Also, an argument that, depending on one’s perspective, may seem totally sensible or radically Grinch-ish: No buying of presents whatsoever.
1 kids’ gift idea that keeps on giving. What could it be? The gift of DIY. Here’s an ode to gifts that help a child build and create, gifts that can be remarkably simple, but that fascinate and inspire children like a piece of plastic never can:
Upon becoming a dad, I bought into the commercial toy trap. My kids didn’t want for anything. But I, like many other parents, quickly learned that expensive toys were often brushed aside for the same “found” playthings that appealed to me as a child. I made an effort to encourage my kids’ curiosity for everyday things by introducing them to the possibilities of paint, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, paste, paper mache, plaster, and modeling clay at early ages.
5 ways to cope with being unemployed during the holidays. This lists includes the suggestion to make another list of five things you’ll do come January 2, such as:
Take a Class at the Community College. Don’t know Facebook from LinkedIn? They have a class for that. If you have been out of work for more than six months, there’s a good chance your skills set needs expansion.
6 tips for shopping online for groceries. Ordering groceries online is certainly more convenient than heading to the store, but it’s a convenience you’ll pay for—unless you shop smartly by, for example:
Use coupons and promo codes. Sites like peapod.com double all manufacturer’s coupons (up to $.99), plus they have a “specials” section. Of course, don’t forget the old stand-by trick, Googling a retailer’s name and “promo code” (we found a $15 off first order at Peapod on CouponCabin.com).
6 money mirages. These “money-saving ideas that are anything but” include:
Thinking in terms of monthly payments when getting a car loan. Car dealers love to steer price negotiations toward how much money you can afford to pay on a monthly basis. After all, when it comes to negotiating the price of a new or used car, dealers can usually work out the financing such that you can afford just about any vehicle your heart desires. By increasing the loan repayment period, dealers can offer a monthly payment to fit most any budget. Of course, the flip side to that means you will also pay more interest over the life of the loan.
6 lousy gifts your dad doesn’t want. Neither your dad, nor your husband, nor probably your uncle or any other mature male relative or friend wants …
Even if the scale holds up to 400 pounds or has an easy-to-read dial at waist level, he doesn’t want it. This is yet another entry into the “Your Appearance Needs Help” category, but with a particularly cruel message. This Christmas, Dad just wants to know you love him. All of him.
7 Christmas toys from hell. Perhaps worse than giving a scale is the Barbie Glitterizer:
This genius of a toy basically blows glitter all over the place. Who in their right mind thought this was a good idea? I recently heard glitter described as “the herpes of crafting supplies.”
7 New Year’s resolutions for your money. Sure, no more glitter could be one, but also:
Establish a Rule of Thumb
As humans, we like rules of thumb because they’re handy. They help when we have trouble making decisions. We have diet rules of thumb – “no sweets during the week” or “no midnight snacking” – and they help us stay on track. Some good money rules could be: “I won’t buy anything over $100 without consulting with my spouse or partner” or “No more open tabs at the bar!”
8 of the best credit cards for 2010. In the category of Best Low-Introductory Rate, one of the winners is … (drum roll please) …
Citi Platinum Select MasterCard
Balance transfer fees have become a new fact of life for most credit card customers, but Citi mitigates their 3% service charge with a 24-month no-interest offer for new cardholders. New accounts also get 0% APR on purchases for the first year, with no annual fee.
8 reasons not to buy gifts even though you love Christmas. Besides credit card debt, toys from hell, and lousy gifts that dads don’t ever want, there’s also this to consider:
The waste, oh the waste. Let’s start with packaging: the packaging for every toy is double the volume of the toy itself. From cardboard to plastic to metal twist-ties, it’s ridiculous. Then every item we buy must be brought home in bags. We often put everything in boxes. Then we buy wrapping paper and wrap it all up. All of this gets thrown away on Christmas day.
10 ways you throw holiday money away. See above. Also:
Inflatable Santa and Snowman
Yes, we know people like to deck out their front yards so passers-by can see they have tons of holiday spirit, but if you’re willing to cut back on one kind of lawn decoration, it should be these. Not only can inflatable Santas or snowmen cost $60 or more, they’re energy hogs that suck up electricity to stay inflated and lit up.
16 easy and cheap Christmas decorating tips. Think DIY:
Make your own holiday wreaths. Go outside and cut almost any type of greenery that you see, bend it into a circle and tie with anything you have, whether it is fishing string, ribbon or rope. Hang it simple and fresh and add a few ribbons or ornaments.
35 out-of-the-ordinary ornaments to make. More DIY, such as:
HGTV shows you how to make 3D paper snowflakes that would also make excellent ornaments.
35 small shortcuts to frugal living. For example, for more than one reason, you might want to:
Tone Down the Make-up
Not every day is make-up sponge worthy. Cut back on the base and eye make-up for every day and you’ll save both time and money.
50 gift ideas from the dollar store. If neither DIY nor stoically foregoing presents altogether is for you, there’s always cheap crap somebody on your list might get a brief kick out of. And hey, some of the items on this list will actually be deeply appreciated by DIYers. Such as:
Duct Tape $1: Three rolls of tape in three different colors. Great for emergencies where adhesive is essential, and for physically taping your mouth shut in any sticky situation.