The financial bloggers aren’t on holiday this month – they’re writing about every possible angle about how to make money, save money and manage money.

Here’s a roundup of great reads that I’m finding on the Internet this week. In keeping with my blog theme, I put a Southeast Michigan spin on the follow-up comments as much as possible.

The Carnival of Personal Finance for Dec. 22 was hosted by Saving to Invest. Here are some of the posts you’ll find on all things financial:

  • Bible Money Matters presents 125 more people personal finance junkies should follow on twitter: “The idea was to make this post the go-to resource if you’re getting started on twitter, and you’re interested in personal finance.” Monroe on a Budget does not have a twitter account, but I do recognize the screen names of many people on the list.
  • Free From Broke presents A mother’s struggle between work and kids:  “Now when my daughter was little, I was a single mom and didn’t have a choice.  But now I had a husband and our financial situation was solid, so why not just try it?” If you are one of the southeast Michigan families who are currently affected by a layoff and have young kids at home, look at this situation as a trial for stay-athome parenting. You need to remember that the stay-at-home parent is NOT on vacation. In addition to providing child care, he or she typically takes responsibility for time-consuming tasks such as preparing homecooked dinners, clipping coupons and handling appointments during the business day that would be unfair to pile on the worker bee in this situation.
  • Tough Money Love presents Alternatives to layoffs in a recession – why aren’t they used? “The simplest strategy would be to reduce wages and salaries for everyone still working.  Instead of cutting ten percent of the workforce, reduce every employee’s pay by ten percent.  Wouldn’t that be better for both the employer and employee? Apparently not because it rarely happens.” The response from the blogger and his readers are that pay cuts don’t go over well regardless of the reason, and it’s often easier to just get rid of certain staff members. But pay cuts have been happening in lieu of layoffs at some companies. What happens if you are  faced with a pay cut? Figure out every trick you can possibly apply to reduce your expenses. I have a tips based on common household budget categories starting at The Downsized Budget: How and Where to Cut Back.

The Festival of Frugality for Dec. 23 was hosted by Miss Thrifty. Here are some of the posts you’ll find on frugal living:

  • Dough Roller presents 97 frugal living tips: “Avoid using plastic cups, glasses, plates, spoons instead use steel glasses, utensils. They clean easy, never break and are reusable till you get bored looking at them.” If you are not familiar with frugal living concepts or have been reluctant to try, bookmark some of the money bloggers’ massive collection lists and start with one or two tips that are easy for your family to implement. After you master those techniques, add more to your household routines. By the way, if you are in the habit of washing plastic baggies and plastic spoons – stop doing that and invest in other products that will better serve your longterm intentions. Seriously.
  • Frugal Homemaker Plus presents This just in: I’m a selfish, miserable miser who is ruining the economy!: “It’s true that, in theory, I don’t have to use coupons, could crank up the heat, and get cable. But it was my understanding that spending more means you have less in savings. Because we don’t have these things, we’ll be in a much better position that we would have been if my husband does lose his job. He already went on reduced hours with little warning.” The frugal habits my husband and I have followed since before we were married helped us get through previous times of unemployment – and will help us get through the next few weeks as he goes through another production layoff.
  • Domestic Cents presents What gives when the budget breaks?:  “Cook really cheap for a week or two. Be optimistic and make it fun. How cheap can we possibly be this week? Think pancakes, eggs & toast, rice and beans, baked mac & cheese … believe me, it’s doable.” Start by poking around your pantry to see what you can make for a week of meals with a very limited “restocking” grocery run such as milk or a couple pounds of hamburger. Michigan residents – one trick is limit a tight week’s new grocery purchases to the amount of 10-cent beverage bottles and cans you can return to the store. Yes, maybe that is only a gallon of milk and carton of eggs or a couple pounds of hamburger. That might be enough to make multiple dinners with stuff that is already in your pantry.

And here are some other posts that caught my attention this week:

  • Personal Finance Advice presents How to save when there’s no money left: “Use plastic bags from the store for garbage bags. This one item saves quite a bit of pocket change since garbage bags are getting more expensive.” I’ve been doing this for many years. The only garbage bags I buy are the tall kitchen ones. The store-sized bags fit four other trash cans that are scattered around my house.
  • Simple Dollar presents Nine creative ways to utilize leftovers from common meals: “Cut the remaining chicken into long strips, then serve them with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, shredded cheese, salsa, and tortillas to make easy and tasty wraps.” One can follow the leftover concept even further with the produce and have BLT sandwiches the night before or after this dinner.
  • Frugal Dad presents What to do if unable to afford home heating bills:  “Unfortunately, charitable organizations are unable to foot the entire bill for someone in need of help.  In most cases they can only offset a portion of the overall bill, so be prepared to cover the remaining amount.” This is a really important point to remember: A bailout for any emergency need is often only a partial bailout. You will be expected to do everything you can in the meantime to manage your share of the expenses. I have some previous posts about utility bills, and go to Julie’s List to find emergency utility resources for Southeast Michigan residents.
  • Get Rich Slowly presents Embracing the thrift store ethic: “When thrifting, it’s more important to be patient, to browse the racks methodically.” Yes, this can be aggravating. I hate the time involved with finding clothes that fit at a retail store much less at a thrift shop. But when I go to a thrift shop, my goal is to find only one or two things I really like. There’s enough inventory turnover that one can find more stuff a week or two later. I have a sidebar that lists the Monroe-area thrift shops.
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