Tag Archive for holidays

Should You Tip Extra During the Holidays?

Should You Tip Extra During the Holidays?

Should You Tip Extra During the Holidays?The holidays are an exciting time for the whole family. Your kids are naturally excited about receiving presents, and they enjoy being away from school for a little while.

As an adult, you probably get satisfaction from seeing your kids so excited, and you might even be able to take a little time away from the office yourself.

One of the great things about the holidays is seeing people decide to do nice things for others. You will frequently see stories on the news about strangers buying gifts for those who are less-fortunate, or people serving meals to the homeless. Whatever the act happens to be, it is great to see society coming together to help one another.

Getting into the Spirit

Of course, you naturally want to get in on the action and do your part. One thing you might consider when trying to be generous around the holidays is tipping extra after a meal out.

Those who work in restaurants often don?t make a ton of money, so even a few extra dollars can help. That is especially true if a number of other diners decide to do the same thing.

So, is this a good idea? Well, that all depends. For starters, there is no doubt that it is a nice act. Everyone appreciates extra money, and tacking a few bucks onto the bill is an easy way to have a positive impact on another person?s holiday season. With that said, this method of giving is not for everyone.

Respect Your Budget

Even at the holidays, you still need to pay attention to your budget. Giving away extra money to a stranger is only a nice act if you can afford to do so. If providing an extra tip to the wait staff is going to put the squeeze on your own budget, it might not be worth it in the long run.

If you are going to take this step, build it into your budget ? or at least consult your budget to make sure it will work out okay. As an alternative, you could choose to alter your order to save money, only to then tack that extra money onto the tip.

For instance, if a family of four skipped the soft drinks and just had water with the meal, that change could save a total of $10. By adding the $10 back onto the total at the end, you will be providing a nice tip without spending any extra money at all.

Other Giving Options

While it is nice to tip extra, you may want to consider the fact that those working at the restaurant already have a job. If you are going to do some giving at the holidays, consider donating to causes who help those who are struggling to get by each day. Homeless shelters and food banks are a great place to start.

In the end, tipping extra will always be seen as a nice thing to do during the holidays. But, it might not be the best use of your charitable funds. Think carefully about how you want your money to be put to use, and then take the appropriate action.


Do you tip extra during the holidays? How else do you give during the holiday season?


Photo courtesy of: thinkingmancreative

4 Ways to Save on Holiday Travel with Kids

4 Ways to Save on Holiday Travel with Kids

4 Ways to Save on Holiday Travel with KidsWhether you are traveling for fun or to see family this holiday season, there is something special about taking a trip during the holidays.

Getting to travel to a special destination with your kids is a great opportunity to spend time together as a family away from the hustle and bustle of day to day life. Of course, these trips don?t come free, so finding ways to save money while still having a great time is key to keeping your budget under control.

As you make all of your plans for your upcoming holiday travel, keep the following 4 tips in mind to help you save money.

Limit Hotel Rooms

Depending on the size of your family, you may be able to all stay in one hotel room ? greatly reducing the overall cost of the trip. If you decide to reserve two (or more) rooms, your lodging expense is going to increase dramatically.

Of course, you will need to stay within the limits that the hotel sets for their rooms, so check policies and find a property that will let you stay all together if possible. Don’t forget to ask about rooms with a pull-out couch or roll-away bed to save money too.

Restrict the Distance of Your Trip

This is a tip that doesn?t work if you are going to see family in a specific city, but it can be effective if you are open to taking a trip to a variety of locations.

Each additional mile that you travel is going to cost you additional money, no matter what form of transportation you decide to use. With that in mind, review destinations that are relatively close to your home and do your best to pick one that combines the opportunity for fun with the ability to save money on transportation costs.

Avoid Dining Out

If you have to dine out for each meal of your trip, costs are going to skyrocket rather quickly. To avoid that outcome, look for somewhere to stay that will enable you to prepare your own food for at least some of your meals.

You can still go out for a nice dinner or two as a family, but keep your budget in check by balancing those meals with some that you cook yourself. Including your family in the food prep and shopping process will bring everyone together, and it just might become a holiday tradition that you can carry forward for years to come.

Skip the Souvenirs

This is an important point to watch because you are already going to be spending extra around the holidays on gifts for family and friends. You don?t have to buy souvenirs just because you are traveling, and that is especially true around holiday time.

Remind your kids that they will be getting presents during the holiday season, so they shouldn?t need to receive souvenirs on top of those presents. If you do decide to buy something to remember your trip by, make sure it is affordable and something that can be shared among the family. Just by passing on the souvenir shop you can do quite a bit of good for your overall travel budget during this expensive time of year.


Can you think of other ways to save on holiday travel? Do you plan to travel any during the holidays this year?


Photo courtesy of: sharonang

How to Dress Up for Holiday Parties on the Cheap

Holiday Parties

glasses-919071_640I know it?s just now time for Thanksgiving, but believe it or not, holiday parties are right around the corner. When I still worked full-time in my office job, I had at least four holiday parties to attend each year, not counting the ones that were only for my family.

My company had two Christmas parties, one with the board of directors and one with only the employees. I also had a Christmas party to attend for my part-time job, and the fourth party was one that became a tradition with my best friends.

Holiday parties are fun because they give you a change to dress up more than you normally would, and break out lots of bling. After all, it is a celebration! 🙂

That being said, the holidays can get quite expensive if you don?t pay attention to the costs of buying fancy outfits for all of your holiday parties. Luckily I found a few ways to keep my costs down and still like holiday party ready.

Mix and Match

It?s kind of taboo to wear the exact same out to more than one holiday party, at least in my book. It wouldn?t be nearly as big of a deal, but one of my friends also attends three out of four of the same holiday parties that I do.

It?s not too big of a deal to wear the same pieces if you mix and match them at different parties. For example, last year I wore a pretty lace shirt to more than one party. At one of them I paired it with a long black skirt and at another I paired it dark wash jeans. I also wore different accessories and makeup with each outfit.

These small changes gave each of the outfits a different look and I was able to wear essentially the same pieces more than one time, which really helps cut down on costs.

Stick to the Classics

As I mentioned, a long black skirt and dark wash jeans are part of my holiday party wardrobe, but I also wear them for lots of other occasions. This means they are not ?one hit wonders? that I only pull out of my closet for holiday parties.

It?s a lot cheaper per wear if you stick to basic items that can be worn the rest of the year too, or at least be worn for holiday parties on multiple years. That?s what I do with my lace shirt. It?s a little too dressy for normal office wear, but I have worn it for holiday parties for more than just one year.

Consider Your Accessories

I really love wearing bling during the holidays, but I didn?t want to buy an expensive dress or shirt with lots of bling that might come off the first time through the washer. Instead I add bling with my accessories to save money.

I have a pretty beaded scarf, a beaded belt, and some [easyazon_link keywords=”rhinestone jewelry” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”wisedollar-20″]rhinestone jewelry[/easyazon_link] that I use to add some sparkle to my outfits. None of these things is over the top so I can wear them during the rest of the year too, not just during holiday parties. But since they are things that aren?t subject to going through the washer and dryer, which is really hard on your clothes, I don?t have to worry about the bling coming un-attached from them anytime soon.


How do you dress for holiday parties on a budget? Do you attend more than one holiday party each year? Do you think it?s taboo to wear the exact same outfit at more than one party?


Photo courtesy of: Unsplash

5 Delicious Pumpkin Recipes Anyone Can Fix at Home


fall-950443_640We all know that cooking and eating at home is way cheaper than going out to eat, but for the longest time I struggled with eating out. (Sometimes I still do.)

Part of the reason I struggled with this part of my budget more in the fall than any other time of year is because I?m obsessed with all things pumpkin.

I love pumpkin lattes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin doughnuts, and more. In past years I?ve gone out to eat to get those special pumpkin treats, which is not a very frugal way to satisfy your pumpkin craving.

This year I finally starting using all the pumpkin recipes I pinned on Pinterest and I?ve found at least a few keepers.

Here are five delicious recipes to help you get your pumpkin fix at home.

White Chocolate Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Created by Sally from Sally?s Baking Addiction, these cookies have become a fall staple in my house the last two years. I started baking them last fall and made probably 10 batches between September and the end of November. I used them for everything, including when I needed to take treats to work or to a potluck. They are delicious!

Pumpkin Pancakes

This one is a bit of my own creation. I took several pumpkin pancake recipes and tweaked them to make my own thing. My favorite thing about this recipe is that it?s kind of a cheater?s recipe. It starts off with a pantry staple – baking mix or pancake mix ? and ends up feeling homemade because of the extra ingredients added to the mix.

These [easyazon_link keywords=”pumpkin pancakes” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”wisedollar-20″]pumpkin pancakes[/easyazon_link] turned out light and fluffy. They are also pretty sweet so they don?t really need butter and syrup. I actually use them as a grab and go breakfast whenever I?m in a hurry in the mornings.

Here?s all you need:

2 eggs, 1 c. milk, 1/2 c. cooked pumpkin, 1 3/4 c. Bisquick baking mix, 2 tbsp. brown sugar, 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, 1/4 tsp vanilla. Mix all together and cook on griddle until browned.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins (Starbucks Copy Cat)

These things are amazing! I made them this weekend and while they didn?t turn out a symmetrical and pretty as Starbucks? muffins, they taste just the same. They don?t take too many ingredients and were fairly simple to make.

Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins

My best friend in college taught me this recipe and I?m not really sure where it originated from. If you are craving chocolate, you can make chocolate muffins a lot healthier by using only 2 ingredients: a chocolate cake mix and a can of pure pumpkin. Mix these two ingredients together, spoon into muffin tins and bake.

There?s just a hint of pumpkin taste through the chocolate and it?s a lot healthier (and more moist) than using vegetable oil.

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte

For those of you trying to be more healthy, here?s a recipe for a homemade, healthy pumpkin spice latte. I lived off this thing last fall when I was trying to avoid eating sugar. It?s tasty, healthy, and a lot more budget friendly than getting a pumpkin latte at any coffee shop.


Do you love pumpkin focused foods? What are your favorite pumpkin recipes? What are some other hacks you use to save money on foods you like but don’t want to buy?


Photo courtesy of: wokandapix

Great DIY Gift Ideas That Will Please Anyone

diy gift ideas

gift-844330_1280Christmas is coming and that means it?s time to go hog wild with shopping for gifts, right? Not if you?re on a budget! After all, the holidays are expensive enough as it is.

Giving DIY gifts is a great way to show someone that you care without spending a lot of money. At least, that?s the idea. But often DIY gifts are things your friends or family don?t really need, love, or appreciate, which means it doesn?t really work so well as a way to show you care for them.

That being said, I?m still a big fan of DIY gifts, as long as you come up with something they?ll actually like to receive. Here are some great DIY gift ideas to cover most anyone on your list.

For the Cook

If you have someone in your family who loves to cook, or maybe someone who?s just getting ready to venture out on their own and they don?t own much kitchen gear yet, you can easily put together a kitchen themed gift for them.

Simply buy a kitchen [easyazon_link identifier=”B00S1L54GU” locale=”US” tag=”wisedollar-20″ cart=”y” popups=”y”]oven mitt[/easyazon_link] and fill it with other small goodies, like kitchen utensils, spices, and other small items. You can dress it up by tying a bow around the middle of the glove, or by embellishing the mitt itself with ribbon or rick-rack if you have some simple sewing skills.

Another good choice is to put together a recipe book. One of my good friends was always telling me that she wanted my recipes because I was a good cook. I was always vague about it when she asked because I knew I wanted to put together a cook book for her birthday.

I bought a photo album at the store and filled it with 3×5 recipe cards with hand-written recipes on them. Because I planned ahead, I was able to write 2-3 recipes a day so I didn?t wear out my hand. But if you don?t have that luxury, you can always print them off of your computer too and stick them in the album.

For the Fashionista

One of the best DIY gifts I?ve ever gotten was a handmade scarf. I wore the heck out of that thing until it started looking shabby. If you have a fashionista in your life, perhaps she?d like to receive a handmade winter scarf, a fashionable multi-stranded scarf, or a flowered belt.

A lot of these gifts can be made out of things you probably already have in your home, like an old t-shirt that you cut to make the scarf, so your spending on these fashionable projects will be minimal.

For the Overworked Mom

Tired moms love nothing more than a spa day, but if you can?t afford to send her to an actual spa, perhaps you can bring the spa to her with some DIY spa products. Things like homemade soaps, [easyazon_link identifier=”B00MOL4AIQ” locale=”US” tag=”wisedollar-20″ cart=”y” popups=”y”]bath bombs[/easyazon_link], shower disks, [easyazon_link identifier=”B0018DE6AI” locale=”US” tag=”wisedollar-20″ cart=”y” popups=”y”]sugar scrubs[/easyazon_link], and more take only a few special ingredients. The main portion of their concoctions are usually made from regular kitchen and household ingredients.

For the Money Man (or Woman)

Money always makes a good gift, but instead of just giving your loved one a gift card in an envelope, you could dress it up a bit.

One idea is to buy a wallet and fill it with several [easyazon_link keywords=”gift cards” locale=”US” tag=”wisedollar-20″]gift cards[/easyazon_link] from Amazon. You could just fill it with gift cards to lots of different places, or you could even go as far as to come up with a theme, such as restaurants close to their workplace. This would allow them to have lunch on you a few times in the coming year.

Another way to give someone money but make it seem more thoughtful is to give them a roll of quarters that?s all dressed up. You could wrap it in decorative paper and tie the ends with ribbon so it looks more like a piece of candy, like a Tootsie Roll, than a roll of quarters. Imagine their surprise when they find out what it is.

Speaking of surprises, you could fool your loved one into thinking you only got them a box of facial tissue when the box is really full of dollar bills. Have your video camera ready to capture their hilarious reaction when they discover that it?s not really just a box of tissues.

Gift giving can be fun, but it doesn?t have to be expensive. By getting creative and using your DIY skills, you can give gifts that your friends and family will love.


Do you ever give DIY gifts to save money? What are some other DIY gift ideas you’ve seen do well? What’s your go-to gift idea for the hard to shop for person?


Photo courtesy of: bestpics