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Party Time: Saving money on parties is paramount to budgeting

Every parent, particularly first time ones, are guilty of this when it comes to their child.

Overspending on birthday parties.

Moms and dads will argue vehemently that the idea behind spending loads of cash on birthday parties is the notion that you truly want to capture these precious moments and do so in a way that is filled with grandiose gestures and activities that can range from pony rides, blow up bounce houses or live entertainment that tips the scales at thousands of dollars just for a few hours.

Neither mindset is wrong per say but could use a little tweaking when you consider that having a child and saving money should go hand in hand, since parents can't escape the magic number that is the cost of raising a child from birth to 18, a figure that continues to rise every year.

So the idea of spending boat loads of cash a handful of parties from ages 1 through say early teens isn't going to leave much in the way of dollars leftover for the truly important events, such as college expenses or buying a car for a 16 year old who, let's face it, is going to need one.

That isn't to suggest that the birthday parties can't be festive, enjoyable and outstanding but devoting obscene amounts of money, especially if you don't have the extra capital to go around, isn't money well spent. No one is saying you have to buy white paper plates and cups and get your uncle to dress up like a clown and fumble over balloon animals for duration of the party.

What parents can do is actually create a specific budget that is within their range that they feel comfortable spending. Much like the budget you create for your household, this one also needs to be written out, followed and observed while you're party planning. Social media has given parents the opportunity to share crafty, inexpensive ways to dress up a birthday party but without spending a fortune in the process.

As for the food and entertainment, the former is best done at home by the parents but doesn't necessarily have to be a buffet or mélange of dishes. Remember, you're feeding the kids and parents alike but this isn't a five star affair. Pizza, salad and other low cost dishes either to make or order would surely suffice. Save the finger sandwiches and expensive deli trays for graduation day.

Entertainment can be a real budget back breaker and range anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. What is incredibly asinine and short sighted are the parents who have magicians and clowns attend a birthday party for kids that are too young to enjoy it. Plan your entertainment around the ages of the kids in attendance and don't be afraid to allow the party itself to be all the fun you'll need.

Perhaps you can have a pool party at a friend or family member's house if weather permits or birthday's with colder months can include arts and crafts or make use of things you already have at your home (how about dusting off that Nintendo Wii or even borrowing one from someone as part of the games). Old fashioned games like water balloon toss or one legged sack races not only get the kids moving but are budget friendly.

So party on with the same fervor and energy that a high end, expensive party would cost, only minus the overhead that is going to put quite a damper on the festivities.


Buyer's Remorse: Is it ever OK to splurge spend?

Anyone with an adequate financial head on their shoulders immediately hears the word “splurge” and shutters away from that rhetoric, and conjures up a negative connotative meaning from it.

You see “splurging” is often, and accurately, associated with spending money frivolously and without regard or caution as to paying close attention to a budget or being mindful of what money you have available versus what you're spending.

Splurging truthfully is the evil twin of saving, and the two can never go hand in hand, at least that is the mindset of most when they hear the former word.
But being able to save money and splurge might be able to coexist in the financially sound universe you've created as long as certain guidelines are met, and you're adequately understanding your financial standing at the moment you decide to unleash your wallet on a shopping spree for one, vacation for two or spending three times as much as you wanted to on a new car.

To justly look at splurging as something of a positive, you have to first realize that splurging and being content have to at least live in the same neighborhood that is your mentality. Those of you who are content in the home you own, car your drive or general financial standing or job that you currently hold will be more likely to scarcely splurge versus just overspending with little rhyme or reason behind it.

The person who sees splurging as more of a quick dip in a swimming pool on a hot day versus swimming the entire length of the ocean is the same person who has a solid financial foundation, good job and enough material things to satiate their need to garner more of the same. For this group, splurging exists because it is not a source of happiness all day, every day but rather a bonus that they deserve, continually enjoy and appreciate it for what it was at that moment and nothing more.

Splurging also doesn't always need to be viewed as massive purchases or buys in the ilk of a second vacation home, sports car or that jet you've always wanted. Splurging can be a fun, romantic dinner for two, a spa weekend or even just something as simple as getting dessert after a meal that you normally wouldn't.

Splurging is about perspective as it relates to your money and budget. Wildly spending gave splurging a bad name, but enjoying yourself from time to time and spending a little more than you normally would doesn't always have to be stereotyped as you subjecting your budget to sabotage.


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