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Feeling Crafty? You’re not alone. As a country, we have rekindled our love through the Arts and Crafts made in America. From knitted scarves to ceramic birdhouses to felted baby booties, American’s are getting more and more hands on.
According to a 2011 Craft & Hobby Association report, more than half of U.S. households take part in at least one crafting activity, whether it’s canning, sewing baby booties from scraps of felt, fashioning coffee clay mugs,  to our young kids making the newest craze fun loom bracelets. Did you know American’s spend more than $29 billion a year on crafting-a figure that has remained pretty stable in spite of the wobbly economy.
People are creating personalized things rather than going out and spending money on the same items, says Keri Cunningham, the association’s director of marketing. “When life is crazy, it’s good to take time to do something that relaxes them.”
New things are being learned everyday in the crafting world. At skills fair in Seattle this year participants learned to make soap, nut milks, and solar cookers. People are recognizing the joy and satisfaction and security of being able to provide for our own needs, proclaimed a flyer for the event. It is kind of like relearning the skills our grandparents knew!
Crafting is not just good for the soul; it’s also good for the body and mind, according to researchers at the University of Florida’s Center for Arts in Medicine. So if you have a burning desire to do a craft find what you are good at and do it. You might make it your next full time job. The most important part is enjoy what you make and do every day.

Article provided by Parade and Teri Reuvers


Here are some more ways to save that you may not have thought of.

· Start a budget, stick to it:  This may seem like an obvious tip on how to save, but it’s something that not a ton of people do. Just keeping track of where your money is going has a tendency to help you realize a lot of areas that you can save.

· Wash your own car:  Instead of going to the car wash and spending between $15-30 every time you go, wash your own car!

· Do your own maintenance: If you’re handy with all things automotive, change your own oil to save on a trip to the service station.  Maintain your own home appliances with help from the internet!

· Stop a bad habit:  Are you a smoker?  Quit! It’s better for your  health and will save a ton of money.  Drink lots of soda?  Stop! Drink more water instead.

· Don’t pay for extras:  Renting a car? Don’t pay for the extra insurance if your own insurance covers it.  Going on a flight? Don’t pay for first class, but try to get an exit row with extra leg room instead.

· Save by reducing your taxable income:  Take advantage of deductions, make deductible contributions to retirement accounts or increase amount sent to flexible spending or health savings accounts.

This list is just the beginning. Saving money can really become a way of life if you want it to be. You just have to be creative, have a reason and a goal for why you’re trying to save, and think consciously about the decisions that you’re making.

October has always been my favorite month. It’s the time of year when the leaves start to change into beautiful shades of red and orange and the word “pumpkin” is in front of everything from candles to hot drinks. It’s also the month that parents turn into Inspector Gadget trying to purchase Halloween costumes without dipping into college savings.
Coming up with kids’ Halloween costume ideas is never easy. Throw saving money into the mix, and it gets even more difficult. As my son gets older, he’s starting to take more of an interest in dressing up, so I’ve become quite creative in finding ways to make sure his wishes match my wallet. Before you head to the store, it’s important to have a costume idea or theme in mind. This will help eliminate overspending and endless hours in aisles.
Here are some tips on how you can make your child’s Halloween dreams come true without taking a financial hit.
Thrift Stores
In recent years, I’ve noticed more thrift stores creating special displays just for Halloween decor and costumes. You may be able to find a complete costume (sometimes with the tags still on!) or find accessories to complement a costume. Make sure to go with an idea of what you will need to complete the costume or you could spend all day sifting through the racks to find a good match.
Consignment Stores
Consignment stores are a great budget-friendly option because you can bring last year’s costume and put some of that money toward this year’s. I frequently used consignment stores when my son was a toddler because he was growing so fast and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on something he’d only wear once. Consignment stores may have special Halloween costume shopping events, coupons or swaps. Make sure you are on their mailing lists to stay in the loop for last-minute offers.
Last year was the first year I made my son’s costume — a buttery box of popcorn.  All of the materials were items I had in my home. I used a large cardboard box, red and white duct tape, a packet of microwaveable popcorn, a sheet of paper and a glue gun. My project began with cutting a neck and arm holes in the box to fit my son. Using the red and white duct tape, I created vertical stripes around the box.  I microwaved popcorn and hot-glued it to the top of the box. Using my computer and printer, I made a sign that said “popcorn” to glue to the front of the box. It was a big hit, and it only took me an hour to make.
There are so many tutorials online for how to make costumes using items you may already have in your home or can pick up at your local dollar store. Plus, not only are DIY costumes easy on the wallet, but they’re a greener Halloween option, too!
Costume Swap
This is a great opportunity to tap into your social network and help other families who may be scrambling for costumes.  You can start with your child’s classroom, a parenting group, or their soccer team to see if anyone else has items to donate. You could host a costume swap at a local library or community center for two hours on a Saturday afternoon. Invite community members to bring gently used costumes and they’ll hopefully leave with a new one. Anything left over can be donated to a charity or thrift store.


Another thing you can do to save money is to get creative and do things that others may not have thought of doing to save money. Here are a few things I came up with.

Make your own laundry or dish detergent: My friend Matt over at DIYNatural put together a tutorial on how to    make your own laundry detergent or dish soap.

Re-use old clothes: Find ways to re-use old clothes instead of tossing them. Use old t-shirts to wash your car, use old jeans to make a new purse or bag.

Make your own gifts: Instead of buying mom that expensive gift, make something from the heart.  Think things like a photo collage of shared good times, inexpensive gift basket.

Grow your own vegetables: Build a square foot garden and grow your own vegetables, cutting down your grocery bill.

Buy used or re-purpose:  Instead of buying things like furniture new, buy it cheap or get it free online through a site like Craigslist.  Or re-purpose furniture you already have.

Ask for a discount: Even if you don’t have a coupon or listed savings, ask for a discount – even at places you wouldn’t expect.  A while ago we saved 10% on our hospital bill just by asking and paying in cash.

Buy groceries direct from the farmer:  Are you near some local farms, or have a farmer’s market near you? Try buying fresh veggies – direct from the source.

Negotiate your rent:  Try negotiating your rent to save money by signing a longer lease, pre-paying rent or offering to cut the grass in return for lower rent.

Buy quality:  Buy things for quality, instead of buying the cheapest. In the long run you can save money because you don’t have to buy a new item as often.

Borrow or share things you need:  Instead of buying something you need, borrow it from a neighbor, or everyone pitch in and share the item.

Hang your clothes out to dry: Instead of using a dryer, save by hanging your clothes on a clothesline

  There are times when money just tends to leak away because we’ve spent money somewhere without thinking about it, or because there are hidden costs that we didn’t even realize were there. Here are a few to be aware of or to look for in your own house.

· Buying coffee on your way to work: I’m extremely guilty of this one. I tend to just spend money on coffee on my way to work several times a week. I’ve recently started cutting back on this and instead buying great micro-roasted coffee to make at home instead, and it saves a ton of money.

· Hobby spending: Do you collect comic books, leather-bound volumes of great literary works or play a ton of video games?  Whatever your hobby, you can often spend a ton of money every month on buying the latest and best associated with your hobby.  You don’t need to cut it out completely, but cutting back on how much you can spend can save, and you’ll have more money for other things.

· Bank fees:  Avoiding overdraft fees, other network ATM fees and other assorted bank fees shouldn’t be too hard, but it’s a problem for a lot of people. To save make sure you’re reconciling your accounts regularly, and make sure that you always know how much money you have by using a personal finance tool like

· Buying things for others:  If you’re naturally a giver you may have a tendency to overspend on gifts for other people. It feels good to give gifts to people, but we can easily over-do it.  Instead, try your hand at giving more creative and frugal gifts, or giving the gift of time or an experience with your friend or family member.

· Paying full price:  There’s no excuse for paying full price for things when there are sites like RetailMeNot.comEbates and to give you coupons, discounts, rebates and more.  Just last night my family and I got one of our pizzas for free when we used a coupon we found online.  Make sure to do your research and do a quick search and find discounts on the things you buy.

· Unused credit card rewards:  A lot of people have credit card rewards saved up that never get used. Things like points for trips, cash back savings and points to get gift cards and more.  Make sure that if you’re going to use one of these cards, that you actually use the rewards.

· Unused gift cards: People will get gift cards for birthdays and holidays, but then they sit in a drawer, in a purse or in a wallet without being used. Don’t forget to use those gift cards, or at least sell it online and get some money out of it!  Otherwise you’re spending money you don’t need to!

· Missed tax deductions: When it comes to tax time a lot of people miss out on savings because they didn’t take deductions that they were entitled to. For example, they don’t take deductions for charity donations. Instead, make sure to keep track of your deductions using a tool like It’sHYPERLINK "" Deductible, and save on your taxes!

· Eating out too much:  At our house our dining out budget is one of our biggest problem areas.  Just by cutting the number times we eat out in half can save us hundreds!  When you do eat out, don’t forget to use coupons and discounts!

· Getting drinks:  When  you eat out or go out with friends your bar tab can quickly get out of hand. Instead of drinking all night, stay in control, and only get one or two drinks.  Or just get water!

· Not taking advantage of available discounts: Sometimes people forget to take advantage of discounts that are available for products and services through their employer or other avenues. For example, many employer health plans have discounts available on gym memberships if you go to the gym a certain number of times every month.   Take advantage!

· Paying a bill despite being overcharged:  Make sure to keep track of your monthly bills and know what you’re paying for. Often unknown charges can sneak into your statement if you’re not paying attention. I recently discovered an erroneous increase of $5/month on my satellite TV bill.  After complaining to their support repeatedly, they reversed the charges.

· Having too much coverage and high premiums: Some people have too much coverage when it comes to insurance of one type or another when they could easily get by with a lesser plan with higher deductibles.  Cut your premiums by getting less coverage, and accepting higher deductibles.

· Buying brand names:  Quite often people will buy brand names just because they have always done that. In reality the generic brand is often just as good or even better than the brand name item.

· Buy less of things that spoil:  When buying groceries think about what types of things tend to go bad at your house, or that end up spoiling before you eat them.  Buy less of that item, or cut it out all together.

· Candy from the vending machine:  There are times during the workday that you get hungry and just HAVE to go and buy something from the vending machine. If you’re doing this every day, however, it can add up – and take a toll on your health.  Instead buy some of your own tasty and healthy snacks to stock up on at work.

· Impulse buys: If you’re one of those people who likes to buy things on impulse, rein yourself in and make a rule that you can only buy something after a waiting period of at least 24 hours, if not longer like 30 days.

· Allowing too much money to sit idle in your checking: At times I’ve been guilty of allowing too much cash to build up in my checking, instead of investing it or putting it in a higher yielding savings account.  Put your money to work!

· Buying DVDs, video games or books:  One thing I used to do quite a bit was to buy DVDs of movies that I never ended up watching, or buying a ton of books that I never read more than once. Instead of buying, rent or stream the movies you want to watch, rent video games and get books or ebooksHYPERLINK "" from your local library!

· Not figuring out why a bill has gone up:  Sometimes a bill may increase, but you just accept it.  Instead, figure out why your utility bill has gone up. Is there a problem with a your water heater?  Filter needs replacing? Or did you leave a window open in the unused room upstairs?  Ask why.

· Cancel un-needed memberships or subscriptions:  If you’re subscribed to a magazine but don’t read it very often, cancel it. If you’ve got a membership to a wholesale club but haven’t been in two years, cut up the card.  Haven’t watched a HYPERLINK ""netflixHYPERLINK "" movie in weeks?  Put your membership on hold