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Budgeting and saving, Gift ideas

Everyone except my nieces and kids get framed Photos

Everyone except my nieces and kids get framed Photos. I buy wood frames used at garage sales and spray paint them flat black as that shows off the photos the best. New glass is cheap and cutting glass it easy. If the glass is broken or missing you can get nice frames for .10 to .25 otherwise it is about 1.00. Sometimes if you show up at the end of a sale you can get a whole box for $1 to $2. I use a white museum quality mat and foam core and finish it nicely with acid free tape.

I always sign and date and put a personal note on the back. A part time job with a custom frame place will give you lessons on mat cutting plus access to a mat cutter and materials cheap plus a little income to pay for your supplies. Do well and build a relationship with the owner and you can go back and cut mats for birthdays and other events. I have collected from Grandparents old family photos and documented them well. The old sepia prints on great grand parents and other family history make great wedding presents when framed in a more elaborate formal way too. After you do this you can do mats and frames for friends in exchange for babysitting or other things you might need like cash. They are always looking for extra people during the season.

I have invested in a very nice camera because that is a favorite hobby and in the end it has paid for its self. If you need photography lessons then ask at your local photostore or find out the teacher who teaches at your local community center ask if you can assist in class in exchange for coming. People complain when I find that perfect gift and buy them something else. We bake cookies for token gifts (mail person, garbage person, neighbors) and put them in hand decorated brown lunch sacks lined with waxed tissue that I buy from a local bakery for wholesale. I also organize group gifts for teachers and daycare people and Girl Scout leaders with other parents.

This is very much appreciated and takes little effort and in the end if you can give a teacher or day care worker a $200 American express gift check from 20 to 30 people then they feel much more appreciated as you went to the effort to ensure they got something nice. These are people who deserve big gifts but alone it is impossible to make this happen. We collect individual cards from each giver and put them in a large envelope. Every year I organize this it gets easier and people start expecting so they don’t buy ahead they know I’m going to do this. Occasionally someone offers to help.

I do very very little shopping at Christmas. My kids each get 4 things something they want, something to wear(usually PJs),. something to read, and something they need. Stockings are filled with art supplies and candy a tooth brush and a trial sized tooth paste. These things come from the entire extended family not just me so it is pretty much 4 things to open at Christmas. My mom sews so she makes the PJs and sometimes a pillow case to match. My sister is in charge of books and takes great care in selecting the right one for each kid( she loves books). Used books are fine and used items in general are considered a cool thing.

Our family is very much at the point it is the thought that counts and handmade gifts that are personal are considered in very high regard. The thing with overspending on Christmas is when you do this people feel they have to reciprocate. It might take a few years for a new in-law to get with the program but if you don’t follow suite and continue to do the nice but handmade item they will get the picture that is what you want too. Those that are not crafty buy supplies or gift cards for supplies.

Budgeting and saving

It’s great you found a way to “get away from it all”

It’s great you found a way to “get away from it all”. It’s all about the little things that get us by!

When our children were smaller, (we now have teen-agers), we cut out fast food. Instead of going to McDonald’s, we made up a picnic and went to the park. (they were happy with peanut butter and jelly!) We spent hours there, and we all had a good time. There was more family bonding in the park than at McDonald’s where the kids just played by themselves in their little playland. AND, the kids LOVED it!

I would love to see how high Americans would pay. The only way you could do that is to jack up the price, though, as surveys would tell you nothing. I bet a lot of people would “say” they would not pay $5 a gallon but if it got that high, I’ll bet they would.

Frankly I would not mind paying $7 a gallon if it made people change there driving habits. Both in the amount they drive and what they drive and how often they look for alternatives to driving.

We live in the sticks and don’t have any choice but to pay it. There is no public transportation. We don’t even have a convenience store. I definately limit my trips to town. Now I have to need about 10 things before I’ll head to town, where it used to be 3 or 4. Even at $5, I would still have NO choice but to pay it.

You bet they’d pay it. I don’t even think driving habits would change very much. Americans will do anything for their cars. They’d give up the kids first.

I could not afford to pay $7. But you have a good point. One time on the news, a comment was made, reportedly by a gas company spokesperson, that as long as people did NOT change their habits and continued to drive as always, the prices would not go down. If we show we’re willing to pay it, and continue to drive the same, I guess they will assume we have no problem with it.

Yes but do they have public transportation? How many have even have cars? We as a socity have to have gas, to get to our jobs, our famlies, to function in society. It is a need. It may even be an addiction.

No we don’t need a 60K car to do this, but we live in a country that expects you to have a car, and drive. I’m happy to see see that cars now are getting better fuel eco, hybrids(though you’ll pay more), but more needs to be done.

Oil had its time and place, its time to move on. I’ll step off my soap box.

Budgeting and saving

I would love to hear from others about daily life

Such good points. I would love to hear from others about daily life and ways in which we all reduce our spending, stay in our budgets and maintain their budgets and still find ways to grow a savings.

I’ve had to make many adjustments due to gas prices, but am finding it’s not so bad. I started, a while back, a savings account with Capital One 360. It, or any online savings, is such a convenient way to save—-the money is drawn automatically from my bank account every payday. I’m not missing the money anymore, and have adjusted my budget around it.

I would love to hear from other members on their budgets and ideas for staying within them.

My biggest economic cutback was when I quit smoking. $200.00 a month wasn’t going to cigarettes!!

My house is filled with, except for the dining room light, Fluorescent bulbs. This cut my electric bill by about a third, and many of the newer ones look like ‘normal’ lighting.

We updated our furnace to a forced air heater in 2000. a usual $110.00 Gas bill went right now to $28-40.00, and 60 in the winter.

I primarily use the microwave instead of the electric stove, with the exception of Pasta and stews, and that keeps the bill low too.

I buy plain clothes and can decorate them myself. 5 for $10.00 tee shirts become ’boutique’ with my paintbrush and a touch of glitter! I can sell one or two and ‘pay’ for them and the paint…

Cheap cuts of meat, de fatted and marinated overnight, makes for good eating.

Couldn’t afford new flooring, so I stripped up all the carpeting, and PAINTED my slab floors, like they do in Lofts. Looks cool.

Thanks for the ideas! I’ve also found some shirts and jackets in thrift stores. use odd leftover bits of yarn to crochet or knit collars and cuffs. has great patterns and they’re free. Go to yard and rummage sales to pick up yarn cheap, just keep an eye out for moth damage. Have you tried putting the meat in a slow cooker or crock pot? After sitting 6 to 10 hours even the toughest, chewiest meat is cooked tender. For stew just use leftovers (potatoes, veggies, scraps of meat, can of condensed soup like vegetable without the water) and leave it on low all day.

My budget is pretty tight with living expenses and trying to pay off debts. Once a year I want a vacation, usually 4 days, to just get away from all my worries and to gather up the energy to keep going. So all year long I save my change in a jar. When the jar is full I turn in the coins for cash and stash it in my savings account. then once a year I pull out just the money I put in (leaving the intrest) and go somewhere away from home. A guy at work has a couple of rental cabins by a lake. He offers me a discounted rental because with the divorce and kids I don’t have a lot of money.

My mom works in a restaurant. She collects all the dollar coins and half dollars that show up plus lots of the regulars save theirs for her. A couple of weeks ago she cashed them in and got nearly $300 which covered her annual family reunion weekend.

Budgeting and saving

Christmas is just around the corner

Christmas is just around the corner and I imagine we are all thinking about the cost. Christmas doesn’t have to break the bank.

Presents for family and immediate friends can be oriented towards the time you spend with them than the money you spend. Trust me, most of the people close to you would like to spend time with you rather than have you buy them something they may not use. My mother taught me that. I won’t get into that story though. My brother has two small children, 3 & 1; an evening out without the kids, knowing they are in a loving, caring environment, without teen-agers watching their kids is more valuable than any present I could buy him. If you have to buy presents where you work, consider something homemade or baked. Chances are, they don’t get that kind of stuff on a regular basis. Your parents, if they are close, just want to spend time with you. Give them a certificate for a dinner once or twice a week for a year. If they live far away, create a picture disc of your family, or a video, or make a family collage of what’s been happening in your family over the past year. Remember money doesn’t keep a family together, memories do. Christmas is about what’s important, not what’s been bought.

One of my staff gave me a great idea, but my children are grown and I wish I would have thought of it myself. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, so the focus should be on the meaning of His birth. She doesn’t spend much on Christmas, but she saves her money for their birthdays. Which, for her, is the greatest give she was given. That’s when they get the good presents.

The thought of buying gifts for everyone almost ruins the season for me! Not that I don’t like to get for people, but the gifts I can afford are just “token” gifts, you know? I like the idea of spending time with people. I LOVE gift cards for me, but some people act offended if you get them that. Anyone have good ideas for grandparents? Mine are all in their 80s. How would you give a gift that would be spending time with them, too?

My husband and I have an every other year gift cycle. Meaning that this year will be a small, token gift year (as mentioned by Jennifer) and next year will be gifts that are more substantual. But the thought of the stress associated with feeling like this an expectation every year really sometimes depresses me, also.

I know how that is with gift cards too. My mother-in-law hates gift cards (she claims because they require no thought) I can see her point – but when you have many relatives in other states and then calculate shipping fees… etc… and then the fact that what you got them may not be right anyway, sending a nice gift card to their favorite store only allows them to chose a gift they really want. Then everybody is happy, I think.

My grandmothers are both in Prague, Czech Republic. For Christmas they really enjoy a small photo album of pictures of my husband and I enjoying our life from the past year. This means more to them than anything, besides us finally visiting one day (but that wouldn’t be over Christmas, because it’s too darn cold there then) After this coming up holiday season, we are expecting our first baby in late January, so I’m sure the holidays will much different after that.