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Archive for the ‘Budgeting’ Category

Keeper of the Home has moved- click here to find my new blog site!

Last weekend, I went to my favorite place to buy my children’s clothing! I shop at a local children’s swap meet, where there are over 100 tables of other local moms, selling their used children’s and infants clothing, shoes, toys, strollers, etc. It is a phenomenal place to get everything you need for your kids for the next season, all under one roof, all on one morning. It’s a long anticipated, and carefully planned event for me, as I want to make the most of each opportunity. I try to go about 3-4 times a year, depending on my children’s needs as they outgrow their clothes.

Without further adieu, here are my finds:

Clothes from kids swap

For my almost 3 year old daughter:

4 dresses/jumpers (one Gap and one Next- very nice quality, and two others that are for everyday)

2 skirts (Children’s Place and Bum Equipment)

2 dressy shirts- one short sleeved Old Navy, one long sleeved Gymboree)

3 casual long sleeved shirts (Old Navy, Children’s Place)

1 knit sweater

2 pairs two-piece winter pajamas

1 pair Osh Kosh suede-look winter boots

1 pair Gap khaki pants

For my 5 mth old son:

1 pair corduroy Please Mum (excellent Canadian brand) overalls

3 long sleeved casual shirts (all Old Navy and Please Mum)

1 long sleeved button up shirt (Children’s Place)

1 knit sweater (Old Navy)

2 onesies

1 pair soft leather booties (ugly laces, so I’ll replace those for $1)

1 corduroy fall/winter jacket

And, I got a brand new $9 sleeper (with the tags still on it) for $0.50 that I will use as a baby shower gift. (

Grand total (drum roll, please…):

$53.00!!!

Here are my basic swap meet rules:

1) I don’t pay more than $5 for any one item, no matter how nice.

2) I always remind myself that no matter how nice those $9 baby Gap jeans are, there is another table selling something similar for half the price, and I need to leave quickly (before I loose my resolve!) and go find it!

3) I always, always, always barter. And it works best if I can find more than one item at a table, so that I can group the items together and offer a lump sum for all of it. People are more likely to accept this, as it feels like they are making more money, and they are selling several items at once that they might otherwise not sell.

4) I plan ahead (for weeks, sometimes), going through my kids current clothes, looking through the bins and bags of clothing in the next sizes up to see what they already have, determining what they truly need for each new season, and then making a detailed list. At several points during my swap meet morning, I will get out that list to check off what I have already bought, and determine what items I need to still keep an eye out for.

5) I put in my pocket the specific amount of cash that my husband and I have budgeted for the needed clothing. Nothing more. When that money runs out, I’m done. If I finish checking off items on my list before it runs out, I get to have fun!

I love to challenge myself each time, to see whether I can get even better deals and get more for my money than the last time! On a side note, although I also use garage saling and thrift stores for my clothing purchases, I prefer the swap meet because there is so much under one roof, and it’s rarely hit and miss. I can always count on a good selection of all the things that I need, and I don’t waste precious time hitting stores or garage sales that don’t have what I am looking for. That said, I’ve often found great deals in both places, so I never rule them out as options.

For more great more saving tips, check out Super Saver Saturdays at Crystal’s blog.

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Keeper of the Home has moved- click here to find my new blog site!

Just wanted to give you all a heads up that this Monday (Nov.5) will be the kickoff of Making Do Mondays!

As a part of the Savvy Spending Challenge, you will have the chance to write a post sharing a way that you save money by:

  • simply going without (there are so many things that we can probably do without, that we think we need)
  • making something yourself
  • finding a frugal way to get an item cheaper
  • practicing contentment
  • creatively using or reusing things you have at home
  • anything else you can think of that saves money or simplifies your life or spending

So start brainstorming, write your post and come back on Monday to add your blog link and share your tips with the rest of us!

I can’t wait! See you Monday!

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Keeper of the Home has moved- click here to find my new blog site!

What a great response we’ve had to the Savvy Spending Challenge! As promised, here are the rest of the details about what will be happening over the next month.

First of all, it’s important to establish where you’re at right now, and set a goal for where you want to be at the end of the month. So, you’ll need to determine a few things first:

1) What is your monthly take-home pay, after all taxes and deductions?

2) How much do you normally save each month, if any?

3) Find the percentage of your regular income that you save (it can be an average, because I know that each month can look a little bit different, but try to come up with a realistic figure that you can work with).

For example- $100 savings divided by $2000 take-home income= 5% savings

4) Then, set a goal for yourself. Although it’s important to be realistic (because you still have some basic expenditures that you cannot avoid- rent/mortgage, food, etc.), it’s also important to set a high standard for yourself. You want to have something to really strive for, something that makes this a true challenge.

Here’s my goal: We are currently saving an average of 10% each month (although occasionally we need to use a bit of that savings for unexpected expenses). This month we would like to up that savings to 25%. I wish we could go even higher, but still, 25% is 2.5 times as much as we usually save! That would definitely make a dent in the car debt!

Now for the fun part (see, you knew this was gonna be really fun!)…

It’s time to get creative and encourage one another as we plunge into this challenge!

My commitment to you is that:

  • I will give weekly updates as to how are spending is going, and what percent we have saved so far
  • I will also be posting on topics regarding frugality, stretching your dollars, making do without, and even getting things for free, as often as I can
  • I will share many links to useful sites, whether they are sharing thrifty tips or have printable coupons for useful items
  • I will share all of the fun, frugal and free activities, creative solutions, recipes, etc. that I have come up with myself

And as for you, I (and all the other readers) want to know- what are you doing to make the challenge successful? So, I will be starting Making-Do Mondays, kicking it off Monday, November 5th. You will be able to put your blog link on my page, and share your incredible tips and tricks with the rest of us! I’m looking forward to hearing the ideas that will come out of this challenge!

And the challenge is on…

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Keeper of the Home has moved- click here to find my new blog site!

Do you have extra debt that you’d like to pay off faster? Are you saving (or wish you could start saving) for a particular item your family needs (a car, a computer, etc.)? Are you just as curious as I am to see how much more you could stretch your regular budget, what you could be getting better deals on and what you could actually do without???

Then join me for my Savvy Spending Challenge, starting November 1st!

Here’s the challenge:

If you were to go hard for one month, being extremely cautious and frugal about every single purchase, trying to go without and really save every penny possible, how much could you save? Our goal is to spend nothing more than what we absolutely need to live (bare essentials- house, food, car, insurance), and to use our creativity and ingenuity to find other ways to do what we want, make what we want, and still have a fanstastic month, saving a far higher percentage of our income than we normally save!

The beauty of the challenge is that it’s only one month. We can do anything for a short amount of time. I can’t imagine living this way indefinitely, but for one month, I know that I can do it!

Why am I doing this, you ask? Here’s the (sort of) short version of a long story: Last spring we were in the process of saving up for a new car, because we had no debt and desired to keep it that way. Sadly, the car died a little earlier than expected. We were left with two options- to buy a very cheap car with the amount that we had already saved (in hindsight, this would have been the best option), or to spend a bit extra and get a car that would go the distance for us, but have a small amount of debt. Because my husband is in sales, he earns extra commission checks that we do not count on as part of our regular budget. We reasoned that we could easily pay off the debt within 6-12 months, and be left with a debt-free car for the next 4-5 years after that. However, we did not count on my husband being diagnosed with cancer and being out of work (on disability) for 6 months, only two months after we bought the car (don’t worry- it has a happy ending- my husband is now in remission and started work again part-time two weeks ago- praise God!).

This unexpected change of plans (hmmm, doesn’t James say something about not boasting in our own plans?) left us with a debt, that although manageable, feels like a burden to us. We have discussed this issue a lot in the last few weeks and have decided to go all out (gazelle-intense for all you Dave Ramsey fans) and get this thing paid off by the end of 2007!

And thus the Savvy Spending Challenge was born! We have chosen November 1st to start one month of squeezing every ounce of savings that we can out of our regular income. And we wanted to invite you to join us on this adventure!!!

If you have never done this type of intensified scrimping and saving, let me tell you, it works! We have done it before, numerous times in our marriage. And we have often surprised ourselves with what we could go without and how little we could get by on! This is a character-building, marriage-strengthening, and financial freedom-developing activity. It has helped us to both pay off debts we had when we were married, and also to save up money for special purchases. This absolutely works for us, and we would love to have some fellow travelers in our journey.

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P.S. Tomorrow I’ll be posting all the details of the challenge! See you then!

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