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Monday, December 3, 2012

American Girl Doll Alternatives for the Cash Strapped this Christmas

A few years ago my family and I traveled to Chicago and we took my grand daughter to the American Girl store while we were there. The dolls were gorgeous and at the time cost $95. They are now $105. This year at the age of 5 she pointed to one in the American Girl catalog that we get in the mail and told me she would like to have it for Christmas. I just about peed my pants!

She's only 5 and doesn't understand that the doll is expensive. So I took a deep breath and started my research as any Broke Single Mom worth her salt would do. :)

I came across a few articles and posts listing less expensive American Girl alternatives. Some are out of date and others, while still available are at higher price points now since most of these articles were written for christmases past. I decided to write my own to give parents and grand parents a look at what other options are available to them if $105 for a doll is simply out of reach.

Before I go on, I want to state clearly that this post IS NOT about the quality of the different dolls. There were some not so nice comments left on some of the articles I read which basically boiled down to people who are American Girl devotees trying to make parents that just can not afford those dolls, feel as if they should be ashamed for looking at more pocket friendly choices. Though AG dolls may in fact be made of a higher quality, that doesn't mean that if a family is barely getting the light bill paid and food on the table that $105 plus tax will suddenly appear to buy said doll.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Rich Single Mother? Biz-spiration (business + inspiration:) for Single Moms Everywhere

Photo Credit: My Growth Plan

A few years ago I wrote a post on my Business Blog about a novel that told the magnificent story of Madam C.J. Walker aka Sarah Breedlove and her inspiring story of being born to slaves, becoming a widowed single mother and washer woman to America's First Female Millionaire. It is based on her real life rise from the ashes of poverty during the 1900's.

Her story is so amazing, a woman orphaned before age 10 and married as a young teen, she struggled a lot more than not. She was a single mother who was widowed by 20. Her tale has always inspired me so much because she didn't make her mark and go from washing other people’s clothes to business woman until she was in her late 30's.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Estimate Your 2012 Tax Refund in less than 5 Minutes...Broke Single Mom Alert!

Photo Credit The Vintage War Bride

Wouldn't it be nice to know how much your Federal income tax refund check might be, right now, or at least very, very soon? If you're anything like me, you count on your income tax refund every year to help pay off some bills, fix your car, upgrade the house or take a vacation. Or maybe you just like seeing your savings account multiply.

If you knew beforehand you could even create a budget and allocate the funds to be spent wisely as opposed to having no real plan and giving into the shopping bug when the money comes in? Hey I've been there, When you have that money and no set plan, pretty shoes and dresses and taking the kids away for a spur of the moment trip, seem like
great ideas.

For the past few years I have been using three different websites to calculate my income tax refunds. And they have given me a very close estimate, I'd say within a few hundred dollars, of what my Federal return actually ends up being. I have used it for family members as well and it has basically been the same across the board. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Vacation on Lay-a-way

Photo Credit
I ran across an article on Yahoo Finance about Sears offering vacations, from cruises to Hawaii that can be paid on lay-a-way! Lay-a-way was a huge part of my childhood and young adult hood in New York City. It was how my mom got us Christmas gifts. She would go and pick out a few toys for each of us in October with a small down payment then pay it off little by little and bring them home right before Christmas, well most years.

On the years she was unable to get the gifts out prior to Christmas we would get them for Three Kings day, is that just a Puerto Rican thing?

Anywho, when I had my first child I was young and living paycheck to paycheck and her father had passed away so I had to do it all alone. In September I would "make a lay-a-way" as we said back in the day, lol. I would pick out winter clothes, socks and a coat and pay it off every payday until I could bring it home. Same thing I did in the Spring for the summer. It helped me and a lot of other people clothe their children during time when Plato's Closet didn't exist and the only offerings to be had at the Salvation Army and Good Will were polyester suits from the 70's. Oh, the horror!

When stores started to eliminate lay-a-way in favor of store credit cards I was pissed.

Instead of paying it off slowly and owning it once you were done, now if you qualified and got a store card you were at their mercy in terms of the max amount you could spend. And don't even get me started on the ridiculous interest you had to pay.

Yes, you got to take the stuff home before you paid for it. But as we all know that was the beginning of a lot of peoples shopping addiction and snowballing credit card debt.

Enough ranting, here is part of the article and a link to the full story on Yahoo.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Vacation Meal Budget and the Broke Single Mom

Photo Credit Retroama

When you are on vacation, eating out can be a large chunk of your budget. If you figure 4 people eating out 3 meals a day for 5-7 days, you can easily spend upwards of $400.

But when you are on a shoestring budget of $500 for your entire trip you may feel as if there is no way to make this work.

Don't fret, it just takes a little research and planning.

What I like to do is deduct all of my fixed expenses from my budget. Those include, transportation, hotel and baggage fees. Then I take the remainder and guesstimate how much I will need for things like souvenirs and outings.

After all of these deductions I can see how much I have to work with for food. Don't panic if your numbers is low. You can do your best to work with it and if it's just not possible you can adjust another area to put more money into the food budget.

Let's use my friend's upcoming 5 night/6 day trip to Williamsburg.