Planning has many benefits. It keeps us on a calm, organized, and on schedule. We know what most of our days will bring and gives us a sense of security. It also saves us time, resources and stress.
Saving time doesn’t just save time. It save money. It gives us the time to spend with our children and to do the things we actually want to do. Tools for time management can be very expensive. They can also be free. A good example is that many email accounts come with a calendar that then can break down your day. Some even have the weather built into your daily calendar check.
It’s good to know what the weather will be like the next day so that you can plan appropriate travel time into your schedule. It’s also important to check traffic patterns before leaving for work. You may find you need to leave early or take another route to work. This can keep you from wasting gas, sitting in traffic, and getting to work late even though you left on time.
Plan for wellness check ups, doctor’s appointments, and regular car maintenance in advance. On the day of your appointment schedule the next appointment. In doing so, you know that expense is coming months in advance and you can start planning for it months in advance rather than at the last minute.
Having a grocery list ensures that you have food in your home. Having a meal plan ensures those ingredients come together to create a meal. You can have a strict plan that follows a day by day menu for your meals. You could also have a soft plan where you have all the ingredients for certain recipes, but you still choose which recipe to use today rather than earlier that week or month.
Planning your meals ahead also gives you a better chance of making healthy meals. You can look up recipes and check nutritional value and calorie content. A good website for this is sparkpeople.com. It has all the recipes and meal planning tools in one spot.
Does anyone remember the time when Black Friday was a one day (or maybe weekend) event that actually began on the Friday after Thanksgiving? It now begins, for some people, before they have even had their slice of pumpkin pie. Black Friday has shoved its way into our holiday feast and called itself grey Thursday. What a sad way to blur our beloved Thanksgiving holiday. Can you tell how I feel about the whole thing?
I don’t go out Thursday night and I hardly ever go out on Fridays anymore (except to go get my clearance turkey). 😉 However, I do understand that it’s possible to get some amazing deals. And, I love a good deal. So if you’re a grey Thursday/Black Friday shopper, more power to you. Here are a few tips to make sure your time and money are well spent.
1. Do Your Homework. Scour the ads and websites of the stores you think you may visit for the specific items you’re looking for. There will be plenty of items marked “sale,” “price cut,” or something more dramatic to get your attention. Just check the prices and you decide on the best deal.
2. Prioritize. It’s going to be crazy out there. I know. Just call me “Captain Obvious.” I say that to say that if you have a list, start with the item you want most just in case you can’t get to everything.
3. Divide and Conquer. Go with friends or family and divide up your list to get a better chance of snatching all the good deals you’re after. Plus, if you make sure you each grab a hot cup of something, then it might feel a little more festive while you’re out there in the frigid temperatures!
What do you do to plan for your big Black Friday adventure?
The ability to set and achieve goals, both long and short term, is one of the main ways to succeed in life. Goals can be career pursuits as well as personal life, both are important. Here are a few things to consider when setting goals.
Know Where You’re Going
A great deal of money can be saved by simply being aware of what you want out of your end result. For example, you can attend college for years, accumulate credits, but still not have an end goal in sight. That means you may be spending money on classes that you will never need. If you are taking these classes to find out if this is a subject that you want to pursue as a career, try researching the topic online or in a free course instead. Or if you know what your goal is, try a trade school that will cost less and focus on the material you wish to learn.
Know Where You Are
It’s also important to have short term goals when it comes to budgeting and saving money. Saving up one thousand dollars in one sitting can seem like a daunting task. Saving five dollars a week however is much more realistic and can easily be measured to know where you’re at and where you’re supposed to be on your road to saving money. This also woks for business plans, education plans, and career goals. Teaching children while they’re young to measure success by goal accomplishment puts them on the path to success.
Many people like to set goals but bite off more than they can chew. Make sure that your goals are small enough to be completed in the time given to complete them, but big enough to be challenging. If you need more time to complete a goal give yourself that time and track the progress you made before the extension to keep your momentum going. If it just isn’t possible you may need to re-evaluate your goals and adjust accordingly. Remember, these are your goals so only you can know what is right for you.
When financial troubles come to call it’s not uncommon for us to get financial tunnel vision. It’s easy to spot if you have it. You suddenly feel like you don’t even have the money to buy gum. When I get like this I don’t see solutions to my problem. All I see is the problem. Then I know it’s time to take a deep breath and remind myself of a few things.
I have known people who have hit a financial bump and panic because it was unexpected. Instead take inventory of how much time you have to fix the problem and what you have available to fix it. If you have a large book collection, consider selling some of your unused books to a used book store. This can apply to comic books, collectibles, or other items that are just taking up space in your home.
Use Your Resources
If you get into a financial bind it’s okay to use the resources that you have available. For example, if you have food storage it’s okay to use it when times are tough. Don’t get so caught up in keeping a store of food that you forget the reason you have it in the first place. This also applies to savings accounts and keeping your rent paid a few months ahead of schedule. Don’t feel bad about it. Just be thankful that your planning ahead has saved your family a few months of grief.
Often we get so discouraged about financial problems that we forget to continue living life. We excuse ourselves from social activities because we are afraid to spend money. This includes the activities that don’t cost anything to attend. Instead of putting your life on hold until your finances catch up take advantage of free parks and walking trails. Consider having family picnics with a homemade lunch rather than dinner at a restaurant. Remember that your money is a tool and you can still enjoy the little things in life without a whole lot of it to spend. Who knows, you may find a passion that ends up helping you with your financial situation.
Shopping on the day after a holiday has become one of my favorite pastimes. Why? Usually everything is discounted by 50%. There are usually things that are still good, despite the holiday themed color or decor. And, it’s a great way to get prepared for next year.
Candy. Halloween is a little different for us because, although I’m tempted to get out and buy a bag of M&Ms, we try to keep candy out of the house. And, since the kids are used to not having it around, it’s not difficult. BUT, if that’s not the case for you (and it didn’t use to be the case for me), this is a day to stock up on some candy.
Costumes. Costumes can be so pricey. Sometimes even making costumes doesn’t really save you much money (depending on what costume you are making). So, if you can guesstimate your child’s size and select a more classic costume (like a princess or superhero, etc), then you can save some serious money on next year’s costumes. That’s not to mention not having to worry about costumes on October 29 next year! 😉
Decorations. Decorations will be discounted today. This is a good time to assess what decorations you need or want to replace for next year. As with the costumes, it will save you money and the headache of trying to figure it out next October.
Other Halloween-Related Items. Halloween decorated muffin cups and party favors will also be on clearance. This is my favorite. Around our house we go from muffin to cookie phases in terms of what we like to have around as a snack. We are in a muffin phase. That means when I can get muffin cups/liners on sale, I get ’em! No one around here will care of the muffin liners are decorated with pumpkins!
What’s your favorite day-after-Halloween clearance item?
If you are anything like I am, you have been counting down until the acceptable date to decorate for Christmas. I know that some wait until December 1. However, I am in the day-after-Thanksgiving camp! I guess I should call it the day formerly known as the day after Thanksgiving and now known as “Black Friday.” 😉 While I love all the Christmas decorations, I have already been thinking about what to buy the day after Christmas, which (thankfully) does not have another name.
I am doing something a little more strategic to prepare for the day after Christmas this year. I’m making a list of things I need to replace or get for next year. Our wreath is one of those that I bought green and added the pieces to decorate. It’s taken a little hit over the last couple of years. So, some of those pieces are gone. So, that’s made it on my list for post Christmas shopping.
Also, we always add special ornaments, ones that represent highlights of the year, on our tree each year. And, I have no shame in buying and putting them on the tree the day after Christmas. Our tree is up until the 1st of January. So, I don’t mind. Besides, then we have it for the following year. However, as I was decorating the tree this year, I realized that we actually need more of the simple red ornaments we use as a base for all the decor. So, that’s on my list.
We also lost a couple of strings of lights. How long are those supposed to be good? Anyway, we’ll get lights this year too.
So, make your list now while it’s all fresh in your mind…before the next Turkey goes in the oven! And, check it twice before it all gets discounted 50-75% off. It’ll be worth it.
Are you planning on shopping the day after Christmas?
Thanksgiving is quite arguably the largest eating day of the year. For beginners it’s definitely a daunting task to cook that many dishes for sometimes a pretty large crowd. I remember my first Thanksgiving, and although everything tasted great, it definitely wasn’t all done at the same time and people were waiting. Thank God it was Thanksgiving otherwise I think people would have been chanting, “dinner, dinner, dinner.”
Here are some tips to help you avoid an overly hungry crowd.
1. First and foremost, pick what time you want your dinner or lunch to be ready. This will determine your start time and ensure everything gets ready at a reasonable hour. For example, if your turkey is going to take 6 hours and you want to eat at 1pm, you need that bird in the oven by 6am and no later. Once you pick the time for lunch or dinner, write out everything you are making and what time it needs to go in.
2. Thaw your turkey! This is probably the number one reason that Thanksgiving dinner is late. I think most beginners think they can buy a turkey the night before and it will thaw before cooking it the next day. Butterball has an awesome website on How to Thaw Your Turkey. Unfortunately, if you do it the way they recommend, you have to let your turkey sit in the refrigerator for 1 day for every 4 pounds. But don’t fret if you haven’t bought your turkey, there are some other suggestions for safe thawing.
3. Make a menu. This is probably pretty self explanatory, but it’s so important. You aren’t making a three item meal usually, so it’s easy to forget even the bread. My first Thanksgiving, everything was ready and we were about to enjoy the fruits of my labor when I notice the cranberry sauce isn’t on the table. How could I forget the cranberry sauce? It’s a Thanksgiving staple! I forgot it because I didn’t make a menu and check it off as I got it all ready.
4. Make what you can ahead of time. There are some Thanksgiving items that don’t need to be cooked ahead of time. For example pumpkin pie. Here is a treat that can easily be made the day/night before and it tastes just as good as before. Other sweets and treats are perfect for making ahead of time too. Do you make homemade stuffing, dry your bread out the day before.
5. Help, I don’t have enough room in my oven. This is a HUGE problem in my house. We like most people only have one oven. The turkey is definitely the largest item that takes up basically the whole oven. We remedied that by getting a roaster. I think we paid $20 from Wal-Mart for a roaster. We use it all year long too! It’s perfect for even roasting chicken. It cooks just like the oven does and it’s way easier for basting as well. But what about all the other food? We usually make the green bean casserole first and then let it sit in the microwave while the other items cook. It holds it’s heat well and reheats nicely right before we need to eat.
How are you saving time on your Thanksgiving Day meal?
Here’s my menu…What’s on your’s?
Cornbread dressing and bread dressing
Green bean casserole
Sweet potato casserole
Mashed potatoes and gravy