Post by startsmart on Apr 10, 2011 18:56:05 GMT -5
Hi Ladies and Gents! If you're a WIR Racer working on getting in the black or just looking to save dollars and cents, check back here weekly for challenges designed to help you reach your goals faster.
Even if you can't take advantage of every suggestion, keep checking back and looking for ways to get ahead financially.
Whether you're racing debt, adding to an emergency fund or saving for an upcoming purchase you are welcome to join in, post your successes and suggest challenges!
These suggestions are a starting point, please lend your expertise, examples and continue the conversation with what works for you and your family.
Finally, we're all in different financial places so please don't come here to bash a suggestion or challenge that you do not want to participate in - someone else may need to start with small savings even if you think it's a waste of time and effort. And if you're starting small - great! Keep saving where you can and the dollars will add up.
Post by startsmart on Apr 10, 2011 19:03:45 GMT -5
April Challenge - April Showers Bring May Flowers and cold winter nights often bring Fall babies!
Plan now for special upcoming events: Wedding season is almost here - who's getting hitched and when? will you be traveling or sending a gift? Babies and adoptions - is anyone in your family, friends, co-workers, or neighbors adding to their family? Birthdays never change - consult your list of important people you celebrate every year and plan your budget accordingly Anniversaries you celebrate - may include your own, those of family members or close friends
Mini Challenges: How do you keep track of special occasions and set reminders so you're not caught by surprise when the party invite appears?
Do you collect a few classic, timeless gifts for easy gift giving?
Do you keep stock of wrapping paraphernalia like ribbons or bags? How about cards for special occasions?
How you'll save money By looking for deals year round and planning purchases, you'll be able to set a budget and find the right gift(s) without rushing (and often overspending) at the last minute. Taking an honest look at upcoming events can also bring awareness to your spending habits.
Post by forwardwego on Apr 10, 2011 20:19:30 GMT -5
startsmart Hi! Thanks for the challenge! When giving gifts, i keep it simple. If i know the recipient REALLY well and i immediately know what i'm getting, i go get it and proceed to wrap & send. Otherwise i give a check or giftcard: HS graduation, $25; college grad, $50; wedding $75-$100; new baby,$25. i get simple cards that express the sentiment without costing a lot. i also keep a box of pretty, blank cards which allow for a personalized message & saves time & money. Sometimes i splurge on an incredible card if i am not attending the event and sending only the card with my heartfelt wishes, or if the honoree has requested no gifts. My DD is an excellent shopper and often gives great gifts for way less $$ than the recipient would ever imagine, but for me it's better to stay out of the stores. Not that i'm a big shopper, but i'm very committed to paydown right now and would have buyers regret if i spent unnecessarily.
Post by DVM gone riding on Apr 10, 2011 23:41:56 GMT -5
thanks for getting this going, I had so missed the challenges. I am so bad I buy cards the day of events!! Which is especially sad since my mother buys them by the dozen and keeps them all organized by catagory! I am going to try to be better this year
Startsmart; Thanks for the challenge. I have a plastic shoebox filled with cards for birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries and other holidays. I have stopped sending cards to some friends because the post office in my little town closed. Then I found that I could order stamps on line but when I have a present to send, I have to go to the post office down the road. Once I get a stash of stamps and more cards, I will, again, be sending cards. I have a box of gifts that I hand made and am working on more all the time. Maybe next year I can start sending gifts again. Another way I am planning ahead is buying a $10 gift card from a grocery store and Wal-Mart every week so that I will be prepared for Christmas and can use my work checks to make extra payments on the mortgage and other bills to get them paid down. I will watch for the next challenge. Thanks again.
I am not trying to pay down debt, establish an EF BUT am working REALLY hard to avoid using my EF/going into debt since I lost my job last Aug.
I buy my seasonal wrapping paper/gift tags/cards on the after holiday clearance sales. I sometimes even buy gifts that way like fun socks after Christmas, Valentines day, St. Patricks day.
I buy cards for known bdays, anniversaries as I find them in the $ store or discount party store.
I send for and save samples of HBA & toy items all year for stocking stuffers.
I have used RR and/or EB to buy gifts if I KNOW it will not need to be returned. For the past several years I have stocked up on toys/craft kits for grandkid gifts when Target/WAG/CVS is having a MAJOR clearance/sale (BOGO).
Thanks for setting up the challenges! I have missed them. One thing I do is I have a "rewards" credit card for my month to month spending and pay it off each month. At the end of the year when Christmas time is here once again I "cash" in all my rewards and buy Visa gift cards. I then use them to either buy presents or as the present (teenagers especially love this and I never have to worry about them not liking what I gave them). Birthdays usually only get a card and a homemade cake. I also shop after the holidays for the clearance items.
I come from a family of gift bag hoarders - I hate spending an extra $5 on a gift just to make it festive looking. So I have a big plastic storage container under my bed filled with bags and bows and any gift wrap that I have scored on post-holiday clearance.
I don't stockpile cards though (other than next year's Christmas cards bought on this year's clearance) - I like trying to find a card that would appeal to the specific recipients sense of humor.
I know I have 1 high school graduation, 1 wedding (plus shower) and 1 (hopefully 2) babies on the way. Plus Mother's and Father's Day, 4 more people who get birthday gifts from me and Christmas. Not too bad - but I appreciatethe reminder to start building this into my budget.
Post by startsmart on Apr 11, 2011 10:51:08 GMT -5
Thanks for the comments all - love reading them!
My friends are in the "spawning" stage of life so I stock up on baby clothes. The local consignment store went out of business and I got a ton of new, with tags still on items when they were shutting down. Lots of boy and girl clothes, bibs, blankets and even a few toys.
I stock everything in two tubs in the guest room closet.
Upcoming birthdays this month include my Dad and brother. I think the gift to Dad will be cleaning up his office when I'm dog sitting for a weekend. He has everything he needs and a lot of what he wants but very little time. I'll probably find something fun for him too like the wooden nickels I found for Christmas
Post by sarcasticgirl on Apr 11, 2011 10:58:59 GMT -5
May is a big birthday month in my family. My birthday, my niece, my sister, my BFF and then there's mother's day too. My DH's birthday is in mid-june. I try and plan in advance. I buy things I find on sale and hoard them until the event comes along. I don't stock pile cards... mostly because I don't really get how it's cheaper? This year I've gotten into making some things at home, one of which is lip balm. it's pretty much a clone of the lip balm my sisters and I wear and costs about $0.30 to make, which beats buying it in the store for $4! I'll be tucking some of these lip balm tubes in with presents as well!
Post by dragon2008 on Apr 11, 2011 11:48:31 GMT -5
Thanks, Startsmart! I missed the challenges so really glad you're starting them again!
My sister and I are going in on Mom's combo birthday/mother's day gift. I have a budget for my family gifts, so if I really want to get something that goes over budget, I roll it over for multiple events (Mom especially likes the idea).
I also have a "thing" against cards - why?? Especially for the small holidays. Being the only one in the family who doesn't like cards is tough - peer pressure is a killer!
Post by sarcasticgirl on Apr 11, 2011 13:18:01 GMT -5
dragon i'm with you on the cards, I think they are a bit of a waste. they will eventually end up in the trash, anyway!
when I got married last summer, my aunt did the best thing ever, so gave us a check in a plain mailing envelope. She wrote a little note saying how she could have gone and bough a gift and paid money for the wrapping paper and bow and then more for the card, but she thought the $10 (what she would have spent for the gift wrapping/card) would be better in our pocket than in the trash . i agreed wholeheartedly!
Post by startsmart on Apr 11, 2011 15:49:47 GMT -5
for the cards it really depends on the situation and the person to me. My grandma is 91, independent and LOVES getting cards. It's easy enough to send her one from my stash every month. I have a few boxes (10-20 ea) of generic thank you cards that I've used after job interviews, to acknowledge a present or whatever.
It's like everything else I guess, if you don't give it, don't stockpile it!
My mom loves to get generic wedding gifts like nice picture frames, a set of candlesticks, things that can be given to someone if you don't know a lot about their personal taste. But she belongs to 5 or 6 clubs and a large church so she has more wedding showers to attend.
Post by freshnewday on Apr 12, 2011 19:27:46 GMT -5
I tend to way overspend in the gift giving category. Target annually has toy clearance in July. When I see outstanding deals, I will buy them to have birthday gifts on hand. I realized I had to stop buying when my daughter's twin size bed had no room underneath due to new gifts stored under there. I also had the bottom of my little linen closet full of new gifts. Having Quicken has really helped me see how much I spend on gifts: Yikes! I felt so guilty viewing the Quicken reports, because I would deny our family things, but be spending $300+ a month on presents for other people. (They really added up!)
I have improved a lot in this area, but still I bought three Playmobil Police Boats for $13 each for example. It is best for me to buy just prior to the occasion. Otherwise I can "go broke saving money" as they say. Buying gift cards help keep me out of trouble too. Shipping is expensive these days!
I recently joined www.jacquielawson.com to send beautiful ecards. Cards and postage is another area where I have overspent. I am hopeful this site will save me money.
Post by dreamer218 on Apr 12, 2011 20:35:43 GMT -5
I have various categories I create using accounting/ledger paper. Every penny in my checking & savings accounts belongs to a category (ex: school fees, car maintenance, etc). I have a birthday category for when my kids are invited to a bday party. They know $10 is what we'll contribute, PERIOD! If they want to spend over that amount they can pay the difference. We have a "Job Jar" which gives them the opportunity to earn money. We pay them weekly what they've earned (not an allowance). They have to put half in savings (they have their own 3-ring notebooks with their accounting paper & bank statements & deposit slips), 10% to charity (both kids want to give to the Red Cross Japanese relief) what's leftover is theirs to spend as they like.
Post by startsmart on Apr 13, 2011 10:38:20 GMT -5
thank you freshnewday and dreamer!
Remember, the challenges are not just a theoretical discussion, you're not going to save any money giving your opinion on how other people should do x, y and z.
Consider the challenge, your lifestyle and preferences and then implement changes to save money in your own life! I can't stress this enough It doesn't have to be a big production, try making small shifts.
Post by dragon2008 on Apr 14, 2011 12:41:02 GMT -5
What about a retirement challenge? mini challenges could include looking at your current budget to estimate where you spending might decrease or increase in retirement, setting up/checking in on IRAs/Roths/other retirement vehicles, checking to see if the budget would allow some funding for retirement vehicles or if you can increase your automatic withdrawals to 401Ks and 403bs by a percentage point (just some ideas).
I just did this in a way. I was at Walmart, and made a pass through the clearance section. I found a box of 100 thank-you notes (supposed to be from the wedding invites they clearanced out, but they were purple with black letters). We are having a baby girl this summer and I have a couple showers coming up. I was able to get 100 notes for only $7!! These should last us a long time!
I already suggested this on the Midwest thread, but what if our summer challenge was "Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or Do without". Sometimes its a good reminder to see if we can stretch things just a bit further before needing to replace them. Turn that bottle of shampoo upside down to get the rest out, look for ways to reuse things before buying something new, see if something can be repaired before just tossing it out.
Post by startsmart on Apr 17, 2011 16:37:59 GMT -5
Thanks for the suggestions, Dragon & sam, I'll put them in the list for the weekly challenges!
The theme for April is special event and vacation planning so with that in mind:
April Challenge - Vacation Planning
Whether you travel far and wide, stay local or have a staycation in mind, now is the time to plan so you come in on budget!
If you're flying - track rates, research the best time to buy tickets and have a plan to save the money before buying.
If you're driving - gas prices are high and expected to rise this summer. Consider fuel efficiency and plan your routes now so you know how much to save
If you're walking - vacationing in your home town is a great way to save money and support local businesses. What museums, historic landmarks, parks or play places are close to home?
Mini Challenges: How do you save for vacations? Weekly, lump sum or a little of both?
What kind of expenses do you plan for and what, if anything, catches you by surprise? (food, train fare, souvenirs, currency conversion, house or dog sitters)
How you'll save money Be realistic about the types and cost of vacations you want to take so you can save money now. With cash in hand you'll often have more options when it comes to finding a great deal and you'll avoid the post-vacation financial meltdown.
Although I'm late, I try to plan and save for vacations. I'm planning a big one next year to Italy, so I'm stay-caying this year to keep costs down and save more for the big one! I'm also trying to plan what souvenirs to buy where - and how much to spend on them. Although, I'm hoping to give my camera more of a workout than my pocketbook!
This is timely for me...I posted on YM about something similar. I will be doing a combo of decreasing expenses and increasing income. I'm going to look into cancelling cable for the summer or somehow decreasing that expense (TV is our only "splurge" so I'm resistant to changing it). I'll also be holding a garage sale and possibly start listing items on ebay/craigslist for some extra money.