Skip to content
Home » Family Life » Page 3

Family Life

Missing Loved Ones Who Have Died
From Donna L. Watkins

I know that many of you have lost special people this year and holidays are an emotional time that tends to make it harder without the loved ones that have gone on before us. My mom died on Christmas Eve and somebody gave me this. It’s been a treasure to me every year. I hope it brings some peace to your heart.

My First Christmas In Heaven
Author Unknown

I am having my first Christmas in Heaven
A glorious, wonderful day!
I am standing with saints of all ages,
Who found Christ, the truth and the way.

I am singing with the heavenly choir
And, oh what celestial music
We bring to our Savior and King.

I am singing the glad song of redemption,
How Jesus to Bethlehem came,
And why they called His name Jesus,
That all may be saved through His Name!

Oh, loved one, I wish you could be here!
No Christmas on earth can compare,
With all of the rapture in glory,
I witness in Heaven so fair!

You know how I always loved Christmas,
It seemed such a wonderful day,
With all of my loved ones around me,
We were so happy in every way.

Yes, now I can see why I loved it,
And, oh what a joy it will be,
When all of my loved ones are with me,
To share all the glories I see!

So, dear ones on earth, I send greetings,
Look up! Till dawning appears,
And, oh what a Christmas awaits us,
Beyond all our partings and tears!.

Ways to Save on Grooming Expenses – Part I

by Dr. Charlotte Gorman

Simply put, most people have to have at least a minimum amount of grooming. Some require more than others because of their particular jobs or contact with the public.

If not carefully controlled, the buying of grooming aids and services can take a large bite out of your budget. The suggestions below will help you keep you and your family properly groomed while keeping the expenses to a minimum.

1 . Buy grooming aids (such as hair color, hair spray, makeup, nail polish, facial tissue, razor blades, soap, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, shaving cream, hand and body lotion, and cleansing cream) on sale whenever possible instead of paying full price for them. Sometimes you can even find them at half-price or on special at "buy one, get one free." Buying your grooming aids on sale could amount to sizable savings. If the sale prices warrant it, then stock up. You may even want to buy as much as a one-year (or more) supply if you have adequate storage space.

2 . Buy the generic grooming aids. The quality should be relatively comparable to store brands and name brands, and the prices should be much lower than the name brands and somewhat lower than the store brands. At least give the generics a try; if you like them, you could save yourself a substantial amount of money.

3 . If you absolutely refuse to try the generic grooming aids, then at least give the store brands a try. Store brands usually are considerably cheaper than name brands. Many store brands will be of comparable quality to that of name brands.

4 . In general, select grooming aids that are reasonably priced. Don’t just assume that a particular lipstick selling for $7.50 a tube, for example, is better than a $1.50 tube or that a certain men’s hair spray at twice the price of another hair spray (not labeled "men’s" hair spray) is really superior. At least, give the less expensive ones a try. When you consider all of the many different grooming aids you use, say, over a year’s time, you could save yourself a big chunk of money.

5 . If you simply don’t intend to change from your long-time national name brands of particular grooming aids, then at least shop around for the best prices. The prices of identical items can vary from store to store. The same item may be cheaper, for example, at discount stores, but more expensive at some drugstores and at cosmetic counters at "ritzy" stores. Saving even small amounts on several items can make a noticeable difference over time.

6 . Regardless of whether you buy generics, store brands, off brands, or national name brands of grooming aids, shop around for the best prices. Compare prices at various places such as discount stores, general department stores, dollar stores, drugstores, grocery stores, cosmetic stores, clothing stores, cosmetic companies selling door-to-door, cosmetic companies selling through home party plans, various specialty shops, and mail-order companies. Also, prices on identical items can vary among the same types of stores, for example, from one drugstore to another drugstore or from one grocery store to another grocery store. Buy your grooming aids where they are the cheapest.

7 . If you must buy a particular name-brand grooming item, then shop around to see if some stores may be offering a free item or several free items with the purchase of the particular item you need. For example, one well-known cosmetic company has periodically given a free gift package of several of its full-size cosmetic items with a $7.50 purchase of a company product or products. If you are going to buy a grooming item anyway, why not get some free items with your purchase. Getting free items decreases your overall cost for grooming aids.

8 . Buy in quantity if you can save money over buying the same items individually. For example, if soap selling at 49 cents a bar can be bought for three for $1.00, that would be a saving of 47 cents on the three bars. If shampoo selling for $1.89 a bottle is available at two for $3.00, you could save 78 cents on two bottles.

9 . Pick up free samples and trial sizes of cosmetics, cologne, body lotion, and other grooming aids at various stores. These free items often will be in small baskets on a counter in the cosmetic area or possibly other areas where various grooming aids are displayed. These items could reduce (even by a small amount) your expenditures for grooming aids.

10 . Check out the garage sales for various grooming equipment. The best performing electric razor I’ve ever owned, I purchased for $1.50 at a garage sale. I’ve used it for years, and it still works well. This particular model of razor sold for approximately $50 new. My savings, therefore, amounted to $48.50, which went a long way in buying groceries and paying bills.

11 . When you need to buy grooming equipment, consider putting an advertisement in the newspaper. The ad might be worded, "Want to buy a good, used hair dryer on floor stand. Call ——-." You should be able to save a great deal over the price of similar, new equipment. However, do be very careful in buying used equipment. You could be buying the problems of the owner. It is probably doubtful that the seller will be willing to give you a guarantee on the used equipment. Even if you are given a guarantee, you might have difficulty in getting the seller to stand behind it if you experience trouble with the equipment. On the other hand, buying used grooming equipment might prove to be an extremely wise investment.

12 . If you use cologne, buy a bottle without an atomizer if it is cheaper than one with an atomizer. Also, one large bottle without an atomizer may be less expensive than the same amount in two small bottles. If you want spray application, then pour the contents of the bottle into a clean pump bottle (hair spray or other suitable container). I, personally, prefer using an old, clean, pump hair spray bottle rather than one of the empty atomizer bottles with screw-off lids which are for sale at various stores. Anyway, buying an atomizer bottle costs money. Using an old hair spray bottle is free.

13 . Get the last, possible bit of body lotion, liquid makeup, mouthwash, roll-on deodorant, and cologne (without an atomizer) from containers by storing them upside-down when you have used nearly all of the contents to allow the remaining contents to drain down for use. You may be pleasantly surprised at how many more days’ use you can get from the containers.

14 . After draining bottles of shampoo, bath "bubbles," liquid soap, and hair conditioner upside-down, rinse them out with a small amount of water to get the last possible drop for use.

15 . Soak several small pieces of soap in a small amount of water for 15 to 30 minutes or more, if necessary, to soften the outsides. Then squeeze them together in your hand to form one larger piece. There is never a need to throw away even tiny pieces of soap. Throwing away soap is throwing away money.

16 . If pop-up, wet, disposable "towels" dry out, run a little water over the top of the towels in the container to rewet them. Rewetting them allows you to continue to use them.

17 . Squeeze the toothpaste tube from the bottom and flatten and roll the tube up from the bottom as you use the contents. I find that a piece of tape or a clamp is needed on a plastic tube to hold it in place after I have rolled it up. With the above method, I find that I can get the maximum amount of toothpaste from a tube.

18 . Give yourself your own facials, manicures, and pedicures rather than go to the beauty shop for them. You can do them yourself for much less money.

Part II of Grooming Expense can be found here.

*Dr. Charlotte Gorman is an Extension Agent – Family & Consumer Sciences, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A & M University System.  She is the author of "The Frugal Mind", "The Little Book of Living Frugal, and co-author of "Speak for Yourself:  A Handbook on Practical Public Speaking."

Ways To Save On Grooming Expense – Part II

by Dr. Charlotte Gorman

Simply put, most people have to have at least a minimum amount of grooming. Some require more than others because of their particular jobs or contact with the public.

If not carefully controlled, the buying of grooming aids and services can take a large bite out of your budget. The suggestions below will help you keep you and your family properly groomed while keeping the expenses to a minimum.

1. Use a lip brush to get the remaining lipstick from down inside the tube. The lip brush will quickly pay for itself by enabling you to get additional lipstick. Since about one-fourth to one-third of the lipstick is down inside the tube, the use of the brush should cut your lipstick expenditures by approximately 25 to 33 percent. Over the years, you could save several hundred dollars.

2. Use petroleum jelly for cleaning makeup from your eyes and face. Petroleum jelly usually is much lower in price than facial cleansers.

3. Some stores which sell cosmetics will do a complete makeup job free of charge. If you are going to have to replace a makeup item which you have exhausted or if you would like to try a new inexpensive item, such as a lipstick or blush, why not take advantage of the expertise of the makeup demonstrator. Don’t be pressured into buying every item that the demonstrator uses on your face, but don’t go through the makeup session if you have no intention whatsoever of buying anything. The prices of the items normally are higher than comparable items at a discount store, for example, so watch yourself; or you could end up "paying" for the makeup session.

4. Shampoo and style your own hair and that of family members at home. Doing this at home is far cheaper than having it done at the beauty or barber shop.

5. Dye or color rinse your and family members’ hair at home. Coloring hair will be much more expensive at the beauty salon or barber shop.

6. Unless your hair is in "bad" condition, don’t let your beautician or barber put special conditioners on it or give it special oil treatments. You could save several dollars. Even if your hair does need special conditioners or treatments, give your hair this special care at home yourself and save the several dollars.

7. If you have the ability, cut your hair and family members’ hair at home rather than go to the beauty shop or barber shop. You could save $10 to $25 or more per haircut.

8. If you can’t cut your or family members’ hair, perhaps you can at least trim your own and family members’ hair between cuts by a professional. This will result in fewer visits to the beauty shop or barber shop and less expense for you.

9. Give yourself and family members home permanents instead of getting them done at the beauty shop. Home perms will be much cheaper. Follow carefully the directions which come with the home permanents. If you can’t give yourself perms, maybe a friend or family member could help.

10. Wash (roll, if necessary) and dry your own hair and that of your family at home, and just get a "comb-out" at the beauty salon. A "comb-out" will cost only a fraction of the price of the complete works.

11. Call the local cosmetology schools (beauty schools/colleges) or barber schools and volunteer to have your name placed on the list of people to serve as models on which the instructors can demonstrate hair cutting, perming, shampooing, conditioning, hair rolling, coloring, styling, and blow drying to students. Getting occasional free hair care decreases your outlay.

12. Get permanents, shampoos and sets, cuts, and other hair care at cosmetology schools (beauty schools/colleges) or barber schools. Their regular prices could easily save you from 50 to 85 percent of the prices at beauty salons and barber shops. Call for information and an appointment. Even though students will be doing the work, instructors will oversee their work. I have always been pleased with the quality of the work students have done on my hair.

13. Watch the newspaper for specials at cosmetology schools (beauty schools/colleges) and barber schools. For example, at a cosmetology school I once got a permanent on sale for $7.50 (one-half off the regular price) which also included a cut, shampoo, and set. There is a wide gap between $7.50 and what most beauty salons charge for a permanent.

14. Watch the newspaper for specials at beauty salons and barber shops. For example, one advertisement read, "Hair specials–permanents, shampoo and styling, cuts–2 for 1 on Thursdays in March. Bring a friend and split the cost." Another stated, "Permanents half-price for the month of January." Such specials could ease your financial burden for hair care.

15. If you have to resort to paying full price at a beauty salon or barber shop, then call eight to ten different ones. Ask what their prices are for particular items, such as permanents, cuts, shampoos and styling, conditioning, coloring, and "comb-outs." The prices normally vary a great deal among the different salons and barber shops.

16. Let your hair dry naturally, and save yourself the expense of buying a hair dryer and the electricity required to operate it.

Dr. Charlotte Gorman is an Extension Agent – Family & Consumer Sciences, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A & M University System. She is the author of The Frugal Mind, The Little Book of Living Frugal, and co-author of Speak for Yourself: A Handbook on Practical Public Speaking.

Frugal Activities for Couples

Recently, I read an article in a publication we get about a husband that had trouble reading.  So, the wife offered to read the book to him.  Together, they enjoyed the book and developed new common interests.

This reminded me that this is something Donna and I have done too.  Although, it isn’t because we have trouble reading we just take turns reading the mutually agreed to book outloud.  This helps us have new common discussions that we can enjoy and also helps each of us to have a deeper look inside of our mate.  Many times as we read things that we didn’t know about each other,  some new reaction or meaning will pop out based on how we are reacting to the material being read aloud.  Try this some time together and see if this doesn’t help you to know one another better, become more informed and deepen your commitment to one another.

So many times couples think they have to spend money to be entertained so our hope is this will be a helpful list for those days when the pocketbook simply won’t permit those activities that cost money.

Add your activites below in the comments box. Remember the comments are moderated so please allow a few days before your post will be displayed.

Editor of The Frugal Life

Frugal College Entertainment

Let’s face it, sure everyone goes to college to get an education but they also go looking to have some fun. For most, it’s their first experience away from home and being on their own. However having fun comes with costs and most college students are on a tight budget. Here are some ways to have fun for less! Most of these activities are free or very cheap: • Campus music or dance recitals • College theater productions • Guest speakers • Poetry readings • Museum tours • Sports-either participate or go route for your school • Film and video showings • Art openings • Clubs on campus If you are looking to stray away from campus here are some off campus fun frugal ideas: 1. Go to the movies, catch the matinee film during the day when prices are less expensive 2. Explore natural parks or recreation facilities where you can work out or simply enjoy the surrounding 3. If you have a pool in your apartment complex or have friends that do, gather round and soak up the rays and have some fun. 4. If you are in cold climates, go sledding in the wintertime, it’s an activity that you’re never too old for. Find a new hobby Of course those are all inexpensive ways to have fun but if you like the social gatherings of being around your friends which means going out to eat, going to new clubs, and so forth, here are a view tips to save on some cash. If going out to eat with friends, snack on something before hand so your meal wont be as expensive because you won’t be as hungry. Stay away from drinks and desserts because prices will be jacked up. Swap clothes with friends instead of shopping for new ones that you may only wear once depending on the occasion. Choose to be the designated driver so you won’t be spending money on drinks and know everyone will get home safely. Don’t go out every night of the week. Remember you do still have class to attend to. So if planning to go out, choose one night to go out and make the other a low key night such as making it a blockbuster night or picking up where you left off in the book you were reading. College is about having fun but also getting an education so don’t let the fun experiences get the best of you and forget why you are where you are. If you get an A then it’s a for sure reason to go out and have some fun. Set goals for yourself and once you achieve them, give yourself credit!

Saving on the Purchase, Care and Repair of Shoes

by Dr. Charlotte Gorman

1. When considering buying a pair of shoes, ask yourself, "Do I really need another pair of shoes?" For example, "Do I really need a new pair of black shoes, since I already have four pairs of good, black shoes in the closet?" Answering "no" to such questions could save you a sizable amount of money.

2. If possible, wait until needed shoes are on sale–preferably at 50 to 75 percent or more off. My favorite pair of high-heel shoes was regularly priced at $56. I bought them on a closeout table for $3.00. Nearly all shoes (men’s, women’s, and children’s) will eventually be put on sale. Rare should be the case when you would need to pay full price for a pair of shoes.

3. If you really do need a pair of new shoes and you cannot find them on sale, shop around for the best full price. For example, the price of an identical style and brand of shoe can vary from store to store.

4. Check out the garage sales. Shoes, especially ones still in very good condition, are usually rare, but not impossible to find, at garage sales. I have purchased some in like-new condition, so be on the lookout. Spray the insides of all secondhand shoes with a commercial fungicide to avoid the chance of getting athlete’s foot.

5. Check factory outlets.

6. Consider "seconds" and "irregulars" if the flaws are so minor that it really doesn’t matter, and if they don’t affect the comfort or fit. "Seconds" and "irregulars" will be cheaper than the same "first-quality" shoes.

7. Consider "samples." Watch the newspaper for advertisements of sales on shoe "samples." You can usually get them at considerable savings.

8. Buy shoes which will stay in style beyond one season. Choose simple, basic, classic, conservative, and traditional styles. Such shoes should be stylish for many years and, thus, should decrease the need to buy additional shoes as {oon.

9. Avoid (or drastically limit) the purchase of "fad" shoes, which are in style for very short periods. If you do buy fad shoes, pay as little as possible for them. If you do pay more than a small amount for them, you will have more to lose when the shoes are no longer stylish.

10. Buy a pair of shoes in a color and style which can be worn with many of your clothes, not just one particular garment. The more clothes with which you can wear a pair of shoes, the fewer pairs of shoes you should need.

11. Buy children’s shoes slightly larger than needed so that the children can wear the shoes longer. Of course, you don’t want to buy shoes which are uncomfortably large or damaging to your children’s feet. Use your good judgement. The children could wear thick socks and switch to thinner socks as their feet grow.

12. Be careful about buying shoes on impulse. Make a list of the styles and colors of shoes you need and try to stick to it. Otherwise, you could end up with a closet full of shoes which match very few of your clothes. In addition, the more shoes you buy, of course, the less money you have left to use elsewhere or put in your savings account.

13. When you are buying shoes, buy ones which can be worn for several occasions, if possible. For example, a pair of office shoes may be comfortable enough for a day of shopping and dressy enough for dinner out. The more occasions on which you can wear a pair of shoes, the fewer pairs you should need.

14. Buy shoes in which you feel "good." If you don’t like the shoes a great deal in the store, you probably won’t like them any better when you get them home; and your money investment will spend most of its time on the shoe rack in your closet.

15. Buy shoes that are comfortable. If they are not comfortable during the five minutes you wear them in the store, they probably won’t be comfortable after you have worn them for hours in the office or on shopping trips. Thus, you will probably end up not wearing them; and you will have wasted your money.

16. If possible, try on shoes before you buy them. A size 6AA in one brand or style may not fit the same as a size 6AA in another brand or style. Once you have scuffed the soles, you usually can’t return or exchange them for another size. Also, if you bought them on sale, you may not be able to return them or exchange them anyway. Your money will be lost.

17. Limit your purchase of light-colored shoes which might not look as good for as long a time as darker-colored ones. Lighter colors have more tendency to show scratches, stains, and evidence of having been repaired.

18. Have shoes repaired rather than buy new ones. For example, have the shoe shop replace worn heels and soles, resew straps, and make various other repairs. However, use your good judgement. For example, it probably would be a poor investment to put new heels and soles on a pair of men’s shoes which are practically worn out in all other places.

19. Replace broken or badly worn shoe laces to extend the lives of the shoes instead of discarding the shoes. New laces could also perk up the look of older shoes. New laces certainly will cost less than a new pair of shoes.

20. Insert pads inside of shoes, wear socks, or wear thicker socks than you’ve been wearing for a better fit, instead of discarding shoes which have stretched. Continuing to wear the shoes will decrease the need for buying additional ones.

21. Launder washable shoes by hand in the bathroom lavatory, bathtub, laundry room sink, or a bucket or other container of water rather than run them through the cycles in the washing machine. Washing them in the washing machine could shorten their lives, and you will have to buy new ones sooner.

22. Keep your shoes clean and polished to extend their lives.

23. Wear rubber or plastic overshoes or galoshes in rainy and snowy weather to protect your shoes.

24. Protect your leather shoes from mildew. If you detect mildew on shoes in the closet, leave the shoes outside the closet after you have cleaned off the mildew so that they can get light and air, or lay a package of chemical moisture absorber in the shoes when they are in the closet–one or both of these suggestions could remedy the problem. Mildew could damage shoes and cause you to have to buy new ones.

25. Have children to change from "good" shoes to "play" shoes if they are going to "play." Adults should do likewise. Changing shoes will help "good" shoes to stay in that category for a longer period of time.

About the Author
Dr. Charlotte Gorman is an Extension Agent, Family & Consumer Sciences, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A & M University System. She is the author of The Frugal Mind, The Little Book of Living Frugal, and Speak for Yourself.

Frugal Wedding Ideas

Q. My fiance and I are planning a wedding for spring of 2003. We are working with a tight budget, and would love to get some ideas from The Frugal Life readers on how to go about this major task without depleting our savings. We are planning to have the wedding and reception at a church, which should be relatively inexpensive, and I will be taking our engagement pictures. I’m especially concerned with the cost of catering. Also, I would love to have some creative ideas for gifts for the wedding party (it will be all family members). Thank you in advance for your wonderful ideas!! – Janelle

A. Location: Not to discourage you from having a beautiful church wedding, BUT the donation on using the church facilities is not always cheep…Have you thought about an out door wedding, maybe in a public park or lakeside, these are always inexpensive, you just pay for a permit to be there. Sometimes calling up that family member with the big back yard can work.

Catering: call up your favorite FAMILY owned BBQ. these guys always do it right…or the Family owned Italian Restaurant. Key thing is family owned, these businesses are always honored to do a wedding and their prices show this. When all else fails do a finger food reception.

Honeymoon: stay close, drive and spend your money on fun not food. My husband and I cooked 7 out of the 8 nights on our honeymoon (Canada). This made it possible to rent bikes, go horse back riding, visit hot springs, etc.
gifts: keep it simple, books. each person gets a book that’s right for them. Then make it personal, write something special in the front. Other options for the guys are: pens, money clips, journals, etc. remember this will be the happiest day of your life, SIMPLIFY it and the whole experience will be more enjoyable. e-mail me, we should talk li******@ho*****.com put WEDDING STUFF in the subject much love and blessings, – BB :D

A. My husband & I were on a tight budget for our wedding & were very creative w/expenses. For our wedding party gifts we went to a local winery & had them make labels the said "Thank you for sharing in our special day!" and our names & the date. We included 2 wine glasses (from a dollar store) for everyone & also gave the females candle holders (also from the dollar store). They were lovely bottles that were saved by the wedding party as a remembrance.

Our centerpieces were altar (real inexpensive) wine wrapped in sparkle tissue paper with helium balloons extended from the bottles & sparkles on the tables. For favors, I made grapevine wreath magnets for the women and since my husband loves candy, jellyfish (bought at a discount club)wrapped in mesh for the guys. Don’t purchase a caketopper, borrow the decorations from your baker. Remember…the vows are the most important part of the day! – A frugal bride

A. About the wedding: For the wedding party I gave the bridesmaids pantyhose, and nice earrings. I did this because I let them pick their dresses as long as it was a certain color. I got cameras for each table and had the pictures developed and gave them away with the thank you notes. My husband helped pay for the tuxes for his groomsmen. I hope that helps and spurs on new ideas

A. My husband and I had a lovely church wedding and reception for 75 people. It cost us $1600. This included everything from my dress to the invitations and $500 of this was for church-related expenses (organists fee, Marriage Encounter classes, use of the reception hall, etc.) We let all invitees know that we didn’t want any wedding gifts but if they wanted to volunteer to help with the wedding in some way, we’d love it! One friend volunteered to provide the candles for the ceremony, several others volunteered to help decorate, one provided the bridal bouquet and flowers, another baked the wedding cake. A groups of friends volunteered to organize a ‘potluck’ reception. I rented tables, dishes, a champagne font and provided the champagne. My friends each brought an elegant desert or finger food for the reception. One sister photographed the wedding. Another babysat all the small children. My brother sang. Different friends were invited to do the readings during the wedding. I asked my two attendants if they had a fancy dress they’d like to use for the wedding. One was burgundy. The other was mint green. So that’s how we decided on the color scheme for wedding decor. Invitations were done on my computer as was the Wedding Program. You get the picture. Everyone commented that it was the neatest wedding they had ever attended … and it was … because they all
had a part in making it happen. On a very personal note, my brother-in-law died of AIDS 7 years ago. The night he died, he kept talking about this wedding. He said he had never felt closer to the family than he did as we all worked together preparing for this wedding. May yours be blessed. – Nancy

A. To the lady having the wedding in Spring of 2003. I saved money for my wedding by making my own centerpieces for the tables, buying pretty and inexpensive tablecloths in two colors, and using deli meats and cheeses and rolls for the meal (along with side salads) from the local grocery store. The nice thing about the deli spread was that people didn’t have to wait until my hubby and I were done taking pictures before they could eat. The centerpieces were simply baskets in different sizes and shapes that we bought on sale and silk flowers that were either damaged or were single flowers that had come loose from their bouquets and were marked way down. Then my friend and I glued the flowers to the baskets with hot glue in various patterns and wrapped inexpensive ribbon around the handles. Then we went to See’s candy, bought some summer chocolates (all pastel colors), and wrapped them in colored Glad plastic wrap and ribbon. We laid the paper tableclothes on the tables with the corners alternating so both colors showed and then put the baskets in the center. The deli food was a big hit as it allowed everyone to serve themselves. We literally saved over $3,000 by doing all this ourselves instead of hiring expensive caterers and decorators. You’ll need to enlist some help in coordinating all of this but it will be worth it! Congratulations on your upcoming marriage! – Tracey W.

A. The best way to save on a wedding is to not invite everyone and their cousin! You are going to pay a caterer based on a per person charge. Fifty people is a lot cheaper than 300. Limit your invitations to your relatives and reasonably close friends. If you’ve not even talked to someone in 10 years, why invite them to your wedding?

Another way to save on catering is to time the reception for lunch-time or ‘tea time’. You’ll pay less per person for this type of event over a dinner. Also, consider doing a buffet-style meal rather than having the plates served to each guest. The caterer I talked to was able to suggest various ways to save; if they are interested in getting your business, they should be willing to help you meet your budget requirements.

On your dress, you can save quite a bit by calling around, particularly if you call more out-of-the-way stores. In Columbus, the dress I wanted was $700; in Orville, the same dress was only $400. A couple hours of driving saved me $300. And if you are at all crafty, make your own veil as it’s actually fairly easy and the materials are pretty cheap – Lisa

A. First off, don’t ask a caterer for prices for a wedding reception, ask for prices for a "family gathering". If possible, never ask for a price on a "wedding" anything. For some reason the price for items associated with a wedding are 25 to 75% higher than they are for a family gathering.

Ask the caterer if you can provide your own cake. Then check out prices at local supermarkets or small bakeries. Supermarket bakeries often do very nice cakes at a considerably cheaper price than the caterer.

Can you skip the caterer entirely and do it on your own? We served cake (white wedding cake from the supermarket), non-alcoholic punch, and sandwiches and salads buffet style at my daughter’s wedding. My daughter’s mother-in-law and I did rolled meat trays with a nicer selection of meats and cheese than offered by a caterer or the supermarket for about 1/2 the cost. Two of her sister-in-laws made salads and two very nice ladies from her mother-in-law’s church served.

If anyone offers to help with something, let them. There used to be a dear lady at my church that would make wedding cakes for church members at cost and they were gorgeous.

Check out various florists for prices or use silks (much cheaper). Try smaller florists or a florist that works out of a market. They may be a lot cheaper.

Check out consignment shops, thrift shops, the local newspaper ads and your relative’s and friends attics for a wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses. A friend of mine was married (second wedding) in her grandmother’s crocheted wedding dress. It had aged from white to a champagne color and was mid calf length on my friend – gorgeous. My daughter gave her wedding dress to friend and they altered it to fit a 3" shorter person and 4 sizes
smaller. Check out the clearance racks at wedding stores for a wedding dress and bridesmaid’s dresses. Look in large department stores for bridesmaid/formal type dresses. Try to pick out a style that is reusable. Bridesmaids dresses do not all have to be the same – I have been to several weddings where either the color or the style or both were different. One was done in fall colors in similar but not identical styles for a late October wedding and one had dresses in shades of palest pink to a dark rose (for the maid of honor) for a June wedding – Mary

A. This is long, but many will appreciate all of these cost cutters, I used to also be a bridal consultant!

In answer to Janelle’s wedding budget question. We had the most impressive wedding most said they ever had been to, & I cut corners evrywhere.

1. Flowers are such a big expense. Your bridemaids can carry a single rose in the color that matches. (This is very elegant) The men can also have a single sweetheart rose bouteneer to match w/ just a little baby’s breath.

Bridal bouquet: Go silk! You can get the base at a place like Walmart, and most Dollar stores or Big Lots have silk flowers. You can add things like pearl sprigs etc. which you will pay a little more for at Walmart, but it makes your less expensive base flowers look nicer. Plus, if you have pre-bridal picts. taken, you can use your actual bouquet in these picts., since it will not wilt.

2. Gifts: If the bridesmaids dresses permit it (neckline) Watch the stores for inexpensive, but nice looking faux pearl strands to go on sale. (you can get them pretty inexpensive) Tell them to wear them in your wedding, and your girls will all match.

Flower girl: I got mine little stuffed bears bride & groom in wedding attire. She loved it!

Men: A money clip can run from $5.00 to $10.00 depending on where you look. You can even start them off w/ a $1.00 in it if you get them cheap enough. You can get your ring bearer a little inexpensive wallet & start him out with a couple dollars.

Sometimes a Dollar General will carry items like this.

3. Catering: Since you are having your wedding at a church, there is usually a group of ladies at churches that help at events in the reception hall or kitchen. If there are, they can help put your food together in the church kitchen for a small fee, or if some family members want to help. We had a wonderful food table (buffet style)

The thing that was the biggest hit was baked potatoes. (it also filled them up) We put out bowls (in pretty ones we found at the $ store) of sour cream & butter, along with baked chicken (easy to make alot when baked) also big cans of green beans & vegies etc. is very easy to throw in a pot to heat at the church.

4. Invitations: I had a friend who bought nice paper & printed her own on her computer if you have a program already for it. You can add your own little pcs. of ribbon tied in a tiny bow etc. to dress them up. ON RSVP you can also put a phone # on it instead of buying stanps for all of them. Let your answering maching pick up for them to leave a message, & write that on the RSVP.

5. Music, unless you have a DJ for free, save money by just playing soft background music on a stereo, unless you want a dance, then if you have the music, there is always someone in the crowd (ask ahead) that want to flip a tape or CD.

6. Bridemaids dresses & bridal gown: JC Penney has an outlet store (you can probably call for info) They also have an outlet catalogue if you call. (I got mine for $10.00 there) The girls were thrilled. (a couple had to be altered as not all sizes are avail. sometimes) Bridal Gown: If you find an inexpensive one.. You can add to it! My train was not as ornate as I wanted, & since the seed pearls & clear sequins are hot glued on.. this is what I did! You can buy a bag of these cheap at Walmart & glue them on any lace or appliques that are on the gown. (you can do the same thing if you make your own veil)

6. Make everything yourself that you can. It is great that you have until spring, you will probably need to work on something every week now until then. Mark beside each item how much it should cost & figure out how much money you can use out of each pay check.. Make your plan & work it & you will save a bundle! – Lora

A. My husband and I were on a very tight budget when we got married, so I utilized that event to pull out all the creative stops. We got married in his parents’ home, and had the reception there too. There were around 80 guests, so the entire house was used! A good friend of ours took all the pictures, and another videotaped the wedding and some of the reception as their present to us. I bought a large, inexpensive scrapbook from a book store with some colored pencils, and a Polaroid camera. My father-in-law caught everyone throughout the night and took their picture. After it was in the scrapbook, the guests wrote messages to us with the colored pencils. Some drew pictures for us, others wrote poetry. It continues to be our favorite memento from the day. Very inexpensive, but very treasured. Best wishes! – Lauren

A. I have heard that many people have gone to caterers and asked if they would be interested in doing the wedding for free in exchange for advertising. In other words, they would cater and you’d make sure that you advertised for them. One couple I read about did the whole wedding this way. From rings, clothes, honeymoon. Everything. They advertised, by handing out cards that included all the vendors and what they provided. – TAS

A. My husband and I were married in a church with a church reception also. My aunt, who is a fabulous cook, catered our reception as our wedding gift!! We had an afternoon wedding (not a sit-down dinner) and had a large table filled with mini rolls, carved roast beef, ham, fruit, cheese, crackers, mini quiche, etc. A friend made the groom’s cake, a caramel sheet cake with frosted grapes on top. Since we were so busy visiting with guests at the reception, my aunt prepared us a small cooler with samples of the food for us to take with us when we left the church!!

The food doesn’t have to be elaborate at all. Just cake and mints for an early afternoon wedding is plenty!

My mother’s friends decorated the fellowship hall for the reception with lots of greenery (borrowed ferns, etc.) as well as the food tables. I remember wooden lattice panels (painted white) placed behind the bride’s and groom’s cakes that acted as a ‘background’. Pretty wreaths were hung from them. We also used greenery at the wedding rather than lots of fresh flowers. I did have one large flower arrangement that we left for them to use in the church on Sunday as the focal arrangement. – Tish

A. The church hall my not be cheaper. Look around for small community halls that rent out. But…Price matching is pretty popular these days. If you can find a cheaper place, the church might negotiate a cheaper price.

You can make most of the decorations yourself if you have a crafty bone or a crafty friend or family member. Buy supplies in bulk and on sale and leave plenty of time to complete them. i.e. off season silk flowers can be purchased for up to 80 percent off if you watch. Same for other decorations. For example if you pick a theme like Christmas in July then buy the stuff in January.

1. Try a local service organization. i.e. Kiwanis or the church ladies for good, less expensive food and service.

2. Cook Turkey/Ham/Roast at the local bakery. Baked potatoes can be done by the oven full and can even be purchased with the foil already on – although it’s cheaper to do that yourself. Most vegetables can be prepared a day or two ahead and served raw with dip. Get your family/good friends to make salads. You can make some items like deserts a month ahead and freeze them. Then get a teen group (with adult supervision) to serve and clean up. Local groups are always looking for some way to make money.

3. Don’t buy the booze. Either go alcohol free or BYOB. Just remember if people are drinking to take the keys while they are still sober and get either some really big gorilla or some really cute little thing (with a really strong stubborn streak) to hang onto them until the owners are really SOBER. If you invite them, and booze is available, you are responsible for every stupid thing they do while they are drunk. Hope this helps!
Have a great wedding and a happy life. – Charlie

A. Hi again this week. These suggestions are for the young lady planning a frugal wedding.
1. You don’t need to purchase expensive invitations. If you, a family member, or a friend has the greeting card program for your computer, use it with pretty paper for your invitations. If not, you might know someone who knows calligraphy.

2. If you have a local college that has a music program, some kid would love the experience and a little cash to play an instrument or sing for you in church. They’re much cheaper than pro’s, and always extremely talented.

3. Sometimes a caterer is not needed. If you and your family bake well, do it ahead of time. Many cookies freeze well. The buffet need not be fancy. Buy cold cuts and arrange a nice tray. Purchase the breads and rolls. You can make a fancy salad the day before. Your mom and sister or aunt can each make a hot dish. Purchase fresh fruit to make a lovely, edible arrangement, and put out a tray of cheeses. Instead of a pricey tier cake, a little brides cake will do, rounded off with plain sheet cake.

4. Going back to the college, (my husband works at one), hire hotel/restaurant students to serve cake and champagne, set out the food, and clean up.

5. If you must have alcohol at your wedding, cut out the pricey mxed drinks. Opt for beer, wine and soda. Also, sparkling wine and champagne are actually the same thing. The only differences are that champagne comes from only certain region of France, and sparkling wine is cheaper.

6. There are many lovely and inexpensive gifts you can give to your attendants. My absolute favorite is to search through all of your photos to find photos of yourself with each attendant. It doesn’t matter if they’re kid pictures or college pictures. Have each of them blown to 5×7 or 8×10 size, (about $15 each), frame them in inexpensive frames, and you have very personal and much loved presents for each girl for about $20 each. If your budget calls for even less costly gifts, purchase inexpensive pillow cases, (about $5 to $10), and embroider the edges yourself. Quite pretty. But above all, try to give personal gifts. People love them.

7. Wedding favors can be a inexpensive as silk roses with Hershey kisses attached to them, or chocolate bars with glued on, personalized labels made from your computer and slipped over the original labels. ***Congrats & Good Luck*** Maria

A. If you have a tight budget for your wedding you may want to have a potluck reception. We did and asked everyone to bring a dish to share instead of a gift. We spent only for sodas and juice and it was a lovely meal with table cloths, plates, napkins, etc from Target. Vases from the thrift shop filled with flowers from the grocery store make nice center pieces. We also bought several inexpensive disposable cameras and put them on the tables and asked people to take pictures and leave the cameras. When we developed the film at Costco (you can develop them as you can afford it) we had nice candid shots that we would never have gotten from a photographer. – Anne

A. Having just helped my daughter with her wedding in July of 2002, I can attest to one main thing. You can either spend time or you can spend money. We had from mid-May 2001 to mid-July 2002 and feel like we achieved a beautiful wedding at a modest cost. Here are some of our better ideas that I think were very cost effective. Hope you can use some of them:

The dresses – we purchased her $600+ wedding dress at a $99 Memorial day sales at a Bridesmart store. Seems like the store has big sales around holidays that would otherwise draw people away from shopping. Accessories were discounted if bought at the time the dress was purchased. If you sew or have someone to help you like mom, grandma, aunt, or a friend . . .I made three bridesmaid’s dresses and the flower girl’s dress. Hancock Fabrics locally have big sales around all major holidays. Patterns that are $12-15 are $0.99 each, limit 5. Buy the kinds of patterns that have 3-4 sizes on each one so you can fit the dresses.

With fabrics, patterns, thread, zippers, buttons, etc., I spent about $125 for four outfits.

The flowers – Silks were the way for us to go. We live in a rural area but work in the metro area, so we are "in town" everyday.

We were frequent shoppers in Michael’s and Hobby Lobby stores. Michael’s almost weekly have a coupon in the Sunday paper or insert worth 40% or more of single items, and also discount whole lines (like silk flowers 30-50% off, no limit). Hobby Lobby stores (if you have them in your area) are currently discounting all wedding items 50% this week, and this sales will come around periodically.

To get real flowers the week of the wedding when we were taking off work was a bother and the arrangements we made were very pretty. Be sure to make a smaller version of your bouquet to throw so you can keep the original. Michael’s has some cute pre-made silk arrangements that you can get with your coupons for about $5-$6. We also got her Precious Moments cake topper, toast goblets, and cake knife and server there, all with big discounts. Check out everything there because they have almost EVERYTHING!

Invitations – Print them on the computer if you have one, or have a friend or relative help you with it. Card stock is much more inexpensive than engraved and seemed to be well accepted. Again, Michael’s at 40% off, start buying now a package at a time. When we thought we were done with invitations, we added a few names to the list and needed another package. With home printing you can add a few at almost no cost. You can’t do that with regular engraved invitations. HAVE YOUR FRIENDS AND RELATIVES SAVE YOU THEIR COUPONS IF THEY DON’T USE THEM. The savings will really add up. We did Precious Moments theme (usually expensive) and got invitations with envelopes (packages of 20) for $0.30 or less per invitation (depending on the coupons). If you want response cards you can go with plain card stock and envelopes that were about $2.50/25 pcs. on sale. One important thing is watch the weight of your finished mailing so you only need one stamp to mail out the invitations, response cards, etc. With including a stamp on response envelope, the postage was more than the stationery.

It’s a good idea to have one complete sample weighed at the post office to "make sure" so you aren’t getting returned invitations. We made her programs (again on the home computer) on stock paper with Precious Moments wedding couple on it and rolled them and tied with ribbon like a scroll. If you have access to a scanner you can save even more if you want to just add a picture to good quality heavy stock paper.

Paper Warehouse – Our second favorite place, next to Michael’s. Shop there often if you have in your area. ALWAYS check out the clearance aisle. We got a beautiful lacy and sequin covered bridal guest book (over $45 originally) for about $7. Also found a pretty lacey cake topper (over $40) for about $2. We didn’t use it for the cake but it had a place for a picture to be inserted and we put their engagement picture in it and used for a centerpiece on their picture table at the reception. Also got additional stationery items like some lovely thank you notes there in packages of 50 for about a dollar (clearance again). Their clearance items range from 25%-90% off so you need to keep revisiting the store.

Two colors of balloons from here made a really cute arch over their cake and punch table, on sale for 50% off. It does help to rent a helium bottle for this decoration.

Make your own table decorations for the reception. More of those half price silk flowers in small vases that you can pick up inexpensively at dollar stores are really pretty and the vases do not have to be identical. Also, decorate some ivy bowls with lace or trim and add a votive candle.

Tie on some of the extra balloons with curling ribbon and it looks like a hot air balloon. WE also used tulle and balloons outside the church. Very inexpensive decorations and we were able to get everything ready the day before (just didn’t put the balloons out till the morning of). In case of rain, it doesn’t hurt tulle to get wet.

If you watch the seasonal clearance sales you can get some great bargains (depending on your choice of colors, of course). We used silver and pink and white. Check after Christmas sales. WE got several plastic placemats at Wal-Mart for $0.26/pkg of 2 and used them on our food table over a white and clear Christmas plastic table cloth (no one knew it was Christmas) over a twin-size pink bed sheet that I already had. It made a beautiful table for about $2.00. After Valentines Day, you can pick up red and silver candy kisses (for favors), heart and flower shaped pasta (for pasta salads), and lots of decorations that have hearts, flowers, kisses, etc., that don’t say VALENTINES that will make adorable decorations for your wedding.

We also made decorations for the church that looked lovely, but didn’t cost much. Tulle pew bows, buy a bow maker rolls of tulle at Michael’s (with your coupons). We put on both ends of the pews (hang with a little clear packaging tape, you don’t need pew bow hangers) and also on the back row of the church. We also swaged the other entrance of each row of pews and the back row. Looked very pretty and spent less than $20 for bow maker and tulle for 50 bows and had tulle left over. Left over tulle and a few candles (on sales, of course) made a beautiful arrangement on the piano.

Her unity candle was Precious Moments (at 75% off) and we used plain white tapers for the individual candles.

Depending on your food plan, consider having friends and relatives help in the day or two before prepare finger foods that are easy to serve and clean up. Serve buffet style so no one has to spend too much time servings the buffet once the reception has started. Veggie trays can be made pretty inexpensively compared to purchasing readymade and can be made up the day before. I carved a basket out of a watermelon and filled with frozen mixed fruit from Sam’s. 5# of fruit goes a long way. Another ideal we loved was making fruit kabobs. Use you watermelon from the watermelon basket, chunks of canned pineapples, apples and banana (dipped in the juice from the canned pineapples), strawberries, or whatever other fruit is available at the time of your wedding. You will need the apples to hold the other fruit on. Not too expensive and everyone loved them. The easiest thing we did was make Swedish meatballs the morning of the wedding. Frozen meatballs from Sam’s and mushroom soup (5# of meatballs and 2 large cans of mushroom soup) in a large crock pot. Stir occasionally and everyone raved about them. Our cakes were made by the maid of honors mother as a gift. Have you got any talented friends or relative who could do this as a gift? If not and you have to purchase the cake, get a small cake (2 or 3 layers) for the cutting ceremony and pictures and have a larger sheet cake to fill out the total requirement. The cake will be just as good and that will be what everyone remembers. Punch was simple and everyone loved it. Equal parts of raspberry sherbet and Sprite. You can always choose another flavor and if the color is an issue, get pineapple sherbet and add food coloring. I’ve made blue for a baby shower this way.

Hope you can use at least some of these ideas. Have fun planning and start now! – VH

A. We were in the same situation at our wedding. We found an inexpensive way to serve a full dinner *and* save some money. Try asking your favorite restaurant if they would be willing to cater your event. We chose a favorite family-run Mexican restaurant that didn’t usually cater who immediately agreed to do our event because we were their friends. Also, consider having the cake made elsewhere – a small bakery will do a just as good if not better job because they value your business AND they won’t charge an arm and a leg. Good luck and happy wedding! – Sara

A. My suggestions for lowering the costs of a wedding: For the food: Instead of a caterer have a buffet of cold foods : cold cuts, cheese cubes, melon balls, veggies and dip, etc. Get friends and relatives to help with this. You can buy cups, napkins, etc. cheaply from warehouse stores like Cosco and Sam’s club (have a friend with a membership take you if you don’t have one). Or if you’re having a late afternoon or mid morning wedding.. just serve cake, punch, and nuts. For my wedding I purchased a large bakery sheet cake decorated in our wedding colors with our names on it and had a small round wedding topper cake with a bride and groom next to it. For the flowers: make your own bouquets and boutineers from fake flowers, or real ones if you have the skills or time. You’re local library should have how to books on this subject. Only have flowers for those in the wedding party. For my wedding I had a florist do the flowers for my bouquet and boutineer, and single roses tied with ribbons for my attendants. The flowers in the reception hall were bulk purchased wholesale from a florist… mostly carnations and greenery. I bought cheap vases from dollar stores and wal-mart and arranged them myself. For music: find a friend or someone willing to dj for you or borrow some good sound equipment and make cd’s of music you’d like to play. For my wedding we simply played a Frank Sinatra love song cd. Hope that helps. – Jenny

A. The couple planning an inexpensive wedding may want to use this website which I used extensively for my daughter’s recent garden wedding. We had about 70 people for a 6 p.m. buffet dinner. Buffet items: cold smoked meats (beef, honey-baked ham, turkey breast), salads, bread, cheeses, salsas, chips, etc.

A. For the couple planning a frugal wedding: We planned our wedding in 6 months for less than $1500 for ceremony, reception and dance You mentioned keeping catering costs down, and that you are having a church reception. I don’t know if you are members at the church, but many times the ladies auxiliary or work group will serve your meal for a donation, much cheaper than a caterer, and really good church lady food!
– Georgette

A. You might try to make your own centerpieces, perhaps some type of candle-based items, and use those as gifts to your wedding party/relatives. We made some lovely candles in ivy bowls for my reception. Centerpieces were given to those who came the farthest to the reception, most recently married, longest married, etc. You could give them to your wedding party. Also, you might want to think about single-plate dinners, like a nice chicken w/ a side of rice or potato and a vegetable. There’s less waste so the caterer normally will charge less. I also attended a reception at which dinner was buffet style, but the catering staff dished out the food. This "portion control" is less costly, as well. Otherwise, depending on the size of your wedding, you might want to check out a local grocery store or chain restaurant such as KFC. Many will cater at a lesser cost than a caterer, but soneone will have to coordinate food arrival for the reception. Best Wishes to you for your Spring 2003 Wedding! – Mona

A. It’s very fashionable to have a single flower with baby’s breath or ivy and beautiful ribbons for both the bride and her attendants and it’s also much less expensive than a bouquet – Elisa

What To Do After A Death Occurs

by Dr. Charlotte Gorman

Americans arrange for more than two million funerals for their families and friends each year. Some people spend more for a funeral than for any other single "item" they buy. According to the National Funeral Director’s Association, the average cost for a funeral in 2001 was $5,180 and does not include vault, cemetery, monument or marker, or miscellaneous items, such as flowers, burial clothing, or newspaper notices. It may well be the third most expensive purchase for most people after a home and a car.

Below are some tips for cutting funeral and burial costs while maintaining the dignity and spirit of the occasion. It also gives suggestions of other things to check on after a death occurs.

1. If you do not know whether the deceased had made and paid in advance for funeral and burial arrangements, call local and nearby funeral homes and ask if they have any record of such arrangements. Be sure to examine all papers of the deceased and look for funeral and burial contracts. Neglecting to check out the possibility of such arrangements could result in unnecessary expenditures for survivors.

2. If the deceased and the family of the deceased are extremely poor, check with the local county government to see what financial assistance for burial might be available.

3. If the deceased lived at your address, think about having someone "house-sit" for you while you are at the funeral. Burglars take advantage of such absences to break into houses. They learn where the deceased lived and the time and date of the funeral by reading the obituary column. They assume that no one will be at home and plan their break in. A house-sitter could prevent loss of your personal property.

4. If the deceased was a veteran, the spouse of a veteran, or a dependent child of a veteran, check immediately after death with the nearest Veteran’s Affairs office to determine (if you don’t know already) whether the deceased is eligible for burial in a National Cemetery. Check also on what payments are available for funeral and burial expenses. In addition, ask if a grave marker or headstone is provided. Generally, a survivor is eligible to receive an American Flag to use in the funeral and to keep afterwards. If you are the surviving spouse or a dependent child of a veteran, ask about survivor’s benefits.

5. If the deceased was a participant in the Social Security System, contact your nearest Social Security office as soon as possible after the death and apply for any benefits that might be payable to eligible survivors. Also, apply for the lump-sum death benefit.

6. Contact all life insurance companies with which the deceased had policies and file claims for payment.

7. Collect from insurers any funeral/burial/death benefits payable to survivors.

8. Check with the deceased’s present and all previous employers to determine what benefits, if any, might be payable to survivors. Such benefits might include life insurance, accidental death insurance, pension benefits, and payments under Worker’s Compensation Insurance. Also, be sure to collect pay for any vacation and applicable sick leave accumulated but not taken by the deceased.

9. Contact the deceased’s employee’s labor union and collect any death or survivor’s benefits due. For example, ask whether the labor union provides for any financial assistance with funeral and burial expenses for the deceased or with living or educational expenses of the survivors.

10. Check with the company with which the deceased carried medical/health insurance. Free accidental death and dismemberment insurance is sometimes provided to those participating in group medical/health plans. The death and dismemberment insurance might be sponsored and administered by an organization other than the medical/health insurance company, such as that sponsored and administered by the National Association of Government Employees. If the death was an accident, normally the payment will be made to a designated beneficiary.

11. File for any pension/retirement benefits due the survivors of the deceased.

12. Check with community credit unions, credit unions at all places where the deceased has been employed, and possibly other credit unions to see whether he or she had deposits or life insurance there. If so, discuss payment of the money in the accounts and apply for insurance benefits.

13. Check with insurance companies with which the deceased had automobile insurance and homeowners insurance to determine whether any death benefits, such as payment of funeral and burial expenses, are payable under the policies.

14. Check with the deceased’s automobile club to see if any life insurance or other benefits are due the survivors.

15. Check with all credit card companies with which the deceased held credit cards and apply for any death benefits that are due. For example, some credit card companies automatically carry accident life insurance on card holders. The insurance may be collected by survivors, for example, if the cardholder had charged his or her airline ticket on the credit card and was subsequently killed in a crash of the aircraft or died within a specified time following the accident.

16. If the deceased died in an accident on a trip arranged by a travel agency, survivors may be eligible for payment of death benefits from the agency. Some travel agencies automatically provide accident life insurance coverage to persons who purchase airline tickets through the agency. Check with the agency to see whether the deceased was covered by such a policy. If so, apply for benefits.

17. Submit any medical claims for the deceased to health insurance companies and/or Medicare for payment or reimbursement.

18. Collect any death benefits due survivors from various organizations, associations, clubs, and other groups to which the deceased belonged. Some of these may have provided free or inexpensive life insurance on the deceased as a membership benefit.

19. Check on all debts of the deceased. Some debts may carry credit life insurance that will pay the outstanding balance of the debts.

20. Notify the deceased’s insurance companies of the death; cancel policies, if appropriate (or remove the name of the deceased from the policy, if appropriate); and request refunds of premiums. Such insurance may include automobile, personal property, medical, disability, homeowners, and others. Discuss the above with the deceased’s insurance agent(s) before taking any action.

21. Cancel orders for unwanted goods and services ordered by the deceased and collect any applicable refunds.

22. Turn in season tickets that were held by the deceased (for sports events, symphonies, ballets, etc.) and request refunds.

23. Cancel unwanted magazine and newspaper subscriptions and book club memberships held by the deceased and request refunds.

24. Cancel memberships in clubs and organizations to which the deceased belonged and request refunds.

25. Cancel hotel reservations, trip and tour reservations, and airline reservations for the deceased and request applicable refunds.

26. If the deceased was a college student, cancel enrollment and request refunds of prepayments for such things as tuition, room and board, laboratory fees, and activity fees.

27. Cancel medical and dental appointments for the deceased. Some members of the medical and dental profession charge patients even if they do not show up for their scheduled appointments. Even though you surely could have the charges canceled, canceling the appointments will prevent your having to further deal with the situation.

28. If the deceased was renting living accommodations for himself or herself only, contact the landlord and cancel the lease. Ask for any applicable refunds, such as the security deposit and rent paid in advance.

29. Check copies of income tax returns filed recently by the deceased to determine whether refunds are due. If the refunds are not received, you will know to follow up. (Check with your lawyer, tax accountant, IRS, and State Tax Office for instructions on filing final tax returns for the deceased.)

30. If the death of the deceased was the fault of someone else, check on the possibility of benefits payable under liability insurance carried by the person at fault. Also, consider whether a lawsuit should be brought against the responsible party. Consult your lawyer.

31. Collect the total amount or accept periodical payments for debts owed to the deceased.

32. Be cautious of strangers offering help during your bereavement, particularly those wanting to help you handle or invest your money. Put off making major financial decisions (if at all possible) until your mental state will allow you to think clearly and logically.

33. If the deceased was your spouse, check with all appropriate sources of survivor’s benefits to determine whether you would lose your benefits if you remarry. After receiving the necessary information, you can, in time, make an informed decision on remarriage.

Write to the Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards of the United States, 520 E. Van Trees Street, P. O. Box 497, Washington, Indiana 47501 for information on the laws related to funerals and burials in the various states. This association represents the licensing boards of 47 states and will respond to consumer inquiries or complaints about funeral providers.

For a first-hand look at the implications of the Federal Trade Commission’s "Funeral Rule," go to Yahoo or other search engine; and type under search: "Federal Funeral Rule". From the list on the menu, select "The Federal Funeral Rule".

About the Author
Dr. Charlotte Gorman is an Extension Agent, Family & Consumer Sciences, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A & M University System. She is the author of The Frugal Mind, The Little Book of Living Frugal, and Speak for Yourself.

Ideas for a Fun and Productive Summer With Your Children

by Lois Breneman

Go to the library and check out a bagful of books for each child and read to them every day.  This is a special time of closeness and it will help them to enjoy reading more themselves.  If your child struggles with reading, get a good phonics program, and help him develop good reading skills.  Give a small spiral notebook to each child to record each book (maybe just the thicker ones) he reads by himself, along with the date. He will be glad someday that he did.

Choose appropriate scripture verses for you children to learn during the summer.  If they are teens, let them choose their own.  Navigators has small folders especially for scripture memory verses or the verses can be written out on index cards to carry with you.  Now is a good time for your children (and you) to just review the many scriptures already learned from previous years.  I learned a lot of verses especially as a child, and to review them now (including the references) is very helpful.

 Another good way to brush up on scripture review is to record five to ten verses and play the recording every night before bedtime.  In the case of young children, this would be great to play just before nap time or a quiet time (as mentioned below).

Help your children to develop their abilities and find their talents. Ask each child to choose several creative skills (with your assistance) to learn this summer.  It may be sewing, cross-stitch, making mirrors, pillows or other crafts, wood working, wood carving (if old enough to handle a knife), drawing, painting, singing, playing a musical instrument, typing, writing poetry, writing short children’s stories, rubber stamping, or a variety of skills.  Help your child find books on the subject and read up on it.  Many skills can be learned simply by following instructions in books. Or if you or your husband can teach that skill–great!  If not, find a teacher for him or even learn the skill with your child.  Another possibility is to swap skills with a friend—maybe she or her husband could teach your child how to do wood carving and you teach her child how to do cross-stitch.  If your children are very young, give them an art lesson at least one day each week, and possibly a simple cooking lesson another day (maybe with a friend).

Cooking is something everyone should learn, whether young or old, male or female.  I taught my children how to cook, as far back as when they had to stand on a chair to see the countertop.  Now our two grown sons both enjoy cooking, as well as our daughter, who is a registered dietitian, but it is never too late to start teaching this practical skill.  Check out some cookbooks specifically for children or use the ones you have, and give your children cooking lessons.  Start with the basics.  Give them a small notebook to list all the things they make during the summer. (It could be a section in the notebook mentioned above.)  After they learn some basics, teach them how to plan and cook a family meal.  A child of 10 – 12 should be able to make a complete simple meal, with a little help.  Start with scrambled eggs, baked potatoes, hamburgers, rice, cooked fresh vegetables, muffins, quick bread, cookies, simple sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, deviled eggs, French toast, pizza, etc.  Then go to omelets, cakes with icing, casseroles, scalloped potatoes, waffles, yeast bread, and planning an entire meal.

If you enjoy crafts, cooking (and children), want to earn a little money for the summer and are able to handle it, pass the word around that you are going to give children’s craft or cooking lessons during the summer for a fee.  Many mothers would jump at the chance to have their child learn cooking by someone other than herself, which is a shame, but that would be better than not learning at all.  Keep the classes small.  If summer time is too busy, you may want to teach classes after school hours one day a week or just once a month.

Make up a chart for each child, and include a devotional quiet time, several jobs in the home, as well as reading, scripture memory/review, creative things, and a service for someone else.  Plan a reward system. If your child cannot read, draw a picture chart and give him stars or happy faces to paste when he does a job.  For making the bed, draw a bed, etc., and don’t expect a perfect job at an early age.

Have an hour of quiet for all of the children and for mom, possibly just after lunch, no matter what their ages.  This can be time spent reading the Bible and praying, as well as reading other books, doing cross-stitch, or napping, but everyone must be quiet.  Elisabeth Elliot’s daughter, Valerie Shepherd, said how she requires this of her eight children every day.  When our children gave up naps, I also required them to be quiet in their bedrooms reading or resting for an hour.  It was good for the children and it helped my sanity, if nothing else!

This summer is a good time to review manners with your children, teaching them conversational manners as well as telephone, mealtime, neighborhood, church, shopping, company and car manners and writing thank you notes.

The book of Proverbs, plus the rest of the Bible as well as good common sense and a good book on manners are good guides.  Get them involved with little skits, demonstrating the wrong way, as well as the right way for various situations.  If you are doing this during family devotions, cover only one topic in a session.  Of course, parents need to be on their toes as they teach and model good manners all day long, not just in a sit-down session.  However, this has its place too, where both the mother and the father sit down with the children and talk about the proper way to act in specific situations.

from Kidsolutions with Samamtha

Kids love dirt and parents love free food, right? What better reason to plant a garden.   If gardening is introduced as "fun" (parents, weeding is NOT a good way to teach gardening to munchkins) then kids are more likely to stay interested. Tools don’t have to be an expense either. My favorite all purpose hand tool is an old silver serving spoon. It is great for digging, weeding, planting seeds and flowers and spooning fertilizer around plant bases. So, turn the T.V. off, put on a hat, grab some seeds and Let’s Garden!

HOMEMADE CATNIP MOUSE   >^;;^<     >^;;^<
Ever watch your cat go berserk over a new catnip toy? Well, now you can grow your own catnip and make your own cat toys. Your cat will be in heaven!

What you need:
* packet of catnip seeds or 3-4 catnip starts from your nursery 
* garden soil (either space in your garden or a pot filled with potting soil)
* an old sock (child’s) that has lost it’s mate  * felt or fabric scraps (pink preferably)
* plastic milk jug (cleaned) 
* needle and thread 
* black embroidery
* floss

First, plant your seeds or starts in a pot or garden spot. Make sure it gets lots of sun. Keep moist. Let the catnip grow until you see a tiny flower appear. Pull the entire plant out of the ground (you can plant more now) and tie bundles of catnip upside down with a rubber band until completely dried. Be sure to hang the catnip high or your cat will get it down!  Dry until crunchy. Break off the roots and discard. Now, cut the toe off of your lonely sock right where the heel starts. Cut a teardrop piece of plastic from your milk jug that fits into the toe of your sock. This will help shape your mouse. Stick the plastic teardrop into your sock, pointy end first. Fill your sock with the dried catnip. Pinch the end of your sock and sew shut with the black embroidery floss. It should be all scrunched up now. Tie your floss in a knot leaving about 3 inches of floss at the end. This is your tail. Sew little ears on the mouse with the pink fabric. Sew and knot the black embroidery thread into the nose, making whiskers. Now, give this sweet, little gift to your feline friend. It’s sure to  make them Purrrrrr.

Nothing says "summer" like fresh cucumbers from the garden. You can also grow them vertically in a pot if you live in an apartment. Let them climb up wooden poles or chicken wire. As your cucumbers start to grow, show the kids a time honored trick… the cuke in a bottle. 

What you’ll need:
* cucumber seeds or 3-4 cucumber starts 
* garden soil or pot and potting soil
* 12oz or plastic liter soda bottle with cap 
* vinegar

Plant your seeds or start in a sunny area and keep watered. When the tiny cucumbers appear, choose one at the base of the plant (it needs to be shadier so the cuke won’t cook in the sun). Carefully slip the baby cucumber into the plastic bottle. Save your bottle cap, don’t lose it! Keep your bottle partially shaded with newspaper or burlap. When the cucumber fills the bottle, snip the stem. Fill your bottle with vinegar (this will make it last longer) and put on the cap. Keep it in your fridge. Don’t try to eat it, it is just for show and tell.  Bring it out to amaze your friends and family and they’ll ask "How did you DO that?"

Remember how you used to love to find a quiet "secret spot" when you were a kid? A place to think or read or share time with a friend?  Bean pole teepees are a great way to grow  delicious green beans AND provide your child with a little, shady, summertime fort. 

What you’ll need:
*8 – 6 foot or longer wooden garden stakes 
*package of pole bean seeds
*(Kentucky Wonders work great) 
*garden twine 
*patch of ground

Take four of the garden stakes and pound into the ground in a large circle. Bring the tops of the stakes together and bind with twine. This should resemble a teepee. Plant bean seeds according to package directions but leave a portion between two of the stakes unplanted. This will leave a "door" into the teepee without crushing the beans. Repeat this with the other four stakes about 4 feet away. Keep the seeds moist until they germinate. Help train the beans to climb by wrapping them around the stakes. Soon you will have a cool, leafy and delicious place to visit on a hot, summer day.

Short on time and space? How about growing a salad in a pot?

What you need:
* large plastic or clay pot with drainage holes 
* potting soil 
* lettuce seeds or starts 
* tomato starts 
*cucumber seeds or starts 
* 2 – 4 foot garden stakes 
* twine

Put your pot in a sunny spot and fill with soil. Pound both of your garden stakes into the back portion of the pot. Plant your cucumber seeds or starts at the base of one stake and your tomato plant at the base of the other. They will climb them vertically if you help them with a bit of twine. Plant your lettuce seeds or plants in the rest of the soil. Go ahead and crowd them in, it will look really neat and give you more lettuce to work with. The cucumber and tomato will continue to produce all summer. When your lettuce is gone, plant more and keep it going. Keep your pot nice and moist. Don’t let it dry out. Now you will have fresh salad fixin’s whenever you want. (Planting herbs in a pot works well too. Try herbs like sweet basil, chives, thyme and parsley.)

We all love to watch butterflies flutter by.  Did you know that these beautiful insects have favorite flowers from which to sip? It’s true. Here are a list of favorite flowers a butterfly would list if they could:
*Butterfly Flowers:  Aster~Butterfly Bush ~ Butterfly Weed ~ Black-eyed Susans ~ Carrot ~ Coreopsis ~ Daylily ~ Dill ~ Goldenrod ~ Hibiscus ~ Lavendar ~ Lilac ~ Marigold ~ Milkweed ~ Purple Coneflower ~ Rosemary ~ Verbena ~ Yarrow    

You can easily turn this into an educational way to teach the family about the different types of butterflies. Just get a butterfly identification book, plant your flowers and watch the magic.

*The Butterfly Book : An Easy Guide to Butterfly Gardening, Identification, and Behavior (or find others in the library).         

Make a beautiful picture with a paper towel by dunking it into colored water?

What you’ll need:
*4 jar lids or small custard cups 
* 1 large bowl 
* food coloring 
*white paper towel or paper dinner napkin 
* 1 large paper sack

1.  Pour some water into each of the 4 jar lids.  Add about 10 drops of food coloring to each lid of water.

2.  Fold the paper towel into several layers.  Thoroughly dampen the folded paper towel into the large bowl with the clear water.  Squeeze out most of the water.  Flatten the towel, keeping it folded.

3.. Dip 1 corner into 1 of the colors.  Watch as the colored water soaks into the paper towel.  Repeat with the 3 remaining corners and 3 colors. Carefully unfold the wet paper towel.  Lay it on the paper sack.  Let dry.

You can create paper towel masterpieces with any colors you like.  Then, when your artwork dries, hang it in a window.  It also makes pretty wrapping paper for a small present.  Or use the artwork to fix popcorn bundles for a party.  Place popped corn in the middle of the paper towel, bring ends up and tie the top.

What you’ll need:
*small glass jar with tight lid 
*cooking oil 
*food coloring

Add water to the jar until it is half full.  Pour in enough cooking oil to almost fill the jar.  Add several drops of food coloring.  Screw the lid on tightly and let your children shake the jar.  Be careful of the glass jar, that it doesn’t break.  A clear plastic jar should also work. Notice how the oil and water separate into colorful squiggly designs. Now have them move the jar slowly back and forth. 

Make a bubble machine out of an empty margarine container.
What you’ll need:
*paring knife 
*1 empty margarine tub container 
* drinking straw 
*12 cup water 
*1 tblsp. dishwashing liquid

1. With adult help, cut a small round hole in one side of the margarine lid for the bubbles to come out.  Then cut a small X on the opposite side for the straw to fit into.

2. Add the water and liquid soap to the margarine tub.  With straw, stir to mix well.  Put the lid on.  Place the straw into the X.  Blow through the straw to make bubbles.

3.  Always remember to BLOW through the straw.  Do not suck, or you will taste the bubble solution!

What you’ll need:
*1 empty half-pint milk or juice carton 
*One 2 1/2 x 12 inch piece of construction paper 
*Crayons or markers 
*Potting soil
*Parakeet or budgie seed 

1. Thoroughly rinse out carton.  Open unopened flap of carton.  With adult help and working from the opened end of carton, use scissors to cut down 2 opposite corners just to the ridge.  Then, 1 side at a time, fold top inside the carton.  Cover the outside of carton with piece of construction paper.  Fasten with tape.

2. Use crayons to draw a face on the side of your paper-covered carton.

3. Fill the carton with potting soil.  Add enough water to make thick mud.  Sprinkle the seed on the top of the soil.

4. Place your garden near a sunny window.  Water garden when it is almost dry.  In a few days, your seeds will sprout.  Within 2 – 3 weeks, your garden will need a haircut.  Use your scissors to snip the green "hair" straight across the top.  Or trim it into a point.  Each time your
garden’s "hair" grows back, you can give it a new look with a different haircut.

This colorful gelatin mixture makes a great homemade rainbow.  It’s quick and easy to make and your children will enjoy squishing the cold brightly colored unflavored gelatin together.  For an additional activity, take the Rainbow Goop out of the plastic bag and use it as finger-painting material. 

What you’ll need:
*One 1-quart heavy duty ziploc plastic bag 
*Rainbow Goop
*Masking tape

Rainbow Goop
3/4 cup water
1 package unflavored gelatin
3 custard cups or bowls
Food coloring — red, yellow and blue

1. In a small saucepan stir together water and gelatin.  Let stand for 5 minutes to soften gelatin.

2. Cook and stir over low heat about 3 minutes or until gelatin dissolves.  Remove from heat.

3. Divide the mixture evenly among 3 custard cups (about 1/4 cup each). Add 3 – 5 drops red food coloring to 1 of the custard cups.  Stir well to mix.

4. Repeat with remaining gelatin with the yellow and blue food coloring.

5. Chill in the refrigerator 5 minutes or until partially set, stirring mixture during chilling.

6. Open plastic bag.  Use a spoon to put all 3 colors of Rainbow Goop inside the plastic bag in rows.

7. Close the bag.  Now open it just a little and push out all the air. CLose the bag again.  Seal the top with masking tape.  Now squeeze the bag gently with both hands to mix the colors into a beautiful rainbow. Watch how the pretty colors mix together and new colors appear.  Yellow and red make orange.  Yellow and blue make green.  Blue and red make purple.  What are the colors in your bag?

Have you ever made a mud pie and baked it in the sun?  Your grandparents may have done that, but why not try mud pies the old fashioned way yourself sometime?  This "mud pie" bakes in the oven though. 
What you’ll need:

*1-cup liquid measuring cup 
*dry measuring cups 
*measuring spoons
*1-gallon heavy duty ziploc bag 
*table fork  *8x8x2 inch baking pan
*hot pads 
*1 1/2 cups flour 
*1 cup sugar 
*1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
*1 teaspoon baking soda 
*1/2 teaspoon salt 
*1/3 cup cooking oil
*1 tablespoon vinegar 
*1 teaspoon vanilla 
*1 cup water

1. Wash hands.  With adult help, get out all the things you will need. In the plastic bag, place the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, soda and salt. Seal the bag and shake to mix.  Put the flour into the ungreased 8 inch square baking pan. 

2. Use a table fork to make a hole in the middle of the flour mixture. In the 1-cup liquid measuring cup, measure the oil.  Add the vinegar and vanilla.  Pour the oil mixture into the hole.  In the same measuring cup, measure the water and pour into the hole.

3. Use a table fork to stir together all ingredients.  With adult help, bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes.  Use hot pads to remove pan from oven.  Cool in the pan.  If desired, top a piece of cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and a maraschino cherry. Serves 12.

by Terri Wilson

I found several 10×13 picture mats on clearance at a craft store. I couldn’t resist but didn’t know what to do with them. I ended up sponge painting one of them to match my kitchen colors and stenciled "Artwork by Hannah" (my four-year-old) at the top of one of them. I glued a magnet in each of the four inside corners on the back. Now when my daughter draws a new masterpiece we stick it up on the fridge and it’s easily changed when the next one comes along. We also made these as gifts for the grandparents and we try to mail them new pictures at least once a month.

Tip #2 for artwork… because I don’t have room to store every piece of my children’s artwork I needed a way to save the memory without the paper. I homeschool and my older daughter has a lot of artwork she’d like to save. I used bulletin board border strips and created a large bulletin board area on our schoolroom wall. All of my daughter’s artwork (that is capable of being hung up) is hung up on this board. At the end of the month I have my daughter stand by the board and I take her picture. I’ve got 9 pictures from the last school year where I can not only see her artistic progress, but also her physical growth as she gets taller. I can save the important pieces (like the first time she wrote her name by herself), but I no longer have to save everything.

You could save the most special works of art in a covered box or in notebooks, with the child’s name and date on each piece.  I have a box of each child’s drawings and artwork, stored under the living room sofa — it’s amazing how a skirted sofa can expand your storage space!  A small round table with a long tablecloth is another hidden storage spot.  The coat closet shelves are a good place to store baby books and photo albums.  You might want to think of having your photos and certain things readily accessible in case of a fire, so they could be grabbed on your way out the door, if are in immediate danger.  A small chair or bench nearby would be helpful in reaching the higher shelves in your coat closet.  If your closet has only one shelf, most likely another one can be added to use all of the empty space and expand your storage efficiency. ~~  Lois

Christmas Cards – Don’t Trash or Stash Them

by Donna Watkins

I thought I’d share a Holiday Tradition that makes Christmas cards "last"much longer than just for the month of December. It takes away the guilt of just tossing them in the trash……and takes away the clutter of putting them away.

As the cards arrive in the mail, we sit them around the house as they come in so we can be reminded of the many friends we have been blessed with. After Christmas Day we gather them up and put them in a basket and schedule a time to pray over each person and family that sent them. It’s a special time to slip into lives in a way that will bless them for the year to come — and possibly for eternity.

When our son was little and life was a bit more hectic, we would place them on the kitchen table in a basket or napkin holder and each of us would draw one to pray for before we ate each meal.

After we’ve prayed, we cut the covers of the cards into 4×6" postcards and write thank-you’s on them. You can use the left side for the message, draw a line to the right of it, and then write the address and use a 20-cent stamp. This saves 12 cents plus the cost of note cards – and you "save a tree."

A postcard gives just enough space to say thank you and makes the task quick and fun. It isn’t as intimidating for children as a note card sometimes is with all of its blank space to fill in, and it teaches children an important character quality: gratefulness.

Read more of Donna’s articles