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The Giving Calendar

The Giving Calendar

Looking for a unique and personalized gift every Mother on the planet would appreciate? Give her the gift of time. Sound cheesy? Well, with this personalized approach it is easy for you to get it just right for the special Mom’s in your life. Whether your Mom is sappy & sentimental, humorous & witty, or all of that plus everything in between, The Giving Calendar will definitely be her favorite gift of all time. And the best part, it fits into every budget!

Warning, this may become so popular that people request traditions or ask you to teach them more often!  In my family we call it THE calendar and it started one year when I was finishing my Masters Degree and had an extremely tight budget.  I knew in about 6 months that should change, as I’d already landed a better paying job and would be able to dedicate the hours I put into school back in to work.  Being from a family full of crafty women, I am all for homemade gifts.  However, my time was tight and I have a whole folder of Pinterest fails so I didn’t want to end up rushing out for a last minute gift, on top of the cost of the glue and glitter used to create homemade.  So, THE calendar was born.

It is simply a promise, written on paper, for spending time together.  It takes the guess work out of what to do and creates excitement to last all year!

So, go buy, or make, a calendar and keep reading to spark ideas about what unique twist your schedule will take!

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Spa Day

If your budget is larger, go ahead and schedule a day.  Most spas have group packages.  From scalp massage and facials to manicures and pedicures, everyone loves to be pampered.  For a smaller budget, if you don’t have product around  your home to use, there are a multitude or do-it-yourself sugar scrubs, coconut oils skin masks, avacoda hair treatments and you name it available with a quick google search.  Many fruits, veggies and oils are multi-purpose and can be transformed into spa worthy potions.  You can ask people to bring their own favorite supplies or provide a special pair of slippers for each guest.  Diffuse some soothing oils, provide mimosas or fruit infused water, some healthy snacks and you have yourself a spa.

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    TV Series Night

    Plan to rent or DVR a favorite series and watch it as a group.  Sometimes gift giving can feel high pressure, but instead of the theme being stress let it be something simple that everyone wants to do anyway, then plan to do it together!

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      Baking Event

      Many culinary classes are offered at colleges, wineries or local restaurants.  Check out living social or group on for deals near you or if baking is something you like, share your talent and recipes with others.  If you have a larger group you could set up a bake-off.  Kids love the chance to judge the adults in their life, so if you have kids, get them involved by letting them judge the dishes on taste and presentation.  Make score cards and tally the results to award the best baker (or team).  This could be the theme of the whole calendar, giving people a fun motivation, as they research new ideas prior to the scheduled rematch!  Award a ‘golden’ spatula to the winning team, to be passed around as the winner changes hands.  If this is a popular pick for your family, you could mix it up by letting opposing teams pick the ingredients the other teams have to work with.  Every dish may not come out perfect, but the time spent together will be priceless

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        Stokpic Ed Gregory

        Pallet Project

        Pallets are free, or close to, from many businesses.  There are thousands of ideas out there on-line about how to re-purpose your pallets into everything from wall art to bed frames to outdoor pathways.  There are chic to rustic ways to express your personality with pallets!  Grab the person with the most power tools and reuse old paint laying around, or buy sample can for $2.50 from Home Depot, and you are set to have a creative day together

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          Local Event

          You can find tons of local events your friends/family may not have heard or thought of.  Sometimes it seems as if everyone knows what’s going on, or that you have no new and unique ideas, but remember we all can’t be everywhere.  And having the idea is way different than actually taking the time to plan it out.  Whatever comes up in your day-to-day travels that draws your eye and provokes your interest is a good bet for sharing with those close to you.  Local home and garden tours, plant exchanges, open mic nights at local coffee houses, apple picking, community concerts, local author book readings, are typically low and no costs options offered by many communities.  If you have a friend or family who would want to participate, sign up your group and try a new way to put yourself out there!

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            Not So Local Event

            Painting parties, glass blowing classes, wine tastings and mystery dinners are just a few of the events that are typically offered near you and you can locate by checking out sites such as group on or living social.  You can also do knock-offs of such things at home with smaller investments.  If you have any talent you have spent your time developing, those close to you will be interested to have you share it.

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              Gardening Day

              Schedule to have your group learn about your interest as an amateur farmer.  You could purchase or use recycled glass bottles to force tulip bulbs but adding bulbs (rocks if desired) and water.  Or if it is the right time of year to start some container gardens, how fun would that be to do with friends.  Use recycled items, such as popsicle sticks for marking seeds, old plastic jugs or egg cartons to start seedling and create a greenhouse effect.

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                Book Club

                You could give a book with your calendar, and plot a day when it will be completed and discussed.  Your group can come in costume of their favorite character or just come in something comfortable.  Themes always help your event feel special and unique and give guests something to plan for and show their personalities off.

                kaboompics.com_Grey Felt Journal TO DO LIST on a white desk-2

                  Whatever you choose to include in your calendar, or however many times a year you plan to meet, getting it on paper and giving the gift of time will be remembered long after the perfect gift is forgotten.  There is an event for everything and everyone, and with a little thought you will find great ways to spend time with those close to you!

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                  Last Updated on August 20, 2019

                  How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                  How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                  Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

                  In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

                  5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

                  Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

                  1. Be Clear About the Objectives

                  Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

                  It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

                  Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

                  2. Keep Them Realistic

                  It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

                  It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

                  3. Account for Inflation

                  Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

                  Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

                  For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

                  4. Short Term vs Long Term

                  Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

                  As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

                  More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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                  5. To Each to His Own

                  The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

                  It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

                  By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

                  11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

                  Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

                  • Ensuring healthy savings
                  • Making smart investments

                  You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

                  Ensuring Healthy Savings

                  Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

                  This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

                  1. Track Expenses

                  The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

                  Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

                  2. Pay Yourself First

                  Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

                  Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

                  The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

                  Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

                  3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

                  Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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                  Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

                  At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

                  Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

                  You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

                  4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

                  Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

                  If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

                  Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

                  All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

                  5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

                  In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

                  Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

                  Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

                  If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

                  If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

                  So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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                  6. Talk About It

                  Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

                  Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

                  7. Maintain a Journal

                  For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

                  So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

                  Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

                  When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

                  At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

                  Making Smart Investments

                  Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

                  8. Consult a Financial Advisor

                  Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

                  Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

                  9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

                  Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

                  Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

                  Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

                  It is here where that classification will help.

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                  So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

                  10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

                  Einstein once remarked about compounding,

                  Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

                  So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

                  Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

                  11. Measure, Measure, Measure

                  All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

                  If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

                  If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

                  Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

                  The Bottom Line

                  This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

                  As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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                  Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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