accident we all have unexpected expenses...expect them. If we save an extra $166 per month for those expenses, you will never have to go to the credit card or the bank to borrow money. You will borrow from yourself and feel all the more secure knowing you were able to meet those unexpected expenses on your own.

3.Savings for large purchases: lets face it, if you drive a car eventually it will need to be replaced. Children will hopefully pursue education to secure better income potential like college or trade school. Furniture, appliances and maybe even some recreational items can be costly. The biggest purchase of all we will likely make is purchase of a home. Savings can be all important to allow you to get the things you need and want without jeopardizing the monthly budget and going into debt.

4. Savings for retirement: Your retirement cash flow will likely come from three potential sources: a. Social Security (if you read your Social Security statement you receive each year you will see a special disclaimer: "In 2016 we will begin paying more in benefits than we collect in taxes. Without changes, by 2037 the Social Security Trust Fund will be exhausted* and there will be enough money to pay only about 76 cents for each dollar of scheduled benefits." At best Social Security will likely replace less than 40% of your current income b. Employer Pension: some employers still offer a pension or a regular monthly annuity after retirement. The size of the annuity varies, but is usually significantly less than your current paycheck. c. Your Savings: your savings is going to be the best provision you have to enjoy retirement years without having to continue working to subsidize the costs of living. Your savings will be the funds you will use to take trips, spoil grandchildren and to provide for any additional expenses related to declining health (I hope you never experience).

Big savings is great, but every little bit counts, so start small and think big. Penny pinching can yield tremendous future benefits. Don't be ashamed to be a pincher, pinch and watch your savings grow!

If you haven't become a saver, stop by our website at www.virginiasaves.org and enroll today. This may be the day you begin to achieve your dreams!

Temptations: How to Have Fun While Saving this Winter

As the temperature cools down, the temptation to spend heats up. Between family visits and nights out with friends, winter can be fraught with expenses. Saving money and enjoying the snow can be synonymous. Take advantage of the following savings tips to inexpensively enjoy your holiday season:


Temptation 1. – What am I going to wear?


Rather than purchase a new winter wardrobe, host a clothing swap with your friends, family, and neighbors. Everyone can get “new to them” accessories and clothing without having to spend a dime.

Temptation # 2 – What am I going to do for fun this winter?


Don’t spend your savings to go to the movies. Consider hitting cheaper matinees or borrowing recent flicks for free from the library. Look for free festivals or indoor concerts in your area. Grab a few board games and a few healthy snacks. Also a few hours before dinner head over to your local ice skating ring and rent a pair of skates. It usually only cost around $6 a person for a few hours of skating.

Temptation # 3 – What are we going to eat?

Host a potluck rather than go out to eat. With each guest responsible for a side-dish and their own beverage, you can enjoy the weather and company without sacrificing your pocketbook.
Make sure to bank your savings! Track your progress towards a savings goal by becoming a Virginia Saver, you can utilize the My Savings Tracker for free to record deposits and monitor your progress.

More Resources:


Make More Money Before the Holiday Season

Here are some quick and easy tips to make more money before the holidays:

  • Apply for a seasonal position: A lot of retailers hire on new members to their teams during the holiday season. Not only is it a way to build cash over the season, but also can be an easy way to establish contacts, build your resume, and learn important new job skills. Be persistent and dedicated in your search. A online application may be quick and easy, but coming and showing face time the old fashioned way looks more impressive.  If acceptable, remember to bring a small portfolio or sample of your work along with you. Also dress well and prepare yourself by gathering information about the company. They will appreciate your interest!
  • Get rid of things you don't need: Sell unwanted items like DVDs, video games, or comic books to specialty stores which generally give you a better deal. For collector’s items or items of higher value, list online through auction websites. Hold a garage or yard sale to get rid of your remaining items or things of lower value. If you don’t have much to sell, consider hosting a joint or neighborhood sale to increase traffic
  • Use your hobbies to your advantage :If you are a gifted crafter, consider selling your crafts at local fairs or online. Got a way with words? Make money through blogging by charging for ad space. The larger your number of readers, the more you can charge for ad space. Additionally, freelance writing or editing opportunities can be found online.
  • Create an odd jobs service: Take advantage of opportunities around the neighborhood. Do you have an elderly neighbor who might need help putting up holiday lights? What about babysitting? Look around and ask questions. Mow laws for $20 to $30 dollars a yard, depending on size. Dog walking is another odd job that pays well, the normal charge being about $10- $15 dollars per dog. Remember to advertise yourself, and your services!
For more tips and information:

Decking the Halls: Decorating on a Budget

A lot of extra money is wasted over the holiday season. Reusable items such as gift bags, strings of holiday lights, and extra wrapping paper, is thrown away. Also conveniences such as professional gift wrapping and novelty attachments can really add up. By creating your own holiday spending plan, you can organize your inventory of items for each person on your list. Also, it becomes easy to see how much you are actually spending verses the estimated cost.

Decorating For the Holidays:
• Consider inexpensive decorating strategies, such as children's artwork and crafts
• Inspect and inventory holiday decorations and only purchase items to enhance current decorations
• Check light strands for cracked or broken bulbs and replace bulbs. The bulbs are less expensive.

Some Other Resources:

Budget Decorating for the Holidays


10 Great Decorating Ideas on a Budget

We’ve also included a chart to help you keep an inventory of items. By keeping a detailed inventory, you will know exactly what you have and where it is located. Don’t waste money on replacement items if you don’t have to!

Worksheet:


Your Holiday Decorating Chart

How to Use the Holiday Decorating Chart:

• Write the year the item was bought
• Write the decoration name and description
• Write the storage area of the item
• Write how many of that item will need to be repurchased.
• Keep the list handy for next year, and write down your shopping list according to the chart