Monday, January 15, 2007

Spend Less, Give More

A vintage book of people, places, and things from 1949- the year my mother was born. Thrift score at .50!
I absolutely love the long run between September and January. With all of my immediate family's birthdays (including my own) sprinkled amongst the Holidays, it is one non-stop party. But it can hit hard if I'm not prepared. Here are a smattering of lovelies to help you be ready next year. As always, click on the blue words to see what adventure they may take you to...
1. Save all of your change throughout the year. You can roll it yourself or use a Coinstar kiosk to get gift certificates for places like, Starbucks, and more. Roll your own if just want the cash- Coinstar charges up to 9% to roll for you, unless you choose the gift certificate option.
2. Pay an extra $5-10 every month on each utility. When November/December rolls around, you should have enough built up extra payments to cover utility expenses in your budget and use the cash to go shopping!
3. Open a Santa Saver account at your bank with a twist. Have $5-20 transferred every month from your checking to savings. Since you’ll be spending less on gifts this year, use the winter cash to see the Nutcracker or buy the bike on the Angel Tree at the Salvation Army.
4. Make your own gifts. Have a gift makin’ party with a few crafty friends and make a batch of the same gift: ribbon bookmarks, photo calendars, decorated cigar boxes…You’ll have gifts on hand for birthdays, housewarmings, and the Holidays.
5. Pick up small gift certificates throughout the year. You are much less likely to spend them than rolls of 5-ers in the cookie jar. Renting a movie tonight? Get a $10 gift certificate to tuck away for a nephew. Meeting a friend for coffee? Pick up a gift certificate to give her for her birthday or Christmas.
6. Give magazine subscriptions (cheaply). Best Deal Magazines has hundreds of magazine subscriptions available for under $10, and tons for less than 5 bucks! I’ve ordered Vogue, Rolling Stone, Family Fun, Budget Living, and more for $4.97 for an entire year long subscription. Make a coupon or gift certificate to let the recipient know what’s coming their way along with the current months issue of their new magazine.
7. Does your great Aunt Ethel really need more stuff? Let her know how much she means and what she has shared with you. Did she send a book every birthday? Donate to her local library in her name. Maybe she was a nature lover. Donate in her name to support a local trail or, better yet, spend an afternoon with the fam helping maintain it. Give a ‘certificate’ stating your donation and a letter explaining the significance.
8. Not crafty but love handmade? You can find the perfect handmade gift for any budget at
9. Spend the afternoon at your local used bookstore. You’ll find beautiful books, some you would never guess are ‘used’. Give your baking friend a vintage cookbook or your handy hubby a project book to inspire him. Classic children’s books are a winner no matter what age the recipient is.
10. Make your own photo calendar for about $5, not $19.99. Download free calendar templates here. Have prints made of your favorite photos and mount. Save some months to decorate by hand with drawings, a favorite poem or recipe. You can add special dates throughout the calendar. Staples or Kinkos will bind for around $2 per calendar.
Send me your own lovely Holiday ideas to missamyo [at]