How to Become a 911 Operator

Ever consider what it’s like to be a 911 emergency operator?

Well now’s the time to think about it. The job is in high demand these days and it doesn’t require a college degree, saves lives and is never boring. The average starting salary is $38,000 and the national average pay is about $48,000, which isn’t super high but the job usually has good medical benefits.

In most states it takes about four to six weeks to get certified and then several months of on-the-job training. New hires are paid while they are trained.

Yes, there is certainly stress involved, but agencies have services to help employees deal with that. And not every call is a life-or-death situation; there are plenty of non-emergency situations such as stolen cars or lost dogs.

St. Johns County in Florida is just one of hundreds of agencies across the country looking to hire so-called “heroes in headsets.” It’s offering a starting salary of $41,000, which is boosted with overtime. There’s also a bonus of $2,000 for completing the certification.

“There has been a need for 911 professionals for as long as I can remember,” said April Heinze, Operations Director for 911 and Public Safety Answering Point at NENA, the National Emergency Number Association. That need has become much greater with COVID-19, which discouraged many from working in office settings or high-contact jobs like public safety. Thus the pool of potential employees has gotten smaller. “You’re starting to see more and more municipalities offering signing bonuses to encourage people to apply.”

For the right person, a job in emergency communications can become a rewarding career. As with healthcare, working in public safety is a chance to help people in need.

“When you go home at the end of your day you think about all of the people you helped. You may have saved lives that day. You are able to do a large amount of good on a daily basis,” Heinze said. Her organization represents tens of thousands of 911 first responders.

Here’s a link to 911-operator openings in each state. This isn’t comprehensive, however, so check the municipalities near you about openings, which are sometimes described as emergency dispatcher or 911 dispatcher.

How to Become a 911 Operator

First, be 18 and have a high school diploma or GED. The hiring process involves pre-employment testing and interviews. Most states have training requirements of four to six weeks in person or online. After that, employees train on the job for six to 12 months. Expect a drug screening.

Pros of Being a 911 Operator

The pros of being a 911 operator include good medical benefits, paid vacation time, job satisfaction especially if you like to help people and a lively workplace. It’s a job that’s rarely boring.

Good Benefits

The most common employers are police departments, public safety departments, fire stations, and emergency management call centers. Aside from a few nonprofit organizations, most of these agencies are operated by municipalities.

“In many cases there are many really good benefits. Some localities still have great retirement benefits. You typically get decent sick time and vacation time and can earn other types of time off as well,” Heinze said. “There’s opportunity for overtime and holiday pay. You get paid holidays off and may end up getting double time if you work on a holiday.”

Job Satisfaction

There’s no going home wondering if you made a difference in the world. “You have a great sense of self worth. You are able to do some fantastic things in your day,” Heinze said. “You make a difference in many people’s lives in one day’s time on a weekly and monthly and annual basis.”

Exciting Work

Along with the above tasks, emergency dispatchers must analyze situations and consider what more could be happening. Heinze pointed to a scenario in which a caller complains that her neighbor’s dog is barking incessantly. The 911 dispatcher has to figure out whether the dog’s owner could have had a medical emergency or there could be a break-in taking place.

Major Multitasking

This can be a pro or a con depending on the person. For some, emergency communications work might seem overwhelming. But for people who have a passion for operating on all cylinders, a 911 call taker offers a wide variety of work.

Once you are fully trained in emergency communications, you’ll take calls, dispatch emergency responders and check data and background records all at one time, said Heinze.

Cons of Being a 911 Operator

The cons are stressful work and long hiring process then after that on-the-job training and shadowing an experienced dispatcher. As you can imagine, the hiring personnel want to make sure that 911 operators can handle the pressure of hearing and helping people in distress.

Stress

Clearly, this isn’t an easy job. It’s very hard to take numerous calls that include trauma and crimes in process. Heinze said many municipalities have peer support groups, mentors and outside counseling to help dispatchers cope with the stress.

Long Hiring Process

This is not a job you can apply for and expect to start two weeks later. Heinze estimates it can take up to three months to be hired.

The pre-employment testing process includes several interviews, aptitude tests, a psychological evaluation and lengthy background checks. Some agencies go a step further, asking applicants who make it to the final stage of hiring to shadow someone on the job to make sure it’s something they want to do.

What Makes a Good Emergency Dispatcher?

The most important characteristic for an emergency dispatcher is the ability to be calm in stressful situations. A good emergency dispatcher has good communication skills and is personable. Typing is a required skill, as is empathy.

Here are more details on the skills employers will look for:

  • Customer service. If you’re good at customer service, you will likely make a good emergency call-taker.
  • Typing abilities. Most 911 dispatchers need to type between 30 to 45 words per minute without error.
  • Communication skills. Not only are you communicating with people in distress, you must be able to calmly talk with a wide variety of people. “You have to handle calls from every different generation, from a child caller to the elderly, someone with a mental disorder, intoxicated people, deaf or hard of hearing people,” Heinze said.
  • Empathy. It’s good to have a calming voice and provide an empathetic ear that’s ready to help.

These skills will give you a good foundation for your training, where you will learn about:

  • Telecommunications
  • Critical incident stress
  • Suicide intervention
  • Emergency medical dispatch
  • Advanced First Aid/CPR/AED
  • Hazardous materials
  • Domestic violence
  • Terrorism

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the 911 Operator Profession

We’ve rounded up answers to some of the most common questions about being a 911 dispatcher.

How Do I Become a 911 Operator?

Applicants must be 18 and have a high school diploma, GED or college degree to apply for 911 operator positions, and then go through a series of tests and interviews. Once you are hired, most states have training requirements of four to six weeks in a classroom or online setting. After that, employees will train on the job for six to 12 months.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Being a 911 Operator?

Pros include job satisfaction, good work benefits and an exciting, meaningful job. Cons are high stress, up to a three-month hiring process and major multitasking.

How Stressful Is It to Be a 911 Operator?

Yes, it can be stressful taking calls from people in life threatening situations. Agencies provide counseling, peer support groups and mentor support to help emergency dispatchers deal with stress.

Is a 911 Operator a Good Job?

It is a good job if it you are the kind of person who can remain calm in an emergency and you like to help people. Average starting pay is $38,000 for a meaningful career. In addition to the salary, most 911 operators work for a government agency with retirement benefits, sick time and paid vacation. There is also potential for overtime pay and the chance to advance to a higher salary.

Katherine Snow Smith is a freelance editor and reporter in North Carolina and Florida. She is author of Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker: Missteps & Lessons Learned.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Historic Old Hollywood Charm: See Inside Vanessa Hudgens’ Luxurious Los Feliz Estate

After searching for five years, Vanessa Hudgens found the perfect Georgian colonial estate in Los Feliz, Calif. to call home. Find out how the High School Musical star transported an old Hollywood home into her “French” and “vibey” dream house.

Nicknamed “The Little DeMille,” iconic Hollywood filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille built the stunning Los Feliz house for his mistress in 1922.

And now, the Princess Switch star, 32, is opening up the doors of the updated home to Architectural Digest for an exclusive tour.

From her DIY remodel in the kitchen, to her “obsession” with candlesticks and vintage books, to the “sexy” and “cave-like” bathroom, here’s the full scoop on Vanessa Hudgens’ luxe Los Angeles home.

An historic Hollywood home transformed into the perfect “escape” 

According to Daily Mail, Hudgens purchased the luxurious Los Feliz home from Academy Award-winning actor Gary Oldman. After a 5-year house hunt, Hudgens bought the home in December 2018 for just under $5 million. 

The 3,168 square foot Georgian colonial home retains many of its original features. 

Sitting on a half-acre, the stunning estate includes three bedrooms and four bathrooms with a separate one-bed, one-bath guesthouse that sits over a detached two-car garage.

Nestled in the Hollywood Hills, the historic Los Feliz home provides the perfect escape for the Tick, Tick…Boom! actress. 

“There were so many things about it that struck me,” Hudgens tells AD of her plush property.

She adds: “Walking through the gate and seeing this house covered in ivy, surrounded by olive trees, it was like I had been transported to France or Italy. It felt like such an escape.”

ivy-covered entrance to vanessa hudgens' house
Photo credit: Jenna Peffley for Architectural Digest

Sisters unite! Ashley Tisdale helped Hudgens with the DIY decor

BFF to the rescue!

While Hudgens always “wanted an old home,” there’s no escaping the upkeep and renovations with an older building.

After purchasing the house three years ago, Hudgens enlisted the help of her High School Musical costar and good pal Ashley Tisdale. 

“I got new marble, painted the cabinets, got new knobs and drawer pulls—I really wanted brass. My girlfriend Ashley Tisdale does interior design, and I got her advice on where to shop,” Hudgens says.

vanessa hudgens' lively kitchen
Photo credit: Jenna Peffley for Architectural Digest

Hudgens also hired Jake Arnold to help bring her overall vision together, including a vast collection of vintage books, colorful art pieces, the perfect lighting for all her house plants, and a wide selection of candlesticks. 

“I wanted it to be casual, relaxed and cozy,” she says of the interior design, adding, “I’m a big fan of candlesticks, so you will notice them everywhere.”

The luxe Los Feliz pad also has this “big selling point”

Amid the big plants, abstract art and witchy books, Hudgens couldn’t help but gush about the home’s fabulous floors.

“Oh and the floors!” she boasts.

The herringbone wood parquets “were a big selling point for me when I saw this house,” she shares. 

Made from 18th-century French oak taken from an old chapel in Europe, the floors were originally added by Oldman. 

exterior of vanessa hudgens' house and the outdoor pool
Photo credit: Jenna Peffley for Architectural Digest

Hudgens took on a pandemic project to improve her new home

Admitting that her kitchen looked “very different” when she moved in, the Powerless star remodeled it during the pandemic.

“I took it upon myself to have a project, and put it all together,” Hudgens says of the DIY project.

“I painted the cabinets, removed some cabinets, and put big oak beams for open shelving,” shares the actress.

kitchen cabinets revamped by actress vanessa hudgens herself
Photo credit: Jenna Peffley for Architectural Digest

Including eccentric wallpaper featuring mushrooms and dragons, Hudgens decorated the breakfast nook with designs from the House of Hackney.

“I figured, Why not? I did what I like to call a facelift to it,” Hudgens says of her kitchen renovations. 

The funky wallpaper rests above a custom booth, inspired from “the dopest place ever.”

“I had the booth made for this space,” says Hudgens. “I was really inspired by the restaurant Maison Premiere, this absinthe and oyster bar in New York. It’s the dopest place ever.”

The actress also added extra tile, made of Carrara marble, from the primary bath for the backsplash.

A look at the romantic, the sexy and the cave-like features throughout the plush property 

Hudgens invites fans into her “romantic” dining room, which features an Italian chandelier from 1stdibs. 

Admitting she doesn’t cook often, Hudgens says, “I’m normally a ‘Let’s get everyone over, have a drink or two, put on a playlist, and then we all figure out what we want to eat and I just order it’ type of host.”

Heading upstairs, the Grease: Live star shows off her bedroom that features feminine art and pops of orange.

“For some reason I just really fell in love with the idea of orange for my bedroom,” she shares.

Hudgens is all about body-positivity, and shows fans a nude painting in her bedroom. “I wanted the house to be super feminine, to celebrate women’s bodies, to be a kind of femme palace,” Hudgens says.

When in California, enjoy the sunshine! The beautiful backyard features a pool, pizza oven, fire pit and plenty of outdoor space for entertaining.

“I wanted a yard that felt like a park where I could run around with my friends, have space to play, and just feel safe,” Hudgens shares.

Saving the best for last, Hudgens shows off her Goth black bathroom which is one of her “favorite places in the house.”

actress vanessa hudgens inside her bathroom in her los feliz house
Photo credit: Jenna Peffley for Architectural Digest

Featuring marble countertops, black walls and an egg-shaped tub, Hudgens went for a cave-like aesthetic in the primary bathroom. 

“The bathroom is a sexy cave,” shares the actress.

See the luxurious LA home for yourself! From the ivy exterior, to the poolside murals, to the various Teen Choice Awards and the ghost-like painting of herself, check out the YouTube video for a full tour with the High School Musical star.

More celebrity homes

Zendaya Owns a $4 Million Home Fit for a Disney PrincessThe Story of Taylor Swift’s Holiday House — Home to “the Last Great American Dynasty”
From a Prince to a King: A Look at Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith’s Real Estate Portfolio
Everything We Know About Adam Levine’s House in Los Angeles

Source: fancypantshomes.com

Marilyn Monroe’s Former Penthouse in West Hollywood Lists for $2.49 Million

Here’s a slice of old Hollywood charm at its finest: a West Hollywood penthouse that was once home to Marilyn Monroe has just resurfaced on the market.

The actress, who rose to fame playing comedic “blonde bombshell” characters — which propelled her to become one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and early 1960s — moved into the two-story penthouse in the mid-50s, at the height of her success.

Marilyn called many places home over the years. In fact, sources say that Monroe lived in over 43 separate residences over the years.

From high-end hotels to small apartments and sprawling Spanish-style mansions, to a brief stint living in Frank Sinatra’s guest house, or taking an extended (and somewhat controversial) stay at Bing Crosby’s Rancho Mirage estate, Marilyn Monroe moved around quite a few times before settling on a place of her own.

In 1954, the Monkey Business actress moved into a two-level penthouse at the Granville Towers, which sources say was her final apartment before she bought her Brentwood estate — which was the only property Marilyn ever owned.

After splitting from her second husband, New York Yankees star Joe DiMaggio, Monroe moved into her seventh (and last) apartment in West Hollywood. For about a year, the model-actress set up residence in the luxurious condo that has just been listed for $2.49 million. 

Image credit: The Luxury Level courtesy of The Agency
Image credit: The Luxury Level courtesy of The Agency
Image credit: The Luxury Level courtesy of The Agency

And Monroe may have not been the only famous “blonde bombshell” to live in the two-story apartment. A Los Angeles Times story from three years ago also identified Portia de Rossi as a former resident.

A stylish residence set in a star-studded building

Oozing old Hollywood charm, the posh penthouse is located in one of the most spectacular buildings in West Hollywood.

Image credit: The Luxury Level courtesy of The Agency

Set on the top floor of Granville Towers, a 1930s French Normandy-style Hollywood classic, Monroe’s former abode boasts gorgeous architectural elements such as vaulted ceilings and floor-to-ceiling skylight windows.

Located at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights, the 2,032-square-foot apartment offers sweeping views of the city and mountains.

Featuring two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a stunning circular staircase connects the two levels of luxurious living space. 

circular staircase in Marilyn Monroe's former West Hollywood condo
Image credit: The Luxury Level courtesy of The Agency
Image credit: The Luxury Level courtesy of The Agency
Image credit: The Luxury Level courtesy of The Agency
Image credit: The Luxury Level courtesy of The Agency
Image credit: The Luxury Level courtesy of The Agency
Image credit: The Luxury Level courtesy of The Agency

The elegant interiors include glistening hardwood floors, spa-like bathrooms and built-in window seats.

The kitchen boasts Venetian plaster, steel cabinetry and Viking appliances, and the formal dining room includes a jaw-dropping chandelier.

While the location is prime, the amenities are just as impressive. With a 24-hour doorman always on duty, the old Hollywood building includes a beautiful courtyard and garden, a clubhouse, outdoor pool and spa. 

Image credit: The Luxury Level courtesy of The Agency

Marilyn was by no means to only high-profile celebrity to call the West Hollywood building home.

A celebrity favorite, Granville Towers has attracted many A-listers in its almost century-long existence. In recent years, celebrities like Nicole Scherzinger, Ashley Greene, Mickey Rourke, Brendan Fraser, or David Bowie have all lived in the posh building.

Listed by Amanda Lynn, Gina Michelle and George Ouzounian of The Agency, Marilyn Monroe’s former home is almost a collectible for die-hard fans of old Hollywood. 

More celebrity homes you might like

Frank Sinatra’s Famous Byrdview Estate Is Back on the Market Asking $21.5 MillionHistoric Old Hollywood Charm: See Inside Vanessa Hudgens’ Luxurious Los Feliz Estate
The Story of Taylor Swift’s Holiday House — Home to “the Last Great American Dynasty”
The Iconic Beverly House: where Jackie O & JFK Honeymooned, ‘The Bodyguard’ was Filmed, and where Beyonce Shot ‘Black is King’

Source: fancypantshomes.com

DIY Wedding Invitations: The Ultimate Money-Saving Guide

It’s no surprise that weddings are expensive. But what might shock you is just how much they actually cost. In 2021, the average couple spent nearly $30k (or $34,000 if you count the engagement ring) on their nuptials, with over $500 of that going toward wedding invitations.

And while some of those costs (notably picking a great venue), might be totally worth adding to the budget. However other expenses, like the fancy bits of gold-embossed paper your guests end up tossing out (or hopefully recycling), are definitely questionable.

So if you’re one of those savvy couples who’d rather save the budget for an epic and cheap honeymoon, keep reading. We’ve got the details on how you can save money on your big day, by getting crafty with your wedding invitations.

DIY Wedding Invitations

When it comes to DIY wedding invitations, there are two basic options to consider.

The first is to purchase a template (more on those below) that you fill in, print and embellish yourself. Alternatively, there are also digital-only templates you can buy and use for e-invites which will save you some money on printing costs and postage.

The other option is to do everything yourself from scratch. This is best for artsy-craftsy types who prefer printed invites rather than digital ones. For this option, you’d be responsible for creating the design, then printing, cutting and packaging the invitations yourself.

Before deciding exactly how DIY you want to go with your invites, do some research and think about how much time you realistically have to put into your invitations. Do you enjoy crafting? Or are you just trying to save a little money?

Once you’re ready to take the plunge, we’ve got several cheap and free wedding invitation templates here to help you get started.

Free & Cheap Wedding Invitation Templates

The easiest option for DIY wedding invitations  is to use digital only or print-it-yourself wedding invitation templates.

They’re plentiful online— and many are even free. You’ll simply add your details, download the template (usually as a PDF) and then email or print the invitations at home or a local copy center.

Wedding templates from Shutterfly.
Shutterfly offers DIY wedding templates.

Here are some of our top places for scoring amazing DIY wedding invite templates:

  • Etsy: Thousands of print-it-yourself wedding invitation templates to choose from, starting at $10.
  • Download & Print: Unlimited access to all of their templates for $25 per year.
  • Greenvelope: Digital-only customizable wedding invites, starting at $39 for 40 guests.
  • Tempoola: Free, downloadable wedding invitation templates that you can customize and print in Microsoft Word.
  • Canva: Customize and download these free wedding templates, then use them as digital invites or print them yourself.
  • Shutterfly: You might have already used them for holiday cards, now check out their wedding invitation templates.
  • Wedding Chicks, Greetings Island and Paper Source: Dozens of free templates to choose from.

For those interested in paper invitations, another option is to simply order a customized wedding stamp with all the pertinent details on it. Rather than printing the invitation, you’ll just stamp the info onto a nice piece of paper.

Want to see what they look like? Here’s an Etsy store that sells partially hand-lettered wedding invitation stamps for $80 and up.

Alexandra Vincent/The Penny Hoarder

Designing Your DIY Wedding Invitations

If you’re a graphic designer or calligraphy artist then you might just want to take your DIY wedding invitations one step further by fully customizing them from scratch.

Do you have beautiful handwriting and an artist’s eye? Consider starting a calligraphy business as a side gig. 

First things first: The words are the most important part, so make sure you get a second pair of eyes to proofread!

Then, to create the basic layout of your invitation, you can use a free trial of Adobe InDesign, Photoshop or Illustrator; a free online program like Canva or PicMonkey; or a word-processing tool like Word or Pages.

Important design elements to consider when you are designing your own wedding invitation include fonts, line spacing, alignment, colors and theme.

When it comes to fonts, you can download them for free at DaFont. Or, you can buy them. Here are several suggested font pairings for DIY wedding invitations.

As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t mix more than three fonts, and plan on staying consistent throughout the invitation suite (including other inserts like RSVP cards or maps).

Choosing Paper for Your DIY Wedding Invitations

Although it might seem unimportant, don’t skimp on the paper, especially since it can make or break your invitation.

Pro Tip

If you’re printing your invitations at home, buy cardstock that’s at least 65-pound, though 80-pound is even better. 

If you’re printing from home, you’ll also want to make sure your printer can handle whatever cardstock you choose. You can find this information in your printer’s manual, or by searching online for your printer’s “max paper weight.”

Recycled paper is also a popular option — especially for rustic or boho invites. You can order cardstock online at Amazon or specialty shops like Cardstock Warehouse, Michaels, LCI Paper, Paper Source and Paper Presentation. Or you can go to your local Jo-Ann’s, Walmart, or office-supply store. You can also choose different finishes for your paper; for wedding invitations, popular finishes include cotton or linen, which are incredibly beautiful (but also more expensive).

Pro Tip

Don’t forget, you need one invitation per address — not per guest. So don’t make the mistake of ordering double the paper you need! 

This is a screenshot of wedding website templates from Zola.
Websites like Zola offer wedding websites so that your guests can RSVP digitally.

Printing Your DIY Wedding Invitations

Whether you’re using a DIY wedding invitation template or designing the whole thing yourself, you’re going to need to print it somehow.

The most penny-hoarding option? Print your invitations at home. As long as you have a decent printer, and use nice paper, this will probably work just fine.

Both inkjet and laser printers are up to the job; just be sure to select the highest-quality print setting. To save money, use black ink only; if you want a splash of color, use colored paper.

If you’re worried about your wonky printer messing up that expensive paper, outsource the job to a professional print shop. Sure, it will cost you a bit more, but it beats ruining your specialty paper by trying to save money. It also might save you a bit of extra time and frustration, and they can likely cut the invitations for you.

Pro Tip

One of the easiest ways to keep costs down is to keep your paper printings to a minimum, and include a QR code or link to your wedding website. 

Sites like Zola and The Knot offer free wedding website builders which will allow your guests to digitally RSVP, see all the details about your big day, and even contribute to your wedding registry. If you have relatives who don’t use the internet, you can include a small printed card in their invites asking them to RSVP by phone.

Alexandra Vincent/The Penny Hoarder

Making Your DIY Invitations Shine

Once you’ve got them designed and printed, there are countless ways to make your invites shine.

You could add embellishments like:

Don’t Forget the Envelopes

One final way to make your invitations stand out? Killer envelopes.

Envelope liners are a popular option; you can create them with pretty paper, an engagement photo or even fabric.

As for the addresses, you can hire a calligrapher, but that’ll cost you a whopping $2-$5 per envelope. It’s much more affordable to enlist your friends to help you, or to just print pretty labels.

Don’t forget to include your return address, using a label or stamp.

The next step is to visit the post office to weigh your entire invitation and see how much postage it’ll require. (Note: Square envelopes cost more to mail, so unless you’re really attached to that shape, rectangle is a better option.)

As for actual postage stamps, you can purchase custom versions but it’ll cost you more than $1 per stamp.

When it comes time to finally — blissfully!!! — mail out your invites, it’s a good idea to physically take them to the post office.

That way, you can ask the postal worker to hand cancel them (rather than put them through the machine and potentially damage the envelopes). Some post offices will do this for free; others charge up to 20 cents per envelope.

That’s it! You just finished your DIY wedding invitations. Now all that’s left to worry about is the band, the food, the cake, the dress, the honeymoon …

Looking for even more ways to save on your big day? Here’s our list of 90 Savings Tips from Wedding Professionals.

Contributor Larissa Runkle frequently writes on finance, real estate, and lifestyle topics for The Penny Hoarder. Writer Susan Shain contributed to this article. 

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

25 Cheap Mother’s Day Gifts Under $20 Including Shipping

Away from Mom this Mother’s Day?

Whether you live across the country or state from dear old Mom and can’t treat her to brunch, you likely want to send more than a text.

Whatever’s keeping you and Mom apart this Mother’s Day, May 8, there are plenty of ways you can show her you love and miss her. Not only that, but you can do it all while going easy on your wallet.

To help, we’ve put together a list of 25 Mother’s Day gifts under $20 you can order online. And that $20 includes shipping — free for some items.

Mother’s Day Gifts That Will Help Her Get Outdoors

Fresh air, exercise and flowers — all three are a nice way to celebrate Mom. Well, exercise if she likes that sort of thing!

1. Pickleball Glove for Mom

Pickleball is the hottest team sport these days. If your mom is seriously into this sport, you can pick her up a brand-name pickleball glove on Amazon for somewhere between $18 and $20. If you have Prime membership, shipping is free, keeping you under budget.

2. Annual Flower Bulbs

Does Mom love gardening?  Give her a gift that keeps on giving with annual bulbs. Plant these flowers once, and they will bloom year after year. Bulbs that need a freeze to bloom (iris, daffodils, tulips) are typically put in the ground in the fall before it gets too hard for digging so that they blossom in spring. The following bulbs can be planted in the spring to bloom in the summer.

Gladiolus Flower Bulbs

Gladiolus are beautiful and you can get a lot of them even on a budget. You can pick your color, ordering a bag in white or purple for  $13.95 on Walmart’s platform. Shipping is free.

Lily Flower Bulbs

You can get about three lily bulbs for under $20. Some options from Walmart sellers include Pink Tiger Lilies and Sumatra Oriental Lilies.

These options run between $13.95 and $15.99 and come with free shipping.

3. Gift Certificate to a Local Garden Center

Maybe Mom doesn’t have space for a garden, but does love having flowers and plants around. In this case, consider getting her a gift certificate to her local garden center for $20.

There’s an added bonus to sending your card on Mother’s Day; when she goes shopping after the holiday, excess inventory will be marked down dramatically, giving her more bang for her buck.

4. Twisted Mandala Planters

Perhaps Mom’s got all the plants she needs. What she could really use is a planter — especially for indoor use.

The Geometric Twisted Mandala Planter from FunctionalAM on Etsy is a beautiful option. You can get sizes from 3 inches to 6.5 inches for $8-$20 depending on which option you choose. And shipping is free.

A blue butterfly stands out amongst a group of red butterflies.
Getty Images

5. Butterfly Habitat

Butterfly habitats may be marketed towards children, but Mom can enjoy one, too! This kit from Target is $19.99, and comes with a habitat and voucher for live caterpillars — which ship separately. Your order should qualify for free shipping.

Mom will be able to watch the caterpillars as they build their chrysalises and grow into butterflies, eventually releasing them into the wild. Bonus points for sending a card with a cheesy analogy about how she helped you grow into a butterfly, and what a great job she did.

Sweets & Culinary Mother’s Day Gifts

Mother’s Day is a great time to shower your mom with sweets. Or, if Mom’s great in the kitchen, it’s a fun time to celebrate those skills with gifts.

6. Personalized Recipe Cards

Mom’s a great cook. Everyone’s always asking her for recipes. Pick her up a set of personalized recipe cards on Etsy so she’ll get full credit when she shares her skills. This set costs $9 and costs $4 to ship to the U.S.

7. Heart-Shaped Pan

Check out this heart-shaped pan from Ecolution on Amazon. Whether your mother’s making pancakes or eggs, she’ll appreciate that Ecolution’s products are eco-friendly yet durable. You’ll appreciate that it clocks in at just $11.93 and ships free with Prime membership.

8. Fruit Infusion Pitcher

This fruit infusion pitcher is great for making mimosas and flavored water alike. It is $19.99 on Amazon.com and ships free with Prime membership.

9. Chocolate

Believe it or not, you can get a fair amount of good chocolate for under $20. The G-Cube from Godiva comes with an assortment of 22 flavors, and costs $12. With shipping, you can expect to pay around $19.95.

10. Delivery from a Local Bakery

Ask your mom about her favorite local bakery recommendations. Then, place an order for delivery with them on Mother’s Day. This allows you to not only get mom a gift, but also support small businesses in her community.

If the delivery fee would put you over budget you can find another way. You could request curbside pickup or she could take a quick trip inside to pick up her present.

Self-Care Gifts for Mother’s Day

We all need a little more self-care. Help Mom relax with these soothing Mother’s Day gift ideas until you can see each other again.

11. Comfortable Sleep Mask

Help Mom get some better shut eye. These cute, silk satin sleep masks from Beyarina from Walmart not only comes in under budget at $13.95, for a total of $19.98 after shipping.

12. Amethyst Yoni Soap Bar

This Amethyst Yoni soap bar from Organically Bath & Beauty is pH balanced for sensitive skin costs about $15.30 to send to Mom after accounting for shipping costs.

13. Best Mom Ever Sugar Body Scrub

This cute product from Joon X Moon will help remind mom that she’s the best ever, all while basking in the glow of champagne-scented exfoliation. It’s available at Target for $10, and there are a few ways you can get it to her. Shipping isn’t really an option as it only ships with orders of $35+.

But, you can purchase it at the Target near where Mom lives through Target’s Pickup or Drive Up services. Or, if you already have a Shipt membership, you can get it delivered to Mom’s house from her local store for just $7, bringing your total to $16.99.

Need more ideas to celebrate your mom? We’ve got two dozen DIY spa ideas to help her relax and rejuvenate. 

A woman puts cucumbers over her eyes as she sits up with a charcoal facial mask on her.

Getty Images

14. Luxe Face Masks

Charmed Bath & Body offers several different face masks available via Etsy. You can choose from:

  • Matcha
  • Rose clay.
  • White clay
  • Charcoal
  • Turmeric

It should cost you around $15.79 in all to purchase and ship one of these mask powders for Mother’s Day.

15. Aromatherapy Humidifier

If Mom’s really into essential oils, consider this aromatherapy humidifier on Amazon. You can pick between one that’s LED lit or one that’s wood printed. Prices range from $14.99-$19.99, and shipping is free for Prime members.

16. Mother’s Day Coloring Book

Give Mom an opportunity to de-stress with this Mother’s Day coloring book from Amazon. Each page comes with intricate drawings to color in and encouraging and cute quotes about motherhood.

This book is $14.99 and ships free for Prime members.

17. Blue Light Glasses

All of our devices — phones, PCs, TVs — give off blue light. Staring at blue light can cause migraines, damage our vision and even throw off circadian rhythms, our natural sleep-wake cycles.

Help Mom out with some self-care she didn’t even know she needed with these blue light blocking glasses from Nordstrom. They’re only $15 and shipping is free.

18. White Noise Machine

If her circadian rhythms are messed up, a white noise machine can help Mom get to sleep easier. Sharper Image’s Sound Soother Revo is available at Target for $14.99. While the $5.99 shipping fee may take you slightly over budget, you can get free shipping if you purchase with your Target RedCard. Plus you’ll save 5% off your order.

19. Essential Oil Diffuser Bracelet

This Jack & Rose diffuser bracelet will set you back just $15 and the shipping is free with Amazon Prime. The locket-style bracelet comes with eight color pads that can be changed to match an outfit or a mood. If she’s already into essential oils, all she has to do is squeeze a few drops on the cotton pads and be surrounded by that aroma when she wears the bracelet.

Does she need essential oils? A three-pack starter set of eucalyptus, lavender and tea tree oils is often on sale on Amazon for $5.99. That may put you a tad over your budget, but isn’t she worth it?

Sentimental Mother’s Day Gifts

These sweet, mom-centric products will highlight your relationship as you take a trip down memory lane.

20. Tell Me Your Story Book (Grandma Edition)

This is a cute idea if your mom has grandkids. Have them gift her this memory journal. It’s available for $7.96 on Amazon with free shipping for Prime members.

21. Tell Me Your Story Book (Mom Edition)

Don’t have kids, but love the memory book idea?

Fear not. There is a version of these products for children to give directly to their moms — no procreation required. This daily journal of childhood memories will run you $12, once again with free shipping for Amazon Prime members.

22. You & Me Mom Journal

Want to make the memory journal thing a two-way street?

This journal from Uncommon Goods can be sent back and forth between you and your mother. Each page has prompts encouraging the two of you to reflect on your life memories and love together over the years. It will run you $13, and should come in just under $20 after accounting for shipping costs.

23. Photo Book

There’s nothing moms love more than pictures of their kids and grandkids . Photo books can often be cumbersome to create, or come with deceptive discounts and “deals” that don’t account for exorbitant shipping costs.

You can get around all that by creating a book with Google Photos. You can easily import all the pictures already on your Google account, and can create a 20-page, soft-cover photo book that’s sure to put a smile on her face for just $14.99 without any shipping charges.

24. Photo Puzzle

Two things moms love in one: Photos and puzzles! Pick your image, and NannyGoatsCloset on Etsy will send you your own puzzle for $13.99 plus $3.95 for shipping.

25. And Then There’s … Cash

You’re shopping on a tight budget, so your wallet is probably thin right now. She might not want to admit it, but money might be tight for your mom, too.

Instead of buying her physical presents, consider sending her the cash in the form of a gift card or a check, not an actual bill. Be sure to send a card or heartfelt note along with it.

Pittsburgh-based writer Brynne Conroy is the founder of the Femme Frugality blog and the author of “The Feminist Financial Handbook.” She is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com