Thursday, November 08, 2012

Plan, Prepare, and Save

It's November and according to the retail industry it means the Christmas/Holiday Season. They are betting on you spending a boat load of cash this year on gifts for friends and family. So...unless you plan on cutting out presents all'll need a way to save on what you plan to buy.

Here is the strategy I've been using for a couple years and it has saved lots of money for my family.

Have a plan - obviously. Create a list of all the people you hope to buy a gift for this year. Now eliminate all the people you can. Do you really need to give a present to the neighbor down the street that you haven't spoken to since summer? How about the all your co-workers? Stick to people who are truly important to you and your family.

Once you have your list go through and assign a dollar amount to each person. Set a budget and stick to it. For example: your niece Olivia $20. You can also allocate a dollar amount to each family instead of each person individually. I assign a certain amount for each mother/father/brother/sister, and another amount for each niece/nephew. The main point is to set a budget and stick to it or stay under that amount.

Now some of you may only purchase for the kids and not buy presents for the adults. You may also draw names so everyone gets a present - sort of like a Secret Santa game.

Now that you have your list of people to buy for and how much you can spend you can brainstorm gift ideas. Consider what the person wants and what they actually need. Your child's teacher really doesn't want or need another mug or candle. Just ask them - I'm sure they have at least 5 from last year that still haven't been used. Think about hobbies, extracurricular activities, family life, etc.

Now once you've come up with at least 2 ideas per person start your search. Look through sales ads and online for deals on the gifts you want to buy. We are trying to stretch your dollars as far as they will go.

If you plan on buying online wait for a great deal like those from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. Also consider using to earn money on your purchases. I personally love using all year - trading my points in for gift certificates which I use for presents. Use the program that works for you, but find a way to earn from your purchases.

Basically make your list of gifts to buy, set a budget, brainstorm gift ideas, and shop the deals. Planning and preparing are the key - know who you need to buy for and what to buy then stick to a budget.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Pics of the Week - November 7, 2012

Good morning everyone! Every Wednesday I share my week in pics. Just for fun.

This past weekend we made quite a bit of progress on our front porch. Our front porch posts were actually rotting away and needed to be replaced and the concrete was cracked in a couple places. So in exchange for a bunch of work one of hubby's friends paid him in vinyl decking (his business). Bonus!

The pic above is of the framing that took an entire weekend with lots of supervisors. LOL!

Here's how it looks with the vinyl deck boards finished except right near the front door. We needed to add a small step to close a gap under the door so no more critters got in the house. Don't get me started on the critters. Yuck!!!

The porch looks really long from this angle. Bowling anyone?!  I'm really thinking about changing out the wrought iron table and chairs in the pic. Maybe get a cute little bench to sit on or even just paint this set another color. Any suggestions?

We are still working on the porch, and next we are going to add a railing to the entire front and one side. Leaving the driveway side open.  I will post a pic when it's all done. Then lots of landscaping. Go figure I love gardening but hate landscaping.

Anyways, while hubby, my dad and I were working on Sunday my kids decided to ride their bikes. Here is my youngest on her brother's bike. It's a bit big for her, so not 5 minutes later I'm administering first aid. Just a scraped up hand - no biggie. Thank goodness.
I hope your week is going along well. Bye for now!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Still Can't Afford Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem

I did a post a while back about not being able to afford Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem. Read it here.

I just want to say that back in 2010 I broke down and actually signed up for Weight  I followed their online version faithfully for almost a year. I actually did very well and lost almost 60lb by following their recommended point values. Then with only 5 lbs to go they changed their system to points plus and didn't want to learn a whole new diet plan. The old one worked so well for me. The new plan just didn't work for me so I quit. Not to mention I couldn't keep paying every month for the rest of my life.

I've since got an iPhone and found a wonderful app called "Lose It". It is a f*re-e app and has a lot of the same features as Weight Watchers Online. I love it. I can log my food each day and it even deducts calories burned through exercise. The really neat feature is if the food isn't listed in their database you can scan the bar code and all the info is automatically entered. It's great.

It also works on the iPod touch and iPad. It's available on the iTunes site for download or you can access site online at They have a basic no charge version and a paid version that offers more features.

I still believe that Sparkpeople is a great site. They also have an app for the iPhone but it costs $3.99. They offer lots of great resources on their website at no charge or monthly fees. Their site has more interaction between other users than LoseIt's free version does.

The holidays are fast approaching and so is New Years in case you are considering weight loss as a Resolution this year.

Please feel free to share your experiences with these sites.