Home & Family
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5 Ways to Pamper Your Pet on the Cheap
Sure, our pets are our babies, but that doesn't mean we have to spend a small fortune on their gifts. Check out these five awesome ways to spoil your pet — without spoiling your budget.
Time for Treats
No doubt about it — pets love treats. Skip the fancy pet bakery and make your own at home in mere minutes. Do a quick online search for recipes; chances are you'll find a few that contain ingredients you've already got on hand.
Personalized pet items can cost an arm and a leg. To save a few bucks, just grab a pet-safe paint pen and get busy decorating all of your pet's items. Write their name, nickname(s) and cute phrases on bowls, collars, toys and other items. But before you let your pet investigate, make sure the paint is dry.
Suds it Up
Individually, pet toys don't cost too much. But add costs up over the course of your pet's lifetime and you're looking at a pretty penny for play. Leave the toys at the store and make your own at home. It's easy (we promise) — just cut a small hole in a tennis ball and sneak in a few pet treats. Then, let the frolicking begin!
The Best Rest
Snoozing is probably one of your pet's favorite pastimes (in fact, adult dogs spend approximately half their life sleeping). Make their bed a unique, yet, comfy space. Decorate a large pillow with your pet's name in fabric letters. If you want to go a step further and pamper your pet celeb-style, splurge on pet pajamas and eye masks.
Host a Holiday Party on a Budget
The holidays are upon us, and you know what that means — party time! While we all love a good holiday party, who loves footing the bill? Between food, beverages and decorations, hosting a fiesta can really add up. But don't let that bring down your plan to bring down the house. Check out these four super-creative ways to host a big-time bash on a shoestring budget.
Theme Me Up, Scotty
Think themes are for kids? Think again! A theme (such as a cookie swap or a holiday-movie viewing party), brings guests' focus to one particular idea and draws attention away from any cost-cutting measures you've taken.
OK, if you're throwing a swanky gala, you might want to consider using a fancy-pants snail-mail invitation. But for more casual get-togethers, emailing save-the-date notices, invitations and party updates is perfectly acceptable. Most designs are free, and some sites even let you upload your own images for a more personalized feel. Plus, you can track responses and easily send thank-you notes after the party. Done and done.
Potluck Is the New Black
There's no need to slave over a stove. These days, potlucks are all the rage — just request that your guests bring a dish to fit your theme. You can even assign courses or certain ingredients, which will make it even more fun for your guests to show off their culinary skills.
Get Your Game On
Entertaining on a budget is easy! Plan a game of holiday charades or break out some classic board games and watch the action unfold. Have a group of gamers on your hands? Fire up your video console and start a game challenge. Or host a white elephant gift exchange. Fun, immeasurable. Cost, zero.
Regardless of your budget, the most important element of any party is the guest list. After all, good friends and conversation don't cost you a penny, so as long as you're surrounded by your nearest and dearest, your party is sure to go the distance — even if your budget can't.
4 Ways to Consolidate Your Gazillion Gadgets
Are you still lugging around a bunch of old-school, outdated technology? It's time to consolidate — check out these simple ways to affordably trim the gadget fat.
Be a Smartie
Okay, enough is enough. It's intervention time: Hand over that archaic cell phone. It's time to upgrade to a smartphone that does twice as much (if not more) than your un-smartphone. All smartphones now have capabilities that go way beyond making calls. Look for models that include Web browsing, high-tech still and video cameras, Internet-based radio and much more. Just think of all the time you'll save — you can work, text, pay bills, shop and order dinner right from your phone! Do your research — there's a plan out there for just about any budget.
Get Your Game On
Still cluttering up your entertainment center with an old-school video-game console? Get rid of it — you'll get so much more out of a new game system. Besides playing the coolest new video games, modern systems can play CDs, DVDs, browse the Web and store music and movies. Plus, new systems are sleek, lightweight and fit anywhere.
Rock a Dock
Music comes in a variety of technologically advanced formats, none of which your current dual tape deck/single-CD boom box supports. Send that monstrosity back to the '80s and get an audio dock that plays your mp3s, as well as CDs (just in case you're still rocking the discs). Check online before you buy — there are all kinds of options to fit any budget.
Get an eReader
Shelve the books. Internet-enabled eReaders are hot right now, and for good reason. How else can you take two tons of books almost anywhere? Read your favorite books, play games, explore recipes and so much more. Many eReaders are 3G-ready and come with Wi-Fi, so you can surf the Web while reading at home, at the mall or relaxing poolside.