It's time to start 2010 on a new financial footing! Get all the bills together, figure out if something is high (like the elecric due to the holidays), or missing (like water since that's every 3 months). I've been to http://www.crown.org/Tools/ for some help. They have a page where you can input your yearly income (gross), and it will tell you what you *should* be paying in all areas. Understand that not everyone will have all areas (some won't need a monthly school or child care budget line), but it's a great starting point! Check out www.donnayoung.org for homeschooling and some household printables. I love www.organizdhome.com and www.organizedchristmas.com for their printables and gift ideas. www.Budget101.com has a ton of information. Recipes - including a menu plan to feed a family of 4 for less than $200/month. Know that includes alot of beans. She also has frugal articles and financial sites linked to hers. You can spend a few hours there with all of the recipes, gift ideas, frugal ideas, etc. Homeschoolers should check out www.thehomeschoolmom.com and all she has to offer. She has free enewsletters with great sites to keep your children learning about some really great stuff (most sites are free, but she does run ads to help with the operating costs).
www.debtproofliving.com is by Mary Hunt. There's alot for free, but you can also sign up for a 12 month online membership for $29. Try www.smartcookies.com for some free tools and tips, but the premium membership does cost ($5/mo, $15/3 mos. or $50/yr). There's still enough there that's free to make this a site to check. You can try www.abcsofmakingmoney.com if you're bored. The layout seemed to want you to buy stuff, and I'm leaning more towards giving *free* options. I didn't spend alot of time there, but seemed like alot of the same. Feel free to check it out and see if there is anything new and exciting! (I'll go back when I can't sleep and check it out more thoroughly) Next is a site that share's freebies and deals www.fantabulouslyfrugal.com. Personally, I belong to a yahoogroup that is for freebies. (I just forget to check out blogs for goodies, with a group, you get emails with the links, and that makes it easier for me to do everyday). Another blog to check is www.thefrugaldiva.com. She has a post about volunteering for a Disney ticket, and she seems to be pretty good at posting every day. www.budgetsaresexy.com looks to be a good find. There's also mention of 2 other blogs (clever dude and frugal dad), so, figure lots of reading material at least! (Just a side note, for this paragraph I found these sites in an article in my daily paper)
One great way to save money is to read the paper online! The only paper I buy now is Sunday's for the coupons - and I do buy extra, at the dollar store where they sell for less than the regular price.
An idea to save at the holidays is to start shopping now. Use after Christmas sales to stock up on wrap, cards, ornaments. I give my kids ornaments every year. This way when they move out, they don't have to decorate a tree on their own! Not all ornaments have special meaning, but they should have enough to fill a small tree by the time they're ready to leave us. There are alot of sales going on right now - winter clearance - where you can get a few things to put aside for this holiday season. Not for smaller kids maybe since they seem to grow overnight, but maybe adults or teens.
A site I just found, which seems similar to freecycle but you earn points, is www.kashless.org. I just signed up, so I don't know all the in and outs yet, but I promise to post any goodies I score!
That should give you more than enough to check out for now. Tomorrow I'll post sites where you can do good. Volunteering and donating goods. Unless people would like work at home ideas/ sites?