Minute by minute

my thoughts on making the most out of all of life's minutes…


How do you figure your Holiday budget?

I have a question for you.  And this is a real question – not a rhetorical question that I’m asking just as an intro to share my thoughts. (Although I am going to share my thoughts…)

Here’s my question – how do you set a budget for holiday gift giving?

I admitted to my husband the other day that I think I’m turning into a bit of a Scrooge.  I’ve been struggling with all the materialism that the Holiday season brings.  Everywhere you turn it is buy this and buy that.  More, more, more….kids are crying and demanding stuff, husbands and wives go into debt trying to surprise each other with the prefect gift that will be remembered forever, only to be forgotten by the middle of January   The pressure is tremendous.   The debt is outrageous.

WHEW – OK – settle down, Amy.

A couple of years ago my husband, Tim, and I figured out a budgeting system that works for our family.  As our kids are getting older, they naturally have become aware of what the holiday season brings.  They are now at the age of circling items in catalogs, creating lists and calling me over to watch commercials of things that they see on TV and they “really, really want”.  As a parent, it is hard to not want to give your child everything.  You want to provide for them and give them things. You want to surprise them and for them to have lots of fun on Christmas. But I think there needs to be limits on how much kids receive and how much expense and potentially debt parents are willing to take on because of all the gift giving.  And let’s not forget that more and more stuff causes more and more chaos.

Tim and I came up with the idea of setting a budget for each child.  We needed something to use as a target or limit so we don’t have to forfeit their college saving just for a newest game or toy.  So for our system – this is what we do.

For each kid, we figure their age and multiply it by $10.

That would then give us a max dollar amount to spend on each kid.  So this year we’ll spend $80 on the older son and $40 on the younger.

At first, Tim was a little unsure of how this would fly.  But it made us reconsider the gifts we were giving them and it caused us to be a little pickier about what we were choosing.  It really has kept Tim and me in check.  Whenever we see something that we’d like to give to one of the boys, we check in to see if they really need it, really want it and then how does it fit into the budget.

We haven’t really shared with the boys our budgeting system.  Maybe someday we will explain to them how we come up what we decide to give them.  And maybe someday we’ll have to readdress the method – like when the dollar amount gets too high.  But then – what’s too high?

That’s my question for you – – –  what sort of system to you use to keep your holiday gift giving in balance.

Please share your comments below.  I’d love to hear them and I’m sure others would too.

Happy Tuesday Everyone!




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Tips on Tuesday – Running on empty

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

Yesterday I suggestion an article that offered nine ways to prevent that overwhelmed feeling.

Number Four said “don’t let yourself fall into empty.”

A couple of years ago, my friend Julie and I were talking.  She mentioned to me that one of the time-saving tips she always did was if her gas tank was getting low, she would force herself to fill it up on her way home from work and not leave it to “do in the morning”.  She confessed that she had to really fight that urge to “do it later” and just suck it up and do it – not matter how tired she was, how hungry she was, no matter how much she just wanted to go home.

That tip has always stuck with me – especially every time my gas tank is getting low and I’m on my way home.  Many times I can totally relate with that feeling of “I just want to go home….”.  But it never fails, the times I don’t stop for gas….I regret not getting it when I get into my car the next time.

Do you have a time-saving habit that you always do – even if you have to fight to do it?

Hope your day is a good one!


PS – I recently told my seven-year old son that as soon as he starts driving, I’m going to have him fill up my gas tank every Sunday afternoon, whether it needs it or not.  Nine more years….nine more years!

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Word Up Wednesdays – QR Codes

Good Morning Peeps!

This week’s  we’ll be having a Thursday edition of Word Up Wednesday

Today’s Word – QR Code


Have you seen these popping up all over and wondered what they were?  Maybe you haven’t noticed them – but I bet you well now.  This newest tracking method is becoming quite popular, especially with the increase use of smart phones.

QR Code (as taken from www. Wikipedia.com)

QR Code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) first designed for the automotive industry. More recently, the system has become popular outside of the industry due to its fast readability and large storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be made up of four standardized kinds (“modes”) of data (numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary, Kanji), or through supported extensions, virtually any kind of data.[1]

Invented by the Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave in 1994 to track vehicles during the manufacturing process, the QR Code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes.[2] It was designed to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed.[3]

Formerly confined to industrial uses, they have in recent years become common in consumer advertising and packaging, because the dissemination of smartphones “has put a barcode reader in everyone’s pocket” for the first time. As a result, the QR code has become a focus of advertising strategy, since it provides quick and effortless access to the brand’s website.[4][5] Beyond mere convenience to the consumer, the importance of this capability is that it increases the conversion rate (that is, increase the chance that contact with the advertisement will convert to a sale), by coaxing qualified prospects further down the conversion funnel without any delay or effort, bringing the viewer to the advertiser’s site immediately, where a longer and more targeted sales pitch may continue.

This is a new concept to me too – so I did a little digging and found a very helpful article on the topic and how it can be used to enhance your small business.

Practical Uses of QR Codes

Here are some ways for using QR codes that are mostly in practice now, as well as a few that I believe we will be seeing in the very near future.

Where QR Codes could be used:

  • The back (or front and back) of your business card.
  • Your brochures and other marketing materials.
  • The sides of trucks and trailers.
  • Product tags and packaging
  • Convention and event nametags
  • Restaurant menus
  • Event ticket stubs
  • Point-of-sale receipts

What QR Codes could link to:

  • Installation instructions
  • Sources for replacement parts and service
  • Directions to your business
  • The process for hiring your professional services
  • Valuable coupons and special offers
  • Recommendations for complementary products and services
  • Free mp3 downloads
  • Customer feedback forms

How you can you maximize your effectiveness with QR codes:

  • Provide explanations about their use and benefits
  • Encourage actions that support your marketing plan
  • Assuage the fears of the technically challenged
  • Give reasons to come back
  • Experiment with the size, location, and color of your QR codes
  • Study your analytics
  • Make the process fun, such as a QR code scavenger hunt
  • Experiment

You can read the entire article here:  How QR Codes Can Grow Your Business

I think if you are new to this concept (like me), the best thing to do is to experiment.  Next time you see a QR Code at a store or on a menu, give it a scan and see what pops up.

Happy Thursday everyone!