I was watching the show, Mike and Molly tonight on CBS.  They were exchanging gifts for their first Christmas together.  Mike gave her a diamond bracelet.  When Molly opened it, she told him he could not afford that.  He told her he could, it was only 110 easy monthly payments.  When she pointed out that was almost 10 years, he realized maybe he couldn’t afford it.  She insisted taking it back.  She didn’t want to spend the rest of their lives together paying off her first Christmas present.

Although sometimes it is alright to buy items on payments, you have to consider how long it will take to pay it off and how much extra you will pay in interest and finance charges.  Also, if you end up with multiple items on monthly payments, the amount you owe each month could end up being more than you can afford with your income.

Nancy Kvamme

In yesterday’s Forum there was an <a href=http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/301004/publisher_ID/1>article</a> that because of the recession Marvin Windows will not be giving bonuses to their employees. It is only the 5th year they have not given bonuses in their 54 year history. They have also had their hours cut for the past few months instead of laying off employees.

I realize this is difficult for employees but it is also a reason that it is important to live within or below your means. In today’s society it is getting more common to live above your means. Also, not to spend money you plan on getting before you receive it. Even if you always get it each year, as in this case something may happen that you don’t end up getting it.

On the other hand, there was another <a href=http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SmartSpending/blog/page.aspx?post=3cf39a7d-e74e-4eaf-9156-ed19f7d8c427&ocid=twmsnss>article</a> about more companies giving holiday bonuses this year.

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Nancy Kvamme

A couple of tools to get kids into the habit of saving are <a href=htt://www.msgen.org>Money Savvy Generation Money Banks</a> and <a href=http://www.moonjar.com>Moon Jar</a>. 

The Money banks are shaped like a pig or a football,  they have 4 separate chambers for saving, spending, donating and investing.  The Moon Jar is the same concept, with 3 separate containers that fit together.

If you are looking for Christmas gifts, I do have some Money Banks on hand for sale and the cardboard Moon Jars.  The Money banks are $20 and available in blue, purple, pink, platinum pigs and the football.  The moon jars are $6 (on the website they are $8 plus shipping).

I had one lady buy some for her grandchildren and one for herself.

Nancy Kvamme

On Oprah today, she had a segment on <a href=http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/TJMaxx-Makeovers>dressing for less</a>.  There was a couple with 2 teenagers and an 11 year old.  Even the 11 year old thought she needed expensive designer clothes and accessories. 

The designer showed them they can buy designer quality clothes at TJ Maxx and other stores for a fraction of the price.

They also had a segment with sets of twins (one with an expensive designer outfit and a less expensive option) to see if the audience could pick out the designer outfit.

Along with discount stores, there are also resale options in the area such as Clothes Mentor and My Best Friends Closet.

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Nancy Kvamme

In a previous <a href=http://www.examiner.com/your-money-in-fargo/playing-the-drugstore-game>post</a> I mentioned how to save money at the drugstores on everyday items. 

One day at Walgreens I had a couple Register Rewards printing out, and the clerk said it was better odds than the casino.

Today I paid $3 at CVS for $20 worth of items and got $3  of ECBs to use on a future purchase.  At Walgreens I paid $7 for about $12 of items and got $7.50 RR to use on future purchase.

One deal at CVS this week is Coke 12 packs for 3/$10 plus you get $3 ECBs, so they end up being $2.33 each.

Once you start doing this, you can stock up on items you use and not have to pay regular price for many items.  Some of things I get, I donate.  In this way, I get a chance to donate to others without alot of extra money out of my pocket.

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Nancy Kvamme

On the the most important things to do to stay on track financially is to track your expenses.  Even if you start doing it for a week, either mark down everything you spend in a small notebook or keep your receipts and mark them down in the evening. 

By doing this, you can see where you are spending your money and if expenses can be cut out or cut back on.  It also helps with your budgeting, so you can see how much you spend in various areas of your budget. 

When you buy items with cash it is easy to spend on items and  not realize how much you have spent or where the cash has gone. 

On the show, Til Debt do Us Part on CNBC, there have been couples that spend way more than they earn each month.  If you keep track of what you spend your money on it can help you stay on your budget.

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Nancy Kvamme

The Fargo Friends of the Library are having a used book sale today from 1-5.  Books are $2 a bag or $5 a box.  After 4:00 what’s left will be free. The sale is in the Community Room of the Downtown Library.

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Nancy Kvamme

One of the reasons many people are in financial difficulties is that it is so easy to satisfy our need for instant gratification. With many stores offering payment plans and the ease of getting credit cards it is easy to buy what you want, when you want it on payments. Sometimes it is fine to buy on payments, unless you get too many than you can afford.

On the <a href=http://wwwsuzeorman.com>Suze Orman Show</a> tonight, there was a couple with a 12 year old and 7 year old. The 12 year old has gotten into the habit of trying to buy whatever she wants instead of saving money. Also, recently she couldn’t afford something she wanted, but made the comment that the holidays were coming up and she would be able to afford it after getting money from her relatives that she usually received. Suze suggested telling her grandparents that this year they were going to donate money to charities instead of buying and receiving gifts.

This also becomes a problem for many who have gotten used to receivng a yearly bonus from their employers, but now may not be receiving it or not the whole amount they are used to. Also, for some who have had their income decreased but have not decreased their expenses to match their incomes.

I realize that buying presents is a big part of the holiday season,but if you find yourself in circumstances different than you are used to you have to adjust your spending. I know you may feel like you are letting your kids down if you are not able to buy gifts they want. But if you sit them down and tell them that because of the circumstances, things will have to be different this year.

It is better to deal with the circumtances now rather than putting it off and ending up in more debt later.

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Nancy Kvamme

One of the newest ways to save money is <a href=http://bargainbriana.com/daily-deal-sites>Daily Deal Sites</a>. These sites have a daily deal with discounts off of services or merchandise. Most of the sites are available for larger cities, but many have deals that are available for websites. Each city has a different deal and if it’s an online deal, it doesn’t matter where you live to take advantage of it.

The sites vary from clothes, kid’s items, activities, restaurants,

Although it is a way to save money, its also important to consider if its something you really need. It is easy to get involved in the deals and start purchasing ones that seem like a good deal but is something you don’t really need.

So if you find deals for items you do need, find for a gift or for a establishment you visit or want to try it is a way to save money.

Most of the vouchers are valid within 2 days of purchase and are good for up to a year. On the website they keep track of the vouchers you have purchased and you can mark off when you use them.

On most sites, the coupons can be purchased by you and given to someone as a gift to purchase something they want.

It also helps if you can purchase a voucher and use it for items that go on sale on the sites. Recently I purchased a $50 voucher for Coldwater Creek for $20 and ended up getting $200 of merchandise for the $20.

Besides these deals, <a href=http://www.target.com>Target</a> also has a daily deal. And until Christmas <a href=http://www.walgreens.com>Walgreens</a> has a different online deal each day.

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Nancy Kvamme

If you still have some gift shopping to do, here are some ideas. One idea is to consider consumable gifts. A consumable gift is something that can be eaten, sent, read or enjoyed by the recipient. It is a gift of an experience, not a thing or another piece of clutter.

Consumable gifts are a good idea for people you feel like buying a gift but do not know much about their personal preferences. Even for people you know, it is a way to give a gift without causing clutter. It seems our lives are so filled with clutter in many cases.

Some ideas of consumable gifts are passes to a movie theater, fast food gift coupons, restaurant gift cards and magazine subscriptions. Make up a basket with items pertaining to their hobby, gardening,

Here is a list of <a href=

Just another reminder that although gifts are an important part of the holiday season, we also have to remember to make the most of the memories with your family and friends.

http://moneysavingmom.com/2010/11/ask-the-readers-unique-and-inexpensive-teacher-gifts.html#comments>Teacher gift ideas</a> I found on a blog. From this list, some of most common items are gift cards and classroom supplies.

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Nancy Kvamme