Melcar Group

Budget Guru

Mother’s Day on a budget

 As Mothers day approaches and you are trying to figure out that perfect gift, it is important to keep your budget in mind. I truly believe that a gift that is picked with meaning and heart is far better than an expensive item that has no true meaning.

Below are some gift ideas that will allow you to spoil your mother while staying within your budget.

“Day” at the Spa:
Instead of sending your mother to the spa for the day, why not have her get one specialized treatment done. For example; just a facial or just a pedicure, something that she really wants. Also, why not support the local start-up spa that will generally have lower prices. It is important to remember the small businesses that are trying to operate within this tough time.
Average cost: $30-50

Surprise get together:
A perfect gift for your mother may be planning a surprise family get together. This is a really nice gesture and will be a memorable gift for the entire family to remember. Sometimes we all lose sight of what is really important in life, and some people believe that material gifts are more accepted. The only expenses for this gift are the food, drinks, and accessories.
Average cost: $ 30-50

Coffee/Movie:
Personally, I am not a huge movie fan however some people really enjoy sitting back and watching a movie. This could be a great opportunity to catch up and share a movie with your mother.
Average cost: $30-40

 

3813l_classic-red-roses-bouquetFlowers with a twist:
Give mom beautiful hand picked flowers from your own garden. Some people may find this really tacky, however it allows you to customize every aspect and pick her favourite flowers and colours.
Average cost:$5

 

 

Homemade gift basket:
Although a really nice gift, gift baskets purchased from a store/online can be really expensive. Why not create your own gift basket and pick items that your mom will love. Some ideas for homemade gift baskets are: books, teas, coffees, flower seedlings, photo albums, knitting material, creams, and beauty products. Anything is possible, and it allows you to customize every aspect from the actual product to the tissue paper used.
Average cost: $30-50

Maid for the Day:
Generally, mothers are constantly cleaning the homes, making sure everything is organized, structured, vacuumed etc. So why not give mom a break and you be the maid for the day.
Average Cost: $0

Other Mothers Day items:
Hand made jewelry
Family Portrait
Scrapbook
Homemade Dinner
Homemade CD with her favourite music
Collection of her favourite recipes

There is no price for a Mother’s love, however it a much nicer gesture to show your Mother she is appreciated than buying a gift that only has financial value.

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May 4, 2009 Posted by | Savings, Social Situations | | Leave a comment

Living on one income

Growing up, I thought that living on one income was the norm and that it would continue to be the norm. However, it is becoming much more common to see both parents working full-time career jobs. Why the shift in family patterns? Of course there are many causes, inflation, personal expectations, technology, credit cards, bills, there are so many causes it’s really hard to pinpoint one “thing” to blame.

It is said that approximately 80% of families living in the United States are now dual income earners.

dual

With that being said, is it possible to live comfortable on just one income in today’s society? An example for this situation could be a spouse going on maternity leave, and once the time is over, the spouse decides to stay home to raise their children. In this situation, there are only two choices possible:

1. Increase income
2. Decrease expenses

Increase Income
1. Government allotment: Depending on your geographical location, your government does supply families with a supplemented amount of money, usually a monthly deposit.

2. Promotion/Raise/New Job: The spouse, who is responsible for the income, can try to generate a raise, go for the promotion, or even job search for a better position. However, this option is not always suited for every family; it really comes down to what is best for the family.

3. Work from home: The spouse who is responsible for staying home to raise the children can work from home on a casual basis. In today’s society there are so many casual jobs that allow parents the freedom to make their own hours and the amount they want to work. For example; who would have ever thought there would actually be a job for dog walkers?? I mean, you buy an animal because you love animals and in doing that you have to take the responsibility of providing for your animal (like a child, you have to feed, love, nurture, and care for your animal). However, people today are just too busy (I guess) to walk their own dog. Being a dog walker, you can set your own hours, how many dogs you want to walk, and doing this you get out of the house, exercise, and peace of mind. Another option is home daycare. A few hours after or before school for the kids down the street can really help supplement your family income. The options really are endless, you just have to do your research and look for options that are available to you in your location.

4. Work part time: The spouse, who left their job to stay home, may be able to work part time while raising children. Getting out of the house is really important when you are raising children because it provides an adult outlet for you, while earning money at the same time.

Decrease Expenses
Random Spending: Generally, the more money you have the more you spend. Without knowledge of your financial situation it is easy to assume that you have more money than you really do. It seems odd, but usually dual income families spend more, and save less. One theory could relate this to parents feeling that they work so hard that they deserve whatever they want. Or, they work so long and therefore will buy their children love (this is not to say you can’t provide love when you work full time). Either way, it is important to decrease your expenses when transitioning from two incomes to one. For example; the random pizza night, or the 35$ teddy bear for no reason will have to be eliminated. When I was growing up, I was rewarded with tangible gifts when something was accomplished which really made me appreciate it much more.

Household expenses: Transition your household to a more energy efficient space. This is done in so many different ways from light bulbs to fridges. Also, be aware of the electricity that you are using up. Don’t have all the lights on in the house, or all the televisions on the same station. Recently it was published that even have appliances plugged in, yet turned off, is using an amount of electricity.

Bank fees/Service charges: It is absolutely amazing to me how much people spend (rather waste) on bank service charges. Do you research, shop around for the best account for your needs. I have seen some individuals throw away 15-30$ per month in service fees. Add this up over one year, which is 180-360 dollars wasted.

Credit Card interest: Eliminate all possible credit debt, starting with the highest interest card first. The interest amounts really add up, and logically speaking it is just putting you further in the hole each month.

Overall Monthly expenses: From food, transportation, entertainment, miscellaneous costs, it is essential that you re-evaluate your monthly budget to determine which accounts you can cut costs from. Read my article on grocery shopping tips to find creative ways to save on your grocery bill.

Overall, I personally feel that it may be challenging to comfortably survive on one income alone, however with knowledge, preparation, and structured planning it is very possible and rewarding.

April 6, 2009 Posted by | Savings, Social Situations | | Leave a comment

Brand Name Prices?

 

As a Female, I am aware of famous brand name designers that produce wonderful clothes, handbags, shoes, wallets (I love wallets!), perfume etc.
However, I am really never able to buy brand name products. WHY? They are way too expensive. I would much rather have the sanity of spending
40$ on a handbag that I love, than 300$ that I love as well, but have the feeling of guilt afterwards.

shoes
I just bought these really nice shoes online, and they were only 28$. I am positive if I bought the real item, they would have
been $60 plus.

March 24, 2009 Posted by | Social Situations | Leave a comment

As spring has arrived and summer is that much closer, it is much easier to go out and spend money so freely.

People flock to patios to relax with a few friends, over a few drinks and food, or buying a new summer wardrobe, or just the daily things that can occur when the weather is nice and we just want to be outside. See in the winter, I am perfectly fine with staying at home, having a nice hot drink, and relaxing. So, since summer is almost here, we should all adjust our budgets to ensure that we allow ourselves the appropriate entertainment money value to ensure we stay balanced.

It is so easy to spend a good 60-80$ at a patio with a few friends, or $100 on a few new tops and bottoms, even a trip to starbucks can total up to $10. Of course there are many things to do in the summer that are free, or little cost such as park picnic, going to your local beach, outside events hosted by your city, or just getting outside for a walk.

March 24, 2009 Posted by | Social Situations | | Leave a comment