Being a crafting addict can be quite frustrating for those of us on a budget. We love to build our supplies up, but the cost can be damaging to our bank balance. This is even true when we are crafting household items we hope will save us money. Here are a few ideas I have used to cut back on the amount I spend on crafting supplies.
Many fabric stores usually end up with small scraps of fabric after cutting yards of fabric. What can you make from these scraps? You can make hair supplies. You could make doll clothes. You can use them as quilt squares. Bean bags can be made from them. Depending on the size of the scraps you could even make covers for throw pillows. My local craft store sells a bag of scrap fabric for $2.99.
Buttons, Beads, And Charms
Buttons, beads, and charms that are decorative can be pretty costly. Instead of buying each separately, buy them in the form of inexpensive jewelry. There are many stores that have a inexpensive jewelry section. Look for the colors, shapes, or themes you are interested in. You may even find pieces that have both charms and beads you want to acquire. As for buttons buy old clothing from a thrift store instead. Not only will you end up with some pretty buttons, you will also end up with fabric to work with.
Instead of buying a set of crochet needles, buy one or two in the sizes that you usually work with. Instead of buying large packs of thread, buy one large spool. Often in our excitement we buy supplies or tools that we don’t need or won’t need for months. Instead pick one item for a few dollars rather than a set for ten dollars or more.
Who can’t use a raise? Did you know that with just a few simple adjustments, you can give yourself a raise? Here are just a few examples.
1. Increase your insurance deductible. Did you know that if you increase your insurance deductibles that you could save anywhere from 15% to 40%. Increasing your car insurance deductible from about $200 to $500, it’ll save you about 15% to 30%. And, if you increase it to $1,000, you’ll save 40%. So, as long as you can afford to pay that kind of a deductible, it’ll be worth it to save the money.
2. Pay off debt. If you are paying 14%, 15%,or even 18% interest on a debt and you pay it off, then you will earn yourself that percentage every month. In reality, you actually give yourself a raise by both eliminating the cost of the interest every month and putting the money you had sent off to your creditor every month into your own pocket, or into your bank account. Do your best to pay off those debts; that’ll be money you can save (or spend as you like) as soon as you do.
3. Re-evaluate (or create) your budget. Are you spending money on things you later regret you bought? Are you wasting money eating out too much? Do you tend to spend money on the items on display at the check out lane? Take an itemized look at what your dollars are being spent on and decide whether those items (whether that’s candy, gum, magazines, or the “advertised specials”) are really worth the amount you are spending. Make the cuts and put that extra money back into the bank.
4. Take advantage of your company’s 401k. A 401k is a great opportunity to earn extra money. If your employer offers any matching contribution take advantage of that! It’s basically free money towards your retirement savings.
I love flowers in my home, but between the flower gauntlet that is my family and the cost of the flowers, I see little point in picking fresh blooms to go with our decor. I simply can’t afford the time trying to keep up with the wilting petals or shriveled leaves. I can’t keep up with the constant replacement of those poor plants either. Thankfully I have an easy solution. I pick fake blooms instead.
Fake flowers don’t need plant food, soil, or water. You don’t even need to talk to them (or, in my case, beg them to please stay alive!). Upon occasion they may need dusted. Really, that’s it! If you want to beautify your home with full gorgeous blooms then pick fake flowers. The colors will always stay bright and colorful unless your leave them on a window sill to long. Then the sun will bleach them white, so don’t do that.
Children and Pets
Children love flowers. And we want our children to love flowers. We just don’t want our children to love flowers to death. Fake flowers can usually have their heads popped off. They can be popped back on with no problem. They are not poisonous. They don’t have thorns. They don’t produce allergy stirring pollen. These are all good things when thinking of your two and four legged friends and decorating with plants.
Fake flowers can be reused. After they have lost their luster, or the children have messed with them one time too many, they can get dumped in the fake flower compost bin (or the craft supply box). The petals can serve to make fairy wings or clothing. They can be taken apart and put back together to create new flowers and floral designs. They can be used on wreaths or for that pretend trip to Hawaii you and your children are planning. The sky is the limit.
If you are a mom with little ones, then you know that it can be very difficult to carve out time alone to work out. Quite frankly, if I don’t wake up very early in the morning to work out, then it’s very likely I won’t work out at all. I don’t have family nearby to help watch them. I don’t want to (or have the extra funds to) pay for a babysitter. And I can’t justify paying for a gym membership so gym provided childcare isn’t an option either. So, sometimes, I have to get creative about my workouts. In case you can relate to my dilemma, here are a few tips to help you get your workout while also spending time with the children.
1. Go to the playground. It goes without saying that the children will be happy about that. Who says you can’t utilize the monkey bars, run around, and even do a few squats or jumping jacks while your children play. When my children were very little, I used to do squats between pushes on the swings. If they were both on the swings at the same time, I would jump side to side in between pushes.
2. Go for a walk. You can walk while they ride their scooter, tricycle, bicycle (if they ride fast enough, maybe you could go for a run). Or, you can all walk together. Children love to get out. Getting out for 15 or 20 minutes will be good for everyone.
3. Workout videos. I used to try to workout only before my children woke up in the morning or during their nap time. But, as every mom knows, the best laid plans surrounding children sleeping don’t always turn out. Although I still prefer to workout alone, I don’t hesitate to pop in a work out video before their nap or if it looks like nap time is not translating into actual sleep. You’ll all enjoy it and get a little workout in all at the same time.
How do you keep fit with little ones in the house?
Preschool age children are busy people. They have a lot of learning to do and they will drive you crazy going about it if you don’t have an organized way for them to explore the world around them. You may be trying to build a full blown curriculum or just have some after school supplements. Either way these ideas can help you.
There are many recipes for art supplies on the internet. I have found recipes for finger paint, play dough, edible play dough, and chalk. If you aren’t into the idea of making art supplies there are other ways to save money here. Consider buying art supplies in a set. They usually come with markers, crayons, paper, and some form of paint. When buying finger paint get the older style bottle rather than the easy squeeze bottles. To teach texture in painting try using a cut up dollar store sponge.
Preschool is one time when getting cheap musical instruments is a win situation. They usually cost between one and four dollars a piece. There are bells, egg shakers, triangles, harmonicas, and recorders. Make a drum from an old oatmeal container. There are even some free apps that you can use on a tablet or mobile device to teach music. I have found a mini piano keyboard and xylophone app.
If you aren’t sure of the type of curriculum you are building for your child to learn from, there are a few that you can choose online. The one we use is www.chalkpreschoolonline.com. There is a subscription of $11.95, but there is also a two week trial so you will know if it’s worth the investment for your family. There are also printables and activity ideas that go along with each daily lesson (about thirty minutes a day).
Also use internet games for children to teach them how to use the computer and about computer safety. My favorite is Hello Kitty Online. Their community site gives your child access to a free email, child version of Youtube, and options to make videos for the site. It encourages interaction over the internet in a way that makes it fun and easy to teach your children the basics.
Talk about the weather, what to wear in today’s weather, and why the seasons change. Get cheap potted plants from the grocery store and care for them together or plant some seeds and watch them grow. Cooking, especially baking, is a great everyday use of science and math!
Get your child a watch or a clock. Talk about different times of the day. There is bed time, bath time, nap time, and tooth brush time. Also get a calendar (freebie sites often have post about where to get them for free) and put stickers on important days or holidays. Talk about different months and the days of the week.
Just because your child does preschool at home does not mean they can’t get the social interaction that they need. There are play dates to be had. Use your local library’s free story time to interact with children in a learning environment. There are also nursery experiences at church or a day care experience at the gym. Or you could just take them to a park. No need for expensive classes just to get your kid around other kids!
Childhood should not be overshadowed by financial issues. The problem is, while you don’t want to make your child privy to all your family financial issues, you also don’t want to shield to the extent they don’t know how to handle money at all. Many parents deal with this in a number of ways. They let children budget an allowance. They even go so far as to tell the child where that allowance should be budgeted towards. Others set limits on the number of items bought in a trip to the store. Many don’t believe in allowance and insist that toys or money should be earned through chores or educational success.
The only trouble is that even these types of activities can transfer a parent’s financial stress to a child. They receive or earn a small amount of money and we become concerned about what they are doing with it. Are they saving anything? Are they really going to waste their money on that? By the time we shake our heads and tell them it’s their money their confidence about how to handle money is shaken. That feeling can follow them through life.
Mistakes Must Be Made
It’s a truth that no one likes. Most of us have a financial obligation or a purchase we regret having. Allowing children to make mistakes unhindered with their own money can reduce the mistakes they make as adults. Imagine instead of trying to get your child to spend money on the right thing, you hold your tongue and allow them to spend money on the wrong thing.
At some point your child will come to you and say something to the extent of “I wish I hadn’t bought five pounds of gummy bears. I didn’t think I’d ever get sick of them, but after two days I don’t even want to look at them!” Then you can tell them that they are a smart kid and they wont make that mistake again. Don’t offer extra money. Don’t offer to get them another purchase they may enjoy more. In the adult world the money would be gone. Let it be gone in the world where they will miss out on a Lego set. In the long run they will learn to think before spending money.
Did you know that Brussels sprouts are of the most nutrient rich foods you can eat? They are full of anti-oxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K as well as fiber, manganese, potassium, choline, and B vitamins. Why aren’t we all eating this incredibly good for you food? Well, some surveys show that Americans simply don’t like the smell of the Brussels sprouts. My answer to that dilemma is always simply finding the right recipe. If you can cook something to make it taste good, people will eat it (and probably not care about how it smelled while it was cooking).
So, I’ve got an easy recipe for a great for you, a yummy side dish! The recipe is based on a recipe from a restaurant called Tin Roof Bistro in California. Here’s my version of that recipe (because I only used what I had and I didn’t have everything listed on their recipe).
1 lb. Brussels sprouts
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat over to 350º
2. Remove the ends and any rough outer leaves from Brussels sprouts and cut them in half lengthwise.
3. Put them in a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
4. Toss Brussels sprouts in oil and then lay out on sheet pan. Roast for 20-25 minutes until caramelized.
5. When Brussels sprouts are roasted and caramelized, heat up small saute’ pan. Melt butter and add garlic. Cook for several minutes until garlic turns golden. Add lemon juice, parsley, and salt and pepper. Toss sprouts in sauce until they are thoroughly coated.
6. Then, the most important part: eat and enjoy… because, you know, it is possible to enjoy food that is good for you!
How do you like to eat your Brussels Sprouts?
We did it! For my daughter’s 6th birthday, we held her first real birthday party. I had been concerned about the limited space in our little house and about the costs of such an affair, since we (essentially) live on a teacher’s salary. But, I had it all planned out. We would have the party at a local playground, which would relieve the space issue and make things a whole lot easier on me.
Only one problem. The forecast predicted rain. So, we had to make it work in our little house.
There were several things that helped us keep the party within budget, fun, and even special.
1. We used what we already had. I thought about making a new cupcake recipe (and actually experimented with a few) but decided we have a recipe we like with ingredients we already have. And, that’s what we did.
As a matter of fact, I saw a really cute picture of a way to turn cupcakes into a cute princess dress cake. Even then, I thought about making a couple of purchases to make our cupcake “cake” just like that one, but I didn’t. I keep telling myself, “Use what you have!”
2. Keep it simple. I didn’t know if anyone played “Pin The Tail On The Donkey” anymore. But, since I couldn’t find a cuter, girly version of the game, we went with it. It ended up being quite a highlight for some of the children, who had never played it before!
3. Less is, sometimes, more. We limited our invitations to just a few very close friends. There was plenty of food for everyone, and lots of leftovers besides. And, both the children and the adults seemed to have a nice time together. It actually didn’t rain, after all. So, sitting out in our small backyard made for simple nerf gun war games for the boys and relaxing conversation for the parents, all while the girls enjoyed playing dress up in my daughter’s room. (The girls came out quite often, though, to show off their latest outfits. )
How do you keep your parties simple?