Holidays

Love Birds Love Saving

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. It is not just the perfect opportunity by sweet candy and delicious chocolate for your loved one, it is also another chance to spend some money!  But here is the good news; you do not have to break the bank to show your significant other how much you care.  Give this list a good once over and you will walk away with some sweet ideas.

1. Be Crafty

Homemade gifts can mean so much more than something store bought, so be creative and get crafty!  Try using a free photo editing site to do something cool with a picture of the two of you. Make a coupon book of sweet and/or romantic requests.   So have fun with this one! Check out Pinterest for some other awesome ideas.

2. Bake Away!

I do not care who you are, cookies, brownies, cake, or any other sugary treat always hits the spot.  Break out a new recipe or an old favorite and bake up some love for your love.  Someone mind passing this tip on to my boyfriend?

3. Everyone Loves a Good Movie

You and your love bird have probably seen at least 3 movies together since becoming an item.  Renting a movie on Red Box or through Netflix is inexpensive and a great way to just spend some time together.  You will make popcorn, hot chocolate, and some great memories.

4. A Walk Down Memory Lane

This tip is definitely more for the couples who have been together for at least a couple months.  Take your significant other on a walk through your relationship. Go to the place you first met, then your first date, then to the last place you were together.  You do not have to buy anything, just talk about the good memories you have from those places. You will laugh, maybe even cry, but you will definitely make some good memories.

So happy early Valentine’s Day to all the loves birds out there and give these tips, one or more, a try. Let me know how it goes!

I Love It Not…

Valentine’s Day, for some, is fondly referred to as Single’s Awareness Day. So what do all singles people do on Valentine’s Day? Well, they can wallow in self-pity or bitterness, or they can do something that shows how much they care about themselves.  What is even better is that it can be inexpensive too.

1. Polish Party.

Get a few of your single girlfriends together, bring all the nail polish you have, and take turns giving each other mani’s and pedi’s while bad mouthing all the boys who have done you wrong and what celebrity got arrested the night before.  You will not only get some polish powered confidence, but some much needed girl time therapy.  What will this cost you? Nothing, unless you need to pick up some new polish!

2. Bubble Bath… That’s Right.

Stop by your local bath and body shop and pick up some bubble bath in your favorite scent.  Nothing says relaxation more than a bubble bath.  Now light some candles, grab a book, or just turn on some soothing music and take some time for yourself.  The max this one will cost you?  $15. Try it out, you will not regret it.

3. Need a Good Cry?

Pop in Dirty Dancing or Marley and Me and enjoy some of what I so fondly refer to as movie medication.  Get your favorite drink and snack ready. Put on those pajama pants that fit just right and those fuzzy socks that you love so much and over medicate yourself to your single heart’s content.  Using Red Box?  This one will cost you a max of $5 for the movie and $20 for your drink and snacks.  Indulge a bit.

4. Go Home!

If you are a college student like me and going home is a rare luxury, plan ahead and make the trek back home.  Be around people who truly love you, aka, your parents!  If your parents are like mine, they will smother you in hugs, candy, and free food (something every college student loves.)

 

Valentine’s Day does not have to be Single’s Awareness Day.  Make Valentine’s Day about you, and tell Single’s Awareness Day where to shove it.

Party On!

Do you have any big parties coming up? Birthdays? Social Events? Anything?  Well, whether you have a reason or not, throwing a party is always a great way to get together with some friends and family. Parties are not always cheap, but with a few of these money friendly party ideas you will have some great inexpensive fun in no time!

1. Game night!

Be a kid again! You would be surprised at how much fun those old board games or other games can be.  Apples to Apples, Monopoly, video games, even hide and seek all bring back some good memories and a lot of fun with them.

2. Creativity Time.

A few friends of mine came up with this idea.  We got together with our old bikes, searched Craigslist for other bikes, and went to pawn shops and looked for bikes.  In other words, we had a lot of bikes.  Each of us then bought a can of glow in the dark paint. We spent the day together painting the bikes, and then went riding through downtown that night.    It only cost us about $25 each to buy the paint and get used (or our old) bikes. So come up with something creative!  It might not be as cool as our glow in the dark bike riding crew, but that’s just how we roll. Pun intended.

3. Cookie Trade Off

This is a good one for those with a sweet tooth.  Everyone who is invited to the party bakes enough cookies for each person to have at least 2. They then bring a copy of the recipe and everyone tries each other’s treats.  You not only satisfy that sweet tooth that you undoubtedly have but you add to your cookie repertoire.   How much will it cost you to bake a batch or 2 of cookies? Around $20, unless you pay attention to stores with good sales who do ad matching!

 

These are a few simple ideas that will get you started.  Do you have any ideas for awesome parties? Comment below and let’s hear ‘em!

Five Smart Financial Moves to Begin the New Year!

It’s a new year and with it of course, come some new resolutions on how to improve our way of life. A chief aspect that governs our lifestyles is our finances, and so outlined below are five suggested steps or areas which we need to either initiate, maintain or improve on in that particular regard.

Champagne

Savings

It would surprise many people to discover this but saving is not something that many people do. Like all good things that improve us, for saving to be effective, we need to adopt it as a habit, a mindset of sorts. Deciding that every income we get will be levied by a certain percentage which goes into untouched savings is a great first step. Follow this up with something methodical, for example, installing a standing order on your banking account so that every inflow of income that goes through it has a percentage deducted to a fixed deposit account. You will be impressed at how quickly you build your nest egg, and best of all, once the process is a habit, it simply gets stronger, securing your future.

Fiscal Planning

It is important to make sure you have filed all your tax returns, whether it is on income, property, or any other dues. This is vital because improperly filed taxes have a nasty habit of coming back to haunt you, and tend to gain interest as well. Make sure you do not owe the tax man anything.

Debt or Credit Management

Just like unpaid taxes, bad debt can be a terrible burden, particularly with rising interest rates. Calculate your total debt and start dealing with it promptly. Know to what extent you are in the red. It will give you perspective let you have a handle on what your next move should be, and it will also help you monitor interest and keep a decent credit rating, which is vital.

Investment

You will also need to look more carefully at how to invest whatever you are earning. Investment involves risk, of course, but calculated risk into assets and blue chip stocks are a safe way of managing your investment efforts. Look at solid and credible mutual fund managers as well, but do find a way to grow your hard-earned income that is significantly more effective than the comparatively low interest it will earn sitting in the bank.

Diversification of Income

Because of the current economic climate, never has the importance of income diversification been so high. Even when things improve with the global economy, having a diverse income base is always beneficial to ones lifestyle and welfare. It might not seem such a straight-forward option but you would be surprised at the areas that you can delve into and add to your own personal cash flow just by setting a few hours aside to develop a skill that is marketable or that fills a demand in the economy. Never has the proverbial statement “do not put all your eggs into one basket” been more relevant.

How to Pick Charities to Donate To

The decision to donate to a charity is not just a noble one; it is a reflection of empathy on one’s part and an understanding that where one has been blessed by fate, others have been less fortunate. So for those seeking to improve the lot of humanity, to give back, for those seeking to “be the change they seek”, there are a number of pointers that can ensure that their gestures actually have the impact they have in mind and reach their intended target.

Choose a charity

The method of choosing which charity to donate to that are outlined below are not perfect methods but they will offer a guideline that can help one make an informed decision on how to impact the world around them.

(Credibility. Efficacy. Community Neighborhood. Immediacy. Passion. Anonymity)

Credibility

It is important that you choose a charity that has gone through a vetting process of some sort. This process varies from one area to another but certain aspects of the vetting process are fairly easy to spot: the charity should be registered, and have a recognizable board and patronage of standing within the community; it’s activities and how it puts it’s resources to use should be transparent, and easily accessible financial records play an important role in this; it’s impact should be visible, and not simply at a PR level but intrinsically, in line with it’s stated vision and goals.

Efficacy

The charity should be able to actually effect change in the individual lives and communities it works with. It is all very well to provide shelter for the homeless, but alongside this, those sheltered should find a system that helps them better themselves so that they move on to a way of life that helps them earn a living and provide for themselves so the shelter can help another lost cause.

Community

The charity should be impacting directly on the community it exists in. Global charities naturally have global reach, but to actually work, charities need to experience the reality of the people whose lives they are seeking to have an impact on.

Immediacy

There are sometimes situations that demand an instant response from the community, whether local, nationwide, or even globally. These often occur during natural disasters like earthquakes, outbreaks of disease and tsunamis. In this particularly situation, creditable organizations like the United Nations make impromptu calls for immediate help and these are calls that one should respond to when seeking to donate. In this particular scenario, every dollar counts, and the immediacy of the situation also validates it.

Passion

One should also find a charity that appeals to one’s passions, or beliefs. It is easier to relate to a cancer charity, for example, if you have suffered from the disease or have known somebody who has been ravaged by it. The things we are passionate about are often the ones we are also most effective with.

Anonymity

As much as possible, do seek a charity that ensures the donor remains anonymous. It gives real meaning to your offer; the reward is in you yourself knowing.