Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dating Cents: Budget-Friendly Date Ideas

While many are learning to be more fiscally responsible in these times and are cutting back on some daily or weekly pleasures such as coffee runs to Starbucks, eating out, entertainment events, etc. you don't have to let these cut backs affect your love life. You just need to have a little creativity. Here are some budget friendly date ideas.

  1. Go to an outdoor concert in your local city. Pack a blanket and some snacks and enjoy a free outdoor concert in your local community. Check out for listings in your area.
  2. Host your own wine tasting. Invite people over and require each guest to bring a bottle of wine and their favorite cheese. This is a great way to introduce your date to all of your friends and cost friendly event. The only cost being your contribution.
  3. Make a little Fondue. What's not to love about Fondue shared by two. And a way to impress with creativity without having to go to a Fondue restaurant. Make it yourself at home. Start the evening snacking on baguettes dipped in melted cheese and end it by dipping fruit into chocolate.
  4. Visit a Flea Market. Yes, guys may not like to shop. But, they may end up thankful in the end. At Flea Markets, there's something for everyone and plenty of things you never knew existed. It allows each person to discover things about the other. Maybe there is a hobby you didn't know about.
  5. Relive your youth on roller skates. Yes, go roller skating. A very inexpensive event but oh so much fun. Allowing for much interactivity. Top it off with a stop for dessert or coffee on the way home.
  6. Pick some fruit. Spend the day at a local fruit farm picking fruit and then topping it off with making something with it when you get home.
  7. Theater on a budget. Do you really want to see a musical or play but can't afford it. Check to see if you can buy tickets to a dress rehearsal or productions at local colleges. Its often a fraction of the price.

Idea Source: Yahoo Shine and Marie Claire
Photograph sourced through Google Images
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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Free Creative Activities for Kids

Looking for ways to continue to allow you and your kids to participate in creative activities or events and on a budget? I learned of some great websites from USA Weekend that are fun, safe, and free. They allow kids to explore and get their creative juices flowing and you can do it with them.

Drawing and Design.
Shidonni lets kids draw animals online, give them names and design imaginary worlds.
- Ages 5-12

Devise Games.
What kid would not think its fun to create their own game! Here they can do that and they can challenge their friends to play. Fidget is a multiplayer game on PBS' Design Squad site.
- Ages 8-13

Craft Cartoons.
Creativity can really soar here. At Makebeliefscomix kids can write, read and tell stories by creating comic strips online, and then printing or emailing them to friends or relatives.
- For all ages.

Program a Video.
Create movies, music, video games at Scratch, developed by MIT Media Lab members.
- Ages 8 and up.

Make Music.
On Crank It Up, kids can compose and record rhythms using pots, pans, wooden spoons and even the computer keyboard to create a masterpiece.
- For all ages.
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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Last Minute Saving Tips for Vacation

I don't know about you but the winter blues are setting in and I'm already thinking about vacation time. I hope to be able to take a last minute trip with some friends this year but am still figuring out how to make it happen in my budget. May have to be a last minute thing. I found some great tips from Teri Cettina on Yahoo that I thought were great and worth sharing.

  • Start with a plan. Get a specific idea on how much you can spend. Guesstimate how much you think you may spend on everything (hotel, car, gas, souvenirs, meals, etc.). If you are surprised its better to be surprised before you take the vacation instead of after the fact. This way at least you can make adjustments either in your current spending or on what you think you will be doing on the vacation.
  • Make sacrifices now so you can enjoy your vacation when it comes. To help you save make some sacrifices now with your spending (health clubs, restaurants, etc.). In the long run you will be glad you did as your vacation will be what you wanted it to be. Great thing Teri states is, "Remember: You're just trading today's fun for the fun you'll have during your vacation. Move what you normally would have spent on these items into your vacation fund."
  • Save money with a "Pantry Week". I love this phrase, coined by Mary Hunt, founder and editor of Take a week to not go to the grocery store and eat what you have in your pantry. It's OK to eat a simple sandwich for dinner one night :-).
  • Spend less time in restaurants. The National Restaurant Association quotes the average monthly spend for families with kids under 6 at restaurants to be over $200. If you can't stop cold turkey look into ways to trim this down. Look for kids eat free nights at your local restaurants. Check out for discount coupons. Make a compromise, eat at home and then maybe treat yourself to a desert out. Get creative.
  • Take advantage of your tax refund now. If you usually get a tax refund each year then your employer is most likely taking too much out of your check for taxes. Consider adjusting your W4 for a while to give you more money now that you can use for your last minute vacation. You can always adjust it back later.
  • Let your credit cards be your friend. Use those cards that provide incentives for most purchases to build the incentives up. You can then use some of the incentives toward plane tickets, hotel costs, etc.
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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Watch Out For Phony Health Insurance

AARP recently shared some tips, or warning signs, of when health insurance is phony. With the amount of people today that are seeking their own insurance due to job loss I thought this would be great information to share so that money isn't wasted on something that won't fill your needs.

Some warning signs include:
  • Coverage that promises full benefits but costs much less than similar policies.
  • Easy sign up regardless of preexisting conditions and with no required medical exams or questionnaires.
  • Offers to have an agent visit your home rather than mail you information about coverage and costs.
  • Any attempt to get your social security number and bank account information during a sales presentation.
  • A pitch that mentions "coverage", "benefits" and "health protection" but not insurance.
I hope you find this helpful. Please leave a comment and let us know if there are any companies you have encountered that fit these warning signs.
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