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1

10 Easy Ways to Do Halloween on a Budget This Year

There’s no denying that we love Halloween. What other night do we get to eat, drink, and be scary? The problem is we’ve come to love it a little too much. Sadly, most of that spending will translate to new credit-card debt—what a terrible way to start out the new year.

I know we can do so much better than that this year if we’ll simply stop, think, and then find ways to do it cheaper!

I’ve got lots of great ideas, and hope you will add yours in the comments! See you there … Love, xo m 🎃

2

4 Reasons to Start Planning Your DIY Christmas Now

Brisk mornings, fall colors, pumpkin pie, and apple cider. Autumn is just the best time of year, right? And our minds are leaning toward Halloween and Thanksgiving, consider this a strong nudge to put Christmas high on the list. Start planning now and you’ll benefit in so many ways come December.

3

Killer Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake

Just in time for your weekend plans, the most decadent, intensely chocolatey, take-a-sliver-every-time-you-pass-it chocolate cake. Moist and rich, the secret ingredient is (wait for it) … yogurt! That’s what makes this cake so moist and yummy. I dare you not to love it at first bite.

4

A Fabulous Vacation on a Budget is a Staycation!

You might want to take a Staycation this summer—perhaps to save money, you have not accumulated enough vacation days, or simply need to stay close to home. A cash shortage need not eliminate the idea of a family vacation. Clever and creative parents can turn several days off work into an amazing vacation experience without […]

6

How to Make Perfect Iced Tea (Plus Real Southern Sweet Tea Recipe)

The only thing more comforting than a big, tall glass of iced tea on a hot summer day is knowing how to make that perfect iced tea yourself. With confidence. And for just pennies per serving.

My dear mother-in-law, a very proper Canadian, taught me the difference between proper iced tea and the “swill” most restaurants pour, which in her opinion was, at best, a very poor facsimile. And trust me, she knew her stuff—including the six rules for proper iced tea!

All that, plus the official recipe and instructions for how to make Southern Sweet Tea in today’s post.

xo m

8

Simple Ways We Can Celebrate Memorial Day

One week from today, May 25th is Memorial Day in the U.S. I want to challenge you and your family to find reasonable ways that you can pay homage to those who have given their lives for the sake of our country and our freedoms—even while observing social distancing guidelines.

I have a few suggestions. See you there! Love, Mary 🇺🇸

9

Wendy’s Is Giving Out FREE Burgers May 28 – June 5, 2022

Wendy’s, the national fast-food chain, may live to regret this, but let’s not mention it to them. Here’s the deal: In celebration of National Hamburger Month, any time starting on May 23 to June 5 (two full weeks), you can grab a FREE Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger with any purchase at all through the Wendy’s app. You’ll […]

10

Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2022

Enjoy this Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2022—a fun selection of gifts to delight every kind of mother— even those who say they don’t need a thing. But hurry. Some of these items are time-sensitive, which means you have no time to lose. Sun., May 8 will be here before we know it!

11

6 Reasons We Need to Celebrate Soon—and Often!

Celebrate? With all that’s going on in our lives, the nation—the world?

With all the challenges you’re facing right now, you may be thinking that’s the last thing you’ll be doing now, or anytime soon. Let me encourage you to think again. Please!

Now, of all times, we need to celebrate wherever and whenever possible—for six very important reasons.

Today, I celebrate YOU! You mean the world to me and I think you’re awesome! Love, m xo

12

Einstein in the Kitchen or Let Them Eat (Carrot) Cake

I have a special treat for you today. It’s a recipe. Normally I sell this recipe for $1,000 but it’s your lucky day. OK, I’m just kidding about that, but honestly, this one is worth its weight in gold, which as I write is about $1,929 per ounce. In this world, there is carrot cake and […]

13

Best Ideas and Gifts to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

In this post last minute ideas to celebrate Valentines Day including dozens of gifts that are sure to please your Valentines without breaking the bank, divided into three categories—Gifts for Kids, Gifts for Her, and Gifts for Him. Honestly, this is so much fun.

Don’t worry that time is short. I’ve also included a slick way you can legally and ethically sign up for Amazon Prime Shipping, use it to send your Valentine’s Day gifts (to yourself or to others) and not have to pay for it. Really, It’s OK. Amazon wants you to do this.

15

Yummy Sweets to Make for Valentine’s Day

Friends. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner.  Thankfully, we have several big, beautiful weekends between now and then—plenty of time to make fabulous homemade treats and sweets (and stick them in the freezer!)

16

Let Heaven and Nature Sing!

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in still another village where he worked in a carpenter’s shop until he was thirty. Then for three years, he was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office …

17

Who Stole the Joy?!

It was an unusual interview. The interviewer explained she was writing an article for a national women’s magazine on clever ways to put more joy into the holidays. In that I’ve written a book on the subject, she called hoping I would help her with the story. I knew that I could. In my typical […]

18

9 Tips to Make Christmas Morning a Breeze

Early mornings are hard enough, but Christmas morning can easily morph from calm into all-out chaos. But not this year. That’s because time is on your side. Use it now to plan and prep and you’ll give yourself the gift of being able to sit back, relax, and enjoy this beautiful time together—knowing everything is under […]

19

Apple Fritter Waffle Donuts—Sinfully Delicious!

Yes, I did. I made Apple Fritter Waffle Donuts. In fact, I’ve made this recipe four times in 30 days just to get it right. I call it research. You know, honing my pastry skills. My family calls it delicious and please make some more!

20

Yes! You Can Put Silver in the Dishwasher

Can you put silver in the dishwasher? Contrary to popular belief, you can wash silver and silverplate flatware in the dishwasher without causing harm, just follow a simple set of rules. This should come as great news in the event you are planning to pull out the good silver for the Holidays. Do it … I don’t think you’ll regret it!

22

4 Things They Really Want for Christmas

Sure they want toys, but underneath it all, what kids really want for Christmas (adults, too) just might surprise you. What we really want isn’t in a store. So, how can we give those we love what they really want for Christmas? I have a few ideas in today’s post … and I hope you have some, too. Will you add them in the comments area?

23

Best Creative and Inexpensive Homemade Holiday Gifts!

Whether it’s something from your kitchen, craft room, woodworking shop, or computer, there’s nothing like a homemade gift. A tree ornament, a plate of cookies, box of fudge, note cards, tiny birdhouse—just a few of the many homemade gift ideas with universal appeal. Today, I have ideas for you that don’t require special skills or months of lead time. One in particular is, well … sew easy! I love homemade gifts both to give and receive. No wonder I have so many favorites.

26

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

I know what you’re thinking: Make the mashed potatoes AND gravy ahead of time—up to several days before the big day? Like serve leftovers for the biggest best meal of the year? You have got to be kidding. Well yes, that is exactly what I am suggesting and will be doing myself, but let me […]

27

Your Best Thanksgiving Feast Ever, Healthy, Delicious, and (Relatively) Cheap!

If there’s one thing we should be thankful for this Thanksgiving, it’s this: Turkey is cheap! And the rest of the Thanksgiving dinner can be, too.

So much good stuff in today’s post … I learned so much from interviewing two turkey experts! Honestly, I’ve interviewed a lot of people over the years, but these two are my absolute favorites.

See you there! xo m 🦃

28

12 Fabulous Ways to Use Fresh Cranberries Starting Now and Throughout the Year

Fresh cranberries are available in supermarkets and grocery stores from October thru December—a very short season! Stock up on fresh cranberries during the fall season and freeze an amount that will last you through the year.  Store them right in the bags they come in and they’ll be good for up to 12 months. What to do with all those cranberries? I’m so glad you asked!

29

Spooky Tales of Scary Tricks Just Waiting to Be Played on You

Blood-curdling stories, tricks. and treats are all part of Halloween fun. But the last thing we expect are spooky tales from our friendly lenders, bankers, and credit card companies. So gather around while I tell you some scary tales of tricks waiting out there to be played on you!

30

October Is the Best Time to Score Bargains on These 12 Things

Oh how I love this time of year! Cooler weather, sweaters, scarves, pumpkin pie, and beautiful fall colors make this the very best time of year. For bargain hunters, October is the calm before the holiday shopping storm and that means the likelihood of finding super deals is high. Here’s are the great buys you can expect in October.

31

These 3-Ingredient Cakes are So Easy It’s Almost Scary

Just in time for the holidays, quite possibly the easiest, most versatile, amazingly delicious boxed cake hack ever to be discovered. I can’t take credit for this, it’s a basic hack I ran into while cruising the Internet—wait, I mean while doing exhaustive research!

I tried it. Again and again. I switched things up, came up with ways to hack the hack and well, it’s amazing. And did I say easy? It’s almost scary, like how can this work? But it does. And as a bonus, this is super budget-friendly, especially when the ingredients are on sale.

32

The Easiest Summer Barbecue Ever— Ribs, Beans, Slaw, Dessert

On the off chance that your fear-of-ruining-a-pile-of-ribs keeps your backyard grilling events stuck in hamburger mode, you can let those fears go!

That’s because you’re about to learn a fool-proof, easier-than-easy method for turning out perfect baby back ribs every time you give it a try. But wait! There’s more …

I hope these recipes come in handy just in case you’re planning to barbecue this weekend! See you there … Love, xo m

33

How to Cook Perfectly Boiled Eggs

Eggs. They’re nutritious, delicious and cheap! And who’s not thinking eggs right about now as we head into Easter Weekend!

Cooking boiled eggs properly—Easter eggs, ramen eggs, deviled eggs—is quite simple and foolproof, provided you know the secrets.

34

A Simple Meal to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

I can count on the simple ingredients in this meal to be on sale just when I need them, in early March. When you see corned beef, potatoes, cabbage, and carrots on sale, stock up.

Corned beef in its original sealed plastic freezes well for up to 6 months. This is a meal you will want to repeat often.

35

Great Dates for Couples on a Tight Budget

Wallet a little thin this Valentine season? That shouldn’t mean you cancel all dates until things begin to look up in the finance department. The solution is to get creative, to find reasonable and fun alternatives that require only pocket change and the right attitude—or with any luck, some that are absolutely free …

36

6 Fabulous Last-Minute Gift Ideas

Need a last-minute gift for a neighbor, friend, a beloved teacher, or anyone else on your gift list? Here are six great ideas that won’t take much time, and certainly won’t break the bank …

37

Gift-Worthy Caramel Corn Just in Time for the Holidays

For years, I’d attempted to make caramel corn, without success. It was either too soggy or too chewy. Or the caramel turned sugary. Once, I needed a hammer and chisel to get the stuff out of the bowl.

I had really given up until my encounter with Popcornopolis. I had to figure this out―I had to find a way to create a reasonable facsimile in my kitchen that would hit the mark without breaking the bank.

I am excited to let you know is that I believe I have … oh my, yes! The recipe, instructions, and very important final step, all of that in today’s post ….

See you there! Love, Mary 👌❤️

39

Christmas Holiday Tips, Tricks, Hacks

I am enjoying the unique holiday tips and tricks readers have been sending my way, to be shared with you. Over and again, I find myself saying, Wow! Why didn’t I think that? …

P.S. Was this forwarded to you? Sign up here.

40

Gift-Giving: What’s the Point?

The simple act of gift-giving has become extremely complicated. I blame that on the consumer credit industry.

Think about it: You can be completely broke but still spend thousands of dollars on Christmas gifts—and believe it is not only your right, but that you are obligated to do it. It’s a lot of pressure.

43

How to Make Easy 3-Ingredients Party Dips

Delicious hot, cold, savory, spicy, and even sweet dips—an amazing variety sure to please all—beautifully arranged so that everyone can easily graze through the evening. All said dips need to be quick and easy to make, too, requiring only 3-ingredients (all available in local grocery and supermarkets).

44

Free Printables Make Halloween Super Fun

BOO!! No matter the kind of celebration you’ll be seeing this year, these Halloween printables for decorating, playing games, coloring, carving, and crafting will keep you and the kids busy. Best to start early. Print exactly what you want—free and easy!

45

This is By Far the Best Way to Sell Gift Cards for Cash

Receiving gift cards can be great if they are your heart’s desire. But not so great if that’s a card you are not likely to use.

If you’d rather have the cash, I have great news for you in today’s post. There is a way that you can turn that card into hard, cold CASH! See you there ….

Love, Mary 💰

46

12 Ways to Make it Christmas in July

Ahhh, summer. The days are long, the grass is green, the livin’ is easy and the last thing on your mind is Christmas in July.

While I hate to throw cold water on your barbecue, I need to warn you about something. The holidays are just a few short months away and if there’s anything we’ve learned in the past, Christmas can creep up on you like a too-tight swimsuit.

Blame it on SSAS—Severe Selective Amnesia Syndrome. People who suffer from this condition fall into some kind of seasonal coma. And it’s little wonder. For many, Christmas is no longer the most blessed, but the most stressed time of the year. And expensive.

Somehow we all manage to get through it, many with a pile of new debt. And who among us hasn’t begun the New Year vowing: Next year I’m starting earlier!

Whether you’re into getting started this early or not—I’ve got some great ideas for simple things you can do to celebrate Christmas in July. Come on … it’ll be fun!

See you there, Love xo m 🎄

47

A Mishmash of Christmas Ideas and Holiday Tips

Good news! Another Black Friday is in the books. You survived—unscathed I hope. If you bag some amazing bargains without going into debt—great. Me? Just as planned, I stayed home, cleaned up from Thanksgiving. Today? My husband and I will put up the tree and dress the house for Christmas! I’m so excited.

I’ve got a bunch of my favorite tips to share into today’s post. With any luck, they will trigger your best tips and tricks, which I hope you’ll share in the comments! See you there … Love, m xo 🎄

P.S. We got 16-inches of snow a few days ago—so beautiful! But it’s so cold, the snow has not begun to melt. More snow expected today. I love this, and here’s why: We live where we work, or maybe better stated—we work where we live. Either way, we only leave the house if we want to, not because we have to.

P.P.S. We own two businesses (one each) and have just completed construction on our new offices, complete with a most spectacular view of the golf course and the Rocky Mountains. If that sounds fabulous, it is! How can we do this? One reason: We have no debt—none. It wasn’t always that way, as you may know about me and my dark financial past—a story for another time.

48

How to Avoid Christmas Debt When You’re Short on Cash

And just like that, we’re headlong into the most wonderful time of the year, when I challenge you to make it a debt-free Christmas. Because there are few things that feel as good as facing the New Year knowing that everything is paid in full—no Christmas debt to hit you in the face come mid-January. […]

49

8 Creative Gift Ideas for Graduates You Know and Love

As you consider gifts for the grads on your list, think of that person’s “next step.” For a high-school grad, perhaps it’s college. For a college grad, it’s a job, apartment or grad school. The next step may be pulling long hours preparing for a state bar exam or taking a trip abroad. Select a gift […]

50

9 Ideas for a Frugal (Not Cheap!) Wedding

In 27 years, I cannot recall a single time I’ve heard from a bride or groom saying they wished they’d spent more money on their wedding.

The best wedding mail comes from frugal brides and grooms who are anxious to share their fabulous frugal ideas with future couples!

51

This Halloween Go Cheap

I have no one to blame but myself that our boys grew up favoring Halloween over all other holidays—with the possible exception of Christmas. From the time they could walk, I poured my heart and soul into ensuring they had the best costumes. One year we had Popeyes-a-Pair (two tiny boys dressed identically as the […]

52

Perfect Homemade Vanilla Extract

Every year about this time I start scrambling for gift ideas for my long list of friends, neighbors and colleagues. I have criteria. The gift has to be homemade and easily mass produced. It needs to be consumable, attractive and appeal to a wide range of tastes. And above all, it needs to be affordable. Everyday […]

53

Oh, Christmas Tree!

As tempting as a pricey, artificial pre-lit Christmas tree may be, few things about the holidays are as satisfying as a fresh, real Christmas tree. Fresh test. Gently grasp a branch between your thumb and forefinger and pull it toward you. Very few needles should come off in your hand if the tree is fresh. Shake […]

54

Do You Hear the Bells?

It was 1859 and Charles Dickens starts his classic A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of […]

55

Don’t Fuss About the X in Xmas

Every year about this time I get a dozen or so, shall we say, “emotionally packed” messages from people wanting to take me to task for referring to Christmas as “Xmas.” I’ve received more than my share of angry messages given the few times I have actually made this reference in print. Even though my […]