Just Because You Can Think it Doesn’t Mean You Should Do It!

When planning party and holiday foods, don’t lose sight of your budget. Just because you can think it up does not mean you have to serve it up! Sometimes, simple is better. Other times, you may need to substitute an inexpensive ingredient to replace the pricier option you just can’t scratch from the menu. That’s ok! No-one wants you to overextend your budget just because you have a wild imagination! In fact, many might think “girlfriend just over-extended herself on this here party, she shouldn’t have spent so much”.

As a stay-at-home-mom and someone who enjoys cooking and entertaining, I sometimes let my imagination soar farther than my food budget will allow me to go. That’s when I get creative and either come up with less expensive alternatives, or tone down my plans and realize that just because I had this really cool idea does not mean I have to actually follow through with it!

Here’s an example of when to scratch the expensive idea completely:
When I’m planning a child’s birthday party, all kinds of neat ideas pop into my head. I could rent several tables and get several table cloths to match, I can make centerpieces, I can create a candy buffet or get cute Indiana Jones hats for all the kids, and, and, and… Then I tell myself that if I do spend all this money on a party, I will be taking money away from my family’s food budget for the next month or two! Worse yet, some party planners might put the party favors on a credit card and pay it all back later. These thoughts are bad, Bad, BAD! Don’t fall into this trap, ladies and gentlemen! Noone but YOU knows that you thought up all those very cool but pricey ideas. Grab your eraser and take those off the list altogether.

Here’s an example of when to modify the pricey item to make it fit in the budget:
While preparing for a huge Thanksgiving feast, I wanted to serve a huge and beautiful, picture perfect turkey, and a spiral cut ham as the main proteins for my meal. I went to shop for said turkey and ham, and learned that if I bought a smaller turkey, I could get the grocery store’s special price. You know, the ones they use as bait- a $5-$7 turkey that they take a loss on just to get you in the store? But the “cheap” turkeys are all on the smallish side, little 14 pound gobblers. I wanted to serve a huge 21 pounder that blows the mind when seen right out of the oven. Then I turned on my logical brain power. Will my guests even SEE the huge bird before it is carved? If the answer is no, then for heaven’s sake, buy two of the cheap “bait turkeys” and serve the ham as the centerpiece! You’ll save some money, the food will taste just as good (if not better because now you can cook the turkey for taste instead of presentation), and your guests won’t even know the difference.

Serving a large meal to feed lots of people does not have to ruin your monthly budget. As long as you choose wisely, budget ahead, and plan carefully, you can serve an amazing meal that fits into your families budget. No-one but you knows you had elaborate plans that were scratched! Just put those ideas in your hat for later, when your budget will allow for some frivoulous spending!

Why Classy Sites?

There’s two big reasons that I built this business plan. One is quite noble, the other very selfish. Since I’m writing this article and I like to point out the best in me (who doesn’t?!), I’ll start with the noble cause! wink pic The number one reason that the website Classy Sites exists is because I want to help other families avoid the money-traps that my family has endured. Over the years we have managed to function on one income. Was it easy? Hell no. Was it worth it? Heck yeah! I was able to stay-at-home with my children and watch them take their first steps, eat their first taste of carrots and peas, and help them ride their bike without training wheels. But we did pinch pennies! It was hard!

The second and much more selfish reason that I started Classy Sites is because I hope to make a few dollars. I’ve learned how to set-up and run websites through my search for the perfect stay-at-home-job searches. I learned that I love to design websites, and I really enjoy writing. I love to share what I’ve learned with others. So I created a way to sell that skill-set at a fair price and I hope to someday have enough clients that my webhosting and copywriting truly does supply my family with a second income.

So if you are tossing the idea around that you want a website for your home business, or you want to try your hand at professional blogging, shoot me an email. I can set you up with a GREAT back-end and you are allowed to make money, build a shopping cart, or whatever else you need as long as it’s a legitimate home-business. I’ll help you get started for much less than other web designers charge, and honestly, my fees are not much more than going it alone!

Coupons – Use ’em or Lose ’em?

This website is all about stretching dollars and how to get the most with one smallish income. I’m sure we all have some knowledge of “extreme couponers”. We’re talking about those people who somehow manage to clip coupons, then go to the right store on the right day at the right time, and load up their carts with health and beauty items, pickles, and ketchup for mere pennies. I’ve seen blog posts and even television shows about the subject, yet for the majority of us, we still buy our kosher dills with cold-hard-cash. Why is that? To answer the question we first need to explore three types of “couponers”.


Click here to go to How Stuff Works and read their article on Extreme Couponing

1. Extreme Couponers People who use this method spend a great deal of time researching the circulars, clipping coupons from newspapers and magazines, and hitting up their relatives and friends for discarded coupons. They plan the trip, organize their clippings, and only buy what they can get for almost nothing. These shopping trips have nothing to do with what’s on the family’s grocery list. The goal is to buy as much stuff as they can for as little as possible, whether that stuff is needed right this minute or not. Extreme couponers, for that reason, need a place to stockpile their finds until someday their family DOES need the item, saving them money in the future. This CAN be a way to stretch dollars, but for the majority of us, the reality is, coupons may just make a person spend more money.

2. The Rational Couponer Many buyers have decided there’s just not enough time in the day to research, plan, clip coupons, beg the neighbors for more coupons, and stalk the stores for their double coupon deals and absolute best prices. We figure if we clip the coupons we get in our mail and newspaper and take it along with us when we are shopping, we can save SOME money by using coupons on the things we needed to buy anyhow. This process CAN save families a little cash, but only if the coupon buy is a true savings. Let’s review an example. If a Rational Couponer generally buys store brand corn for 69c a can but has a 20c coupon for Del Monte corn priced at 92c a can, the buyer does the math and realizes that the Del Monte corn is actually going to COST an additional 3c. At this point, the Rational Couponer makes one of two choices. Either she buys the store brand knowing the Del Monte corn isn’t a real savings, or she may rationalize to herself “but it’s a name brand, it’s only 3c more, and there’s probably more food and less water in this can than the generic”. So the Rational Couponer, even after doing the math, may spend an additional 3c more on their groceries USING a coupon.

Piggy bank standing on money

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3. Just Use It Couponer This is the buyer that the coupons were printed for. She’s busy but she wants to stretch a dollar. She’s got a hungry toddler tugging her pants leg asking for the cookies, and a baby in the carrier screaming because his pacifier fell in the car and she forgot to grab it before she went inside. She hurries down the isles, scratching off the items on her list as quickly as possible. She vaguely remembers that there’s a Del Monte corn coupon and she grabs the name brand and throws it in the cart. Sound familiar? Yep, that was me when my boys were 1 and 3.

To really get more bang-for-your-buck, you need to take all three of our couponers listed above and roll them into one. She’s the Practical Couponer.

Practical Couponer This is how you can really save some money with coupons. You realize you don’t have 80 hours a week to scour the newspapers and stalk your neighbor’s mailbox waiting for her to throw out her unwanted coupons. You are the Practical Couponer. You clip the coupons you have, ask Grandma for extra coupons when the savings really will help your family this month, and let the rest slide. You take advantage of double coupons when possible and you spend a few hours a month instead of the majority of your free time (what’s that, right?) planning a monthly trip for double coupon shopping. During that trip you stockpile only the items that will help your family over the next few weeks or months. For most of your grocery trips however, you are the Rational Couponer, and you either save a little on coupons or get better quality for the money you spend. When you are in a hurry, you realize this and skip coupon shopping, using the best prices as your guide.