Less is More - PLAN

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  At money management, that is.  We already established the need for a budget so I hope you are well on your way to success in that area. But there's more to planning that a budget.  Planning ahead for intended expenditures is a great way to make money go further. Here are just a few ideas:

1.  Stock up on giftwrap supplies at the end of the season.  Solid color Christmas giftwrap can double for yearround gifts! (and Christmas cards...if this is your year to do them, that is!)
2.  Pretty paper products are often marked way down - stock up for an inexpensive hostess gift or friend's bday.  This was one of the my most favorite gifts one year!
3.  Make your Christmas gift-giving list by May.  Then begin purchasing those gifts immediately. Spreading the purchases over several months saves time, money, and sanity.
4.  Buy birthday cards in bulk.  My friend Peggy has an "eternal" birthday book where she keeps EVERYONE's birthday.  And I do mean EVERYONE.  It is sort of a rolling calendar that only needs updating when someone is born or she adds a new friend.  Sigh.  She is the most organized person I know.  I need more time with her.
5.  Have an "eagle eye" for the huge markdowns at places like Target.  When you spot a potential gift AT A GREAT MARKDOWN, get it for your "gift box".
6.  Anticipate the baking you will need to do for holidays and spread those expenditures out over several weeks.  Chocolate chips and nuts freeze so stock up when they are on sale.
7.  Always be thinking ahead.  If you want to get your husband a new winter coat, be on the lookout.  In July.
8.  Keep a stash of breakfast breads, pancakes, etc in your freezer for "those kind of mornings".  Oh, and it goes w/o saying that I am not recommending the ones you buy.  Nope, I mean homemade. Make a double batch whenever you prepare pancakes or banana bread and put the other one in the freezer for later. This goes for chicken tetrazzini, taco soup, cooked chicken breasts (to shred for casseroles or fajitas), breakfast casseroles (sausage-egg or baked french toast) , cookies (I even prepare the cookie dough, roll it up like Pilsbury, wrap it well and freeze it to bake later), cakes, etc.  Having things on hand prevents meltdown-- emotional AND financial!
9.  Simply put, make planning ahead a way of life.  Anticipate what is coming up and be prepared.  DO NOT allow yourself to be lazy.  While I highly recommend a good nap every once in a while, be sure that your work is done first.  This will increase peace, decrease spending, and significantly reduce stress.