Feb 13

A Guest Post from Andrea Woroch –

Though every year consumers blow billions of dollars on Valentine’s Day, it doesn’t mean you have to follow suit and empty your bank account just to show that special someone you care. On the other hand, showing up empty-handed in the name of frugality isn’t a smart move, either. There are plenty of low-cost gifts and even free date ideas for celebrating the official day of love.

Consider these frugal yet totally romantic gift to woo your loved one for less.

Opt for Budget-friendly Bouquets
The majority of the estimated $1.9 billion to be spent on flowers this Valentine’s Day will be on roses, which are marked up heavily this time of year. Skip this pricey stem in favor of more affordable flowers that are just as pretty and romantic, such as, Gerbera Daisy and Tulips, as recommended by DexKnows. Pick up a bouquet at your local grocer and select a classic vase from the dollar store. Then, present it to that special someone yourself for an extra-special touch that will also save on delivery costs.

Prepare Homemade Goodies
If your loved one loves your culinary skills, whip up a batch of his or her favorite homemade treat and package them simply in cellophane and ribbon. If cooking isn’t your thing, you’ll score extra brownie points (pun intended) for going out of your comfort zone to make something special. Even if the end result isn’t perfect, your honey will appreciate the effort.


Give a Gift Card
Gift cards are the preferred gift for people who seem to have everything, and 15 percent of Valentine’s Day shoppers plan to give one this year. You can find gift cards to retailers, restaurants and movie theatres for less using Gift Card Granny, the “Google of gift cards” offering discounts of up to 30 percent. They even have a helpful guide of the best gift cards to give your wife, husband, mom or teenage daughter if you find yourself stumped.

Offer Breakfast in Bed
Breakfast in bed may require you to wake up earlier than usual, but it’s worth it for your Valentine. Since the gesture is more important than the menu, you can opt for simplicity with their favorite bowl of cereal and freshly-brewed coffee. If you’ve got the skills, kick it up a notch with fresh strawberries and heart-shaped pancakes drizzled in maple syrup. Regardless of your selection, breakfast in bed is a romantic way to start the day.

Leave a Love Note
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and yet there’s nothing more romantic than a thoughtful note from your sweetie. Make it unique by leaving it in a surprising spot — like the driver’s seat of her car — and include a single rose. If poetry or writing isn’t your thing, don’t sweat it; the note need only include a simple sentiment. When in doubt, jot down a special memory you both shared for extra smiles and butterflies.

Channel Your Inner Child
Going out to dinner or catching the latest chick flick are popular Valentine’s Day activities, but they can get tiresome and eat into your budget. Skip the grown-up happy hour for kid-like fun, including a friendly competition on the swing set, bike ride around your neighborhood or explore a scenic drive. Consult Mr Free Stuff’s list of 60 free date ideas for more inspiration, and remember the simplest activity can be the most memorable.

Create a Spa Sanctuary
Surprise your special someone with a relaxing spa at home. Prepare a bath with sweet-smelling bath salts and rose petals for an added touch. Light several candles, pour a glass of bubbly, have plush bath towels within reach and tune your iPod or radio to favorite love songs. Since you may not have these bath essentials on hand, pick them up for less than $10 at discount retailers like TJMaxx.

DIY Gift Basket
Gift baskets represent an easy way to give small, inexpensive gifts in a beautiful package. World Market sells gift basket sets complete with basket, cellophane and packing material for less than $5. Hold off until the day before Valentine’s Day to find seasonal chocolates on sale at the drugstore. Candles, hand lotion and a framed photo of a favorite memory are all thoughtful additions.

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who shares smart spending tips and personal finance advice to help transform everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. A sought after media source, she has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, Dr. OZ, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. Andrea is a dedicated smart money blogger with stories posted on popular lifestyle and personal finance sites and writes for the New York Daily News Dollar Stretcher as well. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

written by Joe \\ tags: , , ,

Feb 06

First, the Patriots were out. Ok, I’m from New York, I can cheer for the Jets, I’d gone to a few games as a kid, my uncle had season tickets. Nope, out as well. So I’ll be watching today for the commercials, and partying with friends. But, still, it’s Sunday, and time to look back at the week for the best reading my fellow PF (uh, personal finance) Bloggers had to offer.

Let’s start the game, er, reading with How To Get Excited at Financially Poor. With the economy the way it is (and for me, looking out my window at 8 foot high snow piles), it’s easy to get depressed. Kevin offers a great strategy  on how to get out of that funk, and get excited.

At Faithful With A Few, we get Valentine’s Day Ideas: 8 Frugal Ways To Declare Your Love. Reminding us that romance and money are not synonymous, KC offers a great list of ideas for this coming Valentines Day. With 8 to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find one or two that help you say “I love you” this year.

At Canadian Finance Blog, my friend Tom Drake (his guest writer, actually) asks Would You Invest In The O’Leary Funds? You can take a read of this, and decide. Me, I’m more of an ETF/Index investor, not big on managed funds.

A silly take on some of ‘what’s in your wallet’ from a friend to the north at Credit, Eh, 7 Cool Credit Card Designs You Want in Your Wallet. Hello Kitty on your credit card? Maybe that’s making a statement. I’d love to see one with skull and crossbones to remind of of how bad that debt can become if we’re not careful.

At Canadian Personal Finance Blog, a personal story, Better to Be Right, in a Service Industry? A tough situation dealing with a child in a babysitting are inside a store, makes you think about many aspects of dealing with people, and customer service, in general.

written by Joe \\ tags: , , ,

Feb 14

There are times that I come across multiple blogger posts on similar topics. When it’s about debt, mortgages, retirement, etc, it doesn’t really get my attention but every so often there’s a topic that’s not so common that still comes in a cluster of posts. This week, it was, you guessed it, outsourcing.

Wojciech of Fiscal Fizzle tell us Why You Probably Shouldn’t Hire Outside Help. In this post, we are offered reasons why people like the idea of paying others to do some work for them, among them, the though that you earn more per hour than the cost of paying someone else. On the other hand, what will you do with that free time?

Erica Douglass guest posted on Get Rich Slowly Outsourcing Life: Unconventional Advice for When You’re Financially Secure. Erica has gone the outsourcing route and frees up time that she puts to good use. She’s outsourced various aspects of her life hiring virtual assistants as low as $3.33/hr for a VA in the Philippines to a local VA whose worked on her web site at $30/hr. Erica’s outsourcing has helped her focus on her writing and building her business. For whatever reason, her post struck a nerve with many readrs generating a swarm of comments. A good debate going on.

Kelly Whalen guest posted at Consumerism Commentary Time Management: Outsource to Save Money and Time. Kelly’s approach is slightly different but on the same track, paying for or trading time with others to help you focus on the more important things on your list.

Now for some valentine thoughts……


Yes, sometimes truth just beats out fiction. As I shared with my tweeps (those with whom I chat on twitter) this was what my wife wanted. Funny thing, it needed to fit under the sink in the kitchen , and I stopped at 6 stores before finding the exact size that clears the pipes by 1/4 inch.

Next on today’s roundup – Kyle at Amateur Asset Allocator tells us how to Pamper Your Valentine For Free. Some very nice thoughts, a romantic walk, some chocolate covered strawberries, you get the idea. Good for any occasion, really.

Matt at Steadfast Finances offered some Unique Gift Ideas for Valentine’s Day. Matt previously published Valentine’s Day is a complete ripoff and I have to agree. It’s a artificially created holiday to pressure men into spending money as if we don’t show our spouse we love them every day. Matt offers a number of ways to say I Love You that are better than showing up with roses (trash cans for that matter.)

Last on this topic is Kathryn’s post at Million Dollar Journey,  A Frugal Valentine’s Day. Another set of good suggestions for a day to please your sweetie, and confirmation that Matt and Kyle are on the right track.

As a final roundup link today, I’ll offer Jeff Rose’ What’s the Differences between Coverdell Education Savings Accounts vs. 529 College Savings Plans? The title says it all, and considering the day, it seemed appropriate to look ahead 9 months. Once that baby is born, it’s a great idea to get moving on the college savings. I may be a bit obsessive, but I put in the paperwork to set up my daughter’s accounts within days of getting her social security number.

On a personal note – In addition to Moolanomy Answers, I also frequent the Basically Money forum, both are excellent places to post a question to get some help and insight.

Another excellent weeks of reading…..


written by Joe \\ tags: , , , ,