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6 Tips to Avoid Overspending this Holiday Season



The holiday season is upon us! Tis a time for giving and joy! But it’s also a time to open your wallet. It’s very easy to get carried away with your holiday spending and quickly find yourself in the hole. But shopping for the holidays doesn’t have to break the bank. To keep your spending under control this year try making a plan. Here are some tips on how to holiday shop on a budget.


Create a Budget

If you don’t want to break the bank this holiday season, it’s important to set a realistic spending limit. A budget is a great way to help you do that. Make sure you make your budget specific by breaking it down into spending categories. Then set spending goals for each and track the amount you buy to make sure you don’t overspend. Budget categories should include:


  • Gifts
  • Postage and shipping costs
  • Christmas cards
  • Charitable donations
  • Holiday meals
  • Entertaining
  • Decorations
  • Gift wrap
  • Travel expenses
  • Holiday clothing


There are a variety of online sites like queenoffree.com offer free budget forms to get you started.


Make a Gift List

A good way to stick to a budget is to make a list of the people you want to give gifts to. Start with those you most want to shop for most and work backward. Immediate family will usually top your list first, followed by close friends, relatives and co-workers. Once you have a list of gift recipients, add the possible gifts for each person and keep track of costs. Remember, you don’t have to spend the same amount on everyone. It’s okay to set different spending limits based on priority.


Look for Deals

Many stores offer deals on your list items during the holidays. Spend some time looking for the best prices or for possible discounts or coupon codes. Popular online stores like Amazon.com, for example, offer daily bargains if you look for them. The Amazon Discount Finder tool can help you save quite a bit of money.


Cut Out Extra Expenses

Don’t spend money on expensive wrapping paper, bows, ribbons or other embellishments. These items may not seem costly, but the amount will add up quickly. Adding a bell to your gift-wrapped boxes may look impressive, but it will just end up in the garbage. Keep your giftwrapping simple and save yourself a few dollars. 


Resist Impulse Buys

Try and avoid the temptation to buy extra items for people on your gift list or, more importantly, for yourself. Many people get swept up in the holiday spirit, especially when everything is discounted. Stick to your list so you don’t end up in debt.


Get a Head Start on Next Year

The weeks after the holidays are a great time to stock up on wrapping paper, decorations and other items because retailers are looking to sell off their holiday stock, Usually at huge discount prices. You can get a jumpstart on the 2017 holiday season by taking advantage of these sales.



4 Ways to Stay Physically Active This Winter



Gone are the beautifully warm and ideal days for jogging and playing sports. They’ve been replaced by cold and darkness.  For many people this change means a decreased interest in exercising and more interest in hot cocoa and the warmth of a wood-burning stove. But you don’t have to hibernate for three months. Here are a few simple tips you can keep exercising this Winter.


Set Small Goals

If you’re busy at work or just on a tight schedule, remember that you don’t have to set aside a huge chunk of time to exercise. You can set exercise over the course of the day. Exercising for shorter periods a few times each day can even be better for your heart rate variability. Setting small goals like this in Winter can help you find the motivation to exercise even on the coldest, darkest days. Try creating an overall goal that you then break down into smaller, achievable steps. If you’d like to run a 5K in the Spring for example, start with shorter jogs in the Winter months and increase your distance as the weather warms. 


Invest in New Workout Clothes

If you plan to exercise outside, make sure you acquire the proper attire to cover your skin from the cold and wind. Sweat-wicking layers will help to keep your muscles warm. Dress for weather 25 degrees warmer than the actual temperature to compensate for the rise in body temperature when you run Wear the right shoes to navigate slush, ice and snow. Acquiring new equipment can also help motivate you to make your purchases matter.


Explore New Options

Trying a new activity can be a big motivation to stay active. Sign up for a new class at a gym or join an indoor sports team. There are many indoor activities like volleyball, basketball, soccer and racquetball that you may enjoy without having to go outside. Joining a team may even be a great opportunity to make some new friends. Take a chance on something you haven’t done before.


Embrace the Winter Weather

Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean Winter isn’t fun. Skiing, snow-shoeing or sledding are all unique forms of quality exercise that you can’t do any other time of the year. You can more than 450 calories just by ice skating per hour, indoor or out. You can also burn calories simply by playing. Get your heart rate up and have a laugh by making snow angels, building a snowman or having a snowball fight! For a more intense workout try running in the snow.





Plan to Make the Most Out of Your Retirement Travel


Traveling is the big dream for most people in their golden years. Sun-soaked beaches and wonders of the world await you! But to make these adventures a reality, it’s important to find ways to cover the costs and create a plan to make it work. Here's a few ways to save on travel when you're retired:


Make Travel Plans Early

Making travel plans in advance will get you more prepared for them, motivate you to travel and help you save money. You probably won’t be able to travel throughout your whole retirement. As you get older you’ll slow down. We all do. Early preparation work will ensure earlier travel dates before you hit your advanced years.


Cushion Your Budget

It’s a good idea to budget high and plan for extra costs. Do some research and figure out how much you might spend of lodging, food, airfare, admissions to sites, souvenirs and other expenses such as travel funds for health care. When you make your budget give yourself a cushion of at least 20 percent and make sure to factor in inflation. If you don’t spend the extra money, you can always upgrade your trip or save it for the next one.


Take Advantage of Rewards

Many credit cards offer ways to earn cash back or travel rewards that you can use for your next vacation. Many travel industry businesses like hotels, airlines, rental car places and restaurants have a rewards program too. Sign up and every time you travel, you'll earn discounts and even free travel. If you're a member of AARP, AAA or you are a veteran make sure you mention that when you book to get discounts as well.


Consider Home Swapping

Looking for a place to stay without spending money? Consider a house swap. Join a website like Home Exchange or Intervac International Home Exchange to search for places to stay and make an offer to swap with someone else who wants to stay at your place. Get a signed exchange document that lays out house rules before you make any commitments.


Think About Getting Travel Insurance

As an older traveler you could experience health issues that may prevent a trip or derail it, especially on long vacations. Travel insurance can help you recover some of the costs if you have medical reason.


Travel When Other People Don’t

It’s usually cheaper to fly between Monday through Wednesday, instead of Thursday through Saturday, because less people fly on those days. As a retiree you can also travel at any time, so take advantage of less expensive, late morning or afternoon flights when pricing and travel times are lower. Consider booking a hotel when tourism is low and there aren’t holidays around the corner and you’ll likely get lower rates.



5 Tips to Make Thanksgiving Less Expensive and a Lot Less Stressful

How To Host Thanksgiving on a Budget



If you don’t plan for it carefully, Thanksgiving can be a very costly gathering. With the December holidays just around the corner it’s a good idea to try and keep expenses down. But how can such a huge family celebration be accomplished on a budget? Here are some tips to help you think about preparing for the big feast without breaking the bank.



Plan a Budget

Plan a basic budget for Turkey Day so you know how much you’ll spend on decorations, food, and entertainment and activities, before you take a trip to the grocery store. It’s better to not be surprised when you see your grocery bill or your bank statement at the end of the month. Try making this budget a couple months ahead and you can even save in advance for what you need.



Prepare Dinner from Scratch

Canned or pre-made items usually cost more than buying actual ingredients and making dinner yourself. Pick up a bag of real potatoes instead of a box of instant, make your own pie crusts, or make your own stuffing with leftover bread. Also consider cutting back on what you make. By trimming your menu down you'll be able to spend more time creating fresh, high-quality dishes and less tempted to buy, pre-made options.


You can also save money by looking through your local paper or online at places like Coupons.com for any coupons that might be available for items on your list. Check to see if your local stores are having sales as well. Grocery stores often run special holiday promotions.



Get Help

A great way to cut back on some of your Thanksgiving costs is to ask your guests to contribute. A potluck-style dinner is a good way to get everyone involved and channel the spirit of the holiday. Split up some of the prep work, ask guests to bring side dishes or desserts, or have them create decorations. Sharing the responsibilities for the festivities may even start a few new traditions.



Have Guests Bring Booze

Many people enjoy drinking on Thanksgiving, but alcohol is very expensive. Instead of covering the costs yourself, ask your friends and family to bring a six-pack of beer or a bottle of wine to dinner. If everyone contributes the costs will be minimal.



Make Decorating Easy

Buying decorations can get just as expensive as the food items if you aren’t careful. Try purchasing just a few set pieces that you can use every year and fill the rest of your home with free or inexpensive items from nature like dried grasses, herbs, leaves and gourds. You can even enlist help from your kids or your guests’ kids by having them create holiday decorations. That can be a really fun activity at Thanksgiving for the little ones. 



Make Fall Fun with 4 Inexpensive Family Activities


Fall offers many inexpensive indoor and outdoor activities that your family can do together. Here are four ways to enjoy the season when you’re on a budget.



Craft with Your Kids


Spend some time with your children on arts and crafts. Dollar stores and other inexpensive shops often have a variety of materials for making costumes or decorations for Halloween. Pumpkin painting and leaf crafts, like these 25 ideas from CountryLiving.com offer hours of enjoyment.



Pick Apples at a Local Orchard


Apple picking is another favorite Autumn pastime. Find a well-rated apple orchard and make a family day out of it. Not only does the trip give you a chance to do a healthy outdoor activity, once you have apples, you can make all kinds of great dishes or use them to play Fall games in your backyard, like the classic bobbing for apples.



Have Fun at Pumpkin Farm


Nothing quite says fall like a trip to the local pumpkin patch. Many rural communities or farms provide the opportunity for your whole family to pick pumpkins and learn more about them. They also typically host harvest festivals, haunted hayrides, children’s games and corn mazes. Research some of the farms near you to find out more about their pumpkin patch and the fun activities they offer. After finding the perfect pumpkins you can pick a night to make jack ‘o lanterns.


Prepare Fall Meals


We’ve highlighted apples and pumpkins as a delicious source for your favorite Fall dinners and desserts. The internet is full of great food sites with recipes you might not have thought of that capture the spirit and color of the Fall season. Here are 100 fall recipes to try from Delish.com.



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