Mindful Money: Nurturing a Positive Relationship with Your Finances in 2023

Mindful money

As we step into a new year, it’s an opportune time to reflect on our financial habits and cultivate a positive relationship with money.

A positive money mindset isn’t just about having a certain amount in your bank account; it’s about fostering a healthy perspective on finances that contributes to your overall well-being. Here’s a guide on how to be mindful with your money and nurture a positive financial relationship in 2023.

  1. Reflect on Your Money Story

Before diving into the new year, take a moment to reflect on your past experiences and beliefs about money. Consider how your upbringing, past financial decisions, and societal influences have shaped your current mindset. Understanding your money story is the first step towards making intentional changes and fostering a positive relationship with your finances.

  1. Set Clear Financial Goals

Define your financial goals for the year. Whether it’s paying off debt, building an emergency fund, or saving for a specific purpose, having clear objectives gives your money a purpose. Break down your goals into actionable steps and create a realistic timeline. This will not only provide you with a roadmap but also instill a sense of accomplishment as you make progress.

  1. Practice Gratitude for Your Finances

Gratitude is a powerful tool for shifting your mindset. Take time regularly to express gratitude for your current financial situation, regardless of its complexities. Acknowledge the progress you’ve made and the lessons you’ve learned. Cultivating a grateful mindset can help you focus on the positives and reduce stress related to financial challenges.

  1. Create a Mindful Budget

A budget is a key component of mindful money management. Instead of viewing it as a restriction, see it as a tool that empowers you to allocate your resources intentionally. Track your income, categorize your expenses, and set aside funds for savings and future goals. A well-crafted budget promotes financial mindfulness by encouraging conscious spending and saving.

  1. Practice Conscious Spending

Mindful spending involves being aware of where your money goes and aligning your spending with your values. Before making a purchase, ask yourself if it aligns with your goals and brings genuine value to your life. Avoid impulsive purchases and focus on intentional spending that supports your overall financial well-being.

  1. Embrace Financial Education

Knowledge is a powerful ally in cultivating a positive money mindset. Dedicate time to educate yourself about personal finance. This could involve reading books, attending workshops, or following reputable financial blogs. The more you understand about money management, investing, and wealth-building, the more confident and in control you’ll feel about your financial journey.

  1. Practice Patience and Self-Compassion

Building a positive money mindset is a journey, not a destination. Understand that setbacks may happen, and financial success takes time. Practice patience with yourself and embrace self-compassion during challenging moments. Use setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning, rather than allowing them to derail your progress.

  1. Surround Yourself with Positive Influences

The company you keep can significantly impact your mindset. Surround yourself with people who encourage positive financial habits and share similar values. Engage in conversations about money with friends or family members who support your financial goals. This creates a positive environment that reinforces your commitment to mindful money practices.

As you embark on the journey of nurturing a positive relationship with your finances in 2023, remember that each mindful step you take contributes to your overall financial well-being.

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Thrifty Decorations: Decking the Halls Without Emptying Your Wallet

Thrifty decorations - paper snowflakes

With a dash of creativity and a sprinkle of thrifty ingenuity, decking the halls can be both joyful and affordable.

While visions of beautifully adorned homes dance in our heads, the cost of turning our living spaces into winter wonderlands can add up quickly. For families on a budget, the desire to create a festive atmosphere often collides with budget constraints. We’ll share cost-effective ways to embrace the spirit of the season without emptying your wallet.

Nature’s Bounty: Bringing the Outdoors In

Mother Nature provides a wealth of budget-friendly decor options. Venture into your backyard or a nearby park to gather pinecones, branches, and fallen leaves. Arrange these natural elements in vases or bowls or create a charming centerpiece for your table. Consider a festive wreath made from gathered branches, adorned with a simple ribbon or a touch of spray paint for extra flair.

DIY Ornaments: Crafting Memories on a Budget

Engage the family in a delightful crafting session to create personalized ornaments. Utilize materials like salt dough, paper, or even repurposed items to fashion unique decorations. String popcorn or cranberries to make classic garlands that add a touch of tradition to your tree. The beauty of handmade ornaments lies not just in their affordability, but in the memories created while crafting them together.

Second-Hand Treasures: Scouring Thrift Stores and Garage Sales

One person’s pre-loved decorations can become another’s festive treasures. Explore thrift stores, garage sales, or online marketplaces for affordable holiday decor. You might stumble upon vintage ornaments, charming figurines, or unique pieces that add character to your festive display. Thrift shopping not only saves money but also promotes sustainable and eco-friendly decorating.

Repurposing Everyday Items: Unleashing Creativity

Give everyday items a holiday makeover by repurposing them into festive decor. Mason jars can become enchanting lanterns when filled with string lights, and old sweaters can transform into cozy and unique stockings. Get creative with what you already have, and you’ll be amazed at how everyday items can take on a festive glow with a touch of imagination.

Paper Decorations: Budget-Friendly and Whimsical

Paper is a versatile and budget-friendly material for creating delightful decorations. Craft paper snowflakes to hang from the ceiling or create a festive paper chain to drape across your walls. You can find printable templates online for various holiday shapes, allowing you to add a touch of whimsy with thrifty decor.

Dollar Store Delights: Affordable and Festive Finds

Your local dollar store can be a treasure trove of affordable holiday decorations. From tinsel and ornaments to candles and ribbon, explore the aisles for budget-friendly options. With a keen eye and a bit of creativity, you can transform simple dollar store finds into charming and festive decor for your home.

Light Up the Night: Candles and Fairy Lights

Create a cozy and enchanting atmosphere with the warm glow of candles and fairy lights. Dollar stores often carry affordable LED candles and strings of lights. Arrange them on tables, mantels, or in glass jars to add a magical touch to your decor. The soft lighting not only creates a festive ambiance but also brings a sense of warmth to your home.

Festive Fabrics: Cozy and Cost-Effective

Visit your local fabric store or repurpose old fabric and clothing to create festive accents. Fashion simple cloth napkins into holiday-themed table runners or use scraps of fabric to craft unique tree skirts. The possibilities are endless, and fabric can add a cozy and personalized touch to your decor without a hefty price tag.

Remember, the true spirit of the season isn’t found in expensive decorations but in the joy and togetherness they bring. By embracing a thrifty mindset and incorporating these budget-friendly ideas, you can deck the halls with festive cheer without putting a strain on your finances. The most magical decorations are often the ones made with love, creativity, and a sprinkle of thrifty charm.

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Navigating the Season: A Guide to Avoiding Holiday Debt Stress

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness, but it can also bring with it the stress of financial strain. The pressure to create magical moments for your family often leads to overspending, resulting in post-holiday debt blues. 

However, with a thoughtful approach and planning, it’s entirely possible to navigate the season without the burden of financial stress. Here’s a guide with practical tips specifically tailored for families, ensuring a joyful and debt-free holiday season.

  1. Establish a Realistic Budget

The foundation of a debt-free holiday season begins with a realistic budget. Sit down with your family and determine how much you can afford to spend on gifts, decorations, food, and other holiday-related expenses. Consider all aspects, including travel costs if applicable. Having a clear budget in place will help you make informed decisions and avoid impulsive spending.

  1. Plan Gift Exchanges Thoughtfully

Gift-giving is a significant part of the holidays, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Instead of buying presents for everyone in the extended family, suggest a gift exchange where each person draws one name. This way, each family member receives a thoughtful gift without the financial strain of buying for everyone. Additionally, consider DIY gifts or experiences, which often carry more sentimental value than store-bought items.

  1. Embrace Cost-Saving Traditions

Start new traditions that are not only memorable but also budget friendly. Instead of elaborate holiday feasts, opt for a potluck-style gathering where each family member contributes a dish. Host a holiday movie night at home with homemade popcorn and cozy blankets. These traditions focus on the joy of being together rather than the expense of extravagant celebrations.

  1. Utilize Free or Low-Cost Activities

Many communities offer free or low-cost holiday events and activities. Look for local parades, tree-lighting ceremonies, or holiday markets that your family can enjoy without spending a fortune. Consider organizing a family game night or crafting session at home for some quality time without the price tag.

  1. Shop Strategically and Take Advantage of Sales

When it comes to gift shopping, strategic planning can save you a considerable amount. Keep an eye on sales and discounts, especially during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Start your shopping early to avoid last-minute rush purchases, which are often more expensive. Consider using cashback or rewards programs to maximize your savings.

  1. DIY Decorations and Wrapping

Get creative with your holiday decorations and wrapping to save money. Involve the whole family in crafting homemade ornaments, wreaths, and gift wrap. Not only is this a fun and festive activity, but it also adds a personal touch to your holiday celebrations. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save by embracing the do-it-yourself spirit.

  1. Open Communication About Expectations

Be open and honest with your family about your budgetary constraints for the holiday season. Set realistic expectations and discuss the importance of spending quality time together over material gifts. Encourage open communication about what truly matters to each family member, fostering a deeper understanding of the shared goal to enjoy the holidays without accumulating debt.

A debt-free holiday season is within reach for families with careful planning and thoughtful choices. By establishing a realistic budget, planning gift exchanges thoughtfully, embracing cost-saving traditions, utilizing free or low-cost activities, shopping strategically, and incorporating DIY elements, you can navigate the season with joy and financial peace of mind. Remember, the most meaningful holiday experiences often come from the heart, and creating lasting memories doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag.

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Unlocking Holiday Joy: 5 Free Kids Activities in Houston

Santa Holiday kids activities

As the holiday season approaches, the magic of festive cheer fills the air, and families seek ways to create lasting memories without breaking the bank.

In the heart of Texas, Houston is home to a host of free holiday activities designed specifically for the little ones in the Bayou City. From dazzling light displays to whimsical crafts, Houston offers a treasure trove of cost-free kids activities that will have your little ones brimming with excitement. 

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops:

From now until December 24th, ‘experience the magic of Christmas’!  Kids can mail their letter to Santa, get their picture taken with Santa (for free), and check out the aquariums and wildlife displays.

Family Movie Night at Bank of America’s Screen on the Green

The whole family can enjoy free admission to see The Little Mermaid 2023, The Muppets, or The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Bring a blanket or chairs, snacks and the the kids. Click the link above for dates and times.

Holiday in the Plaza

Nov. 25, 2023 – Visit with Santa from 12 – 5pm, listen to the Houston Show Choir at 1pm, 3:30pm and 5pm as they sing holiday classics.  You can get a complimentary photo with Santa in exchange for donating a new unwrapped toy.

Reliant Lights Mayor’s Holiday Spectacular

Dec. 2, 2023 6pm – 8pm at City Hall.  Mayor Turner and Reliant kick of the holiday season at this fun and free event for the whole family.  Fun for kids activities include live music and the lighting of the Christmas tree.  This year’s tree features nearly 100,000 lights and 4,000 ornaments. 

Hands-On Houston – Giant Felt Candy

Dec. 2, 2023 11am to 3pm.  This free drop-in event held the first Saturday of each month includes the hands on craft of making giant felt candies.  Materials are provided.  Fun for the whole family. 

May this season be filled with the magic of togetherness, the wonder of discovery, and the warmth of shared experiences. Holiday activities for your kids doesn’t have to break the bank.  There are many opportunities to celebrate.  Embrace the opportunity to create timeless memories with your family, and let the spirit of the holidays illuminate your hearts. 

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Saving for the Holidays – Why not start now?

Saving for the Holidays Christmas
🎄🎅 It’s never too early to start saving for the holidays!  Here’s why and how you can get a head start this September:

save for the holidays

Avoid the holiday rush

By starting early, you won’t have to scramble for gifts, decorations, and party essentials in December. You’ll have plenty of time to plan and shop without the stress and pressure of last-minute shopping.

Break it down

Determine your budget for Christmas, including gifts, holiday activities, and travel expenses if applicable. Divide that amount by the number of months until December, and save a portion each month to meet your goal. It’s much less daunting to save a little each month than scramble for a lump sum later.

holiday shopping sale

Take advantage of sales:

Keep an eye out for sales and discounts throughout the year. September is a great time to find deals on summer clearance items that can be repurposed or saved for Christmas presents. Take advantage of sales and promotions to stretch your budget even further.

DIY for the win

Consider making homemade gifts or decorations. Not only is it a more personal touch, but it can also save you money. Start gathering materials early, so you have plenty of time to create heartfelt and budget-friendly gifts.

Set up a separate savings account

Open a separate savings account specifically for Christmas expenses. Set up automatic transfers from your regular account to ensure you’re consistently saving without having to think about it.

Cut unnecessary expenses

Take a look at your monthly spending habits and see if there are any areas you can cut back on to save more money for Christmas. It could be skipping that afternoon coffee run or reducing eating out to once a week.

Get creative with celebrations

Plan budget-friendly activities and traditions that prioritize quality time over extravagant spending. Host a potluck dinner, start a family game night tradition, or organize a holiday movie marathon.

By starting to save for Christmas now, you’ll avoid the financial stress that often accompanies the holiday season. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy the festivities knowing you’ve already prepared.

How to Do Labor Day Weekend on a Budget

You’re short on cash and want to have fun, but you don’t know how to do labor day weekend on a budget.

Fortunately, there are a ton of ways for you to plan a fantastic Labor Day. Follow these tips and ideas for how to do labor day weekend on a budget.

Ways to Do Labor Day Weekend on a Budget

Pick Budget-Friendly Outings

Spend a few minutes researching the true cost of a Labor Day trip or outing before committing to a plan. Don’t forget to include items like transportation expenses, food, beverages, parking, and entertainment.

For example, a free Labor Day festival sounds like a fun outing, but if the only free thing is the entrance fee, you’ll still need to budget for your transportation expenses, food and drinks, and additional festival activities. This seemingly “free” event can cost you hundreds of dollars, especially if you’re attending with your family.

However, a lake, pool, or beach that charges a fee for access may be a solid deal if you’re able to pack your own food and drinks and bring items for entertainment (like a beach game or floats).

Opting for activities that allow you to bring your own food and drinks helps you keep your expenses as low as possible.

Share Expenses with a Friend

If you want to get away for Labor Day weekend, travel with a friend so that you have someone to split your travel costs with. While you’ll still need to pay for your food, entertainment, and personal items, you can drastically reduce the amount that you spend on lodging and transportation.

Shop Around for the Best Price

When booking a hotel room or flight, make sure to check at least three or four websites to get the best price possible. You should also see if you qualify for any discounts (like a military discount, student discount, senior citizen discount, or discount for being a member of an organization like AAA).

You can even save a little more money if you’re willing to select a room or flight that’s non-refundable; just make sure you’re willing to commit to your travel plans before going this route.

Use Your Credit Card Points

If you have a credit card that gives you points or rewards for making purchases, you may be able to use these points to pay for a hotel room or purchase tickets or a gift certificate for a fun activity, like a movie or a nice meal out.

While you need some time to implement this tip, credit card points can be an excellent way to have fun without busting your budget.

Just make sure to pay your balance off each month to minimize interest expenses and look for a card with a low or no annual fee. You may also qualify for a sign-up bonus when opening a new card that gives you a lot of points upfront.

Drive a Little Further for Cheap Airfare or Transportation

Labor Day plans that involve flying or taking a train have the potential to become an expensive weekend away. Keep your travel costs low by comparing rates and fares at different airlines and train stations. Driving an extra hour to use a different carrier can save you hundreds of dollars.

Take Advantage of Free Hotel Perks

When staying at a hotel, see if they offer free breakfast or have complimentary snacks at a certain time of the day. Utilizing these free perks will help you lower your food costs while you’re away. You can even grab a couple of things to take with you for free snacks while you’re out and about.

Plan a Staycation

A staycation is an underrated option for celebrating Labor Day weekend. You’ll save a lot of money on travel expenses, and you’ll have access to your kitchen so that you can prepare delicious, budget-friendly meals.

Look for free or low-cost activities to celebrate the holiday, including public pools, state or national parks, and public parks. Be on the lookout for cheap community events or museum and zoo promotions that offer reduced entrance fees.

Since cheap destinations are popular on busy holiday weekends, try to arrive early to beat the crowds and ensure that you have a spot.

Or, cozy up at home for a terrific Labor Day weekend. Schedule a movie marathon that includes all those movies you’ve been meaning to watch. Make popcorn, grab some snacks, and invite a few friends over.

A game night is another fun, cheap way to celebrate Labor Day. Have each family member pick out their favorite game, prepare your favorite appetizers and dips, and spend an evening enjoying a little friendly competition.

Go Camping

If you want to get away for cheap, check out nearby campgrounds to see if they have any open camping sites. Tent camping makes for an affordable weekend away, and even if you need to purchase a tent and air mattress, the cost is still significantly cheaper than staying at a hotel.

Bring simple meals to grill or cook over the fire, or you can bring non-perishable items to minimize your food costs.

Don’t have a campground near you or want to cut your costs even more? Set up your tent in your backyard! You’ll save on campsite rental fees while having access to a few modern amenities for cooking and showering.

Schedule a Potluck-Style Gathering

Want to invite your friends and family over, but don’t have the funds to cover food and drinks for everyone? Invite everyone over for a potluck gathering where each person brings their favorite drink, snack, or dish.

You’ll have a variety of offerings without having to spend the money (and time) to prepare all the food and drinks yourself.

Plan a Road Trip

Even with the cost of gas, a road trip is still a budget-friendly way to see a lot of sights. Pick out a nearby town, and have each family member pick out a few sights and stops that they want to explore.

Be on the lookout for cheap excursions, like parks and other public spaces. A farmer’s market can also offer some great deals on fresh produce, flowers, and other food items.

Decorate for Fall

If you’re one of the people who like to celebrate fall immediately after Labor Day, Labor Day is a terrific time to prepare your home for the changing seasons. Sweep or hose down your front porch so that it’s clean, and break out your favorite fall decoration.

Want to add a few new pieces to your fall setup? Look for local farms and retailers with deals on pumpkins, gourds, and autumn flowers, like mums and black-eyed Susan’s.

Stretch Out with a Book

The warm summer days are a fantastic time to find a shady spot where you can relax with a great book. Pack a picnic basket with a few drinks and snacks to make the most of your reading time.

Stop by the local public library to borrow books to enjoy over the Labor Day weekend. Prefer to use a tablet or smartphone to read? Many public libraries have programs that permit you to borrow virtual book copies.

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Spring Holidays in the USA

Spring is just around the corner, and that means a full holiday season will soon be upon us. From making your own version of Mardi Gras on March 1st to commemorating Memorial Day on May 30th, the spring months hosts plenty of holidays for you to celebrate with your family and friends. Keep reading to learn ways to celebrate the spring holidays.

Mardi Gras – March 1st

Mardi Gras, meaning “Fat Tuesday” in French, is traditionally a time of excess as people fit in everything they want before Lent. Celebrated by religious and non-religious people alike, Mardi Gras has since become a big party for everyone. To celebrate at home, you’ll first want to make sure you have all the foods you’d eat in New Orleans, such as po’boys, hushpuppies and a king cake. The last one can be difficult to find, but it’s essentially a purple, yellow and green cake with a plastic baby inside. Whoever finds the baby is said to be bestowed with luck. If you drink alcohol, consider stocking up on some Louisiana brews or make some Sazernacs, the official cocktail of New Orleans. Next, get some masks and decorations that allow you and your friends to celebrate in style. Finally, play some jazz music in the background and celebrate the first of many spring holidays.

Saint Patrick’s Day – March 17th

Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and cities around the world celebrate in style. However, if your town doesn’t have an annual St. Patty’s Day celebration, you can still have a special event at home. Corned beef and cabbage is an easy meal to make on top of being the traditional dish served, especially with a few slices of soda bread on the side. Beer drinkers will love sampling different variations of green beer as well. More of a purist? Guinness is likely the right choice for you. Don’t like beer? Try an Irish Coffee with brown sugar for an extra dose of sweetness. Whether you put on green from head to toe or wear a little Shamrock somewhere on your outfit, Saint Patty’s Day is an easy holiday to get in the festive spirit.

Easter Sunday – April 17th

Easter is about the resurrection of Christ for Christians; however, many people from all backgrounds have their own Easter-themed celebrations—including a visit from the Easter Bunny. The night before is perfect for dying eggs with the kids before hosting an egg hunt in your yard or around the house. If you want to go the extra mile for kids, consider renting or purchasing an Easter Bunny costume for a memorable celebration that won’t be forgotten. Finally, consider whipping up some Easter staples, including cakes, deviled eggs, a roast turkey or ham and plenty of sides for a feast your friends and family will love. Easter is one of the most celebrated spring holidays.

Earth Day – April 22nd

Earth Day is all about working together to save our planet, and this is the perfect holiday to get your kids involved in making the world a better place. There is a multitude of different things you can do to help the planet, including being car-free for the day, starting a recycling program at home or even making a birdhouse for feathered friends. Regardless of how you choose to spend your Earth Day, it’s important to remember to take the time to make the world a better place for everyone.

Arbor Day – April 29th

Closely related to Earth Day (and only a week apart), Arbor Day revolves around trees. Of course, the most popular and traditional way to celebrate is by planting a tree. However, not everyone has the space to plant, especially if they live in an apartment. For those looking to celebrate, consider sponsoring a tree being planted, reading more about trees with the kids or volunteering somewhere in the community to complete tasks like cleaning up a park or making a group donation to a charity.

Cinco de Mayo – May 5th

Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico’s victory in the Battle of Puebla against the French, and it’s one of the most fun and festive holidays on our list. You can easily host your own holiday spectacular by decorating your home in bright, festive colors or by ordering decorations made just for the holiday. Of course, the most popular element of any Cinco de Mayo celebration is the food, and now is the perfect time to whip up some enchiladas and perfect your tamale-making skills. Finally, take the time to learn more about the history of our neighbors to the south and why the holiday means so much to the people of Mexico.

Mother’s Day – May 8th

Mother’s Day is the one say of the year to celebrate your mother (or mother figure), and you can come up with a myriad of ways to celebrate what makes your mom so great. If you still live with her, consider making her breakfast in bed and giving her a break from household chores. If you live nearby, throw a surprise party with her friends after you’ve spent the day together. Finally, if mom lives far away, take the time to give her a phone call and have flowers or chocolates delivered for a holiday neither one of you will forget.

Memorial Day – May 30th

Memorial Day tends to get used as the marker for summer beginning; however, it’s also time to remember the soldier who died for our country. Before the picnics and barbeques, take the time to attend a Memorial Day ceremony or parade and consider decorating the graves of fallen soldiers at your local cemetery.

The spring months offer plenty of holiday cheer for those looking to spend their time with family and friends. From donning your best purple, yellow and green mask for Mardi Gras to remembering our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day, you can make this spring a holiday season to remember. Whether you decide to throw a few parties or take time to celebrate each holiday with your family, remember that each day offers plenty of activities that everyone will love.

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Shopping for Valentine’s Day on a Budget

Valentine’s Day is dedicated to romance, and one of the main ways people celebrate is by purchasing gifts for one another. However, if budgets are tight this year, it can feel difficult to find a gift that’s perfect for both your partner and your budget. Luckily, we’re here to help. Read on to learn how to shop for Valentine’s Day this year while staying within your budget.

Plan Your Valentine’s Day on a Budget Ahead of Time

Look for ways to cut down on expenses by writing down your income and listing your expenses. Certain things like rent and utilities obviously need to be paid, but what can you cut down on? For example, if you get a coffee every day, consider making your caffeine fix at home for the month or get a basic weekly car wash rather than the deluxe. Small changes like this can save you a couple hundred dollars a month, which is perfect for your Valentine’s Day on a budget.

Set Your Budget and Stick to It

You’ve carefully crafted your budget and are ready to go shopping. As you look around, you find the one item you know will blow your loved one’s socks off. The only problem? It’s a several hundred dollars over your price range. It can be tempting to go over your budget this one time to get the present; however, depending on your finances, you might be in a financial limbo for several weeks or months if you do. When you create your budget, attempt to stick to it as closely as possible rather than stretching yourself thin. You’ll find another perfect gift in your price range in no time.

Shop for Great Deals

Just because it’s Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you only need to shop at expensive stores. Plenty of cheaper brands stock great gifts your loved one will cherish. For example, your local dollar store likely has an assortment of items just waiting to get placed in the perfect gift basket. Take the time to look at what cheaper stores have to offer and save some serious money while you’re shopping for the right gift for your loved one.

Turn to Staples

With the holiday upon us, many stores will happily put their wares on sale to become your loved one’s present. Jewelers, florists and candy makers consider February a big month for sales, and they’re all competing to get you through their doors. Take the time to see which brands are offering deep discounts for the holiday. You might find that perfect gift for much less than it would normally be.

Consider Personalization

Does your loved one drink coffee on a regular basis? Do they love to get the latest bestseller from their favorite bookstore? More and more companies are now offering personalization on their products, allowing you to create something that’s truly unique for the person you care about. From mugs to bookbags to wine bottles, your loved one can receive something that has themselves written all over it.

Get Creative

Many times, people are looking for a gift that’s from the heart rather than something you spent thousands of dollars on. This is where crafting comes in handy. Scroll through Pinterest or Instagram to get great ideas on something you can make for your loved one using tools and supplies you already have around the house. Think about what your recipient likes and will use as well. There’s little sense in giving someone something they’ll rarely use. Finally, remember that you don’t need to make something that’s big or elaborate either. Small things like a photo album or cookies are much appreciated as well.

Make a Date Night

Many people focus on gifts for Valentine’s Day, but a great date night can mean more to people than anything you purchase. Is your partner a devoted concertgoer? Do they spend hours on end looking at vintage cars? Think about things your partner likes doing and plan your Valentine’s Day date night around their favorite activity. Want to up the awe factor? Consider taking them to the first place you met for dinner or take them shopping to that antique store you know they love. They’ll get a fun night they’ll never forget while you’ll have created the perfect experience to show them how much you love them.

Buy Some Favorites

What’s your significant other’s favorite candy? Their t-shirt brand? Their wine brand? Oftentimes, it can be tempting to give someone something that’s new, exciting and expensive for Valentine’s Day, but favorites are much more likely to win over your lover. Take some time to think about what you know they love and go shopping for a few of these favorites to make a Valentine’s Day present that means more to your loved one than anything else you could purchase. By selecting things you know mean a lot to them, you’re showing that you notice the small details that keep your loved one going.

Look for Valentine’s Day-Themed Gifts

Just like other holidays, Valentine’s Day offers plenty of holiday-themed gifts. As the day creeps nearer and nearer, store owners start to worry about their themed stock selling and will commonly mark it down. While you probably won’t find that exact thing you were eying a couple weeks ago, you can find some low clearance prices that will fit into nearly anyone’s budget. Of course, the cheapest prices are after Valentine’s Day, so consider doing some after-holiday shopping as well.

Shopping for Valentine’s Day on a budget doesn’t have to be hard. From creating a budget and shopping for great deals to creating a new, cherished possession and taking them to their favorite restaurant on date night, Valentine’s Day can become your loved one’s favorite holiday without you needing to spend a lot. Take the time to think about what your significant other loves, and shop for or make a gift you know they’ll love. Have a Happy Valentine’s Day and remember that it’s the thought that counts rather than how much you spend.

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25 Activities To Do In The Winter

Are you looking for activities to do in the winter? As the weather gets chillier and festive holiday cheer abounds, indoor and outdoor winter activities are guaranteed to keep you entertained this season. Whether you love unwinding by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa or prefer a more sporty activity like ice skating, the winter season has something for everyone. Here are 25 activities to do in the winter.

1. Make Hot Chocolate Bombs

These tasty hot chocolate powder and marshmallow-filled treats require a special mold (here’s a link to purchase) and some assembly is required for the chocolate globes. We love this recipe.

2. Take a Drive to See the Holiday Lights at Night

Check your local media outlets for neighborhoods with special holiday decor and light displays for the public to enjoy.

3. Ice Skating

Strap on a pair of skates and take a spin at your local ice rink! This is also a great way to stay physically active in cold weather.

4. Bake a Panettone

This Italian sweet bread with candied fruits is a winter holiday favorite that takes a bit of time (the dough needs to rise overnight) but is well worth the wait and effort. View the recipe here.

5. Create a Scrapbook of Winter Memories

Rather than leaving all of your memories on your phone, print out your pictures this year and chronicle your wintertime adventures like experiencing the season’s first snowfall or the winter solstice.

6. See The Nutcracker

Whether it’s watching the movie on a projector while cozy at home or seeing the ballet in person, this family-friendly classic is full of magic and winter adventure.

8. Camp Out in Your Living Room

Assemble a pillow fort or break out your sleeping bags, light the fireplace or put a Yule Log video on Youtube, and bring out the snacks for an impromptu indoor camping night in.

9. Try a Winter Photo Shoot

Gather friends or family for an informal winter-themed photo shoot using DIY backdrops, such as garlands, or a snowy outdoor scene.

10. Visit a Local Museum

From modern art to natural history, there’s probably a museum or two you haven’t visited yet. Winter is the perfect time for this indoor cultural activity.

11. Create a Winter-Themed Music Playlist

Get into the spirit of the season by compiling a list of your favorite wintertime songs on Spotify to play and share with your loved ones. You’ll be surprised how many songs have a winter vibe.

12. Make a Dream or Vision Board

Have big goals for the upcoming New Year? Find inspiration from images online and in magazines to make a visual representation of your dreams and goals for the future. This can be made digitally on gomoodboard.com or by using a poster board, magazine clippings, and a glue stick.

13. Make Fake Snow

Missing real snowflakes? This simple two-ingredient recipe means you can have snow even if you’re in a warmer climate. 

14. Go on a Winter Scavenger Hunt

Write down 10 things to search for around town or near your home – everything from spotting a pine cone or a Santa hat works – and the first person who checks everything off the list wins.

15. Take a Day Trip

If weather permits, go on a long drive to explore back roads, semi-local attractions, and finally visit those spots you’ve always vowed you’d stop at one day.

16. Make Waterless Snow Globes

This craft is relatively easy to do if you’re handy with a glue gun. Go here for directions.

18. Visit Winter Markets and Bazaars

Need last-minute gifts or decorations? Check out the goods and support local artisans and makers at festive markets and bazaars in your area.

19. Have a Winter-Themed Movie Night

From Frozen to Eight Below, films with wintry settings full of snow and frigid weather are a delight to watch while curled up in blankets on the couch with hot chocolate.

20. Make Pomander Balls

If you love the scent of winter citrus and fragrant spices, try your hand at making pomander balls. Simply stick whole cloves in firm oranges in the pattern of your choice. For additional scent, you can roll oranges in a mixture of spices, including cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. If you’d like to hang your pomander, run a long, thin wire through the middle of the orange and make a loop at the top.

21. Make a Snow Angel

Enjoy a snowy day by laying down on the snow and spreading your arms and legs to create one.

22. Make a Winter-Scented Potpourri

Fill your home with the scent of wintertime by combining spices and fruit like nutmeg, apples, and cranberries on your stovetop. We love this recipe.

23. Refresh Your Space

Get a head start on spring cleaning with a winter refresh – go through your closets and decide what items to keep, donate, or toss. Be honest about what you’ve actually worn this year, what fits, and what you no longer love or want to wear. You’ll make room for the new and any holiday presents you may receive.

24. Start a Book Club

Winter is the ideal time to curl up with a good book and catch up with dear friends – combine the two by starting a book club. Select a book that’s set in wintertime and set aside a time to meet virtually or in person to discuss the book’s plot and overall themes.

25. Play a Board Game

Snowed in? Grab a board game like Monopoly or Candyland to keep your mind occupied. Have a lot of time to keep your kids busy during winter break? A 1000 piece puzzle will do the trick.

26. Organize a Clothing Swap

Invite friends and family over one evening to share and swap gently used clothing, outerwear, and accessories. Any leftover items can be donated for people in need in the true spirit of the season.

We hope these activities keep you entertained (and warm!) all winter long.

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Where to Shop for Holiday Gifts on a Budget

One of the best things about the holidays is giving gifts that make others happy and feel special. Trying to shop for holiday gifts on a budget may seem hard, but it’s not impossible. There are plenty of stores and places online to find affordable holiday gifts these days. This year, with cost inflation, that is incredibly beneficial. You also have the supply issue to consider when shopping, so creativity will be necessary.

Uncommon Goods

Uncommon Goods is an online retailer and offers gifts you won’t find on other websites, and many of them are at an affordable price. Find unique items such as Famous Artists Ornaments for $22.00, Kids-for-Kids winter socks for $15.00, and Aromatherapy Balm stocking stuffer and ornament for $25.00. Uncommon Goods is a popular way to shop for holiday gifts on a budget.


Target always has a decent selection of affordable holiday gifts. This year they have Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote for 19.99, a 15 pack of Men’s Marvel Advent Calendar socks for $15.00, or a Vitamasques Festive Face Mask Gift Set – Limited Edition – 6ct for $10.00. Close to 2,000 locations are throughout all 50 U.S. states, and you can shop online.


When you think of Walmart, uncommon gifts may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but they have plenty of options for fabulous gifts at affordable prices. They have an Atomi Bluetooth 5W 3.25-Inch circle shower speaker for $14.96 and a Big Lebowski Movie 500-piece puzzle in plastic retro blockbuster VHS video case for $9.97. Or, in Walmart’s photo section, you can personalize a 50×60 plush fleece blanket with your photos for $39.99 or two for $60.00! You can find this big retailer almost everywhere and shop their deals online.


Amazon is an online retailer and the go-to for many these days, and the holiday season is no exception. Find plenty of Cheap and quirky gifts for all of your favorites. Things like a 12 pack of Vincent Van Gogh Guitar Picks gift set for $14.95, an Ecolution Original Microwave Micro-Pop popcorn popper for $12.99, a holiday crave box full of delicious snacks for $24.95, or a Prodyne Fruit Infusion Flavor Pitcher for $19.99.


Kohl’s has long been the place to go for affordable holiday gifts. This year they have a Toastmaster personal blender for 14.99, an Amazon Fire TV Stick Streaming Media Player with Dolby Atmos Audio and Alexa Voice Remote for $19.99, or adorable St. Nicholas Square ornaments for $4.99. There are Kohl’s locations in every U.S. state except for Hawaii. You can also take advantage of their fabulous deals online.

Dollar General

Dollar General carries a wide variety of items at a low price. You can find anything from clothes to cleaning supplies or home goods to toys and electronics. They always have a selection of items on sale for the holidays. Things such as a Sylvania speaker, set of two for $10.00, SpaScriptions four-piece spa day set for $5.00, or if you are shopping for kids, they have a National Geographic deluxe STEM science activity kit for $20.00. There are 17,000 store locations throughout the U.S. You can also shop online.


Etsy is a neat online marketplace that allows artists and crafters to create accounts and sell items, including artwork and other goods. Many of the items are at low and affordable prices. You can find unique gifts such as a personalized family recipe book for $29.00, personalized birthstone bracelets for $17.20, and personalized wall art starting at $22.00.

Five Below

Five Below is a discount retail store that sells items that cost up to $5.00. You can find small gifts and stocking stuffers such as fidget and sensory toys popular among kids these days. They also have board games, small electronics, holiday home decor, toys, clothing items, make-up, and candy. There are 900 Five Below locations in 36 U.S. states, and you can enjoy their discount pricing online.


James Cash and Penny opened the first JCPenny store in 1902. The retailer closed many JCPenny department store locations in the last few years, but you can still take advantage of their superb holiday deals online. They have fabulous gifts, including a Clean Reserve perfume discovery kit for $24.00 or a Harry & David Tower Of Sweet Treats for $29.69.

Crate and Barrel

Crate and Barrel is a home decor store that offers trendy and modern essentials for every room in your home. You can find hip gifts such as a Dash Mini Gingerbread Man Waffle Maker for $12.95, a mini pie maker for $17.95, and a 2021 Silver Pearl frame Christmas ornament for $8.95. Crate and Barrel have 89 stores and eight outlets around the United States and Canada, and you can shop online.


Burlington has plenty of holiday gift items to choose from at low prices. Things such as men’s box spa sets for $16.99, adorable handbags are starting at $24.99, and plenty of toys, holiday apparel, and home essentials all start at low and affordable prices. There are currently 740 Burlington locations around the country, and you can also take advantage of their prices online.

If you’re trying to shop for holiday gifts on a budget, you are in luck. You can save plenty of time, effort, and money by shopping for holiday gifts for all of your favorite people at the stores and retailers you know will have the best deals. Use this handy list to finish your holiday shopping without breaking the bank in no time!

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