8 Wedding Gifts That Newlyweds Will Really Use

The following post is by MPFJ staff writer, Laurie Blank.  Laurie is a wife, mother to 4 and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency, and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom and to a simpler, more peaceful life.

It’s wedding season, which means that wedding-goers everywhere are beginning the sometimes worrisome work of finding just the right gift at just the right price. Gift registry lists help, but we’ve all seen the wedding gift registry that contains crazy things you know the couple will probably never use. For some help in picking just the right wedding gift, consider these hard-to-fail ideas for wedding gifts the lovely couple will cherish forever.


A Year’s Worth of Streaming

A year’s subscription to Netflix, Hulu Plus, Sling TV or any of the other many streaming options out there would be a great way to help the newlyweds have access to snuggle time in front of the TV without having to worry about making sure the bill is paid on time.

You can present the gift in printed gift certificate form by finding a free online site, and add in print-outs of several options of streaming companies for the couple to choose from.


A Decent Set of Pots and Pans

My husband and I were married twenty-one years ago, and I still, in my mind, thank our friends Scott and Karen for the high-quality set of Farberware pans they gave us on our wedding day. We use them every single day and they’re still in great shape.


A Quality Set of Bed Linens

There’s a big difference between the feel of cheap bed linens and the feel of quality bed linens. We stopped buying the cheap bed linens years ago and opted instead to go for quality high thread count sheets that make going to bed extra comfy. If you don’t know the couple’s bedroom colors, stick with a neutral color such as white or ivory.


Money, Money, Money

It may seem uninventive, but you can bet your bottom dollar that money is a gift that every single couple – regardless of taste or style – will be able to use. If you’re worried about the “boring” factor when giving money, consider using one of these creative ways to give money as a gift.


A High-End Camera

This gift idea is for those looking to spend a good chunk of change. Nearly everyone can fall in love with the ability to use a high-quality camera to capture fond family moments on film (I mean “on memory card”). A photographer friend of mine says you can expect to spend a minimum of a thousand on a high-quality camera, so this gift idea would probably work best for newlyweds who are close relatives or friends, or for those with a hefty bank account balance.


A Quality Blanket

This is another gift idea that we cherish from our own wedding. We got two quality blankets from two different people on our wedding day, and we still use them both on a regular basis after twenty-one years of marriage. Color and design is key in picking out a blanket that the newlyweds will love, so try and go with something that will match their home décor or something neutral like a navy blue or gray.


A Quality Set of Steak Knives

A good set of steak knives will find regular use in the kitchen of anyone who eats, even if they’re a non-meat eater. Even salads and veggies often need to be cut before they’re eaten, and a decent set of eight or so knives will ensure the couple has enough steak knives to cover the needs of guests too.  Personally, we prefer the Cutco brand.


A Tool Kit that has all of the Basics

A tool kit will come in handy for nearly every newlywed couple at some point. People I know who’ve gotten them as wedding gifts count them as one of their favorite gifts. We got my young son (he’s 11) this Stanley Tool Kit for his birthday, and I think my husband uses it more than my son does.

Whatever gift you decide to give the newlywed couples you help celebrate their big day with, may it be a gift that they cherish for years to come.

How about you all? What is your favorite wedding gift to give newlyweds?

10 Smart but Frugal Wedding Gift Ideas

wedding-gifts-my-personal-finance-journeyThe following post is by MPFJ staff writer, Laurie Blank.  Laurie is a wife, mother to 4 and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom and to a simpler, more peaceful life.

With wedding season in full swing, some might be a bit overwhelmed with working extra money into their budget for wedding gift expenses. Wedding gift shopping is of a whole different genre; you want to give a gift that the newlyweds will cherish forever. So, how to make that special gift mesh with a frugal budget? Here are ten ideas for frugal wedding gifts that come from the heart and will bring joy and remembrance to the wedded couple for years to come.

Personalized Cookbook

Purchase a blank cookbook and fill it with hand-written versions of your (or their) favorite recipes (if you don’t have great handwriting, print out the recipes and glue them to the book page). You can also use some pages to put photos on or to share memories you have about the couple’s pre-wedding years. Remember to leave at least half of the pages blank so that the newlyweds can add their own favorite recipes.

Themed Gift Basket

Themed gift baskets can cover so many different genres and are a joy both to give and to receive. Here are some basket ideas:

A cleaning supply basket containing:

  • A brightly colored cleaning bucket
  • Staple cleaning supplies such as window cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, dish soap, hand soap, etc
  • Sponges, paper towels and/or cleaning rags

A dinner basket containing:

  • A box of pasta
  • Your favorite sauce
  • Non-refrigerated garlic or other bread
  • Croutons (for a salad)
  • An inexpensive bottle of wine
  • Inexpensive wine glasses

A bonfire basket containing:

  • Hershey’s chocolate bars
  • Marshmallows
  • Graham crackers
  • A cozy blanket

A picnic basket containing:

  • A picnic basket
  • Plates, silverware and napkins for two
  • A cozy blanket
  • An inexpensive bottle of wine
  • Wine glasses

There are a host of other gift basket ideas you can use too; just check online at sites such as Pinterest for more ideas. Wrap the baskets in clear cellophane and use a bow to add extra sparkle to the gift.

Framed Wedding Photo or Wedding Invitation

Purchase a nice but inexpensive wedding frame and use it to frame their wedding invitation or a great casual photo you have of the couple, either from their wedding reception or from another event.

Personalized Stationery

Hook the newlyweds up with a package of personalized stationery designed to fit their personalities, and add a nice but inexpensive pen/pencil set if it’s in the budget. Online sites such as Vistaprint have a host of different types of personalized stationery at affordable prices.

First Anniversary Bottle of Wine

Go to the wine store and find a nice, specialized bottle of wine – maybe something locally produced – and place it in a basket with a nice hand towel, some inexpensive wine glasses, a corkscrew and a note saying that the basket is for the celebration of their first anniversary. Wrap the basket in cellophane and a bow to keep it looking nice for the year.

Photo Scrapbook

If you have access to a dozen or so photos of the newlyweds, consider buying an inexpensive scrapbook and making a nice album for them to hold cherished memories of their life pre-wedding. Take advantage of craft store coupons when buying supplies to save even more money on this gift.

Personalized Christmas Ornament

A personalized Christmas ornament ready for their first Christmas together as a married couple is another great gift idea. Online stores, sites like Etsy and brick-and-mortar stores such as Things Remembered are great venues to find personalized ornaments.

Digital Kitchen Timer and/or Scale

These are two items that I really find helpful in our kitchen but didn’t take the time to buy until years after I was married. You can pick up a digital kitchen timer and a digital kitchen scale for less than $40 if you shop right.

Lawn Chairs and/or a Full-Sized Cooler

This is one of those gifts that your newlywed friends will likely use over and over again. An especially great gift if the couple likes to hang out in the great outdoors.

A Nice Blanket or Quilt

We received two really nice blankets from different people as wedding gifts and we still use both blankets nearly every single day after twenty years of marriage. Every time we use them, I think about the people who gave them to us with fond remembrance for this useful gift idea.

With a little thought, you can come up with a cherished wedding gift for your newlywed friends that won’t break your budget.

How about you all? What are your favorite smart but frugal wedding gift ideas?

Share your experiences by commenting below!

***Photo courtesy https://www.flickr.com/photos/43027029@N00/1078586764/

Tips To Help Students Own Holiday Shopping On A Budget

As most students can relate, having extra cash to throw around for Christmas gifts is often just a pipe dream.  It’s hard enough getting by on a part time job or work study income as it is, but when you toss needing to get Christmas gifts for friends and family into the mix, it can become almost as stressful as having to study for finals!

According to the recent Discover Annual Holiday Survey, spending on holiday gifts is predicted to rise this year.  Interestingly, the way that millennials, many of whom are college students, choose to shop for holiday gifts is markedly different than their older counterparts.  Specifically, more than half of millennials reported that they would do all of their shopping online, compared with only 42% of older shoppers.  Additionally, nearly 3 out of 4 millennials said they would use their smartphones or tablets to do their holiday shopping, while only 1 out of 3 non-millennials reported doing the same.

With all this extra spending predicted and the ease in which millennials (and others) have in purchasing their gifts online or using their smart devices, it’s important to remember to stick to a budget that you can afford.  You can still get presents for your loved ones even on a student’s meager budget, without hurting your credit or losing your mind!

Here are just a few tips:

  1. Create a holiday shopping budget:

It’s important to have a budget in place for all of your expenses in general, even if the holidays weren’t just around the corner.  Take your income in consideration, as well as bills or other financial obligations you have on a regular basis.  Then, determine how much is left over for you to possibly use for gifts for others during the holiday season.  Just remember, ideally you’ll want to pay your bill in full at the end of the cycle, so make sure you budget accordingly!

That being said, try to consolidate a little bit if you can:  if you have a sibling with a spouse, consider just getting one gift for the couple instead of an individual gift for each.  Similarly, don’t bother getting gifts for your pets if you have any!  Discover’s Annual Holiday Survey found that 37% of respondents planned on spending at least $50 on their dog, while 27% said they’d spend that much on their cat.  Dogs and cats have no idea that it’s the holiday season, nor do they even understand the concept of gift giving, so save your money and leave them off of your list this year!

  1. Use a credit card where you get cash back for your purchases:

This one is a no-brainer!  If you’re going to be spending money, why not use a credit card that gives you cash back for all of your purchases?  You can then use that extra money to help pay your bill.  The Discover it chrome for Students card gives you 1% cash back on all your purchases, as well as 2% cash back on gas and at restaurants.  Additionally, you can use this cash back to pay for items on Amazon, which is a great place to buy all of your holiday gifts at once!

  1. Do-it-yourself!:

Often, the best gifts are made by hand and cost very little compared to what it would be to buy someone a brand new commercially-made present.  Making the gift yourself also gives a sentimental and personal touch, which a lot of people appreciate.

The most important thing when it comes to your holiday shopping is to make a budget, stick to it and always pay your bills on time (and in full if possible).  By following these tips you’ll be well on your way to a stress-free (or at least less stressful!) holiday season.

Disclosure: I am a paid brand Blogger for Discover Financial Services My views are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Discover Financial Services and its affiliates.

Money-Saving Tips for the Best College Christmas Gifts

The following is a guest post by Savanna O’Conner. Enjoy!

Oh, Christmas, our joy and our wallets’ curse! No matter how much you love Christmas, it is almost impossible to ignore the fact that the winter holidays can be quite hurtful to our budgets. From the Christmas tree to the gifts and the dinner, everything can end up costing quite a lot of money. If you haven’t been thorough enough with your budget planning, you may find yourself scraping the bottom of the barrel – even more so if you’re a college student and your budget is limited.

So, how do you survive the Christmas season without turning from Santa Red to Sadness Blue? How do you offer gifts that are meaningful and budget-friendly?

Believe it or not, this is not Mission Impossible: The Winter Edition. It is doable, and achieving gift greatness will keep Christmas spirits higher than the Old Man’s reindeer-drawn sleigh.

Jingle your creativity, because your budget-friendly presents are going to be amazingly awesome!


Start Early

No, really, start early. The sooner you begin searching for gift ideas, the more time you will have to decide what presents your friends and relatives will genuinely love.

Not only that, but you will also have a better chance of saving money on gifts: running for the perfect present on Christmas Eve is not just exhausting, but it can be very pricy too. According to statistics released in 2014 by CreditCards.com, you are much more likely to over-spend when you are in a negative state – angry, for example, that you can’t find anything. It’s equally probable that you will over-spend when you’re in a good mood too, if you are overcome by Christmas spirit.

Add this to the fact that everything in supermarkets and stores is gorgeously arranged to tempt you to buy more during the holiday season, so you will almost definitely spend too much if you procrastinate on your gift buying plans.


Ready, Set, Hunt!

…for special offers, obviously!

The good news about the holiday season is that it starts with Thanksgiving. While this may be yet another holiday that pushes us to over-spend, you can use its aftermath the smart way – by keeping your eyes peeled for offers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

If you have a particular gift in mind (which may be a little over your budget), stay put and connect yourself to the aforementioned commercial events. You can get huge discounts on great products – and amaze your friends and family with gifts they will really enjoy.

This is not to say that you should buy everything you see on discount. Stay focused and hunt for those specific products you want to buy for Christmas – try to stay away from special offers you weren’t actually looking for.


Let Them Choose the Gift

Gift cards are an amazing way to save money and time, as well as making sure your Christmas gift will be warmly welcomed.

As long as you know that the recipient would buy from company “X”, giving them a gift card for its products will be more than well-received. Here are some ideas you could consider:

  • A Netflix gift card.
    • We all have that friend – the one who binge-watches TV shows and movies online. So why not provide him/her with the chance to do it completely free for the upcoming months?
  • An airline gift card.
    • Offering airline gift cards may sound like an awfully expensive thing to do, but here’s the trick: many airline companies accept credit card reward points/travel points, which you can use to buy gift cards from them. And there are many credit cards with special offers on reward points and travel points (Harvard Card, Venture from Capital One and BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card, to name a few).
  • A gift card for their favorite store.
    • If your friend or relative likes shopping in a particular store, they would be more than happy to use a gift card there. This way, they can choose to spend the money on whatever products they want.
  • An Amazon gift card.
    • We all know that Amazon is the wonderland of everything you could ever need. So if you aren’t certain as to what someone would like, offering them this means the world is their oyster in terms of online shopping options.

Do It Yourself

Can you bake, sew, glue or knit?

If so, perfect – Pinterest is there to provide you with an almost infinite number of ideas! From the fanciest cake recipes to the cutest sweaters, the Internet can give you inspiration for just about anything you might be able to do with your own hands.

This type of gift works for people who are closer to you. They will appreciate the effort you’ve put into crafting a present from scratch. Plus, you know what they like and dislike, so you know what types of things they would enjoy more.

The key to making beautiful DIY gifts lies in making sure they are useful, unique and appealing. Avoid boring things people could easily buy from the store (e.g. a pair of handmade white socks). Don’t make presents people will never use (e.g. a crocheted photo frame). Last, but not least, don’t offer DIY gifts that are flawed or haven’t turned out as planned (e.g. a sweater that is smaller than you wanted it).

Be creative – not having the help of Santa’s reindeer and elves is the only limit when it comes to giving gifts that are appreciated and affordable! Have a Merry Christmas and a Happily Wealthy New Year!

How about you all? Do you have a college student on your Christmas gift list? What do you have in mind to get them?

Share your experiences by commenting below! 

***Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattnazario/13971207088/in/

Saving Money On Holiday Gifts

With the holidays upon us and so many people to get gifts for, it can be difficult to actually save any money.  However, coupons make it a lot easier for you to get great deals on many gifts for nearly everyone on your list, and helps save you a lot of money while making your friends and family very happy during the holidays and beyond.

Here are just a few examples of how you can use coupons on gifts to help get you through the holidays without breaking the bank.

  • Electronic Gifts

Electronics are on nearly everyone’s Christmas lists these days, it seems.  As you probably know already, many electronics are pretty expensive!  Getting these types of gifts for a bunch of family and friends can get really expensive, but thankfully coupons can be used to help you save some money.

  • Weight Watchers Program Gift:

For those on your lists that are looking to shed a few pounds, avoid the dreaded holiday weight gain, or just trying to maintain a consistent healthy diet, there are a lot of coupons out there available for Weight Watchers, NutriSystem, or different gyms.  Get an early start on those New Year’s Resolutions and save money at the same time with these and other similar coupons.

  • SkyMall gifts for the frequent flyer:

If you or anyone else on your Christmas list is like me when they are flying, the SkyMall is a frequently read and enjoyed magazine that helps pass the time away and gives you a lot of ideas for gifts for others or for yourself.  SkyMall offers  several different coupons for various sales and discounts, which will make SkyMall enthusiasts jump for joy.

  • Kid-related gifts:

Did someone on your Christmas list just have a new baby?  There are lots of coupons out there for many kids stores and websites to help save Mom and Dad some much needed cash with their new bundle of joy.  From  deals with Diapers.com that will give 20% off coupons for new customers, 20% off Earth’s Best Baby Food, or 20% off of many different toys and games, you can find the right coupon for you or the kids on your list  Raising kids can be expensive, but it certainly doesn’t have to be with coupons!

From electronics to gardening and from kids to grown-ups, there are coupons for just about everyone on your list.  A great way to make your loved ones happy during the holidays and keep a little more green in your wallet!