Celebrate Mom without Your Wallet

by Stacy Tharp 9. May 2013

Mother's Day

After all she’s done for you, having just one day devoted to your mother just doesn’t seem like enough. That’s why you may feel inclined to shower her with expensive gifts and outings. But think about it – would your mother really want you taking out a second mortgage on your home for just one day? Didn’t she teach you better than that? Here are some ideas on how you can make your mother feel like the special woman that she is without going broke this Sunday.

Make Her a Meal

Stay away from the crowded restaurants and instead stay home and cook your mother her favorite meal! You will be able to enjoy a nice quiet conversation over delicious food made with your secret ingredient – love. Best of all, you won’t be rushed out to make way for another group as soon as you finish eating. Depending on what you make, you may spend a little bit more on this meal than the average meal you cook, but it should still be much cheaper than eating out!

Go on a Day Trip

Drive to the beach for the day and relax, or visit DC where you can take advantage of the free Smithsonian museums. Spending a day together is more meaningful and less costly than material gifts.

Give Her a Homemade Gift

There's nothing more thoughtful than a homemade gift. Now if you are thinking that you aren't creative and crafty enough to produce something nice, check out our Homemade Mother's Day Gift Ideas board on Pinterest. The simplicity of some of these ideas may surprise you!

Do Her Chores

Don't let your mom lift a finger on Mother’s Day! Clean her entire house, wash her car, run her errands, etc. If your mother is always on top of things and needs nothing done immediately, create some “vouchers” for her to use in the future for various tasks.

Write Her a Letter 

This is an especially good option for those who do not live close to their mothers. So when I say “write,” I mean with a pen, not a keyboard. And when I say “letter,” I mean on a physical piece of paper or greeting card, not a computer or phone. Write something thoughtful and detailed – something that could only come from you. Then put it in the mail (as in post office service, not internet). Physical letters are much more sentimental then electronic messages.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure your mother knows how much you appreciate her and everything she’s done for you!

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

Tricks to Throwing a Budget-Friendly Barbeque

The Cheap Guide to Father's Day in Baltimore

Traveling Tips: Keep the Costs Low and the Fun Level High

Spring Clean Your Finances in 6 Days - Part 2

by Stacy Tharp 8. May 2013

Clean Dollars

Welcome back to the 6 Day Spring Clean Your Finances Challenge! In case you missed part 1, click here. Otherwise, we're on to day 3...

Day 3: Take a Look at Your Retirement Plan

Step 1: Do you have a retirement plan? If so, move on to step 2. If not, start one…right now! Never underestimate the power of compound interest. You can start by looking into retirement plans that your employer offers. There are often incentives associated with these accounts that make these investments worth your while. However, when you are first setting everything up, it’s smart to meet with a financial consultant. There are many things to take into consideration when saving for retirement and many factors that go into how much you should be putting away. A financial consultant can do all the hard work for you and talk you through the process of getting your account(s) set up.

Step 2: So you have a plan in place – great! Now when was the last time you reviewed your plan? Since the hard part is setting up your retirement plan, many people think that once this is done, they can sit back and relax for the next 40 years. Not true! It’s important to review your plan periodically to make sure you are making good progress, everything is still on track, and your plan accounts for any major life changes you have made. Our Retirement Planner Calculator is a good place to start to see if your plan is still a good one.

Day 4: Find Ways to Save Money

Today you will “audit” yourself to see what you are unwisely spending money on. Do you have all of the premium movie channels but rarely use them? Maybe you would be better off getting rid of the channels and instead subscribing to Netflix or taking advantage of Red Box or movies on demand. Or maybe you do subscribe to Netflix but never use it – time to say goodbye! The same goes for magazine and online subscriptions. It’s easy to continue subscribing to a product or service for $10 a month and seems not worth the trouble to get rid of it…but if you have 5 of these unused subscriptions, that’s $50 a month you could save by getting rid of everything.

Also, when was the last time you shopped around for insurance (car, home, health, etc.)? You may have done your research and gotten several quotes initially, but if it’s been awhile, things have probably changed and there’s a good chance you can lower your premiums.

Stay tuned for the 3rd and final part to the Spring Clean Your Finances Challenge!

Spring Clean Your Finances in 6 Days - Part 1

by Stacy Tharp 6. May 2013

Clean Up Your Finances

'Tis the season of spring cleaning – my favorite time of year! What? You disagree? Well how about right AFTER spring cleaning? Coming home to a freshly cleaned house is a wonderful way to come home. It leaves you feeling relaxed and stress-free…that is, until you start to think about other areas of your life causing you stress.

Solution: Spring clean those other areas of your life as well! Organize your space at work, clean out your email inbox and…here’s the doozy: clean up your finances! I know cleaning up your finances may sound like a daunting task, but if you tackle it the right way you can get it done in no time! Well, not quite “no time,” but how does 6 days sound?

I bring you the 6 Day Spring Clean Your Finances CHALLENGE!

Day 1: Consolidate Your Accounts

Especially if you have moved around a lot in recent years, you may have checking and savings accounts that you no longer use. While it’s easy to keep unused accounts open, you may be accruing fees and you are definitely not putting those funds to good use. Even if you only have a small amount in these accounts, it’s time to close those accounts! If you have moved and do not have a branch near you, you can generally request that your account be closed in writing. Contact the financial institution to find out exactly what information they require.

Additionally, if you have changed jobs you may have an inactive 401(k). It’s time to roll that into an IRA! You will first have to open said IRA so that you actually have an account to roll your funds into. Then contact the company that runs your old 401(k) and ask them to transfer the funds. In some cases, it might be best to leave your funds where they are. Consider talking to a financial consultant who can talk you through the process and give you tips on managing your retirement fund.

Day 2: Get Organized

Organization...that dreaded word. The good news is that since you have just consolidated your funds into fewer accounts, you have less to organize! If you have a giant stack of “important” papers somewhere in your house, it’s time to tackle them! Go through everything and figure out what you need to keep and what you should throw away or shred.

If you have a filing system in place, your work today will be a little bit easier, but you should still go through everything and get rid of things you no longer need. If you don’t have a filing system…today you must figure one out!

Organization Day is not a fun day for many people. To make it easier in the future, switch to electronic documents whenever possible. Enroll all of your accounts in Online Banking with electronic bank statements and Bill Pay. This way, all of your statements and bills will still be filed, but instead of ending up in a messy stack on your table, they will be organized for you in a secure electronic format!

Ready for Day 3? Click Here.


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