We’ll spend more celebrating the holidays this year … And our money goes to much more than gifts

If you plan on spending more during the holiday season this year, you’re in good company. But don’t blame it all on gift giving.

According to a new survey by Deloitte, Americans plan to spend $487 on gifts for others this year (up 6% from last year), but that only accounts for about one-third (33%) of what we plan to spend total.

Overall, the corporate consults say Americans plan to shell out $1,462 during the 2015 holidays – up 13% from last year.

So where’s the rest of that cash going?

The biggest ticket item, next to gifts for others, is attending holiday events away from home, which accounts for 24% of that budget, or $348.

Entertaining at home is the next biggest expense — $212 at 15% of the budget.

Purchasing clothing that is not a gift accounts for 12% of the budget at $182, while holiday home furnishings account for 9% at $124. And 8% of the budget goes into the “other” category ($110), which is any other holiday-related spending.
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 Frugal Living 

How to make the clothes you got for Christmas last at least until next year

Hopefully these storm troopers studied up on these ways to make your clothing last longer.It’s a good bet you ended up with some new threads under the tree this year. Clothing was the fifth most popular Christmas gift this holiday season, ahead of video games, jewelry and even alcohol, according to  a report by Nielsen.

And while you’ll probably end up in the return lines like everyone else, at least some of the clothes you got were probably serviceable enough to hold on to. Here are some tips to help it last at least until you can re-up next year.

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Business Clothing on a Budget

SuitsWhen I got my first job out of college, I found out that they required their employees to dress business casual or professional every day. I knew that might happen, but I didn’t have to be happy about it. At the time, I owned one pair of black slacks, two solid-colored blouses, and one nice suit jacket. I needed some more outfits but buying business clothing can be incredibly expensive if you are not sure of the right places to shop. I panicked just a bit, but I learned very quickly where to find the best deals and how to maintain my new wardrobe.

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 Frugal Living 

Five Tips to Save Money on Your Laundry

Holiday Coin LaundromatMy husband and I don’t usually embrace ultra-frugality for the sake of saving a buck or two.  But we will change our habits if the changes are easy or we can save a significant amount of money over time.  When we realized we were doing more than 5 loads of laundry a week for two people, we decided to try out a few things (homemade laundry detergent did not make the cut).  Some suggestions worked very well but others were complete flops.  Here are a few tips we have come up with to save some money and time on laundry.

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The Soul of Swapping

Clothing SwapsEach season we are bombarded with advertisements that tell us we need the latest look with all the bells and whistles (i.e. bags and shoes) to go with them. On a recession budget, or any budget for that matter, it’s not always an option to saunter into the mall and pick up the trendy sweater and kitten heels. Yet we all want to look out best and look as fabulous on the outside as we feel on the inside.

Solution? Good old fashioned swapping.

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How to Battle A Brand Whore

Louis Vuitton SignOr, “Tips to Keep the Clothing Budget in Check When Someone in Your Family is a Brand Whore.”

Just as some people have specific preferences for food, others have preferences for specific brands of clothing. In your family, this person may or may not be the same person. In ours, my husband is the guilty party on both charges – he’s just not that adventurous of a person. He has specific stores he will shop at for clothing, and specific brands clothing he will buy for himself if left to his own devices. He’s worn the same exact style and brand of jeans for all his adult life – he just buys more of the same exact one when one wears out. All his dress clothes for work are from the same exact store, and they are specific cuts and styles he prefers, all of the same brand.

Is this by definition a bad thing? Not necessarily – if you find what looks good on you, you may want to stick to that style, color, or type. But taken to an extreme, or buying brands simply because they are a specific brand, and you fall prey to spending top dollar on your items when middle or low dollar may work just as well. Slowly but surely, I’ve been expanding his wardrobe specificities, and here’s how.

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 Frugal Living 

The Fine Art of Line Drying Laundry

When it comes to energy hogs, did you know that your electric dryer, when on, consumes the most electricity compared to every other appliance in your home? It’s true, it easily beats your refrigerator and your water heater (those in total energy consumption, those appliances use more because they are always on). So, if you’ve ever considered line drying your clothes to cut down on your electricity usage, you picked the right appliance to target. Not only will it save you big bucks on your electricity bill, line drying your laundry will make your clothing last longer, saving you money on clothing expenses too.

Many people don’t like to line dry their laundry though. They cite too much work, too many wrinkles, and “still” clothing as some of the top reasons for not line drying laundry. Fortunately there are some techniques to make line drying clothing a little easier and more practical, so you can keep money in your pocket.

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 Frugal Living 

Air Drying Clothes: Dry Clothes Absolutely Free!

Rabbit in the Dryer!When JD wrote a post about how you could air dry your clothes indoors, I laughed. I laughed because my family growing up always air dried our clothes and always did it indoors. We didn’t even own a clothes dryer!

Our laundry room shared the same space as our furnace so the room was always hot and always dry, the perfect atmosphere for drying clothes. The laundry room also only had washer and two lines that ran across the room, which was only slightly bigger than some walk in closets these days, and we hung all our clothes on that line.

Why did we always air dry our clothes? There were several reasons:

  • Clothing last longer. When it isn’t subject to super high heat and thrown around and around and around, clothing tends to last a little bit longer and the colors are a little brighter. The edges of shirts don’t get frayed but you do get more wrinkles and lint, which can be removed with those sticky garment rollers.
  • Less opportunity to ruin clothes. I’m a pretty simple minded person and I can’t really remember if a shirt or pair of pants has special drying instructions (yes, I could read it but when you’re grabbing clothes in bunches, sometimes stuff gets enveloped!). Is that garment tumble dry low or can I put it on high? Will it shrink? Bah, just air dry it all and you can’t possibly mess something up.
  • Less heat in the home. We tend to air dry clothes more often in the summer because the hot air of the dryer vents into our home. I’ve been meaning to go to Home Depot to get a longer exhaust hose but until then the hot air is vented into our kitchen. In the winter, this isn’t bad because the hot air heats up the house. In the summer, this is terrible because it introduce unnecessary heat into a home we’re trying to keep cool!
  • Less electricity. Obviously air drying consumes less electricity than the dryer.
  • Better for the environment. This goes hand in hand with using less electricity, which reduces demand and the burning of fuel.

If you’re not a fan of air drying, consider air drying part of the laundry load. In the winter, I always pull out towels or other thick materials for air drying. Towels suck up water so they’re especially damp and take forever in the dryer. By pulling them out, you cut down the drying time while not giving up “softness” on the garments where softness matters. I don’t care about soft towel so I use the crunchy towels while my wife uses the softer ones. 🙂

Finally, you don’t always need a clothes line to air dry your clothes, we have a fold up rack that we stick in our kitchen. It holds most of our laundry and can be bought at a Wal-Mart-type store for a few dollars (and it’s easy to move so you can stick it outside if you have a nice day out). For those items that don’t fit on the rack, we just stick them on random dining room chair backs, hangers on doors, etc. You can pretty much hang them on anything that allows for some air flow.

Give it a try, even if it’s only one a handful of items, you might like it! (and look out for rabbits!)

(photo: TheTim)

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