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3 Ways To Welcome Spring (When It Still Feels Like Winter)

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  It's beginning to feel as though spring is never actually going to come this year. All over the US, cities are experiencing the coldest temperatures on record and spring is supposedly a scant three weeks away. So, what's a stir-crazy family to do? First of all, we keep referencing those free ways to beat the winter blues to keep our spirits lifted. Plus, it's time to get determined and creative and forge ahead with some activities that welcome spring anyway! Here are 3 ways to welcome spring (when it still feels like winter):

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10 Tips To Save Money On Your Spring Break Trip

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Remember all the tricks to help beat the winter blues, and how one idea was to go ahead and plan a vacation of some sort? Well, if you are like me, you may have spent more time daydreaming than planning. Since I'm one of the millions stuck under piles of snow these past few weeks, I've been particularly drawn to daydreaming about beaches and warm weather. But I haven't pulled the trigger on any real plans yet, which means I'd better move on planning my spring break trip! You too? If so, here are 10 tips to save money on your spring break trip:

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Valentine’s Day Gift Round Up

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Valentine's Day has a tendency to really get to people.  For all the secret (or not-so secret) romantics of the world, it's an opportunity to go totally overboard in sentiment, complete with epic love poem and rose petals covering the floor. For the un-coupled it's either a dreaded day or a day to scorn the preposterous marketing of cards, flowers and candy. There's actually an e-how tutorial on coping with being alone. Call me an optimist, but I tend to enjoy the lighter and more positive aspects of Valentine's Day. I enjoy telling people, " I love you" on this day. Of course I am also a fan of chocolate, candy, flowers, hearts and the color combo of red and pink. So, maybe Valentine's Day just works for me. For those of you struggling to get through this Valentine's Day, never fear. I have created a really easy Valentine's Day gift round-up that's sure to score you some points with your sweetheart. And by sweetheart, I mean anyone special in your life that should know you care.

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10 Totally Free Ways To Beat The Winter Blues

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Is anyone else starting to find winter a little overwhelming already? While not officially diagnosed with SAD, I'm not much for grey days and limited outdoor activities. Since we still have nearly two months of winter, I need to find ways to beat the winter blues. And let's face it, they need to be free ways to beat the winter blues because we're still motivated on our financial New Year's resolutions. At first glance, finding free ways to beat the winter blues might seem like mission impossible, but it's not. In fact, the possibilities are endless - but they do involve using some creativity and a willingness to fight the urge to just curl up and watch TV...again. So, let these 10 totally free ways to beat the winter blues be your initial jumping off point or inspiration. Mix it up with your own options, and you might find yourself pleasantly surprised by how quickly spring arrives this year:

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3 Best Cookbooks To Help You Lose Weight

How's everybody else doing with the whole New Year's resolution thing? Since we aren't even out of January yet, I'm doing okay. I'm making it to the gym frequently which is a huge first step. Of course, EVERYONE is at the gym right now, so I'm fighting for my place on the mat just to get the most out of my workout. The other part of the whole healthy equation is the diet. Oh dear, the diet.

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The 52-Week Money Challenge: Pros And Cons

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Remember how we said that most New Year's resolutions were related to losing weight, job goals, or money? Well, everyone is still talking about them this week so we thought we'd jump in there too. By now, if you've been on Facebook for even five minutes you've surely run into someone posting the 52-Week Money Challenge on their page.  If not, check out this great post from The Budgetnista, who can get you started on it. Don't worry - you've still got time to hop in there.

What is the 52-Week Money Challenge?

Anyway, at first glance the 52-Week Money Challenge sounds terrific. It's a simplified way to set money aside for Christmas. I mean, just look at week 1, with a $1 deposit and then week 2 with a total of $1,378 saved. Let's be honest though. We all see posts like this each month (if not weekly) and yet we never really do anything with them. So, should you jump on the 52-Week Money Challenge bandwagon or not? Let's look at some pros and cons for it and then you can decide.

52-Week Money Challenge Cons

The 52-Week Money Challenge sounds a wee bit gimmicky. Like a fad diet of sorts. And it could be for people who aren't completely disciplined in money habits. The challenge encourages you to keep the money in a jar because you're just dropping small amounts in each week as you build up to that $52 deposit. Here's the catch though - if that cash is staring at you and you suddenly need to send in $16 for school pictures, what are you going to do? Raid the jar. Every time. Also, why not just set aside $26.50 each week or $115 per month to get the same amount?

52-week Money Challenge Pros

Since we are all about budgets and frugality here, the truth is we find way more pros to the 52-Week Money Challenge than cons. It's a great fit for anyone new to budget planning and for people who might have tight financial constraints today but expect more money coming in later (job changes, raises, etc).  The fact is, we've had moments of living from check to check and times where setting aside an extra $26.50 just wasn't an option. So, this system can at least get you on track, with a much smaller initial commitment. Bottom line: There's not much downside to setting money aside, not matter how you get started!

Tips To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

New Year's resolutions are a tricky thing. Lots of people love them, many avoid them at all costs, and most of us that do make them, break them within a shockingly short period of time.  In fact, a recent study suggests that less than half are able to stick it out a full month! Rather than let that turn you away from New Year's resolutions, let's look for the opportunities to make them stick. The most common New Year's resolutions revolve around weight loss, financial goals, and jobs. So, with these three categories in mind, here are some specific tips to keep your New Year's resolutions this go around!

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3 Fun And Frugal New Year’s Eve Parties To Host

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You gotta love this time of year - before the Christmas spirit really has a chance to disappear, it's already time for the next big event - New Year's Eve! New Year's Eve is particularly fun as it's a time to both reflect on the past and look ahead eagerly to the future.  Somehow even the young are caught up in sentiment during this time. Just check your Facebook feed and you can see everybody's year in review. Naturally, there's also a big debate about g0ing out or staying in for New Year's Eve. We've already made that choice early this year, and plan to have some people over to our home. We will have a mash-up of ages and interests, as well as a tight budget (hello Christmas spending hang-over!), so I needed party ideas that would work with these factors. Thankfully, the general jubilance of the season is pretty much all that's needed for these fun and frugal New Year's Eve parties -- as they cost almost nothing to host:

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Celebrate Christmas Around The World

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Can you believe Christmas is literally around the corner? As in next week? While I may have the perfect gifts picked out this year, I still feel somewhat disconnected from the holiday season. My plan for the next week is to make some rich cocoa, blast only Christmas tunes and watch all of the Christmas movies. Oh, and I'm learning about how other countries celebrate Christmas as well. The traditions vary greatly, but these destinations are all incredible places to celebrate Christmas:

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Top 10 Christmas Gifts For 2014

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So, I'm kinda jumping the gun here and calling it early since the actual results won't be in until long after the tree is down and the celebrating is over. Still, I've been keeping an eye on all presents great and small with all the digging and researching for Christmas gifts I've done this year. Plus, after Thanksgiving Google released it's search results which are pretty darn good indicator for what people are looking for under their tree this year. Here's what it looks like: the top 10 Christmas gifts for 2014:

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