I always look forward to the day after Thanksgiving. No, it's not for the Black Friday specials. I leave that insanity to my wife, who thrives on fighting fellow shoppers for deals. I like the day after Thanksgiving because of the LEFTOVERS! I'm one of those people who feels the Thanksgiving goodies like turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes are even better the second or third time around.

You don't have to be content with merely warming this stuff up in the microwave. You can give these ingredients a great second life by turning them into something else even more tasty. Here are a few things I do with my leftover bird (after all, who wants to waste good food?):

Turkey ala King (this is GREAT over egg noodles)
Turkey Noodle Soup (don't throw away the carcass of that bird. It make fantastic broth)
Turkey sandwiches (I like to heat up the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes and put it between two slices of thick wheat bread spread with homemade cranberry sauce. Mmmm!)
Turkey salad
Turkey Pot Pie (great way to use up those leftovers!

Do you have any good recipes for using using up that leftover turkey? We'd love to hear them!

Today we are re-visiting a classic Savvy Frugality post from a year ago, "Find the Black Friday Sales Before Black Friday". After all, there are only five days before the launch of the Christmas shopping season (except for me. I start somewhere around December 24th).

Find the Black Friday Sales Before Black Friday

Everybody knows that Thanksgiving is this week, but there is another holiday of sorts that follows the day after Thanksgiving: Black Friday. Black Friday is the day that most retailers use to officially launch the holiday shopping season, although some retailers have already kicked off their Christmas shopping season early. There are definitely good deals to be had on Black Friday, but how do you find them?

Fortunately, there is a way of scouting out the Black Friday sales ahead of time, and this can help you pre-plan your Black Friday shopping experience and get you in and out of the stores quickly and back home in time to enjoy those turkey leftovers for lunch. Here are a few places where you can get a sneak peak at Black Friday sales, without stepping foot outside of your home or smudging your hands with ink from the newspaper sales circulars:

bfads.net - Not only can you get the scoop on in-store sales, but this web site has details about Black Friday sales available on shopping web sites as well.

blackfriday.info - This site has links to the Black Friday sales circulars of several retail chains.

black-friday.net - More links to online Black Friday ads for the nation's biggest retail chains.

blackfridayads.com - Billed as "the web site retailers don't want you to see!", this site has links to online Black Friday circulars for major retailers.

blackfriday.gottadeal.com - Links to Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

Cyber Monday, the Monday following Black Friday, is supposedly one of the busiest online shopping days of the year, with deals to match. I haven't necessarily found this to be the case, and I really try to avoid the Black Friday sales as well, unless there is a gift item that has been so ridiculously slashed in price that it would save me a LOT of money. Otherwise, I do most of my shopping a couple of weeks before Christmas. I have found that the closer to Christmas it is, the lower the prices get. No retailer wants to be stuck with extra inventory after Christmas. And, if you want a great deal on Christmas decorations, gift wrap and cards, wait until AFTER Christmas, and stock up for next year. Those items are usually discounted 50 to 80 percent following the holidays.

Savvy Frugality Link Love:

Savvy Frugality would like to thank the following sites for recently featuring some of its posts:

MSN Money Central Smart Spending

The Chicago Herald


Financial Wellness Project

Catholic Answers Forums

Monroe on a Budget

TV = Unhappiness

Posted by T | 3:55 PM | | 0 comments »

Want to be happy with your life? Spend less time in front of the TV.

That's according to a study detailed recently in the New York Times. The study found that, over time, people who watched the most TV were the most unhappy. I covered a lot of my own reasons why watching a lot of television is a bad idea some time ago in my post "There's a Reason It's Called "The Idiot Box".

At the time, I dealt with one of the main faults I find with television: it sucks up a lot of time you could be using to do something much more productive. I want to make one thing clear: I do watch TV. In fact, I have a list of favorite shows, but most of them are on "The History Channel" "Discovery Channel" or "BBC America". When I watch TV, I try to watch something educational (not counting "The Shield" or "Prison Break").

There is another downside to TV, too...especially this time of year. It can lead to people buying a lot of useless junk that they don't need. Case in point: a couple of months ago, I posted my thoughts on the ShamWow commercial, featuring annoying pitchman Vince Offer. Since then, it has been one of the most-visited posts on this blog. Do we really need to buy rags from Vince? Nope.

I'm not saying everyone should permanently ditch all TV, but at least try to cut down. Use one hour a night that you would normally use to watch TV to do something else. Could you use an extra seven hours a week to tackle a project at home, take up a hobby, read a book or do that one thing you wish you had the time to do? Put down the remote for that one hour each night. You'll be happier for it.

The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest travel holidays of the year. Although the tough economy is expected to result in a slight decline in the number of travelers next week, the AAA forecasts that 41 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more for the Thanksgiving holiday.

With money tight, how can you splurge on both travel and turkey? Fortunately, there are some travel deals to be had.

Gas is cheap again...well, OK...cheaper.
At least it's not pushing four bucks a gallon anymore. The national average is now $2.07 a gallon. According to the AAA, that's 88 cents less than a month ago, and more than a dollar less than it was a year ago.

Hotels are cheaper. Compared to last year, room rates are down about ten percent. The economy has affected their bottom line, so hotels are hoping to get your business with lower prices. Savvy Frugality tip: Don't like the advertised room rate? Look for a hotel with a half-empty parking lot, and ask the desk clerk what their "best price" is for a room. Chances are they'll cut you a deal. They don't make money on empty rooms.

Airlines are more expensive. Air travel will come at a premium this year. The AAA says on average, flights are about eight percent more expensive than they were at this time last year. Also more expensive: car rentals.

Buses are still a deal. There are benefits to going Greyhound. The bus line's eFares, Priority seating and Advance Purchase Fares can either save you some cash (up to 20 percent) or help you avoid lines at the terminal to purchase tickets. The downside: you're still riding on a bus.

Ride the Rails. Grab Amtrak's Rail Pass and travel anywhere within the Amtrak system. The 15-day pass is good for 8 travel segments (a segment is any time you get on and off a train for a particular trip. For example, if you have to change trains you are beginning another segment) for $389. The 30-day pass is good for 12 travel segments and costs $579. It's slower, but likely cheaper, than taking a flight.

It seems like the cost of everything has increased this year, thanks to the current economic woes of the U.S. The traditional Thanksgiving dinner isn't immune, either. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual informal survey, the cost of the traditional Thanksgiving meal for 10 will set you back about $44.61...an increase of $2.35 or 5.6 percent from last year.

The price of all grocery items has increased this year, and at a steeper pace than previous years, thanks to the high gas prices which only recently started to decline. Still, buying the bird need not cause you to choose between a tasty meal and your child's college education. My family has always managed to get by on the cheap for Thanksgiving, and have a delicious meal in the process. So let's talk turkey and pass along a few money-saving Thanksgiving tips:

1. Go Pot Luck. There is no need to pay for the entire meal yourself. Invite friends and family (or accept an invitation to go to their house) and bring a dish to pass. This way, each person is only responsible for their dish, and that's much cheaper than buying the entire holiday meal yourself.

2. Buffet. It almost seems sacrilegious, but there are restaurants which serve turkey and all the trimmings buffet-style. If you don't have a large family, or you are going single for Thanksgiving this year, why buy all that food and prepare it yourself? If might actually be cheaper to go to a buffet-style restaurant and chow down there. This is especially a great deal if it's an all-you-can-eat place. Con: no leftovers.

3. Turkeys are generic, too. Sure, Butterball is a household name for turkey, but there are plenty of store-brand turkeys out there, too...and they are usually much cheaper per pound. We almost always buy a store-brand turkey. It still tastes great. A turkey is a turkey, right? The generic turkeys also have that pop-up timer, too. If you have a hunter in the family, you might skip the turkey and dine on some wild goose or duck if they had a good season.

4. Be adventurous. You don't necessarily have purchase a turkey for Thanksgiving. There is no law that says you must eat turkey. Some people (certainly not me) don't even LIKE turkey. A nice big roasting chicken, smoked salmon, cornish game hens or a ham will work, too.

5. Be generous. A few years ago, my wife and I volunteered to deliver Thanksgiving meals to the homebound and elderly on behalf of a Christian charity organization. We got the satisfaction of helping others, learning about things we were truly grateful for (no matter how bad you think things are for you, there is ALWAYS somebody else who needs help more than you) and we were offered a Thanksgiving meal back at the kitchen as the charity's way of saying...well, thanks.

Savvy Frugality Recommended Reading: With Money Tight, Layaway Makes a Big Comeback.

Later this month, shoppers around the country will take part in perhaps the biggest shopping day of the year: Black Friday, or the day after Thanksgiving. The day is known for its holiday shopping bargains. My wife is among those who brave the crowds (she once got into a near-fistfight over a Tickle-Me Elmo at K-Mart), but not me. I prefer to do my shopping online, in the comfort of my own home. What makes online shopping just as good as the Black Friday sales are the promotion and coupon codes which can award shoppers everything from free shipping to several percent off their purchase price. So, with that in mind, I am happy to do a review of FindSavings.com at their request.

Like a lot of coupon code sites, FindSavings.com features discount and promo codes for most of the major online stores, such as Overstock.com, Buy.com, Walmart.com and one that I use frequently around Mother's Day: 1800Flowers.com. Unlike a lot of coupon code sites, the layout of FindSavings.com is very user-friendly, with links arranged by shopping categories, store and coupon type. The coupon types available at the site include free shipping, dollars off, percent off, rebates, sales and free gifts. Depending upon what type of savings are most important for you, that is a big time-saver while you do your online shopping.

If you are looking for a specific item, there is also a search box on the site which will steer you not only to the best promo codes, but to the applicable online shopping sites so you don't have to spend a lot of time opening links and searching for the item.

I spent some time browsing some of my usual online shopping haunts, including Target.com (which features free shipping on some appliances), Borders.com (25 percent off one item), and of course 1800Flowers.com (free shipping, this will come in handy for my wife's upcoming birthday).

In the coupon section, I found a great deal at Restaurant.com: save 60 percent on a $25 restaurant gift certificate, plus receive a free $10 gift certificate. Price? Four dollars. That certainly makes eating out much more affordable, especially this time of year.

I did notice that there are some discount codes which have long since expired, but this is something I have noticed at most other coupon and promo code sites. Just make sure that the promo code you are trying to use is current and up-to-date.

Online shopping is not only a way of beating the holiday crowds at the mall, but it's a good way to save money as well. FindSavings.com helps make that a bit easier.

I came across an intriguing headline while doing some of my personal finance reading today. It was over at MSN MoneyCentral and it really caught my attention. It was "The Biggest Mistakes Poor People Make".

According to Liz Pullium Weston, there are seven money mistakes that poor people make that ensure they will stay poor, such as paying too much for rent or a mortgage, confusing needs with wants, only making minimum monthly payments, failing to budget, having no emergency savings and spending retirement savings.

Well...yeah, those things will guarantee that poor people will stay poor, but they didn't all really address my own personal situation a few years ago, when I was REALLY poor. I wasn't just poor, I was "po"...I couldn't even afford the extra "or". The worst part: it was really all my (and my wife's) fault. Worse yet: they are mistakes that so many other people make.

Spending every last dime you earn in one week...and you're paid every two weeks. Well, what do you do when you spend your check in one week, and there is another week until you get paid again? You either play the "float" by writing checks for money you don't have and hope they won't clear by the time you get paid again (but bank processing times have gotten faster, so that won't even buy you time anymore) or you use a payday loan lender, which charges hundreds of percent of annual interest. Good way to stay poor.

Buying things because they are a "good deal". "Wow, look how much money I saved" you might say. But, you couldn't even afford the amount of money you did spend, because you're broke. Good move, Wisenheimer. Now you're even more broke.

Ignoring bills. Every day, bills would come in the mail and I would toss them on a heap and ignore them. I couldn't afford to pay them, so what was the point? The point was if I had contacted the bill collectors and worked out a payment plan, the mail would have stopped coming, or at least they wouldn't have been as threatening. Plus, I was damaging my credit and racking up extra fees. Stupid.

It's "their" fault I'm poor. I was poor because my boss didn't pay me enough, because the bank charged me fees for bad checks, because the bill collectors were overcharging me, because I didn't have enough education, because my parents never taught me how to handle money. At least, that's what I used to think. The real reason was it was really all my fault. Don't have an education? Get one. Don't make enough money at your job? Get another one, or start your own business. Born into a poor family? So what. Millionaires, U.S. presidents and famous actors were also born into poor families. You can get ahead, too...but no one is going to hand it to you. You have to work for it.

Spending more than you earn. If I was to write a book about how to get ahead, it would be the shortest book in existance. It would be one page long, and contain just one sentence. That sentence would be: Live below your means. If you spend less than you earn, suddenly you have more money to use to get ahead. It really is than simple. "But, I don't earn much money to begin with" you might say. That may be true, but whatever you earn, you can still live on less. People all over the world do it everyday. In some African nations, the average annual salary is $300 a year. Not a week, not a month, but in one full year. You're much better off than that. You can live on less than you earn. If you can't, either increase your income, or find areas were you can cut back. Five years ago, I took a job which paid 20 percent less than what I had been earning. I still managed to cut my spending even further, and my family begain to live on about 75-80 percent of what I was earning. It wasn't fun, it wasn't easy, but we did it...and we're better today for it.

Savvy Frugality Recommended Reading: More Employees Getting Scrooged This Christmas.

If you're like me, you check your retirement savings, your stocks, grit your teeth and say "I'm in it for the long haul", and try to forget about it until the next time you check your stocks. After all, I have about 25 years until retirement (although I hope it's actually less), so there is time for the stock to bounce back, which it will...eventually.

But what about those college savings for Junior? Perhaps he's like my kid...13 years old and ready to attend college in five years or less. All of a sudden those stocks don't look so inviting, and every "economic meltdown" story in the news is driving the stock price lower, and eating up your gains. If you're looking at sending a child to college in five years or less, and you want to lock in your savings before losing the rest of the tuition and book money, there are a few sensible, although very conservative, moves you can make with the kid's college cash.

1. Get rid of the stocks. If you're really concerned about having some college cash left in five years or left, preserve the money you have now. Things are just to volatile on Wall Street right now to risk cash you'll need in the short term.

2. Stash your cash. Those high-yield savings accounts at online banks are suddenly looking like a better deal. Sure, they only pay 3-4 percent interest per year, but that's better than LOSING money.

3. Adjust your 529. If you have a 529 state-sponsored college savings account, shuffle your investments around to more conservative options, like bonds...or the fixed asset option which pays a set (but lower) amount of interest each year.

4. There are always U.S. Savings Bonds. These are an old-school savings option. The interest rate on Series EE and I bonds are low, and you need to hang on to them for at least five years to make it worth it, but again...you're not going to lose your cash.

5. Buy a CD. Certificates of Deposit at the local bank or credit union are another safe option. There are varying lengths of time you have to hold the CD, usually ranging from 6 months to 3 years. The higher the dollar amount of the CD and the longer you hold it, the higher the interest. Again, your cash won't go anywhere, and it's insured in case your bank tanks (provided your bank is FDIC-insured).

I had been buying shares of Wal-Mart and Devon Energy for my son's college fund. I'm not selling them (I don't have many shares), but I'm not buying more, either. For now, the kid's cash is going into an Emigrant Direct savings account at 3 percent interest per year.

I'm a big fan of the personal finance site The Dollar Stretcher. I always have been. I have read the site for years....long before I ever thought of writing my own blog. It is chock full of great information about saving money, investing and earning money, especially if you are going through some rough economic times yourself. The ideas on The Dollar Stretcher helped see me through some personal financial problems of my own, and I have tried to return the favor by helping others through my own blog here at Savvy Frugality.

With that being said, I am pretty excited to announce that Savvy Frugality will be partnering with The Dollar Stretcher! I will be writing a blog for The Dollar Stretcher site called Main Street Meltdown. I intend to focus on general money-saving tips and especially on money-saving moves anyone can make during our current shaky economy.

This doesn't mean that Savvy Frugality is going away. I will continue to post content at Savvy Frugality, and there will be additional material at Main Street Meltdown that you won't find at Savvy Frugality. Essentially, Savvy Frugality is extending its reach to new readers at The Dollar Stretcher, and we hope you will check out The Dollar Stretcher if you are not already familiar with the site. Also, be sure to check out the other great personal finance blogs available at The Dollar Stretcher site as well.

Like most people, I'm always looking for ways to bring additional income into my household. Taking steps to save money is great, but that will only get you part of the way toward living a fiscally fit life. There has to be money coming into the house, too. I take advantage of ways to earn extra money on the job, and I usually receive an annual cost-of-living pay increase, too. However, there are other ways of making extra money without moonlighting. How? Through passive income.

By its definition, passive income is income you receive automatically, regardless of what you do. It's money that constantly flows to you. This doesn't mean that you don't have to work for it. There is usually a lot of work at the outset, but after you have everything in place, the money rolls in. How much is dependent upon what your source of passive income is and how badly people want to pay you for it.

Passive income is not a "get rich" scheme. Sure, some people make a lot of money through passive income; others don't. So, how do you earn passive income. There are a few different sources which can help generate passive income for you:

1. Blogging. A lot of people have been jumping on the blogging bandwagon to try to earn passive income. The income usually comes from advertising placed on the blog site. Others get paid to blog, but that isn't really passive income. Savvy Frugality generates a bit of passive income. If I stopped writing it tomorrow, the blog would continue to generate advertising revenue without my having to do anything else to it. That's passive income.

In the past, I have written articles for sites such as Associated Content. Although I'm not a regular contributor, my articles continue to generate income, and I receive (small) payments directly to my PayPal account once per quarter.

2. Rental payments. If you rent something to somebody else, whether it's real estate or some other kind of property, you are generating passive income. Sure, there is upkeep of the property, insurance, etc., but the property works for you.

3. Royalties. If you have written a book, recorded a CD or created software that people will download from a site, that is a form of passive income. A lot of work goes into creating the product, but after it is created it will generate passive income, provided people are willing to pay for it. Some popular musicians from the 50s and 60s earn more money in royalties now than they ever did when they topped the music charts. How? They continue to receive royalties from work they did decades ago, and their product sells more copies now than when they were "in".

4. Dividends and interest. If you have a nice sum of money socked away in a CD or high-yield bank account, you are earning passive income in the form of interest. Stock investments which pay dividends also generate passive income.

5. Other creative works. I have uploaded a few designs for T-shirts and mugs on CafePress.com, and this generates some income every time someone purchases my designs. The Revver Video Sharing Network pays uploaders for their videos when they are used. Are you a shutterbug? Create some stock photos and get paid every time someone downloads them from one of several stock photo sites on the Web.

6. Business partnership. A silent partner in a business in one which helps fund the startup of the business for a percentage of the business' profits. They don't actively work or manage the business, but they are a partner, so they earn money from the business.

You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to generating passive income. The point is to create something that will continue to generate revenue for you with limited to no other involvement from you after it is created. Even if it's only a few dollars a month, if it's truly passive it won't matter, because you aren't really working for the money anymore. It is generating money on its own.

I am earning passive income each month. It is not enough to warrant my leaving my "day job", but it supplements my regular income. Some people are able to retire early as a result of the amount of money they make from their passive income. I'm not there yet, but I'm always thinking of additional ways of making my money or my talent earn additional income on "auto-pilot".

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