A Creative Gift for College-Bound Grandchild

Although my grandson is only three, I’m keeping this first tip handy for when he graduates from high school.


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POST-DATED GIFTING. When our grandchildren began graduating from high school and heading off to college, we wanted to give them money each month during their first year of college. So in their high school graduation card we enclosed 10—$100.00 post-dated checks, starting with August of that year and ending the following May. We knew it would come in handy, not only for the grandchildren but for their parents, too. We figured the extra money each month might avoid a call home, asking their parents for a little bit more. Or, it might pay for something that was unexpected.

Our oldest grandson told us many times how he appreciated this. We have been blessed, always knowing how important we are to our grandchildren—because we have let them know how important they are to us. Linda, Nebraska

Getting a Holiday Head Start

If you are or ever have been plagued with consumer debt, I can nearly guarantee that revolving expenses related to Christmas have contributed greatly to that miserable situation.

The problem? Procrastination. Face it, when it comes to Christmas, the longer you wait, the more you’ll spend.


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Everyone procrastinates in some area. Why do we do it?

We feel overwhelmed. The holiday expectations we place on ourselves, plus those that come from our families, the community, and even the church, can be so great that we feel paralyzed.

The True Meaning of Frugality

Frugal, thrifty. Those words repulsed me. Being thought of as cheap was to me the ultimate insult. I equated frugality with digging through dumpsters in search of food and who knows what else.

To me cheap people skipped out without leaving a tip. They were slovenly in appearance, lacking dignity and self respect. Cheap people were just plain tacky. I couldn’t bear the thought of living that way and to make sure I would never be mistaken for someone who did, I charged my way through life bent on proving to the world (and more likely to myself) that I was not cheap.


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I accepted the offers of freedom that credit card companies offered to me. It was so simple. I could have a $200 outfit and pay only $10 a month. I could fix up the house, treat the kids, have new clothes, drive nice cars—just about anything I could think of. And it worked for awhile.

Mary’s Big Remodel – Part 14

I am jamming to get this update posted while it is still technically the weekend. Somewhere in the world is it still Sunday, I’m just sure of it.

Last week you’ll remember I told you I’d been assured we’re over the messy part. Now, I will admit that “messy” can mean different things to different people, but to me, messy is not over. But we’re making progress, to wit:

Ms. Lovely Dishwasher is now in place and ready to be hooked up. And no I have not removed that protective film which may be the reason it looks a little off color. Underneath it really is stainless, and the handle has not been attached.

The range is in the room now, ready to slide in as soon as the counter is installed.

This is where the refrigerator will go …

Tomorrow Claudio the Electrician will be here to power up the appliances, install pendant lights over the peninsula and install the new ceiling lights. Glory be.

Here’s a shot of the range hood being “dry fitted” just to make sure everything lines up right. It does. And no … it is not white! It too is totally covered with protective wrap, but its is white instead of clear.

Yesterday we went to the biggest stone yard you can even imagine to meet out two granite slabs. This was new for me. I had no idea how this was done, but that’s part of the process. The sample we saw at IKEA was only a sample. Since granite is a natural product there can be variations.

Here they are, two slabs from the same stone, each with its own official serial number. The pattern/color is called “Sunset Gold.” I don’t see gold, but I don’t always see things the way others do 🙂

And a close up …

The counters will be officially measured this coming Wed., then installed on Nov. 11.

We still need to pick out the backsplash tile that will go in the usual place that backsplash goes, as well as the entire wall behind the range hood. I found some that I really like, but I’m not sure. It’s at Overstock.com of all places (I know, who buys tiles sight unseen online?) It’s shiny glass tile in a color called “Smoke.” I’m not sure we should be associating smoke with a new kitchen, but it is quite pretty.  Check it out HERE and tell me what you think.

I’m thinking about a big Grand Kitchen Re-Opening celebration once this is all done. I believe the menu will be all Swedish.

Get it?

Dinner’s Ready with Crockpot BBQ Pork Sandwiches

eMeals crockpot pulled pork comes together with just 5 minutes of prep and 8 ingredients. Throw the roast into the crockpot in the morning before leaving the house, and dinner’s ready when you walk in the door.

The test kitchen staff at eMeals loved coming home to the aroma of slow cooked pork ready to eat. And they were even more impressed by this simple dish after tasting it. This recipe makes enough for a crowd, so it’s also perfect for company or leftovers. 

Fantasy Vacation for Less

Dear Mary,

My husband and I have been saving for the past year to take a long-overdue romantic getaway, and we’ve narrowed our dream destination down to Aruba. Since staying there can be pricey, our travel agent suggested we consider one of those “all-inclusive” resorts. She said we’ll save money on drinks and meals, and won’t have to worry about having cash or credit cards on hand since everything will be paid in advance. But I’ve heard that you actually lose money with these “deals” because they pad the price of everything in order to make a profit. Now we don’t know what to think. Bonnie, New Jersey


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Dear Bonnie,

I don’t know that ‘padding the price’ would be the best way to put it, but for sure in an all-inclusive plan you’ll pay for lots of things you’ll probably never use. You can be sure they’ve built in generous gratuities, many meals and a big bar allowance. 

Creative Ways to Shop, Save and Give

I love getting feedback from readers about past columns. Whether it’s an email to me at Mary[at]EverydayCheapskate.com or a comment posted on my blog at www.EverydayCheapskate.com, I thoroughly enjoy reading the follow-up responses and tips. For example, Carol sent me this great idea for my lemon bounty.


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GOT LEMONS? MAKE LIMONCELLO. I loved reading the Everyday Cheapskate column on Mary’s lemon bounty. I wanted to suggest for anyone who has an excess of lemons—make Limoncello. This is an Italian lemon liqueur that also uses the lemon’s peels, and it is delicious. I made it last year for Christmas gifts, and had the most fun shopping swap meets and yard sales to find really beautiful and unusual bottles. I even researched recipes using limoncello and attached them to the bottles. It takes a few weeks to make, but it’s easy and the end result is beautiful. With all the juicing, peeling and cooking, there’s not a smidgen of waste. Carol, email

A Family Night of Stargazing

If things are so hectic in your household that you can’t remember the last time you took time out for some family fun, you need to reacquaint yourself with an important verb: Schedule. Time is like money. If you wait until you have some left over, you may wait for a very long time.

Once something is on the calendar you will find yourself scheduling around that, not crossing it out. If you don’t have one, make up a family calendar that covers at least the next three months. Post it in a visible place so all family members can see it, even the little people. Make it colorful and exciting.


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Carve at least three blocks of time from those 90 days and mark them in big bright letters: Family Fun! Now that it’s on the calendar, you need to make some plans. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to create wonderful times together.