Pinspiration | Soaking Bath Salts

This year, I’m learning to live with less in my 2014 Simplicity theme year.  That means finding innovative ways to save money so we can spend our money in the places we really need to (or want to). Ever since I started running, I’ve been using bath salts more and more, and I love them. And the recipe is so simple (and includes a cheat!) – and best of all, they make great and inexpensive gifts.

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Pinspiration: Soaking Bath Salts. This easy, useful project can be completed in 15 minutes. And recipes save your tired, achy muscles and make cute, inexpensive gifts.  We made these gifts for all of our kids teachers, our friends and our family (and I saved a few for myself, too).  These hard-working bath salts remove toxins from the body, relax muscles and help calm the spirit.  They are so easy to make – worth it!

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Smart Savings | Give Better Gifts & Spend Less Money

You can give better gifts and spend less money while doing it.  Plus you’ll be less stressed, have the time you need to get everything done and be ready at a moment’s notice for any occasion. Sound to good to be true? Believe me, you can do it.  Start today with your preparation for your gift giving for the year.  With a little planning & preparation, you can make gifts something you look forward to giving as much as receiving.

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Shop the sales now and stock up on essentials. Now is the best time to buy the extras that you need for your holiday and birthday celebrations.  Wrapping paper, gift bags and trimmings are all at least 50% off.  We went shopping the day after Christmas and picked up gift bags, fancy plates and tons of extras.  We’re ready for next year and this year hasn’t even ended yet.  Pro Tip! Purchase generic holiday paper (like that striped paper) that could easily work for birthdays and other celebrations.

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Holiday hints to save your sanity (and your money!)

Do you think the holiday season is stressful? It doesn’t have to be.  You can do a few simple items this year to make sure your holiday season – right now and in the future – becomes a season that you look forward to time and time again. 

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Trade services instead of giving gifts. Think those coupons aren’t worth much? Many of them can be more valuable than the present that will stretch your financial limits.  Think about the person you’re giving a gift to and what they really need, often it’s your time and talents.  Consider these great options:

  • New parents (OK most parents): Free Babysitting  (confession time – this may be the best gift we’ve ever received)
  • Friends with a big project: Afternoon of Organizing Assistance
  • College Student: Home-Baked Dinner or Free Laundry at your House
  • Your Grandparent: Afternoon of games & tea

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Busy? Survive the holidays in style

It’s that time of year again.  Everything is picking up and getting busier and busier. You need an easy, realistic plan to get everything done without spending a fortune and, if you’re like me, you needed it yesterday.

Here are a few simple tips that I’m using to survive and thrive in this holiday season. First up – the non-essentials:

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Cut Back on Non-Essentials.  This could go for everything really.  Do you really need to have a case of soda or 10 boxes of crackers? What if you ran out, really it would be no big deal.  Let them go, you don’t have to buy everything because it’s available.  What did I do this year to cut back? We only put out half of our Christmas decorations, and I let the kids decorate the tree on their own (which means all of the ornaments are at the front on the bottom of our tree).  How do I feel about it? Great – we probably didn’t need that stuff anyway.

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Organized Gift & Decorating Station

You’ve got the time to be more organized with your gifts and decorations this year.  And by starting now, you’ll be less rushed and enjoy gifting and decorating if you’re prepared for birthdays and holidays in advance.  Consider creating or re-organizing your gift & decoration station which will help you keep everything organized and make you more prepared for all of your celebrations throughout the year.

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Set limits on spending. Make a list of all of the gifts you’ll need to purchase throughout the year (including birthdays, holidays and gift-exchanges) and the amount of money you can realistically spend on gifts.  Write this information down. This will help you stick to your budget as you’re searching for gifts throughout the year. Consider keeping this list with you, either written in your wallet or as a note in your smart phone. Once you’ve purchased your items, store them together so you know what you have.  After you’ve purchased your gifts, store them together, so you’ll always know what you have and are ready for gifting.

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Pack like a Pro

When you’re traveling, it’s important that you’ve got exactly what you need for your trip, no more and no less. By using these easy strategies, you’ll be able improve your trip by being well-prepared in your packing and traveling experience.

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Pre-pack toiletries.

Before you’re planning to travel, purchase a durable travel bag and travel-sized toiletries or travel-sized containers. Make a list of items that you’ll keep in this bag and pack this bag now, even if you’re not traveling soon. Keep this travel bag separate from your general use toiletries and store it near your luggage. Your travel pack will always be ready to go with everything that you need for traveling, eliminating the potential for last-minute forgotten items. After you return from your trip, refill and replace empty items so your travel pack is always ready when you need it.
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SparkBook: Your Ideas Creatively Organized

I see great ideas all around me.  From magazines to websites and friends to a great graphics piece, I’m always finding something that I want to save and reference later–when I really need it.  Enter my creative organization for these ideas: My SparkBook.  A SparkBook is an organized collection of your ideas in a 3-ring binder that allows you to reference your ideas, recipes, tips and resources later. Here is how to set up one (or more) of your own:

Start with your ideas.

I get tons of ideas from magazines and I read about 6-10 magazines a month; when I’m reading through my magazines, I fold the bottom corner of any page that has creative ideas, unique outfit-building options, recipes I’d like to try,cleaning  tips I’ll use, organizing solutions or creative gift options.

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