Are you thinking of hosting Thanksgiving this year? Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could throw a dinner party without busting your budget? Well, good news! You don’t need to spend a ton of money to host an amazing Thanksgiving dinner party. In fact, spending too much on the dinner can suck the joy right out of it.

Thanksgiving is a season for thanks and a time to appreciate each other, so there’s no need to lavishly spend money. There are only a few weeks left until Thanksgiving Day, so start planning now.

Doing so will ensure you have a frugal and fabulous Thanksgiving dinner celebration. Use these tips to host a Thanksgiving party without busting your budget.

[ continue reading... ]

I’m comfortable with my level of debt,” said a long-time friend of mine not too long ago. He was explaining why he isn’t making an effort to aggressively pay down his credit card debt.

He makes a decent living, and most of his credit card debt is the result of youthful financial indiscretions. Since he can afford it, and he likes his current lifestyle, he sees no reason to sacrifice to pay it down faster. In other words, he’s comfortable.

In fact, in every other area of his financial life, he’s doing what we think would be the “right” thing. He’s contributing to an employer-sponsored retirement plan (complete with match!). He has an emergency fund with four months’ worth of expenses, and he usually spends within his means.

He even pays substantially more than the minimum payment on all of his credit cards. He’s just not interested in turbo-charging his debt pay down because he likes to indulge in traveling and eating out.

So he’s content with his level of debt (which doesn’t threaten to overwhelm his finances), and he’s cool with taking four or five years to pay it off. How do you feel about your debt? Are you comfortable with how your finances look? Here’s how to understand your acceptable level of debt.
[ continue reading... ]

There are two primary reasons to visit your local dealership: either to buy a new car, or have your current car serviced. Do you dread the latter?

A few years ago my answer would have been “Yes”. Visits to the service department used to make me nervous. Each time I took the car in for a basic oil change or routine maintenance, the customer service rep would come back with a laundry list of repairs that needed to be done.

Sometimes, the figures on the page would be in the high hundreds. And I don’t know about you, but I have a ton of other items on my list that I would rather spend my money on.

One day, I grew tired of the anxiety attacks, and frequent drains on my wallet, and decided to see if I could solve my high auto repair bill once-and-for-all. Here are five actions I took to get my car repair bills under control:
[ continue reading... ]

Many times when people ask me what I do, I get mixed responses when I explain that I’m a stay-at-home mom. Some people are a little put off by it (which is totally fine), while others look at me as if I have stumbled upon this lucky coin in life. “I wish I could stay at home with my babies too, but we need my income”, is usually the response I hear.

For some individuals, staying at home is not a choice because they do need the extra income. However, when another mom tells me how lucky I am, I can’t help notice that they have a nice iPhone, new and trendy clothes, as well as a pricey SUV. None of these things are bad, but my point is that staying at home and living on one income does require a bit of sacrifice. That lucky coin is not be attributed to luck after-all.

Here are the two questions I asked myself when I wanted to stay at home with my kids, and still make sure the bills were paid.

[ continue reading... ]

A few months ago, a group of my husband’s online gaming friends mentioned they’re planning to take an Alaskan cruise next spring or fall, and invited us to join. While we’ve mentioned the idea of taking a cruise some time in the future, this conversation put the decision, place, and time right at our doorstep.

After some thought, we decided…why not?  We have almost a year to save for it and plan the details, and if we don’t go now — while we’re still without children — it might be a long time coming.

But then came the fun part: how are we going to finance it? Since we don’t own credit cards (and don’t want to finance anything), we plan to pay for it all out-of-pocket.

We don’t immediately have the funds for this kind of expenditure, especially considering the required round trip plane tickets and likely hotel costs, too. But we do have a solid history of being able to save for large expenses in the past, so I know we can do it again.

[ continue reading... ]

So you’ve made that very difficult first step and decided it’s time to do something about your debt. Maybe you’ve reached the end of your financial rope. Perhaps you signed up for a money management program, enrolled in a debt relief plan, or maybe you’re doing it all on your own.

You’re excited about the prospect of finally getting your finances on track and starting down the path to achieve this thing called financial freedom that you’ve heard so much about. But before you take the plunge, there’s one prerequisite to getting started.

You need an emergency fund. [ continue reading... ]