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Be the Best Gift Giver in the WORLD!

In honor of Husband’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about gift giving.  Yes, the perfect gift ought be thoughtful, from the heart and all that other mushy stuff. But really, a gift should be useful, long-lasting, and life-enhancing. 

But what do you get for the person who has everything?  Take Husband for example: he has all the camping equipment and guns a boy could ever dream of (seriously, he’s a real Daniel Boon).  Rather than buying him another coonskin cap that he wouldn’t wear, I coordinated with our families to buy one big gift that none of us could afford singularly.  Although I’ve barely seen the man in two weeks because he’s been playing his new Xbox so much, it’s satisfying to know we got him a gift that he really likes; really really really likes. 

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Article publié pour la première fois le 19/08/2010


15 Little Budget Busters


Looking at your credit card statement 1 dollar here, 5 dollars there probably won’t jump out and grab your attention (unless it is at a questionable establishment; although, I don’t think you can use a credit card at those types of places).  Some of these little expenses you won’t even see on your bill because you’re simply paying extra.  Most financial blogs/gurus/experts/etc. agree that the little expenses are where budgets frequently get off track. 

Just so you don’t think I’m being smug here, this list consists primarily of mine and Husband’s own little budget busters.  I’m not sure why I’m continuing to write this magnificent introduction, considering most of you are already scanning the list below.  Hey!  My eyes are up here! 

Eh, whatever, without further ado, here’s the stinking list you animals. 


1. Music – $1/song is so much easier to let slip than the $19.99/CD of olden days.

2. Apps – probably the best marketing concept EVER; kudos to Apple.  Tell me, why is it that I am so inclined to spend $2.99 on a game that launches birds at pigs?  I don’t know either, but I am.

3. Chick Drinks – when McDonald’s introduced any drink for $1 I was just thrilled.  One Diet Coke per day was already in our budget (it’s important to me, don’t make a fuss).  However, with the price so low, I suddenly found myself justifying and extra one here, an extra one there.  It was no good for the budget.  

4. Man Drinks – I hate going to bars.  It’s not the smoke, the loud music, or the handsy dudes (maybe a little bit of the last one); it drives me crazy to see people paying $2, $3, $4 for a drink that comes in a 12 pack for half the cost per beer.  But I do do it occasionally for Husband; jeeze, I must really like that man.

5. Great Deals! – the great deal at Target.  The too good to pass up deal.  The deal that will never ever ever happen again.  Wow, that sounds like a good deal.  But was it something you already needed?  Do you really need it?  No?  Oh, well maybe its not such a great deal after all. 

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Article publié pour la première fois le 07/09/2010

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Around the Interwebs – Week of November 1st

CarnivalHere are the carnivals where I was featured this week.  Enjoy!


Carnival of Money Stories @ Live Real NowA Very Scary Money Story

Carnival of Personal Finance @ Consumerism CommentaryHow to Get Rid of the Stuff that Haunts You


And, as usual, some good stuff from elsewhere:

"Optimism is not necessarily bad. Delusion is."

  @ Don't Mess With Taxes


How to Strategically Evoke Cognitive Dissonance @ I Will Teach You to Be Rich

10 Things You Should Never Pay Full Price For @ Gather Little By Little

9 Tips to Help you Create Passive Income for Life @ Redeeming Riches

Article publié pour la première fois le 05/11/2010


Free or Affordable Fitness

While living in Vegas I noticed a very large and ornate building going up on our side of town.  From the prestige and ornamentation of it I guessed it to be a courthouse or temple.  But as it neared completion it revealed itself to be a gym.  That’s right, a sweaty, smelly gym, except it wasn’t.  This was the gym to end all gyms, a gem of a gym.  It had a four story climbing wall and a specialized juice bar, not to mention the full spa and massage rooms.  I had thoughts like “Where can I buy a diamond studded sports bra?”  There was an open house of sorts and I stopped by to see the alluring club.  This gym was so nice I could instantly see how it would coax me into exercising, that is until I saw a price list.  A monthly membership was just about double my rent.  I stopped, dropped, and rolled out of there!  The good news is, keeping fit does not mean an emaciated wallet.  Here are some ways to keep your health up and keep cost down.

Exercises using your own body weight.  Don’t underestimate good old lunges, push-ups, or even dance. Who needs fancy equipment when you can just use what God gave you?!  In fact, using your own body weight for exercise not only lets you improve specific muscles, it works your overall body, meaning you’ll have better core strength and balance. Sometimes going back to the basics is better than any current fad or fancy fitness fluff.

Making your own equipment using household items.  Need weights to lift? Guess what? Your house is full of heavy stuff you can lift. Weight is weight, be it a fancy weight set or simple milk jugs filled with water or, if you’re feeling strong, sand. Use those annoying phone books they seem to keep printing (who uses those anyway?) for stair steps. With a little creativity, you’ll realize you’re living in a gym already (hopefully with less sweat and a better smell).

Use public parks, trails, and other free amenities. Next time, instead of heading to the gym, go to a public park. You’d be amazed at all the ways to work out with the things you’ll find there. Try doing pull ups on the monkey bars (but first make sure there aren’t any kids around, you don’t want to be embarrassed and it’s just creepy). Many parks have walking/jogging trails you can use. The possibilities are endless. These days, many cities are implementing the new idea of adult fitness parks geared specifically for grown people to use for working out.  Free, fresh air fitness!

Play sports with out equipment.  If you think about it, there are plenty of sports that require little or no equipment to fully enjoy. Running, kickball, yoga, touch football, soccer; all of these can be done with little more that yourself and maybe a few friends. So, get out and play around a little. It’s the most fun way to get in shape.

If you do want to join a gym or fitness club there are ways to save some dough.  Remember your neighborhood YMCA—tons of great facilities and classes at a reasonable price.  Look into smaller clubs or specialty gyms.   Maybe you don’t care if the place has rows upon rows of elliptical machines if all you really see yourself doing is swimming laps.  Often universities will allow non-students to use their gym, track, fields, courts, pools, and weight rooms for a small fee.  Many great fitness spots have family passes so everyone in your house can get in on the action and makes it cheaper overall.  Check any websites local gyms may have, they will advertise any special offers there.

What do you do to work out for pennies? Any other tips for saving money while spending calories?

Article publié pour la première fois le 28/01/2014

1 comment

When a woman announces that she’s attempting to get out of debt and she itemizes her expenses for others to examine, one of the first lines that is scoffed at is that of the weekly or bi-monthly manicure/pedicure. I understand this.  Manicures and pedicures can be expensive. While this is dependent on things like their frequency, where they’re obtained (high end salon versus strip mail nail joint), what services are performed (acrylics or gel nails, airbrushed designs), those little things add up and can make a big difference in a monthly budget. But telling a woman who’s used to getting her nails done to give it up cold turkey is like telling a smoker to just stop smoking. It’s typically not possible.

Compounded with that, women like to feel pampered. Getting manicures and pedicures is one of the cheaper ways to accomplish that feeling. So what’s a woman who’s trying to be frugal to do? There are a few ways to answer that question:

  • Learn how to do an at-home manicure. This is something that took me years to do and quite frankly, I’m still not perfect. But I’m a lot better. I’ve even tricked people into thinking I had them done! What helped was going to a beauty supply store and asking for advice. While the products are a bit more expensive than what you’d find in the drug store, in the long run, it’s less expensive than trying 18 different products that don’t work.  I suggest investing in a good quality base coat, top coat and 3-4 colors (I recommend OPI or Essie brands) as well as an orange stick, a good nail file and buffer, toe separators, and polish remover and cotton balls. You can Google directions on how to do an at-home mani/pedi or visit Frugal Beautiful for her step-by-step instructions.
  • Look for coupons. In our local Clipper magazine, there are always coupons for money off mani/pedi services at salons in the area. Are they the best salons? No. But if you’re looking for the experience or the feeling of being pampered and you’re not particular about where you go, then this is the route for you. I’ve found that the coupons are typically for $20-$25 for a mani/pedi, which is a pretty good price. I’ve taken to bringing my own nail polish so when the polish eventually chips, I can fix it myself and the colors match.
  • Gift certificates. My mother is an extremely difficult person to shop for. As a default for Mother’s Day (and sometimes her birthday), my sisters and I will purchase gift certificates for her to her favorite salon. If you know that you can’t live without your mani/pedi, why not suggest to people that give you gifts that you would appreciate a gift certificate to a local salon? If you get 4 gift certificates at $25 each, that’s $100 or about 7 manicures. Don’t forget, if you’re using a gift certificate, you still need to provide the tip (this goes for coupons as well)!
  • Use a beauty school. I’ve never done this myself, but I’ve heard that beauty schools will offer full services for a deeply discounted price because the students are performing the services. For instance, a manicure at a beauty school near my house is $6 and a pedicure is $12. For $18, you can have a mani/pedi for about $10-$15 less than you would at a strip mall nail salon and the discount is even greater compared to a higher end salon.

I appreciate wanting to have nice hands and feet. As a writer, I spend most of my day typing, which means staring at my hands. I want something nice to look at! However, as a frugal person, I don’t want to break the bank to accomplish that.

What are some inexpensive ways you’ve discovered to keep your nails looking nice?

Article publié pour la première fois le 09/01/2012


A Lottery Retirement?

Let’s play a little make-believe, shall we?


I just won the lotto!  Holy cow!  I’m jumping up and down!

I’m just so excited, but, you know, I’m not overwhelmed at all.  I have a plan. 


My I-Just-Won-The-Lottery Plan:

1. Take the cash option.  This article does a pretty good job of explaining why, but that’s not important.  I’m not really ever going to win the lotto, I’ve accepted that (and you should too).

2. Split the winnings equally with family.  They’ll have to come accept it with me so that we can avoid double taxation. 

3. Immediately give at least 10% to charity and encourage the others to do the same.

4. Buy that Kitchenaid Mixer attachment I’ve had my eye on and a new tool and/or hat for Husband.

5. Find appropriate investments for the remaining money (ABSOLUTELY find a good Certified Financial Planner).

6. Continue with life as usual (albeit a bit more financially secure), we are much too young to not work.

What do you think?  What would you do differently?  How does your plan look?  That’s right, I know you have a plan.  I’m not stalking you or anything creepy, I just know that everyone has one. 

I’ve surprised a few people by buying a lottery ticket every now and then.  If it’s the 13th (my lucky day), I actually have $1 in cash (very rare) and I remember that the lottery exists (if there is a billboard to remind me), I’ll go ahead and take the plunge.

Frankly, sometimes I get more entertainment out of that $1 than going to the movies for $8+.  The lottery should be viewed as just that: entertainment.  Right?


Well, prepare to be disturbed. 

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Article publié pour la première fois le 29/09/2010