If it's July, it must be Christmas, or at least our annual Christmas in July challenge.
If you belong to the BO group (and that's Born Organized, not what you were thinking!) then you are most likely finished with your Christmas planning, shopping, making and wrapping and are shaking your head at the rest of us who are thinking "Christmas? It's months away!".
Christmas may well be months away, but if you want to own your Christmas and be able to actually relax and enjoy the festive season, you really do need to start now.
You need to start now if you are planning on a handmade Christmas.
You need to start now if you are on a tight gift and entertainment budget.
Start saving in July if you find Christmas shopping, planning, wrapping and entertaining stressful in December and give yourself plenty of time to make Christmas 2018 one you can really enjoy.+
Make a Cloth Shopping Bag
Now the supermarket plastic bag ban is in place here in Victoria, shoppers are going crazy trying to decide what they're going to use, not just for the groceries, but for bin liners (that seems to be the biggest re-use of plastic grocery bags).
I've used cloth bags since Aldi opened. Don't get me wrong, I too use plastic bags for bin liners, but the come from other stores (fruit and veg, butcher, department stores) or they're given to me.
I also use cloth bags I've made. They're easy, cheap and usually very sturdy. Buy the calico or denim or homespun on sale, or recycle it from shirts, jeans, skirts, dresses you no longer wear to save money.
You can buy plain calico totes at craft stores, they're not expensive, if you don't think you can make them.
Here are the instructions for a couple of bags I made a couple of years ago. The instructions use bought bags, but by all means make them if you can.
Vintage Rose ToteYou will need:
Calico or plain coloured cotton tote
A picture to fit the tote
Iron-on transfer paper*
Step 1. Wash and dry your bag. I like to pre-wash the bags so that if they shrink they'll do so before the transfer is applied. Iron it.
Step 2. Find an image to use as the transfer. I found this image here: http://www.freeprettythingsforyou.com/ Make sure it is going to fit onto your tote. I usually print the image then use it as a template to work out the placement of the actual transfer.
Step 3. Follow the instructions on your transfer paper to print then apply the transfer to your tote.
And voila - in around 30 minutes (more if you can't make up your mind about the image) you have a lovely and unique tote to use or give as a gift for around $6.
This is a tote with an embroidered pocket. I embroidered the piece of fabric for the pocket (it only took a few minutes using the sewing machine) and then attached the pocket to the front of the tote. You'll need a sewing machine with a free arm for this or you'll need to unpick the tote, attach the pocket and re-stitch the seams.
*Spotlight and Lincraft sell iron-on transfer paper, but it's expensive. Buy it on sale (at least 40% off to make it cheap enough). You can also get it at Officeworks, where the packs are bigger, bringing the price per sheet down. Again, wait for a sale if you can. I have found it in some $2 shops too and it seems to be just as good a quality for a fraction of the price.
Just Say No!
One of the best things I learned to do is to say "no".
Being overwhelmed with things to do is not good for your health or your budget. When you are flat out is when you spend without thinking, opt for takeaway because it's easier and go for convenience over price and health.
Of course there are times when that's OK. But being flat out because you didn't want to hurt someone's feelings or appear impolite is a problem.
Learn to say no.
You don't need to offer an explanation; in fact, if you do, you are leaving yourself open to be offered an alternative.
Just say NO! - and then change the subject.
This was first posted on Debt Free, Cashed Up and Laughing