52 Weeks Savings Plan: Watch for these February bargains

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If you’ve been following the 52 Week Savings Plan, you should have a whopping $10 set aside. Don’t worry, that little bundle of money will continue to grow! Each month I’ll be sharing tips for making the most of the money you have to enable that nest egg to grow and grow and grow. If […]

Preparedness Items to Buy at End of Winter Sales

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Preparedness Items to Buy at End of Winter Sales The end of the years sales are great times to get tons of items. One of the things my wife and I enjoy shopping for Christmas decorations. When we are out together we like to comb the 75% off racks for these items. Of course, there …

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U.S. Auto Sales Plunge Dramatically As The Consumer Debt Bubble Continues To Collapse

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U.S. Auto Sales Plunge Dramatically As The Consumer Debt Bubble Continues To Collapse Its not easy to write even a decent article about the economics of our very complicated economy. This article takes a look at car loans and the $199 trillion dollar debt bubble that has been built of these subprime car loans. Have …

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States agree on gun control code. AUSTRALIA.

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States agree on gun control code

Author: ANDREW DARBY, GERARD RYLE
Date: 26/05/1995
Words: 590

   


   

Publication: The Age
Page: 3

Hobart.

The states took a tentative step towards uniform gun laws yesterday when police ministers agreed to establish a national gun-control code on shooter licensing, mail-order sale, safety training and secure storage.

The Federal Government will also further restrict the importation of ammunition and machine pistols. But those attending the Australian Police Ministers Council yesterday left unresolved a national argument on the registration of all guns.

The federal Justice Minister, Mr Kerr, described yesterday’s code decision as “a step towards uniformity”.

He said quick responses to shooting tragedies in different states in recent years had led to ad hoc, potentially conflicting standards. Now ministers had set up a mechanism to take a more considered, long-term view.

Mr Kerr said the latest statistics showed that in 1993, only about 70 of Australia’s 526 firearm deaths involved violent crime.

The planned code was welcomed by Victoria’s Police Minister, Mr McNamara, as the most significant improvement in decades, and one that would remedy Victorian concerns about the effect of more relaxed laws in other states.

“It’s the hoons and lunatics that everyone wants to see firearms removed from,” he said. “We need to look at measures where we can more closely interact with mental health authorities so that we can identify persons who should be prohibited from obtaining firearms.”

The NSW Police Minister, Mr Paul Whelan, did not attend the meeting and is awaiting a briefing. Mr Kerr was confident that NSW and the other absent states, Queensland and the Northern Territory, would agree with the proposals.

While all jurisdictions now follow the principle that firearms be securely stored, the provision was variously interpreted. A Western Australian model is being proposed in which guns must be kept in steel cabinets with separate lockable ammunition storage.

The Victorian Justice Department is to coordinate the development of the code, which will be put before the next Police Ministers’ Council meeting in Tasmania in November.

The Commonwealth’s tightening of imports will outlaw a variety of ammunition, including military ammunition greater than 12.7mm, tracer bullets, armour-piercing and flechette ammunition.

Imports of standard hollow-point and soft-nosed ammunition will still be allowed, but a prohibition on military-style weapons will be extended to pistols configured as semi-automatic machineguns.

The president of the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, Mr Ted Drane, said there were up to four million licensed shooters who ought to be consulted before changes were made to gun laws.

“We will never have national gun registration because that would mean that too many people (politicians) would lose their seats if they did in places like Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania,” he said.

A spokesman said Victoria’s chief commissioner of police, Mr Neil Comrie, said he supported uniform gun laws.

THE PROPOSED GUN CONTROL CODE.

Recognition of licensing, perhaps with a categorisation system.

Control of mail order firearm sales.

Firearm safety training standards.

Pistol registration methods.

Secure storage standards.

Regulations governing types of ammunition are to be tightened.

Top 18 Holiday Bargains for Stocking Up

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The holidays are the perfect time for stocking up! Here are 18 bargains to look for. | via www.TheSurvivalMom.comBeginning in October every year, grocery stores begin prominently displaying all types of food typically used in holiday cooking and baking. Every grocery store I’ve been to in the past couple of months has their holiday bargains right out front and center.

For Survival Moms who want to stock up their food pantry, this is an ideal time to take advantage of the coupons and sales that also come at this time of year. Today I took a look at this week’s grocery ads, and here’s a master list of items you may want to grab before the holiday season ends.

  • Ham and Turkey
    • Both of these can be frozen and/or canned to provide meals well into the New Year. A frozen turkey can remain frozen and still be safe to eat for up to a year. 
    • Stuck with a lot of leftover ham or turkey? Here’s a list of great recipes for turkey and more for ham that will give you something fresh and delicious to make with those leftovers.
  • Fresh oranges
    • Once the orange has been eaten, dry the peels and create your own orange zest for recipes throughout the year. If you end up with more zest than you think you’ll use within 6 months or so, use a Food Saver to vacuum seal the remaining zest in a pouch for longer term storage.
    • Speaking of a vacuum sealer, I highly recommend that you use it for vacuum sealing canning jars filled with foods of all kinds. It really is a must-have for a prepper’s kitchen.
  • Coffee
    • Grocery stores know that coffee is part of holiday entertaining, so you’re going to find lots of coffee brands on sale. Coffee beans, and especially green, unroasted coffee beans, will have the longest shelf life, but you can still repackage both beans and ground coffee in canning jars using the Food Saver jar attachment to suck out all the air/oxygen or seal the coffee in plastic pouches using your vacuum sealer.
    • Coffee is definitely worth stocking up on, but be sure to keep it stored in a cool, dark, and dry location. Even so, it will have its freshest flavor if used within just a couple of months.
  • Nuts
    • Again, this is the season for baking all types of treats and many of my favorite recipes include nuts. You’ll find nuts on sale but keep an eye on prices because they are still generally a higher priced grocery item.
    • If you do find a bargain, store those nuts in a cool, dry, dark location, and, if possible, vacuum pack them using a Food Saver. This will help the nuts stay fresh and stave off their tendency to go rancid.
  • Fresh fruit
    • Depending on where you live, you may find low prices on blueberries, blackberries, pomegranates, pineapple, oranges, and a lot more.
    • Dehydrating fruit is very simple and food dehydrators don’t have to cost a lot of money. I found mine on Craigslist several years ago for $30 and it still works fine. The Excalibur dehydrator is considered top of the line, and maybe if you have Christmas gift money, this might be a good time to buy!
    • You can also freeze fruit and even can it, so stocking up now on fruits that are in season is a very smart thing to do. Just make sure you budget your time so all that yummy stuff won’t rot during an especially busy time of year.
  • Butter
    • Right now my favorite grocery store has a pound of butter for $2.50. That’s the lowest price I’ve seen in a while. Butter can easily be frozen, at one time I had 40 pounds of it in our big freezer!
    • I’ve heard of canning butter but am not convinced it’s the safest thing to do.
  • Alcohol
    • Call me crazy, but it never hurts to have a few bottles of whisky or vodka around. Even if you’re not much of a drinker, vodka can be useful in making tinctures and from what I’ve heard, whiskey has medicinal uses as well. This article explains why preppers should stock up on alcohol.
    • If you’re thinking of stocking up on bottles of alcohol as a product for barter, stick with hard liquor: vodka, gin, tequila, rum, whiskey and brandy, as they can all have indefinite shelf lives.
    • Learn how to make your own wine with instructions from a book like this one
  • Potatoes, both fresh and instant
    • Potatoes can be peeled, sliced, and dehydrated by following these steps.
    • When stored in a very cool location, around 45 to 50 degrees, they can stay fresh for up to 3 months.
    • Instant mashed potatoes come in handy for quick meals. However, they will need to be repackaged for a longer shelf life. Read these instructions. Once repackaged, I highly recommend placing them in the freezer for at least a week in order to kill any microscopic insect eggs that might be present.
    • Here’s a terrific collection of awesome potato recipes.
  • Canned vegetables
    • Store these in a cool location and they can last for more than a year. Do circle the “Best By” date and then open a can every so often to check for color and flavor.
    • You can always drain the veggies and dry them on your dehydrator trays for even longer shelf life.
  • Over-the-Counter meds for coughs and cold symptoms
    • These generally have a shelf life of more than a year.
    • During the winter months, you’ll also find coupons for these for added savings.
  • Batteries
    • Retailers aren’t stupid. They know that for every battery-operated gift purchased, someone is going to need batteries! Keep an eye out for coupons and combine them with store sales.
    • Batteries are among the most useful items you can stock up on, so go crazy when you find a really good deal!
  • Not-just-for-Christmas wrapping paper
    • Who said that white wrapping paper with red polka dots is just for Christmas? When you find wrapping paper that will be perfectly fine throughout the year, buy it!
  • Gravy and gravy mixes
    • There’s nothing like homemade gravy, but there’s also nothing handier than opening a jar of gravy and pouring it over mashed potatoes! A few jars of gravy in the pantry just might save dinner one day soon!
    • Gravy packets are great as a stock-up item. They have very long shelf lives, can be prepared quickly, and can make items as plain as white rice pretty tasty. I recommend a stash of these for a bare-bones food storage plan like this one.
  • Frozen pies
    • Now, you wouldn’t ordinarily think of a pie when it comes to stocking up, but one or two in the freezer can come in handy.
    • Think about any special occasions coming up, potlucks, parties — any even where you might have to make dessert. Now think about how busy you’re going to be this year. A frozen pie looks like a better and better idea, doesn’t it?
  • Baking staples
    • Sugar, flour, baking powder, chocolate chips — you’ll find all these and a lot more on sale. And, all of them can be stored long-term.
    • Flour, in particular, must be repackaged. Read this to learn how.
    • Watch this video to learn how to store things like chocolate chips, shortening, and candy.
  • Snack foods
    • Grocery stores know that serving appetizers and snacks are a part of the holidays. You’ll find things like Triscuits and other crackers on sale, along with pretzels and chips. If you find these at a great price, stock up and plan on portioning them into snack bags for your kids’ lunches.
  • Chex cereals
    • Everybody and their dog is going to be making one variation of Chex mix or another, so why not stock up on several boxes for breakfasts or other recipes?
    • If you want to store Chex or any other cereal for long term, follow the instructions in the video I mentioned above or package the cereal in mylar bags with an oxygen absorber. This package includes both the bags and the absorbers.
  • Canned soups
    • Like most other canned foods, soups can have a long shelf life if stored in a cool location.
    • Buy soup flavors that your family members enjoy and soups that you normally use in recipes.

What other foods that are on sale during the holidays do you stock up on?

December deals bring the year to a close

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52 weeks savings plan December

This is the final month of the 52 Weeks Savings Plan!

The year ends with a month full of celebrations and deals. Remnants of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday may be found at the beginning of the month, which then moves to Hanukkah starting on Dec. 6, Winter Solstice on the 22nd, Christmas (25), Kwanzaa (26) and New Year’s Eve (31). Not to mention holiday festivities, get-togethers and winter weather all month long. Here are some of the things you could find deals on this month:

Grocery deals

There will be deals on feast items for post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas and post-Christmas. Discounts will vary, but you’ll find them both before and after each holiday. You will find the following on sale: Ham, turkey, butter, spices, dried fruit, baking supplies like flour, sugar and yeast, cheese, pie crusts and dough, pies and filling, nuts, cake mixes and frosting, oatmeal and soda. Holiday specialty items like eggnog, cider, gravy, stuffing and boxed potatoes will also be on sale. If you do a lot of baking year-round, stock up on those ingredients, both from scratch ingredients and mixes.

TIP: You’ll almost certainly end up with leftover ham and/or turkey. Read my tips for putting those leftovers to work in creative and delicious ways.

Another food item on sale in December is canned goods, which can help stock up a personal food pantry or the local food pantry to help those in need. You will see sales on soup, canned meat, vegetables and sauces. These are all worth buying for stocking-up purposes as canned foods, when kept in a cool location, have a very long shelf life.

Produce in season for the winter can vary by location. However, citrus fruits, winter squash, kale, chard, mustard greens, collard greens and turnips are in season. Putting nuts and citrus fruit together in a basket can make a great gift.

You will also see deals on champagne as it gets close to the end of the month for New Year’s Eve celebrations. Since champagne has a shelf life of at least 5 years, stock up and cheers!

Household deals

There may still be some Thanksgiving and fall decorations, crafts and table setting items on sale that can be used for other occasions during the year or for next year. There should be deals on disposable baking pans and plastic wrap so you can stock up on that for the kitchen. Foil is a great thing to have on hand for outside cooking. There will also be some deals on cookware and kitchen appliances. Stores know people will be doing a lot of cooking and will try to lure them into the store with those deals.

For electronics, December is a great time to find deals on TVs, computers, cellphones, camcorders, GPS units, and many electronics in general. Anything with a camera or video camera can be very useful when you need to document household inventory for insurance or if there is any damage to your home or property. Computers and tablets are great places to stock up on reference books and PDFs. December is also a great time to stock up on batteries for electronics (put some in the bug out bags, too).

TIP: Stores often try to get rid of showroom models at the end of the year to make room for new inventory. Ask if there are any showroom models available for purchase.

For gifts, a lot of jewelry is on sale in December. You can also find toys, gift sets and board games. Restaurants that have gift cards offer some great deals, too, such as buy a $25 gift card and get a $5 one free. You may also find some deals by visiting local craft fairs. Sometimes, they may offer you items that aren’t necessarily cheaper than a store, but could save you shipping and it supports people in your local economy.

Winter clothes and coats start going on sale in December in a lot of places because people already have their coats set for the season. Consider buying the next size up if you have children or get some extras to stash in vehicles or bug out containers.

If you are considering fixing up your house, this is the month to buy carpeting, flooring and tools. Some tools, such as hammers and shovels, are great to keep in a vehicle for the winter season. Can you really ever have enough tools, and they make great gifts.

Thrift stores often have discounted items over the holidays as they see more things coming into their stores. Many people would rather donate items than sell them during the holidays due to weather and lack of time, and some people are selling off unwanted items via Craigslist or consignment stores in order to raise a little extra cash for their own holiday spending.

Outside the home

Outdoor sports equipment is on sale during winter since it’s out of season. Think your children might join soccer in the summer? Buy the gear now. Pools, pool gear and golf equipment should all have some good discounts. Outdoor patio equipment, including gas grills, are in the same boat. Cooking with a gas grill can be a great backup cooking method for when you face a possible power outage.

Cars, motorcycles and bicycles are also on sale in December. Check out the deals at a local dealership this month if you think you need a new or replacement car. Make sure it can fit everything your family needs in case you ever need to evacuate. Bicycles are another alternative if you had to leave your home and the roads or damaged.

TIP: You may not be thinking “emergency evacuations” right now, but winter is a common time for power outages and devastating storms. Check out my newest book, all about this topic!

If you are in the market for a house, the winter months can create motivated sellers. There is sometimes a drop in people looking for homes during the winter because it’s cold and they would rather not move during the school year. Take advantage and see if you can find someone who has been trying to sell since the summer. Families with children are in a hurry to move and get their kids settled into a new school, so if you are pre-qualified and can move quickly, you may end up in the house of your dreams!

Travel

You can find travel deals in December by thinking of where most people want to go in the summer. Look at beach locations for a great deal. Weddings get cheaper in the fall and winter as most people try to have spring and summer weddings. We personally got a great deal for our honeymoon with a stay at a 5-star resort because it was a few days before Christmas and it was their slow season.

You can sometimes find good airfare prices for travel between Thanksgiving and Dec. 20 because most people stay home between the holidays.

December events

Did you know there are occasional “Leap Seconds” added to the official year? On December 31, 2015, the folks who maintain the official time for the planet will add an extra second to the day.

Some stores and restaurants like to participate in specific special days, so keep an eye out for deals on the following days:

1 – Eat a red apple day

7 – Cotton candy day

8 – Brownie day

9 – Pastry day

13 – Ice cream day

16 – Chocolate-covered anything day

17 – Maple Syrup day

18 – Bake cookies day

19 – Oatmeal muffin day

24 – Chocolate day

25 – Pumpkin pie day

27 – Fruitcake day

Winter tips to help your 52 Weeks Savings Plan

This is also the time of year when food and toy drives kick off. There are many people in need around us. If you find a good deal, it can be a good idea to pass it along to someone who needs it more.

Some family winter activities that don’t cost a lot of money are going to see Christmas lights in different neighborhoods, go on a walk while drinking hot chocolate, have snowman building contest and see what local festivals and tree lighting events are in your area. One year we printed out certificates labeled, “Best Christmas Lights”, “Most Creative Christmas Lights” and “Best Religious Display”, rode our bikes through our neighborhood one night, and awarded those certificates to unsuspecting neighbors!

There is one month left to make deposits in retirement accounts, decide how to spend health savings account money and make donations for a tax write-off.

If you followed the 52 Weeks Savings Plan, you will have $1,378 by the end of the month – congratulations! If you haven’t been able to put that amount away, be proud of what you did save this year and start planning for next year. Saving money can take some planning and determination, but it can be done!

TIP: Make a list of all the presents you plan to give in the next year and keep an eye our all year for possible gifts when there are deals rather than buying something at full price at the last minute. Think of holidays, graduations, weddings, baby showers, teacher thank yous and hostess gifts, along with birthdays and Christmas.

Learn more…

  • Check out my monthly series of past articles, “52 Weeks Savings”, with discounts, bargains, and deals for each month of the year. Here’s a sample month for June’s best bargains.
  • Learn more about the 52 Weeks Savings Challenge here and customize it to your own income and circumstances with these tips.
  • Join Survival Mom’s 52 Weeks Savings Club on Facebook. We’re over 2500 members and going strong!
  • Dave Ramsey has solid advice for taking control of your finances. I recommend his basic book, The Total Money Makeover for an easy-to-follow plan and a quick, motivational read.

52 Weeks Savings Plan: November is full of deals

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52 weeks savingsIf you are a bargain shopper, then November is probably your favorite month. The month begins and ends with holiday deals and it features a weekend dedicated to sales – Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday.

November’s main holiday is Thanksgiving (Nov. 26), but also features Election Day (3), Veterans Day (11), Children’s Day (20) and the start of advent (Nov. 29).

Take some time at the beginning of this month to set aside a holiday gift plan and budget. Then, if you see some deals on gifts you want to buy, you can save money.

Grocery and food deals

At the beginning of November, you can stock up on candy for the entire year for cheap as Halloween items go on sale. As stores stock up for the Thanksgiving holidays, you should be able to find deals on turkey, baking supplies (sugar, flour, baker’s chocolate, chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk), pie crusts and ready-made dough, frozen pies, marshmallows, nuts, cheese, butter and turkey. You can also find deals on gravy, stuffing, potato and cranberry mixes .There will be deals both before and after the holiday on these items, so think about stocking up for your Christmas and New Year’s festivities when you find these items on sale. Spices, nuts, dried fruit, oatmeal and soup are also November food deals and these items are great for stocking up on for food storage.

In November, produce in season are: apples, artichokes, arugula, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, clementines, cranberries, garlic, kale, lettuce, onions, pears, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, squash, sweet potatoes, turnips. Many of these items can be frozen, canned or dehydrated. For the Survival Mom’s tips on long-term food storage here are instructions for doing that.

Thrive Life’s Black Friday Sale

One event that thousands of people look forward to ever  year are the huge savings that Thrive Life offers during their famous Black Friday sale. I’ve seen a preview of their biggest discounts and you won’t want to miss it!

Get to know Thrive Life at this link.

And, if you want to receive an alert and sales flyer with information about this event, just email your request to thrivelife@thesurvivalmom.com, and you won’t miss a thing!

Household items

To go along with the holiday cooking sales, items like aluminum foil, plastic wrap and disposable baking pans and liners should be on sale. Cookware also goes on sale in November. These can be a great item to stock up on for presents.

Halloween costumes, decoration, paper goods and baking sets will be on sale the first few days of the month. Costumes make for great presents for children who like to dress up. Some Halloween items can be used very creatively – read more here. Holiday gift sets and candles are some other gift ideas you can find deals on this month.

You’ll start seeing deals on baby products and toys in November, along with leftover summer shoes and wedding gear. Tools, carpeting and flooring will see discounts as people think about indoor home improvement projects.

Large appliances and kitchen items will be on sale since cooking is a big theme for the upcoming holidays and the stores are hoping to draw you in with sales on those items.

For electronics, camcorders, GPS navigation systems, TVs, DVDs and Blu-Ray Discs are on sale. Camcorders can be great for providing an inventory of your home’s items for insurance purposes (make sure the time/date stamp is correct). DVDs and Blu-Rays can make for great presents if you find great deals.

Outdoor items on sale

November can be a great time to plant trees in some locations and you can find trees, shrubs and bulbs on sale, along with some gardening gear if stores have any left. Outdoor furniture can be on deep discount, too.

Gas and charcoal grills are on sale and are a great way to cook if you lose power. Make sure to keep a propane tank full or have charcoal on hand if you do plan to use that in an emergency situation.

You can find discounts on bicycles, and they are a great way to bug out if your vehicle or the roads are disabled. They are on sale this month. See if you can find bike trailers to help hold supplies to take with you.

Black Friday Deals and Tips

You can’t talk about November without talking about Black Friday. Look for many gift items being marked down the weekend of Black Friday. Some of the main items that you will see every year are video games, movies, TVs, gift sets, clothing, winter gear and kitchen appliances. Stores will often have items that are on a deep discount for certain hours of the day.

It is not smart to go out shopping on Black Friday without a plan. If you do plan to go out, check the ads out online or in the newspaper on Thanksgiving, compare the ads with things you already know you want to buy and make a list of where you want to go. Set a budget and a time constraint. Try not to buy something you don’t need just because it’s a great deal.

Black Friday deals can be great for preparedness supplies on top of household items and gifts. If you take the time to take stock of what you have on hand and what you still need to be prepared for emergencies, you can add those items to your list of things to look for on sale.

If you don’t feel like going out on Black Friday, there is also Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday where you can support local business or shop from home in your pajamas and still find great deals.

November outings

Travel is only going to get more expensive as each day passes now. At some point, if you want to travel over the holidays, you may decide a road trip is more feasible for your budget. Here are 13 Tips to Survive Family Road Trips  and things to think about if you were to get stuck in your car for a while. One big way to save money on a road trip is to pack your own food and stock back up at grocery stores instead of eating at restaurants.

Weddings get cheaper in the fall and winter as most people try to have spring and summer weddings. We personally got a great deal for our honeymoon stay at a 5-star resort because it was a few days before Christmas and it was their slow season.

Fourth graders and their families can benefit from a free pass to any National Park by visiting www.everykidinapark.gov. The pass is good until Aug. 31, 2016.

November events

November is Child Safety Month, National Adoption Awareness Month, National Novel Writing Month and Peanut Butter Lovers Month.

Some stores and restaurants like to participate in specific special days, so keep an eye out for deals on the following days:

Nov. 2 – Deviled Egg Day

Nov. 3 – Sandwich Day

Nov. 7 – Book Lovers Day

Nov. 15 – America Recycles Day

Nov. 17 – Homemade Bread Day

Nov. 19 – Great American Smokeout

Nov. 25 – National Parfait Day

Winter tips

This is also the time of year when food and toy drives kick off. There are many people in need around us. If you find a good deal, it can be a good idea to pass it along to someone who needs it more.

As we move into winter, it’s a good time to do a walk around of your house and look for any repairs that need to be done before it gets too cold. Check on insulation, heating fuel for winter and a furnace tune-up. Consider hanging up hooks for Christmas decorations and Christmas lights (you don’t have to turn them on yet) before the temperatures get bitter cold. There are two months left to make deposits in retirement accounts, decide how to spend health savings account money and make donations for a tax write-off.

 

By the end of November, you should have $1,128 saved if you’re following the 52 Weeks Savings Plan (47 weeks). Don’t get discouraged if you’re not there yet. Putting away anything you have extra is an accomplishment in itself. Compare what you have now to what you have when you got started and be proud! Keep focusing every day on the things you can do and enjoy while keeping your long-term goal in sight.

Take advantage of November’s deals and enjoy summer. Come back next month to see what deals December offers to help you save AND prepare!

Holiday Gifts, Odds and Ends!

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Holiday Gifts, Odds and Ends!

Holiday Gifts, Odds and Ends chocolate-face-alamyI thought instead on one general theme, I would touch on several different things today. It’s fast approaching holiday time and it shows in all the markets. I enjoy baking for the holidays and giving holiday gifts of of food to people. This is a great thing to do and if you think about it, there are very few people who you can’t do this for.

10-22-15 original_Sam-Henderson-orange-marmalade2.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.336.252Baking is one method of gift giving and sharing, but I also make herbal tea gifts and holiday gifts of seasoning blends. Many people make “gifts in a jar”, these last a long time and people can make them after the holidays at their leisure. Consider doing something like this instead of spending money (that most people can’t afford) on traditional gifts. Of course, “traditional gift” is a misnomer, since food gifts are far older than what people have been giving for the last 20 years! Even children can be won over to gifts of food.

10-22-15 Santa+bag+groupWhen my nieces and nephews were young, I couldn’t afford to give them each a bought items as holiday gifts. So, I’d make them each their own “goodie bag”. I would sit and talk to them ahead of time about what their favorite things were…what jam, what pickle, what bread and what cookie. Then I would put together a bag of goodies that were their favorites.

Holiday Gifts, Odds and EndsNow, the one thing that every pre-adolescent and teen loves as holiday gifts is food, but what makes it special is that it is their OWN food. They can eat it in front of anyone and not have to share…they wouldn’t have to share if I’d given them a doll or truck, so I made that rule with the parents…no pinching the kids food! The kids got quite creative, learning what their parents hated (nuts, coconut, raisins etc) and would have me put it in their goodies. Then I would make labels for any jars or bags with “Melissa’s Cookies” or the like on it. Of course, said goodie bag was heavy on the cookies, but they were also personal, personalized and JUST what the kiddo wanted. You can be as creative as you want for all the people you give gifts to, but by making it yourself, you can know that it will be appreciated.

Now is the right time to start making your plans and lists to get the ingredients for the things that you will use for these gifts. It’s also the time that stores put many of the more expensive baking items on sale. I take this time to stock up on all of that stuff, there may come a day when it is hard to get. I know of no cocoa trees or coconut palms planted in the northeast, so I pay particular attention to items like this. Are they necessary to life? Absolutely not, but comfort food is important as well. A holiday should be special if your family celebrates them and will perk everyone up if you can make it special. I have had no problems keeping most baking items for 5 years, if I have vacuum packed them.

Holiday Gifts, Odds and EndsWhile you are searching for nifty gift items to make, check out recipes using dehydrated food, long term storage food and home made mixes. I was thinking that one of the habits I find hardest to shake, is the one where I want a “quick meal”. dehydrate2Store.com, has plenty of mix recipes you can make up. I’m planning on putting together quite a few mix packets for my storage. You take the base ingredients and put them in a vacuum bag. Before sealing the bag, you print out the recipe and put that in. Then you take the seasonings and late addition items and vacuum seal them in a smaller bag and add them to the big bag. Then seal the whole thing and label. You are making “quick meals” using your own stuff and get the best of both worlds!

Now is also a great time to stock up on turkey. Make sure you pick up a couple of extra birds while they are on sale. You can bake them a couple at a time and either freeze or can the meat for later. Don’t forget to cook the carcass down and can up the delicious broth you make from it. Ham too, is usually a bargain at this time and well worth getting more than one. I always wait until a few days before Christmas and pick up lots of hard candy (you can wait until the day after too). Hard candy will seal well and last for a long time. Hard candy is what our mothers and grandmothers gave us when we had a sore throat, instead of fancy cough drops.

Condensed and evaporated milk is also more available this time of the year and has a fairly long shelf life. While not my favorite way to drink milk, it can be done and is certainly good for baking. The cans will last several years on the shelf, so that makes it a good buy to me.

Holiday Gifts, Odds and Ends Christmas+for+Kids+Breakfast+0-1132914226-OTemporarily, prices are down on sugars and flour, these being staples, your should really stock up. Don’t forget the “fancy” sugars like brown and powdered, as they keep well if packaged right. I usually pick up both light brown and dark brown sugar. We use it on oatmeal around here, plus it has many different recipe uses. I know one of the most frustrating things is not to have on hand the one item in a recipe that is vital!

When you are out doing all of this shopping, another thing to look for is flavorings. Vanilla, lemon,raspberry are our favorites, but my mother always kept almond and a few others on hand.
Don’t forget to only shop the sales and use those coupons! As always, I welcome comments and additions to this blog post.
Books on homemade candy recipes HERE!

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