Thursday, 6 December 2012

Frugal Holiday Celebrations


It’s that time of year again, when the political ads cease and attention is now to get you to purchase and spend for the holidays. The height of consumer spending frenzies is commonly referred to as “Black Friday,” which this year took on Thanksgiving Thursday. I don’t want to bash the consumerism of the holidays, but want to provide you with a few frugal fun ideas to increase your holiday cheer without breaking the bank. Who knows, you just might start some new favorite holiday traditions.

Go Caroling
Bundle up and grab some hot chocolate with your friend and go door-to-door singing favorite holiday tunes. Have a pot-luck dinner or snack before or after the caroling.

Give the Gift of Time
Life is busy and it may seem as if you don’t have any time to give. It may seem easier to just buy presents, gift cards or give. Think about giving your time to a friend or family member. You can help them around the house, with special projects or just an evening of turning off the television and playing cards or board games and enjoying each other’s company and conversation. Your time is very precious and giving of it may be the most expensive gift you give.

Casserole Exchange
The holidays are busy and you may not have time to cook and enjoy a nice meal. Invite friends and family to participate in a casserole exchange. Make four of your favorite casseroles and invite everyone over for an exchange party. You will give away three of your favorite casseroles while having one in your refrigerator or freezer. The new casseroles that you exchanged for can provide some variety to your holiday meals.

Ornament Exchange and Decorating Party
Some of you may take great pride in decorating for the holidays and want total control, while others may dread putting out the decorations. If you are of the latter persuasion, or think more people always are more fun, you could have a decorating party where everyone brings an ornament or decoration. Get out the eggnog, crank out the holiday tunes and have fun.

Other Ideas:
• Drive around and look at holiday lights and displays
• Cookie exchange parties
• Take time to watch your favorite holiday movie or show
• Make your own holiday cards, wrapping paper, gifts

• Secret Santa with a low dollar limit

Travel
Now this might break the bank but our family has the tradition of only buying stocking stuffers and traveling as a family over the holidays. By allocating your gift giving budget to travel, you can do a lot of things and go lots of places. It is our gift to give and receive and focuses us on our values of family time. We all get away for a week or a weekend and spend quality time with each other. It is always fun to explore a different area and it doesn’t have to be far from home.

We wish you the best, to you and yours during this holiday season.

Bob and Kristy


Monday, 3 December 2012

Are You Prepared?


As hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, with the flooding this past weekend on the West Coast and listening to the struggles of those affected by the disasters, I am wondering how prepared I am for a disaster. Living in the Midwest, I have to worry about tornados, floods, droughts, ice, snow storms, and straight line winds. Granted, we are not talking hurricanes, earthquakes, active volcanoes, forest fires, or tsunamis, but I still wonder if I am prepared to go a week or even a month without electricity or disrupted transportation.

FEMA has at http://www.ready.gov resources and information to help you ‘Ready. Plan. Stay Safe’. It includes what to do before, during and after an emergency, how to prepare plan and stay informed for emergencies, how to build a kit for disasters to be prepared, ways to be involved, information for businesses and fun and games for kids.

What would it take for you to be prepared for a disaster? We are not talking “Doomsday Preppers” mentality, but are you ready for a week without power? How much cash would you need if you could not access your ATM or credit cards? How empty is the gas tank on your car? These are just a few questions that we are considering as a family.

Hopefully we will never have to put our plan into action, but ….just in case.