Trim Costs on Kids' Christmas Presents

I like the holidays. Really I do. But honestly, Christmas expenses dim some of the joy. Shopping for four kids, my holiday spending can quickly get out of hand. And when I overspend, this Mommy Santa grows less jolly with each incoming bill. Debt-ridden is no way to start the new year. Here are penny-pinching tips to keep kids' Christmas present costs under control.  Read more

Cheap, Educational Stocking Stuffers for Kids

I have to laugh when I see what stores tout as "cheap" stocking stuffers. I don't consider anything over $5 "cheap" especially not for stocking presents which are typically filler gifts. If my child is getting three or four bigger, pricier gifts under the tree, I can't afford to spend big on the stocking, too. Having four kids to shop for, Christmas is crazy-expensive enough without the stockings. So I look for stocking stuffers that cost a buck or two (preferably less!) But being a teacher--I don't want to fill that sock with useless junk. I demand some educational bang for my holiday shopping buck. Here's a plan to fill a kid's stocking with brain-building gifts, for about $5. read more

Free Printable Hanukkah Crafts, Toys, Decorations

Hanukkah, also spelled (and pronounced) Chanukah, the Jewish 'festival of light' is celebrated on the 25th of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar. On the western calendar Hanukkah falls near Christmas. Here are free printable Hanukkah crafts: dreidel, play gelt and gelt boxes, menorah, treats, decorations. Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days; for 2012, Hanukkah begins at sundown on December 8 and goes until December 16.  Why not pinch a few pennies this Chanukah with freebies? Saving money is always something to celebrate! read more

Emergency Thanksgiving Holiday Shopping List, Menu and Recipes

Congratulations, you're hosting the Thanksgiving fest this year. Nervous? Well don't be; here's a surefire planner for shopping, preparation and cooking with grocery list recipes and timetable. If you're looking to keep costs low, as most of us are, here are strategies. Compare online ads at local stores. Go to stores like Meijer or Albertson's (with in-stores sales) first. Get sale items. Remember coupons. Don't forget online shopping options with free shipping. Then go to big box discount stores like Walmart, where prices remain more constant. Their prices may not be as cheap as sale prices, but their regular prices usually are.  Walmart has better regular prices on French fried onions, celery, bread, canned beans, soup, some produce and seasonal. Turkey prices will vary. Read the fine print (do you have to buy a certain amount to get that special price?). Read on Thanksgiving Holiday Shopping List, Menu and Recipes 

Easy, cheap kids' fall birthday party tips

Got a child with a fall birthday? Autumn is a great time for an outdoor birthday party. Sometimes, fall outdoor parties are easier to manage because it's cooler. Here's an easy, cheap kids' birthday bash, suitable for preschool to elementary age children. I've included tips for food, crafts, games, activities and cleanup.  Easy, cheap kids' fall birthday party tips

Easy, cheap kids' birthday party tips--No fuss, save money, have fun

As a mom to four kids, ages 24 to 14, I've planned a plethora of kids' parties. I'm also a teacher and I've hosted numerous classroom events. I've had some great successes and colossal fails. From those experiences, I've compiled a list of tips for parents on planning kids' parties. Being a frugalista, I focus on cheap, homemade party ideas.  Use these tips for classroom and school parties and holiday parties, too. Read on read more

Cheap, parent-friendly kids' birthday party tips

As a mom to four kids, ages 24 to 14, I've planned a plethora of kids' parties. I'm also a teacher and I've hosted numerous classroom events. I've had some great successes and colossal fails. From those experiences, I've compiled a list of tips for parents on planning kids' parties. Being a frugalista, these hints focus on cheap, homemade party ideas. The keys to cheap parties are homemade, diy and pare-down. Read more at read more

Ways parents can develop awareness of poverty, teach generosity

If I had a buck for every time I heard someone say "kids today are so insensitive and selfish," I'd be rich. If kids lack sensitivity, it's because we parents have failed to teach empathy. And kids need to learn empathy, especially for those in need. Here are ways to develop awareness of world poverty and teach generosity.  Ways parents can develop awareness of poverty, teach generosity

Free School Supplies, Free Bags, Super Savings from OfficeMax

I've got a penchant for free stuff, dollar stretching and get the most for my shopping buck. OfficeMax is offering two great deals on back to school shopping. First, spend $150 and you get a free $58 value 3-piece bag set. Enter promo code "FREEBAG" at checkout. Also, if you buy certain ful backpacks and laptop backpacks--Tremor, Sweet Melissa, Heartbreaker-- on sale for $18.74-$29.99, they come stuffed with free school supplies. Links below say $24.98, but backpacks have been price-reduced even farther, saving you 53%! Oh, and orders over $50 get free shipping. Already bought your kid's backpack? Buy another for next year. Or buy one to donate. Operation Christmas Child is gearing up for their annual shoebox giveaway event. You could donate to Toys for Tots or church giving trees. For more back to school cost cutter tips, read How a Mom of Four Saves 80 Percent on Back to School Shopping 

How to Save 80 Percent on Back to School Shopping

 Labor Day means children return to school. It also means back to school shopping. If you haven't finished shopping, don't worry. That's a good thing. It's best to wait until kids are in class to find out what is and isn't needed on that back to school shopping list. I've raised four children; here are do's and don'ts to save 80 percent on school supplies and clothing.

* Don't fall for all the back to school marketing ploys. Take advantage of sales, but wait to find out what your child's teacher actually requires. Take it from a teacher, many store school supply lists trick you into buying things you don't need. Read more read more

How We Got Cheap Wedding Rings (Romantically) Under $200

When we got married, my husband and I paid for our wedding and reception. To cut costs, we looked for cheap wedding rings. For less than $200 we bought an engagement ring, woman's wedding ring and man's wedding ring.

We're both history buffs and antique collectors. We're also ridiculously sentimental. Old things mean more to us than new stuff. My husband didn't propose to me with a ring because he wanted us to shop around and find one (a special one) together. We liked the 1920s basket engagement ring style. We also wanted our rings to have been worn by other lovers for a long time (hopefully, we thought, that would bless our marriage). Here's how we got vintage rings cheap. Read more

My Cheap Wedding Reception Under $800

 My husband and I paid for our own wedding and reception. We paid everything off in advance, incurred no debt and charged nothing. Our cheap wedding reception cost under $800 for 150-200 people, including food, cake, decorations, music, flowers, equipment and hall rental. This was 25 years ago, but I could still do it today and so can you. Just follow our frugal lead. read more

My Cheap Wedding Under $1,000 for Everything

Planning a budget wedding? You've come to the right place. Let your frugal fairy godmother (me) help. My husband and I paid for own wedding, reception and honeymoon. We had a cheap wedding, charged nothing and paid it off without going into debt. We paid under $1,000 for a 200-guest wedding, including wedding dress, accessories, tuxedo, invitations, stationary, flowers, decorations, church, music, minister stipend, rental equipment, hairstylist and pictures. Here's how. read more

Where to Find Cheap Wedding Dresses Under $100

Planning a budget wedding? Good girl--you're smart. Weddings don't have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, they shouldn't. Save the money for newlywed household expenses or a down payment on a house. If you're going lite on the wedding, you're doubtless looking for cheap wedding dresses. I'm the bargain-minded bride's go-to gal for bridal gowns under $100. Some online vendors offer free shipping, too. Check these sources for a cheap wedding dress. read more

How We Paid Off Our Wedding Without Incurring Debt

My husband and I are celebrating 25 years of wedded bliss this year. We come from good Hollander-German stock and have always pinched pennies. When we got married, we paid for the wedding, honeymoon and most of the reception ourselves. We came back from our honeymoon debt-free and I'm glad we did. Money woes are major relationship-killers. We have friends who were in divorce court before their wedding was paid off. And they spent big (or rather mummy and daddy did). Here are ways to avoid wedding debt and divorce court. read more

Fifty Inexpensive Wedding, Bridal Shower Gifts Regularly Priced Under $10

In spring and summer, gift-giving costs escalate with graduations, weddings, showers, baptisms, first communion, etc. If you are like tightwad me, you'll hunt up a good deal for these occasions to keep costs reasonable. When I need a gift, I check out the bridal registry and go shopping at my local discount store. Walmart, Target, Dollar General, Family Dollar and in our area Meijer sell nice stuff cheap. I find quality products under $10.

In this article, You'll find a list of at least 50 different gifts that you can give that will cost you under $10. These are nice, practical and functional items that every couple will need in any living situation. Don't worry about duplication; the happy couple will need and use all of these items. Many items just don't last all that long or are items of which you need several. 50 Wedding or Bridal Shower Gifts Regularly Priced Under $10

How This Penny-Pinching Mom Saves Money with Credit Cards

Credit cards get a bad rap, but financial gurus tout them as a way to build credit. How do we balance this apparent dilemma? Use 'em--but do it the smart way. I pinch pennies so tight that I make Jack Benny look like a spendthrift. Even this frugal gal and mom of four gives credit cards a thumbs up. Here's how to save money and teach your children valuable financial lessons with using credit cards. Read more at How This Penny-Pinching Mom Saves Money with Credit Cards

How I Cost Us a Bundle with One Tax Preparation Mistake

 As a single person and through 25 years of marriage with four children, I've always prepared our taxes. Last year, I made one tiny mistake on our tax documents that cost us several thousand dollars. Here's how.

We have two sons in college, so tax time means preparing a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for each of them, too. On my 2010 1040, I mis-typed one digit on our younger son's social security number. Because I e-file using an online tax preparation service, the error was caught immediately and the return was not accepted. When it was sent back, I saw the error, fixed it, resubmitted and the form was accepted a day later. I then filled out the FAFSA and it was accepted too. Read more at How I Cost Us a Bundle with One Tax Preparation Mistake

Easy, cheap (and free) family fitness ideas

Fitness routines are easy to talk about but more difficult to do, especially for families. Parents may work different schedules. There's always housework to be done. Kids have after-school activities. There are work and social functions. Usually, exercise is the last thing I want to think about after work, cooking, chores and errands. That's why I suggest low-stress-impact, low-maintenance family fitness tips. Easy, cheap (and free) family fitness ideas

No Bankruptcy for 'Octomom' is Much-Needed Reality Check

Bad financial decisions don't go away. They come back to bite. That's what "Octomom" Nadya Suleman found out when she was denied bankruptcy. It's about time the single, unemployed mother of 14 kids got a reality check. Sadly it comes at a high cost. If it was just Suleman who felt the consequences, that would be great, but it'll be the kids who continue to suffer. Read more at  No Bankruptcy for 'Octomom' is Much-Needed Reality Check 

Best Tips to Pay Off Credit Cards Fast and Live Debt-free

I have recently paid off $20,000 worth of credit card debt and $8,000 in medical bills. Some of the debt was several years old. Here's are my best tips for paying off credit card debt, avoiding debt in the future and living without credit cards.

Consolidate credit card debt. If you can, take out a new card, with lower interest and have all your balances transferred to one card. It's easy to manage fewer cards. Do the math and get the best deal on balance transfers. For more ideas, read on at  Best Tips to Pay Off Credit Cards Fast and Live Debt-Free 

Budget Travel Tips for Families--Save Money on Food and Lodging

Two of the largest expenses when traveling are food and lodging. We've traveled with our four children and have picked up budget travel tips along the way. Here are ways to save money on lodging, hotels, food and restaurants and have a great time too. Read more at  Budget Travel Tips for Families; Save Money on Food and Lodging 

Nightclub's 'Food Stamp Friday' Hits New Low in Exploitation

Just when I think I've seen the tackiest in marketing ploys, some company comes along and proves me wrong. The Rose Supper Club (a.k.a. nightclub) in Montgomery, Ala., is hosting "Food Stamp Friday" where folks get free cover charge and shots if they show their Electronic Benefits Transfer (food stamps) card, says The Daily Caller. And on Good Friday, too. It doesn't get much lower than this. Nightclub's 'Food Stamp Friday' Hits New Low in Exploitation 

How to set up allowances for kids

Most of us would probably agree that allowances teach kids good money-management skills. The tricky part is setting up the allowance so that kids learn about earning and budgeting money. How much is fair pay for an allowance? Should all chores be reimbursed? Which chores should be paid for? What items should kids spend their allowances on and what should parents buy? Here's a Q-and-A guide to answer those questions. Read more at How to set up allowances for kids 

States Should Fight Church Mandatory Birth Control Insurance Coverage

Seven states are pushing for blocks on President Barack Obama's mandatory birth control coverage on health insurance policies for employees of religious institutions, says the Associated Press. I completely agree, for several reasons. On a constitutional level, this represents a violation to separation of church and state policies. On a pragmatic level, there are plethora of health necessities that aren't covered or are inadequately covered. If we're going to start legislating about insurance, let's start by getting better coverage for real medical needs, not electives. Read more at States Should Fight Church Mandatory Birth Control Insurance Coverage

How I'm Keeping My Financial New Year's Resolutions

If you're like me, making New Year's resolutions is the easy part. I think up a few goals on New Year's Eve, throw salt over my shoulder and toast my success. I'm great for the first few weeks of January, but by MLK Jr. Day, I've pretty much forgotten them. Here are ways I'm not only making but keeping my 2012 New Year's resolutions. Since most of my resolutions involve money, I'll focus on those. read on

Right-to-Work Legislation Michigan; What it Means for Workers

Lawmakers Push Right to Work Legislation in Michigan Legislation is under scrutiny in Michigan that would prohibit unions from making workers join a union or pay union dues, Michigan Radio says. Gov. Rick Snyder opposes such right-to-work legislation, but other Republican lawmakers like Rep. Mike Shirkey are pushing for the bill. Here are details about this legislation. RTW means lower paying, part-time jobs without benefits. It means workers don't have a voice in their own work life. It means less income and less money spent in the state. Read more...

How I Equipped My Kitchen for Under $500

How I Equipped My Kitchen for Under $500 Through 24 years of marriage, 23 years of parenthood and four children, I've spent a lot of time in the kitchen. The wedding shower gifts have long since been used up and replaced. I've experimented with all kinds of equipment, utensils and gadgets and developed a list of must-haves. Here's how I equipped my kitchen with those essentials for less than $500. My secrets are to watch sales, use coupons, comparison shop and never sacrifice quality for low price. Read on for penny pinching tips...

White Elephant Lamps: Cheap Decor or Funky Gifts

White Elephant Gift Ideas I collect unique, vintage home furnishings, accessories and furniture. I also love to give original, fun, creative gifts. Lamps are a favorite decor element and gift. I chose lamps for their unique design: if it looks like something everyone and his brother would have, I give it a miss. Lamps are a great way to express individuality. Lamps reflect architectural style and historical period. Here are great places to look for artsy lamps. I love to explore second hand shops for unique lamp shades and bases, looking for tall, pillar lamps and small table lamps. I never buy two matching lamps. When people redecorate, many of the original design elements end up in secondhand stores. This provides a harvest for a bargain hunter and giver of eclectic "white elephant" gifts. Read on...

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