Simple gifts that won't break the bank, but WILL make you look good


Over the years we’ve had so much generosity passed our way. We’ve had friends and family members gift and share children’s clothes and toys, we’ve been given subscription services for gifts that last a year or more, they watch our kids, bring over food, help with major home projects, have helped us move and the list goes on and on. Sometimes thank you just doesn’t seem to be enough. Here are some great gifts that are always loved and don’t break the bank. You don’t have to spend a lot to show gratitude.


Homemade bread

Listen, who doesn’t love warm, soft homemade bread? I have a bread machine that was a gift from my mom probably back when I bought my first house. It’s been the gift that keeps on giving to us and to friends. This is one of my favorite go-to’s in the fall and winter to just say a little ‘thank you’ for a small favor or when going to someone’s house for dinner or drinks. I use the quick loaf recipe and have a fresh loaf to go in 58 minutes.

Don’t have a bread machine? How about just trying one of the many 5 star reviews of basic bread you can find on Pinterest? Or, just bake some good old fashioned chocolate chip cookies. From scratch or slice and bake, it’s the thought that matters.


Wait, I’m sure you’re thinking I must be mistaken because I said it won’t break the bank. Listen. There is nothing wrong with an inexpensive bottle of wine. I don’t know another mom who isn’t grateful for a bottle to have on hand in case of a meltdown. Costco has bottles (not in PA of course) for as low as $5.99, Fine Wines and Spirits has bottles that I’ve seen as low as $5.99 on sale and then there’s always Trader Joe’s two buck chuck (actually $2.99). My favorite thing to do is to pick up a bottle or two when I’m at the store anyway to have on hand.

Crock-pot Crack

Ok, I bet that I can find a way to fit this into everything I write. And I know I need a better name, but this stuff is addicting. It is seriously the best gift, the best candy and it makes such a huge recipe, it’s the gift that keeps on giving! One batch makes over 100 pieces of candy and the whole batch of items only runs about $15.00 shopping at Walmart or Aldi. You get at least 5 gifts out of it, depending on your serving size. Shop the Dollar Tree or Michaels for gifting tins or packaging that will run $1.00 or less each.

I start making pots of this in early November to have on hand anywhere we visit, for our mailmen, teachers, friends and neighbors. We give it throughout the holidays and every year I end up making one batch more than the last. Here is the recipe I like to use. Throw it in the freezer until you need it, or it will magically disappear.

Shutterfly Gifts

This takes a little more thought and planning, but if you have someone who regularly does you favors like a neighbor or friend, you can almost always find a Shutterfly coupon for 40-50% off, or freebie giveaways. If you don’t have any favorite photos of them, pick one they would appreciate of their kid(s), dog or family from their Facebook page and turn it into a fun gift for their home. You can do most of these for FREE-$10 including shipping.

Rice Bag Warmers

Do you have a sewing machine or any skill at all? I definitely don’t, but I have received, a rice bag warmer and I know that it’s one of THE most useful gifts I’ve ever gotten. It only takes someone who isn’t me, a matter of minutes to make. And if you’re already a crafter, you probably have some material on hand.

Saying thank you doesn’t need to be expensive or extravagant. Good friends just do those things because they want to, but it’s always nice to be appreciated for the things you do! What are your favorite things to gift that cost mostly time and thought?

If you’d like information on getting started on a budget, getting out of debt, learning how to save money, protecting your family financially and creating a financial plan to build wealth, click here to set up your FREE discovery call and let me show you how I can help!


How Comparison Shopping Can Lead to Big Savings


Yesterday, I did something I've wanted to do for a long time. I took my Aldi receipt from Saturday morning and compared it to our local grocery store's prices via the online ordering set up. I used "apples to apples" - organic to organic, sizes to sizes and used all generic items from the grocery store to keep it the fairest. 

Now, Aldi is just one of many low-cost grocery stores. They keep their costs low in a variety of ways, but namely being energy and body efficient, carrying private label items, ordering in bulk, keeping employees at a minimum, and having customers partake in the work, like taking your own bags and packing them, and renting your cart for the shopping trip, to ensure it gets back to it's home spot. Other stores you might have in your area are WinCo, Sprouts, Fareway, and Save A Lot to name a few. 

But I digress -- so what were the results? The grand total of my SAVINGS was $50.05 on my Aldi order from what I would have spent at my local chain store. That's right. My bill was $65.67 at Aldi and it would have been $115.72 elsewhere. Now, you might be able to combat some of that with coupons and sales and Ibotta savings at your local grocer, but sometimes you just need to get in and out. The ONLY thing I didn't save on was milk... and here in PA, I think milk is a set price pretty much everywhere, so no surprise there. But I bought 37 items and 36 were a savings. Those little bits add up!! 

I'm not saying your local store doesn't have perks, and honestly, I prefer to shop local when I can (and I did after Aldi - I normally get about 75% at Aldi, then go to my local store for the rest that I can't get there and my meats). But when you're living on a budget, a 43% savings on groceries is a BIG ticket every month. It can literally be hundreds of dollars that you're eating! 

More tips on grocery savings to come, but in the meantime, what's your best grocery saving tip you can share? 

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What Do Fitness and Finances Have in Common?


Most women, and some men, have at some point in their life counted calories, points on weight watchers or counted macros.  What the heck does this have to do with money?  They’re the exact same thing as a budget.  Seriously.  Think about it.   

With calorie counting, you have to budget your food.  You get a certain number of calories (higher if you workout) and you have to make it last all day.  You don’t have to eat only healthy, but the healthier you eat, the more “bang for your buck” you get.  When you eat nutritiously dense, you’re satisfied longer and on less. 

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With a budget, or spending plan as I like to call it, you get a certain amount of money (more if you work harder or extra jobs) and you have to make it last all month.  You don’t have to be super frugal and not go out for coffee.  But the more lattes you make at home, the more money you have for clothes.  Or bills.  Or retirement.  If you make wise, pre-calculated choices, your money will go further.  Impulse spending only leaves you with the same feeling of regret as impulse eating a whole bag of Oreos.  Been there and done both. 

What about the quick fix??  The latest fad diet.  Have you heard of the raw food diet?  5 bite diet?  Cabbage soup diet?  Master cleanse diet?  Grapefruit diet? The list goes on, but there are TONS of fad diets out there.  They’re pretty extreme and sure, they’ll get you results quick.  But will they last? NO.  And neither will you on the diet.  The best way to lose weight is through healthy exercise and a balanced diet of food in moderation with reasonable portions and control.  It’s about changing your behavior for long term success. Money is the same thing.  You can do all the balance transfers you want.  But at the end of the day the debt is still there.  You can wipe out your retirement to clear your debt.  But if you don’t change your behavior, it won’t last.  You’ll be back in debt in no time.  Got those t-shirts also. 

So money and fitness, health and wealth.  They go together like peanut butter and jelly. It’s no big secret that once you get one area of your life in check, the other seems to magically fall into place for a lot of people.  It’s about learning balance, patience and how to focus on a goal.  Remember, a season of discipline doesn’t mean you’ll never enjoy your favorite things again.  As Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else, so that later you can live and give like no one else.”