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  • 5 Ways to Keep Your Finances Sunny!

     

    After a hard-won battle with winter, summer is finally here in all her heat and glory. Are you looking to kick off your shoes and enjoy those sunbeams? Trying to cure that cabin-fever that had you down for those long, cold months?

    describe the imageFamily Credit Management has got you covered! 

    We not only want you to get out there and enjoy yourself, but we’re here to show you how to be thrifty and fun! There are so many ways to save while getting you and your family out of the house and into the sun. Here are a few to get you started!

     

     

    Season passes and Memberships

    Before you take the family to the zoo, waterpark, or amusement park ; scope out the deals! Local Grocery stores, deal sites, and even the venue websites often have group deals or season passes that make less expensive one time, or even a few times during the summer. It’s worth it to look around before lining up at the ticket counter!

     

    Your Local Library

    Not only is the library free, but it offers your family so many options for entertainment. Libraries also have awesome reading programs and craft sessions that offer interaction with other children and give the opportunity to meet new friends. The library also teaches your kids (and you!) the value of responsibility. Who wants to take fees out of their allowance just because they forgot to take a book back?

     

    Get Outside!

    Sometimes all you have to do is load the family up and walk! Local parks and forest preserves are usually free, and who doesn’t want to burn up some energy and get some vitamin D? An easy hike on trails can offer endless opportunities to teach children about nature, and teach us about our children! Plus, a simple walk is amazing for personal fitness.

     

    Think Ahead

    We touched on this briefly on the first point when we were talking about season passes, but I feel like this is very important. While spontaneous activities make fabulous memories, it literally pays to plan ahead. Plus, it saves you the hassle of lassoing those excited kids while simultaneously rummaging through your purse for cash to pay for things. Always consider packing lunches – not only is the food healthier, but it’s always cheaper. Look at local websites to see if there are free concerts, bowling deals, or discount movie nights. Even if you don’t have a concrete plan in mind, consider the elements you can control and try to limit expenses in little ways. They add up!

     

    Rediscover Your Town or Neighborhood

    When is the last time you just strolled around where you live? Have you truly been inside every little boutique around the town square? Saturday mornings are infamous for community Farmer’s Markets, and offer local produce, music, and art. Why not pretend you’re a tourist in your own town for a day and explore like you’ve never walked down the street you may drive on daily. Chances are your children don’t know the town like you do, and you can have an entertaining afternoon describing experiences you had as a child, or teaching them about local history.

     

    Need more help with your summer budget?

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  • How to Avoid a Total Cash-Trap of the Heart

    Just when you’ve gotten a fabulous start to your resolution to be smarter with your money… Cupid shows up. Yep, Valentine’s Day lurks just after the holidays, waiting to lure you backsteel trap money heart (3) into those bad spending habits. While I’m not trying to imply that you should shun the holiday all together and end up in the dog house, I AM recommending that you stay away from the usual clichés and be creative. Think of it as your first test as a fat wallet warrior. (Don’t worry, I have a cheat sheet!)

    First Trap: Roses

    Let’s face it, there are a lot of women who love to get an embarrassing display of long stemmed red roses at their workplace. This is expected behavior, and businesses fully comprehend the science of supply and demand. The cost of the flowers skyrocket, and sadly… they don’t live any longer. You can pay upwards to $50 and beyond for a dying collection of flora that will last about three days and maybe live in infamy on Instagram. It’s just not worth the hype if you’re really trying to make smart investments with your hard earned cash.

    Alternatives:

    Paper roses – There are a million DIY sites out there (and videos) that teach you how to create these fabulous things. You can use the pages from an old book for a vintage look. They last forever, and the labor of love counts far more than the click of that delivery button.

    Individual roses – If there is a sentimental attachment to the flower, why not visit your local florist or grocery store and pick up a few stems? A dozen roses just means you’ll have more dead flowers wilting around, and this option still gives you the opportunity to create an interesting vase, or even tying the stems with a bit of ribbon will create a very sweet touch.

    Chocolate Dipped Bouquet –

    Why not turn strawberries into roses and also enjoy the treat together? Dip the tips into white chocolate, place a kabob stick through the stems so that the tip faces upward. Arrange the “straw-roses” into a bouquet by tying a ribbon around the sticks.

    Second Trap: Dining Out

    Alternative: Dining In

    You can still have a romantic dinner in your own kitchen. A dozen scented or unscented tea lights from a wholesale or dollar store arranged in a dim room can create the perfect lighting without bruising your wallet. Cooking together is also a way to interact and have fun. Make sure to treat the evening as though you are going to that fancy bistro downtown, and have fun dressing up. Look up a favorite recipe, or maybe try something you’ve never attempted before. Perks – You can drink as much wine as you’d  like without worrying about a ride home, and you can skip the cheesy romance tunes for your own favorite soundtrack. Maybe make a dinner mix as an extra gift?

    Third Trap: Hallmark Cards.

    The joke that this holiday was created to sell cards isn’t so funny when you’re shelling out five to ten dollars per card to hand out to loved ones. Do you really remember little sentiments typed up in those things? Or… do you have a little chuckle, check to see if there’s money, and toss it? Be honest, there’s no shame here!

    Alternatives:

    Letter or note – If you want to give a gift or thoughtful token, why not actually take the time to write something out? It doesn’t have to be a poem or epic letter, so just jot down a sentence or two letting your recipient know that you’re thinking of them. In this tech-savvy time, that little effort really says something about how you feel. Include that $5 gift card for a coffee or such that can be enjoyed for a little bit longer than a skim and chuckle.

    There is a TON of ways to show people that you love that you appreciate them without breaking the bank. Get a little crafty. Fire up the grill. Do a load of laundry. Maybe send a few flirty texts or song lyrics  like you used to when you were first dating. With the convenience of online shopping and delivery, sometimes you wonder how much thought goes into the purchasing of these clichĂ©s. Why not invest more thoughtful romance into this holiday instead of money?

     Happy Valentine's Day!

     

    Do your financial woes go beyond cupid's demand for over-spending?  Have a heart-to-heart with a certified credit counselor now:

     

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  • Need fast Christmas gifts that are easy on your budget?

    If you are anything like me, I love the holidays! I love the traditions, the memories made, the food, and the time spent with friends and family. One thing I absolutely love to do is give gifts, but what happens when your generous heart does not match the measly amount in your savings account? How do you survive the holidays and still feel like you have given your all?

    I had this same dilemma over the past few years. My budget is tighter than ever, but I found a solace in amidst all the despair, and that my friend, is Pinterest. If you have not already heard of the online website Pinterest, then you are about to open a new world of possibilities. Pinterest is an online site that allows the user to “pin” pictures of other websites onto “pinpinterest resized 600 boards”, which in turn keeps all the websites you “pin” together in one spot. Why does that sound so appealing? Imagine being able to look at a short description of a website, see an interesting cover picture that corresponds to that site, and be able to become inspired from information you have just pinned. That is exactly what Pinterest does. It inspires. 

    So, what does this have to do with Christmas? Last year, my funds were tight. I was not sure if I was going to be able to afford to give many gifts at all. Therefore, I turned to Pinterest. I found inspiration on the site, and was able to turn that inspiration into inexpensive but handmade gifts for my friends and family! By utilizing Pinterest for inspiration and the dollar and hardware stores for supplies, I was able to create unique one of a kind gifts and only spend a fraction of what I would have normally spent while still feeling that wonderful feeling I get watching someone open my gifts.

    What I did for my friends and family may differ from the “Pin-spiration” you may do for yours, but if you are wondering what gifts, I was able to create for my friends and family you are in luck. I made each of my friends and family members their own gift basket. Each basket contained something personalized especially for them, along with items that were in everyone’s basket. Ok, here’s the list:

    Each basket contained:

    -One small basket from the dollar store

    -One coffee mug on which I wrote the person’s name in permanent marker and baked it in the oven to seal the writing

    -One set of alcohol ink coasters (Here’s instructions on how to make the coasters or you can find it on Pinterest:

     http://lifesacraftproject.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/how-to-make-coasters-with-alchohol-ink/)

    -One knitted coffee mug cozy

    -One homemade sugar scrub

    describe the imageNow, you can put into the basket whatever you like, but these particular baskets cost around $10 to make and I was able to give out seven of them, so I only spent around $70 for all my Christmas presents! This made it a little easier on my budget and I was able to afford to get a few special people in my life a little something extra.

    No matter what you decide to do, this Christmas remember: it is not the size of the gift or the cost; it is the giving of the gift itself that means the most. So think outside the box and get to “pinning”! 

     

    Don't wait under after the holidays to take control of your debt... we're here to help right now!

     

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  • Black Friday: To Shop or Not to Shop?

    So, are you ready for the big holiday this week?  No, not Thanksgiving- Black Friday! Although this year, Thanksgiving has gotten roped into the mix as well. Shopping has officially taken over as the objective for the entire latter half of this week.  We’re starting off the season of the highest retailer profits of the year with a bang- but at what personal cost?black friday resized 600

    I’ve already heard lots of people I know talking through their shopping strategy- which stores they’re hitting when, who’s offering the deepest discounts on what. Some people are making their plans to get up at 4AM to start shopping on Friday, while others are planning to start in as soon as they’ve downed their last slice of pumpkin pie tomorrow.

    Don’t get caught up in this frenzy.  Way too many people break the bank- or worse yet, the credit card- helping to make the holiday season more and more commercial every year.

    Whether they realize it or not, these people are making spending a small fortune their family tradition for the holiday. Is that really the kind of tradition you want to set? Think of all the ways you could spend this Friday other than shopping: Family Game Day, Bake Cookies Day or Watch Old Movies Day. The possibilities are endless when you make the day about spending time with loved ones instead of spending as much of your hard-earned money as possible.

    I understand the allure of Black Friday-there certainly are some impressive discounts to consider.  But think about this: how many of those items would you still buy at full price?  Is the fact that something is cheap a legitimate reason to buy it?describe the image

    Sadly, this type of mentality- paired with the hyper-excitement that builds during shopping on Black Friday in the first place- causes many people to spend money on things they normally wouldn’t (and shouldn’t.) It’s not a good deal if money is spent on something you didn’t truly want.

    When it comes to Black Friday (and Thursday) shopping one thing is clear- all reasoning goes out the window, even with the best intentions. 

    Remember, retailers are in the business of making money, not helping you save on your holiday shopping.  They offer these heavy discounts because they know once you’re in the store, you will spend far more than you planned to-often on items that aren’t even discounted. You’ll lose and the retailers will gain.  

    It’s your money and YOUR holiday- don’t make it about spending and presents. How about teaching our children that it’s about family and friends enjoying the most wonderful time of the year together? Now that would be a holiday to look forward to.

     

    If you'd like to go over a holiday budget or figure out how to get your spending and debt in check, call us at 800-994-3328 or chat with us now. 

     

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