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Archive for the ‘giving’ Category

Jane Austen-Inspired Gifts

One of my best friends is getting married this summer and as soon as she got engaged I knew I had to buy her this mug:

The quote on the mug is taken from Pride and Prejudice when Jane Bennett gets engaged to Mr. Bingley. My friend and I share a love for all things Jane Austen, so this will make a lovely gift perhaps paired with a new coffee maker or a cute cream and sugar set.

Here are some other Austen-inspired items for gifts I’ve found via Etsy:

Found here, here, here & here.

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One of the sweetest, nicest things EVER happened to me yesterday.

To preface, one of my goals for next year is to become a better cook. I absolutely love baking and trying out different recipes, but with cooking I know a handful of meals and that’s where it ends. I think it’s because baking has clear, concise instructions on what to do. But in cooking? There are no rules! There is no structure! Anything goes! It’s a bit intimidating for me.

Anyway. I randomly visit Groupon, a coupon deal of the day website for specific cities. Yesterday they had a fantastic deal: Nova Personal Chef’s Cheap and Easy in the Kitchen. For $35 (regularly $70), you learn how to cook three meals under a fantastic chef at The Washington Club. Saweeet.

Of course being the social networking expert I am (ha!) I went to Twitter and tweeted about the deal, hoping someone else may be able to use this fantastic offer. About an hour later I come back to the Twittersvere to find this:

Forest, a fellow blogger, bought me that class. Can you believe it?? I received a confirmation email and immediately my eyes filled with tears. It was quite possibly the kindest and most generous things anyone has ever done for me. And what a testament to how awesome the blogging community can be!

So here’s my public thank you to one of the kindest bloggers out there. I promise to use the generosity you showed me to bless others around me.

Merry Christmas!

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I play the same game every few weeks. I look at my calendar and say to myself, What?! How is it already October TWENTIETH? Where is this month going? What happened to this year?!

I need to stop being surprised and embrace that life is moving fast these days.

lifesimplified

As November is fast approaching, I cannot help but get a little nervous. I notoriously try to be “frugal” for the holidays, only to realize New Year’s Day that I failed miserably. For example, I entered 2009 with a $300+ balance on my credit card. Granted, I paid it off in January, but that could have been $300 going towards savings and starting the year off right.

My goal this holiday season is to have a $0 credit card balance and zero regret! I am determined to have a great holiday season, but also to leave it behind me when I enter 2010!

How will I accomplish that? By planning and saving, of course! Here’s some lists of approximate costs for the holidays that will be added to my regular monthly budget in November & December.

Gifts to Buy: $275
-My Family
.
-My best friend’s birthday – $30
-J’s sister – $15
-J’s parents – $30
-J’s graduation present – $100
-J’s Christmas present – $50
-Unexpected gifts – $50

Perhaps you’re looking at this list thinking I’m A) a Scrooge who needs to give more gifts, or B) friendless. Well, neither is the case. A long time ago my friends and I decided we wouldn’t give gifts during the holidays since December is expensive enough for everyone. Excellent decision. As for my family, we are going on the cruise this year and promised each other we wouldn’t give gifts. I am spending part of the holidays with J and his family so I want to make sure I get them some things. And the unexpected gift is for any silly company or friend “dirty santa/white elephant” gift exchange that may arise. I really don’t like those.

Other Holiday Expenses: $533
-Wrapping paper, cards & supplies: $50
-Gas while traveling: an extra $100 in Nov/Dec
-Eating out/entertainment: an extra $100 in Nov/Dec
-Parties/Food: an extra $50
-Cruise balance: $233 left to pay

There’s always more expenses than just gifts. You know the like: you’re invited to a cookie exchange and spend $20 at the grocery store for ingredients. Your company has a holiday party and that frumpy red sweater doesn’t meet the dress code. You travel to visit family and forget to factor the $5 toll road fee.

    THE TOTAL HOLIDAY BILL: $808

    Sure some of this will be out of my monthly budget and sure some of it were overestimated amounts… but still, $800 is a lot to pay for the holidays!

    My broad goals:

    • Have $0 on my credit card on New Year’s.
    • Buy all of my gifts and have them wrapped by December 1st.
    • Pay off cruise balance of $233 by Thanksgiving.

    More specific goals and how I plan to pay for the holidays to come…!!!

    Have you thought about what the Holidays will cost you?

    {photo: via etsy}

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    Why I Give

    I give 10% of my income away each month, which ends up being $220. When I first drafted my budget last July, I wrestled with this a lot. That money would be really useful to help pay down debt! Or save! Or spend! But I came to the conclusion that this was going to be a non-negotiable issue for me. Here’s why:

    1. For Character Insurance – I know this may sound a little twisted, but stick with me. Ever since the beginning of time, money has given people power. Not all negative, because I can even see this power in my own life. Having discipline on my money now gives me the power to do fun things later. However, I never want to feel too obsessed with my money management. One of my fears is becoming a stingy, greedy Scrooge who holds tightly to the things I have. By giving, I feel this automatically prevents me from becoming that.

    2. Because It’s Not Mine – I am a Christian, so I view everything I have or receive ultimately as a blessing from God. Some of you may disagree with me on this, and that’s fine. But that’s my world-view. Having the mentality of “it’s all God’s anyway” helps me not only give willingly, but allows me to examine other areas of my money management with that same lens. It’s also interesting that Jesus taught on the topic of money more than any other topic during his ministry.

    3. Because I Can – Sometimes I feel so unworthy to live in a prosperous country way beyond the means of the rest of the world. No matter the economic climate, there is no doubt we are still a very wealthy nation. Giving such a small portion of what I have is the least I can do.

    WAYS TO GIVE:

    1. Money – Giving your money is the most obvious and measurable. If you are looking for where to give, there are plenty of great charitable organizations out there. I recommend going to Charity Navigation to look up details on how efficient and responsible organizations are. The last thing you want to do is find out you are giving your money to an organization that pockets over half of its fund raising.

    2. Gift-in-Kind – This could include anything from giving clothes to a thrift store, baking goods for a fund-raiser, or donating office supplies to a home. These are called “gift-in-kind” because they have a cost associated with them, but they’re not straight-up monetary gifts.

    3. Time – Sometimes I find it easier to give money than to actually invest my life into volunteering or serving my community. But you don’t need to become Mother Teresa or move to Haiti to give your time. I actually volunteer with an organization by doing what I went to school for: marketing! It’s pretty simple for me to do on the side and allows the organization to save money on fund raising and such. With the friendships I’ve made, I sometimes wonder who is benefiting more: the charity or myself.

    I don’t mean for this post to be a guilt-trip for readers or to position myself in a “holier-than-thou” light. Believe me, there are many months when the last thing I want to do is fork over hard-earned cash to a charity. In truth, the purpose of this post is so I can come back here and remind myself why I give.

    What about you? How much do you give per month? What is your perspective on giving?

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