Economides family gowns and tuxedos

Dressing Up for the Holidays

Question: I know that I’ll be invited to several holiday parties this season and will need to get dressed-up. I don’t have money for new clothes right now. I want to look good, but also want to break my credit-card habit. What should I do?

Answer: Take a breath and don’t worry — there are probably more solutions than you realize. Spending money is not your first nor your only option. Our suggestions will take some time, but the results will amaze you.

Start by going through all of the clothes in your closet, reorganizing and evaluating everything. 
Make a list of what you have, noting which items have more festive, Christmas-time colors such as royal purple, bright red, cranberry, forest green, royal blue, sliver, gold and black sparkle. Mix and match. If you have a nice pair of black slacks or a black skirt, pairing it with a holiday-colored blouse and some inexpensive accents can make a smashing outfit.

If you feel overwhelmed, ask a friend for help with your personal fashion evaluation. After this exercise, you may still need to buy a few things, but not as many as you previously thought. Make a list and head out to a thrift or consignment store.

In Arizona, we like to shop at: Family Attic (32nd Street and Greenway Road), Savers (multiple locations), Goodwill (multiple locations) and our absolute favorite for dress clothes is A Second Look (Shea Boulevard and 32nd Street).

If you can’t find what you want at these stores (which is highly unlikely), check the clearance racks of retail stores or go to Nordstrom Rack or Last Chance.

Remember, stick to your list. Don’t delay: The sooner you start, the more choices you’ll have. You can look terrific this holiday season and no one needs to know how little you spent.

By the way, in the photo above the girl's bought thier gowns for less than $20 each and the guys bought their tuxes for between $20 and $40. All were purchased at thrift or consignment stores. There are bargains everywhere!!!!

quote your car insurance

How We Saved $88 per month!

About three years ago we quoted our auto insurance. It had been four years since it had been quoted and n that time, we've added one car — daughter Becky bought a gently used Toyota Tacoma (we now insure three cars on our policy) and we've added one new driver.

At that time our insurer — Response Insurance — notified us that they were increasing premiums in the state of Arizona about 25 percent, it motivated us to start researching before the increase took effect.

We submitted our information on InsureMe and received quotes back from seven companies. We also contacted an independent broker and got quotes from a few more companies.

We carry full coverage on all of our vehicles and a lower deductible. The kids pay for their own insurance, so we don't pay the full bill — we really like that. And we pay for our insurance once every six months.

If you take time to quote your insurance, post a comment here and let us know what you found out! Hopefully you'll save a boodle!

See the table below for the prices we received.

Company 6 Month Premium
Response Insurance $3044.00
Allstate $2668.00
State Farm $2386.64
Farmers $2060
21 Century $2024
Geico $1959.80
Liberty Mutual $1926.50

Each company sent a quote in writing and most had errors compared to what we had requested. We reviewed each one carefully and called the sales person to correct the quote. After we had all of the quotes exactly the same, we made a decision.

It really pays to quote your insurance ever few years. Saving money is like giving yourself a raise — tax-free of course! If you're strapped for time, give InsureMe a try, it really makes the process easier.

Just last month (April, 2013) we switched again, this time we were able to combine our Auto and Home Owners and saved about $30 each month.

Take time to quote your insurance and you could save a boodle—without a lifestyle change.



 Just this morning we went to Safeway (grocery store) after our morning workout to pick up a Wednesday paper for the grocery ads. It's the strangest thing—there were only two of the 5 grocery store chains ad inserts in the paper. Steve checked several papers in the stack and it was the same — just two store ads. We went across the street to Albertson's to pick up their ads and Annette checked the newspaper there — only two ads in their paper too. Then the light went on. Are most grocers only inserting ads in newspapers that are delivered to homes - assuming that people who buy newspapers in grocery stores aren't interested in grocery ads. Remember that inserting ads in newspapers isn't free, so grocers would be trying to eke out more profits by managing their advertising dollars more carefully.  . . . The door bell just rang. Annette called our neighbor Joyce and she shared the newspaper ads from her home - YUP all of the store's ads were there. What do you think?


We usually wait for a super discounted deal on a newspaper subscription and then purchase several months’ worth of the paper for Wednesday (grocery ad day in our area) and Sunday (or weekends—depending on what promotion they are running). A few years ago we discovered You can easily subscribe to most local papers at huge discounts. Hey, if it saves you a few bucks, why not give it a try. We’ve done it and it’s been great.

Newspaper subscription

Slap Shot - Save Your Teeth

DR. MICHAEL THOMPSON DDS KIERLAND DENTAL CENTERWelcome to our guest blogger - Dr. Michael Thompson from Kierland Dental Center!

Dr. Mike is the past president of the Arizona Dental Association, the Arizona Academy of General Dentisty and the Central Arizona Dental Society. He also donates his time and expertise to help those less fortunate through Christina's Smile; Give Kids a Smile Day and the CASS Homeless Shelter. But to us, as a MoneySmart Family, he's our trusted family dentist. He'll be sharing some of his insights and tips for saving you money while keeping your smile healthy.



SIDNEY CROSBY Mouth puckThe Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby has a broken jaw and is out indefinitely after being hit in the mouth with a puck during a win against the Islanders on Saturday March 30. Crosby, the N.H.L.’s leading scorer, was struck in the face during the first period of the Penguins’ 2-0 victory.

Slow-motion replays showed multiple teeth flying out of his mouth after the puck struck him during his first shift. The team said Crosby had “major dental work” and would have more done later in the week.

Another example why mouth guards and all protective equipment are so important. A frozen puck traveling over 100 mph will still do a lot of damage to a face but with a proper mouth guard the damage would be far less. 

Fixing a broken tooth can range in cost from $250 to $1500, depending on the severity of the break. If the tooth is non-restorable it could cost up to $5000 to replace it. By contrast, an athletic mouth guard costs approximately $250 at any sports dentist or general dentist office and there are different types of mouth guards which offer different levels of protection.
By next month most of us will have long forgotten this story, however, the player will spend the next 50 years and tens of thousands of dollars repairing, maintaining and re-doing his treatment—and it will still not be as good as new.

Having an athletic guard made at your dentist office is a simple, inexpensive way to help prevent, or reduce injury to teeth while playing sports.

When I was the team dentist for the Phoenix Roadrunners (hockey) and the Phoenix Mustangs (hockey), I was surprised to learn that mouth guards were optional in professional hockey. I played hockey growing up in Detroit and I know that facemasks and mouth guards are inconvenient, but they sure are appreciated when something happens. And FYI, they do freeze the hard rubber pucks prior to the game so they slide with less friction.

Michael R. Thompson, DDS

"We can complain because the rose bush has thorns or rejoice because the thorn bush has roses" - Abraham Lincoln.

Never Buy your child a car - No Happy 16th birthday gift here

10 Things Parents Should Never, Ever, Pay For!

Parents are going broke raising their kids.

Adapted from The MoneySmart Family System

The “experts” at the USDA in their 2010 report “Expenditures on Children and Families” say that we should expect to spend about $261,000 to raise each child from birth through age seventeen ($14,500 per year). Do you think this is accurate? We don’t! In 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median annual household income fell to $49,777. Meaning that it could take more than five years and three months of your entire gross household income to get Junior through the formative years and ready for college.

Just calculate with us for a minute. If you’re an average family with 1.8 children (according to USDA figures, this alone should cost you $26,100 per year), living in an average city, spending an average amount on food ($200 per month per person x 12 months = $9,120 per year) with an average yearly household income ($50,000 per year—about $40,000 after taxes), you’d be left with $4,700 a year ($392 per month) to spend on cars, clothes, housing, debt, recreation, gifts, utilities, health care, cell phones, cable TV, medical bills, dental bills, and chewing gum. Something simply doesn’t add up!

If you’re going to survive financially and have any money left to retire on, you’re going to have to draw a line in the sand with what you’re willing to spend on your kids.

Many parents think that they have to provide their kids with the best things in life. But we’ve discovered that giving our kids the best things, often means that they will expect us to continue to do that . . . indefinitely. But teaching them to pay their own way, starting with smaller expenses from the youngest ages, will produce an abundance of benefits as they exercise their own mental and financial assets to resolve their wants and desires.

At the very least, parents ought to allow their children the privilege of sharing some of the cost of the things they want. But the truth is, the more our kids invest in their own financial decisions, the more they’ll value and care for what they buy. When parents pay for their kids wants and desires, they’re actually stealing valuable financial growth opportunities from them.

While parents may bristle at some of our suggestions, here are 10 things they should never pay for!

  1. Designer Apparel
  2. Video gaming systems
  3. Mall spending money
  4. Designer sunglasses
  5. Good Grades
  6. Class rings
  7. Auto Insurance
  8. Car of their own
  9. Cell phones and cell service
  10. Cosmetic surgery (with rare exceptions)

Oh, and a couple more things parents simply should never pay for . . .

  1. Tanning Salons
  2. Hair Coloring

You’ll never regret allowing your kids to stand on their own two feet financially—it pays great dividends to them and . . . protects your dividends for retirement. It’s never too early, too late, or too hard to start teaching and learning financial responsibility.

Image courtesy of Dan/



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