Frugal and Easy Ways to Decorate for the Holidays

Everyone knows the holidays can be expensive between the gifts, decorations, food and travel.  But decorating for Christmas doesn’t have to be super expensive. There are lots of ways to save a few bucks while still making your house festive.  

Do-It-Yourself

Making your own decorations is not as hard as you might think.  There are tons of tutorials and decoration ideas on Pinterest and YouTube.  From making your own wreaths and ornaments to more elaborate outside decorations, you can pretty much find instructions for anything you could ever want in a decoration scheme.

Use the Dollar Store

Sometimes dollar stores can be great, and the holiday season is definitely one of those times. Dollar stores tend to carry many decoration items such as fake flowers, items to make wreaths, stockings, bows and other trinkets you can use in your DIY projects.  With a little imagination and some of the online tutorials we mentioned earlier, you can transform your home into a holiday wonderland without breaking the bank.

Go Minimal

Sometimes the best way to save money is just not to go all out for the holidays.  Less can be more in some situations, and if your wallet is hurting this holiday season, just stick to the basics.  Put up a nice tree with your decorations from previous years and stick a wreath on the door. These decorations will still make your home feel festive, but they won’t overwhelm your senses or your wallet.

Realizing the holidays aren’t about the “stuff” is important.  If you are under a budget or simply like being frugal, use this upcoming holiday season to focus on your family, friends and community rather than what all you have to buy to keep up with your neighbors.  Use these simple tips to help you stay in the holiday spirit no matter how much money you have to spend.

 

4 Money Saving Energy Conservation Tips for Winter


As the weather cools off this fall, it’s time to start thinking about getting your home ready for winter.  In a few weeks or so, your electric bill and wallet will start feeling the consequences of the colder temperatures.  To combat the extra expenses, try these energy conservation tips for the cold weather months.

Keep It Open

When it’s cold outside, try to keep your curtains and blinds open to let the natural sunlight in.  The sun will naturally warm your home causing your heating system to run less. The less it runs, the more money stays in your wallet.

Check for Leaks

Go around to each window and door in your home and check to see if you can feel any cold air leaking through.  Another great way to check for air leaks is to see if you can see sunlight peeking around the corners of any windows or doors.  If you do find a leak, make sure you caulk or seal it right away. The more warm air escapes from your home, the harder your heater has to work to keep your house at a comfortable temperature.  

Let Your Fan Help

Believe it or not, your ceiling fan can help keep your home warm by simply reversing the rotation of the blades.  Since hot air rises, set your fan blades to spin clockwise to help push that warm air down to where you can feel it.  It’s a simple tip, but it can be very effective–especially in smaller spaces.

Switch to LED

A great measure to take any time of the year, switching out any of your regular light bulbs to LEDs can help conserve energy and lower your electric bill.  However, as the holidays approach, consider using all LED holiday lights for your decorations this year. You will likely see a reduction in the Christmastime electric bill spike that everyone comes to dread.

So you see, implementing a few of these energy conservation measures can really add up to savings!  Just follow these tips and you can be on your way to saving money during the winter months.

How to Have a Budget Friendly Halloween


Halloween is just around the corner, and if you aren’t careful, it can cost you lots of money.  In fact, every year it seems more Americans are spending more and more money to celebrate the holiday.  Between the costumes, parties and candy it can add up quickly. Here are a few ways to keep the Halloween costs at a minimum while still having a fun time.

Plan, Plan, Plan

The secret to managing money in any situation is to plan out your spending ahead of time.  Holidays are no exception. Plan out which costumes you want, and find out if you can make them or if you have to buy them.  How much candy will you need? Are there any decorations you need or parties to attend? Make a Halloween budget and save up your money ahead of time so that you won’t have to scrape up the money when the day comes.  

DIY Costumes

A great costume is always a priority for kids and adults alike.  When you are planning out what you want to dress up as, consider finding creative ways to make your own costume.  You don’t have to be a seamstress to DIY a costume. Search the internet for clever or original costume ideas that won’t break the bank.  If you do decide to purchase a costume, always compare prices before you take the plunge and actually purchase one.

DIY Decorations

seems like more people are decorating their homes for Halloween with every year that passes.  If decorating is something you love to do, consider saving money by making your own decorations. Dollar stores have many of the supplies needed to make spooky decorations for a fraction of the price.  Plus, you get to explore your crafty side and have fun while making them. Just search the internet for tutorials–there are a ton out there.

Buy Candy Strategically

A few weeks before the actual holiday, many of the big box stores start putting their Halloween candy on sale.  If you are strategic with the sales you can pay way less for candy than you would if you were to buy it at regular price.  Also, look for any coupons for candy. Many manufacturers send out coupons in the newspaper for candy in the weeks leading up to Halloween, and some stores have their own coupons as well.  So, scavenge the sales papers and get your coupons ready, and you won’t spend a fortune on candy this year.

So you see, Halloween doesn’t have to break the bank.  With a little planning, you can make the holiday fun and still stick to your budget.

Money-Saving Tips for Fall

As the summer season is quickly approaching its end, it’s time to gear up for cooler temperatures and lots of activities.  Fall can be a very busy time of year with kids going back-to-school, fall sports and the holidays looming in the near future.  So that makes right now the perfect time to get prepared for fall and save some money while doing it. Here are some top money-saving tips for the autumn season.

Quit the A/C

As the temps cool off you can drastically reduce using your air conditioning unit.  Yes, here in the south the temps stay hot for quite a while, but there is always that sweet spot during the fall where you don’t need your A/C or your heating units turned on and that’s a great time to save on your electric bill.  Heating and cooling make up a large chunk of your utility bills every month, so whenever you can turn the units off, do it!

Declutter

We’ve all heard of spring cleaning, but another great time to do some decluttering would be in the fall.  Think about it–in a few short months the holiday season will be in full swing. That usually means decorations, house guests and gifts you have to find a place for.  Before all that madness begins, take this time to clear out all of the things in your home that you no longer use or need. Your home will be clear and ready for the holidays, and if you decide to sell some of the items you got rid of, you could make a little extra cash for the holidays as well.

Fall Sales Shopping

There are some great sales that happen during the fall season.  Take advantage of all of these sales, and stock up on items you may need for next year.  At the end of summer, the Labor Day sales are in full swing. This is a great time to stock up on items for next summer such as outdoor furniture, water toys and summer clothing.  Back-to-School Sales will help you save money on school supplies and fall/winter clothing. Of course in the late fall, all of your Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales come along to help you out with holiday gifts.  However, when shopping these sales, it’s important not to get caught up in buying things just because they are cheap. Make a plan and take advantage of these sales only for items you will need, and then you can enjoy your savings.

So you see, this is a great time of year to plan ahead and save money.  The more you plan and save now, the easier your life will be when the chaos of the holidays approaches in a few months.

Safe Credit Card Practices for the Holiday Season

It’s time to go shopping for holiday gifts!  You may be thinking this is a great time to rack up some great rewards on your credit cards, and it can be–if you use them safely.  Many times during the hustle and bustle of the season we forget to really practice using our credit cards safely, and we set ourselves up for some sticky situations.  Here are a few reminders about how to handle credit cards this time of year.

Online Shopping Hazards

These days some people opt to shop solely online, especially for Christmas gifts.  If you don’t like big crowded stores, or you don’t have time to spend going all over town to buy gifts, online shopping can be great!  Just make sure you are shopping on a website that you know and trust when you are making purchases.  If the web address has “https” at the beginning, you know it is a verified and secured site that can be trusted.  If it doesn’t have an “s” on the end, you probably shouldn’t purchase from them.

If entering your credit card information online makes you a little antsy, a safer (and easier) way to purchase on the internet would be to use a third party like PayPal.  When you use a trusted third party, you don’t have to enter your card information on every site you purchase from, and you have some protection if something were to go wrong with your transaction.  

If you do enter your card information on the store’s site, don’t choose to store it there for your next purchase.  It may be tempting, especially if you shop there often, but if that site gets hacked, your credit card information goes along with it–which opens you up to identity theft.

Pick One

Another tip for the holiday season is to pick one credit card to use for holiday purchases, and leave the rest at home.  Carrying one card is safer than having a wallet full of them.  If your wallet or handbag gets snatched, you only have to worry about canceling one card instead of several.  Carrying one card also ensures that you won’t be able to overspend and rack up lots of debt on several different cards.  It also helps you track your holiday spending if you have every purchase in one location.  

Caution: Store Cards

When you head to the check out at your favorite store, you will probably be asked to open a store card for an extra discount.  Many times those discounts are significant, which makes the credit card offer very tempting.  However, be very wary of the store credit cards as they can carry hefty interest rates if you don’t pay them off in full.  This is one of those situations where if you can be responsible and pay it off completely every month, it may be worth the discount.  However, if you have a balance left over for the next month, the interest charge alone practically cancels out the initial discount you got on your purchase.  

Track, Track, Track

When using credit cards for lots of purchases over the holidays, it’s important to track everything you spend.  Yes, you will get a statement later with details, but keep a record for yourself as well.  If you have tracked every purchase, when you get the statement you can see if everything is correct or if there is a discrepancy.  Also, keeping a record of your spending on your card will ensure you don’t go over your credit limit by telling you how much you have left on your card to spend.  Finally, it’s just good practice to keep track of your spending, not just on holiday gifts, but every day.  It’s very easy to rack up debt when you are just swiping a card.  Keeping a log of your purchases will help you make sure you stay within your financial budget.  

These are just a few reminders of ways to stay safe with credit card usage over the holidays.  If you are smart with your card this season, you won’t be in a bind when the new year rolls around.