Give a Smile to the Kids on Your List – Top Holiday Gifts Under $75 for Kids – 2014

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The holiday shopping season is upon us. 

Now is the time to find the perfect present for those special people on your list.

While there are plenty of ideas for gifts under $25, we recognize that sometimes a $25 present isn’t going to cut it.

For kids in your family, a gift of $75 or under may pack more return (and excitement) than a smaller gift.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of presents under $75 that will thrill every child on your list, from baby to teen.

Keep in mind that with sales, you can nab many of these items for less than their retail price.  Amazon, especially, often discounts their merchandise, so that might be the site to check first before you head to the toy store.

The Top Holiday Gifts Under $75

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How to Rein in Your Holiday Spending – 7 Ways

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“‘Tis the season to be jolly,” goes the old song, but for many of us, ’tis the season to go in debt and feel financial strain.

You might have thought that the days of resisting peer pressure ended in high school.  However, if everyone around you is spending elaborately for the holidays–for presents, decorating, and parties–you may feel the pressure to do the same, which can pack a painful punch to your wallet.

There is nothing worse than the holiday spending hangover that hits in January when you get that large credit card bill.

However, every December doesn’t have to be a financial strain if you begin implementing steps to rein in your spending.

7 Strategies to Manage This Year’s Holiday Spending

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Know Your Spending Triggers To Change Your Financial Behavior

Know your spending triggers to change your financial behavior.

Many financial experts advocate knowing your financial personality. 

Investopedia defines five major financial personalities: big spenders, savers, shoppers, debtors, and investors.  While these financial tests can be entertaining, most people fall into a several categories or none of the categories.

What can be more beneficial than learning what broad category you fit into is to identify your spending triggers and how to deal with them.

For instance, I am generally frugal.

I hang up my clothes rather than dry them in the dryer, my car has over 100,000 miles and is 8 years old, and I barter for services that I need rather than paying for them.

My one spending weakness is food, specifically going out to eat.

Generally, my desire to dine out is motivated by stress.  If I have had a busy or chaotic day, there is nothing I want more than to sit in a restaurant, relax, and have someone cook and clean up the mess.  To combat this trigger, I try to find other ways to relax, but I also prepare freezer meals so food is already prepared on a crazy day.  If I still want the dining out experience, I have learned to prepare ahead by buying deal certificates to our favorite restaurant so we can dine out for less.

By taking these steps, my family has curbed our dining out excursions from several times a week to once or twice a month.  I recognized my spending trigger and found solutions for avoiding it or ways to dine out for less.

4 Big Spending Triggers You Need to Know!

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11 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter, Conserve Energy, and Save Money

How to prepare your home for winter to conserve energy and save money.

The changing of seasons is the perfect time to check your home’s energy efficiency, especially when much of the country will be facing cold temperatures in a few months (except for those lucky few living in warmer climates).

As temperatures cool, now is the time to make some updates to your home to save energy and efficiency and avoid costly repairs.

Here are 11 ways to prepare your home for winter and conserve energy:

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Why a Tight Budget Will Make You Better With your Money – 6 Benefits

6 Reasons a Tight Budget Makes You Better With Your Money

For most of our married life, my husband and I have had a very tight budget.

When we were first married and living in an area with a high cost of living (the near suburbs of Chicago), we had $24,000 in student loan debt and $10,000 in credit card debt from getting my Master’s degree and a year of working adjunct until I could get a full-time job.  My husband was not working (he was a graduate student and was volunteering in a business related to his field), and I was making a mere $34,000 gross a year.

Every single purchase was carefully analyzed.

Paying for Christmas presents required a few months’ worth of careful savings, and we made our money stretch by carefully shopping deals and discounts.  We spent a lot of time at home, and our entertainment came from the library for free.

About five years into our marriage, I had almost doubled my salary, and my husband was bringing in a small income as a Ph.D. teaching assistant.

We didn’t have to be so careful with our money, so we weren’t.  We bought things we didn’t need (that we later sold at a garage sale), and we went out to eat several times a week.  Besides having more material things, we were no further ahead than we were at the beginning of our marriage.

And now that we have three kids and I have quit my full-time job to raise them, we’re right back to a super tight budget, just as we were when we were married.

Only this time, I welcome the super tight budget because it’s teaching me to be a better money manager.

The Benefits of a Tight Budget – 6 Reasons It Will Make You Better With Your Money

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Is Your Money Mindset Killing Your Finances?

Is your money mindset killing your finances?

Millions of Americans are struggling to pay their bills and meet their financial obligations. 

The last eight years have taken a toll on Americans economically, and many are still feeling the financial repercussions.  According to one study, indebted Americans owe $14,517 on credit cards on average (Forbes).

But how much they owe isn’t the only problem.

The other half of that equation is how much they’re saving. . .or not.

According to TIME, only 1/3 of Americans have at least $1,000 saved in an emergency fund.  Of course, logically, if they’re not saving for the short term, they’re also not saving for the long term.   As CNN Money reports, “About 49% of Americans say they aren’t contributing to any retirement plan, according to a new survey conducted by LIMRA, a trade association for the financial services industry.”

Americans are in bad shape financially.

But what if the secret is not learning how to live more frugally?  What if the secret is instead to look at your money mindset?

If you’re stuck in a financial rut, could one of these reasons be the cause?

4 Crucial Places Your Money Mindset is Killing Your Finances

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Setting Up Your New Freshman: How to Decorate Your Dorm Room for Less

How to decorate your dorm room for less

There are very few rites of passage bigger than the day a grown child moves out of the house and onto the college campus. 

This is the child’s first major step toward adulthood and independence, and it can be an exciting time for both parents and children.

What is not so exciting is the expense of setting up new living quarters.

Whether college students live in the dorm or in an apartment, getting settled can cost a pretty penny.  However, there are ways to curb those costs.

12+ Money Saving Tips to Furnish Your Dorm Room for Less

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