Category Archives: Money

A Few of My Favorite Dollar Store Things

It’s Christmastime and your days may be filled with various festivities. Whatever you’re doing, hopefully you’re feeling some holiday cheer. Perhaps you’re decking your halls, or making preparations to entertain guests. Maybe you’re doing some Christmas shopping to give gifts for an office party or family get-together.

With all this hustle and bustle that’s bound to be on your calendar, I’d love to share with you a few of my favorite dollar store things. This might help you save a little bit of money while you’re out and about doing your standard holiday shopping.

Dollar Store Cough Drops/Throat Lozenges

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These are truly a must-have given the beginning of brutally cold weather and the inevitable cold and flu season it brings. I personally prefer a Vitamin C throat lozenge rather than the traditional “cough drop” that has the expected medicated taste. Regardless of what you use, you can stock up on a few bags of cough drops or Vitamin C throat lozenges at the dollar store for around a dollar a bag before anyone in your house gets sick, saving you a trip and the added cost the grocery store will charge you.

Dollar Store Tissues

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Again, not a “fun” item, but fighting a cold or flu is never fun, and these things tend to circulate during the colder months. While you’re out and about doing your normal shopping, it doesn’t hurt to stock up on a box or two, especially if you’re having visitors over who may need them. Tissues are another item that the dollar store beats out the grocery store on – for one box, you can normally pay about a dollar or $1.25, without having to watch for sales.

Gift Bags for Christmas Gifts

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I haven’t done as much early Christmas shopping as I usually do, but I lucked out at the dollar store with cheap Christmas bags – 50 cents each! Look for gift bags in solid red or green or even plain brown, as these are “plainer” and they don’t have the embellishments found on Christmas bags – you probably won’t pay as much because you won’t be paying for a logo, glitter, writing, etc. Depending on the size, unless it’s a large bag, you can get gift bags at the dollar store for $1 each. And, after the holidays, you can start stocking up for next year! After the holidays, I watch for prices on gift bags and wrapping paper to drop so I can put some aside for the next year – so I’m shopping in January for NEXT Christmas because the prices are so good. I can pick up some gift bags or wrapping paper, put them in a storage container, and forget about it until next year!

About This Blog: Please feel free to share any information from this site, in part or in full, giving credit to the author and providing a link to this website. Fearless Faith is a blog dedicated to family, faith and frugality. All views are the author’s own and content is copyright of the author unless otherwise indicated.

Staying on Budget at Christmastime

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Did you go shopping on “Black Friday”? Do you plan to look for deals on “Cyber Monday”? Either way you look at it, it’s official: the Christmas shopping season has begun.

Each of us is different when it comes to how Christmas spending impacts our wallets. Maybe for you, Christmas is a time of great fun and you don’t mind going into debt for Christmas spending. Or, maybe you do mind – and you mind greatly – so much so that Christmas shopping stresses you out!

Regardless of where you stand on Christmas spending this year, my hope is to give you a tip or trick here or there that you can use not just at Christmas, but all year round. Take what you want, and leave out the rest. Because I remember all too well a Christmas working in retail – with a great employee discount – and before I could wrap up all the presents, I had to instead decide which I would take back. I had gone overboard. It was so much fun picking the presents, but I couldn’t afford them! I had to return many gifts, before they were given.

There can be so much pressure with Christmas. Pressure to show how much you care with how much you spend. So, in general, here’s the strategy I use to have fun, without going overboard:

  • Before spending on anyone, decide the dollar amount you’ll be spending on everyone. If you have one gathering for immediate family, and a different gathering for extended family, and your spending is very different for the two groups, that’s fine, just decide before you buy what you’re spending on everyone. Write it down if you have to. For example, you might decide that spending on your immediate family is $100 per person, or that spending on your extended family will be $200 for the entire group.
  • As you look at how many dollars each person “gets”, think about the number of packages. I’m not saying this counts, but I know some people that are really bothered if one child gets two gifts, and the other gets four… even if the monetary value for both people is the same. If this is you, think before you buy so you don’t stress yourself out.  The holidays are supposed to be fun, and they’re not supposed to make you feel guilty because of your gift-giving skills.
  • Write down a list as you make your purchases and next to each item, write down how much was paid, so you can keep track.
  • If you go overboard like I did my year working retail, it’s ok to take some items back before you give them.

About This Blog: Please feel free to share any information from this site, in part or in full, giving credit to the author and providing a link to this website. Fearless Faith is a blog dedicated to family, faith and frugality. All content is copyright of the author unless otherwise indicated.

How to Stay Sane During Unemployment

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If you’ve experienced a job loss, you might have been excited at first to have some time off from the daily grind. But, when the newness wears off, you realize that the effort of finding a new job takes some time. Finding your dream job, or even just your next job, can take more time than you bargained for. And while many well-meaning people will say that “finding a job is a full-time job”, there are only so many new jobs posted every day. There are only so many job applications you can submit each day. Only so many prospective leads you can chase in a week. The more experience you have in your field, the more selective you become with your search. You can’t just sit and stare at your computer all day, waiting for an email from a recruiter. You can’t just wait all day for your cell phone to ring with a phone call from your favorite company. That kind of waiting can be monotonous and never-ending.

During times of unemployment, there are some strategies you can use to help you stay patient. While some of these won’t apply to you, hopefully you will find at least one thing that may work for your unemployment situation. In this economy, it isn’t uncommon for people to lose a job through no fault of their own. So, even if you are gainfully employed today, it isn’t a bad idea to have a back-up plan too.

Going through a job loss can be a blessing in disguise for some people, enabling them to take on things they never otherwise would have done. But many others grieve it as a loss of finances, identity, and the chance to socialize with work friends. Here are some things that might help you in your unemployment, regardless of your position.

Temping

Signing up through a temp service could help you be contacted for opportunities or interviews. Temp agencies are middlemen that are paid for their ability to recruit new people. The benefit of this is that some agencies will allow you to take tests for various skills and see how you place. You can pick up assignments, and if you don’t care for the work, you can end the assignment without burning bridges. Because you’re working for the agency, your payment is from the agency, not the company where you’re working. These agencies often offer short-term assignments to fill the needs left by employees out on vacation or medical leave, so if you only need a week or a month of work, that could be an opportunity. It can also allow you to try a different type of work to see if you like it. If you’ve always done office work and you’d like to try manual labor (or vice versa), you can. If you don’t like it, nothing lost.

Seasonal Jobs

With Christmas coming, some stores will hire help just for the holidays. In the spring, other companies will need help just for tax season. In the summer, still others will need help due to the outdoor nature of their services. Seasonal jobs can be a great way to make some extra money without making a long-term commitment. These gigs are understood to be short-term and for people that just want to make a few extra bucks. Seasonal jobs have not only given me extra money but fun times, great experiences, and even good references for the skills I’ve been able to demonstrate on the job. Your mileage may vary depending on the industry you’re working in and the gig you land.

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Volunteering

If you’re so short on money you can barely afford to put gas in your car, this one won’t apply to you, but if you have enough savings, you may want to consider volunteering during unemployment. Experiencing a job loss can shake up your sense of identity if you tie your worth to what you do. Volunteering can provide you with a positive answer if you’re feeling a major confusion or distress around the question of “What am I going to do this week?” You are more than what you did or do for a living. We all have to remind ourselves that our dignity and our worth do not come from our occupations (or lack thereof). But if you need a reason to get up and get dressed in the morning, think about volunteering for a cause that you think is important. It could give you a sense of purpose, importance, and accomplishment. And, when you land your next interview, it can also give you something interesting to say when you’re asked what you’ve been doing since your last job ended.

Start a Side Hustle

If you’re still waiting on someone to hire you, why not hire yourself? I love the TV show Flea Market Flip. Contestants shop flea markets and pick up items that might otherwise be mistaken for trash. They take their own inspiration, work on the items, and add some updates to these items, to flip the items for a profit. The improvement is often stunning. So, if you have the same kind of ingenuity, why not create your own opportunity for yourself? You may not be crafty or good with a hammer, but perhaps you can create your own opportunity to make money while you’re waiting on a 9-5 gig.

About This Blog: Please feel free to share any information from this site, in part or in full, giving credit to the author and providing a link to this website. Fearless Faith is a blog dedicated to family, faith and frugality. All content is copyright of the author unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

How to be Charitable When You’re Broke

 

Dealing with job loss, unexpected bills, or other tough financial times can make Christmas a trickier time to navigate, financially speaking. As you look ahead to your budget, it might be awkward when people ask you to be charitable. The warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you help other people could conflict with the fact that you could use some extra money. But the good news is that if you’re between a rock and a hard place, there are ways to be charitable when you, yourself, are broke. There are three charities that I believe are doing great work, year round, not just at Christmas, that you can support even when you’re broke.

Goodwill

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The catchy slogan used in some of Goodwill’s commercials has been “good deals, good cause, Goodwill”. And it’s true – Goodwill operates thrift shops that fund programs for homeless veterans and people with disabilities. By providing job coaching services to people those with disabilities in a job search, Goodwill helps people achieve their full potential. The stores in my area offer special discounts every week, typically a half off everything weekly (some exclusions apply). Goodwill even holds auto auctions if you’re brave enough to take a chance on a car you’ve never drove. So whether you’re shopping for household items or just purging your closet of some clothes that no longer fit, you can be confident that you’re funding a good cause.

The Salvation Army

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This distinctively Christian organization has a very practical, relevant mission. Long before the heroin crisis gained national attention, The Salvation Army has understood how addiction can ruin lives. That’s why The Salvation Army supports people on a journey of recovery out of drug and alcohol addiction. If you or a loved one could benefit from free alcohol or drug treatment services, The Salvation Army may be able to help. When you donate goods or shop their stores, you are funding positive change in someone’s life. What better feeling than knowing that your donation or purchase can help give someone a better life?

St. Vincent DePaul

The Society of St. Vincent DePaul is a Catholic charity that works for the poor. Similar to Goodwill, you can donate goods to their thrift shops, and they also hold auto auctions. St. Vincent DePaul’s mission is to “end poverty through systematic change”, and they operate different programs in different states. In my area, one amazing program they operate is the Charitable Pharmacy, a safety net for people who have no other means of obtaining essential medications. So, if you’re upset about the state of healthcare, why just complain? Donate your junk to St. Vincent Depaul, a great charity that is doing something about it and helping people.

About This Blog: Please feel free to share any information from this site, in part or in full, giving credit to the author and providing a link to this website. Fearless Faith is a blog dedicated to family, faith and frugality. All content is copyright of the author unless otherwise indicated.

 

Paying less for Christmas gifts

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There are only 21 days left until Christmas! While you’re wrapped up in your holiday shopping, you can still keep your eye on the ball when it comes to staying on budget. Check out these tips for paying less for Christmas gifts.