Maybe you’re Irish (or maybe you like to be just for the day). Maybe your favorite color is green. Or maybe you believe there is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow. Whatever the reason, the tradition of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day has become enormously popular in all corners of the United States. From green beer at your local pub to rambunctious parades and fun 5Ks, there are now numerous ways to celebrate the occasion; you can take your pick from enormous, rowdy crowds to individual, imaginative house parties.
Should you choose to throw an all-green, Irish-themed get together in your own backyard, here are some DIY tips and tricks to keep it budget friendly, yet still creative and festive.
FOOD. Skip the caterer. When throwing a party for a large number of people, we know going straight to a caterer to do the heavy lifting is tempting. But that isn’t the most cost-conscious decision. There are plenty of finger foods that will keep your guests happy, which all have the color of green or are reminiscent of traditional Irish dishes. A plethora of recipes can be found online for spinach and artichoke dips; multiple versions of guacamole; mini Reuben sandwiches; various forms of pesto; and last, but not least, rich cheddar dips with pints o’ Guinness. And let’s face it; you’re most definitely not at a loss for recipes for bright green drinks, alcoholic and otherwise!
•DECORATIONS. Channel your inner child; go crazy on the arts and crafts. Sure you can purchase affordable décor and costume accessories (everyone loves a green hat, right?) at the local party store. But one, where’s the fun in that? And two, you’re almost assured those will be the same decorations the neighbors will have as well! Time to get inventive! This is a great way to get the kids involved as well. You can make mini pots of gold out of candy coins; used sliced bell peppers as a shamrock stamp; make a wreath for the front door using leftover green ribbon from Christmas; and much more. Take the time to dig through DIY blogs and Pinterest, it will make for a more unique party and by re purposing items you already have around the house, save you a LOT of money.
As the year winds down, we instinctively begin to look toward the next, making resolutions, deciding what to prove upon and inevitably, what changes we need to make. Traditional areas of focus are health and wellness, organization, and naturally, reducing spending. Having said that, here is some of our money saving tips to get the New Year started on a budget friendly note:
Do it yourself.
From painting your house or fixing a minor leak, to making a birthday cake or redoing an armoire, the Internet is now an endless source of tips, trips and easy-to-follow and illustrated instructions on how to do just about anything and everything on your own. Resourceful websites such as Pinterest and a plethora of individual DIY blogs will be your new best friend when it comes to cutting costs, and ultimately having more fun, for money saving at-home projects.
Clean out the clutter.
Not only will cleaning out all of your closets, cabinets and nooks and crooks get your year started on a more organized note, but also offer a much better picture of what you do and do not have. This will keep you from buying items for the house or ingredients for the kitchen you already have. Bonus: throw a yard sale to get rid of everything you don’t need anymore and put that extra money towards a bill or into savings.
Take the time to compare.
Although thoroughly researching prices can appear tedious at first, it’s genuinely easier now than ever before. There are differences between in-store prices and website prices (even for the same franchise), there are differences from store to store; and there is differences between the store and comprehensive websites such as Amazon. Taking a few minutes on the computer to compare 3-5 websites or pull up one of many apps available to cost compare while you’re in store is well worth it.
Look at coupons.
There are so many coupons nowadays, we know ignoring or tossing them is easy to do. But really, you should take advantage of the coupons offered through loyalty and reward programs, via email newsletters, on coupon websites and the traditional newspaper clippings. The real key is to not buy something just because you have a coupon, but to make sure coupons are for items you or your family use regularly or sincerely need.
The word ‘budgeting’ often brings with it negative thoughts. Images of sitting around, miserable, unable to do anything fun because you have restricted your funds come to mind, and the first step into a new financial plan is already weighed down with trepidation and despair; but that isn’t how it has to be at all.
Budgeting can be much easier and less-stressful than people often believe it is, and with these eight tips, you will be able to start off 2015 on the right foot, saving and managing your money with ease.
1. Decide what you want. This is the very first step you need to take. Do you want to save up money for a vacation? Are you putting aside money for college? Do you just want to have a nest egg to fall back on just in case? Maybe you just want to have a little extra in the account so you don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck. Setting a firm goal will keep your purpose in mind when you get discouraged. Plus, having a specific goal makes it easier to focus than a lofty ideal of saving money simply for the sake of saving money.
2. Separate your ‘needs’ from your ‘wants.’ A hard, but necessary, thing to do is to decide what you absolute have to have and what you don’t necessarily require to live. The first things you should count towards your expenses are the things you must have. Rent, food, gas, etc. Whatever things you use day-to-day should be listed and accounted for first. Only then should you make notes of the things you don’t need but still want to budget for.
3. Overshoot for your expenses, and undershoot your income. This way, if you accidentally spend a little too much, you will have some cushion to soften the blow, and you won’t completely go over your budget.
4. Remember that no one is perfect, and that it’s okay. Ideally, you won’t ever spend too much money, your account will always be in the positives, and you will keep strictly to your budget with ease. Realistically, no one is perfect. You are going to make mistakes, you are going to spend too much, and you are going to mess up sometimes. That is perfectly fine. It is nearly impossible to follow a budget exactly, so don’t give up just because you mess up now and again.
5. Be adaptable. Don’t stick to the numbers you first come up with. Look at your budget at the end of every month, or every other month, and see if you need to make any adjustments. Maybe you’re spending more on gas than you thought. Maybe you haven’t been using your allotted budget for groceries. Being flexible with yourself will take a lot of the stress off, and you will still save money.
6. Use cash as often as possible. Keeping up with a budget is hard. Don’t make it harder on yourself by using a means of payment of which you can’t immediately see the effects. With cash in your wallet, you have a physical sight of your money depleting when you spend it. You’ll be much less likely to spend cash frivolously when you are actually watching it disappear.
7. Use a savings account with withdrawal penalties. Having a special savings account to put all your extra money in for safe keeping is a great idea, but not if you’re going to be tempted to dip into it now and again. If your account has penalties for early withdrawal, though, you may be much less likely to convince yourself to take a little bit out “because you really need it.”
8. Set long and short-term goals. Yes, your big goal is important – it’s the reason you started budgeting, after all – but if you don’t have a goal you can reach in a shorter amount of time, you might be more apt to give up out of frustration. You need to see results, so set a few goals you can reach in a shorter amount of time if you stay on your budget. Something small. Something achievable. Meeting any goal at all will make it all the easier to meet larger goals later on.
The rush, the excitement, then the overwhelm and exhaustion. Black Friday shoppers rise early and shop intensely. They spend their day off, standing in long over crowed lines. Why?
Shoppers are looking for the thrill of a bargain just in time for the gift-giving season.
“Black Friday creates that kind of ‘perceived competition’ in that it’s not just a shopping day with a bunch of people. It’s a shopping day with a bunch of people where discounts don’t last and discounted products are scarce.”
A Better Way
Could it be that there is a better way, a way to beat the competition without the hassle of lines and crowds?
You want a deal right? Who doesn’t, but why stand in those long lines at four in the morning if you don’t have to.
There is an easier way.
Imagine getting those great deals and even better ones from the comfort of your home in your PJs. After all, you’re likely to still have a food hangover from out that Turkey.
This year consider shopping online for those Black Friday deals!
Sites like Amazon have already started the countdown and are even providing deals early. You can subscribe to Amazon’s daily deals emails to make sure you don’t miss a single one.
I even spotted 56% off on a high definition flat screen television.
You can sign up for Amazon’s daily deals to get updates.
More Retailers Offering Online Deals
Best Buy is a popular one, for electronic consumers that offers some fantastic deals online every year. Kohl’s, Target, Gap, Old Navy, Sears, Staples, and even Toys R Us are among retailers offering exclusive discounts to online shoppers this year.
For a more extensive list, visit BlackFriday.fm, your Black Friday Source.
Survey results from Accenture shows that 30% of consumers will be heading online to do their Black Friday shopping this year, up from last year.
If you want to join them and get the best deals, there are some tips to take into consideration.
Make the Most of Online Black Friday Shopping…
1. Plan and Prioritize
Black Friday deals are not guaranteed, and once stores run out, you are out of luck. If you have items that you really want, especially electronics and big-ticket items, create a plan. Decide which items are your biggest priorities and go after those deals as soon as they become available. This way, you can catch them before they are out of stock.
2. Pay attention to time zones.
When sales start at a set time, don’t forget thatthe time zone may very at the online store you are shopping from.
3. Signup for newsletters and emails beforehand.
Many retailers will offer extra discounts of 10-20% off if you signup on their mailing lists. This will also give you a heads up to the sales that are coming.
Research the right product for you, so you can make the best choice. Looking for a digital camera for instance? Check the ones that are going to have the specs you need and then see who is offering the best price. You can few black friday deals at our listed stores here.
Afraid you will miss out on discounts from shopping online for Black Friday, rather than in store?
Shop online and you can receive the benefits of those after Thanksgiving deals without all hassle!