I’ve been told as I get older I won’t love birthdays so much, but so far it hasn’t happened. I turned thirty this week, so basically I’m now finally a real adult. I actually love having a mid December birthday because there’s usually a lot going on for the holidays, and for an extrovert like myself, it’s like I get birthday celebrations all week long.
Friday’s Frugal Five:
1. Thanks to it being the holiday season / just a busy prep time at work, I had two work lunches / one work dinner just this week (and I got to take enough leftovers for two more lunches). Hooray for more free food and not having to think about having to pack lunch. And the food came from some really great restaurants as well, so I really enjoyed each of the meals.
I also got to take home a couple pounds of handmade marshmallows, which if you use Williams Sonoma as a guide, that netted me a cool $40-$60. Or, you know, $2 if I made them myself.
2. We had our Christmas luncheon at work yesterday and we each got a nice little holiday gift. Since I’m really working on decluttering my closet this year, the gift I received will be passed along to a family member for Christmas instead of keeping it for myself. I expect she will really enjoy the gift, and bonus, I’m able to shrink our cash spending on Christmas presents just a little bit more. Most of our presents are handmade or home grown, but there are a few presents each year that are purchased outright. Maybe some day I’ll get to 100%, but for now, some presents are still material things – but things I know that are wanted/needed.
3. I had three zero spend days this week. This is a huge deal for me because there was a point until recently where I didn’t have three zero spend days in an entire month. I’m finally getting back under tight control so we can do a lot better than just spend less than we earn. It feels so good to know exactly how much we are spending and where it is all going instead of getting frustrated at the end of the month about where a lot of it went.
4. We had a bunch of people over to celebrate my birthday over the weekend for a BYO wine and cheese (or other snack) afternoon. We spent the afternoon eating, drinking, and talking with people we love and spent almost no money in the process. We used to have gatherings at our house at least a couple times of month before we became parents, and I’d like to get back to that.
We’re in an odd place in our lives where most of our friends haven’t had kids yet so it’s hard to get together very often. Parties at our house mean we can have our son around, our few friends with kids don’t need to find a babysitter, and our kid free friends are generally happy to hang regardless. I’m hopeful that 2018 will see a lot more of those kinds of days.
5. We’ve been using our fireplace pretty frequently as of late as a cozy way to spend an evening during the cold, dark days of winter. Our son gets pretty stir crazy this time of year, but he does love having a fire going, so it’s a good way to keep him occupied without television when it gets dark soon after 4PM. This past weekend we picked up a truckload of firewood from my parents since they just had some trees chopped down. We now can have fires in the fireplace for free instead of paying $4-6 per bundle of wood from the grocery store. Yikes.
Not one of the “Frugal Five” per se, but I dropped off presents at our son’s preschool for their Giving Tree. It’s frustrating that preschool costs so much money ($700/month for two days of childcare) when the childcare workers don’t get paid very well thanks to all the costs of certification etc that goes with owning a childcare center. I don’t know what the best way to fix this is, but there has to be some way to pay employees better without skyrocketing the costs to parents even more than they already are. In the meantime, I picked up some presents for the Giving Tree for one of the moms associated with the school to hopefully make her Christmas a little bit brighter this year.
We are so lucky and privileged to be worry about how to spend less on presents instead of worrying about basics, so I try and send some of that along as I can. As I get better at tracking our spending to the penny, I’m finding that I give more freely as a result. Part of spending less on unimportant things means that I can then spend on what really matters, which includes spending on others.
What are some of your frugal wins for the week? Have you thought about ways you can spread holiday cheer to those who might not otherwise have reason to love this time of year?