Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Keeping Your Job During a Recession

It seems like no area of the country is safe from job cuts right now.

Today, I read some articles about how to keep your job during a recession. Check out the articles for the details.

Here are the main points of How to Recession-Proof Your Career:
  • become indispensable
  • take on more work
  • network
  • have a great attitude
Here are the main points of Four Ways to Keep Your Job in a Slowing Job Market:
  • become indispensable
  • don't be high-maintenance
  • stay busy
  • do damage control
Here are the main points of How to Keep Your Job in Uncertain Times:
  • be committed and unattached
  • create a plan
  • become valuable to your company
  • enhance your personal development
  • take care of yourself
  • avoid company gossip
  • get some perspective
Here are the main points of How to Keep Your Job in a Recession:
  • be prepared and helpful
  • be valuable
  • be visible at the right times
  • pitch in and pull together
  • control what you can and keep your skills up to date

Here are the main points of 5 Tips for Keeping Your Job:
  • be visible
  • don't be a maverick
  • manage yourself
  • network
  • don't blow off the Christmas party

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tips for Doing Cash Crate - Earn Money and Gift Cards

CashCrate is exciting for many people. I've joined in, too. But, I've found it confusing. On my first day, I earned $5.30 and 103 gift card points. The remainder of my completed surveys went on a pending status and have been pending ever since. I guess that maybe I didn't do all of the "surveys" correctly.

My First Day Doing CashCrate:
Here are the first surveys that I did. They worked and confirmed for me quickly and paid me either money or gift card points:

Recipe Rewards $0.20
Paid Marketing Panel $0.50
Group Lotto $0.30
Advertisers Clearinghouse $0.25
I Credit Experts $0.50
USA Prizes $0.45
Win Your Cruise $0.50
Opinion Outpost $0.55

Cheesecake Factory 10 pts.
Free Blackberry Phone 10 pts.
Black Macbook Air 10 pts.
American Apparel 10 pts.
iPod Giveaway 10 pts.
Hawaiian Vacation Giveaway 10 pts.
Choose a Laptop 10 pts.
Blackberry Storm Survey 10 pts.
$1000 Target 10 pts.
Dell XPS M1530 10 pts.

I did more "surveys" on my first day, but they went on a pending status and I didn't get credit for them.

Here are some things I've heard about doing
CashCrate:
  • Get an email address just for doing CashCrate. Don't use your personal email address, because some of the surveys will send out tons of emails.
  • Don't do any that require that you give out your credit card number or real phone number, or that you sign up for a free trial membership. You might get billed or advertised to over the phone.
  • Sometimes you'll just need to provide some basic information and click a "confirm" button in your email. (However, it is still confusing to me as to how far I need to actually do the "survey".)
  • I've read that you should pace yourself and not do too many "surveys" in one day, because it will effect your pending status. (I have no idea if this is true, but I'm pacing myself now.)
  • Do the "surveys" that earn points for gift cards, too. They're easy to do and my points accrued faster than the paid ones.
  • Skip the 2 "daily surveys" unless you have the time to do them. I choose not to do them because they take way too long and I usually ended up finding out that I didn't even qualify to take the survey. (However, they do pay $.80 each and there are people who want the additional $1.60 every day.)
  • Take a picture of your checks to show others that CashCrate really pays. Then encourage others to sign up using your referral number. You get paid 20% of what your direct referrals make and 10% of what their referrals make.

4 Sites for Free Gift Cards
In addition to CashCrate, I do 4 sites where I earn gift cards. These ones are even simpler and more enjoyable for me. As with CashCrate, I don't do everything at these sites - just the things that are free and easy. (I never buy anything to earn points.) I stick with: answering emails, doing Internet searches, filling out my account profile, and doing the simple advertising quiz (at My Points), and clicking on the "cabs" at Free Ride.

The sites that I do for free gift cards are: Swagbucks, iRazoo, My Points, and Free Ride

Swagbucks
I get a kick out of Swagbucks. You never know when you're going to win a Swagbuck while doing an Internet search or how much it will be worth. You also earn Swagbucks when your referrals earn them. Swagbucks is one that I actually enjoy doing and it only takes a few minutes a day.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cheap Cleaning Products

This is what I use to clean my house:

Kitchen counter tops and cupboard doors:
  • liquid dish soap and warm water on a dish cloth
  • for stains - baking soda or cleanser on a wet sponge
Bathroom counter tops and toilet:
  • 50% white vinegar and 50% water or a little ammonia in water
Inside toilet:
  • a little bleach
Windows and mirrors:
  • 50% white vinegar and 50% water
  • newspapers or old washcloth to wipe
Bathtub:
  • baking soda or cleanser and a sponge
Shower walls:
  • 50% white vinegar and 50% water or a little ammonia in water
Floors:
  • ammonia in water
If you need more ideas, check out Naturally Frugal Cleaning

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Ways to Save for the New Year

Just when I think I can't possible cut our spending even more, I discover even more ways.

Here are things that I'm going to do this year to get our expenses down even more:
  • shrink our toiletry and personal care expenses by finding coupons for the cheap products that we already use
  • save receipts and return any unnecessary items that we shouldn't have bought
  • earn free Wal-Mart gift cards from MyPoints.com (to get toiletries, clearance clothes, and Christmas gifts)
  • wait for the things I want to go on clearance even if I don't want to wait
  • buy the foods that are on sale and then figure out ways to serve them
  • participate in Freecycle.org
You can find new ways to save in the post 168 Frugal Tips to Make Your Dollar Stretch.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Personal Finance Resolutions

One of my goals for the new year is to work even harder at getting my personal finances in order and living frugally.

This next year, I am vowing to:
  • record everything that our family buys in a notebook
  • get that first $1000 saved in my emergency account
  • be consistent about donating 10% to our church even if it appears that we can't cover our necessary expenses
  • earn more money
Last year:
  • paid cash for a used van (no monthly payments)
  • had a frugal Christmas
  • started a blog about frugal living and personal finance

Here are some personal finance resolutions that you may be interested in pursuing:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Free Family Entertainment

This is what our family (2 adults and 5 kids) does for free entertainment:
  • invite friends over for slumber parties
  • church activities (youth group, Christmas musical, New Year's Eve party, Vacation Bible School, family potlucks, Children's Church, Wednesday night Kids Club)
  • go to another family's house after church
  • borrow movies on DVD from the library
  • go out for ice cream sundaes at McDonald's (using gift cards we received at Christmas)
  • have picnics and play in park playgrounds
  • wade in the lake
  • summer parade and Christmas parade
Related Posts
Free Summer Entertainment
Watch Movies and TV Shows for Free

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Online Financial Calculators

It amazes me how many useful things are available to us through the Internet. I just love online calculators that make personal finance so much easier.

Here are some of my favorite calculators:

More Financial Calculators

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Reasons to Be Frugal

I read a post at SavingAdvice.com called 32 Reasons to Be Frugal Besides Saving Money. It got me thinking about my own reasons.

Here are the reasons why I live frugally:
  • It's a good example for my children.
  • I have less stuff to clean, store, and move.
  • It makes me appreciate what I do have.
  • It's encouraging me to be more generous in giving.
  • It's fun and challenging to play the "Money Game".
  • It's brought out the creativity in us.
  • We've learned new skills like - hair cutting, mechanics, remodeling, repairing, crafting, country living.
  • The emphasis is not on materialism.
  • I have the freedom to stay home with my kids.
  • We're establishing a habit of frugality that will keep our monthly expenses low and spending down even when we have more income.
  • It gives us a concern for less fortunate people.
  • I know that I'm pleasing God by spending money wisely.
  • We'll be better prepared for financial hardships like a recession or job loss.
  • I have more time to spend with people instead of stuff.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

25 High Paying Jobs for Associate Degrees

I read an article called the 25 Highest-Paying Jobs Requiring an Associates Degree.

We're not all cut out for 4 or more years of college. Those making career changes later on in life may want to limit their years in college, too. I was happy to learn that there are many good career choices available that require only 2 years of college.


Here are the top paying 25 and links to their descriptions:




1 Computer Specialists
$68,600
2 Radiation Therapists
$66,200
3 Nuclear Technicians
$65,500
4 Dental Hygienists $62,800
5 Fashion Designers
$62,600
6 Nuclear Medicine Technologists
$62,300
7 Commercial Pilots
$57,500
8 Electrical and Electronics Repairers,
Powerhouse and Relay
$57,400
9 Registered Nurses $57,300
10 Diagnostic Medical Sonographers $57,200
11 Ship Engineers
$54,800
12 Engineering Technicians, Except Drafters
$54,200
13 Aerospace Engineering and Operations Techs $53,300
14 Electrical and Electronic Engineering Techs $50,600
15 Funeral Directors $49,600
16 Radiologic Technologists and Technicians $48,200
17 Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians $47,700
18 Respiratory Therapists $47,400
19 Avionics Technicians $46,900
20 Electrical and Electronics Drafter $46,800
21 Industrial Engineering Technicians $46,800
22 Geological and Petroleum Technicians $46,200
23 Mechanical Engineering Technicians
$45,800
24 Court Reporters $45,600
25 Forensic Science Technicians $45,300


Great Careers in 2 Years: The Associate Degree Option

Monday, December 22, 2008

Watch Movies and TV Shows for Free

We don't have cable, or rent DVDs, or go out to movies. But we do watch movies and TV shows.

This is what we watch for free:
  • local channels with a roof top antenna
  • movies and shows at Hulu.com (It's legal and paid for by advertising. Hulu was founded by NBC.)
  • kids shows at Disney Channel and Nickelodeon Channel
  • borrow DVDs from our public library
  • ask for DVD TV series for Christmas presents from Grandparents (received Little House on the Prairie, The Walton's, I Love Lucy, Gomer Pyle, and Andy Griffith)
  • share DVDs with our neighbors and friends
  • watch classic shows at CBS.com, NBC.com, ABC.com, and Fox.com

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Frugal Gift Ideas

  • framed photo or kid's artwork
  • cd
  • classic or older DVD (rack at Walmart)
  • potted plant
  • magazine subscription ($5-$10)
  • tree ornament
  • book
  • fleece throw
  • mug and gourmet coffee
  • alarm or wall clock
  • homemade baked goods
  • hot water bottle with homemade cover
  • board game or card game
  • Silly Putty and Slinky
  • bucket of sidewalk chalk
  • sports equipment or balls
  • die-cast toy cars
  • Dominoes and Chickenfoot rules
  • Yahtzee refill score pad, 5 dice, and Yahtzee rules
  • mug and basket of assorted teas
  • assortment of yarn skeins (check garage sales)
  • holiday plate or bowl (filled with homemade cookies)
  • craft kit
  • lotion, body wash, plastic sponge
  • bird feeder
  • purse or wallet
  • crossword, activity books
  • packages of note cards (Dollar Store) and stamps
  • kids bubble bath and bath toys
  • collection of used books
  • a collection of bath and beauty freebies, and a candle
  • wind chime
  • stuffed animal
  • beef stick, cheese ball, and crackers
  • sparkling cider and inexpensive champagne glasses
  • jigsaw puzzle
  • model car kit
  • calendar
  • craft or jewelry from a craft fair
  • apron
  • hat, scarf, and gloves
  • poster
  • pedometer
  • bouquet of flowers and box of chocolates
  • pistachios or almonds
  • framed collage of special photos
  • muffin mixes and muffin pan
  • decorative socks
  • night shirt
  • popcorn popper
  • clearance shirts
  • give free lessons
  • give a group gift (TV series on DVD or software)
  • unique clearance items at Ten Thousand Villages
  • slippers
  • kitchen gadgets
  • box of cookie cutters (Walmart)
  • curling iron
  • dress up costume (1/2 price after Halloween)
  • cupcake kit (cake mix, frosting, a variety of candies and edible decorations in baggies, lots of cupcake ideas at FamilyFun.com
  • start a savings account for a child and contribute some money to it
  • make your own gift basket

Friday, December 19, 2008

Good Deals for December

Frugal Friday

Here are some of the really good deals that I've found lately:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Recession Proof Jobs

There's an article at CNN.com called Is Your Job Recession-Proof? This is a great article for those thinking about a career change and for students.

Here are the 5 Industries that are expected to withstand a recession:

Education: skilled teachers, jobs at schools, textbook and learning supply sales

Health Care: Skilled medical workers and care givers, office jobs, all positions required to keep a hospital running.

There are many well paying health care jobs that only require a 2 year degree like - registered nurse,
surgical technologists, cardiovascular technologists, respiratory therapists, radiological technicians, dental hygienists, medical assistant, medical office worker, massage therapist, ophthalmic dispenser, occupational therapist assistants, physical therapy assistant, and diagnostic medical sonographers.

Energy: jobs related to oil and gas, alternative and renewable energy, nuclear energy, and geoscientists.

Environmental Sector: engineers and scientists, environmental consultants, program managers and attorneys.

Security: transportation security, border patrol, information security managers and computer programmers, and protecting vital company information.

Great Careers in 2 Years: The Associate Degree Option

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Financial Peace University Alternative

A lot of churches are doing Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. Here's an alternative - if you aren't able to (or don't want to) pay the $109 to participate.

I've been reading opinions from others on the Internet and it sounds like you can learn the same information in his book - Financial Peace Revisted for $15.57
There is also a workbook available - The Financial Peace Planner for $10.40

The Bible Money Matters site has a good overview of what is covered in the 13 week Financial Peace University course.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ideas for a Frugal Christmas

Make a cash spending plan and stick to it:
I heard that the majority of people buy at least one extra thing for themselves while they are out Christmas shopping. Plus, people tend to spend extra money on snacking, stocking stuffers, and extra gifts for the kids. Staying out of the stores during the Christmas season can really help. I make my list and try to order as much online as I can, avoiding the whole Christmas spending excitement that is going on in the stores.


Cut back on presents:
This year, we are cutting back on the amount of individual presents that the kids get and getting some group gifts that all the children can share. I also like to take some of the emphasis off of presents and put it on our Family's Christmas Traditions.

Make the recession work for you:
Because we are officially in a recession, you can announce that you are cutting back on Christmas spending this year. Plus, many stores are having great sales. But only buy the sale items if they are on your spending plan.

Extend Christmas:
Last year, my kids knew that they were going to be getting new jackets. But, we waited until the beginning of January to go buy them. We got a $100 jacket for $20 at J.C. Penney's, a $40 jacket for $15 at Kmart, and a $35 jacket for $5 at Wal-Mart. There are lots of year end clearance deals.

Try giving unique gifts:
You can do a weird gift exchange, give gadgets, something from a craft fair, make your own Gift Basket or Box of Themed Gifts, get something off of Ebay that represents an old memory for someone. Just make sure that your unique gift is also an affordable one.

Fill Christmas day with fun activities:
If there are going to be less presents under the tree to play with, then plan to keep the kids busy on Christmas day with family activities - have a Christmas devotion, go caroling in the neighborhood, invite people over, have brunch, make Christmas dinner together, volunteer, watch a Christmas movie, make crafts, play Christmas games, drive around looking at lights, look at old Christmas photos, call up relatives, talk about Christmas memories, do an outdoor activity together, have a family slumber party near the lighted Christmas tree, have a treasure hunt for a group gift and then play with it, take a walk together, or play in the snow.

Plan ahead:
Next year, set aside and save a little bit of money each month in a Christmas fund. Get presents through out the year when you find them on sale.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Make Your Own Gift Baskets

Fill an cheap basket, used Christmas tin, Christmas stocking, or Christmas bag (from the Dollar Store) with inexpensive related items:
  • body wash, lotion, bath sponge, and candle (Dollar Store)
  • assorted teas or coffee and a Dollar Store mug
  • a Dollar Store Christmas plate (the breakable kind) piled with homemade treats and tie on a Christmas ornament
  • an older (classical) movie from the $5 rack at Wal-Mart, candy, snacks, and microwave popcorn
  • inexpensive Dollar Store craft supplies and art supplies from the Wal-Mart back-to-school sale in August
  • a small Christmas cactus plant, homemade ornaments, Christmas dish towel, homemade cranberry jam, Dollar Store Christmas items
  • a cheap fiction book, Dollar Store mug, box of hot cocoa, chocolate bar, and a dollar store candle
  • for Grandparents: a framed picture of the grandkids, kid decorated sugar cookies, homemade Christmas tree ornaments made by the kids
  • for a young girl - nail polish, lotion, stickers, notebook, pens, a cute Dollar Store stuffed bear
  • if you have the right recipient: fill a basket with the most unique and humorous items and snacks that you can find

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Making it Through a Recession

If you are a two income family, now is a great time to adjust your budget to one income. During a recession, you may find that one of you loses your job. In the mean time, you can save money from the second income to save for emergencies or pay off your debt.

Making a spending plan or a budget is very important. Crown.org has really helpful information about how to make one or adjust one.

Seeking God during this time is also important. He can give you ideas of how to save more money and how to make more money. You may be interested in reading the articles -
Contentment and Fearing the Future.

Most of your expenses can be lowered, if you really want to lower them. Challenge yourself to cut down every expense in your budget. Then do it again, until you are able to live on one income. It won't be easy, but this can be done. And the rewards will be worth it. You will also be better prepared if the worse happens to your family.

Things you can do to lower your monthly expenses:
Crown.org offers a wealth of free information through their online financial articles. They also have a daily radio show that you can listen to online.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Economic Crisis



In light of the massive amount of signs pointing to what some are calling the “economic crisis of a century,” an “economic Pearl Harbor,” or a “financial tsunami, including the collapse or near collapse of some of largest financial institutions in American history, I believe we all have reason now to ask: “What can I do to help solve this problem?” I for one believe it is time we stop looking to the federal government as the final solution and mobilize the grassroots of this nation to bring about the economic change that is desperately needed.

Here are the steps I believe will solve this crisis by each of us doing our part to fight this on a personal, local level......more


The Economic Earthquake of 2008




In 1991, our late cofounder Larry Burkett wrote The Coming Economic Earthquake, warning of the dangers of the ever-growing appetite for debt by our society and federal government alike. Although a best seller and helpful to many who heeded his advice, he received harsh criticism for his failure to peg the event to a date certain. Many dismissed his work as “too simplistic” and unsubstantiated by economic models. Others painted him as a “doom and gloomer,” especially in light of the robust economic growth of the 90s. Larry remained humble towards his critics, stating he was not attempting to be a prophet but was only making Christians aware of their need to apply God’s Word. He said that even if the events he outlined in his book did not occur, the reader would be better off for following the advice that God gave for our benefit.....more

Listen to Money Life - a Christian show about the economy and personal finance

Friday, December 12, 2008

Lower Your Utility Expenses

These are some things that our family has done over the years:
  • keep the heat between 58*-62* during the day (65* is still living in luxury)
  • used oil-filled electric space heater in living room and kitchen to lower our need for heat from the expensive oil furnace.
  • bought and installed a wood stove on the first floor
  • don't heat the upstairs bedrooms, but let the heat rise from the first floor (have a family slumber party in the living room on really cold nights)
  • take very short showers
  • canceled garbage service and drive our own garbage to the dump
  • use the cheapest phone service offered and use a calling card for long distance
  • put clear plastic on the inside of all the windows (this made a huge difference for us)
  • prop open the dishwasher to let the dishes drip dry
  • instead of using a dryer - hung wet clothes (on hangers) on the shower rod to dry
  • use 40 watt light bulbs and only one light per room
  • lived in an apartment on the middle floor (the bottom and top floors pay more to heat)
  • block all drafty cracks with towels or toilet paper
  • wear long sleeves and fleece sweaters at home, watch TV with a blanket
  • use microwave much more often than the oven
  • bake 2 casseroles in the oven at one time (save one and microwave it another day)
  • during summer, use the ceiling fans over the beds instead of AC
  • make sure that everything is well insulated (I've read that some people even put 3M insulation right up against their glass windows.)
  • hang blankets over unused doors
  • canceled cable TV 12 years ago (I estimate a savings of $6000-$7000)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lower Your Cost of Housing

  • Get a house that you can actually afford on only one income. A lower cost house will also reduce your homeowner taxes and insurance costs.
  • Determine what monthly rent you want to spend and then go find a place for that price
  • Get a smaller house or apartment. It will cost less to heat and cool.
  • Consider moving to a place or neighborhood where the housing prices are lower.
  • Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. (This is the correct spelling according to the dictionary.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lower Your Medical and Dental Expenses

  • go to a dental college or hygienist school for teeth cleaning, fluoride treatment, sealants, and X-rays
  • go to a free clinic instead of the emergency room (sometimes they ask for donations if you can afford it)
  • look for free health screenings
  • prevention: practice being healthy, brushing teeth often and well, and avoid risky activities that could cause an accident

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How Can I Do It Cheaper?

I ask myself this question whenever I need to buy something.

How Can I Do It Cheaper?

Our challenge is to do it cheaper - whether we are fixing the car, fixing the house, getting new shoes, getting something for homeschooling, buying Christmas presents, or traveling. It's very rare that we will pay full price for something. If you look hard enough and long enough, you'll find ways to do everything for less.

Lessons - I have never paid for lessons. (Actually, I haven't had the extra money even if I wanted to.) My child can always take Karate in college, if she really wants to. We've taught our children to swim. I've thought about taking guitar lessons and then teaching my children how to play. When my husband was little, his parents bartered for piano and swimming lessons. Our church provides music classes as a ministry and they are offered for a good price. We may do this in the future.

Groceries – To save on gas, we only do our grocery shopping on the way home from church or an appointment. I like to buy what's on sale and then figure out what I'm going to make with it. I buy only the cheapest chicken (usually thighs and legs). If a recipe calls for chicken breasts, I will use the dark meat instead. I've found that baking from scratch saves money. Recipes like cocoa brownies, blondies with cocoa drizzle, zucchini spice cake, oatmeal cookies, sugar cookies, and Snickerdoodles are usually cheaper than recipes that call for chocolate chips or peanut butter. When possible, I bake with oil instead of margarine or butter. In hamburger casseroles, I usually cut down the meat from 1 lb. to 3/4 lb. If we want a treat while we're out, we'll get a box of ice cream bars from the grocery store and eat them in the park.

Services - We've saved a lot of money by prolonging services. Putting off cell phone service, long distance service, Internet service, dental insurance, insurance on a second car, and cable TV. Even if you can prolong a service for only a few months, the amount of money will be significant.

School Supplies - I get school supplies only at the Back to School Sale in August and I get just what I really need. I don't let the kids talk me into a lot of cool looking items. At the August sales: I’ve found that buying lined paper in spiral notebooks is usually cheaper than buying packs of looseleaf lined paper.

A Homeschool Book
– I check the library, look for a used copy on the Internet, or find a similar book that costs less. If I have to buy it new – I check Christianbook.com and Amazon.com first.

Homeschool Activity or Fieldtrip
– I plan a Dr. appointment or other errand for the same day of a homeschool event. That way we save gas by taking less trips to town. We only do field trips that don't cost us any money. Paying an entry fee for 1 mom and 5 kids is out of the question for us.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cut Your Family's Hair

I don't really enjoy cutting my husband's and kids' hair. I haven't ever been trained professionally, but over the years I've figured out how to do it. I keep on cutting their hair, because it saves us so much money.

$12 per haircut x 2 adults and 5 kids = $84
$84 x 3 hair cuts per year = $252 saved every year

$252 a year! That is why I continue to cut their hair.

Two of my daughters are at the preteen age and wanting fancier hair styles. So, I'll probably take them to a real hair stylist and watch very closely - so I'll be able to try it on my own next time.

If you'd like to try saving money by cutting your kids' and husband's hair, you can find out more at these links:

Haircutting - Do it Yourself (with detailed instructions)
How to Trim Your Child's Hair (with a 2 minute video)
Search through many tutorial videos at You Tube (search on "How to Haircut" or "Hair cut how to")

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Homeschool Curriculum Money Traps

Many homeschooling parents overspend, buying curriculum for the wrong reasons.

Here are some of the Money Traps concerning homeschool curriculum.

  • Buying teacher guides for the younger grades
  • Buying all of the “required” quizzes, tests, and activity pages.
  • Buying from the company that claims they give the best education.
  • Buying "impressive" curriculum even though you know that it won’t compliment your child’s learning style
  • Buying what your homeschool friends think is the best curriculum
  • Buying all your curriculum from one company, even though you would rather have Math or Science from another company
  • Duplicating what the public school is doing so that you feel like you are homeschooling correctly
  • Sticking with the same boring curriculum, even though you want to dump it and switch to another company or way of homeschooling
  • Buying without really thinking about it, because it’s September and you’re panicked that you don’t have the kids school curriculum yet.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Frugal Art Supplies and Resources for Kids

Affordable Art Supplies

Here are ways to make Art affordable:

  • Use What You Have - Get a collection of throw away items that your kids can recycle and turn into art projects.
  • Library Books - Borrow arts and crafts books from the library
  • Crafts at Church - Younger children can do craft projects at church and Vacation Bible School.
  • Craft Kits and Supplies - Your children can ask for crafty items for Christmas and Birthday gifts.
  • Computer Art - They can use programs like Paint to create their own art and graphics on the computer.
  • Basic Art Supplies - Get your .10 glue, .20 crayons, markers, and colored pencils once a year at the Walmart back to school sale. My kids know that they can’t waste their art supplies, because they won’t get any more until the next yearly sale in August.

Art at the Library

You don't need to buy art resources when there are all of these free resources at a public library:
  • Craft Books: origami, using recycled items, paper crafts, Bible story Crafts, Holiday Ideas, puppets,
  • Books about: famous artists, historical crafts, cultural crafts, folk art, historical costumes, famous museums, careers in art
  • How to: paint, knit, draw, decorate cakes, sculpt, calligraphy, computer graphics, fashion design, home redecoration, pottery, make baskets, cartooning and doodling, rubber stamp, scrapbook
  • Coffee Table Books: paintings, photographs
  • DVDs: art history, how-to-paint, art related TV shows
  • Displays of local artwork in the library
  • Kids art and craft days at the library

Friday, December 5, 2008

Curriculum Money Saving Tips for Homeschoolers

Don’t buy curriculum directly from the publisher. They usually charge the full suggested retail price.

Don’t buy a book or curriculum until you have actually looked through it. You can look through curriculum at the yearly local fair, at many Christian book stores, at the library, or set up a special get-together for the local homeschooling moms to look through each others curriculum.

Don’t buy homeschool materials until you’ve thought about them for awhile. Impulse buying wastes a lot of money.

Don’t let other people and companies talk you into buying something unless you really want it and have thought about it.

Don’t believe that you have to spend a certain amount of money in order to get a quality education. The truth is that many homeschoolers get a good college prep education for almost free.

Don’t sign up with a Homeschooling Distance Program until you have thought about all of the pros and cons. Distance schools are expensive, require that you stick to their schedule, and choose the curriculum that your child will use.

Don't be stuck on having to get a certain curriculum. For example: I had planned on buying a certain Language Arts and a certain Math workbook. However, when I found a 400 page workbook (covering Language Arts, Math, and Map Skills) for only $7 at Costco, I changed my mind. I was able to do Science, History, Geography, and Bible for free. So my basic homeschooling costs were very minimal this year.

Don't buy brand new curriculum. You can find lots of used curriculum at classified sites like:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Free Summer Entertainment for Kids

  • Hiking Trails
  • Festivals
  • Firework Displays
  • Parades
  • Outdoor Concerts
  • Wading in Lakes, Rivers, and the Ocean
  • Park Playgrounds
  • Vacation Bible School
  • Picnics
  • Outdoor Family Get-Togethers
  • Outdoor Church Activities, Parties, and Picnics
  • Library: Real-Alouds, Story Telling, and Crafts
  • Church Run Soccer or Basketball Day Camp
  • Free Movies at Participating Theaters
  • Summer Crafts and Outdoor Activities through the Recreation and Parks Department
  • Activities and Group Sports at your town's Rec. Center
  • Volunteer in the community or at church
  • Free local attractions (check with your local visitor center)
  • Plant, Cactus, Art and Craft shows, and Karaoke at the Mall
  • Farmer's Markets
  • Swap Meets

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cheaper Car Insurance

Just when I think that I can't possibly cut back on our expenses any more, I find something new that I can do. It's wonderful.

After watching the commercials hundreds of times, my husband and I finally went to Geico.com to see if we could really get our car insurance for cheaper. And yes we can!

The savings is really going to add up. And you can do it all through their website. I no longer have to drive to the insurance company to sign papers.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Frugal Easter Ideas

Easter Egg Cookie Cutter
Last year, I wanted to make Egg shaped sugar cookies with the kids. However, I didn't want to have to buy an egg shaped cookie cutter. I discovered that the opening of an empty tin can shapes into an oval very easily.

Easter Gift
Since I have 5 children, we decided not to do Easter baskets. I feel that the total cost is more than I want to spend. Instead, we buy a group gift for the kids - like a DVD or game.

Easter Egg Hunt
It is our tradition to have an egg hunt on Easter. We reuse the same plastic eggs every year. Each egg gets a few pieces of candy or a coin put inside. To keep it fair, we divide up all the findings at the end of the hunt.

Easter Candy
If you want to give your kids candy for Easter here is a way that will cost less. The day after Halloween, buy some of the leftover bagged candy bars at 1/2 price and freeze them until Easter.