Tis the season! It’s Christmas! I love this holiday! It’s my favorite time of the year. There is only one thing that has really bummed it out for me as an adult and that is the cost. I had no idea how expensive Christmas is for adults. I just thought Santa took care of everyone. Bummer that he isn’t real. But is there a way to make Christmas not so expensive? Yes there is. Here is my list of ideas to make more joy in the season while everyone else around you is going crazy.
Everyone Loves Handmade
There is nothing wrong with a handmade gift. It’s not cheap looking and I have found that people appreciate them more. I have made Christmas gifts many years in a row and everyone has loved them but here is the beauty of doing things by hand. The supplies are not expensive since you are doing the blunt labor. So where you are saving money is the time.
For example, I made embroidery portraits for the people on my list. The supplies costed under $10 for all of them, but it took me two months to make them all. So I saved a ton of money, but I had to take more time in making each gift. So there is a trade off, but if you are trying to save money, isn’t it worth it?
Do Secret Santa
Another money saving option is to do secret Santa! I love secret Santa and both of my family sides does it so I only have to buy two gifts for family. But isn’t there always a person who misses out on the fun because they have to be keeper of the list? There is an awesome site called www.elfster.com. It assigns the people for you so that there is no one person who has to facilitate and not participate. So if you are looking for a secret Santa site check them out.
Cook For People
People love food. My husband would take a plate of cookies over a gift any day. There is no bad time to give people food and there are so many ideas on Pinterest for mason jars meals and such. There’s cookie mixes, cake mixes, hot chocolate mixes, and soup mixes. Pretty much anything you can think of can be found online so feel free to have fun while looking!
So there are some ideas to help with making this Christmas a little more affordable. If you have any others, please feel free to leave them in the comments, but above all have a very Merry Christmas!
Imagine looking in your fridge and you have nothing to make for dinner? Then you look at the credit cards and they are too high and you need to pay them off. So you look at your bank account and it doesn’t look much better, actually it looks worse. Does this sound like your story? No shame if it does. It doesn’t mean you are a low life or and bad person, it just means that life as been a little meaner than you were prepared for. That’s where places like food closets and banks come in handy so that we can feed our families.
Well something like this sort of happened recently. It’s not like we can’t buy food so for all my family reading, please don’t think that. It’s just that we really want to pay off our credit cards before the end of the year and being a one income family you have to be creative. I am on so many levels but my pantry is one area that hasn’t recovered from us having to leave everything behind in our last house. I was actually really proud of it since it was to the point that I had all the staples to last for an entire week or even longer on hand. Now I am only able to buy a week’s worth of food at a time and when shopping day is here the fridge looks a little bit more bare than I would like.
So yesterday I went to a food closet for the first time and it was very humbling. I grew up thinking that food closets and banks were only for poor people who didn’t have any thing otherwise. Well at the moment since we have set a goal and I would like to restock the tings I have lost that’s me. But it wasn’t like I expected.
I expected to see a bunch of people sneering their noses at me as I pull up in my 2006 Matrix (our only car) in my gym clothes with a gym badge hanging off my key ring. Unfortunately some did look at me that way since why would someone like me need to come to a place like this? Didn’t my husband make enough to buy food if I can have luxuries like this? What they don’t know is that we have lost everything, the last date my husband and I went on was get our infertility tests done last week, we only have one car because our roof needs to be replaced, our normally unused credit cards are carrying balances and we still have to pay off many other people who graciously helped us out during our time of need. You add that all up with the mortgage and the bills and yes I do belong in a place like this because everyone has their own story of why they are there.
Now I pray I don’t keep having to go for long since there people who have it way worse than me. At least my husband has a job and many of them don’t. So this isn’t a long term plan. Actually I probably won’t even go every week since what we were provided weren’t things that we even use. It’s just until we can get back on our feet and our credit cards paid off.
We are adults being responsible and if anyone thinks there’s a problem with that then maybe you should have a heart check before you are humbled to this level. Trust me I am being very humbled right now because I was the one who was on there other side wondering why a middle class (if there is such a thing any more in California) woman with a toddler is going to a food closet. It’s because we are all human and some times we all need to be creative sometimes.
I had something really cool happen to me yesterday. I was doing my normal shopping for next week and I was going to have to put something back since I didn’t have enough cash with me. Due to the move and having to still replace a lot of stuff we lost in our house, our credit cards have gotten a little out of hand. Since we are Dave Ramsey people and would like to still have a nice Christmas this year, we are on a strict budget and free spending freeze. Yuck! It was kind of fun when I didn’t have to think about the card balance jacking up with each purchase but, if I had paid attention, we wouldn’t have been on a freeze now. Just a thought.
And it’s not like I am a charity case because I know why we are on a freeze and it’s better we do it now instead of our cards just getting out of control and we have bigger problems later. I own my debt and now we are doing the steps to make it work. It just means that we had to make some cuts and one of those cuts was losing $20 a week in grocery money. So instead of getting $80 a week, I now have to get creative and look up my tightwad ways again to provide for a family of three using still high quality products for $60 a week. I know for some people that is A LOT of money per week for food. But out here in California it is amazing on how not so far that much will get you.
And the puncher this week was that I had to buy our monthly protein mix which took out $40 bucks out of the budget. Ouch! And yes that meant I only had $20 for the rest of the week. Talk about trying to stretch a penny. But as a tightwad you learn a few things and I was able to get everything I needed except for one thing. Not a big deal really. I was just going to have to put the spinach back. The protein mix we get has fruits and veggies in it so I would be fine for one week without it.
That is when I almost broke down in the store because not one but two ladies were fighting over who would buy the spinach. I started crying right there not because of the cost of the spinach or having to put it back but because these ladies, who were complete strangers wanted to bless me by helping me get everything in my cart.
I am just still amazed at God’s grace and mercy over my family. Yes we lost everything and it will take me awhile to get things back to where they were but I know God will provide. He will help us get these cards paid off and us getting back on track. He is our hope and our comfort. I have given our finances to Him and keep an eye out for any chance I can to supplement our income to help us out. My husband is doing the same and God provided our gas for the month on August first. That was real blessing since now that is just one less thing that has to go on an already too much out our spending limits card.
So if you are thinking that there aren’t any good people left, take heart. I know with our current political world in America it feels like there’s nothing but bad news. Our country is divided and it is only getting worse. Of course that is a whole other post in itself. Just remember that we are all human and there are still good ones out there. We just need to show loving kindness to everyone.
I know that it might appear that we have had a lot of excitement in our home lately but to be honest there is an underlying sense of boredom. I know my husband and I have goals and thrifting is a big part of our lives right now but I’ll be real and say it’s really boring sometimes.
Yeah my husband goes to work all day and wants to be home on his days off, but I am home every single day and it gets really boring around here with routine. I wake up, keep my daughter alive, husband comes home, I make dinner, I might get him to do dishes, give my daughter a bath, put her to bed, and then go to bed my self. Repeat that like every other mother in the world not just five days a week but seven. It’s just that two of the days I have my husband home to take care of too. It sometimes is hard being the mom/wife. Your family expects so much out of you and, when you can’t deliver, it seems like the whole house falls a part. I’d be so worried what would happen if I kicked the bucket right now. The vacuum would have more dust on it than the floor and my daughter would probably grow up on Papa Murphy’s pizza. Not saying my husband isn’t a great dad, I’m just saying that there’s a whole lot more that goes on that neither him or daughter know goes on to keep the house going.
So why am I bored? Because I am home all the time. Are there any women out there that will understand what that one line means? I feel like Cinderella on a regular basis. I work but never get to play as a family. I love my family and I want to spend time with them but sometimes I wish that Cinderella would be able to go to the ball with her Prince and little Princess more often than just church. I guess that’s what I get for marrying an introvert.
It wasn’t always like this. When we were dating, my husband and I had so much fun. He keeps saying we will have fun again so I’m trying to be patient. He says when he’s retired we will do stuff together again more than just do things around the house. Does he not get that’s a minimum of 20 years away? I don’t know what he thinks I’ll be able to do in that time but it can’t just be staying home and doing nothing. I want to be a good wife but I struggle too sometimes.
But I know that isn’t the way it is supposed to be. My husband is working hard for us to have a better life in the future and just need to wait. Until then, I just need to look to God for comfort and sit on the couch with my husband after he mows the lawn and such on his days off.
I know not everyone is into being thrifty and that’s ok. Many find it weird and extreme but I see it as a way to help get my husband retired faster. He likes what he does but, like many men, would rather be able to do what he loves. Sadly what he loves doesn’t normally pay the bills. So my hubby has done the steps to set himself up for early retirement and one of those things is that I now cut his hair.
Eek! I was like, my sister has cut your hair for years. Why have me do it? But we did the math and his hair costs about $78 a year to cut. Give it 20 years and that over $1500 that could go toward his retirement. So I can now add hairdresser to my homemaker resume. It’s not the best but it’s not the worst either. I’ll get better at it. I will still go to my sister though. I am not even attempting to cut my own hair 🙂
How often can we say that? I haven’t been able to say a day wen as planned I think since my daughter was born. But today seemed to go just right 🙂 We got up, had breakfast, my daughter was in a good mood, went to my candy store (the fabric store), Costco where I got some herbs and strawberries for my garden, and then home again.
Once home, I planted my herbs and strawberries, my daughter was ready for a nap, I sewed a shirt extension that someone had ordered and then I made a maxi skirt. I thought my daughter would be up by then so I sat down with my computer to do some admin work with my book and my Etsy Shop but she still gave me another hour of nap time! I couldn’t believe it! Must be growing time for her. The only time she sleeps more than two hours is when she is going through a growth spurt.
So now I am just sitting here waiting for her to wake up and my husband to get home for us to eat dinner and have a relaxing night. Like I said, these kind of days are not normal but, when they happen, I am very grateful 🙂
But it got me thinking, that God really does look out for us and we do have the mountain moments when things are going right. It just means that I need to enjoy the moment that I have and prepare myself for what will be coming in the future. Maybe if I am little bit prepared, no matter what is, I will be able to handle it the way that God would want instead of me running around like Chicken Little yelling “The sky is falling!” when really it might just be a simple change in direction and not a complete tragedy.
So here’s to the blessing of good days and may God be with us all when the days get hard. He is control of both and both are for our good.
Here is the Every Dollar video. I would suggest you watch both and choose the one you think will fit you best. My husband and I use Every Dollar but it might not have the bells and whistles that might suit other people. Enjoy!