School has just started and the last thing we want to think about are the Christmas holidays. At least until you walk into most stores. Most stores have had the Holiday decorations out for a couple of months already. But now is the perfect time to get started. If you start planning now and are able to cross items off your list, you can save yourself from some of the last minute pressures of trying to do everything at the last minute.

First make a list of people you plan to buy gifts for and an amount you plan to spend. This can include family, friends, teachers, daycare providers and anyone else you usually purchase a gift for. Once you have this list you have an idea of what it will cost you and you can also jot down ideas you have for each one. Then when you are out shopping if you happen to find something on sale, you can purchase it then. Also, by starting now, you can spread the spending out of the next few months instead of large bills in December and January. 

Along with the gifts, also make a list of extra expenses you usually incur over the holidays, such as extra parties, dining out, cards your send, postage. Those little expenses can add up quickly.

So with a little planning and preparation you can take steps to make the holiday season a little easier.

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Nancy Kvamme

One way to save money, is to learn the Drugstore game. In our area, the main two drugstores are Walgreensand CVS. After learning how to combine sales, coupons and deals I do most of my shopping at the grocery store and drugstores instead of Target, Walmart, Walgreens has Register Rewards program. You do not have to register for a rewards card to participate. When you purchase a qualifying merchandise (listed in the weekly sales flier), a Register Reward for money off a product prints with your receipt. It is good for 2 weeks can be used like cash on future in-store purchases. CVS has the Extra Care Buck (ECB) program. You have to register for an ECB card, which is free. The program is similar to Walgreens except the ECBs are valid for a month after printing. In many cases, products that they offer Register Rewards of ECBs for the sale price of the item is the same as the reward value. So if you use the reward coupons on a future purchase, you basically get the item for free. And if you use the reward coupon on a future purchase that also includes a reward coupon, this is called rolling your rewards. It is recommended when you are starting out to start with one store until you get the hang of it since each chain has different rules.

The stores also accept manufacturer coupons, so in some cases if you get reward coupons for the value of the item and you have a manufacturer coupon for it, you can come out ahead on the item. I get many of my health &beauty and household items this way. And if I end up getting more than I can use, I donate them to local charities. This is one way I can donate more than I probably would be able to otherwise, without spending a lot of extra money.

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Nancy Kvamme

One of the things I hear people say about finances is that they have never been good with money. One reason is it is one thing many of us were not taught when growing up. It’s the same as when you trying learning other things, just do a little at a time. I feel it is important for us to learn about finances and to teach children how to manage finances before they get out of school.

One of the first things is to track your expenses. For at least a week, keep track of everything you spend money on. Either keep a small notebook with you and write down each expense or keep your receipts and write them down each night. At the end of the week, take a look at what you spent your money on and see if there are any expenses you can cut out.

Once you have an idea of how much you spend on the different categories, it is easier to work on a budget. Most people think of a budget as a shackle. But having a budget you are controlling your money instead of your money controlling you. Start by listing your income and then list your fixed expenses that you need to pay each month. Once you subtract your fixed expenses from your income, you can see what you have left to spend on other items.

It is also important to save some each month also. If you have an emergency fund saved, when unexpected things happen, you can use that money instead of going into credit card debt.

One resource to get information and to hear stories from people who have conquered debt is <a href=http://Daveramsey.com>The Dave Ramsey Show</a> at 7 – 10 PM weeknights on <a href=http://wday.com>WDAY AM 970</a>. Dave Ramsey’s, Financial Peace University course is also offered at many area churches, click <a href= http://www.daveramsey.com/fpu/process.locateClass>here</a> for a schedule of course offerings. It is a 13 week course, one night a week dealing with different aspects of your financial life.

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Nancy Kvamme

This is not necessarily related to finances but I saw an article and thought it was important to write about.  Saturday, 9/25 there will be collection sites to turn in unused or expired medications.  The local site for this area is the West Fargo Police Department at 800 4th Ave E, West Fargo.  It is part of the <a href=http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39328587/?Gt1=43001>Take Back campaign</a>.  There is a link in the article to also find sites in other locations, there are 4,000 sites nationally.

This is one of the efforts to help the prescription drug problems.  The article tells of stories about teens and others overdosing on prescription medications meant for others.

Welcome to my new blog. I have always had an interest in learning about how to manage my finances and now want to help others. As the name of my blog suggests, I want to share ways for you to either get in or stay in the black.

Most of us were not taught how to manage our finances. That is why I feel it is extremely important to teach that to children. Last year I started volunteering with Junior Achievement.

Along with tips and ideas about budgeting and other financial matters, I will also share ways to save money. It may not seem like a big deal spending a dollar here or there, but over time they can add up to a substantial amount.

One of the first things to do is to track your expenses. For a week, or preferably a month, write down everything you spend money on. Either keep a small notebook with you or save your receipts throughout the day and mark them down in the evening. By doing this, you can see exactly where your money goes and what items you may be able to cut out or cut back on.

I look forward to sharing more ideas with you in the future.

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Nancy Kvamme
20
Sep

Hello world!

Welcome to AreaVoices. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

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Nancy Kvamme