Merry Christmas to me! I finally finished up the last of my handmade Christmas gifts last night (though I still have yet to wrap them). I love making sure the gifts we do give at Christmas are heartfelt and mostly homemade or experience gifts, but they sure take a lot more time and energy than just ordering something off of Amazon.

1. This was our son’s last week of preschool before the holiday break, so we baked cookies for teacher gifts using ingredients we already had at home. I had to be a little creative (we were a bit short on a few baking ingredients), but the cookies turned out fantastic. It can be a little frustrating cooking and baking with a toddler sometimes, but my son was so incredibly proud to take cookies that he made to share with his teachers that it was completely worth the extra time and mess it took to have him involved.

Wrapped in leftover holiday bags from years past.

Bonus, I FINALLY used up the last of the powdered sugar that’s been sitting in our cabinet forever. And of course I then turned around and bought a new bag yesterday in preparation of our fancy Christmas breakfast.

2. We were playing over at our neighbor’s house last week and he showed me the gingerbread house kits they got from Costco to do with their grandchildren. The kits are genius – the walls are pre stuck together with icing, so all you do is decorate the frame. I told him how much I liked that version (I can never get the house very sturdy on my own) but that there was no way I was heading to Costco this close to Christmas. Lo and behold, our doorbell rang a few days ago, and it was our neighbor dropping off the leftover kit they ended up not using. Having good neighbors is really the best. We get an awesome gingerbread house to decorate tonight, and our neighbor doesn’t have figure out how to get rid of extra stuff they have no more use for.

Christmas traditions – playing with ornaments

3. Sometimes working as a construction superintendent has its perks. This past week, my husband got a nice warm hat, a new shirt, and a $75 restaurant gift card from different subcontractors (back in August he was gifted two preseason NFL tickets which meant an awesome almost free date night for us). A night out is in the cards and we won’t even have to pay for it 🙂

4. We got $4 cash back from our normal Alaska Air credit card. While not as awesome as 4 round trip tickets to Hawai’i for $98, extra bonus cash for our regular spending is always welcome. Since we don’t do almost any typical consumer spending, most of their regular deals don’t apply to us, but I always make sure to activate them just in case they do, which has added up to about $60 in free money that we wouldn’t otherwise see. 

5. Since turning our spending around in the last couple months, we’ve seen a marked difference in where our paychecks end up. I actually had to double and triple check my math this month before letting my husband know because I couldn’t believe there was so much money left over I thought I had made a mistake in the math. He isn’t as focused on the day to day numbers as I am, but he’s definitely on board with changing our habits.

Leftover taco bowl for lunch

Lifestyle inflation is such a tricky thing and something we had succumbed to in much greater degree than we thought over the last few years, mostly in convenience items since our son was born. Money has never been a big stress in our relationship, but it had started to get that way after a few months of extreme unexpected expenses. I feel like I can breathe again now that we have a tight handle on our finances once more. It is so much more powerful to tell your money where to go then look at your bills at the end of the month and find out where it went. With this new control, I’m looking forward to 2018 and hopefully hitting our big goal of saving 50% of our income.

What are some of your frugal wins this week? Have you made any big goals for 2018? 

10 thoughts on “Friday’s Frugal Five (Holiday Edition)

  1. I’m super jealous of your great neighbors! Everyone in our neighborhood seems happy to exist in their own private bubbles. Woohoo gifted date nights! Cheers to an abundant 2018, merry Christmas to you and your family.

    1. We do have really great neighbors, but it’s definitely taken some effort to draw people out. I think it helps that we all have smaller homes so spend more time outside in our yards. Merry Christmas to you as well!!

  2. My husband took a new job a few weeks ago and on Friday he got a check from his prior company for his PTO payout. Unfortunately, he left from having mega hours expected of him and never being able to use that PTO. But on the bright side now, he’s in a better position (without a massive time commitment) and we had a nice bit of money to put on the mortgage! Felt like such a great Christmas present to us!

    1. That sounds like a wonderful switch! Merry Christmas to you two, and way to go putting the money to excellent use 🙂

    1. It was! Absolutely love our Alaska Air card. We get a free trip about every 18 months or so just from our normal spending / work expenses.

  3. Its awesome to have such great neighbors! It was so sweet of them to give you their extra kit. And I’m sure the memories you make decorating it will be priceless!

    1. Seriously. Great neighbors are what makes our location irreplaceable. We had a lot of fun decorating the gingerbread house for sure 🙂

    1. We really do! I feel so lucky that we live in a real neighborhood not just on a street with people who live near us.

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