Gift-Giving Ideas for the 2016 Holiday Season

We’ve all been stuck with the challenge of finding the perfect gift for at least one person on our list!  We want to be original and thoughtful without the (extreme) sticker shock.  Here are some fresh budget-friendly gift ideas (2016 edition!) that will make your friends and family jump for joy!
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For the traveler– You may not be able to give them a trip to Dubai but in the world of box deliveries, Try The World specializes in experiencing food from around the globe without leaving the comforts of your own kitchen.  Chefs expertly craft every box to tailor it to a part of the world to ensure you are enjoying an authentic meal.  Can we say YUM?!
Retail value: $29-39 per box
Photo credit: trytheworld.com
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For the thrill-seeker–  Escape Room Games are original experiences to find the clues, solve the puzzle, and escape the room with your team.  It’s fun for the family or even for date nights!  Even better?  You can find Groupon deals for local escape room venues in your area!
Retail value: $28 and up

For the tech-lover The Amazon Echo Dot is the latest voice-controlled gadgets to help streamline everyday life with voice commands.  The device is compatible to stream Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, or iHeartRadio and to control other wirelessly controlled lights, fans, and sprinklers.  It also works as an alarm clock!   This is the perfect gift to make tasks easier for the busiest person you know!
Retail value: $49.99 amazon.com

For the teen or tween– Think of the Skewb Ultimate as the classic Rubki’s Cube on steroids!   The updated twist includes a 12-sided, 12-color spatial challenge based closely to the classic puzzle’s concept.  skewbGet them away from their screens and give their minds a bend as they twist the sides to mix up the shades and solve by getting one solid color to take up every side.
Retail value: $20, mcachicagostore.org

For the book lover- Even in the digital age, the classic book lover enjoys flipping the pages of a good book.  Book of the Month Club offers the five hand-picked best books voted notable journalists and bloggers each month.  The reader selects one book each month and the book is delivered in a custom-edition hardcover print.   Imagine their excitement of opening up that package even after the holidays are over!  Retail value: Subscriptions are $44.97 and up

For the sentimental– If you know somebody who loves decorating their home with photos, this canvas print is the perfect gift that will circle all of the things that they love most. canvas-art This personalized canvas art brings the best memories into a beautiful art piece.
Retail value: Canvas prints vary $27.95 and up, http://www.personalizationmall.com/canvasart

 

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Six Easy Steps to Keep More Money in Your Wallet

You’ve heard it before….. Avoid high-dollar coffee shops and make your own lattes.  Pack your own lunches.  Clip coupons.  Try store brand products to see how they compare to national brands.  We all need fresh ideas on how to get the most bang for our buck these days.  At times, we all need a new way of doing life and re-thinking our habits towards financial freedom.
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  1. A well stock pantry- What does this mean?  It means that you have always have ingredients on hand to make your seasonings such as taco and chili as well as mix your own cleaning products (more environmentally safe, too!) for pennies on the dollars.  The best part is it only take minutes to make.  Google some recipes that will help you save even more at the register.
  2. Secondhand shop- Whether you are shopping for kids’ clothes or a kitchen table, there are plenty of options to find gently used items without the hefty new price tag.  Think eBay, consignment stores, and even the Goodwill.  Local community “buy and sell” sites and garage sales are great forums to find exactly what you are looking for and always a resourceful way to make money for things you no longer need.
  3. Become a good neighbor- Back in the day, people didn’t hesitate to call up a neighbor to ask for a cup of sugar or maybe two eggs if they were shorthanded.  By no means, make this a habit but if you are looking for something that you will only need to temporarily use (such as a ladder or a Halloween costume), reach out to neighbors to see if they have one on hand available for borrowing and gladly return the favor if they ever need anything.  It prevents you from purchasing something you will only use once and creating unnecessary clutter in your closets.
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  4. Consolidate trips and carpool- We live in an age where are always on the go and have a laundry list of to-dos.  However, lessen your trips to the pumps by picking one or two days out of the week to run errands opposed to jumping in your car everyday.  Make a carpool buddy that will help get the kids to and from school and soccer practices.  Best of all, it saves you time and is environmentally friendly, too!
  5. Negotiate rates with your credit card company or complete a balance transfer-  If you’re paying more on credit card interest than you would like, it’s vital to know that you do have some power as long as you’ve been making monthly payments on time. Call your credit card issuer to negotiate your current interest rate and explain your request.  Research transferring your balance to a low to no interest rate and stop using your credit card.  Create a manageable payment plan and stick to it!
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  6. Develop a plan- If you are ready to make a dive into saving money, become serious about creating a plan for  “One Month of No Spending”.  Ruth Soukup discusses this plan in her book, “31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero”.  Her family saved over $1,000 a month using this approach!  Cheers to saving!