Law, Life, & Everything in Between.

Holiday Shopping on a Budget

My friends and family will tell you, I am the queen of thrift store shopping and finding amazing deals. But when it comes to Christmas shopping for your loved ones, it is difficult to reconcile the need to save money with the need to make the gift-receiver feel special and loved. No one really wants to give their loved one a used throw pillow from a thrift store that you found for $2 as a Christmas present… right?

Silver Christmas Tree Urban Holiday Shop Hop 12-4-08

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So when times are tough financially, what is the best way to do your holiday shopping on a budget? Here are my highly effective tips:

1. Make a budget

How are you supposed to stick to a budget when you don’t know what the budget is? Think clearly, logically, and un-emotionally about how much you can really spend on each person. Make a list of all the people you will buy a gift for, and then set a limit for each person. Add up your numbers to be sure that you are not setting yourself up for financial failure come January.

2. Encourage your family and friends to draw names

This seems to be a common practice these days with many families, friends, and groups, but not for all. If your family is large, or even if it’s not, encourage your family members to put names in a hat and do a name drawing. This prevents over-spending and keeps the reason for the season in perspective. It’s not about how many gifts you give or receive; instead, it’s about being with your loved ones and giving thanks.

3. Before you shop, know exactly what you’ll be buying

Make a list of what you want to purchase for each person BEFORE you head out the door. If you have a mission to buy a specific item, and you know what your price limit is, you won’t be tempted to overspend. The music, lights, hustle and bustle of the season can make some people forget they’re on a budget once they are in the store. Make your list, hold it in your hand, and stick to it.

4. Make handmade gifts

Consider spending time online browsing DIY sites that can give you ideas and directions for making quality handmade gifts for your loved ones at a fraction of the cost of a purchased gift. Some ideas include homemade sea scrub salt, homemade cookies, a handmade scarf, or handmade jewelry. The love that goes into a handmade gift cannot be bought in a store!

5. Buy handmade gifts

Buying handmade is all the rage these days, and why not try it? Try sites such as Etsy.com for an endless supply of amazing handmade items. Beware though – you often have to order early to ensure that your purchases will arrive by Christmas. Oh, and as for your new addiction to surfing the Etsy website – you’re welcome.

Here’s a list of other great sites that offer great handmade DIY ideas as well as handmade products:

The Vintage Pearl – handmade stamped jewelry

Kelle Hampton’s Sea Salt Scrub

Handmade Camera Straps

What are your favorite tips for holiday shopping on a budget?

The Great Privacy Debate

As you’ve probably heard, F*cebook has been on the defensive lately. After making their privacy controls a bit too complicated, they were given major heat over their policies and the security of the website. In return, many people decided to “protest” by deleting their accounts.

I strongly considered deleting my account, but first spent about 20 minutes making my way through the privacy controls to make sure that everything was set to “friends only.” Since I can control my friends, I can in turn control who sees my information. I then began whittling away at my list of so-called “friends” – I had over 1,000 – but realistically, I am not too good to admit that I do NOT have 1,000 friends. I’d probably be lucky to have 100!

As I began the SLOW, tedious process of deleting people who, at one point or another, I had approved as a “friend” – I began to wonder if it would be easier to just delete the account. But then I’d come across a person – a real-life friend – who I felt lucky to be able to keep up with on F*cebook, whether because of distance, time, or other reasons. So I decided to keep plugging along at deleting “friends.” This is probably one major area where the site can improve – it is unbelievably difficult to just plug along at deleting friends. You have to go to their own page, scroll to the bottom, and click “remove from friends.” Then you are right back where you started.

Supposedly, F*cebook is going to begin fixing their crazy privacy settings. What do you think? Is Mark Z. doing enough? Will the site always be successful, regardless of privacy issues, just because of its nature? Will you be deleting your account, keeping it active, or setting up a new account?

A New Blog…

As many of you know…. I love to blog. To me, blogging is probably the greatest invention ever. Well besides my computer. And the iPhone. And Words With Friends. But you know what I mean.

I hope this blog is a place where I can place all of the serious things, hilarious moments, and other insights that I come across every day.

Thanks for visiting!

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