Category Archives: Do It Yourself

Save Money On Your Wedding Reception

November 10, 2011

7 Ways To Save Money On Your Wedding Reception

The average American wedding costs around $30,000! When any bride takes a look at the cost of entertainment, food, the cake, and more, it’s not hard to see where those thousands go. However, it’s perfectly possible to have a beautiful, fun wedding reception without plunking down your life savings. Here are a few tips to save money on your wedding reception:

Save money on your wedding reception.

Do you really want Uncle Charlie at your wedding? Image credit: daryl_mitchell, Flickr.com.

1. Trim the guest list.
This is the simplest, easiest way to save money on your wedding reception. The number of guests you have to cut depends on how much you need to trim your budget; if your cost per head is $50, downsizing from 200 guests to 150 saves you $2,500! If you’re worried about insulting someone, go with a close friends and family only reception and visit with other guests afterwards, perhaps by throwing a small dinner party.

2. Simplify your decorations.
Decorations for a wedding reception can get pricey, so simplifying what you use can ease the strain on your wallet. This can be done in a number of ways. Use bigger tables so you need fewer centerpieces and tablecloths. Consider purchasing local in-season flowers and greenery. You can even try out non-floral decorations like candles or lanterns, which can be bought in bulk from a range of suppliers for as little as $1 apiece.

3. Don’t leave an unnecessary paper trail.
You’ve already shelled out a lot of cash for beautiful invitations and ceremony programs, so you don’t need to keep spending on unnecessary paper items for the reception. This can include menus, table numbers, escort cards, and more. Menus are overkill at a buffet dinner or simple hors d’oeuvres affairs, but if you really want one, consider placing a single sign near the reception entrance announcing the options. Have your favors double as escort cards by attaching a small tag with each guest’s name and table.

4. Plan for hidden costs.
“Hidden costs” are any costs that you don’t immediately think of, but which appear on your bill later and can completely blow your budget. They may be service charges, bottle-opening fees, gratuities, and cake-cutting fees. Before you sign a contract with your vendors, ask about these fees and make sure you can afford them.

5. Consider a mid-week reception.
Saturday weddings are popular but expensive. Just like hotels and vacation venues, booking an event in the middle of the week can shave a lot of cash off your bill. The same is true for weddings around major holidays and even peak times of the day. Just make sure you let your guests know well ahead of time so they can request enough time off from work.

Save money on your wedding reception.

Do you really need all of this? Image credit: D.L., Flickr.com

6. Don’t serve a full bar.
Open bars can get pricey when you’re charged by the bottle. Instead of having an open bar at your reception, go for one or two signature drinks, or skip the alcohol altogether. If you still want an open bar but need to save money, consider closing the bar for an hour sometime during the reception, such as during the hor’s d’oeuvres or while guests are seated during dinner.

7. Use some elbow grease.
With some careful planning, DIY-ing your wedding can save a lot of money. What you make or do yourself depends on your own abilities and how much help you have, but the possibilities are limitless. Make your own centerpieces, favors, wedding album, and more. This also works for saving money on the ceremony.

Whatever your budget, you can have a great wedding. Just follow these tips and use your own ingenuity to save money on your wedding reception. But don’t forget the most important part – enjoy your wedding no matter what!

Five Fun Ways To Save Money

September 26, 2011

Five Fun Ways To Save Money

Too often we think that trying to save money must mean denying ourselves of things we like. Not only does this make life more stressful, but it actually makes it harder to save money as you have to exert a lot of mental effort to do so. Once life catches up with you and other stresses arise you won’t be able to expend that extra effort and you’ll be likely to slip back into those old not-so frugal habits.  Fortunately, this doesn’t need to be the case; here are some low-stress and even fun ways to save money.

Your frugal friend the pig.#1 – The Power of the Pig

You probably have not used a piggy bank in ages, but consider channeling your inner child in order to save money. Place a few dollar bills into a piggy bank a couple times a week and you will see the amount grow at a surprising rate over the course of several months. This is one of the more fun ways to save money because you can physically see your savings increasing. If you have children, this is also a great activity to teach them about the value of money and saving.

#2 -Use Your Skills

You’re awesome cooking skills (or computer know-how, or just about any talent that you have) might not be  enough to land you a high-paying, glamorous position as a world-renowned chef, but that doesn’t mean that your talent is worthless. Chances are one of your friends, family members or casual acquaintances would love for you to share your knowledge or ability. You can trade your skill with someone who needs your expertise and receive something valuable in return. You won’t have to purchase as many items and services, plus you get to do something that you love.

#3 – Second Hand Prices, First Class Style 

Few things can match the thrill of finding a stylish item on sale. Just because an item is not brand-new does not mean it cannot be new to you. Check out consignment and second-hand clothing stores for great deals on hot items. If you can find a beautiful jacket at 1/3 of the new price, you can afford to splurge occasionally. Plus, if you later decide that it is not as awesome as you thought, simply sell it to recoup some of the expense of your purchase.

Image credit: Λ W Λ, Flickr.com

#4 – Clear The Clutter

Ok, this one is really more of a way to make money, but it is still fun; hold a yard sale to sell the many items you do not need anymore. It will be embarrassing, but fun to go through your old clothes and other items and think to yourself “Why did I ever buy these bright pink high-tops? I hope there isn’t any photographic evidence of me actually wearing them.” Just remember that you will probably never use these things again, and you can get even earn some money for them. In fact, many old items are back in style now so you can earn decent money from selling them. As a bonus, you’ll gain some extra space in your closet and attic.

#5 – Entertainment Book

Many people love trying out new restaurants, but as hobbies go, this one can be quite expensive. This is where the Entertainment Book can make all the difference. The initial investment is $25 but it is going to pay for itself once you use it a few times. Most large US cities are represented the Entertainment Book and inside you will find coupons for fun restaurants and shops. There are also regional coupon books that have specials for all of your favorite local hotspots. Our favorite out here in the Pacific NW is the Chinook Book, (also available in a few a few other metropolitan areas) which tends to focus on local, “green” businesses.

These are just a few of our favorite fun ways to save money. There are plenty more out there. What do you do to have fun and save money?

7 Easy Tips to Lower the Cost to Move – Part 3

September 6, 2011

Find more tip in Part 1 and Part 2.

 Tip #4 – Used Moving Supplies. Your friends, family and acquaintances most likely have many moving supplies that they can lend or give to you.  Ask them for boxes, pens, packing tape, and blankets

Get packing supplies from someone who just moved.

that they don’t need.  Blankets and sheets are a must for protecting furniture and easy to come by at Goodwill or yard sales.  Post a flier at nearby apartment complexes asking anyone who has recently moved to let you salvage their gently-used packing paper and bubble wrap. Not only do used moving supplies lower the cost to move, but it also is a “green” best practice as your move will consume fewer resources.

Tip #5 – The Off-season.  The highest demand for moving equipment, vans, and workers is during the summer and at the start and end of the month.  This means that prices are inflated at these times.  Work with the seller or landlord at your new home to choose an off-peak move date.

Tip #6 – Get an estimate and negotiate.  Not all movers are the same.  Begin the process of selecting a mover by asking friends referrals. Facebook is a great way to do this.

Once you have the names of a few movers, schedule in-home price quotes so that a consultant can perform a visual inventory.  Show them absolutely everything you have from top to bottom and ask what the price estimate includes. Ensure there are no extra fees after the move.   Tell each you are comparing companies and selecting the highest quality for the best price. Finally, make sure that your get the quote in writing.

Tip #7 – DIY!  Get strong boxes and more packing material than you think you will need, including permanent markers to write contents on the boxes.  Line up trusted friends well in advance and verify a few days prior to the move they will be there.  Stage or number your items to be placed in the van in order to make it easier and faster for the movers.  There are sites that offer efficiency tips on packing boxes and loading a truck to minimize space. If you’re driving long distance, you can even pack some pack some low-cost meals.

The bottom line:  the more stuff you hoard and the less you prepare, the more expensive and stressful it is to move. If you follow some of the preceding tips, you can significantly lower the cost to move.  Anyone with a moving story – and, by all means, share yours with us in the comments below  will agree that making a game plan and paring down possessions well in advance are key to saving money and finding Zen.

7 Easy Tips to Lower the Cost to Move – Part 2

September 1, 2011

Continued from Part 1.

Tip #2 – Lose weight, lower the cost to move.

You need to be honest about what you really need to keep.  Whether you are paying a professional, hiring two guys and a truck, renting a U-Haul, or using your friend’s van, more weight means more a more expensive move.

These 13 books, scanned with the Cash4Books.net iPhone app, fetched $27.11

There are many easy ways to slim down.  A great first step is to evaluate your bookshelves.

I have moved boxes upon boxes of new and used books from Oregon to New York (plus the three cities in between). I now shudder to add up the true price of each book, many of which I am guilty of never reading.  An online price quote tool estimated an average move to cost $1.40 per pound.

One book can easily weigh one pound;  a textbook or reference book often weighs more than 5 pounds.  Now consider that the average household has between 100 and 400 books. You are potentially paying hundreds of dollars to move those books.

Cash4Books.net is referenced by many bloggers as a smart way to de-clutter for extra cash.  This is a double-whammy win because not only do you keep from dishing out cash to move them, but by selling your books you also walk away with extra money to tip your mover, buy your friends pizza, or buy new books at your new location!

Also consider the storage fees and the valuable hours spent unpacking and finding nooks, shelves, and closets to hide or display your books that you may never read again.

For other items like used electronics, clothes and furniture there’s a plethora of re-selling used goods to be done online and it’s not difficult.

Finally, measure your furniture and tape off the areas in your new home where you envision placing each piece. Host your own going-away party and let friends make offers on the items you can’t take. You’ll be able to visit anything to which you are emotionally connected later! I love propping my feet up on “my” coffee table in Brooklyn when I visit.

Tip #3 –  Yard Sale!

Energizing your yard sale will get big spenders.

Energize your yard sale. Host it on the sunniest possible weekend that isn’t a holiday to get the most foot traffic. Post colorful “moving sale” signs on at least 10 corners within a one-mile radius; using PowerPoint slides printed on card stock and stapled to a garden stake is an easy way to accomplish this.

Include neighbors in the sale so that there is a lot of inventory. Also invite your friends to drop by and create buzz. Consider serving cheap lemonade, iced tea or inexpensive snacks to entice people to take a look. You can put a “free box” right out front so people driving by can see it. Slashing prices on the spot is a great way to keep visitors engaged and in the shopping mood. The effort will pay off; we banked $2,000 at a one-day yard sale and it felt more like a party than work!

The final installment of the lower the cost to move series is now available.

7 Easy Tips to Lower the Cost to Move

August 24, 2011

 

One rampant side effect of our economic roller coaster is that hosting moving parties has become more common than throwing baby showers.

With the housing market what it is, statistics show that far more people are moving than they were just three years ago.  Most are moving into shared spaces to save on rent or dump an unmanageable mortgage.

Those who are lucky to have landed a job must often accept that it requires relocation.  And of course during the summer, college grads are returning home or moving on to the real world.

42 million Americans move each year, according to moving.com.  That’s 15% of the population every year!  And, since the average person will move 11 times, it’s fairly likely that you are preparing for a move right now.

Whether the move is to another state or across town, I am sympathetic.  If you’ve ever moved, you know that the cost to move all of your beloved possessions from point A to B is quite high.  The most expensive factor in moving is quantity – which boils down to size and weight.  The heavier and bulkier your load, the harder it hits you in the pocketbook.

If you’re an optimist, you tell yourself this is a prime time to clean house. Simplify! Then as you start packing, you inevitably question how and why you have so much stuff.  How did it all fit into the current space let alone the smaller spot you are headed for?

This is why first rule of moving is to PREPARE to move.

Tip #1   Start Early and Make a Budget

Literally take a few weeks to get organized in your head and in your house. When you wait, you end up tossing everything into boxes and taking twice as much you should. Planning will help you keep your stuff out of storage, allow you time to stock up on cheaper supplies, create a budget and ultimately lower the cost to move.

Will you do it yourself or hire a mover?  Will it cost less to ship your car or drive and pay for gas?  Will you need a hotel?  Need to eat out?  What about cleaning, connecting utilities, overlapping bills at your new and old places, security deposits, parking permits, pet fees, new drivers licenses, groceries for the empty fridge, and pizza and beer for your helpers?

Unanticipated expenses surprise every mover.  Add 10 percent to your final budget for the unexpected.

Check out Part 2  and Part 3 for more great tips to lower the cost to move!