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Segment 1 - Cards

Segment 2 - Meals

Segment 3 - Parties

Segment 4 - Gifts

Segment 5 - New Years Resolution

It is December already -

the hardest month to live a thrifty life and stay in a budget.

Are you up to the challenge? I don't know about you - but I love a challenge!

So let's get started.

It's the holiday season - time for cards, meals, parties, gifts, shopping, the hustle, the bustle...where do you start and where do you stop?!?

Start by breaking it down into small pieces:

Cards - If you are still mailing out cards to family, friends and acquaintances, look at what expenses are involved?

The cards, the envelopes and the postage.

You can save money on the cards by purchasing your cards for next year right after the season this year. Everything is cheapest the day after the holiday.

You can save a little bit on postage by hand delivering cards to those people you are going to see before the holiday. If you are giving gifts to your neighbors, include their card with the gift.

For any family or friends that you get together with before the holiday or even on the holiday, take the cards along and pass them out.

Meals - Ahh one of the best parts of the holiday season - all the special food!! But it can get expensive. So how do you enjoy all that special food without going broke? Divide it up, don't do it all, share the bounty.

In other words, if you are planning a big meal, have everyone bring part of it.

If you want some holiday cookies or candy, have a cookie/candy exchange.

Here's how it's done - invite five people, each person brings 3 dozen cookies (including yourself), they package them in packages of one half dozen (6 cookies per package), and they bring 5 copies of the recipes they used.

Now at the get together you each get to take 3 dozen cookies or 6 of the packages. This way everyone gets 3 dozen cookies of a variety of recipes and you only had to bake one recipe.

You can use the same basic concept for a meal. Do a progressive dinner. Here's how this works - Let's again say there are 5 of you including yourself. You each get a course of the dinner, appetizers, salad, entree, dessert, after dinner beverages and maybe a board or card game.

The trick to this one is you all have to live within driving or walking distance of each other. Now start at the first person's house and have appetizers, then you all go to the second house and have salad, then you move on to the third house and have the main course, and so on until everyone is at the last house playing a game.

This is a fun evening but everyone has to plan so as you arrive at each house the course is ready to serve and eat. For more thrifty meal ideas visit this page.

Parties - The cookie exchange or progressive dinners are both great ways to have a holiday get together and not break the bank.

My girlfriends and I have extended this idea to cards - we have done a card making get together and exchange.

If you are a crafty person and would enjoy making your own cards - Here's how this idea works - Let's say you invite 3 people (you make the 4th person), each person comes with 3 cards already made up and the material for the other 3 people to make each of the three cards (so you make a card and cut out the paper and gather the stickers and ribbon for that card to be made 3 more times - the easiest way to organize this is to put the materials for each card in a seperate bag with the card).

Now everyone makes one of each card and you all end up with the 3 you originally made plus 9 more and they are all original and unique! Plus you've spent an afternoon with friends. FUN!

The other expense of the holiday parties is the clothes. If you are invited to a lot of parties it can get expensive just buying nice clothes for each event.

I suggest you use some of the same clothing even if some of the same people are at more than one event. For instance say you have a black dress you wear to one party, at the next party wear the same dress with a red sweater or shawl, then at the next party wear the same dress with a gold belt and gold chunky necklace (don't go buy these items, just use what you have in your closet - these are just guidelines). I'm not saying you have to use the same dress for every party, but try to re-use as much as possible.

Gifts - Probably the biggest expense of the holidays - at least in some parts of the world - are the gifts! Save yourself some money wherever you can.

If you are buying for very young children, don't spend much - they don't care! They are too young to know how much you spent and very young children are just as happy with the box the gift came in as they are with most gifts. I'm not suggesting just getting them a box, but find the least expensive gift that you think they would like, and get that.

The most important thing to remember with gift buying is - DON'T GO OVERBOARD! For more gift giving ideas and tips visit this page. For even more ideas visit this page.

New Years Resolution - Since the January newsletter won't arrive in your e-mail box until after the new year, we will address those new years resolutions here. If you just aren't ready to even think about resolutions yet, just keep this newsletter in your inbox and revisit this segment after the holidays but before New Years Eve.

Once the holidays are over you may find yourself in debt. In fact you may find you are have far more debt than you thought.

While I would certainly advise you not to go into debt over the holidays, if you have or even if you were already struggling with debt visit our debt free page and start getting your debt under control today.

These THRIFTY LIVING TIPS should get you started on a fun and thrifty holiday season.

Please be safe and enjoy the holidays, your friends and your family.

See you in January!