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”.

Nancy Kvamme

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.

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.

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. Cards after the holidays may be welcomed by some people since they get most of them before the holidays.

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

Nancy Kvamme

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.

Check back tomorrow for another holiday idea.

Nancy Kvamme

With the increase in identity theft cases it is getting more important to protect you information. It is suggested to shred any papers you are throwing away that have any personal information on them. These include bank statements, credit card statements and any other papers that may have your account numbers or social security number on them.

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.

Check the website for other activities and shredding locations in your area.

Nancy Kvamme

Area public libraries have had e-books and now they have e-books that are compatible with Kindle readers that can be checked out. Even if you don’t have a Kindle there is software you can download to be able to read them on your computer and some phones. I don’t have a Kindle, but read them on my computer and Android.

For the Fargo Public Library Kindle books, go to the library’s website and click on “downloads”.

Information on Kindle books at the Moorhead Public Library is on their website. The Moorhead Library is having an informational session about e-books on Monday, September 26 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. Registration is required at (218) 233-7594.

From the information I found, the West Fargo Library has ebooks but they are not compatible with the Kindle at this time.

Check out periods are different for certain books but it looks like most are 14 days. There are a certain limit of books available, if the limit is check out you can add it to your waiting list. On the Fargo site you are limited to check out 5 title at one time.

This is one way to cut down on clutter and save money on buying books. Also, if you check out an e-book you can preview it before buying the hard copy to see if it is worth it to buy it.

Many libraries are getting access to e-books so check out your area library to see if they are available in your area.

Posted in Budgeting, Saving
Nancy Kvamme

I have stated in many previous posts that I believe it is important to teach kids about money and finances.

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

I am also teaching a Community Ed Class on Tues, Oct 14. Click the link for more information or to register.

I have also developed a Kids and Money workshop consisting of various stations and a workbook dealing with different money and finance topics such as budgeting, banking and credit/debit cards. More information and upcoming dates can be found at my website or call Nancy at 701-799-1857.

Posted in Saving
Nancy Kvamme

One way some people use to save money on their grocery bills is by planning a menu. Some plan for a week or two and sometimes a whole month at a time. One way is to make a list of meals you usually make and plan when you are going to make them. Other things to consider when making a budget are items you have on hand and items that are on sale. If you have most of the items for certain meals, when you go shopping you only need to pick up the missing ingredients.

Some advantages of menu planning are making it less tempting to stop for takeout or dining out if you have something almost ready or have a plan ready. If you have meals planned that call for some of the same ingredients you may be able to save some money by buying in bulk.

On one of the blogs I follow, Money Saving Mom there are Menu planning pages that you can fill in on the computer if you want and then print them out.

Nancy Kvamme

Yes, I know school has just started but before we know the holidays will be upon us. By taking some steps now, you may be able to take some of the stress out of the holidays.

1) Make a gift list and budget – Sit down and make a list of everyone you are planning on buying gifts for. Next to each one include an amount you are planning on spending and any gift ideas you may have. Once you are done with the list, total up the budgeted amounts. Now you can see how much you are planning on spending on gifts. Divide this amount by the number of months or weeks until the holidays. By doing this you can see how much you should try to work into your monthly budget to try to avoid charging those costs. Also by having ideas, you may be able to find items on sale.
2) Make a party budget – Using the same concept as the gift list, list any extra parties, dining out and other items you are planning.
3) Order your holidays cards as early as you can. By not waiting until the last minute you will have time to address and stamp the cards when you have extra time.

Nancy Kvamme

The Kidscoop activities in today’s Forum and other newspapers today is about tipping.

Tipping is one subject to teach children about. In the book, Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees by Neale S. Godfrey, she has a story about kids and tipping. A friend of hers took his young sons across the country to visit their grandparents. At each stop one of his sons was always lagging behind. When they were almost home, the father asked him why. The son’s response was that he kept picking up the money he was forgetting on the table. To a young child who does not know the difference, it may look like their parents are forgetting money behind.

Nancy Kvamme