From the Editor’s Desk

Gary Foreman

Get the Most from Your Holidays Without Overspending

Hello to all my Frugal Friends!

Guess we’re officially into the holiday season! One of the things I like best about the holidays is the extra time we spend with our friends and family. Sure, sometimes it can be a bit much, but during the rest of the year we often don’t seem to make the time to connect. (At least that’s the way it works in our house.)

This year could be especially challenging. Especially if you enjoy visiting/entertaining friends and family. Between inflation and shortages (could there really be a shortage of Christmas trees?!?) it will be harder to keep spending in line.

So with that in mind, I’d like to share a couple of ideas to help you get the most from your holidays without overspending.

As I said, I enjoy being with the people I treasure around the holidays. And, often that includes some food! Not always a sit down meal, but some times more of the snacking variety. Planning Party Platters for Pennies might be just what you need to make that affordable this year.

Based on the feedback I’m getting, many will choose to curtail expensive family/group holiday outings. Things like concerts, movies, etc., will be skipped this year. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still have a festive time. Here are two articles with some ideas that you can share with friends and family. 8 Frugal Indoor Winter Entertainment Ideas and 10 Truly Free Christmas Activities.

Here at
TheDollarStretcher.com and After50Finances.com we want you to have the best holidays ever!

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!
Gary

Some Anti-Theft Measures for the Holidays

Hello to all my Frugal Friends!

“For the 2021 peak season, the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, the Postal Service says they will deliver more mail and packages to homes than any other shipper. It’s anticipated that between 850 million and 950 million packages will be delivered for the holidays.” (source: source: weau.com) And that’s just the postal service. Add FedEx and UPS and the number of packages is crazy big!

That’s an awfully large temptation for porch pirates. So it would be reasonable to take steps to try to thwart them. Here are a few tools that you can use.

One of the simplest and no-cost ways to protect your packages is to require a signature on delivery. No signature, no delivery. The downside is that you may have to drive to a post office or distribution center to pick up your package if it can’t be delivered when you’re home.

Installing a video doorbell, motion detector lights, cameras, or even a home security system may help, but cannot prevent someone from taking your package.

You might want to temporarily pay for a package receiving service.

Or you could ask a neighbor to take your deliveries. Chances are that someone in your neighborhood or among your friends is at home during the day. A package can’t be stolen if it’s safely inside.

Amazon Key in garage delivery allows them to access your garage and deliver the package inside. The service has safeguards but is new and may have yet undiscovered vulnerabilities.

The ultimate solution is to have a large locking mailbox on your porch. Not only will it protect you from theft, but also protect packages from weather damage. The downside is you can expect to pay $200 – $250 for one.

Porch pirates aren’t the only theft concern during the holidays. Any self-respecting burglar knows that houses are just full of tempting goodies this time of year.

If you’d like to know how the bad guys think, read A Burglar Reveals 15 Trade Secrets. Whether you live in Washington state or Washington, DC, burglars are all looking for the same things. Why not get a step ahead of them?

Once you get an idea how they think, you can take advantage of 18 Affordable Anti-Theft Tips to Keep Burglars Out of Your Home.

You may be traveling this year. Many of us do. That does add risk. Protecting Your Home While You Travel will help you minimize the risk of being robbed while you’re away.

One commonly overlooked financial tool is a household inventory. If you should be the victim of a burglary, the police and your insurance company will want to know what’s missing. They’ll want you to be as specific as possible. A written or video inventory is a great way to document exactly what’s in your home. Taking Inventory of Your Possessions in Case of Loss covers the details.

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!
Gary

Some More Price Increases To Be Aware Of

Hello to all my Frugal Friends!

Thanksgiving is next week. Grocery prices are up. This New York Times headline about covers it. “This Year’s Thanksgiving Feast Will Wallop the Wallet” (source: NY Times)

The Wall St. Journal shares one of the reasons. “The supply-chain crunch is about to hit another part of American life: Thanksgiving dinner. Supplies of food and household items are 11% lower than normal as of Oct. 31, according to data from market-research firm IRI. That figure isn’t far from the bare shelves of March 2020, when supplies were down 13%. For grocery shoppers this holiday season, it means that someone with 20 items on their list would be out of luck on two of them.” (source: Wall St. Journal)

Although we can’t reduce those prices you’ll find at the grocery store, or help you find items that aren’t on the shelf, we can share a butcher’s advice on buying a turkey. Let’s Talk Turkey: Choosing the Best Bird for Your Holiday Budget.

On another front, I know that it was a little over a month ago that we suggested that you take steps to reduce your heating bill. Recently the federal government released stats on retail energy prices. Depending on where you live, prices may have increased by 50% or more.

2021 vs. 1 year ago
Gasoline $3.39 up $1.78
Diesel $3.72 up $1.35
Heating Oil $3.39 up $1.26
Propane $2.72 up $0.90

(source: U.S. Energy Information Agency)

I also know that it’s late in the season to winterize your home. And the holidays have everyone overscheduled. But if you haven’t already, you still can take some steps to keep your heating bill from crushing your budget.

You might not have time to do a full blown winterization. But you can take advantage of a few of these 12 Frugal Home Winterization Tips.

There are other things you can do besides preparing your home. 12 Ways to Keep Warm for Less This Winter will give you an idea or two.

And you don’t need to own your own home to reduce that utility bill. Winter Energy-Saving Ideas for Renters will help you accomplish that goal.

Finally, one way to keep the thermostat setting low is to only heat the areas where you are. Choosing a Space Heater: The Best Job for the Least Money will help you find the space heater best suited for your needs.

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!
Gary

About the Author

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's the author of How to Conquer Debt No Matter How Much You Have and he's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, Credit.com and CreditCards.com. You can read Gary's full bio here. Gary shares his philosophy of money here. Gary is available for audio, video or print interviews.

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