Creative, Frugal Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for Kids and Adults

Mother’s Day is right around the corner.  If you’re scrambling to find ways to show mom how much you love and care for her, don’t worry.  There are many ways you can do just that without breaking the bank or relying on the same old boring gift of breakfast in bed or dinner out.

Projects for Younger Children

I have one word for you–Pinterest!  Seriously, head over to Pinterest and just search “Mother’s Day Crafts.”  There are so many creative, frugal ideas to choose from.  Here are some of my favorites:

Hand print flower–Paint your little one’s palm, then press their palm down on paper.  Either paint or add flowers to the tip of each finger.  Your child’s hand makes the stem of the “flowers.”  Then, cut out paper to make a flower pot and glue that to the bottom of the hand print.  On the paper pot, write a message stating something your child loves about mom such as, “You make the best chocolate chip cookies,” etc.

Book mark–Does mom love to read?  Cut out a rectangular strip of construction paper, and then glue a small picture of each of your children on the front.  Laminate it; use a paper hole punch to make a hole in the top, and hang some yarn through the top.

Creative Frugal Mothers Day Gift IdeasGift Ideas for Adult Children

If you’re an adult, your mother probably has every consumer item she could want or need.  Instead of shopping and spending money on something she may or may not enjoy, why not go the non-consumer route.  Why not give mom a gift from the heart?

A letter–If you haven’t told mom lately how much she means to you, now is the time.  For instance, when I was in high school, my friend and I spray painted our biology teacher’s rocks in his front yard in the middle of the night.  Not the best idea, I know.  I felt so guilty, I woke my mom up at 2 a.m. to tell her.  She didn’t freak out or lecture me; she just told me that we’d need to clean it up in the morning.  I appreciate that she could stay so calm, but I’ve never told her that.  I’d include that in my letter and also all the ways she has helped me grow into the woman I’ve become.  (The spray painting days are long behind me!)

A gift of experience–If you do want to spend some money on mom, why not give her a gift of experience?  My grandma always wanted to ride a hot air balloon.  However, she was a child of the Great Depression and was extremely frugal.  Even in retirement, when she knew she’d have enough money for life, she couldn’t justify spending money on what she viewed as an extravagance.  Instead, her kids chipped in and got her a hot air balloon ride for Mother’s Day.  She talked about that gift for years.  It was one of her favorite experiences.

This Mother’s Day, take the time to plan something special for mom to show her how much you love and appreciate her.  Often, you just need to use some creativity, not money, to show mom how much she means to you.

What’s the best gift you ever gave your mom for Mother’s Day?

Are You Guilty of Short Term Financial Thinking? Here’s How to Fix It

Let’s be honest.  We’re all a little bit irrational with money.

Think of the person who drives 5 minutes out of his way to buy ten gallons of gas that is 2 cents cheaper per gallon.  Was the additional .20 cents savings worth 5 minutes of his time?  No.

What about the person who buys clothes she had no need for just because they were on clearance 75% off and were such a great deal?  Is spending money for something you don’t need ever a good deal?  This person just spent more than they would have if they hadn’t run across the “bargain”.

Stop Short Term Financial Thinking In Its Tracks:  Do The Math

Short Term Financial Thinking
The best way to stop short term thinking in its tracks is to do the math.

Take the person who drove 5 minutes out of his way to save .20 cents on gas.  An easier way to see how worthless this endeavor was is to compute an hourly wage for his savings.  There are 12 five minute increments in an hour.  Twenty cents saved per 5 minute increment gives us an hourly wage of $2.40.  If you’re always chasing the gas bargains, ask if it’s worth $2.40 an hour.

Nope.

Of course, only you can decide when an endeavor to save money becomes worthwhile, but doing the math will help you decide.

A friend was recently asking me whether she should refinance.  She just refinanced a few years ago, and as part of the deal, she opened a high interest rate checking account that nets her about $200 in cash back a year.  If she refinances with another company, she’ll lose the high interest rate checking account, which she didn’t want to do.

However, she found a new company that offered a mortgage interest rate that is 1.5% lower than her current interest rate.  In addition, she would have no fees to pay to refinance.  We did the math and found out if she refinanced with the new company, she would save $700 in interest on her mortgage in one year.

Not refinancing to keep the high interest rate checking account was essentially costing her $500 a year, but in her short term thinking, all she could focus on was the “loss” of $200 a year in cash back.

Take the Emotions Out of Your Financial Decisions

Have you ever noticed that it’s much easier to tell other people what they should do with their money rather than figure out what we ourselves should do with our money?  That’s because we’re not emotionally tied to someone else’s decisions.

Too often our emotions muddy up our financial decisions.

If you’re contemplating a major financial decision like buying a house or refinancing your home loan, first do the math.  Look at hard numbers to see which decision would benefit you most.  In my friend’s case, refinancing is the clear winner.  Over the course of her 10 year home loan, she’ll save $5,000 total by refinancing rather than keeping her current loan, even when factoring in the high interest rate checking account.  It’s hard to argue with the numbers.

If you’re still unsure, talk to friends about your decision.  Just make sure to talk to friends who are financially savvy, not those who are broke.  As Dave Ramsey says, “Broke people giving financial advice is like a shop teacher with missing fingers.”  Take the advice from those who will steer you toward the right financial decision.

We’re all guilty of irrational money decisions.  Recognizing this weakness and taking the time to do the math and seek other people’s opinions can help each of us make smarter financial decisions.

What irrational money decisions have you made?

Original Image credit: Burning Money Isolated on White by Images_of_Money, on Flickr

The New Retirement

I recently had the chance to chat with Todd Tresidder.  If you don’t know the name, don’t worry.  Up until about a year ago, I didn’t either.  But, the short of it is that the guy is retired.  In fact, he retired much earlier than most will.  At the ripe “old” age of 35, he retired.  Which must mean he’s off golfing around in the Arizona heat, right?  Or down, sipping OJ at some southern Florida retirement village?  Not likely.

Todd is retired in the sense that he doesn’t report to a boss.  He does what he wants, when he wants to.  One of the things that he wants to do is write books that help people like you and I become better financially.  He’s got several that he’s written so far, and I’m sure he’s working on more.  During that first meeting, Todd and I spoke for a while on retirement.  Speaking with another financially minded person, I usually expect to hear people talk about 401(k)s, IRAs, and stock purchasing.  I don’t discount those tools, but I just don’t feel that, like Social Security, you should be depending on them for your whole retirement.  Surprisingly, Todd agrees.  The longer we spoke, the more we found that we agreed on.  At the end of our conversations, Todd offered me a copy of his book on retirement. I accepted.

How Much Money do I need to retireLong story short, I finally read it.  It took me a while, but I’m glad I got around to it.

If there’s anything that stands out about the book, is that Todd knows what he’s talking about.  He’s got the experience behind him to talk about the subject in an informed and educational manner, and technically, probably knows more about some of his subject matter than I ever will.  He spends the first several chapters of the book dispelling a few myths about retirement, and about the way in which most people tend to think about it.  He then takes off on a few chapters of some of the math and logic behind the different ways of calculating your retirement needs, and calculating that mythical “number” that everyone seems to be seeking out that will indicate that they’ve saved all that they need to save for retirement.  Not only does that one perfect number not exist, he argues, but the calculations that we make to arrive at it are completely flawed.

The rest of the book is focused on what I like to call the New Retirement.  He goes into detail on the ways to properly estimate your income needs for the future, and then into ways that he believes (and I agree) that a properly diversified retirement “portfolio” should be structured.  I don’t want to spoil too much of the book so I won’t say much more.  What I will say is that the book isn’t terribly long.  It’s not a deeply structured manual on all the different retirement accounts.  And it’s not terribly expensive.  It’s $4.99 on the Kindle (free for Prime members), and about $10 in paperback.

Pick up a copy of How Much Money do I need to Retire at Amazon.  You can check out Todd’s site as well as the other books he’s written at FinancialMentor.com.