Tag Archives: Save your $5 bills

Holiday planning – Start your list

Copyright 2014 - Sweet Doll Designs
Copyright 2014 – Sweet Doll Designs

I don’t know about you, but this year has flown by for me!  Now that we’re in October, it’s officially the last quarter of 2014!  That got me to thinking that the Holidays are just around the corner – now is the perfect time to start planning for them.

I know, you might be thinking that it’s not even Halloween yet, so why should you think about the holidays now?!  Well, it’s because the Holidays will be here before we know it and we need to start getting prepared so that we don’t have to run around like crazy and spend more money than necessary to get ready at the last minute.

When you start planning for the Holidays this far in advance, you have time to buy gifts on sale, pay for regular processing and shipping charges (instead of rush fees and overnight shipping), and save money a bit at a time so that you don’t have to charge all your purchases on your credit card.  Now is the perfect time to use the $5 bills you’ve been saving, or even consider using the change you’ve rolled.

To start, just sit and think about your favorite holiday experiences.  Are they with family?  Do they involve special menus?  Do you enjoy sending out special Holiday cards?  Have you started thinking about what to buy for your family and friends?

If you answered yes to being with family, does visiting them involve travel?  If it means plane travel, start looking at plane tickets and consider booking your flight now before the prices start to skyrocket.

If you enjoy making special food for your family get-togethers (even if it’s bringing a side dish to Nanny’s house and not cooking the entire meal), start thinking about what you want to make this year and write down the ingredients list.  If possible, estimate the cost of the ingredients you’ll need and start putting that money to the side.

If you’re planning on sending out a picture Holiday card of your family, go to the park and play around with taking fun family photos together.  Also go on the website of the company you’d like to create your card to see how much they will cost.  Start putting that money to the side.

Now start thinking about the presents you want to give to people this season.  Remember that they don’t always have to be store-bought.  Think creatively!  Maybe you can knit a pair of socks for Nanny to keep her feet toasty warm this winter.  Or maybe Mom would like a framed photo of a beautiful flower that you took this Spring.  It’s not a bad thing if you buy all your presents from the store, either.  My point is that it’s a good idea to start thinking now about each person on your list and what gift they might appreciate receiving.  Then do a little research to determine how much each gift (or the materials to make the gift) will cost.  You guessed it, put that money to the side, too.

I’ve created an Excel spreadsheet to help you organize your Holiday gift list.  If you’d like to receive this free resource, please fill out the form below.

Remember that you’re just starting these lists and they can be tweaked between now and the Holidays.  But it’s helpful to start getting prepared now!

Ok, now go back to planning your Halloween costume! 🙂

Happy Decoding!

Fun fact for today – Over $220 million worth of poinsettias are sold during the holidays! (Source: http://fun.familyeducation.com/december-holidays/history/35012.html)

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Budgeting 101 – Vacations!

Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park Copyright 2014 - Sweet Doll Designs
Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park
Copyright 2014 – Sweet Doll Designs

We are now in prime vacation season, so I thought we could talk about budgeting for vacations.

When you decide to go on vacation, it is best to plan several months in advance so that you can make out a savings plan for your trip.  Are you able to put aside $50 – $100 per month toward your next vacation?  If you can’t swing this amount, consider saving your $5 bills as we discussed, or even save your $1 bills.

In the $5 bill post, we talked about saving the bills for gifts for your loved ones.  You can also use this money toward your vacation.  You can decide to use this money however you’d like.

If you are saving in small increments like this, you’ll probably need to save for a longer period of time, depending on how much you’ll need for the particular vacation you’ve chosen.  Don’t forget about visiting our nation’s treasures – National Parks.  They are beautiful, interesting, educational, and often budget friendly.

Let’s say you’ve decided to visit Yellowstone National Park (pictured above).  You might start by researching accommodations.  You have the option to stay inside the park, or you can stay in the surrounding area, which might be slightly less expensive.  Have you ever thought about staying on a Dude Ranch?  They’re lots of fun.  Anyway, write down around how much your accommodations will cost.

Next, research how much travel costs are to get to that area.  Compare the prices of flying into different airports in the area – one may be less expensive than the others.

Other items to remember to budget for are: car rental, gas, food, and souvenirs.  With all this pricing information, you can determine approximately how much you’ll need for your vacation.  Then divide that number by the number of weeks until your scheduled vacation to know how much you’ll need to save each week.

Saving for your vacation might take longer than just going on vacation and putting everything on your credit card to pay off later.  However, you’ll be happy that you took the time to determine your budget then regularly put money to the side so that you can truly enjoy your vacation without any money worries!  Have fun!

Happy decoding!

Fun fact for today – Andrew Jackson, seen on the $20 bill, actually preferred using coins instead of paper currency (Source: http://blog.lendingclub.com/the-us-dollar-bill-50-fascinating-facts/).

Painless ways to save – $5 bills

Copyright 2014 - Sweet Doll Designs
Copyright 2014 – Sweet Doll Designs

A few months ago, I met my friend for brunch.  We hadn’t seen each other since my wedding last year, s­o we spent some time catching up on each other’s lives.  We started talking about easy ways to save money, and she told me about one of the methods she uses – saving her $5 bills.

This method is pretty simple.  Anytime you receive a $5 bill as change, put it to the side in your wallet.  When you get home, of course record it on the Where’s George website (see last week’s post about this fun website!), and put it in a special envelope in your dresser drawer, or wherever it will be safe (see a picture of my $5 envelope above).

Now, you may find that this is not necessarily the easiest thing to do in the world.  I certainly didn’t when I first started this technique.  Since I’d much rather save my money than spend it, I don’t allocate much to myself to spend each week – just enough for entertainment and groceries (for more information on my weekly cash allowance, click here).  So even though $5 doesn’t sound like much, each time I received a $5 bill as change, I missed it from my weekly allowance!  However, after using this technique for several months, I’m now used to it and I don’t miss the $5 bills as much.

Soon after starting this technique, I found that I accumulated a bunch of $5 bills pretty quickly!  My friend uses this money to pay for Christmas presents for her family, which is what I intend to do this year.  I have also used the money for birthday gifts for my family and friends.

This is a great way to easily save money to either deposit in your bank account, or to buy gifts for your loved ones throughout the year.

If saving $5 is too difficult in your budget right now, you can always save all the $1 bills you receive as change instead.  Once you get comfortable with that, you will be able to work your way back up to $5 bills.  Don’t forget to also keep the change!

Happy Decoding!

Fun fact for today – The first $5 bill was issued in 1861, but it did not have Abraham Lincoln’s portrait on it.  It was not until 1914 that his image was printed on the $5 bill.  (Source: http://www.ehow.com/about_6522725_interesting-5-dollar-bill.html)