photo credit: KarlOnSea
For the past 3 years, our family of 6 has stuck to a very tight grocery budget. It has gone up $100 since we really started budgeting our food dollars. However, in those three years we have added another 2 mouths to feed and allowed for some wiggle room due to rising food prices. Our current monthly grocery budget is $350.
Here are some of the methods I’ve implemented into my shopping and cooking habits that enabled me to trim our budget and stay on track every month.
- Menu planning. I plan both monthly and weekly to allow for variations and daily taste preferences.
- Master grocery list. Having a list of all the things we usually buy, organized by aisle, really helps to keep me on track when I’m preparing for a trip to the grocery store.
- Price book. My version of a price book is not very traditional. Instead, I list the regular prices right on my master grocery list. Both methods are a great way to track your spending before you ever hit the store though. A price book also helps you decide which store to shop at based on where they have the best sales.
- Coupons. I clip coupons from the usual places (newspaper inserts, magazines, sales flyers, etc.) and I print coupons from the web or upload coupons directly to my store loyalty card. However, I also stick with the mantra that I only use coupons for foods we really, truly need and will want. Even then, I only buy with coupons if the price is less than a generic counterpart.
- Store loyalty card. I save hundreds of dollars every year by using store loyalty cards. Not only do they allow me to get both advertised and unadvertised sales, but they allow me to double certain coupons. Also, some grocery stores send out quarterly coupon booklets to their loyal shoppers.
- Shopping on a full stomach. This makes it much easier to avoid spur-of-the-moment splurges.
- Shopping alone. Again, this makes it much easier to avoid spur-of-the-moment splurges aimed at appeasing impatient children or husbands.
- If #7 is not possible, using alternative methods to keep little hands occupied. I like to print out picture lists for each of my children and they are responsible for getting each item on their list before we leave the store. Often, they are so busy watching for the next thing they need that they don’t even notice the usual enticements.
- Shopping from the list and nothing but the list. I don’t even consider an item unless it is on my list. Even my kids know this and practice it whenever they are at the store with me.
- Shopping less frequently. Currently, I do one large grocery trip just once a month and my husband makes any extra needed stops throughout the month for produce or dairy items. I have noticed that the more trips I make to the store, the more money I have spent by the end of the month.
- Using a calculator. I total the groceries on the list before we ever go to the store. I also keep track of the prices while shopping. This helps to avoid any mistakes at the register and keeps me on task.
- Paying attention to the labels. Sometimes the larger package is a better buy and sometimes it’s the smaller one. The only way to know for sure is to examine the price per unit labels on the store shelves.
- Watching for manager’s specials. Typically I find great deals in the produce, meat and dairy departments on items that are nearing their expiration dates. Then I either freeze the items as is or quickly use them in a dish that can be frozen. However, if I’m unsure if I’ll be able to use or process the item before it goes bad, I’ll pass on the great deal.
- Knowing the store policies. A few of our local grocery stores have a policy that if you find an expired item on their shelves, you can receive the same, unexpired item for free.
- Getting acquainted with store employees. The meat department manager at the store I usually shop at and I are on friendly terms. Because of this, I never hesitate to ask him the regular times when they mark down products or to save bones for me that I can use in stocks.
- Not being afraid to ask. If I see an item that is near its expiration date and is not marked down while other similarly dated products are, I’ll ask the department manager if I can receive the same markdown for the item I want. Usually, they are more than happy to oblige.
- Taking advantage of rain checks. Sometimes it can seem like a hassle to wait in line at the service counter in order to receive a rain check for the sales price on an out-of-stock item. It is time well spent though, especially if the sales price is really good.
- Knowing the sales cycles. I try to pay attention as closely as possible to the sales cycles at my grocery stores. Many sales center around a 6 week cycle. When I see that cycle begin, I try to stock up enough to last until the next cycle.
- Stockpiling. I don’t do this at every trip, but whenever I have a little extra wiggle room in my monthly budget, I stockpile items that are on sale. These extras really come in handy on months when there is absolutely no wiggle room or when the trip to the grocery store has to be delayed.
- Buying generic. For the most part, everything we buy at the grocery store is a generic, store-label product. The quality on these items has really improved over the past few years while the savings ratio has stayed the same. If you are unsure of generics, try at least one different variety on every trip before you write them off completely. Then, continue to choose the generic for everything that passes your taste test.
- Skipping soda. We do not buy soda at our house. It is not a necessity.
- Being smart with organic items. There are many organically labeled products that are just not worth the added expense.
- Cooking from scratch. Scratch-cooking saves our family hundreds of dollars every month over the cost of convenience, pre-packaged items.
- Eating vegetarian meals at least twice per week. There are so many meat-free options for getting a protein rich meal. Often, these options are just a fraction of the cost of meats.
- Stretching whenever possible. I am always looking for ways to stretch our foods. For example, I stretch sloppy joe meat with cabbage, Mexican dishes are stretched with rice, and meatloaf is stretched with lentils.
- Substituting creatively. I am always looking for ways to substitute expensive ingredients for more frugal options. For example, I’ve learned through trial and error that 1/4 cup of nuts can often be used instead of a whole cup in baked goods.
- Ignoring recipes calling for expensive items. Although I like to use a lot of variety in my kitchen, I avoid recipes that call for high priced ingredients.
- Freezer cooking. With 4 young children, I have yet to find the time for a rigorous Once-A-Month cooking session. However, I do double or triple recipes whenever possible and freeze the extras. This really helps keep our food budget down, especially on those busy days when I’d otherwise be tempted to use convenience foods or take out.
- Using up leftovers. I try to make sure all leftovers get eaten. They make a quick lunch on a busy day or a fun buffet-style dinner when there are lots of leftovers. If I know certain leftovers will not be eaten soon enough, I’ll freeze them for a later date.
- Eating healthy and complete breakfasts. When my family starts the day with a nice hearty breakfast, we are all less likely to snack later on.
- Keeping the scraps. I freeze vegetable scraps and peels to use in making vegetable and meat stocks.
- Not letting produce go bad. If I notice some produce is beginning the quick decline to rotten, I will either cook and freeze it or just dice and freeze. This can then be used in casseroles or soups. Frozen fruit is perfect for making homemade smoothies.
- Serving proper portion sizes. Its easy to overeat when a too large plate filled with food is placed in front of us. Besides not being healthy, overeating is not very frugal either.
- Preparing for out-of-season produce. I stock up on summer-only produce when I can and freeze, dry or can it for the winter months.
- Storing foods properly. With a little research, I’ve learned the proper and improper ways to store all sorts of food to prolong shelf life. This prevents things from going bad too soon.
- Making my own stocks. Homemade stocks allow me to get the most out of things that are normally thrown away (bones from meat, vegetable peels, etc.). They also provide a great base for cheap soups or sauces and gravies.
- Making homemade baby food. Homemade baby food is incredibly easy to make, healthier than canned versions, and much cheaper.
- Never being afraid to try. Although some meals will flop, I’m always willing to experiment on more frugal options. The flops aren’t frugal, but they are rare and a worthwhile risk.
- Allowing for treats. Treats make sticking to a frugal grocery budget much easier for the whole family than depriving ourselves things we really enjoy. In our house, that means there is always room in the budget for ice cream.
- Knowing when to stop. Sometimes, there are just no ways left to trim the budget. Instead of feeling defeated, enjoy the money you have been able to save and be happy with your current budget.
photo credit: Mr. T in DC
I strive to feed my family as healthfully as possible while still sticking to a tight grocery budget. For my family, healthy eating includes eating organically whenever possible. Yet the organic foods we eat have to be tempered against our frugality.
The desire to eat organic on a frugal budget has lead to a lot of research on my end. Surprisingly, I have found there are many organic foods that just are not worth the extra expense. Whether because of minimal pesticide residues or preparation methods, these 20 foods do not warrant the additional organic cost.
- Wild or farmed fish (due to the lack of restrictions necessary for an organic label)
- Frozen varieties of any of the above produce
- Condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise – unless your family eats these items in great quantity)
- Convenience foods
- Snack foods
- Frozen meals
The last three on the list can be made from scratch with organic products for much less, per serving size, than the cost of already prepared counterparts. Plus, a potato chip really isn’t that healthy in any form, organic or not, so we skip the chips, and other similar snacks, all together.
Here you have it! Exactly 25 days to Christmas. How are you going to get everything done!?! How about a little help from a friend!? That’s right…me, from one WAHM to another! Here are 25 ways to help you be prepared for the big day. If you do these things to the best of your ability every day until Christmas, you will be a lot more prepared. Ready? Let’s get started!
Today-25 days until Christmas:
If you have not done it already, inventory your Christmas decorations. Do not, I repeat, do not go shopping for more until you have the ones you already own inventoried, organized and cleaned out! I promise it will save you a ton of money and headache down the road.
24 days until Christmas:
I did not go shopping on Black Friday. I prefer not to stress myself out! LOL. So, if you’re like me, and didn’t jump on the bandwagon, start your shopping now. I’m purchasing one or two items at a time, mostly on line from other WAHM sites if possible, or on clearance. There are tons of bargains and deals out there, on line; all you have to do is look.
23 more to go:
Get those Christmas cards out in the mail. Or, how about a Christmas letter; easier to create and less expensive.
Start looking for sale items and coupons for your Holiday cooking and baking.
21 and counting:
Get your Christmas tree. A family in our church has a tree farm and their trees are only $25!
Only 20 shopping days left:
Get your mail out packages out in the mail by this day, if at all possible!
19 days until Christmas:
Some stores may have Christmas wrap on sale, so I’d stock up on what you need now.
18 and counting:
Are you travelling this year? Make certain your plans are secure; that the airlines didn’t cancel your flight or change the flight time.
Make a backup plan if you are driving in case the weather is too bad.
16 more to go:
If you are planning a fancy spread for Christmas dinner, make sure all your Holiday dishes are cleaned and easily accessible. This way you still have time to replace any that may have gotten broken.
15 days until Christmas:
We’re two weeks out now, time to recheck your Christmas list. Make sure you got everyone who lives out of town taken care of. If you didn’t before, make sure you get those packages out, no later than this day!
Start the house cleaning process! Today I would scrub all the bathrooms from head to toe.
Finalize any Christmas decorating so you can enjoy the lights, candles and other sparkly things over the next week and ½.
Give your home a thorough vacuuming!
Start reading the Christmas Story from the Bible. Read one verse a day beginning in Matthew Chapter 1.
10 days until Christmas:
Dusting day. I hate it too, but once you do it, everything smells and looks so fresh and clean.
Finalize your dinner menu. Print off recipes for new and traditional dishes.
Get your Holiday meal shopping done! Usually about a week out, the stores put ham and turkey on sale. Now is the time to get all you need at the store so you don’t have to go back when it’s even crazier.
The week before Christmas: Is your gift shopping done? If not, I’d suggest getting out there and getting it done now. It’s only going to get worse! If you’re shopping on line, be sure to double check the shipping so you get it on time! Otherwise you end up paying too much for shipping.
Wrap, wrap, wrap! Don’t stress yourself out and wait till Christmas Eve. Trust me; I’ve done it toooo many times!
5 more days:
We’re getting closer! This is when I’d do a thorough once over in the house.
Finish everything up! If you waited this long to decorate or shop, you may as well get it all done today! Especially if you are travelling!
Probably travel day for most. Have a safe and happy trip!!! If not, and you did all the other steps above, then you can sit back and relax. Ok, ok. I know, if you’re like me, you will probably try to relax and see the cob web you missed in the corner over the dining room table. Or, you’ll remember that one person who wasn’t on your list, but you just feel led to get them something. Go ahead, today’s the day!
Go to your local churches Christmas Eve program. Spend time with the other side of the family that you might not normally spend Christmas with.
Christmas DAY!!! Enjoy yourself! Merry Christmas!
You may be looking at the title and thinking “huh?!?” I would be too, if I didn’t write it…LOL. But as a former work OUT of the home mom, I had to have a daily routine otherwise I would have been late for work, ran out of gas on the way to work, or had some other mishap along the way. In other words, if I stepped out of my daily routine, I would have been totally unorganized and disarrayed, and then everything goes wrong. So, why am I writing about stepping out of your daily routine??? Because I think as stay at home mom’s we get “be organized”, “stay focused”, “establish a routine” shoved down our throats so often that we forget to relax and step out of our routine once in a while. So, here are 15 suggestions you can practice to step out of that daily routine.
1. My personal favorite-sleep in! At least an hour or two extra. It will help you rejuvenate!
2. If you normally take a shower when you first get out of bed, wait till the afternoon or evening to take it. I find that a shower or hot bath right before bed is the most relaxing and really helps me fall asleep.
3. Get dressed up-a little anyway! If you’re like most stay at home moms, you may tend to spend the day in your PJ’s (which is awesome and one of the benefits of being a WAHM!). But, sometimes it actually helps you be more productive to get out of the sweats or PJ’s, and put on something a little dressier, even if it’s jeans and a sweater.
4. Don’t get dressed up. The opposite of above if you tend to get up every day and get dressed. Try being more relaxed and lounging around in your sweats and PJ’s. I am of this group because I used to have to get dressed up every day for work, so now I enjoy the days when I don’t HAVE to.
5. Do you plan dinner for every day of the week? Try not planning it, just for one night, and wing it with the ingredients in your cupboards. You never know what great concoction you will come up with.
6. Do you have the same thing for breakfast every morning? Switch it up! Do something different. My hubby loves cold, leftover spaghetti for breakfast! I thought “ew” until I tried it! If you make a hot breakfast, eat a cold one or vice-versa.
7. Have breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast!
8. Don’t watch your favorite TV show(s) for one week! You may find you may not even miss one that much and may free up some time for more productive work.
9. Have a friend or relative pick up the kids from school or daycare for you. As a Nana, I would be thrilled to pick up my grandson’s, if it applied.
10. Put on some makeup! This kind of goes along with suggestion number 3, but if you don’t normally put on makeup, give it a shot for a day. See what your hubby and kids think – it will be fun!
11. Switch up your daily cleaning routine. Switch the order around of the rooms you clean, or the order in which you wash the loads of laundry.
12. If you make regular phone calls throughout the day, try changing the times around.
13. Get out some old, or new, music and play it while you work. It will re-energize you!
14. Get out a good book, perhaps one you didn’t finish or one you keep saying you’re going to start. Read a chapter a day, or read the whole thing in one sitting!
15. Play a game; with your kids, with your spouse, or on-line! It’s a great way to relax your brain (I think!) and re-energize.
Obviously, you have to use some discretion when choosing some of these, depending on the nature of your business and your home life. But, if you try just one, to get out of the “same-old, same-old”, it will leave you feeling refreshed. You may even find you like what you’ve tried and make it part of your daily routine!
photo credit: eric731
1. Bargain shop, bargain shop, bargain shop! I went to Walmart’s clearance section online and found a ton of stuff for under $10 that will suit just about everyone on my list. Good stuff, like Star Wars t-shirts for my nephews, sports team tee’s, long-sleeve tee’s and hoodies for my brother, nephew and husband, sports team trucker hats and baseball caps, pajama tops and bottoms for the women on your list, and lots of baby and toddler items.
2. Give coupons or certificates for acts of service. Create them on your computer or by hand. Make the envelopes out of construction paper and use stickers, stamps and other materials you have around the house. Or if you’re artistic (my kids are, I’m not) hand draw your art on them. People will probably keep the envelopes, coupons and certificates just for the artwork!
3. Speaking of artwork, hand-create your Christmas cards. Or use your computer (my choice). Try not to use graphics that will use large amounts of ink, because that can get costly. Or make photo cards from photos on your computer. Again, loved ones will keep these and probably scrapbook them.
4. Another inexpensive, but lasting memory gift is a photo of your family, or new baby in the family. You can purchase nice, inexpensive frames at Walmart or the dollar store. These make great treasures for loved ones.
5. Christmas meal planning: start looking at your local grocer’s newspaper ads, or online ads. Our local store has a nice web site where you receive the weekly ad in your email, and as you go through it, you can click on each item you wish to purchase and it saves it in a printable grocery list for you. You can choose quantities and even add your own items not listed in the weekly ad. I found turkey for $.79/lb through this method!
6. Look for online giveaways and bargains. One WAHM site promoted a free photobook, all you pay is shipping! That’s an awesome gift. I made one of my grandsons for my daughter and her hubby. That’s an inexpensive gift they’ll treasure forever! And to purchase a photobook isn’t too expensive either for the 8X10 square books-less than $14! The promo ends Nov. 30 so click on the link above, get your code and head on over to Inkubook.
7. Keep Christ in Christmas. Center all your celebrations on Jesus and why he was born. One idea might be to only give your children three gifts each; three represents the trinity, the three gifts of the wisemen, the three wisemen, Christ rose on the third day, etc.
8. Give the gift of music. We have iPods, so this year we may give $15 iTunes cards. CD’s are also fairly inexpensive.
9. Buy gifts that are necessities, like new sheets (that are on sale of course), or room décor. Our walls are in need of painting in a bad way, so I’d be thrilled with a Home Depot or Lowe’s gift card.
10. Find treasures around your home that would make nice gifts. If someone really likes that angel knick-knack sitting on your shelf collecting dust, clean it off and wrap it up as a gift for them. Other items would be jewelry, books, CD’s and DVD’s. I think if you suggest these ideas to your loved ones they will love the idea too and maybe even do the same thing.
The idea is to remember why we should celebrate Christmas, not to go into more debt than we already are, but to give from the heart and remember why Jesus came to the earth and gave his life for us.
That old cliche “Time is Money” really proves true when you are trying to live as frugally as possible. There are many ways that we can spend time in order to save money. Usually all it takes is commitment, motivation, and a little hard work.
Here are 25 wise ways to invest your time in order to save some money:
- Learn to bake your own bread. If you do not already cook from scratch, learning how to bake your own bread is the easiest first step to get you on your way. Also, the fact that the results are so satisfying doesn’t hurt either. Once you feel the confidence boost from baking your own loaf of bread it becomes easier to attempt the next thing on your cooking-from-scratch-to-save-money list.
- Research all purchases. Spending money is sometimes an inevitability, but spending and frugality are not necessarily counter-intuitive. It is possible to spend frugally by researching all purchases to guarantee that you are getting both the best product possible and the best price possible.
- Use the internet to search for coupons and coupon codes. Going along with tip #2, do not buy anything online without doing an internet search for a coupon code first. Simply type the name of the product you are purchasing, or the company you are purchasing from, and the words “coupon code” into your favorite search engine. You might be pleasantly surprised. Similarly, there are countless blogs out there that compile all of the grocery coupons available to print online. They are definitely a worthwhile stop before heading out to the grocery store.
- Make your own clothes. This is a tough one, and it may only be for the die-hard frugal lifers, but there’s no question that it is a skill that will save you money.
- Menu plan and use a master grocery list. Menu planning and creating and using a master grocery list takes time, especially if it is a new idea to you. However, if keeping your grocery budget low is important to you, it may just be the best 20 minutes of time you can spend. A menu plan helps you focus on what you truly need to purchase versus what you already have on hand and it allows you to take advantage of the weekly sales. A master grocery list keeps you focused at the store. If you use a list that is set up according to your store’s layout, you can avoid unnecessary aisles and temptations.
- Create a price book. A price book works hand-in-hand with a master grocery list. By listing the regular prices of products you usually buy at the stores you usually shop at, you can tell at a glance where you should shop based on your needs for the week. If you do not feel like spending hours walking up and down the aisles, there is an easier way to create a price book. Save all your receipts for groceries at your regular stores for a few weeks. Then, using your receipts, mark down the regular prices on a price sheet. There are many blank price book forms that you can find online.
- Freezer cook. Freezer cooking doesn’t have to mean doing a large once-a-month cooking marathon. It can be as simple as making doubles of some of your favorite meals – one to eat right away and one to go in the freezer. Having meals on hand in the freezer reduces the need for take-out.
- Make your own laundry detergent. The process may seem tedious at first. However, once you realize that you’re spending only pennies to wash your clothes every week, the tedium will not matter.
- Learn to re-create convenience foods. Convenience foods are often the costliest items at the grocery store. Most of them can be recreated from scratch though. Bisquick, canned soups, and macaroni and cheese are just a few of the items that are easily duplicated for a fraction of the original cost.
- Mend your clothes. If you mend a small hole before it becomes a large one, the time investment is minimal. Yet for that minimal investment, you prolong the usability and life of the item. Darning holes in socks is another quick fix if done in a timely manner.
- Use proper stain management techniques. A stain that is caught quickly and treated properly usually will wash out. Don’t let your clothes end up as rags just because you hoped a stain would wash out on its own.
- Change all of your light bulbs. Swap out regular incandescent light bulbs for CFL light bulbs. They last longer and require just a fraction of the energy to light your home.
- Sort through all hand-me-downs, thrift stores, and garage sales. Many treasures lie hidden in the piles of clothes from these three sources. It may take perseverance, but the result is usually well worth the extra effort.
- Plant a garden. Gardening is a great way to beat the rising costs of produce. It also allows you to eat seasonally and to practice whichever gardening techniques you prefer. An organic tomato from your own garden costs virtually nothing.
- Can your excess. Whether you grow a garden or not, take advantage of excess produce throughout the growing and harvesting months. By learning to can, you can stock your pantry with chemical-free, fresh-tasting goodness to last until the next year. You also reduce the need to throw away any produce that is verging on spoilage.
- Visit used book stores and library book sales. There are usually many gems hidden among the shelves if you are willing to take the time and look. These places are also a great way to begin exploring the large, but profitable, world of reselling books on Amazon, half-price books, or many of the other websites out there.
- Track all expenses and purchases. Commit to a certain number of days and then record every single bit of money spent during that time. This is a great way to get a clear picture of where your money is really going and see where you can cut back.
- Research frugality. Many people write on frugality. There are shelves of books at the library dedicated to the subject and scores of similar websites and blogs. If you want to live more frugally, do some homework and turn to the trusted-advice of those that already live that way.
- Learn a free or low-cost hobby to replace a more expensive one. Hobbies are fantastic things, and often can be frugal when you turn creations into gifts or decorations. However, some hobbies are just plain expensive. If you are really trying to cut back, see if you can find an equally filling, but less costly, substitute.
- Check for drafts throughout your house. Feel around window sills and door frames to see if you notice cold air blowing in at all. If you do, use caulk to fill in the small spaces or rolls of cloth (as simple as a rolled-up towel works) to cover larger spaces, such as the bottom of a door frame. If you have to purchase the caulk, it is an investment that will pay for itself almost immediately when your heating bill goes down.
- Clear out the clutter. If you are constantly having to buy new things because you “lost” something, stop losing things! The easiest way to do that is to get rid of unnecessary clutter and organize what remains.
- Maintain your car properly. Taking good care of your car helps prolong its life, ensures maximum gas mileage, and helps to avoid costly repairs in the future. Most simple car maintenance tasks can even be done on your own if you’re willing to learn how and take the time to put that knowledge to work.
- Walk instead of drive. Even when gas prices are not outrageously high, walking is a very frugal option. If the weather is friendly and the destination is close enough, leave the car at home. The savings add up quickly.
- Examine all luxuries. Many of the everyday things in our lives are truly not necessities. Examine all of the little luxuries in your life and cut back wherever possible. Some things to consider: internet, cable tv, home phone or cell phone (in many cases, you really don’t need both), gym memberships, movie rentals, dining out, etcetera.
- Set up a good filing system. A filing system that is set up properly ensures four things: 1) you’ll never lose your warranties on appliances, 2) you’ll never lose owners manuals that could have saved you money on repairs, 3) you’ll never pay a bill late because you forgot about it or lost it, and 4) you’ll never miss a tax-deduction.
Spend a little bit of time now to save money in the future. It’s the frugal thing to do!
photo credit: bartkusa
Do you feel like your home is unorganized, unready for Holiday entertaining? Since becoming a WAHM, I find it hard sometimes to put down the laptop and pick up the clutter around my house! I am always thinking about the next article I need/want to write, the 300 items in my Google Reader, the 90 unread items in my inbox, the bills I need to enter in my web bill pay, the budget I need to balance, the Holiday shopping I need to do, the grocery shopping I need to do, the newest giveaway I need to blog and Tweet about…you get the idea and probably suffer the same thing if you are a WAHM.
So, how can we, as WAHM’s, quickly and easily get our homes in order for the Holidays? Here are 10 easy things to do each day until Thanksgiving. I know if I can do them, so can you!
1. 11 days until Thanksgiving- Organize cluttered closets. I had two closets that were driving me crazy, so I organized them today. I already feel like my house is cleaner…lol.
2. 10 days until Thanksgiving-Rearrange some interior decorations, like pictures, knick knacks, even furniture. I’m thinking that some items in one room will look better in another and vice-versa, so I’m going to have hubby and son help me rearrange some things. (Of course they will all get dusted as we move them!) This will give the house a fresh, new look.
3. 9 days until Thanksgiving-Clean off the front porch (or other cluttery area). The main entrance to our home is an enclosed front porch and of course it gets cluttered up very easily. There’s ten thousand pairs of shoes out there (slight exaggeration) from summer, golf clubs, swim mats, etc. that need to go out to the shed.
4. 8 days until Thanksgiving-Clean all bathrooms, then touch up over the next week, that way you don’t have to do a major cleaning just before the big day.
5. 7 days until Thanksgiving-Get all laundry done. Then do one load a day (if applicable) until Thanksgiving. This way you’re not trying to get it all done at once the day before Thanksgiving, and you will be able to relax Friday after Thanksgiving.
6. 6 days until Thanksgiving-Make sure all your Holiday dishes are clean and ready for entertaining. If you set a big spread, go ahead and start getting your table ready now with your fall and Thanksgiving decorations.
7. 5 days until Thanksgiving-Dust everything in the house. I hate dusting, but if I only have that to do for one day, it’s not so bad. Plus when everything is dusted, I feel like the house is so much cleaner.
8. 4 days until Thanksgiving-Pick up any clutter that has accumulated over the past few days and beyond. Throw away any unwanted mail, magazines, papers, etc. File the important papers, put your bills in their place (I have an ‘in’ box I use); clean off any messy areas like tables and countertops.
9. 3 days until Thanksgiving-Vacuum the entire house and mop all tile floors. Use a carpet deodorizer to give your house a fresh scent.
10. 2 days until Thanksgiving-Give your house a once over. If you’ve done all the things above, it should be quick and easy.
11. The day before Thanksgiving-Set up any extra tables you’re going to use for guests, finalize your decorations around the house and on the table.
If you follow these steps now, you’re home will be fresh and ready for company! And hopefully the only cleaning you will over the long weekend will be your left over dishes!
It’s that time of year again! The Holiday’s are right around the corner! Are you ready?! I am on the inside, but on the outside…not quite. So, here are 50 ways you can get ready for the Holidays ahead of time, which will help you keep your sanity during this crazy time of year. Print this list out and cross each item off as you get it completed.
- Take an inventory of your Christmas decorations now. This way you will know exactly what you have and what you need.
- Get out your address book and start going through the list. Edit or delete addresses as necessary for your Christmas cards.
- Buy Christmas cards.
- If you haven’t already, set up a budget for Christmas, including decorations, cards, postage, packaging and shipping charges, and of course gift giving.
- Start making your Christmas lists. I have each of my kids make a list of the things they would like. They know they don’t get all the things on their lists, but it gives me an idea of what they need and want. I have them put it in order according to most wanted or needed to least wanted.
- Plan your Holiday menus. If the Holidays are celebrated at your home and you do the majority of the cooking, make a plan for each Holiday meal. If possible, have the guests each bring a dish saving you time and energy preparing.
- Start your Holiday meal shopping by purchasing those items that are on sale now and will keep until the Holidays, i.e. anything you can freeze or that is canned. Look in your local shopping guide for sale items or online coupon sites like http://coupons.com
- If you are having a hard time getting into the Holiday Spirit, play some Christmas music or watch a Christmas movie classic.
- Start purchasing your Christmas decorations, according to your budget. If you pick up an item or two each week or pay period, it will keep you from spending a large chunk of money on one shopping trip.
- Inventory your baking ingredients. When you are doing your regular grocery shopping you can pick up an item or two you may need for your Holiday baking.
- If you need extra money for the Holidays, pick up a part-time job. Lots of places hire extra people just for the Holidays.
- To help save money during the Holidays, get creative! Pull out your favorite craft projects and hand made gifts. If you knit or crochet, make a blanket, scarf or hat for someone. Everyone loves hand made gifts and they are usually a lot cheaper than buying.
- Don’t forget to put your kids Christmas play, choir concert or band concert on the calendar! Be sure to let the relatives know too. 🙂
- Holiday parties? Put them on the calendar as well.
- If you need a Holiday party dress or outfit, start looking for one on sale now. You can usually get away with wearing the same outfit to all your parties. If not, to save money, change up your outfit by accessorizing with a scarf, shrug or shawl.
- Plan a day to write out your Christmas cards then sit down and do it.
- If you prefer, send out a Christmas letter to update your friends and family.
- If you are traveling for the Holidays, plan out your trip; i.e. budget for food, gas, lodging, etc.
- Make a plan B if the weather gets too bad and you have to cancel or reschedule your travel plans.
- If you have 3 different homes to visit on Thanksgiving or Christmas (my daughter and husband have our home, his parent’s home and my ex-husband’s home) arrange those schedules now. There will probably always be a conflict, but if you plan ahead, you can probably get it worked out so just about everyone will be happy.
- Get your family involved in a charitable cause this Christmas. Perhaps instead of exchanging gifts, you as a family decide to help those in need. You can contact your local food pantry, shelter, church or United Way.
- While making Christmas cookies with your kids, make up a platter for your neighbors and friends.
- A great way to save money, is to make up “service cards” for family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. i.e. shoveling the sidewalk or driveway (if you have snow), cleaning the entire house, doing the dishes for a week or month, dusting (I hate dusting so this would be a great gift for me!), giving a back rub or foot massage.
- To save time and money, purchase gift cards online. Everyone I know loves to get gift cards from their favorite stores. It doesn’t have to be a huge monetary amount either. Lots of time they get more than one!
- Last but not least, start wrapping the gifts as soon as you get them! Don’t wait till Christmas Eve to do your wrapping!
I hope these few tips will help ease you into the Holidays, or at least give you an idea or two to get started!
Happy Holidays everyone!