5 Budget-Friendly Tips on How to Throw a Fun Halloween Party

With Halloween fast approaching, the preparations are at full speed. Halloween is a great time to let your imagination run wild and throw a spooky party.

Don’t panic if you haven’t figured out all the details yet. There is still time to organize a fun and budget-friendly Halloween party for your kids that will be talked about for a long time. These amusing and multifunctional Halloween stickers will help you out in that venture.

  1. Create an Invitation

After you’ve set the time and place of the party, the next step is sending the invitations. Making an invitation is a piece of cake with these Halloween stickers.

Choose the design you think is the most appropriate for an invitation format and include information about where and at what time the party is taking place. It’s plain and simple.

  1. Plan a Spookalicious Menu

Instead of buying expensive Halloween-decorated meals, you can create them at home. Depending on the number of guests, just make a plan which ingredients you need and in what quantities. You can then cook any regular party food you like preparing and give the dishes creepy names.

Cut out a few stickers and write down invented food names. Be creative! You can easily make believe chicken wings are bat wings or punch is mummy’s blood.

You can also freeze water in a plastic glove and put it in the punch. The icy hand floating in the punch bowl will surely elevate the party mood. Voila! You have the perfect Halloween feast.

  1. Decorate the House

Decorating is pretty much the most important thing for getting into the Halloween spirit. After you already spiced up the Halloween table with some scary party food, next step is to decorate the whole house.

You can use the stickers to make banners with scary messages. You will only need a handful of printed stickers and a rope. Attach cut-out stickers to the rope and see how easily the hanged banner can make your house resemble a scary castle.

Covering the furniture with sheets and fake spiders can also contribute to creating a creepy atmosphere without spending too much.

  1. Plan Halloween Games

It’s a good idea to plan out games and activities for the kids on time. There are so many interesting games you can prepare for very little money. Mummy wrapping, for example, is one of the many great games for Halloween.

You will only need toilet paper or white crepe paper and many happy kids wrapping each other from head to toes. You can even use the stickers to devise a Halloween treasure hunting game.

Write down the location of the clues on each label and let the kids look for the treasure. If you need help with activity organization, you can always ask other parents to join you or maybe some of the older children. There is no need to pay someone to additionally entertain your kids.

  1. Make Halloween Treats

Halloween isn’t Halloween without trick-or-treating. Therefore, it’s really important to have great treats waiting for the kids. Making cookies in the shape of spiders, bats or skulls is always a good idea.

You can then pack them in bags and apply scary-looking stickers with appropriate messages on them. You may even use them as a reward for the winners of a costume contest that you can organize.

Hopefully, these tips will help you organize an unforgettable Halloween party and not spend too much money. And don’t forget to have fun. Happy Halloween!
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Children Change Financial Outlook

Personal financial management presents plenty of obstacles, in its own right, but adding children drastically changes household finances. As a result, moms and dads are typically eager to save money wherever they can. Fortunately, cash-strapped families continue to devise effective solutions to monetary issues tied to child-rearing.

Regardless of the ages of your children, saving money on the cost of kids contributes to financial stability and frees-up resources for other household expenses. If you have experience raising children, however, you’re familiar with the unending spending cycle kids generate. Is it possible to slow this call for cash?

You are not alone in your quest for frugal family solutions, so it pays to use others’ experience to your advantage. The following money saving tips represents a few of the proven tactics parents lean-on to make ends meet.

Entertaining Kids Doesn’t call for Major Investment

There is no way around the fact goods and services cost money. Kids have a unique perspective about entertainment, however, because each new experience adds to their frame of reference – regardless of its price. As a result, children are eager to participate in all kinds of low-budget activities. By committing to this frugal standard, your creative thinking is the bridge to endless family enjoyment, without wiping-out your entertainment budget.

Free Attractions – More than a specific takeaway from a particular outing, kids want your time and attention. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, use their curiosity to keep them entertained. Remember, there are countless parents in your area working toward the same goals, so free attractions are made available by municipalities and local organizations committed to parenting. Reading events at the library, parades, and summer recreation programs are just a few of the worthy distractions put-forth to keep kids entertained – at little or no cost.

Get Outdoors – Parks and other outdoor spaces are perfect stretching grounds for kids on the move. Make an event out of each trip, to get kids on-board the excursions. Depending upon where you live, parks within reach may be equipped with slides, swings, giant sand boxes and other outdoor diversions unavailable at home. If possible, arrange playdates at local parks, bringing you together with like-minded moms and dads.

Finding a Path to Home Ownership

Parents naturally seek to provide the best possible outcomes for their kids, including living conditions that help them succeed. Home ownership furnishes an important building block for financial security, as well as consistency for school-age kids. To deliver this stability, growing families often prioritize home-buying as a near term financial goal.

Credit Concerns – Your primary concern preparing for home ownership is your strength of credit. Loans are available for those without adequate credit references – review them here – but for a home purchase, you’ll need substantial financing. Evaluating credit status up-front helps manage your expectations, and gives you a number to work with, as you compare homes. Loan pre-approval also provides an advantage in today’s real estate market, enabling you to move quickly when a suitable home is found.

Savings Strategies – The best way to save money for a home purchase is sequestering funds specifically for that purpose. Once mingled with household cash flow, the money will likely go toward day to day spending, rather than building for a down payment. To start accumulating a sizable deposit, first run your budget number to determine how much you can afford to set-aside, and then establish a separate bank account in which to deposit your home fund. Set saving goals and do your best to keep the money off-limits for anything other than a new house.

Networking with Other Parents Yields Savings

Other parents’ experience shortens your learning curve, so their input should be welcomed. To benefit from other moms and dads know-how, network with parents in your area. Not only will it shed insight, but keeping in touch with other families can save you money.

Second Hand Cycle Serves Frugal Parents – Kids clothes and furnishings are expensive, so pre-owned savings furnish financial relief for parents. Staying in-touch with others in the same boat creates contacts for buying, selling and trading second-hand furniture, clothes and other kids’ accessories.

Babysitters and Other Benefits – Having walked in your shoes, experienced parents have made valuable contacts. Babysitter referrals from trusted sources are a goldmine for moms and dads without a solid corps of watchful sitters. And this vital information is not the only assistance networking brings, you can also glean valuable knowledge about entertaining, feeding, and caring for kids, on a budget.

Great childcare money tip for moms: returns to cover costs

Right now the cost of childcare around the U.S. is rivaling the cost of college tuition. Under these new standards parents would have to start saving for childcare years before the kids are even a twinkle in in their eyes. Check out some of the following guidelines including using some of your tax return to drive down costs.

Compare costs in your area

Cost of day care and more specifically infant care can be very expensive depending on which city in the United States you are located. Check out Childcare Aware’s map of childcare costs across the country to evaluate and compare costs in your area. Even when daycare in your area is affordable – dual working parents, single parents, and especially healthcare workers with night shifts often find daycare is not flexible enough to work with their more complicated schedules.

A Growing family will double or triples costs

Every time parents decide to have another child they also naturally decide to double the price of childcare for their family. After two, three and four or more children, childcare can be pretty pricey. In the case of a daycare costs for example wouldjump from $1,000 a month to $2,000 or $3,000 a month with the addition of more children. Unlike every other form of childcare, however an Au Pair will cost the same no matter how many children a family has.

Au Pairs more affordable than most nannies

While Au Pairs can often be the more affordable childcare choice, the upfront costs of getting the Au Pair into the United States is always more expensive. When families use their tax return for the upfront costs, the only thing they have to worry about after that is the $7.85 an hour to pay the Au Pair for their 45 hours of live in childcare. The Au Pair can do the kids laundry and make their meals and work the more complicated childcare shifts, like evenings and weekends.

After researching costs of childcare in your area, and averaging out costs per child, parents may want to consider putting your tax return towards an Au Pair to get a jump start on their childcare, so they can save for the next more expensive piece to having children: college tuition. Families who have used Au Pairs have been pleasantly surprised how affordable Au Pair childcare is in comparison to daycare or nannies.

How to Create a Family Budget

How to Create a Family Budget

Creating a budget is personal. You have to customize it to fit your income and expenditures and the things that are important to you. Begin creating a family budget that you’ll stick to because it allows you to pay bills, save money and still get the things you love. Work with your spouse to see where your money is going and design a plan that fits you and meets your needs.

Step One: Acquire Your Detailed Bank Statements

It’s easy to think you know where and how you’re spending your money. Looking through your bank statements gives you the nitty gritty details of where it’s really going. Print them out or view them online. Look at every purchase you’ve made for the last three months and break it down into a category, such as:

  • Bills and Utilities
  • Food and Dining
  • Household expenses
  • Credit cards and other debts
  • Car Expenses
  • Gifts and donations
  • Travel
  • Education
  • Health care

Figure out a way to identify each individual category, whether you list them out, use a different colored highlighter for each category or use a budget site like Mint.com. You may want to break some of the categories up further. For instance, you may have car payments, gas, car repairs and regular maintenance, like oil changes. The amount you spend on gas will change each month and you won’t have an oil change every month, but you will have a car payment.

For each category record the individual expenses and get an overall estimate of what you’ve been spending.

Which purchases surprise you? Which ones don’t?

Add up the amount you’re spending each month. Chances are you spend different amounts each month, but they should be pretty close to one another, barring high unusual (or surprise) expenses.

Now add up your income. How does what’s coming in compare to what’s going out? Are you making money or are you in the red?

Step Two: Identify Your Needs

As you look at your expenditures, you should start to recognize patterns. But how many of them do you need?

Of your purchases, which can you not live without? Consider the following:

  • Groceries*
  • Rent/mortgage
  • Clothes*
  • Utilities
  • Gas for car

Obviously, food is essential. But there are groceries you don’t need – like organic milk or the expensive steak. Similarly, you need clothes, but not designer clothes. Internet is not a need unless you work from home. Cell phones can be a need if you don’t have a home phone, but a data plan is not. TV isn’t a need, but it’s a want a lot of us share. On the other hand, you have to make that payment until it’s repaid.

These needs make up the bare bones of your budget. This is what you will need to survive if you lose your job (or jobs). Multiply it by six and you have the amount you should (eventually) have saved up in your emergency savings fund.

Step Three: Discuss Your Wants

What things do you want? Don’t limit it just to financial things, like saving money. Dream a little. For instance, do you want to:

  • Take an annual vacation?
  • Have a family (or a larger one)?
  • Buy or build a new house?
  • Have a date night every week?
  • Go out with friends every month?
  • Stay home with the kids?
  • Start your own business?
  • Lose weight and get in shape?
  • Get tickets to watch your football team play?
  • Buy a boat and live on the ocean for a year?

The things you want are an important part of the budget because they affect how you spend the money that’s not needs-based. Some people like big expensive vacations. Others want expensive houses or cars. Others want to have comfortable furniture and a huge TV to relax in front of. None of those things are wrong or bad. But you have to plan so you can get the things you want.

What do you need to do to get things you want? For instance, if you want a date night every week and you have kids, you need a babysitter. That could mean calling Grandma, a friend, or hiring someone. The dinner, movie and drinks may not be your only expense. How much will the items on your want list cost you?

How will you get the money for your wants?

For instance, if you want to take a vacation, you could start a vacation fund that you put money in every month. How much should you put in? Should you make a babysitter a line item on your budget? If you want to stay home with the kids, how much money will you need to cut out of your expenditures to make up the difference from what you’re earning?

One thing you may not consider that you should is your partner’s “love language”. Different people express and feel loved differently. This can affect your budget. For instance, if your partner’s love language is gifts, chances are he will give nice, thoughtful (and sometimes expensive) gifts to you and expect the same in return. Even if “nice presents” aren’t a stated want, a gift line is important to incorporate into your budget. Your relationship is important and showing affection to one another in the way you receive it best helps keep it strong.

When you have your wants in order, prioritize them so you can begin moving in the direction of your dreams. Corny, but true.

Step Four: Address Your Fixed Expenses

Not all of your fixed expenses are needs, but if you have a contract, you have to pay them. Add ’em up.

Now look at the items that aren’t contracted, or that have contracts ending soon, like the satellite TV bill. Could you call up and ask for a lower rate? What about getting a smaller data plan on your phone – or asking for a discount for being a good customer? Are discounts from your employer availabl. Are there any fixed expenses that you don’t find yourself using?

Or maybe you’ve realized you can’t go down in data on your phones, but need to go up because you’re always going over. Maybe you only use the internet on your phone and having home internet isn’t actually saving you any money.

If there’s nothing you can cut out, like Toby Jugs, that’s okay, but if there is, there’s no reason to hang onto it. If you have a subscription to Hulu that you never use, that’s $8 you can put toward something you actually want.

Step Five: Address Your Variable Expenses

How much do the variable expenses on your needs list cost you in a year? What do gas and groceries run you, on average? This amount can vary month-to-month, but it probably isn’t too different, overall. It’s important to know where you actually fall – that you’re spending $500 on gas, not $300.

Now consider your other variable expenses. The ones that could be cut out, if necessary. How often are you going out to eat? Buying coffee? Getting fast food?

As with your wants, none of the answer to these questions are wrong. The question is just to get you thinking about whether or not your money is going where you want it to. If you want to get in shape, but you’re stopping at McDonald’s every day, you’re probably sabotaging your efforts. You’re also be spending money that could go toward a gym membership or buying a workout bike so you can exercise at home. The question boils down to what you want and whether or not you’re moving in that direction.

Using your bank statements from the last few months, write down all of your fixed bills and all of your variable expenses that are needs, with the amount each cost (realistically!). How much are you spending? Subtract that from your income and that’s what’s left in your budget. If you ever experience a financial emergency, sometimes the best solution for you would be a car title loan. This option will allow you to pay your bills on time, just make sure you can pay the loan off in the future.

Step Six: Create an Automatic Savings Plan

If you already have an emergency savings plan that has at least 6 months of expenses and you’re saving for other “smaller” things, like a riding lawn mower or your next vacation, you can skip this step. Otherwise, you need to start saving.

Man people think saving money sounds like a real pain. One they can’t afford. The truth is, you can’t afford not to.

Saving money can provide you with a cushion in case of emergencies (and let’s face it. They happen. Usually all at once). It can also help you get the things you want.

To get started, consider an online bank. Many have excellent interest rates on savings accounts. Some, like Capital One 360, allow you to open multiple accounts, so you can save for all the things you want. Not sure where to start? Consider these:

Set up automatic transfers to your savings account(s). You can do them once each month, every pay period or even small amounts every day. The important part is that you’re saving money for the things you want later, whether it’s a fantastic vacation or a down payment on a house.

Step Eight: Spend the Rest Appropriately

What’s left is for you to spend. Some might go toward dining out. Some might go toward stuff for your house. For the next few weeks record every penny you spend, so you have no surprises. This can help you keep on track. Then you can make decisions, together, about how to spend it.

For some people, tracking every cent is important. For others, it’s frustrating and obnoxious. Depending on how you do your finances best, you might choose whether to record every cent or if you want to allot an amount that each person or you as a couple can spend in a pay period, a week or throughout the month. What you choose doesn’t matter as long as it works for you and you’re not overspending – or delving into your savings.

Creating a family budget can be intimidating, but having one can make the difference between living your life the way you want to and living paycheck to paycheck. Know where your money is going and make the changes you need to get to the places you want to go.