This holiday season, you save yourself a few dollars by making some Christmas gifts. I know, I know who has the time? That is the wrong question. The right question is who has the money to buy that many gifts? This nice wreath is made out of Coffee filters. The total cost for this project is about $10.
There are many simple projects that you can do that can either upcycle items already in your home or those items that need to leave your home. However, before we get to upcycling, let’s get back to those talents that you have that you can use to give or make gifts. Get your mind out of the gutter, you may be good at that but you can’t give it to your Nana!
Are you good at making cakes? You can make cake pops delivered in a nice basket from the Dollar Store. Are you good at making brownies, jams, cookies? All of these items make fabulous Holiday gifts. My neighbor makes a tin of cookies for us each year. The whole cul-de-sac knows when she is baking and we sit around like children awaiting our deliveries. I have another neighbor that makes fudge. I am not a fudge eater but am always glad for a gift that someone took the time to craft for me.
There are many projects and creative ideas available to you for free if you know where to look. I receive a free magazine from Lowe’s Home Improvement called Creative Ideas. It was choked full of so many great ideas that it inspired me to write. I am hoping to inspire you to try something different this year to save money and truly live better. This month’s issue takes you through easy steps to make wonderful holiday wreaths, headboards and upcycling home items. Upcycling takes recycling to a whole new level by recovering or repurposing items you already have in your home. Take that hideous chair that your Mom sent over to your new place. You don’t want it, but you can’t hurt her feelings. Give it a coat of paint, and add some studs and viola, you have upcylced items that you were going to throw away. You have reduced your carbon footprint, reduce landfill input and given that piece of furniture a reason to feel useful again.
I think the most exciting thing about the holidays is the decorations. Each year, we look for that special ornament to add to our tree. Have you thought about making ornaments out of every day simple items or really putting the décor into decorating? I went to visit my favorite crafter’s website, Martha Stewart. I have always considered her to be the McGyver of crafting. I saw where you can take mini picture frames and turn them into cute ornaments for the mantle or the tree.
Many of the websites have free newsletters, Blogs and magazines that you can have sent right to your home. It doesn’t matter what your skillset, there is something you can do that someone else admires. You can make a box of custom greeting cards. You can lay out a few pages in a scrapbook for a family member. You can buy a set of stencils and create a personalized box for a night stand. You just have to try.
Here is your starting point. Here are some Thanksgiving place cards along with the template courtesy of Ms. Stewart.
Next June will mark my 22nd wedding anniversary. Hubby and I are planning a really cool vacation and I plan to fully enjoy myself without cumbersome worries of how are we going to eat when we get back from this lovely little trip. I have begun to save large chunks which mean there is little room left for play money. I thereby had to put myself on a cash diet. I can only use my credit card or debit card for emergencies. This past week I have truly learned the value of a dollar. I have also learned that there are something’s that I will not buy, not even for a dollar!
As I previously stated in one of my early post, I have begun to coupon. I am now a step below extreme couponing and hovering around extreme value shopping. I have become, what I consider, to be very clever. I am recycling everything from pieces of left over roast, which are transformed into taco night, or in this weather, a hearty stew. The stews are great to also use up the leftover peas and carrots in the fridge. I am even stocking up the pantry and deep freezer. Let me tell you how.
As I was leaving the house to start my bargain shopping, I noticed the planters on the front porch needed fall plants. Normally, by this time, I would have added some Mums, but I wanted to stretch what I have until it is time to put in the Icicle Pansies. I head over to my friendly neighborhood Lowes. Instead of shopping in the front, I head to the rear of the garden center to THAT rack. Yes, the rack of shelves with sad, lonely, and deserted plants. I have found the ones on the ends are the healthiest and easy to revive. I picked up two hanging Tahitian Bridal Veils for $1 each. They need to be repotted so next I head to Roses. Instead of purchasing the name brand bags of potting soil for five bucks, I opt for the local no name bags for $1. Hey, it’s dirt. I am going to add some plant food when I repot them anyway. Now it’s time to get really busy.
I am headed to the buy one get one sale at Food Lion. I have already added the sale coupons to my MVP card buy downloading the digital coupons to my frequent shopper cards. The hard copy of manufacturer coupons in hand, I have a $1 off of two boxes of Cheerios, which just happen to be on sale for buy one get one. Armed with my sale ad in hand, I pick up bags of chicken breast, shrimp, Doritos, and a large 39 oz container of coffee. I save $1 on the coffee, which I purchased for $7.99. I am on a roll. I purchased high end ice cream at buy one get one along with high end butter crackers. Zesta Whole Wheat Crackers at buy one get one box is great deal; grabbed two of those.
I load up the mama mobile and make my way to Kroger. They are having a ten for $10 sale. Here, you have to be very careful. Last week, the same store brand vegetables I got for $.88 per bag are now in the 10 for ten sale; this is not good friends. I did pick and choose which items were a good deal for a buck, but Lipton Rice mixes are a dollar anyway, so this is not really a good buy. Staples purchased, I now have my local independent grocer’s ad, or the local IGA. These stores are great for pantry items. There is a five for $5 sale going on so I stock up on two pounds bags of rice, hot sauce, ketchup can goods and dry beans. I also grab a ten pound bag of chicken leg quarters for $6. I do have a freezer safe bags in the trunk for my cold items. These wonderful bags keep food cold for 3 hours.
My last stop is to the local Bakery outlet. Tuesday and Friday’s at the John Derst bakery outlet has bread on sale for $.79. Wheat bread, cinnamon raisin bread, Kaiser Hamburger buns and hot dog rolls are all for $.79; with no buying limits. I have found that you can freeze bread for up to 3 months and when you defrost, it is good as new.
My pantry is stocked. My fridge and freezer is full and my bank account is not empty. I have a full tank of gas, my hair is done, and I have a few bucks left in my working account for just in cases. I did all of this today, including my hair, for a mere $160.00. It’s okay, you can say, “ooohhhh!” I know I did.
I must close out now because my new issue of All You arrived in the mail. The cover says there are $94.55 worth of coupons inside. I have work to do.
I am addicted. I am not shame and I will shout from the rafters that I am hooked. I watched an episode of Extreme Couponing and once I saw how much money they were saving, I said, “I can do that!” I started clipping and I also started saving money. I am far from extreme, but I am, unequivocally a coupon clipper.
Ironically, I can remember a time when whipping out a coupon was considered low class and made the bearer appear to be a cheapskate. People who clipped coupons were rumored to live in a house full of cats, made quilts and homemade jams. In essence, they were regarded as a step above being a hippie. Not anymore, welcome to the new breed of savvy shoppers and coupon clippers. Let me help you get started. It is easier than you think.
First we must determine what kind of shopper you are. If you are not organized enough to have to deal with a little purse of coupons, or have hours to spend price comparing in the grocery store, then we can start here. The easiest way to save is with your frequent shopper cards and make them work for you versus just having them dangling on your key chain. Kroger and Bi-Lo offers you Fuel Perks. The money you spend in the store earns you a few cents off your gas purchase at each visit. You can also download coupons to your rewards card and when you check out, they automatically take the savings off your final purchase! BiLo even offers you double coupons so you can save twice the money. I know right! No clipping, no coupons and you don’t have to seem like a crazy cat lady who makes quilts and jam.
Saving at the grocery store isn’t your only option. Crafters have long been saving at Michael’s, Joann’s and Hobby Lobby. The great thing about craft stores, if you have a coupon from another store, they will honor the discount. We can take it one further. If you are a teacher, you can also get teacher discounts at Joann’s and save an addition 15%. These programs are also available at Staples and Office Max. No matter what you are into, if you look, there is a coupon, a Groupon, and Living Social break. If you have a smart phone, you can download coupon apps and have discounts and bargains at your fingertips.
Now, I can understand if all of this couponing is far too much of a commitment, then here is the perfect solution, just price compare. Use that smartphone to help you make some smart decisions. There are several bar code scanners that will scan the price, and give you the best deals in a 50 mile radius, including online.
There are all types of coupons to help you save money when you want to dine in or dine out. Find out if your favorite location has a frequent shopper program or a loyalty program. I am one who believes in getting my money’s worth and each day I am out looking for ways to save money, cut lost and reduce my back end, literally and figuratively. You can find the savings approach that works best for you or you can search on Twitter and search under coupons. You can get real time updates on savings.
I have looked into Coupon Suzy and a few other sites, but those are more regional. The economy isn’t going to turn around on its own and in the meantime and in between time, I am working on some Christmas quilts for my great nieces and some jam from some pears my friend send over from her tree. Happy savings!
You are riding down the highway and your cell phone starts to vibrate, you know it is a text message, however, you are going about 45 miles an hour in rush hour traffic. What do you? Do you reach down and grab the phone to see who is texting you or do you ignore it until you get to a stop sign? 95% of people will pick up the phone and “see who this is?” and risk every life on the road including their own, for what, a quick message of “Where u @?”
And as much as I love technology, I love living even more! It is not just a text messaging that has gotten out of control, but our inability to disengage from our cell phones that are turning normal everyday people into ignorant, raging morons. Don’t be offended, for if you are not the offender in this instance you have been at least once in the near past. Here are some prime examples of idiot phone offenses that are lowering our intelligence quotients and our ability to be kind to one another.
App Addlepate: Yes, this is person who has an app to perform every function they can possibly think of but fails to train them how to be a better person. Better people take a moment to appreciate the live person in front of you versus the virtual connection reaching out to you. Is there an APP to teach you life skills?
Bluetooth Blockhead: Yeah for you, you have a bluetooth, but honestly, do you have to walk up behind me, conversing with your imaginary friend with your outside voice? Having a bluetooth is great for hands free calling if you are on a long road trip, but really, your GPS comes bluetooth enabled, so once outside of the car, take the stupid thing off. You don’t look important, you look like someone who spends too much time on the phone and your extra money is being used to pay for unneeded cell services.
Conversation Cretin: I am trying to have a face to face, one on one conversation with you, please pay attention, I don’t need to have a conversation with the top of your head while you respond to frequent buzzing that appears to have your remotely programmed like Pavlov’s dog.
Dining Dimwit: I have a girlfriend that I refuse to go out to eat with and lately, I just hate to spend time with her. Why? Her phone never stops going off! Her husband, her kids, her father, all seem to have an incessant need to connect with her the minute she leaves their line of sight. One, it is rude and tells the person with whom you are with, that they are not important and unworthy of your time. Two, your family and kids have no respect for your time, and last but not least, it is just plain rude.
Dialing Dunderhead: How many times do you need to apologize for your butt, your purse, your dog or the 3-year-old speed calling on your phone because you refuse to lock the screen.
Facebook Fanatic: Yes I love my friends and enjoy their post, but no I am not going to respond to every posting on my wall, every request to add more fish on Farmville, join your Mafia, or accept your hearts of blessings. Do it at home on your own time.
Fast Food Fool: At the counter at the sandwich shop, on the phone, trying to place an order, talking to the young lady behind the counter, while yelling at your spouse, child or in law on the phone. Why not just finish the call, place your order, pay for the order, pick up the order and call the person on the phone as you head back outside.
Instant Message Imbecile: Yes, I know you need an answer soon, but does it have to be right now? You are reducing my productivity by forcing me to stop and answer you. If I did not answer your last 5 instant messages, maybe I am busy. Maybe I fell down the well and Lassie went to get Timmy, and maybe I just don’t want to answer you.
Loud Lamebrain: I know you are upset, I know they don’t understand, but really, neither do I. I don’t understand why everyone in the room, the hall, the bathroom, the restaurant and any other public place has to be tortured with your conversation and lack of mastery of your emotions? Tone it down and shut it up!
Meeting Moron: You are in a meeting, why is your phone on unless the conference call is coming in on your line and everyone in the room should be privy to the conversation. If not, please turn off your phone, my time is valuable too, don’t waste it by sending messages to your friends.
Picture Pinhead: You do realize that even if you don’t open it, you will still be charged for receiving the picture of the dancing penis that was not funny when you were 12 and is not funny now. If you are in an accident and I am your insurance agent, send me a picture mail. If not, send it via email that does not cost me anything, and 9 times out of 10, I don’t really want to see it.
Sync Simpleton: How many times of day do you need to sync it to your lap top? You don’t need to beam me your V-card, I have your business card and a card scanner, I have your info. I know how to reach you, besides your text messages has ALL of your contact info, just like your email.
Tunes Twit:. I have one friend that I like to call every day just to see which song will be playing today. How many ringtones do you really need, and why do I have to listen to “Single Ladies”, or “Blessed” or any other subjugation of your musical choices simply because I need to call you? You are an adult, your phone should ring, if you are available answer it, if not let it go to voice mail.
Twitter Twerp: Really, do we need a play by-play of your day? Enough said.
Voicemail Victim: I don’t really want to leave a message, but if I do, will you please take the time to listen to what I have to say, before you call me back to say “I saw you called.” Yes, I called. I left you a message telling you what I wanted, listen to it and call me back with an answer.
I know technology is a wonderful thing, but please, stop allowing your smart phone to make you an idiot. Remember the simple manners your mother taught you and put those into play. Now if you will excuse me, I need to send out some hearts, blessings, rob a pimp and steal a car as I build my mafia connection, and build my new life in YoVille.
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In tough ecomomic times, butter and eggs were a source of income for many families. Butter and egg money, made from the excess milk from the family’s cows and eggs that could not be consumed, were sold to buy fabric to make children clothes. The scrap pieces of material were sewn together to make extra bedding and balnkets for the cold winter months, pinics, and extra pallets for guests.
This ecomony has impacted us all and I fear the worst is still yet to come, and although we are seeing Americans tighten their belts, and cutback on wasteful spending, women are going back to traditional homemaking. Besides, who wants to pay $4 for a cup of coffee when you can brew your own pot, and have friends over to catch up while creating something beautiful?
The time I used to spend at the spa (deep sigh, tear slowly trickles down the corner of my eye) and weekend getaways with the girls are now spent sitting in my home, and creating hand made items to beautify it.
Although, times have not gotten so tough that I need to buy a cow and purchase some egg laying hens, I do have to tighten my belt and spend wisely on the items that I need. I am starting at t-shirt quilt for my son when he goes off to college, taking his old t-shirts to make it into a quilt of all his past activities, so that he will have a daily remainder of a well spent child hood. This saves me money on fabric , new bedding for his college dorm room, as well as recycling the old t-shirts. I will be sure to share a final picture of the project once it is finished.
Now, tell me what are you doing in these tough times to make a difference in your family’s income?