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Showing posts from December, 2011

Frugal Festive Opportunities

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Have you planned your New Year’s celebration yet? A little short on cash? Consider giving a last minute shout out to friends and acquaintances --The more random the better. Those that accept, have them pair up to provide a course of the meal. Each take turns serving, with one pair volunteering to do dishes. What you have is a gourmet evening with good company for the cost of making one dish at home. The entree to our last impromptu gathering this week was a hit (Chef Daniel Boulud's Pork Shoulder with Guinness, Dried Cherries, and Sweet Potatoes). 
All in all, it makes for a very frugal – very fun evening out. Hope you are gearing up to enjoy wrapping up 2011.

From the Heart

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During the gifting season, it is sometimes difficult to find the ‘perfect’ present. Some of the best are those from the heart. Like the garden stone with our grandchildren’s’ foot prints, framed photos of special moments from the past year, lovely scarves from faraway places we have traveled. Sometimes the best gift can be the offer to undertake a dreaded task, like cleaning out and reorganizing a storage room or offering your services as dishwasher for your parent’s dinner party.


The very best gift is the present of presence, being there for one another, either in person or in heart. And to think – it doesn't cost a penny. How grand.

Christmas Traditions

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Every year, in place of buying gifts for one another, we take a family vacation for Christmas. This year was an exception. The year got away from us. With no extra funds set aside for travel, we decided to spend time together at home. To compensate for not traveling, we  exchanged gifts with one another. We made many of the gifts, but we still felt like we needed to buy everybody something. This was way more work than we remembered. Spending money in such a short window of time for so many people, and not knowing if it is something they would like, need or want --is stressful.
It was joyful being together and has been a very laid-back week. But we all agreed that from now on: 1) each Christmas, we will start planning for the next year's trip. When everyone is together, it is easier to negotiate the dates and destination selection. 2) We will budget a savings plan for the trip that stretches over a 12-month period. The ultimate gift you can give yourself is to pay for a trip out of …

4 Days ‘til Christmas; 10 Days ‘til End of Year

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As we rush around getting last minute gifts, we should also be mindful of the end of the year for tax reasons. Here are a few items to check off your list before 2012 rolls around.
- Last Minute Charitable Contributions: Time to get in the last minute charitable contributions for the 2011 tax year. Is it time to clean out your closet and make a donation to Good Will? Can you afford to give a little extra to a charitable cause? It has been a rough few years for a lot of people and your donation may be just what your favorite charity needs to help those in need.
Unreimbursed Medical and Dependent Care Accounts: These are your "use it or lose it" accounts. You have to use the money by the end of the year or you forfeit your balance. If you have money in these accounts, maybe it is time to get your eyes checked or a new pair of glasses. Make sure you have paid all of your dependent care expense and that your balance is zero.
- 529 or Educational Savings Deposits: In some states, …

Upcycle Twinkle Time

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It is the holidays and in the spirit of gifting and the joy of creating, make useful and fun things for family and friends this time a year. Tis the art of Upcycle: To make new from items that have lost their usefulness or value.

A few flavors of the day:
Paper bag stockings, perfect for gifts of movie passes, lottery tickets or gift certificates:

Covering an old canvas so to gift a new painting:
Piecing together old jeans into a cozy blanket:

Everyone has a little elf inside them. Get out the glue and glitter and release your inner elf. Very fun. Very frugal.

OWS, Student Debt, Tuition Increases and Tuition Free Colleges

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Higher tuition, more student loans, and greater access to higher education…what do we do? The Occupy Wall Streeters (OWS) say they are not going to repay student loans and are demonstrating on college and university campuses.In today’s Inside Higher Ed daily updates, there is an article about how their energy might be misplaced.This article argues that college and university administrator’s hands are tied because states are cutting funding to higher education and students are demanding quality student services and education.They are feeling that their only or best choice is to raise tuition and fees, which ultimately increases the debt burden for college graduates.
According to DiplomaGuide.com there are 10 colleges and university with $0 tuition.  Yes that is right, $0.00 in tuition.  Perhaps we should look at these institutions to see if we can apply some best practices to reduce the cost of higher education.  Many require students to work on campus.  College of the Ozarks nicknamed …

Frugal Fun and the Holidays

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Frugal Fun”', “Holidays”: The two topics go hand-in-hand.  So much of the joy of the holidays is the time spent with love ones and surprising them with something special. The something special does not have to cost a mint. Gifts from the heart can be the least expensive and the most treasured.


Frugal-festive examples from our homestead this year include packets of homemade monogrammed stationary: Stockings made from a fabric stash and old costume jewelry: And grandparents teaming up with the grandchildren to make extra special surprises for the parents. These activities make the holiday glow -- from the joy of the planning, the making and the giving.














From our household to yours, we hope your holiday prep this year is joyful, frugal and fun. :)

Zone Euro: Sarkozy et Merkel dans le viseur des agences!

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L'agence de notation américaine Standard and Poor's l'affirmait depuis de longues semaines, "la faiblesse du processus de prise de décision dans l'Union européenne et la zone euro" et le "manque d'avancées des dirigeants européens pour éviter la contagion de la crise" mettaient clairement  "en péril la note actuelle de nombreux états..."

Alors que le couple franco-allemand se perd toujours plus dans l'actuel  débat "inutile" d'une "germanophobie" qui serait  "organisée en tous points", l'annonce de l'agence viendra mettre un terme aux spéculations sur la sortie de crise maintes fois annoncées. "Trop, c'est trop!", tel est le sentiment des professionnels des salles de marchés qui "balladés" depuis des mois, sont "confrontés au mur des éléments d'une polémique d'immixtions hasardeuses entre différents états de la Zone euro","incapables de se place…

So Many Priorities, Never Enough Money

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80-10-10: That is the budget we strive to achieve in our household. Live on 80%, save 10%, give 10% of our time, talents and treasure. We are not there yet but every year we get closer. Coming to the end of this year and heading into the next, we find that we have had, and will continue to have, more priority family fun than we originally budgeted for. How do we balance our priorities and our income? Want to pay for it in cash and continue to keep our credit card balance at zero each month? -YesWant to take out of our savings or reduce our savings rate? -NoConsider backing down on our giving? -No.Ideally, we should bring our life style within the limits of that 80%. Selling off an asset, such as an extra automobile, is one option we discussed. We have three vehicles (car, truck, van) between two drivers. For the most part, the truck and the van sit in the garage as we typically car pool. Why is it hard to part with assets we seldom use even though they cost us money? Even if a vehicle …

Zone Euro: Sarkozy ...pour un dernier tango avec Angela?

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Une semaine bien lourde...  La Zone euro reste suspendue au prochain tango, celui d'un président français et cette chancelière allemande, "Une Angela Merkel qui serait toujours plus droite dans ses bottes..."
Dans les couloirs d'un certain château, on ne cache plus son impatience: "A force de ne plus rien (pouvoir)  décider, on va se mettre tout le monde sur le dos! Et pour l'heure, on va droit dans "le nouveau mur"de Berlin..."(...)" Plus Angela nous résiste, plus sa cote de popularité augmente outre-Rhin, problème, ici , c'est pas la même pour le boss!"  En effet depuis qu'un certain bras de fer s'invite dans le couple franco-allemand, on ne sait plus trop comment faire pour apporter des éléments de langage qui puissent "résister à une certaine germanophobie qui s'installe France."  Car la situation perçue en France commence à faire des vagues au delà des seules digues du couple franco-allemand.  Dans la Zo…

Look Who’s Trying to Collect from Beyond the Grave

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What happened to your debts when you die? As seniors increase their debt during retirement, you should know what happens to debts when you die.  According to FoxBuisness.com“Nearly 40% of all seniors say they have accumulated debt in their retirement years with no plans to pay it off in their lifetime.  Are the heirs and next of kin responsible?
There is not an easy answer and it all depends on the situation.  The first thing to do in all cases is to notify all creditors of the death. Normally, the estate and the executor who handles the estate will liquidate the assets, pay creditors and distribute the proceeds according to your last will and testament or it will be distributed according to state laws.
If there is not enough money to pay all creditors, the general order of who gets their money is: 1.  Funeral expenses, taxes and administrative fees 2.  Secured creditors such as mortgage loans, car loans, etc.  These creditors have the rights to the assets securing the loan. 3. Unsecured …

Congo/Elections: La nouvelle RDC, un modèle éthique pour l'Afrique? (Exclusif)

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République démocratique du Congo: "Un regard plein d'espoir!"
L'histoire de la république démocratique du Congo (RDC) est-elle vraiment ce futur modèle d'une possible démocratie éthique?  La question reste posée, alors que le pays est enferré dans une normalisation de ses fondamentaux, "Finance Offshore", premier site de l'espace francophone international sur la finance offshore s'intéresse au dossier en s'invitant dans le débat politique des actuelles élections.
La communauté financière internationale observe cette nouvelle partition qui se joue entre inquiétude et résignation, ceux qui sont souvent accusés de tirer un certain profit des troubles du pays, n'hésitent plus à monter au créneau pour dire leurs vérités...
Parler de la RDC (république démocratique du Congo), s'est s'intéresser au nerf de la guerre, c'est à dire les richesses de ce pays qui cumule le triste avantage de disposer de nombreuses et précieuses matières …