Archive for Mrs. Not Made of Money

Tips For Staying On Budget This Christmas Shopping Season

red and white christmas presents with bows by treeThe holiday shopping season is in full swing. The stores are full of Christmas music, shiny decorations, and bling of every kind at the endcaps….all with the goal of getting you to spend, spend, spend. It’s so easy to give into temptation! While I’m not perfect when resisting temptations (who is?) there are a few little tricks I use to keep myself on track with my budget:

Shop on a Full Stomach
I’ve noticed if I go shopping when I’m hungry I can be more easily swayed by budget temptations. At my SuperTarget, the smell of the Starbucks Coffee usually beckons me and if that doesn’t get me the freshly popped popcorn will. Anyway, I make sure to have a snack before I head out and hit the stores.

Leave the Kids at Home
Likewise, the kids are huge budget distractors! They usually do not accompany me when I am Christmas shopping unless I am shopping for Mr. Not Made of Money. Then we go with a list in hand, they help me hunt for the items on the list, and they know the budget amount we are aiming for.

Set A Christmas Budget Amount
We decide in advance how much money we are going to spend for the holiday season and then we stick to it. Part of this involves tracking our money as we spend it, so we know how much there is left.

Avoid The Credit Card Trap
I use my credit card but keep track of how much we’ve spent so I don’t go over budget. When the bill arrives, it is paid in full. If you don’t trust yourself to keep your credit card purchases in budget, then switch to cash. Don’t let yourself go into the new year with additional debt.

Book in Advance
We don’t usually travel far during the holidays but if we did we would book our reservations well in advance. Shop around online and compare airfares and hotel room fees.

Compile A List Of Prospective Gifts
I always go Christmas shopping with a list in hand…it gives me a sense of direction. Even if I don’t have a specific item on the list, I have people’s names and a budgeted amount listed.

Shop Online
Especially for the children’s gifts, I’ve found that I scored the best prices online this year. Nearly everything had free shipping because it was either a special being offered, or I searched for a promotional code before I purchased.

Plan for The Unexpected
Invariably, there is bound to be one or two gifts we neglected to purchase. I always make sure to have a few generic gifts on hand (homemade jar gifts, inexpensive kid’s game, etc.) to cover those last minute gifts.

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Apple Pie Spice Muffins – Dairy Free!

Dairy Free Apple Pie Spice MuffinWith Fall in the air, it’s a perfect time for baking!   I’ve been making these muffins for many years now, and originally got the recipe when cooking for a milk allergic child.  Notice that the recipe is dairy free! You won’t miss the milk in the recipe though – These little muffins are so good to eat and a snap to make.  I like to bake double or triple batches and then freeze some of them for later.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons apple pie spice
1 Egg
1-1/2 cups of water
1/3 cup canola oil

Preparation: In a large mixing bowl thoroughly combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and apple pie spice. Then add the egg, water and canola oil and stir until the batter is well combined. I like to make my muffins large size, so this mix makes 12 large muffins. I also like to use the paper liners but if you used a cooking spray and a nonstick muffin tin that should work fine too. Bake the muffins at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes. I usually start checking the muffins at the 15 minute mark to see if they are done. You’ll need to make your own time adjustments according to your own oven but usually 20 minutes is the most amount of time you’ll need. Enjoy these muffins for breakfast, as a snack, or as part of “breakfast for dinner.”

Your Budget Goals – Is It Time To Revise?

bgbudgetOdds are that you routinely re-evaluate the big choices that you make in your life all of the time. As you become more educated about the benefits of a healthy diet, you might make changes to the foods you eat. Completing a degree might make you reconsider your career choice. A change in your family situation might even make you rethink the house you own. As the circumstances around you change, it only makes sense to re-evaluate other parts of your life.

Re-evaluating your budget than re-evaluating any other part of your life. As you achieve your goals you will need to set new ones – and be sure to be on the lookout for anything that could be a budget helper. As you struggle to make some goals, you may realize that you might need to reconsider those goals. Whatever the outcome of your old budget goals, it’s always a good idea to assess them and determine which ones still work for you and which ones need replacing.

Savings Goals
Savings goals commonly need to be re-evaluated every time you meet your goal. For instance, if you were saving to pay for a winter vacation, you don’t want to simply stop saving after you have paid for you trip. Think ahead to your next vacation, or other major purchase, and start putting away the money you’ll need for it. If your income increases, you may want to consider putting all of that increase (or at least a good portion) towards your savings goal to fund it faster.

Debt Reduction Goals
Debt reduction goals are another type of goal that is in constant need of updating. If you set a goal to pay off one line of credit, maybe a consumer charge card like a Lowe’s card, you’ll need to set a new goal once you’ve paid that account in full. Tackle the next debt on your list of debts and make paying it off your new goal.

Unaccomplished Goals
Sometimes, through no fault of your own, you just can’t make one of your goals happen. Maybe your goal was to pay off your credit card debt in 2010. Then you were laid off from your job in June and took three months to find a new job. It’s just not realistic to think you would still be able to pay off your credit card debt in the time you originally allotted. The important thing to do in these situations is to recognize that your original goal isn’t going to happen and set a new goal in its place. Instead, try something like not accumulating any additional credit card debt while you’re between jobs. You just need to make sure that you’re working towards something.

Re-evaluating your budget goals doesn’t have to be a monumental task. By simply keeping in touch with your financial situation, you won’t find it hard to recognize when you’ve met a goal or when a goal has been placed outside of your reach. Keeping your budget goals in line with your changing life is the best way to guarantee financial success.