10 Free Holiday Activities for Couples Paying off Debt

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This is where it all started guys. On a quiet summer afternoon I hit publish on my first post titled 10 Free Activities for Couples Paying off Debt and the rest is history. I thought it fitting to do one for the winter as well, seeing how we spend more money this time of year than any other.

1. Christmas Lights Home Tour

Every city has a neighborhood that really goes all out with the lights. Take a drive to look at them or walk if the weather isn’t frightful. In Florida, the weather is always great this time of year so we have a biking group that does a huge ride through the neighborhoods and ends back at a bar for beers.

You can make a trip out of it too. A city near us was featured on TV for their light displays so I’m looking forward to seeing it this year. Sometimes houses do the same thing every year so it’s fun to switch it up from time to time.

2. Holiday Movie Night

Put on your pajamas and pour the cocoa, there’s nothing better than a Christmas movie! While I’m partial to all holiday Claymation movies I loved the resurgence of quality seasonal cinema of the early 2000’s. For those with Netflix (or borrowing from a friend) here’s a list of movies for your viewing pleasure.

If you don’t have Netflix, channels like NBC, ABC, Freeform, etc always have a good variety (I’m judging you if you even try to add Hallmark Channel movies to that list.)

3. School Holiday Production

Elementary schools always have some type of performance with oodles of cute awkward kids singing carols and dressed like elves. The best part, these events are usually free. If you don’t have friends with kids that can keep you in the loop find some teacher friends with connections. They’ll know when all the good shows are. But word to the wise, don’t do this one if you look like these guys:

Do the Creep

Do the Creep

4. Live Nativity

These things can range from “plastic baby in a manger” to “drive-through re-creation of the gospels.” Even if you get a bad one there’s usually hot cocoa and cookies at the end so you win either way. The good ones really do bring the Christmas story to life and it’s a pretty cool experience. I highly recommend it.

5. Star Gaze

Winter is a great time for star gazing. Taurus, Perseus, and Gemini are some of the constellations you can find in the winter sky. Yes, I did Google that, so even if you’re not a budding astronomer who doesn’t enjoy looking at shiny things in the sky?

Download an app like SkyView Free and find all the starry patterns. If you’re lucky enough to live by a planetarium see if they do free shows. Ours does two every Friday that the college is in session.

6. Holiday Parade

Was anybody else in marching band? I was and it was absolutely for the parades. There are a lot in December! We have our pick of morning or evening throughout the month. And since we live near the water we even have a few lighted boat parades! Check your cities events calendar and cities around you to fill your weekends with candy canes and Santas!

7. Photo with Santa

Speaking of Santa, how ridiculous are the prices for photos with Santa these days!? I don’t even have kids and I feel like I need to start putting away for their Santa pictures fund. That was until I found out about Bass Pro Shop’s annual Santa’s Wonderland. On select days you can get a free personalized photo with Santa, free wooden picture frame, free crafts for the kids, and more!

And even if you don’t have kids you should definitely put on your tackiest Christmas sweaters and make this years’ card something the family will be talking about til next year. Why not? It’s free!

8. Volunteer

I included this in my last list but the opportunities for giving this time of year are too numerous not to share again. Aside from soup kitchens and caroling you can hand out Christmas cards at Hospice, collect cans of food from your pantry to give to a shelter, or connect with your local foster care licensing agency to help out a foster family in need. Your money is valuable but your time is just as needed.

9. Go Outside

This is the obligatory “make a snow angel or sled down a hill” spot. But I live in Florida so I don’t know how to do that stuff. Whether you’re in blizzard country or it’s a balmy 70 degrees outside (sorry not sorry) get your butt outside and experience the free entertainment mother nature has to offer. I for one love walks downtown during the day and bonfires with s’more at night.

10. Stay Inside

Okay, outside not your thing? Stay inside… if you know what I mean. When’s the last time you pretended you were on your honeymoon or your favorite vacation with your significant other? There’s never a good time to put on those nighties from your lingerie shower so make the time! Get romantic and see what happens. Hey, it’s free. ?

Any other ideas for free activities this time of year? I’m always looking for new things to try and include in new posts!

Free Activities for Couples

Free Activities for Couples

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Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.

Source: modernfrugality.com

11 of the Best Items to Regift This Year

A woman gives a regift to a friend
Alliance Images / Shutterstock.com

Maybe you’ve heard a few nightmare tales about regifting — or lived them yourself. Ever received a present that has a gift tag with someone else’s name? That’s probably the No. 1 regifting goof.

But there are ways to pull off a regift successfully — especially in 2020, when our in-person shopping and gift-giving has been reduced, and any present feels like a bright spot in a tough year.

Some items, of course, shouldn’t be regifted. Don’t regift anything that’s been opened — even if the item inside wasn’t used. If the item was homemade for you, like a knitted scarf or jar of jam, don’t pass that on. Never hand over out-of-date technology, even if it’s unused.

And consider the recipient: Don’t give your sister the gift your brother handed you last year.

But that said, here’s a look at some items that should be perfectly fine to regift, if you’re a bit careful about it.

1. Art supplies

Bella Logachova / Shutterstock.com

Today’s excellent art supplies aren’t just for kids. Artistic adults, too, may appreciate elegant colored pencils, calligraphy sets and gel pens in all the colors of the rainbow. You can even dress up your regift by adding in an adult coloring book or sketchpad.

2. Candles

Candles next to a houseplant
Daria Minaeva / Shutterstock.com

Candles offer a warm glow to light up the winter night. But if you know you’ll never light that lovely pine-scented present, pass it on to someone who might appreciate a little light in a dreary year. One caveat: Some major candle stores have one-time or seasonal collections, so if your gift is older, it might be obvious that it’s not a new purchase.

Wine

man drinking wine
Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com

Received a nice bottle of wine, but you’re not a drinker? Or perhaps you only drink reds, and your neighbor dropped off a nice bottle of chardonnay? Wine (or other liquors) is a perfect regift — as long as you know the recipient isn’t avoiding alcohol.

Gift cards

Gift cards
smile23 / Shutterstock.com

Few presents are as flexible as a gift card. By putting the present choice in the recipient’s hands, you’ll never give an item that’s the wrong size, wrong color or that someone already owns. And most gift cards are easy to use online — a bonus for those who are trying to stay away from crowds. Just be careful that the card you regift hasn’t been partially used — no one wants to punch in a gift card number and discover they only have 75 cents to spend.

Games and puzzles

Sidarta / Shutterstock.com

Our household has played more board games and assembled more jigsaw puzzles in 2020 than we did in the previous three years combined. It’s a natural consequence of finding ourselves stuck at home. Games and puzzles that don’t appeal to your family might be a welcome distraction for someone else. Be sure they’re unopened — few things are more frustrating than a puzzle missing a piece.

Kitchen items

Woman making fruit juice with a juicer
ABO PHOTOGRAPHY / Shutterstock.com

Maybe your cousin sent you a handy citrus juicer for a housewarming present — and you already have two. And while those cat tea towels from Grandma are sure purr-ty, you have a drawer full of towels already. Leave any tags and packaging intact, and cook up a tasty regifting plan.

Costume jewelry

Woman wearing earrings
Look Studio / Shutterstock.com

My mom didn’t have pierced ears, but not everyone in her life knew that. She subtly passed on any pierced earring gifts to her four daughters and kept clip-ons for herself. Don’t pass on heirlooms or pricey presents to those who might not appreciate them, though. And before a jewelry regift, figure out if your recipient actually wears that kind of item. Mom thanks you.

Fragrance and lotions

Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com

Scent is so personal. If someone gifted you rose cologne that makes you sneeze, or vanilla lotion when you only wear the unscented variety, don’t feel guilty about passing an unopened gift along. Try to snoop around first to see if the new recipient is likely to be a fan — some people have allergies, while others love a light fragrance but can’t deal with stronger scents.

Gift baskets

Gift basket
nikkytok / Shutterstock.com

Themed gift baskets can be a huge hit with the right person. But maybe you received a cache of different coffees and you never touch the stuff, or bridgework or braces won’t let your family enjoy the flavored popcorn pack. Regift without guilt — large family groups will usually have at least one person who will appreciate the items.

Toys

Julia Shepeleva / Shutterstock.com

Children are fun to buy for — browsing through toys delivers an irresistible trip down memory lane. But faraway relatives don’t always judge a child’s age appropriately, and middle-schoolers are unlikely to want Disney princess dolls or bath toys. Find the next generation in your family or circle of friends, and pass on those presents.

Novelty gifts

Happy woman holding a gift
CarlosDavid / Shutterstock.com

My brother and sister used to trade off the same rubber chicken every Christmas, working each year to package it in a creative and novel way so it wouldn’t be recognized until it was opened. You may not want to go this far, but goofy or gag gifts aren’t meant to be taken seriously. So if you never opened that Bob Ross bobblehead, or won’t ever use those bacon-scented bandages, give them away with a clear conscience. You’ll likely get a laugh, and that’s all these gifts really require.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

7 Mistakes That Could Keep You From Selling Your Home This Winter

Selling a house during winter comes with its own unique challenges. Snow, for one, can bury your home’s best features. Your normally lush landscaping may look drab and lifeless. And truth be told, all you want to do is cozy up at home rather than welcome buyers through your door.

Still, if you’re game to sell during winter, it’s essential that you put on your snow pants and put some effort into making your house shine. To help, here are some classic mistakes to avoid once the temperature drops, and why they can make such a difference. Just avoid making these all-too-common winter-selling fumbles in order to get top dollar.

Mistake No. 1: Setting down the shovel

You cleared off enough of the driveway for your car, but potential buyers won’t be entering through the garage like you do.

“Blazing a path through 3 feet of virgin snow makes a lousy first impression,” says John Engel, a Realtor® with Halstead Properties, in New Canaan, CT.

Don’t put away your snow shovel until you’ve cleared a path to your front door. Or save your poor back by hiring a snow removal company to keep your paths walkable.

“Not only does it make it more inviting for buyers, but it avoids potential safety and liability concerns,” says Massachusetts Realtor John Ternullo.

Mistake No. 2: Giving in to the winter blahs

Gray skies and barren trees make winter a particularly depressing time to sell. But you don’t have to let your home look as doleful as the weather.

“Pops of color by the entryway, like a seasonal wreath and topiaries, can add some interest to the front entrance as well as make it more inviting,” Ternullo says.

And don’t wait until buyers schedule showings to add some life: Colorful curb appeal transforms your listing photos from drab to dramatic.

Mistake No. 4: Not scrubbing your windows

Colder temps have robbed your trees of their leaves, leaving your home to look a bit sadder in winter’s wake. But that’s not the only problem. Those full trees previously shielded your home from direct sunlight. And now that it’s pouring in your windows, potential buyers will be able to see everything. 

Scuffs, fingerprints, and streaks are “never more apparent” than in the wintertime, Engel says, so you should make sure you’re vigilant about keeping windows clean. Alone, that grime might not be enough to turn off a potential buyer, but it might make them wonder what other details you’ve missed.

Mistake No. 5: Displaying outdated summer photos

Your Tudor looks particularly glorious in the summer, but if your only listing photos were taken in April, buyers will immediately suspect a problem.

“Nothing says ‘old, tired listing’ more than the photo you took nine months ago,” Engel says. Talk to your Realtor about taking new photos that make your home look festive and seasonal. Feel free to keep older photos in the listing—your buyers might want to know what the home looks like when the gardens are in full bloom—but updated photos will make your listing seem fresh.

Mistake No. 6: Turning down the heat

Don't give potential buyers a chilly reception.
Don’t give potential buyers a chilly reception.

Olivier Le Moal/iStock

“Frugality is great, but not when you’re trying to sell real estate for top dollar,” says Brian Davis, a real estate investor and co-founder of SparkRental.com.

Turn the heat up before you leave for showings, your utility bill be damned. Stick to 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit to keep everyone comfy.

“It will make the house feel homier and more welcoming,” Davis says. “It also gives the impression that the house is energy-efficient and well-insulated.”

Mistake No. 7: Denying access

It’s New Year’s Eve and a buyer wants to stop by. How dare they! Shouldn’t they assume you have a fabulous party to prepare for?

Maybe. But if you want to sell your home in the off-season, the buyer has to come first. You’ll need to work with your Realtor to devise a strategy for squeezing in showings, even in between all of winter’s holiday events and family gatherings.

“While it may be inconvenient, it’s crucial not to deny showings, as that could be a missed opportunity,” Ternullo says. “There may be less buyers compared to spring, but winter buyers tend to be serious.”

Mistake No. 8: Leaving out your draft stoppers

Your hand-knit draft stopper might look adorable snuggled against your door, but it “sends a clear message to buyers,” Davis says. “This house is drafty and loses heat easily.”

Not that you should lie. But every home has hidden problems, and it’s best to let the buyers make their own assessments and discoveries during the inspection period. Don’t leave out little things that could sway their decision.

Source: realtor.com