Thomas Murphy - Pine Shores Real Estate

Posted by Thomas Murphy on 12/2/2011

The season of giving is here but wanting to give can lead to financial disaster. Making a plan that doesn’t have your generosity get the better of you will take time and discipline. Here are ten tips to keep your holiday spending in check and keep you on budget. 1. Decide how much you choliday spendingan spend You can’t spend a dime until you have assessed how much disposable income you have available. If possible, only spend money that you have. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend an average of $688.87 on holiday-related expenses this year. Take that $688.87 and put it on a credit card with an 18% APR. At the minimum monthly payment, you will be paying that $688.87 for three years. That $688.87 has also now cost you an additional $203.00 in interest. The best plan is to save all year for holiday spending. If it is too late for that, start cutting back on extras like dinner out, buying lunch and stopping at the coffee store until the holidays are over. 2. Make a list and check it twice Make a list of everyone that will get a gift. No matter how big or small you will need to know how much you will need to buy. Don’t forget the office swap, teacher gifts, mail carriers and other last minute items. 3. Set a budget Once you have determined how much disposable income you have you will be able to set a budget. Remember it isn’t just the cost of the gifts that add up during the holidays. Consider gas, parking, holiday cards, postage, holiday clothes, and impulse buys. All of these items should be included in your budget. 4. Decision time Not only will you have to set an overall budget you will want to set a budget for each person on your list. It may even help to try to brainstorm some gifts for that person that fit in the budget. You may also decide at this point to trim down your list. Get creative; give cards, homemade gifts or even a framed photo. Gifts from the heart may mean just as much and cost very little. 5. Set expectations If there is a budget concern talk to the people in your life and see if there is a way you can all save on holiday giving. Some families do swaps or pick names so each member only has to buy one gift instead of many. You may also just decide to skip gifts all together. 6. Early shopping can pay off Look for early bird sales. Often late November and early December bring sales. Research the prices of the items you want to buy so you will know how to spot a deal. Look for ways to save on other items such as gift wrapping. Some stores offer free wrapping which saves money and time. 7. Don’t buy on emotion If you stick to your list you are less likely to make an emotional purchase. Try taking a friend or family member along who is aware of your budget. They may be able to help you stay on task and guide you away from impulse purchases. 8. Don’t get fooled by sales If a gift on your list is on sale, buy it. If it's not, stay away. Sales can lure you into buying something that is not on your list and quickly put you over budget. 9. Shop online Online shopping can offer savings that brick and mortar stores often cannot. Many online stores often have holiday sales and promo codes. When shopping online be careful to stay on budget as you will have to use a credit card. 10. Keep track of spending Keep a journal with all of your spending. In your journal put an envelope to hold all of your receipts. You may want to only use cash for your holiday spending. If your budget is $500 and you put $500 in your wallet and spent only that money it will be a lot easier to stay on track. Have you started your holiday shopping? If so, what are your best tips to staying on budget?

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Posted by Thomas Murphy on 11/18/2011

Serving the perfect Thanksgiving Day turkey can give even the best cook holiday anxiety. Each year turkey hotlines get thousands of calls from distressed cooks. If you are hosting the holiday feast this year there are ways to get your Thanksgiving Day off the stunning success. Here are some tips to create the perfect turkey dinner. Start with the Turkey When ordering your whole turkey, allow at least 1 pound per person. If you love leftovers add 1/2 pound per person. Turkey Tool Box To have the perfect turkey you will need the right tools. Here are a few things you will want to have on hand: •Heavy duty roasting pan with rack •Trussing string •Aluminum Foil •Baster •Fat separator •Wire whisk •Sharpened carving set. •Meat thermometer Be Safe The most important part of cooking a turkey is to practice safe turkey handling. Here are some musts for turkey preparation: •Make sure that raw turkey or its juices do not come into contact with other foods. •Wash your hands, utensils and surfaces the turkey touches with hot water and soap. •Use a meat thermometer to check for the proper internal temperature. To Stuff or Not To Stuff? This comes down to a matter of preference but if you do stuff you will want to ensure to follow these important steps: •Estimate about one cup of stuffing per pound of turkey. •Add about 5 to 7 minutes per pound for a stuffed bird. •You will need to check the temperature of the bird and the stuffing before serving. The stuffing must register at least 160°F before it is safe to eat. •Never stuff the bird ahead of time. Stuff it just before putting in the oven. Turkey Cooking Tips There are lots of factors that go into creating the perfect turkey, here are some general guidelines: •Remove the giblets before seasoning and cooking. •Fresh turkeys must be refrigerated immediately. Frozen turkeys should be defrosted in the refrigerator for two days prior to cooking. Never thaw a turkey at room temperature. •Brush the bird with melted butter before roasting. This will help in browning and flavor. •Baste only at the beginning of the roasting process. •Cook your turkey on a rack. •Roast the bird with the breast side down for the first hour. •Use a meat thermometer for best results. The turkey should read 165°F when it is done. •Save the drippings for gravy. •After cooking, cover the the turkey and allow it to rest for about 30 minutes.

Tags: Fall   Holiday   Thanksgiving   Turkey tips  
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