20 Recyclable Ways to Wrap Gifts

Recyclable Ways to Wrap Gifts

It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, there always seems to be gifts to wrap for one occasion or another! I know that I happen to enjoy when I’m given a gift and I can tell the gift giver spent a little bit of time making the wrapped gift look beautiful. Interesting wrap does two things:

  • It gives the recipient of a gift the feeling that the giver went the extra mile.
  • Even though wrapping paper generally gets ripped to shreds, it add more suspense to the surprise.

So when it comes to your loved ones, friends, or even business associates on any special occasion throughout the year, think twice before you settle for some cheap wrap from the dollar store. Think outside the box!

The truth is, there are plenty of recyclable materials around that make crafting your own wrap easy with barely any cost. Wrapping can even become great projects for kids.  Take a look at these recyclable ways to wrap gifts:

  • Flowers or flower petals. How awesome and sweet smelling would this be!
  • Old family photos you don’t want anymore.
  • Photos printed out from a digital camera.
  • Old posters are great for wrapping.
  • Leaves. New or just fallen there’s no cost, no problem finding them (depending on the time of year), and they are biodegradable.
  • Old mail: Most of it goes into the recycling bin but there could be some great pieces to cover a gift. For example, make an envelope for a check out of old bills!
  • A collage from newspapers and magazines.
  • Cereal boxes: remember the prize in the box when you were a kid!
  • Old fabrics, cloths or clothes the recipient of the gift can reuse or donate.
  • Toilet and paper towel rolls. Cut up and paint them creating an unusual texture with their cylindrical shape.
  • Tea bag wrappers. Tape them over the box of a new kettle.
  • Carpet samples or leftovers from an installation make a furrier presentation.
  • Old cassettes: stack and glue them together making a box for a gift.
  • Reuse old greeting cards.
  • Egg cartons. Need I say more? Paint them, glitter them, just go wild with them.
  • Old sheet music for a musical surprise. You could even write out a song as part of the gift.
  • Paper bags can go a long way when wrapping.
  • Milk or juice cartons: wash out, decorate and use them as a gift box.
  • Maps. These can be great for travel related gifts like a new bike helmet or backpack.
  • Scraps from a wood shop, metal shop, or printing company. There’s usually a lot of waste at these venues that can easily be converted into something useful like wrapping up a gift.

While some items listed above are simple to use as the main wrapping material others may need some help being attached. If you’ve chosen one of the latter here’s a suggestion:

  • First use newsprint or other recyclable material to encase a gift. Older used wrapping paper will also do and it’s the perfect time to recycle it.
  • Apply the chosen material such as flower petals, leaves, or photos with, glue, tape, or string, as you see fit.

Good luck gifting, wrapping, and making others happy! Do you have any other creative wrapping ideas to share?

7 Inexpensive But Unique Baby Gifts

Next time you’re invited to a baby shower, some of these inexpensive but unique baby gifts may just be what you are looking for. They’re fun, useful and most importantly can fit into nearly any budget. From the nearly free to low-cost ideas listed here, you can present a unique baby gift to you friends or family members to help welcome a new member to their family.

We have listed 7 Inexpensive But Unique Baby Gifts that are amazing choices for any baby and family!  Check out these ideas today!

7 Inexpensive But Unique Baby Gifts

A diaper cake. A diaper cake is a great way to gift a useful item and stay in budget. Even a small box or bag of diapers can be rolled and tied together using inexpensive ribbon to create a cute gift. Tuck in a few things like baby washcloths, baby wash or pacifiers to give it a bit more color and personality.

A baby hygiene and emergency kit. Many new moms find themselves without some basic baby tools for those things like clipping nails, cleaning noses and ears or even reducing a fever. Use a travel hygiene bag and stuff simple items into each pouch that will work for an easy to keep together baby hygiene and emergency kit.

You may wish to include a few of the following items:

  • Vitamin D

  • Gripe water

  • Infant fever reducer (acetaminophen or ibuprofen)

  • Syringe for cleaning noses

  • Thermometer (forehead or rectal for accuracy in an infant)

  • Nail clippers or nail file

  • Infant saline nasal spray for congestion

A lullaby “Mixtape”. Those late night feedings often need something soothing to help relax a baby and mother. While a play list is more common in this day and age, a hand made CD including some of your favorite lullaby choices is one of the most fun and unique baby gifts to give. You can even look for great classical or instrumental albums and purchase for this purpose.

A coupon to come do chores for the new parent. A new mom and dad are definitely going to need a bit of help in the early days. This could include an offer to clean their home before or after the baby arrives. It may be offering up some freezer meals, or even babysitting older children so they can sleep. Find out what needs they have and offer a coupon to the new parents to use when they need it most.

Gift cards for restaurants that deliver to their home. This may not seem like one of the most unique baby gifts, but it is a great choice that will be appreciated. Sometimes the very idea of cooking is overwhelming, not to mention trying to load an infant into a car and drive to buy dinner. Gift cards for take out that will deliver are an excellent way to help a new parent. They are especially great for those moms who are facing a c-section at birth and may be stuck at home longer than most due to healing. Or you could gift a pre-made meal like the one in the picture above. Perhaps a homemade soup mix or two full of beans, lentils and spices that the new parents can just add water to.

A womb sound bear. This gift is invaluable in early days to help a baby fall asleep easier. While more expensive than others on this list, it is still relatively low-cost and a great choice as one of the best unique baby gifts. These animals house a recorder that plays the sounds made inside the womb. This soothing noise is comforting to a newborn and can help lull them back to sleep.

Custom framed birth announcement. If the baby has already arrived, a custom framed birth announcement is easy to create on your computer and can be framed inexpensively. You only need the details of their birth, a piece of card stock, a frame and a program like PicMonkey or Canva to make this. To make this an an even more unique baby gifts idea, you can create the birth announcement and include the baby name meaning. Try to match to the nursery colors for a great option to gift to the new parents.

These are some great inexpensive but unique baby gifts ideas that are easy to fit into any budget. Gender neutral and easy to accomplish, these ideas are sure to make it easy for you to send a gift for any new baby announcement you receive.

When You Are Tired of Being Frugal

What to do when you are tired of being frugal.

We live a frugal lifestyle. For the most part we are okay with it, and even thrive with this lifestyle, but sometimes it can be exhausting. Sometimes we get tired of making meals from scratch, cutting coupons, price matching, and doing whatever we need to do just to save some money. Sometimes we just want to throw caution to the wind and buy some brand new furniture for our house, or put a vacation on a credit card, or eat out as a family at some local restaurants. In those moments it can be easy to throw our hands up in the air and say “I don’t care” and make foolish decisions. But in the end we would regret those decisions. So what should you do in those situations?

1. Treat yourself to something SMALL and AFFORDABLE.

The other day we went out for “Loonie Shakes.” Under 5 dollars for milkshakes for our family, yet it still felt like a splurge for our family.

2. Remind yourself of your goals.

On the inside of my wallet is a piece of paper I taped to it that says “Do you want more stuff, or do you want to travel?” so that every time I open up my wallet to buy something I am reminded of my goals.

3. Take a social media break.

Sites like Facebook can heighten our desire to spend our money on things we can’t afford when it may feel like everyone else around us are able to make those purchases at the drop of a dime. But the truth is, you don’t know the back story of the pictures you see on Facebook. You don’t know if they’ve been saving for months or years to make that purchase, or if they are up late at night stressed at how they are going to make payments on their purchases they bought on credit. So give your heart a break and turn off the social media.

4. Do something fun that is free.

Invite some friends over for coffee and board games, go for a nature walk trail, go star gazing, or go for a bike ride. Finding some free fun will remind yourself that life can still be fun on a budget.

Related: 10 Things to Do Instead of Spending Money

5. Browse the internet for inspiration.

Read frugal living blogs. One search on Pinterest will reveal tons of articles written by people who have successfully conquered their financial dreams by living a frugal life. When you are starting to feel like you can’t live frugally anymore you will be able to draw strength, motivation, and inspiration from these articles.

Remember that “this too shall pass.” These feelings of fatigue will end, and if you stick with your budget and your saving goals, you WILL reap the benefits.

Author Bio:
Amanda Carew is a mom to three small, very rambunctious kids. When she isn’t busy finding ways to save more money, she is making tie dye clothes and pallet signs. Amanda blogs over at www.tiedyelemonade.com

The Ultimate Frugal Okanagan Summer Activity Guide

The Ultimate Frugal Okanagan Summer Activity Guide

This was such a big hit in past years, that I took the time to update it with this year’s dates!  Hope you enjoy 🙂

Are you living in the Okanagan or planning on taking a trip there this summer?  The Okanagan happens to be the place I call home, so I thought I’d create a guide full of fun, frugal activities that take place in the land of sun.  The goal is for this to be The Ultimate Frugal Okanagan Summer Activity Guide.  If you have an event or know of a really cool place to visit, let me know and I’ll add it to the list!

Farmer’s Markets:

Food & Wine:

The Okanagan is well know for its award winning wines and wineries.  Many of them offer free tours and wine tastings. See a huge list of Okanagan wineries, here.

Canada Day:

Arts:

Beaches:

U-Pick Fruit & Fruit Stands:

Sports:

Golf Courses

The Okanagan has many amazing golf courses to play!  Enjoy one round or make a vacation out of it!  See this list of Okanagan Golf Courses.

Hiking Trails:

Festivals, Fairs & Community Events:

Father’s Day Events:

Places of interest:

Vernon & Area:

Kelowna & Area:

Penticton & Area:

Okanagan Tourism Websites:

kalamalka lake

Simple Budget Plan For Debt Repayment

A budget plan can easily help you to overcome past debt issues and pay down debt so you can become financially free. There are many ways to accomplish this, but a simple and straight forward budget plan will help make it even easier to manage. These tips for how to create a simple budget plan specifically for debt repayment will help you to get out of debt easier and faster than ever before.

Don't miss our Simple Budget Plan For Debt Repayment!  Great tips to get you out of debt and financially free in no time!

Simple Budget Plan For Debt Repayment

Take a serious look at all expenses. The best and most simple budgets begin when you get serious about what you have coming in and going out each month. It’s time to get serious and focus not only on your expenses but also on what you can do to increase your income.

If you see that you are living outside your means no matter how you arrange your budget, it’s time to start downsizing or making major changes. Unfortunately, this can mean a second job for some people. For others it may mean cutting out a gym membership, special events, eating out or even selling the second family car. Whatever you do, you need to look at each and every expense and evaluate the necessity and ability to change it to improve your budget plan for debt repayment.

Make savings a major priority. A savings account cannot be an option. It has to be a must-have and a priority on your list. For most people, the lack of savings is what has resulted in higher debt. If there was more money in savings, many expenses would not have occurred and would have easily been provided for. A savings account should be set up to create an emergency fund and backup plan should anything happen where you have unexpected expenses.

You can easily set this up by having funds direct deposited out of your paycheck. If you feel there is no room in your budget for savings, look to some of the things mentioned above to eliminate some expenses to create a savings budget. Even if you can only save $25 a week or even a month, this is a great beginning to a savings that can help save the day when something unexpected occurs.

Set aside 5% toward debt repayment to begin and move upwards as possible. It seems like a small amount, but if you make $3000 per month that is only $150. That amount can easily be set aside to pay off debt. Over the course of one year, you can pay off $1800 in debt. That is a significant amount for many families.

As you are able, you can increase that monthly percentage in 5% increments. A 15%-20% debt repayment plan can make a huge difference in no time toward your family being debt free.

Building a functional but simple budget plan is easy. You truly only need to know what your income and expenses are, then work those numbers until you are able to also make room for savings and debt repayment. The difficult part comes in ridding yourself of unnecessary expenses.

7 Budgeting Tips For Menu Planning

When it comes to menu planning, these budgeting tips are going to transform how you view your grocery budget. There are so many simple tricks to help you create amazing meals for your family on a budget, and this post has some of the best. With a few simple tricks up your sleeve, you can provide your family with delicious meals without breaking the bank.

Check out our Top 7 Budgeting Tips For Menu Planning to give your family amazing meals while easily saving money!

7 Budgeting Tips For Menu Planning

Ask your butcher for budget cuts of meat. Not only can you watch for the sales on meat at your market or grocery store, but you can talk directly to the butcher. Sometimes they will have meat that isn’t bad, but can be sold at a fraction of the regular price for some reason. End pieces of whole rib eyes can be found at low prices because they aren’t enough to be a “steak”. Ask for these bits and then cube for stews or braised beef dishes. Sometimes meat isn’t out of date, but close to it and the butcher has to mark it down. Grab those mark downs and cook in advance simply then freeze to add into other menu items later.

Use your slow cooker. Slow cooker recipes are one of the best ways to stick to your menu plan as well as stay in budget. One of the best budgeting tips is to utilize those budget cuts of meat and tenderize them for amazing meals in your slow cooker. A beef roast or whole chicken can feed your family several meals for half the price, but may not be as convenient or easy to cook fast. Put into a slow cooker and let it do the work for you.

Utilize your own garden if possible. If you have time and space to have your on garden, this is a huge savings for your menu plan each week. Learn to can or freezer excess produce for future use, and utilize this year round in your weekly menu plans.

Build around low cost staple items. For most this means picking up things like dry beans, brown rice and sweet potatoes that are low cost but can stretch a meal further. While many would find this unhealthy, if you combine this with nutrient-dense vegetables and limit your high-fat proteins you truly can eat healthy. Focus on whole grains when possible and limit the regular potatoes, corn and white rice.

Buy what is on sale and match with couponed pantry items. For sales at your market or grocery, take the time to check your coupons and shop using coupons on sale items to get twice as much value toward your menu plan.

Create your menu with what you have on hand first. One of the best budgeting tips for menu planning is to start not with what you want to buy, but what you already have on hand. Look at your pantry, freezer and refrigerator for great starts to a meal. Utilize your on-hand items and limit your week to week expenses as much as possible focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables.

Utilize one item multiple ways. One of my favorite ways to save money is to cook dry beans in my slow cooker. Dry beans can be seasoned and eaten by themselves, added to soups or chili, refried to make dips or put into burritos. This simple item can be used multiple ways for very cheap.

Take advantage of our favorite budgeting tips for menu planning that will stretch your budget even further.

5 Cheap Groceries That Everyone Will Eat

Everyone wants to include cheap groceries in their menu plan to help stretch their dollars a bit further. This list of cheap groceries include items everyone will eat that can be purchased inexpensively and used in multiple meals. The idea is to build on low-cost items to create budget friendly meals that are satisfying and simple to prepare.

Don't miss our top 5 Cheap Groceries That Everyone Will Eat!  This list includes items everyone in the family will eat that easily fit into your budget.

5 Cheap Groceries That Everyone Will Eat

Dry Beans: Dry beans are one of my most used pantry items. They are very inexpensive and can be used in so many ways. In fact, dry beans are probably the most versatile, inexpensive and healthy item that can be stored in your pantry. They can easily be cooked in batches in a pressure cooker or slow cooker (or the new Instant Pot!) to create easy to assemble meals and snacks. While you can season and prepare them to have a simple bowl of beans or bean soup, they are much more versatile than that. Beans can be mashed and mixed into ground meat to make enchiladas or tacos go further. They can be added to soups and chili, or mashed and seasoned for dips. Mix black beans with diced tomatoes, onion and jalapeño for a simple and hearty salsa.

Some beans to consider adding to your pantry:

  • Pinto (great by themselves, refried as dip or in burritos, mashed into ground meat for tacos or in chili)

  • Garbanzo beans (great for curry, hummus or roasting and snacking on)

  • Kidney beans (great by themselves, in soups and chili)

  • Black beans (great by themselves, in soups, chili, mashed for dip or in salsas)

  • Lentils (great in soups, salads, or as a base for a vegetarian burger)

  • Split Peas (great in soups)

  • Black eyed peas (great by themselves, in soups or salads)

Ground Meat: Ground meat is the ultimate inexpensive meat cut that helps stretch your budget further. It can be added to soups and casseroles or in things like meatloaf, hamburgers or meat pies for a high protein meal. Ground turkey or ground chicken is slightly more expensive than ground beef, but still very affordable.

Potatoes: Quite possibly one of the most versatile foods around, the potato can be a meal in itself, a carrier for other ingredients, the base for a casserole and a much needed filler when times are lean. Potatoes are not the most nutritious food, but when you pair them with other healthy options and leave off the bacon and cheese you will find them satisfying and fitting perfectly into your menu plan.

Frozen Vegetables: Since affordable fresh produce isn’t always available year round and it’s vital to have a healthy diet with nutrient-dense ingredients, frozen vegetables are particularly handy. There are many ways to invest in frozen vegetables that are low-cost. You can easily freeze fresh produce when it’s in season to use later, or purchase your store brand. Items I find best in the frozen vegetable arena are things like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, peas, corn and spinach. Chopped frozen spinach can go into soups and stews, mixed in with eggs or even added to a taco or spaghetti sauce to add some nutrients while not changing the flavor. Frozen vegetables are surprisingly affordable groceries that fit into almost any budget.

Pasta: Much like the potato or dry bean, pasta is one of the most versatile foods you can keep in your pantry. It’s inexpensive, filling and easy to adapt to many flavors. It’s the base for many meals, and can provide you with a great way to stretch your budget. In fact, pasta with some frozen vegetables and herbs can be a fast, cheap and easy meal your entire family will enjoy.

These cheap groceries are just what you need to build amazing menu plans your entire family will enjoy. Use these items as a great base around your favorite herbs, sauces and cheese to build family friendly meals that fit into your budget with ease.

5 Best Baby Gifts On A Budget

Being able to give gifts is tough on a budget, but these are the best baby gifts anyone can afford. Not only are they going to be useful for the new mom and dad, they will fit easily into any budget. Thinking outside the box is important, but it can be tough to come up with a fun idea that doesn’t break the bank. These ideas are ideal for you to give one of the best baby gifts without going outside your budget.

Being able to give gifts is tough on a budget, but these are the most useful, best baby gifts anyone can afford!

5 Best Baby Gifts On A Budget

Meals for post-birth. One of the best baby gifts you can give a new mom is relieving her stress by cooking a meal or two to help out after she has the baby. This is budget friendly, easy for you to accomplish and great for the new parents. Ask about their dietary preferences, and then create a simple meal that they can slip into their freezer until needed.

Baby wipes. You can never have enough baby wipes. You will be using them well into toddler hood, even after potty training is finished! Baby wipes are available in multiple package sizes as low as $1 per pack. Quite literally any budget can afford to purchase baby wipes. I recommend buying only unscented wipes since they are safest on sensitive skin, and buying in various package sizes is a great idea. Moms may prefer to have a few of the smaller packages to go in purses, cars or even to have on hand in their own bedroom for those emergency cleanup situations. A simple bundle of baby wipes with a pretty bow is a great gift.

Gift Cards. These can easily fit into any budget you may have. Even a $5-$10 gift card works great for things like diapers, a fast lunch on the go or other needed items post-baby. A card with a note of encouragement is a great choice to go along with your gift card, and I promise that every parent will appreciate even the smallest gift cards.

Sleepers or onesies. Babies will live primarily in sleepers and onesies in the first few months, and both of these are fairly inexpensive. Having a bunch on hand will make it easier for new moms not have so much laundry to worry about doing right away. They are also easy to personalize with iron on patches, fabric paint or embroidery for an extra special take on one of the best baby gifts around.

Baby first aid kit. Many new parents are prepared for dirty diapers and needing blankets, but those rarely used items that are often needed at the most inconvenient times may not be in their arsenal. Things like nail clippers, a syringe to clean noses, cotton swabs and alcohol for cleaning the umbilical cord and even infant fever reducers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can all come in handy. Don’t forget a thermometer and a list of emergency numbers for things like poison control or a 24 hour nurses hotline.

These are the best baby gifts that are useful and affordable for any budget. They will be great for any new parent to receive.

Tips For Creating A Functional Grocery Budget

Your grocery budget probably needs a little revamping like mine does, and so I created a few tips for creating what I believe is a functional grocery budget. This method of dividing up your expenses will help you to make sure you aren’t overspending, and of course, help you to make the most of your money.

Don't miss our top Tips For Creating A Functional Grocery Budget! There are great ideas to give you family a great meal at a reasonable price!

Tips For Creating A Functional Grocery Budget

Don’t forget to budget for all meals and snacks, not just dinner. Many menu plans include only 1 meal a day – the evening meal. This doesn’t help you to create a shopping list or functional grocery budget when it doesn’t provide for breakfast, lunch or snacks. You need to focus not just on the menu plans that give you low budgets for one meal a day, but also plan for your snacks, breakfasts and lunches.

Make healthy foods a priority. One thing often seen in a grocery budget is not enough room for healthy foods. If you are sacrificing your health to save a few dollars each month, it isn’t worth it. Feeding your family great nutrient-dense meals and snacks isn’t an option – it is a necessity. I follow a 40/30/30 rule when shopping for groceries. 40% of my grocery budget is fruits and vegetables. 30% of my grocery budget is lean meats and dairy. 30% of my grocery budget are things like dry beans, rice, spices and other items to fill in gaps in the menu plan.

Use coupons only on items you need. While I’m a fan of coupon use, when it comes to your grocery budget it is important to not get carried away. The thrill of the coupon hunt can quickly become a reason to spend more money for the sake of the “deal”. Make sure you are couponing for items that truly are needed and the best deal possible. Just because there is a coupon available doesn’t mean that they should be used.

Plan meals that can be used multiple ways. Not only do you want to plan low-cost meals, but you want to plan for things that will provide you with leftovers for lunches or a second evening meal. You may also want to look for meats and protein sources that are versatile. Things like a roast or hamburger can be used in multiple recipes making them easier to buy in bulk packages and stretch further. A roast cooked on Monday can have leftovers used in a quick beef and vegetable soup, stew or even tacos or chili. A whole chicken can be shredded and added to soups, casseroles, salads and sandwiches. Using every bit of the cheaper cuts of meat throughout your weekly menu plan can easily make your grocery budget manageable.

Follow your local sale cycles to stockpile as needed. Sometimes it’s beneficial to buy extra of select items when they are at their lowest prices. This can be vegetables and fruit in the summer months to freeze for later, or can be canned goods in winter months. Watch your local stores sale cycles and stock up accordingly to provide your family with food at the best prices possible year round.

These tips for creating a functioning grocery budget are just the beginning. To really do well you also need to take into consideration your area, sale cycles and your family needs. A functional grocery budget is one that provides your family with great meals while staying within the expense plan you can afford.

Tips For Living Below Your Means To Pay Off Debt

If you are able, living below your means to pay off debt is a great way to make sure you are financially secure for years to come. This is truly one of the easiest ways to maintain a healthy financial outlook. Learning to live beneath your means gives you the ability to focus on bettering your life, saving for the future and become satisfied with what you already have.

These excellent Tips For Living Below Your Means To Pay Off Debt will revamp your budget and help you to meet your financial goals in no time!

Tips For Living Below Your Means To Pay Off Debt

Don’t upgrade even if you can afford to in your budget. This is truly the biggest part of living below your means. When you can afford an upgrade, it’s hard to resist doing it. The truth is, very few upgrades are needed. A larger home is almost always unnecessary. A new phone every time the latest version is released is rarely necessary. Even new shoes, pants or seasonal wardrobes aren’t really needed for most people every year. Stop competing with those around you. Truly focus on buying only what you need instead of what you want.

Upgrades to avoid:

  • New vehicle when your existing one is sufficient and/or paid for and able to be repaired for less.

  • Upgrade to larger or nicer home or apartment when your current home is sufficient for your family size.

  • Upgrades to cellular phones, televisions, gaming systems and other electronics

  • Upgrades to adults wardrobes when clothing owned is in good condition and wearable. Kids grow fast and upgrades are expected. Most adults can wear the same items for much longer than children.

Never pay full price for anything. I’m always trying to share the best deals with you and of course, trying to encourage coupon use. Before you buy anything from groceries to new clothing or a car – check for sales, coupons, rebates and any promotional discount available.

When you pay off a debt, apply that payment toward other debt. One way to continue living below your means is to put any “extra” money toward other debt or savings. When you pay off one debt, it may feel like you have extra money to spend. Instead of looking at that money as more you can spend, look at it as if it is more to save. You can apply that money toward other debts, or directly into your savings account if debt has been alleviated. You can then continue as you are in your monthly budget, effectively living below your means and saving more for future needs.

Have extra wages directly deposited into savings. If you receive a raise, or have extra funds in your paycheck each pay period that don’t apply directly to budgetary needs then ask your employer to direct deposit part of your paycheck right into your savings account. This way you can create a quality savings account to help pay off debt or to be there for an emergency fund in the future as needed.

You can easily begin living below your means to help pay off debt even if your budget is paycheck to paycheck. Focus on what you can save and put as much as possible toward your debt payments to create a better financial future for yourself.