Thursday, December 22, 2011

Review of The Harvest of Grace

The Harvest of Grace by Cindy Woodsmall is the third book in the Ada’s House series. I have not read the first two books but there is a recap of characters in the beginning of the book. After reading it for awhile you catch on who the characters are and how they are connected.

It is a series about the Amish. Sylvia Fisher is a character new to the series in this book. After a shocking experience and betrayal she decides to leave her family farm to work for another farm in a different area. The son of her boss left home a couple years ago after the death of his sister. He returns in hopes of his parents selling the farm to move to town and help him purchase a business.

I would recommend the Ada’s House series and other Cindy Woodsmall books. I am looking forward to going back and reading the first two books in the series.

I received this book free from Waterbrook Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Having Second Thoughts

Stores are usually busy with return of items after the holidays but this year there has been an increase in the number of pre holiday returns. Some speculations for the pre holiday returns are finding a better price, realizing they don’t have the money and buyer’s remorse.

Some people have purchased items and once they get home or once they start receiving the credit card bills, they decide to return the items. Others have made purchases for themselves when buying for others and then realize they did not need the personal items enough to keep them.

I realize it is important to get your family and friends gifts, but I am sure they do not want you to go into debt to buy the gifts. If your financial situation has changed you need to change your spending habits to match them before you get into considerable debt.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What's Really Important

Sunrise on the Battery by Beth Webb Hart is a story of learning what is really important to you. Mary Lynn and Jackson Scoville put there energy towards succeeding in business and the local social scene. They also pressured their children to achieve high standards in academics. One of their daughters was so stressed about getting a high SAT score that she was using drugs to get through the stress.

During 20 years of marriage and raising a family Mary Lynn wanted the family to attend church but Jackson was against it. Mary Lynn prayed for Jackson to find God. After a turn of events he begins to read the Bible to prove that it is not true but ends up believing in it. But he goes totally the other way and almost loses his family because of the total change he made.

Finally, they learn what is really important in life.

It was an interesting book. I read it in one day because it was hard to put down.

I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers for this review.

Money Workout in 60 minutes at a time

The 60 Minute Money Workout by Ellie Kay shows you how you can change your financial life in as little as an hour at a time. Each chapter begins with a pre-workout text pertaining to the area to get an idea of what information you have and what you need to find out. In most of the chapters you will get suggestions of what to do depending on how you scored on the pre-workout test. Each chapter ends with a Workout Tip Sheet with key points from that chapter.

You can either read the entire book in order or skip to the chapters that pertain to you. Some of the chapters pertain to achieving financial freedom, setting a spending plan, retirement savings, travel and fun and allowances.

It is a great resource for either people just starting to get a handle on their finances or for those that need a refresher course.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pay What You Can Promotion

I want to share my financial knowledge with those who are in need. With the start of the new year, many people consider it a time to make a new start with certain areas of their lives.

I am offering a "Pay What You Can" promotion for appointments scheduled for the month of January (one appointment per person and subject to appointment availability). With the current economic conditions I realize there are some people that are in need of assistance in getting their financial lives under control and may not afford to pay regular fees. This is a chance to get assistance for what you can afford to pay.

If you want help in setting up a budget/living within a budget, ideas to pay off holiday debt, ideas for talking to your kids about money and many other topics contact me at or (701) 293-8808 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Save With Rebates

One way to save on purchasing items is mail-in rebates. There are many stores and companies that offer rebates for certain items. Even some online companies offer rebates.

Some things to keep in mind with rebates are to print out and fill in the rebate form right away. Read the rebate form to see what needs to be sent in with it. In most cases you may need to send in proof of purchase such as the receipt and either the UPC code from the package or the UPC code written on the form.

In many cases it is suggested to get it filled out and mailed soon after purchase before you forget about it or lose the receipt. In some cases it may be wise to wait a couple of weeks to send it in. If it is something that you think you may return, wait a couple of weeks before you cut the UPC code from the package.

My parents got new cell phones last weekend and the salesperson suggested to wait a couple of weeks to send in the rebate, since there is a 14 day return policy on them.

I have purchased a couple of things recently online that came with rebates to reduce the final cost significantly. With holiday sales many retailers have reduced prices on items and also offer mail-in rebates.

As with any type of shopping, consider if you really need the item, even if it is a great price. If you purchase something mainly because if you think it is a good price and don't really need it, you are not necessarily saving money.

Menards is one retailer that offers rebates throughout the year. In some cases, after the rebate the item may be free or almost free. The rebate forms are in front of the customer service desk and the rebate number will be printed on the receipt that is printed to go along with the rebate form.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Marcus Theatres Passport

If you or someone on your gift list enjoys going to movies, you may want to check out the Marcus Theatres Passport. For $25 a month (must buy 12 months) you can go to as many movies as you want. Also after 12 transactions at the concession stand you get a free popcorn.

You can have the $25 charged to your credit card each month or you can have the $300 charged at one time. The passport will be personalized so it cannot be traded or used by anyone else. When it is used they will ask for identification for the person using it.

The Passport card is good for every movie, every day of the year even for 3D and movies shown on the UltraScreen. The only things that it cannot be used for is Special Engagement such as the Metropolitan Opera and other events.
The Marcus Magical Movie Passport™ card will be available for use after you get it in the mail. Processing generally takes between 4-6 business days.
For more information or to purchase Passports, visit

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Inspiration When You Need It

The Lucado Inspirational Reader is a compilation of stories and quotes from Max Lucado's many previous books. It consists of 27 chapters, each dealing with a different topic.

It can either be read in order or you can use it for encouragement for different trials you may be going through. There is a topical index in the back of the book so you can easily find pages that deal with what you are interested in.

It is a nice smaller size so it is easy to take along with you, may even fit in some purses and bags. It would also be a nice gift idea.

I received a copy of the book from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger program. The only compensation I received was the book and it had no influence on my review.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Unglued Christmas Market

If you are looking for a source for local handmade items for gifts, check out the Unglued Christmas Market at 68 Broadway, Fargo. It will be open from Black Friday until Christmas Eve. It will be open Thursdays 5pm – 9 pm, Friday and Saturday 10 am – 9 pm, Sunday noon-9 pm.

The boutique features handmade items from local and regional artists, crafters and makers. You can also enjoy hot chocolate while you shop and take part in a gift workshop with one of the master crafters.

Kids Eat Free at Juanos

Juanos mexican restaurants are celebrating 15 years of business. To celebrate they are offering free kids meals until December 31 with an adult purchase of at least $8.

This is valid at all Juanos restaurants, 13th Ave S West Acres, 32nd Ave S in Fargo, 19th Ave N in Fargo and 315 Main Ave in Moorhead.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Heirlooms New Location

Heirlooms has moved to 3120 25th St S, Fargo (next door to Village Inn. It is an upscale resale store that supports the work of Hospice of the Red River Valley. It has become a donation destination for finer items no longer needed because of a change in a family situation, redecorating or relocating.

All donations to Heirlooms are tax deductible.
Items you will find at Heirlooms include:
Home furniture: sofas, loveseats, side chairs, ottomans, dining and kitchen sets, coffee and end tables, entertainment centers and desks
Home furnishings: lamps, artwork, collectibles, vases, decorator pillows, bookends and figurines
Linens: placemats, table cloths, table runners, napkins and napkin rings
Tableware: china, pottery and ceramic dinnerware, water pitchers, decanters, candlestick holders, centerpieces
Women's clothing and accessories: suits, coats and jackets, casual wear, sweaters, blouses, blazers, slacks, skirts, necklaces, pins, earrings and bracelets
They also have magazines that have been donated for sale at $1. They only sell magazines that are 1-2 months old. So if you have newer magazines that you have already read, consider donating them instead of throwing them out.

They have moved to a larger space than they were previously in. Along with donated holiday items they also have new gift giving items such as gift books, boxes of candy and more.

They are open in the new location and are having a Grand Opening celebration on Thursday, December 1 from 9 am to 6 pm. They will have refreshments, in-store specials and Heirlooms gift certificate drawing.

Black Friday Shopping

Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the holiday season. Here are some tips to Black Friday shopping. You may be able to find good deals on some things but it is important to shop with a list so you don’t spend the money you saved on things you may not need. Also, if you charge your purchases and cannot pay them off at the within a month or two, your savings may go to interest and finance charges instead.

Here is a blog post about holiday money wasters.

By using a few of these ideas you may be able to save money to use on other things.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Need Gift Cards?

If you are purchasing gift cards for Christmas gifts, you may want to check out Hornbachers. From Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24 through Nov. 30 you will get a coupon for $20 of free groceries when you buy $100 or more of participating gift cards in a single transaction. The coupon will print out when you check out and may be redeemed on your next shopping trip. The coupons expire 7 days from issue date.

Some of the participating cards are Macy's, Sears, KMart, Applebees, ITunes, JCPenney and Lowes.

You could also purchase the cards to use if you are purchasing gifts at these stores to get the free groceries.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Conscous spending

Just as it is important to make a list and budget for holiday spending it is also helpful to keep your spending under control throughout the year.

One way to do this is to track your expenses. For at least a month, keep track of everything you spend money on. This way you can see how much you spend in certain areas and can use it to develop your budget.

It is easy to lose track of how much you are spending. If you practice conscious spending and think before you spend to make sure you really need/want the item. A dollar here and there can add up quick. Those few dollars saved can add up to something you may want more.

I have heard from some people about their bills being high and I have heard of Target known as the $50 dollar store because even going in for one or two things you come out with $50 worth of items. But if you think about the items before putting them in your cart, you may be able to save some money.

I have some friends that are surprised by how much they save when they watch what they are spending.

With the prices of many things going up and higher utility costs with winter coming it may be helpful to find ways to cut expenses. Some people who have been laid off or have income decreased find that they need to be more careful with how much they spend on things. It may be beneficial to start shopping this way before your circumstances change so you have some leeway if you do find yourself with a decrease of income.

Dave Ramsey $10 Sale

Dave Ramsey is having a sale on many of his products for $10 and $4.95 shipping. This is up to 50% off some of the items.

Some of the items included in the sale are his book, The Total Money Makeover, Financial Peace Junior, the Deluxe Envelope System and his new page-a-day calendar.

The Total Money Makeover consists of his 7 Baby Steps to getting out of debt and staying debt free. It also includes testimonies and stories from many people who have used his system of getting out of debt.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Unique Boutique

Another program to help those in need during the holidays is the Unique Boutique at the YWCA Shelter. On December 9, current and former residents of the shelter will be able to shop for presents for their immediate family members from items that have been donated. They are in need of donations of gifts and wrapping paper. Also, if you are interested in volunteering before the event and during the event. Gifts should be delivered to the shelter by December 5. For more information contact Amber at (701) 232-3449 or

Click here for a copy of suggestions of gifts they are requesting.

The shelter is also in need of items for children and babies at this time. Through September, the childcare center within the shelter has met the needs of 559 children and on average six pregnant women each month. With this demand the supply of baby-related items has been depleted. Click here for a list of items that are needed. Some of the most urgent needs are diapers (sizes 4-6), baby wipes, Good Start infant formula and Winter coats, snow pants and boots (for school aged children).

Another program is to Adopt a Family from the Transitional Housing program for the holidays. By purchasing gifts for a family, you will brighten the holidays for a mom and her children. Gifts must be delivered to the shelter before December 15. To receive a family’s wish list or more information contact Erin at (701) 232-3449 or

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Free Electronics Recycling at Best Buy

Best Buy is eliminating a $10 fee that covered many items disposed of through its in-store electronics recycling program.

Even if you did not purchase the products at Best Buy you can still drop items free of charge at any Best Buy store nationwide.

The stores now accept tube screens up to 32 inches and flat-panel screens up to 60 inches. Other items accepted are DVD players, audio and video cables, cell phones and more.

The recycling programs have collected 83 million pounds of electronics and 73 million pounds of appliances in 2010, and its goal is to collect 1 billion pounds of electronics by the end of 2014.

So if you have items you want to get rid of or if you get new items for the holidays, this is a free and safe way to get rid of the old items.

Watch Store Signs

I have noticed some stores having signs that you need to be careful about what you will be paying for an item. In some stores I have seen big $1 signs. Then I get to it and in small print, it says $1 off.

The other night I was at a store and saw a big sign at the banana display for $0.24. Since bananas are usually prices per pound and have been more than $0.50 per pound this seemed like a great deal. Then I got closer and it was $0.24 per banana.

With the prices increasing, stores and companies are coming up with marketing and packaging so we don't realize the increases as much. Many itmes are coming in smaller packages for the same or higher prices than before.

Kids Card Contest

Edelman Financial Services is looking for children (age 12 and under) to design their company’s 2011 holiday card. The winner of the contest will receive a $500 contribution to a 529 College Saving Plan and have his/her card sent to all Edelman Financial clients.

The artwork should feature this year’s theme of “Why I Save” and use “Happy Holidays” to accommodate all religious denominations. It should also reference Edelman Financial Services; if needed, leave blank space in the artwork to accommodate the company logo.
The artwork can be on any size paper, horizontal or vertical, but the submission needs to be reproduced as a card-sized color print. Computer generated artwork will not be accepted.

All entries must be postmarked by November 21, 2011. One entry per child will be accepted. For more information, official contest entry form and where to send your entries, please go to

Edelman Financial Services is headquartered in Fairfax, VA and provides financial planning and investment management services for individuals and families. Ric Edelman also offers financial education through his weekly radio and television programs, books, seminars and other appearances. I have read some of his books and have seen him of various shows on television.

It is short notice but a chance at $500 for your child if they enjoy doing artwork.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Waiting for Morning Review

I have read several books by Karen Kingsbury and I enjoyed Waiting for Morning as much as the others. She has a great talent of telling stories that you can relate to. One other book I recently read by Karen related to spousal abuse and this one relates to drinking and driving.

It describes the power alcohol has over some people and how it can affect families when people are killed.

The story is of a Christian family that has everything they ever wanted. Then on the way home from a fishing trip a father and daughter are killed by a drunk driver. The story tells of how the wife and other daughter need to deal with the aftermath of the accident. Along with dealing with drunk driving the story also deals with suicide.

After the accident, the wife Hannah gives up believing in God since he let this happen. At the end of the story one of the policemen at the scene of the accident tells her that her husband’s last words were to forgive. She realizes even though she wants the driver to pay for what he did to her family she also needs to forgive him to be able to go on with her life.

It is a very good story and the book was difficult to put down.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kids and Money Gifts

There are many different types of banks to help kids learn about saving. One I have found is Money Savvy Bank. They come in different colored pig banks and also football banks. They have four separate chambers for Saving, Spending, Donating and Investing. I gave these to my 6 nieces and nephews last year. I do have some of these on hand if you are interested in them.

Financial Peace University Junior is aimed at children from ages 3-12. It teaches children the importance of saving, spending and giving. There is a also a selection of books.

Generation Change is a program for teens with a workbook and DVD lessons.

I have put together a Page a day calendar with websites and other resources to teach kids about money.

Gift a Book

With so much talk about money and the current economic conditions, you may know someone who could be helped by reading books about money.

There are many books on the subjects of money and finances. I will share with you a few that I have enjoyed and have found helpful. Dave Ramsey is the author of The Total Money Makeover, EntreLeadership and developer of Financial Peace University. Financial Peace University is a 13 week course to help you get a handle on your debt and stay out of debt. It is offered at many area churches and other places.

Another author that has written a number of books that are easy to relate to is David Bach. Some of his books include Smart Women Finish Rich, Smart Couples Finish Rich and The Automatic Millionaire.

One of the blogs I follow is Money Saving Mom. Crystal has written a book that is coming out in January. As stated in her blog post, it is a comprehensive step-by-step plan to take you from financial mess to financial success.

In my next post I will offer book and gift ideas for children.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Half Price at Savers

Savers, 1623 38 St SW, Fargo is having a half price sale on Friday for Veterans Day. You can get 50% off all used clothing, shoes, accessories, and items tagged bed & bath. They are open from 7 AM to 9 PM. This sale is good at all US Savers stores.

Savers is a second hand store and the proceeds go towards local charities.

The store usually has 50% off sales on certain holidays, New Years Day, Presidents Day, Fourth of July, Veterans Day. Also, throughout the year, each day they have 50% off a certain color price tag.

Buying at second hand stores, you can get more for your clothing budget. Also, if you have been losing weight, it is one way to buy smaller sized clothing as you lose weight without having to spend a lot of money. Especially if you are trying to lose quite a bit and will be going through multiple sizes of clothes.

Other things to look for second hand are formal clothes. Usually, they are only worn once or a few times by the original purchaser and you will probably only want to wear it a few times too. So if you can find something that fits your purpose for a fraction of buying new, why not?

I have also purchased household items, such as bundt cake pan, angel food cake pan and other items second hand. In some cases, people donate items they do not need or items they have received as wedding gifts and don’t want or need. I bought a set of bowls once and there was a wedding card still in the box.

So if you are trying to make your money go further, check out second hand stores and you will never know what kind of treasures you may find.

Its a Wonderful Night Event

The It’s a Wonderful Night shopping event at West Acres will be held Sunday, November 20, from 6 -9 pm. Tickets for the event are $5 per person (children 6 and under are free) and are available at West Acres or participating organizations.

During the event you can register for door prizes and some stores will be having special savings and discounts.

The entire $5 price of the ticket is donated to the organization that you bought the ticket from. I used to belong an organization that participated in this event. I believe if you buy a ticket at West Acres you can put the name of a participating organization on your ticket and they will receive the money for it. Click here for a list of participating organizations.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Following are some of the crafts I have made for the holidays and am working on more items.

Necklaces made from neckties
Fleece neckwarmer/headband
Kids and Money Calendar
Money Savvy Money Bank


Teacher Jars

Post It Note Holders

Saving on Holiday Meals

Just as with holiday gift shopping it is important to budget for your holiday meals. Many of the grocery stores currently have and will have baking items and other holiday items on sale in the coming weeks.

Sunmart is offering Holiday Bucks to use on future purchases. You can earn up to 4 Holiday Bucks per shopping visit. You can earn 1 Holiday Buck per $30 spent per shopping trip up to $120. The Holiday Bucks can be redeemed through December 31.

If you have a list of items you will need that can be purchased ahead of time you can add them to your shopping a few at a time instead of a large bill at the end.

This is also a great time to stock up on items you may use throughout the year such as flour, butter, nuts, baking chips, etc. Butter, nuts and baking chips can be stored in the freezer so they last longer.

With the prices of groceries continuing to increase, it may be wise to stock up on items now if your budget allows.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Holiday Vendor Shows

With the holidays coming up there are many Vendor and Craft shows planned. Following are some of the shows that I am aware of, there may be more. Some people prefer shopping this way instead of the malls. The Vendor shows consist of many of the home based businesses and people with homemade and craft items.

Saturday, November 5, there will be a Fall Bazaar at New Horizons, 2525 Broadway, Fargo from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Items available are crafts, baked goods, Tupperware, rolls, coffee and barbecues

There is a Holiday Shopping event being held at the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre on Saturday, November 5 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. The FMCT is at 333 4th St S, Fargo

Another one on November 5 is at the American Legion at 303 30th St N, Moorhead. There will be lunch served throughout the day. Proceeds will benefit auxiliary projects involving the troops, veterans, children and youth and community service.

Also, on November 5 there is a Hunting Widows Show planned at the El Zagal Shrine at 1429 3rd St N, Fargo from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.
On Saturday, November 12, there will be a Holiday Sale at Living Waters Lutheran Church at 4451 40th Ave S, Fargo from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Some items featured will be fine arts and crafts from several local artists, pottery, holiday crafts, stained glass, quilts, sculpture, baked goods, cards, jewelry, photography, decorative painting, acrylic canvas, wearable art, lunch available for purchase

On Thursday , November 17 there will be a vendor sale at the West Fargo VFW at 308 Sheyenne Street, West Fargo from 5:30 to 8:30 pm.
Also, on Thursday, November 17 at Fabricators Supply at 806 NP Ave, Fargo from 5:00 -8:00 pm. There are over 20 vendors registered. There will also be raffle tickets sold for your chance to win prizes from the vendors. Proceeds from the raffle will benefit Nokomis Childcare Center.
There is a Vendor Sale planned for Sunday, November 20 at Ramada from noon to 4 with over 30 vendors.

There is a Vendor Sale scheduled for Monday, November 21 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm at the Fargo Doublewood Inn. Proceeds will be going to benefit PATH. There are over 30 vendors registered so far.

I will have a table at the Fabricators Supply sale on November 17 and the Ramada on November 20. With a variety of items, post it note holders, necktie necklaces, teacher gifts, coffee filter wreaths, and more. I will be having posts of items I am making coming up in future posts.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gifts in Cans


In a previous post I described how to transform a cereal box into a gift/treat box.

I did a similar thing with nut cans and coffee cans. Cut scrapbook paper to make a band around the can and glue the edges together. You can also cut a circle of paper to glue to the top of the can. There are several recipes for snack mixes, here is a blog post I found with some ideas for snack mix recipes. The cans can also be used to give other gifts such as hot cocoa and other drink mixes

Used Book Sales

The American Association of University Women will be hosting a Used Bood Sale this Friday and Saturday at Moorhead Center Mall. The sale will be Friday from 9 am to 6 pm and Saturday 9 am to 4 pm. The books have been donated by the public.

Also, this weekend the Friends of the Fargo Library are having their Fall Book Sale. It is in the Meeting Room at the downtown location from 12-5 pm on Saturday and 1-5 on Sunday. Usually they have a bag sale on Sunday of the sale. I also saw the sale is at the Northport and Carlson locations. I was at the Carlson location today and there were signs for books on sale Friday - Sunday for 50 cents each.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cereal Box to Gift Box

With a few simple steps you can transform a cereal box into a gift or treat box.

First I cut the top half or so off of the front and sides of the box. Then cut the back rounded so it will make a flap when you fold it over the front.

Then use gift wrap or scrapbook paper to wrap the bottom of the box like a gift, trim the paper around the top and sides and glue (I used glue dots). Then wrap with a piece of ribbon to close.

It can be used for baked goodies, snack mixes and other holiday gifts.

Review of Divine

I have read several books by Karen Kingsbury and was anxious to read Divine. I really enjoyed the book. Her other books have always been interesting but this one pulled me in more than usual. It was difficult to put it down, always looking forward to where the story was going to go.

The story is about Mary Madison telling her story of abuse to another woman who had just left an abusive relationship. She used her story to show that no matter how bad you think your life if and it is not worth living, there is a reason for you to be here. Mary had been taken from her mother at an young age and abused for several years. Years after being rescued, she became an advocate for abused individuals.

Karen Kingsbury has a great talent of storytelling and keeping the reader interested. It felt like you knew the characters.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ways to Chalk It Up

I have been seeing many ideas online of how to use chalkboard paint around your home. When looking for ideas today, I found recipes for DIY Chalkboard paint. Also from, you can buy chalkboard contact paper.

I have made a pinterest board with some of the ideas I found.

Some of the entertaining ideas I found are here, here, here, here and here.

There are several ideas to use it for organization, a couple of which are here and here.

You can use it on metal lunchboxes to write a note to your children.

Also, for home decorating you can use it on trays and frames.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Leadership, Not Just for Leaders

I have read several other books by John Maxwell and was anxious to have the chance to read and review The 360◦ Leader. As with his other books he has a great way of sharing information in an easy to read and understand manner.

Most of the time when we think of leaders, we think of the boss. As he explains in the book, people lower on the management team can also be leaders. If you are in middle management, you can improve your leadership skills to improve your chances of moving up in the management team.

Besides, using it in your professional life you can also use some of this information in your personal life.

The book includes principles for each of the five sections of the book. The sections include, Myths of Leading from the Middle of an Organization, Challenges faces by the 360◦ Leader, Principles to Follow to Lead up, Principles to Lead Across and Principles to Lead Down.

I would recommend this book to both leaders and their employees so they can understand what others are dealing with.

I received a copy of the book from Thomas Nelson publishers as a Book Review Blogger. This is the only compensation I received and had no influence on the review.

Cookie Transformations

The internet is a great source of ideas for the holidays. There are several ways to use store bought cookies to make holiday cookies.

Using Nutter Butter cookies you can make Santa cookies, Snowmen and reindeer.

You can also make turkey cookies from Oreos and Striped cookies. Also, Pilgrim hats can be made with marshmallows and striped cookies.

There are many more ideas that help you make treats using cookies from the store.

Holiday Home Tours

There are Holiday Home Tours coming up if you are looking for Holiday decorating ideas.

The Home for the Holidays sponsored by NDSU Alpha Gamma Delta Alumnae will be November 5 and 6 from noon – 5:00 pm. The tour includes holiday designs from local merchants at area homes and the NDSU President’s Home and Alumni Center. Tickets are $20 and available at Holland’s Gift & Garden Shop, Northern Home Furniture and Design, NDSU Book Store & Alumni Center, Scheels Home and Hardware and Shotwell Floral.

A portion of the proceeds will be presented to the Fargo-Moorhead Emergency Food Pantry.

On Saturday, November 12 there are two different tours.

First, there is one from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm sponsored by Inspired Home and Designing Women 2 to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Association of North Dakota. It includes home tour, craft and bake sales. Homes in the tour are in Fargo at 2204 Victoria Rose Drive South, 2303 Centennial Rose Drive South, 2115 Sterling Rose Lane South and 124 Woodcrest Drive North. Tickets are $15 and are available at Hornbacher's and Stop-N-Go.

Another tour scheduled for Saturday, November 12 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm is sponsored by El Zagal Shrine Patrol ladies. There will be a tour of homes and also decorated trees at the Shrine. Contact the El Zagal Shrine at 701-235-7521 at 1429 N 3rd Street, Fargo for more information.

Tours like this are a great way to get new decorating ideas and to see what is available from local merchants.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

90 Day holiday Countdown Part 2

It’s hard to believe, but Christmas is about 90 days away. It is my goal to make a post the next 90 days with money saving ideas, recipes and decorating ideas to help you take some of the stress out of the holidays.

One of the first things to do is make a holiday budget. Sit down and make a list of everyone you are planning on buying a gift for. Along the each name write an amount you plan on spending and any ideas you may have. Total up your amounts to see what the total amount is. When you see the total you can divide by the amount of months or weeks left and try to work it into your monthly budget.

After you have made up your gift budget, also do the same thing with other extra expenses you are planning on such as parties, extra dining out, cards, giftwrap and other expenses.

Following is a recap of the holiday posts

Days 1-30

Day 31 - Black Friday Sales
Day 32 - Holiday Home Tours
Day 33 - Cookie Transformations
Day 34 - Ways to Chalk it Up
Day 35 - Avoiding Holiday Debt
Day 36 - Transform Cereal Box into Gift box
Day 37 - Gifts in Cans
Day 38 - Holiday Vendor Shows
Day 39 - Saving on Holiday Meals
Day 40 - Saving on Holiday Expenses
Day 41 - Its a Wonderful Night event
Day 42 - Concordia Catering Bake Sale
Day 43 - Gift a Book
Day 44 - Kids Money Gifts
Day 45 - Pride of Dakota shows
Day 46 - Thanksgiving Weekend Shopping
Day 47 - Best Buy Electronics Recycling
Day 48 - Unique Boutique
Day 49 - Budget Conscious Holiday Meals
Day 50 - Semi Homemade Holidays
Day 51 - Conscious spending
Day 52- Need Gift Cards
Day 53 - Black Friday Shopping
Day 54 - Unglued Christmas Market
Day 55 - Christmas Family Countdown
Day 56 - Poor Paper Boys
Day 57 - Save Coin Black Friday Deals
Day 58 - Holiday Light Displays
Day 59 - 10 Christmas Movies to enjoy
Day 60 - Weeky recap

Friday, October 28, 2011

Upcoming Financial Literacy events

North Dakota Jump$tart is a nonprofit organization that encourages and promotes financial literacy efforts throughout the state. They educate the public through speaking engagements and workshops and provide information and materials throughout the state.
The ND Jump$tart Coalition is planning RealWorld Camps for 6th graders next year in Bismarck and Fargo. It will be the first annual event and will be free to the first responding 150 sixth graders in Bismarck-Mandan, Fargo and surrounding communities. The Real World Camp will offer participants a first-hand look at life through 5 hands-on break-out sessions and a stroll through the “Real World” city featuring local businesses that affect our daily lives.
The event in Bismarck is planned for Monday, March 12, 2012 at the Bismarck Public Schools Career Academy on the BSC campus from 8 am – 5 pm. The details for the Fargo event are still being worked on. Registration information will be available within the next couple of months.

This event can only be made possible through the donations of sponsoring companies. Bismarck Public Schools Career Academy is sponsoring the space in Bismarck and other donations would greatly benefit both events to help keep the cost low and possibly free to our attendees. They are also seeking donations of breakfasts, lunches, snacks, speaker fees, and t-shirt sponsors as each group will be identified by their shirt color.

Should your business make a monetary donation, they will recognize your efforts to our event with your logo on our t-shirts and on all marketing and promotional items.

If you are interested in helping out either through item donation or monetary sponsorship of our event, please contact Amy Johnson at before Thursday, December 15, 2011.

Black Friday Sales

The day after Thanksgiving has been known as Black Friday. Many stores have extra sales trying to rev up the shopping season for the holidays. Target has announced that most of their stores will be opening at midnight on Thursday night and will be open 23 hours until 11:00 pm on Friay. In past years, the earliest stores opened was 4:00 am on Friday. I am waiting to see if others follow in their path.

Many shoppers camp out in front of stores throughout the night to get a great spot to get into the stores. Many of the stores that offer the great deals have limited quantities per store.

Online retailers also offer Black Friday deals.

So are you a Black Friday shopper?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Photo Canvas Deal

In a previous post I wrote about the different photo gifts that are available. Last year for Christmas I gave my parents a photo canvas of our family photo.

The site I used Canvas People is having a sale now. For a limited time you can get a free 8x10 canvas (you pay $14.95 shipping) or 40% off a larger size and free shipping.

I have heard from some people that the 8X10 is kind of small if you want it to be a major focus of a wall. You can have the canvas framed by the company also for an additional fee.

It would be a great gift idea or something different to do with favorite photos or vacation photos. I also had a canvas made from a photo I took on the Caribbean cruise I took last winter.

Digital Photography Training Deal

I have posted previously about considering giving experiences or consumable gifts instead of more "stuff". If you or someone on your gift list is into photography, the current may be for you.

The current deal is from the Photography Training Center at 2580 Main Ave in Fargo (701)235-6144. They are offering their 3 series classes for $60, the regular price is $129. The limit is one per person plus you can purchase one as a gift.

According to the website it will be offered through the weekend, but in some instances they have pulled the offer early if there is a great demand. As of this evening there had been 37 offers purchased.

There are new classes monthly and they offer hands-on lessons with lots of how tos and tips. The classes cover the basics of lighting and how to really understand your camera. The certificate expires on April 27, 2012.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gift wrap ideas

Along with purchasing gifts, you also need to wrap the gifts. With a little work you can make one of a kind bags or reusable bags. If you are giving gift cards, there are various ways to give the gift cards instead of just the card you get from the store.

I have made a Pinterest board with Gift Bag ideas.

Another idea is to use containers for baked goods and other treats, such as the plastic coffee cans. Wash them out and remove the label. It can be as easy as wrapping a piece of ribbon around the can and tying a bow. Look around your house for other containers you could use for gift giving.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Holiday Planning Guide

Jessica from Life As Mom has put together a Holiday Planning Guide. It has planning pages for your holiday gift buying list and other schedules for the holidays.

Along with the e-book, in the coming weeks she will be having posts with recipes, gift ideas and other ideas to take some of the stress out of the holidays. She is a homeschooling mom of six, so she is used to stress.

I read her blog most days and get many great ideas from it.

Southwest Holiday Sale

If you have plans to fly over the holidays, check out the Southwest website to see if you can find a deal on your flights.

Southwest Airlines has flights between December 13th and January 5th on sale for as low as $59 One-Way. If you paid for your flights at a higher price, you can contact Southwest and they will issue you a credit for the difference.

Flights need to be booked by Thursday (Oct 27) to get these low rates.

Holiday Light Hanging Deal

Today's deal on is for exterior light hanging. For $75 you get 2 1/2 hours of exterior light hanging from United Lawn Services. The regular price of this is $160. There may be an additional fee for larger homes and the deal is only valid for homes and businesses within 15 miles of Fargo. Appointments must be scheduled by November 15.

There are several other businesses in the area that offer light hanging services for the holidays.

Check out today for more information or to purchase the deal.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Harvesting from a CSA

This last summer I received weekly vegetables from a CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture) from Bluebird Gardens by Fergus Falls.

You receive a weekly box of vegetables from June to mid October. In addition to the vegetables you also have the opportunity to take part in Harvest Events where you can go to the farm and pick additional items. Each item has a specific amount you can pick. This is considered a gift from the farm so if you choose not to or are unable to participate in Harvest Events you are not losing anything.

A family share is $595 which is charged during 5 months over the winter at $119 per month. A share (enough for two people) is $395 or $79 a month. I got the share and was able to freeze some of the extras for the winter. I also participated in Harvest Events and have a freezer full of vegetables. Here is a list of the vegetable I received in the box each week and during the Harvest Events.

I really enjoyed participating in the CSA and am looking forward to next year again. The share comes to about $20 per week. There were things that I enjoyed trying and probably would not have bought otherwise. I also ate more vegetables than if I was going to buy them at a Farmers Market or grocery store.

See the website for more information or to signup.

CSA vegetables

Following is a list of what was in the CSA boxes each week and what I picked at Harvest Events at Bluebird Gardens.

2011 csa

week 1
romaine lettuce
1 cucumber
pea shoots
kyoto mizuna
chinese cabbage

week 2
bok choy
1 cucumber
1 kolrabi

Week 3
bok choy
1 cucumber
1 kolrabi

week 4
Lemon peppergrass
Green onions

Week 5
2 bunches of Romaine lettuce
Green onions

Week 6
Green onions
2 heads lettuce
Sugar snap peas

Harvest Event #1 Peas 7/10/11
Picked 2 5-gallon pails. 1 of regular peas, ½ flat snap peas, ½ sugar snap peas.
Blanched and froze, ended up with 10 gallon bags of peas.

Week 7
Huge head of leaf lettuce
Chinese cabbage
Green onions
Sugar snap peas
Green beans
3 new potatoes

Week 8
5 new potatoes
Green beans
Green onions

July 24th picked 10 gallons of green and yellow beans (2nd harvest event out of 5)
Froze 4 1 gallon bags
6 qts canned beans
1 batch pickled beans in fridge

Week 9
Green beans
Chinese cabbage

Week 10
Green beans
August 5 – went and picked my 10 dozen corn (3rd of 5 harvest events)

Week 11
Walla walla onion
2 cucumbers
12 Corn cobs

Week 12
3 cucumbers
3 tomatoes
2 Onions
12 Corn cobs

Week 13
12 corn cobs
2 cucumbers
3 tomatoes
2 onions

Week 14
12 corn cobs
2 cucumbers
3 tomatoes
Green beans

Week 15
10 corn cobs
3 cucumbers
3 tomatoes
Green beans
kyoto mizuna

Week 16
Lemon peppergrass
2 peppers

Week 17
kyoto mizuna
Bok choy
White radishes
White cap mushrooms

Week 18
White and red radishes
Kyoto mizuna
Baby bok choy
Pie pumpkin
4 Mini squash

Week 19
Romaine lettuce
Pie pumpkin
5 squash
White radishes

10/8/11 Went to use up last of Harvest event coupons. I had one left and had a free one from mailer.
Got a 10 gallon pail of beets (1/2 coupon)
10 gallon pail of carrots (1 coupon)
10 gallon pail of fall decoratives (mini pumpkins and gourds) (1/2 ticket)
Grocery bag of tomatoes (free pick now)

Week 20
Pie pumpkin
5 squash
Romaine lettuce
Chinese cabbage

Holiday Price Matching

Wal-Mart Stores are offering price-matching from November 1 to December 25, except on grocery items. If you buy something on their website or at their stores during these dates and find the identical item for less at a different store you will receive a gift card for the price difference. To receive a gift card, the shopper needs to bring the original Wal-Mart receipt and the local competitor’s print ad to the store. Gift cards will not be given out after December 25. The price matching offer does not include Internet retailers.

Some stores, including Bed Bath & Beyond and Staples are also matching prices with online merchants such as Staples is leaving the decision up to the discretion of the store managers of whether to price match with online prices.

So you may be able to get better deals without having to visit a bunch of stores.

Calendar winner

The winner of the Kids and Money calendar is anastaciagrace. I will send an email to you asking for your mailing address.

Thanks for entering the giveaway.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saving on Holiday Outfits

Another extra holiday expense you may have is for clothing for parties and school programs. Many stores may be having these items on sale in the next couple of months.

Another option is to check out the children resale stores such as Once Upon a Child or Kinder Kloset. In many cases these items such as dresses were only worn once or twice and you can pay a fraction of what you would spend buying them in another store.

Also, if you need multiple outfits for various parties and holiday events check out resale stores such as Clothes Mentor in Fargo and My Best Friends Closet in Moorhead. As with the kids clothes, many holiday sweaters and other outfits may only have been worn a time or two and look brand new.

The stores mentioned all have Facebook pages where they post photos of many of the new items they get into their stores.

If you do buy your holiday outfits at a retail store, you may consider selling it to a resale store if you do not plan on wearing them for another occasion. It may not seem like you will get a lot for them but if you have a few items you will get some money for them instead of just having them hang in your closet.

This is part of a 90 day series with tips to help make your holidays easier. Click here for previous posts.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Getting Ready for Halloween

Even though stores have had Christmas decorations out for a couple a months, we still have Halloween and Thanksgiving to celebrate first.

Pinterest is a site where you can organize ideas you see online. You can make boards of different themes. I have made a Halloween board with ideas I have found online and on Pinterest for costumes, treat ideas and decorating ideas. Sometimes it is possible to save money by making your own costumes or look for items for a costume at the thrift stores. Also, if you come up with an idea of a costume and cannot find it in the stores, you may be able to make it.

Some of the decorating ideas on the board can be used all fall and for Thanksgiving.

This is part of a 90 day series with tips to help make your holidays easier. Click here for previous posts.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Holiday Online Shopping

Shopping online is getting more popular all the time. When shopping online you can search various stores without leaving home. If you have kids, you can shop without having to take the kids to the store. If you decide to purchase something from a specific store, search online to see if they happen to have a discount code. Many stores offer codes for a percentage off your purchase of free shipping. Some stores have a limit of minimum purchase to receive free shipping.

When purchasing online, pay attention to what the shipping charges will be. In some cases the shipping may be almost as high as the purchase price if you are only purchasing one or two items.

As with shopping at stores, it is important to stick to your gift list and stay within your budget. When shopping online with your debit or credit cards it may be easy to overspend without realizing it.

Also, by shopping online you save by not having to spend money on gas to travel to various stores and you can avoid the crowds that will get worse the cloer you get to the holidays. When shopping online, you can shop anytime so you can fit it into your schedule.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Protect Yourself Against ID Theft

Shredding any personal papers that have your account numbers and other information is an important step to take in order to protect your identity.

National Protect Your Identity Week is set for October 16 - 22, 2011. Some local activities for the week include free document shredding sponsored by the Village Family Service Center and Record Keepers. It will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 18-19 in the center’s parking lot, 1201 25th St. S., Fargo. There will also be free cellphone recycling and hard drive destruction provided by 911 Cell Phone Bank.

There is a limit of three banker boxes or four shopping bags of material, and one hard drive (removed from the CPU).

There will also be Identity theft experts from The Village Family Service Center available to answer your questions.

Also on Saturday, October 22, Wells Fargo will be hosting a shredding event at 2501 13th Ave S in Fargo and 1050 E Interstate Ave in Bismarck from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm.

Gifts from Game Pieces

One idea is to make extra game pieces into gifts or decorations. If you have extra game pieces and puzzle pieces, there are easy ways to make them into crafts and gifts. You may also be able to find games and puzzles at second hand stores.

I have made a Pinterest board with some ideas I found online for frames, ornaments, and decorations. You can also glue magnets to the back of game pieces to make personalized magnets.

You can also decorate with games and games pieces by hanging game boards on the wall with the pieces in a bag attached to the back of the board. Also, for a game room or kids room, you could glue game pieces to a lamp shade.

This is part of a 90 day series with tips to help make your holidays easier. Click here for previous posts.

Kids and Money Calendar Giveaway

I feel it is important to teach kids about money and finances when they are younger. Along with teaching kids about money, I also feel it’s important to learn how to live within your means. A dollar here and there may not seem like a lot, but they can add up in savings quickly.

I have put together a page-a-day Kids and Money calendar with websites and other resources to help teach kids about money and finances.

To enter to win a copy of the calendar, leave a comment below with something you wish you had known about money before going out on your own.

For a second entry, Like In The Black on Facebook

Entries will be accepted through Sat, October 22. Winner will be announced on my blog on Monday, October 24.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ways to Save on Tableware

If you are entertaining for the holidays and needing china, glassware or silverware one way to save money from paying retail is checking out thrift stores or resale stores. One local place that is great is Heirlooms. Heirlooms is an upscale resale store, where the proceeds supports the Hospice of the Red River Valley. It is located at 1617 32nd Ave S, Fargo. They have a room of china, glassware, silverware and table linens. Some thrift stores may also have these items at a good price.

If you decide to serve it buffet style, one idea is to put boxes, blocks, etc under the table cloth to place your items at different levels to add interest to your table.

If you need a cake stand or stand for other items it is easy to make your own. If you have extra pieces or you can find some at thrift stores. You can make a stand by gluing together cups and plates, glasses and mirrored pieces or glasses or vases and plates.

Kids and Money Station Workshop

I had developed a workshop consisting of various stations with information and activities dealing with money and finances. It is geared towards ages 8-10 thru high school. Topics covered are budgeting, banking, credit/debit cards and more. Investment $10 per child, which includes a workbook. Contact Nancy at or 701-799-1857 to make an appointment.

Stocking up on Peanut Butter

One of the latest products which is going to be costing you more is peanut butter. Peanut crops were severely affected because of the drought in the south this summer. Due to the shortage of peanuts, the price of peanut butter and other products containing peanuts will be increasing in prices.

Some peanut butter companies have already raise their prices by a least 50 cents and some reports predict prices could increase up to a dollar a jar.

I have written previously about stocking up on items you use regularly when on sale. In addition to this, it may be wise to start stocking up on items (1 or 2 extra) of products you use regularly now before prices start increasing on other products.

Also, with holiday baking coming up, consider what you are planning on making and what items you will need to buy. Now would be the time to stock up on peanut butter and other nut products to save money.

With the prices of peanuts increasing, this also means that in most cases the candy companies that use peanuts will also need to increase their prices, it they have not already because of other costs increasing such as gas.

Beware of Sales Ads

Sales ads have always been part of the Sunday paper and now they have found their way into most other days also. They can be helpful for you to see what is on sale at certain stores, but they can also make it more tempting to buy things you may not necessarily need.

With the holidays coming up there will be more ads in the papers than normal and many stores will have toy catalogs. These can be helpful to get ideas for people and have kids make their lists. However, it is also important to stick to your gift lists and not just buy something because its on sale.

If you have a problem of shopping and spending more money than you can afford to spend, one suggestion is to try to stay out of the stores as much as you can. Besides staying out of the stores, also resist of temptation to spend more by not looking at the sales ads unless your are looking for something specific you need.

Gift giving has become an important part of the holidays but with the current economic conditions it is more important than ever to keep your spending within your means so you can enjoy the holidays instead of being stressed about the extra debt you may have taken on.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Holiday card deal

If you are looking for a deal on Holiday cards, SeeHere has an offer for 25 free cards for new customers. Through October 31, 2011 new customers can get 25 free cards with the code 25cards. I ordered 25 cards for a total of $3.19 for shipping and taxes instead of $15.

Other businesses should be offering discounts on cards and other photo gifts in the next couple of months.

Wreath ideas

Wreaths are a part of many holidays. Besides buying them, in many cases it is easy and less expensive to make your own. Also by making your own, you can make it the way you want and it can be different than any you may find in the stores.

By searching online you can find a ton of ideas for any holiday or event. I have started Pinterest board with some ideas.

The start of any wreath is the form. You can buy forms at most craft stores but you can also make your own. You can use foam tubing from the hardware store or cut a pool noodle to the right length and tape with duct tape. You could also use a picture frame and glue items to it.

Last year I made wreath from coffee filters. The brown ones can be decorated with leaves and garland for fall. The white ones could be decorated for Christmas, Easter and more.

Another idea is Celebration wreaths. They are made with balloons to put on your door on family birthdays and other celebrations. They also could be made with all of one color of balloons, such as black for certain birthdays, or certain colors for showers and other parties.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rice Krispies for the Holidays

Searching online there are many ideas of ways to make Rice Krispies into treats for different holidays and events. For sports fans there are footballs and baseballs.

For Halloween there are ideas for pumpkins, eyeballs and spiders.

For Christmas ideas are Christmas trees, coal and with holiday M&Ms.

Another idea is smore treats

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Uses for Mason jars

There are many uses for mason jars besides canning. They can be used for decorating and for giving gifts.

Some examples of jar as decorating are as Floating candles, and lanterns or treat jars. They can be painted and decorated for Halloween containers. This is another example to use for Halloween or you could spell “Joy” and use for Christmas.

Mason jars can also work good for Homemade gifts and other recipes.

Some places to look for mason jars are garage sales and thrift stores. You can also use empty jars such as spaghetti sauce, mayonnaise and other jars you may have at home.

Holiday Travel Expenses

Besides the usual holiday expenses such as gifts, parties, and others, it may also be necessary to budget holiday travel expenses.

One way to keep an eye on your holiday budget is to use a software program such as Mint. You can create ”holiday shopping” as a line item in your budget, and Mint shows you how your overall spending decisions will affect how much you have left by the time you need to shop, and also helps you re-adjust your budget in other areas.

If you’re planning on traveling during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays this year, advance planning is the only way to go. Previous years indicate that airlines start pitching holiday sales right after Labor Day, holiday flights are at their cheapest during the first half of October, and Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best days to snag a deal. The best way to find out is compare what’s on offer for several days among multiple providers. You can also sign up for travel alerts from sites like Kayak or AirfareWatchdog so you’ll be notified when the price changes.

Even if you are driving to your holiday destination, you will need to consider how long it will take you and how much time you need off, gas expenses and other maintenance such as a checkup or oil changes.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Scrapbook Paper Gifts

Some ideas for teacher gifts and other gifts that are easy and inexpensive can be made with scrapbook paper. There are many different colors and themes of paper available. At some craft stores you can get a pad of about 180 pages for $20 and sometimes they have them marked down or have coupons for 40% - 50% off making them about $10 for 180 sheets. Some projects can be done by decoupaging with mod podge. I found a recipe for homemade mod-podge using glue and water.

Some ideas I have found online are for post it note holders, coasters and necklaces.

You can also use scrapbook paper to make wall art, frames and mini clipboards

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gift giving with Daily Deal Sites

There are a number of daily deal sites on the internet. You may be able to get a great deal with these sites, but one thing to keep in mind is if you really need the item or service. It is a way to try out establishments you may not have visited otherwise. But before purchasing the deal make sure you really are interested in it and not just buying it because you think it is a good deal.

Also, it is important to keep track of your deals so you can use them before they expire.

When checking out the deal sites, keep in mind what kind of gifts you are planning on buying for the holidays or other occasions throughout the year. Many of the sites let you purchase the deal as a gift. If you find a deal that would be good for someone you are planning on buying a gift for you may be able to save money on the gift or give them a more expensive gift than you normally could.

One of the local daily deal sites is SaveCoin.

Daily deal sites get be a good thing, just be sure it is a deal that you will use.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Saving on Baking Supplies

During the holidays, many people tend to do more baking than they normally do. Over the next few months the grocery stores should be having sales and coupons for baking supplies such as flour, sugar, baking chips, nuts, etc. If you buy things that you will not use up in the near future it would be recommended to store them in the freezer to have them last longer.

I try to stock up on baking chips, nuts and other items when they are on sale and store them in the freezer.

Locally, Fleet Farm is known to have good prices on things such as nuts and baking chips.

One advantage of baking your own items is that you know what ingredients are in the items and you can control ingredients.

If you need a certain type of pan or other items you do not have, try looking at the thrift stores before paying full retail price. Many thrift stores have items that may be new or almost new for a fraction of the new price.

Hornbachers deal - Total $11.16

This week at Hornbachers in th flyer is a coupon for $5 when buying 10 participating products, thru Tues, Oct 11. There were coupons for many of the items in the newspaper last Sunday, Oct 2. One thing to keep in mind is that yogurt and dairy coupons CANNOT be used in ND so I went to the Moorhead store.

I ended up getting 3 boxes of Cherrios
2 bags Chex Mix
1 bag Muddy Buddies Chex Mix
Yoplait Delights Parfait
Totinos Pizza Stuffers
Nature Valley Grahams
Yoplait Smoothies

After sale prices, coupons and $5 coupon my total was $11.16.

Other items included in the deal are Green Giant frozen vegetables, Nature Valley granola bars, crescent rolls and other rolls.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Halloween alternatives to candy

Although one of the main things about Halloween to kids is the candy, there are some alternatives. Some fast food restaurants have coupons for their treats. Most Wendy’s restaurants have Halloween coupon books for $1 and contain five free Frosty coupons. Most McDonald’s locations have Halloween Treat Voucher Packs on sale now for $1. They contain 3 coupons for FREE Apple Slices, 3 coupons for a FREE small apple juice or White Milk Jug, 3 coupons for a FREE Hamburger, and 3 coupons for a FREE small cone. The McDonald’s coupons are valid from November 1 through December 31.
One year I found a bag of individually wrapped pretzels. Another year I found a deal on Cereal/snack bars. I don’t usually get many trick or treaters so I gave out the cereal bars. They seemed to like them. Another suggestion is snack size cookies, graham crackers, snack crackers, etc.
If your kids do receive an excessive amount of candy, they could make money from it. Dr. Patrick J. Capp, DDS in West Fargo is encouraging kids to turn in their candy for $1 per pound. Candy will be collected at Dr. Capp’s office at 105 13th Ave E on Tuesday, November 1 from 5 to 8 pm. It will be shipped to Operation Gratitude to be sent to the troops overseas. The candy must be unopened.

For more Halloween ideas, check out my Pinterest board.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tips to Hosting a Cookie Exchange

One way to get a variety of holiday cookes is to host a cookie exchange. A cookie exchange is when each participant brings a number of one type of cookie and they swap so each goes home with a variety of cookies.

Along with swapping cookies it is also a great excuse to get together with friends. I participated in a cookie exchange a few times through a group I used to belong to. In some cases you are asked to bring some extra cookies to enjoy during the party and in other cases they may have appetizers and h'orderves that guests bring.

Some tips on hosting a cookie exchange are:
It is recommended to send out invitations about a month before the planned date so people can put it on their calendars. Also, once you have a list of interested people you can take a vote to see what date and time works best for them.

When the guests arrive have them put their cookies on the table you have ready for them. After a 20-30 minute time of socializing the swap can begin. They can take turns going around the table taking a certain number of each type of cookie.

Before the swap begins you can have each guest introduce themselves and their cookie and if they have a story about their cookie (i.e. if it is a family recipe, etc).

The number of cookies each guest should bring depends on how many guests are participating. It is recommended to have about 10-12 guests and each to bring 10-12 cookies per guest.

The 10 dozen or so cookies may seem like a lot to make but you only need to make one kind and you end up with about the same number of cookies but several different types.

There are a number of websites and books with more ideas on cookie exchanges.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Photo Gifts

There are a variety of gifts you can buy that you can have some of your favorite photos put on. A couple of stores that offer photo products are Walgreens and CVS. Both Walgreens and CVS have discounts on photo products through this Saturday, Oct. 8. There are usually sales on these products frequently. There are also other stores and online sites that offer photo gifts. Some of the items available are photo books, collages, mugs, calendars, posters, throws and mouse pads.

There are also businesses and sites online that you can order a photo that is put onto a canvas. One of the sites I have used a couple of times is Canvas People. Last Christmas I ordered a canvas of our family picture for my parents. And my sister’s family gave them a throw that had a photo of them and the grandchildren.

With photo gifts you can enjoy your favorite photos throughout the year.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Shopping With Layaway

You have probably seen the television commercials for layaway from Kmart and Sears. Walmart also has layaway available on toys, electronics and fine jewelry departments. Layaway is another way of purchasing items instead of credit cards. For a small fee down (usually $5 fee plus a percentage of the cost of the item as a down payment) you can pick out items and make scheduled payments over a couple of months or few months and when the full amount has been paid you are able to take the item home. One difference of layaway instead of credit cards is that there are no interest or finance charges.

Even though with layaway programs you avoid credit card debt and fees, you still need to monitor what you are spending so you are able to make the payments as they are scheduled.

Sunmart Progresso Soup deal

This week through Saturday, October 8th Sunmart has a deal on Progresso soup. They are regular $2.50 each and I got 4 for $2.00. They are on sale for $1.24 and there is a coupon in the flyer for $1.00 off 4 cans. Also in today's newspaper there is a coupon for $1.00 off 4 cans. So you can use both coupons. I also had a coupon like this from an earlier insert so I could do this deal again. Doing this it comes to $0.75 per can.

The $1.00 store coupon also doubled so it came to $.50 per can. This is the first time I have noticed a store coupon doubling. The store worker was a trainee and was also surprised when it doubled but the other person said sometimes they do double.

Also if you have the Sunmart coupons that came in the mail. It was a set of coupons for 4 coupns each week for 8 weeks. One of the coupons for this week was for Charmin Basic Toilet paper. They are regularly $14.48 and with the coupon they are $7.99. There was also a coupon in today's newspaper for $0.25 which doubles to $0.50.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Making Mixes as Gifts

One way to either save money on bakning mixes for your own use or to give as gifts is to make your own. As in this post with a little time you can mix up the dry ingredients for recipes with instructions for wet ingredients and baking directions to use in the future. You can do the same thing with recipes you have or look online for other recipes such as cookies and bars.

If you are planning to use for yourself you can store in quart or gallon size storage bags or jars. You may want to store them in the freezer so they last longer.

If you are planning on giving them as a gift some ideas are putting in ziplock storage bags with a border on the top of the bag. Cut a piece of cardstock the same width as the bag and long enough to fold over the top of the bag and glue or tape the sides together. You could also put the mixes in glass jars and wrap the lid with ribbon. When giving as a gift include a card with the wet ingredients needed and baking instructions.

You could include the mixes in a gift basket with other items such as potholders, pans, baking chips, etc. I have also seen an idea online of using a 5 gallon pail with flour, sugar and other items needed for baking.

These mix ideas could be used for gifts for neighbors, teachers, bus drivers, and other people you want to purchase gifts for.

Shopping for Holiday Supplies

One of the added holiday expenses is for supplies such as wrapping paper, gift bags, tape, etc. These supplies can add up, especially since they will usually just be thrown away once the gift is opened. One thing about gift bags, they can easily be reused if they have not been damaged.

Some places to find these items for less are dollar stores and discount stores. Many dollar stores have a wide selection of wrapping paper and gift bags. You may also be able to find boxes for packing baked goods. I purchase gift boxes at after Holiday sales to use to pack the krumkake and other treats I usually make each year.

Another place to keep an eye out for deals on these supplies are major drugstores. Closer to the holidays, Walgreens and CVS usually have great deals on these supplies.

After the holidays is a great time to stock up on items you may need next year for a fraction of the original price.

If you can find ways to save money on some supplies you may have more money to spend on gifts and other expenses that come with the holidays.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Experiences over Gifts

When thinking about holiday shopping one thing to consider is taking your family and friends on trips and other experiences instead of toys and other "stuff" they may not need.

I have some friends who have started doing this. Taking their kids on trips, ball games and other things. Last Christmas, my parents took our whole family on a trip to Florida. So there were'nt as many gifts but we have memories from that trip. My nieces and nephews still bring up memories of the trip every once in awhile.

Another idea is "consumable" gifts such as gift cards for coffee shop, restaurants and other places they visit regularly. If you don't want to give them just a gift card, you could make up a basket of items relating to the theme of the gift card, such as a coffee basket, book basket, cooking, gardening and others.

With the state of the economy, some families may not be able to purchase gifts like they used to. It is difficult to change your spending but it is important to take steps on cutting your expenses as soon as your situation changes. Some may start using credit cards to keep up their usual spending but it can catch up with you.

If you do find yourself in a situation that you need to cut your spending it may be helpful to explain the situation to your children. If you keep spending, handling what happens at the end may be more difficult to deal with than explaining it to them now.

It is important to remember your "presence" is more important than the "presents".

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Halloween DIY

With the price of many things going up, it is getting more difficult for many people to buy things they usually do. It may be possible to make your own halloween costumes.

One source for ideas is Pinterest. It is an online pinboard. If you find sites you like online you can "pin" the website to your boards and share with friends.

I have made a board with some costume ideas and other halloween ideas. There are also boards with other holiday ideas.

Other resources for halloween costumes are the thrift stores. Savers in Fargo has brand new halloween costumes that may be less expensive than other stores and they also have a selection of used items to make you own costumes. Other thrift stores have halloween decorating items, both new items and used.

Now is also the time to keep an eye out in stores for sales on candy to hand out.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sending Christmas Cards

Besides gifts, another major part of the holidays for many families is sending and receiving cards or family letters. Sending cards and letters is a great way to stay in touch with family and friends but some people may feel pressured to send them.

I realize we are all busy but if you start making plans and can break them down and work on them when you have time it may be less stressful than waiting until the last minute. If you can get some of it done now it will be easier than trying to do so many things closer to the holidays when things may be even busier. Cards after the holidays may be welcomed by some people since they get most of them before the holidays.

Also by having cards and letters done early, you may be able to find sales or deals than waiting until closer to the holidays.

If you don't have time now or before the holidays, you could consider sending them after the holidays. If your family can only get together over the holidays and you want to send a card of photos taken then, you could send New Years cards.

This is part of the series I am doing of ideas to help with your holiday shopping, decorating and recipes.

Used Book Sales

One way to save money on books is to buy used books. It may take more time to search for what you are looking for but sometimes you can find unexpected treasures. Besides used book stores, there are some book sales coming up.

The Moorhead Library is having their Fall Used Book Sale Oct 1 and 2. The sale is Sat. 9-5 and after 2:00 all items are half price. On Sunday, the sale is 1-4 and books will be $5 per bag.

The West Fargo Friends of the Library is having a book sale Oct 14-16. Friday is for members only from 3:30-5:30. The book sale will be open to the public on Saturday from 10-4:30 and Sunday from 1-4:00.

The Fargo Library usually has a book sale also, but I could not find any information on it at this time. However, they do have books for sale throughout the year. At the Main branch downtown there is a room that is open at certain times. Their goal is to be open when the library is open, but it depends when they have volunteers. At the Carlson Branch, there are a couple of book shelves of books that for sale.

The Hope Lutheran Church at 3636 25th St S, Fargo is having a used book sale from Oct 9 through October 19.

90 Day Holiday Countdown

It’s hard to believe, but Christmas is about 90 days away. It is my goal to make a post the next 90 days with money saving ideas, recipes and decorating ideas to help you take some of the stress out of the holidays.

One of the first things to do is make a holiday budget. Sit down and make a list of everyone you are planning on buying a gift for. Along the each name write an amount you plan on spending and any ideas you may have. Total up your amounts to see what the total amount is. When you see the total you can divide by the amount of months or weeks left and try to work it into your monthly budget.

After you have made up your gift budget, also do the same thing with other extra expenses you are planning on such as parties, extra dining out, cards, giftwrap and other expenses.

Following is a recap of the holiday posts

Day 2 - Sending Christmas Cards
Day 3 - Halloween DIY
Day 4- Experiences Over Gifts
Day 5 - Shopping For Holiday Supplies
Day 6 - Homemade Mixes as Gifts
Day 7 - Shopping With Layaway
Day 8 - Photo Gifts
Day 9 - Tips to Hosting a Cookie Exchange
Day 10 - Halloween Alternatives to Candy
Day 11- Saving on Baking Supplies
Day 12 - Shopping with Daily Deal Sites
Day 13 - Crockpot Cooking
Day 14 - Scrapbook Paper Gifts
Day 15 - Holiday Travel Expenses
Day 16 - Uses for Mason Jars
Day 17 - Holiday Rice Krispie treats
Day 19 - Wreath ideas
Day 20 - Beware of Sales Ads
Day 21 - Saving on Tableware
Day 22 - Gifts from Game Pieces
Day 23 - Online Holiday Shopping
Day 24 Getting Ready for Halloween
Day 25 - Giving Back During the Holidays
Day 26 - Thanksgiving Decorating
Day 27 - Saving on Holiday Outfits
Day 28 - Holiday Price Matching
Day 29 - Gift Wrapping Ideas
Day 30 - Canvas People Deal