Holiday tips for knowing how to donate to charities wisely

November 28, 2007

We all have inner Mother Teresa’s in all of us. God bless her soul. Interestingly, the holidays trigger our generous instincts more than any time of the year. Don’t know why, really, maybe because of the Santa Clause influence or the vibes of the Christmas carols. Reality is, we all feel like we have to give something back to the society more than ever at the last month of the year.

But not being the Mr. Grinch here, or in my case, Ms. Grinch, we all need to make wise decisions in donating our hard-earned money to charities. Have come up with a few but relevant tip offs so that we can give what is due to those who truly deserve it

Holiday tip number one: Know your cause.

First, discern what cause do you really, really want to support. It would be really senseless to give if you’ll just give just for kicks or because most people are doing it. You have a cause. You worked hard for that. By knowing the cause you want to support, then it will be easier to find the specific charitable institution or institutions for that matter.

Holiday tip number two: Go with Google

Google can give you lots of results when you search for charities to sponsor. But how can you tell if you’re giving to a worthy charity? The authority charity portals include charitynavigator.org, give.org, and guidestar.org. They all have lists of legit charities.

Holiday tip number three: Know where your money goes

What is being implied here is know how you’re money will be spent. You may slap to my face that, hey, of course it goes to the beneficiaries. Light bulb moment here, charities are organizations, they have operating expenses as well in order to serve their causes. A charity that allots at least 80% of your donation to programs should be your charity of choice. This means that most of your donation will actually go directly to the charity’s programs for the cause.

Holiday tip number four : As for the 990

The 990 form is an IRS form containing all the necessary legal information about the charity that you’re eyeing for. This form gives you a clear picture of what the charity actually does, how stable they, how they invite resources, the status of their reserves, and if they have any record with the BBB. Asking for this form makes you feel secure knowing that you’re dealing with a fraud charity.

Holiday tip number five: Give them a call

Make sure that they have an enlisted contact number and that the area code matches their registered address. Calling them and hearing a person’s voice on the other line makes will validate their existence. Also, calling them lets you digest more information about the charity thus will make you feel that they are the worthiest to receive your sponsorship or donation.

Yes, I know, we give to charities without expecting any returns. But the joys of giving can never be measured nor returned. What’s important is that you give, period. Doesn’t have to be the season of giving for you to give, but should be when our help are needed.

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Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday:When can you save more?

November 27, 2007


Now that we’re past Thanksgiving, the shopping mania for the holiday season is officially on.

After being stuffed with turkey, it’s time to stuff our Christmas trees with gifts. There are two major shopping extravaganzas that happen after Thanksgiving, Black Friday which is the Friday after Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend.

The numbers are up for Black Friday. 147 million dashed to the department stores and retail sales are up by 8% compared to last year. From the looks of it, either more people were able to save for the holiday shopping or they were just brave enough and prepared to spend more, or the discounts were just so irresistible they can’t let it pass.

But, as a smart consumer, which I know you are, how can you really see the difference in shopping with a 2 day difference? Let’s first break down these two big days in American retail.

Isn’t a black Friday a bad day?

The term, “Black Friday” originally, had no connections to shopping or whatsoever at all. During the late 1920’s, the Friday after Thanksgiving gave the folks the hardest time in the streets due to the very heavy traffic. I think that the very heavy traffic was due to a millions of people lining up to shop and that people are going back to work after a day of rest. Since this day was officially recognized, retailers traditionally launch mall-wide sales with prices dropping off for as low as 70%. Now, who wouldn’t shop?

Cyber Monday’s roots

Cyber Monday, on the other hand,was coined just two years ago by an online retail organization due to a report that online sales significantly increased (77% to be exact) during that Monday following Thanksgiving weekend. Well, I guess the numbers really justified the branding. And just like Black Friday, it has become a young tradition for online merchants to give put discounts during this day.

What’s the difference?

Yes, what difference does it make when you go shopping at a brick and mortar store and through your computer? Well, the difference depends on your preferences.

If you’re the type who doesn’t like marching into the store at 5 in the morning to grab your must have items, then it is ideal for you to shop at Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday is also perfect for those who are still glued to their beds after the stress of preparing for Thanksgiving.

But if you’re the type who wants to be physically challenged by the thrill of getting the best buys at the retail store, then you’re a Black Friday consumer.

Which day offers better discounts?

Actually, when you shop during either Black Friday or Cyber Monday, the drop-down rates are basically the same. As I’ve mentioned, physical stores offer to at least a 70% drop off, while online merchants give out not only discounts but also coupons serving as “reserved discounts” which shoppers can use a few days before Christmas. When you shop during Black Friday, you can immediately bring home the item, zero shipping fees for that. If you buy online during Cyber Monday, you’ll have to wait a few days but can get items that are not on sale in the department store but are 50% off online. Also, during this time of the year, online merchants cut off the shipping fee as an added twist.

At the end, I say that it is entirely up to you when to shop after Thanksgiving. Depends really on where you are comfortable. Whenever you shop, you’ll still be spending, that’s inevitable. Keep in your mind this money saving tip I have learned from my mom who single-handedly raised me by working three jobs, Spend first on what you need then go for the the gold.


Money saving tips for stay-at-home mothers

November 26, 2007

The joys that motherhood brings can’t be denied nor disputed. Even with the growing culture of working mothers, still the majority of women who become child-bearers choose to stay at home. So, between all the juggling of tasks, how can a stay-at-home mother save some money at the piggy bank? Money saving tips are just what you need to put everything in a good place.

A stay-at-home mother is tasked not only with taking care of the kids, but also of the household and the husband as well. Even if the husband is the one earning, the stay-at-home mother is awarded with the responsibility of alloting the money for the expenses and make sure that there will still be enough to put in the savings account. Hey, with all gas and the mortgage, can’t imagine how stay-at-home mothers can manage.

Have come up with a few money saving tips just for stay-at-home mothers to aid in their everyday spending:

  • Plan an income and stick to it – Formulate your own feasibility study. List all the possible and miscellaneous expenses of the family. Allot a fixed income and abide by it as much as you can at least for the first quarter. This will help you determine what are the most and least necessary expenses. At the end of the fourth month, review all the expenses and then you’ll have a pretty good idea of how much you’re going to take out of the wallet.
  • Stay in touch with your connections -Keep in regular communication with your former colleagues, not only with your pie-making buddies. You can never limit your skills to just in the four corners of your house. Maybe you’ll have time to go back to your career.Thing is, you’ll never know.
  • Open up separate accounts – Yes, couples are one. But it won’t hurt to open up another savings account for yourself. This is not assuming any negative vibes, but just something to go to for your “fun stuff”. I refer to fun stuff as your trips to the salon, escapades at the ladies section of the department store, or just simple joys of eating a pint of ice cream all by yourself during the wee hours of the night.
  • Allot funds for insurance – again, not inviting bad vibes here. But just to make sure that whatever happens in the not-so distant future, never fail to make deposits for your insurance. So whatever emergency comes like a hospitalization, all you’ll think about is to get better and not the bills.

Stay-at-home mothers are given a very daunting and challenging task of alloting the appropriate funds to where they belong. For the most appropriate estimate, you can visit Salary.com to get average stay-at-home mother’s services like housekeeping, cooking, laundry, etc. Hats off to stay-at-home mothers out there.:) Hope the above money saving tips can aid you.

As Featured On Ezine Articles


Grocery Money Saving tips for saving on your turkey budget

November 22, 2007

Tomorrow is the T-day. If you’re one of the last-minute shoppers for turkey,then you can definitely find the following grocery money saving tips to your advantage.

More than 20 million Americans are traveling this year to celebrate Thanksgiving. The airlines are packed, the roads are filled, and all modes of transportation are having a feast. Thanksgiving is synonymous to turkey,which undoubtedly is on everyone’s table at Thanksgiving dinner. But, with everything going on a price hike, how can you manage?

Latest reports say that prices of basic commodities in the grocery increased by 11%. Gas is 3 dollars a gallon, more or less, and yes, the price of turkey is now $17 compared to almost $14 last year. So, how can you get the juicy turkey without sacrificing your budget? Here are the grocery money saving tips to aid you:

Take advantage of coupons

Some supermarkets actually offered this long before the holidays. Well,they didn’t offer turkeys as part of the discount, but thing is, these coupons correspond to canned goods and fruits and other spices which will let you spend more on buying a turkey. You already have the ingredients, all you need is the bird.

Go for the promos

Supermarkets also now have this promo right now that if you’ll buy up to a certain amount on a single purchase, you’ll get a free turkey. Now, is that great or what. More or less, you’ll get a free frozen turkey. They taste just as delicious if you know how to defrost them. Just put them in a container with cold water and replace the water every hour.

Run after one

When I say this, I mean literally. If you’re living in the farm, why just go and catch one? It will be really beneficial if you go into taking care of even just a pair of turkeys so that they’ll be all healthy and full when the T-day comes. Last year, my aunts from Tbrought a large turkey for thanksgiving from their farm. Really made a difference.

Estimate how many guests you’ll have

This is helpful because knowing how many mouths you’ll be feeding will let you determine if you’re gonna buy a turkey or two. Ideally, one person should consume 1 pound of turkey meat, so, maybe, instead of buying 2 turkeys, you can just buy one and the breast part.

Thanksgiving would never be complete without the great big bird. But, you still have Christmas to prepare for, right? So, as one of the last grocery money saving tips, spend less yet eat heartily. Happy Thanksgiving!


Practical money saving tips for a drive in Europe

November 20, 2007

Christmas is approaching at half the speed of light, so to speak. Surely, in spite of the spending spree, we all look forward to saving for our basic needs. So, we all need a few practical money saving tips to make this holiday hope happen.

Undoubtedly, we all have wishful thinkings of going to Europe. This part of the world primarily lures us with three things; romance, fashion and right-side driving. And one of the dilemmas tourists face here is how to get around on a good car. What a not-so frequent traveler will do is rent one. But business travelers know better of the emerging trend. Definitely, this is one of the practical saving tips worth reading and knowing.

Practical saving tip number one: Lease, not rent

Instead of renting, tourists can actually apply for a lease of a car of their choice. Just like a house lease, the car is technically yours for an agreed and paid number of days or even weeks with a maximum of a month. Unlike renting, where the insurance fee is still exclusive, in a car lease, this is already included. So, fear of a scam is out of the picture.

Practical saving tip number two: Save on gas with public transpo

One of the practical saving tips you can adhere to is taking the local bus or cab. This is practical for you if you’re under these two categories:

  • You don’t know how to drive
  • You see the price of gas as totally unreasonable

The practical saving tips here are just a few that I’ve come up with. You can come up with your own. With these practical money saving tips, you can set aside a few dollars and enjoy a worry-free European vacation.