Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Frugal Holidays.

Or, a more appropriate term may be, the frugal life.

It sort of snuck up on us, the realization that, once again, we really don't have a lot to spend for the holidays. I know that it isn't about giving and receiving gifts. For us, it's about spending time with family and enjoying their company. But, since we celebrate "commercial Christmas" as we like to call it, the whole gift part is pretty fun. The last two years have been tight on money. In 2008, Glenn was on the chopping block and we weren't sure he'd have a job after Christmas. In 2009, he finally got a permanent position (after getting laid off in early 2009 and, luckily, getting the last temporary position they had for laid off reps), but his income had dramatically decreased and we were trying to make it work. This year I was really looking forward to celebrating! So was Glenn.

But, right now, I'm stuck trying to figure out how we're going to stretch our dollars and have enough money for Thanksgiving dinner next week. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and I will figure out a way to make it work.

What I do know is we really need to figure out a new way to live financially. If you've read this blog for any amount of time, then you know we've struggled with this before. We've been talking about it a lot lately and decided a shift in thinking is required. And quickly. There's also the change in thinking of how we can make things happen that we do want (from little things like a nice dinner out to big things like remodeling the house to building our savings).

So, our current Save Money Now plan is:
  • Plan meals weekly and shop once.
  • No going out for dinners when we're lazy, tired, don't "feel like" what we have at home.
  • Pack Glenn's lunch every day.
  • Start selling things that we just have sitting around on Craigslist.
  • Change how we think about income and expenditures.
The shift in thinking is the big one! The others are easy once we get in a groove. But the shift in thinking must occur for all the other stuff to stick.

I'm looking at making things for the grandparents for the holidays. Does anyone have an idea of something they're going to make as holiday gifts? Glenn doesn't like any of the ones I've had so far.

And, I'd love to hear your ideas on saving money.

How do you live frugally, both during the holidays and all year long?


  1. One of our biggest money savers is our deep freeze. My dad bought it for us as a Christmas present one year (it's what we asked for) and it has been such a blessing! I stock up on meat when it's on sale as much as possible and stick it in there. In the past month I've gotten boneless skinless chicken breasts 1.69/lb and thick-cut sirloin steaks B1G2F! I bag them individually and put them in a large ziploc with the date. Then it's easy to only defrost as much as I'll cook that day. Cook from scratch as much as possible. Have the ingredients on hand for some super quick and easy meals. And keep some frozen meals on hand too - not the cheapest, but costs much less than eating out! I'll try to think of some more...

  2. Stock up when things are on sale! I have huge shelves in the garage full of canned food, cereal, baking ingredients, etc. AND we're making all our own bread now, so I buy my sugar and flour at Costco. We don't really do anything fun at all...we had a kid-free night and stayed home :) We're really just incredibly cheap...and Craigslist is great, just be prepared to deal with some flakes! We got rid of a ton before our move and after!

    Christmas gift ideas...Scotty and I did picture frames a year or so ago. He helped me paint them and we picked a picture of him to put in them, gave them to all the family. If you look at JoAnn's they have some plain frames for a dollar or two. I had some saved that I used. I also bake for everyone. That's what we're doing this year, baking and some kind of craft for Scotty. We did homemade ornaments last year and everyone liked them. Good luck! Post if you come up with any great ideas, there are quite a few people in the same boat this year financially! This is our 3rd year of being super frugal and creative!

  3. My mother invented living frugally! Here are some things we do and it really has helped since I was laid off earlier this year:
    1. Scour the ads and shop smart by using coupons. We rarely go to Costco, it just doesn't make sense.
    2. If you have the yard, start a garden. We 'borrowed' our neighbor's yard this year and it worked out great! Then we can or freeze as much as possible.
    3. I agree with the deep freeze idea above, we have 2.
    4. If you haven't already, start a spreadsheet to track you income and bills/spending. We have been doing so for a few years now and I just put one together for my parents because they are now retired.
    Can't think of any more right now, but using these ideas and more we have been able to pay off around $40,000 in debt over the last few years and make home improvements (new fence, deck, painted the other deck, built raised garden beds, built out all the closets)and are on our way to tackling my student loans next!

  4. Oh, sorry, forgot I had some gift suggestions, but it looks like Sandy S covered most of them. We want to put up a tree this year, but with a 2yo, we want it to be safe. So we are only getting out the unbreakable ornaments and then making others, like a paper chain, strung beads, and our own ornaments. I was at Target the other day and was looking at some 'ornament kits'. They only each made 2 and seemed expensive, but on the same display was a chinese take-out carton of self adhesive themed foam pieces for $5. I have paper and ribbons and all kinds of craft stuff, I think I can make a lot more than 2 ornaments, maybe some cards too with Sam, so I felt it was worth the money. You could even use them to decorate frames. A good place to look for frames is the $1 store, especially if you are going to repaint them or cover the frame with other stuff. The dollar store might have other 'finds' for presents as well!

  5. I third the deep freeze! Its been great to have that space, both for stuff I stock up on sale or also for making big batches of dinners and freezing them for super easy meals later on. I try to stock up on sale stuff too, or go to places like grocery outlet or other discount/cheap grocery stores for canned goods and household items.

    We also make a lot of our own stuff, like bread, etc, which helps some (I imagine you do to with all the allergy stuff!). I still feel like we spend WAY too much on food, regardless.

    I need to work on creating (and sticking to) a budget better, and selling stuff on Craigslist, too! For Christmas we are trying to make more gifts for our kids instead of buying. Last year we made wooden people, this year "tree blocks" and hopefully some other fun things. Materials can cost money sometimes but not as much as other purchased gifts!

  6. I love reading everyone's ideas about ways to save money. We do the deep freeze thing at our home as well - We get 1/2 a beef from my parents and my husband is a big deer hunter. We rarely eat out anymore. I make several of the same type of casseroles and then freeze them for later use. This year the kids are making Christmas ornaments for gifts - I got clear plastic balls at Michaels, tissue paper and modge podge and let them go to town - Caleb covered his in green strips of paper and then I added little red dots that look like holly berries. My husband is making deer jerkey to give out to his co-workers and friends as we have plenty of meat in the freezer and I will bake something - Probably frosted sugar cookies as they are fun for the kids to help with.

  7. I want to make coasters with Moira for presents next year. I noticed they have thin round cork precuts at Michaels, but there must be sheets available. Or maybe rubber sheets. Then I plan to glue pebbles, or fabric, or whatever on them to create a flatish surface for putting cups on.
    I made silhouettes of Moira a couple of years ago. I took a picture of her profile and traced it on the computer screen and then cut it out of paper. They turned out really nice.
    I also recommend letting the kids decorate canvas shopping bags with fabric pens.

  8. I've been thinking of getting one of those food sealer doo-dads. We could get one together and share it? I always feel like when I freeze stuff it gets burned too much. Call Play it Again Sports and sell your snowboard! For Christmas presents you know the grandparents would love anything made by Beanie :)


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