How to Pay Less for Christmas gifts

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. For all the pretty packages under the Christmas tree, there can be quite a price to be paid. When you’re trying to live within your means, Christmas can be a unique challenge. Christmas is lots of fun but from a financial point of view, it can lead to lots of spending because many of us are trying to show our loved ones how much we love them by spending lots of money on them.

So, in order to snag some deals, you have to be intentional. Retailers know that lots of us love this time of year and we’ll throw in extra purchases like socks, hot cocoa, wrapping paper… anything really if it’s got a snowman slapped on it.

You don’t have to get in over your head this Christmas… You can pay less for Christmas gifts this year, enjoy yourself, treat your family to some gifts they will enjoy, all while coming out with your wallet still intact.

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.

 

How to Have a No-Spend Weekend

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If you’re accustomed to celebrating every weekend by spending money, it can be a challenge to change your ways if money gets tight. But if you set your mind to it, you can have a no-spend weekend- a weekend that doesn’t involve spending any money.

I’m what some call a house cat. I love to stay home. I like to relax, and now that it’s fall, I love to stay cozy. So for me, a no-spend weekend is no problem. But for you, it might not be second-nature. But I can help you get there if you’re new to this idea or if you’re just trying to cut back on your weekend spending.

Avoid the Mad Rush

Whether it’s to the bar, the mall, or to get food, you might feel a rush to just make some plans on Friday night. After all, if you work Monday to Friday, it’s only normal to want to celebrate the weekend. But before you go spend money you don’t have – or money that’s reserved for something else – just remind yourself that it’s ok to not make plans. It’s ok to not have plans. If you’re normally busy as a bee on Friday night, you can always make up for a lazy weekend if you feel like you have to by making plans with a friend to meet up for coffee during the week or having the lunch special during the week instead of dinner on Friday night.

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How to Save Money on Food Costs

To save money on a no-spend weekend, give some thought to how you’ll be dining. If you normally go to a bar on Friday night, try playing host in your own home. You could save some money, show off your cooking skills, and have a good time. One of the easiest ways you can help yourself is to learn the skill of couponing. Whether you’re an eligible bachelor or a mom of five, you can save a ton on your food and drink costs. While my time to coupon isn’t what it used to be, I still love getting products for free (or close to it) because of my couponing skills.

Free No-Spend Weekend Activities

In my hometown, there are museums, sports teams, casinos, and so much more. All these things could burn a hole through my wallet if I let them! But there are also free things to do – music events on college campuses, parks, walking trails, and a museum that has free daily admission (no catch, no kidding). The free events get less press than the paid ones, but it’s probably true that your town has something to do that’s free. The free events might be hard to find, but if there’s an arts-and-entertainment newspaper where you live, that’s a good start for locating free activities for your no-spend weekend.  Other activities on your docket could include:

  • Starting a blog (here on WordPress, you can do it for free)
  • Searching the internet for your favorite restaurant’s recipes, and cooking at home (not completely no-spend, but you gotta eat)
  • Binge watch a TV show, something you’ve never seen
  • Find something on Rotten Tomatoes that has an awful review. Try it, see if you can survive it!
  • De-clutter your closet and donate unwanted items to charity
  • Go walking or hiking
  • Visit family or friends
  • Go to church
  • Go to public library and check out some free stuff
  • Volunteer with a charity you care about

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 Save Money on Halloween

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Halloween is in just a couple days- have you made your plans? Don’t let the costs catch you off guard and create a scary surprise! Just like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or any other holiday, Halloween can make a sizable dent in the budget, even though it always happens the same time every year. The price of those bulk candy packages isn’t getting any cheaper, yet the price of each serving seems to grow smaller each year. Costumes can get expensive and so can decorations.

However, if you’re resourceful, you can find some ways to cut the costs without cutting the fun.

There are a number of ways you can save money on all the expenses associated with Halloween. Check out some tips here on how to save money on Halloween.