The anticipation is over. The lovely warmth of pre-Christmas activities, and the glowing star of Christmas, are glowing embers we’ll keep in our hearts all year long. It’s up to us to pass that spark along, and it’s our challenge to do it regularly in our daily lives.
We’ve done our best this season to quell the tide of materialism that would extinguish that ember. At our home, we cut back on the number of gifts we gave, and focused on giving things that would be truly appreciated down the road. No broken toys on December 26. No useless trinkets. Just nice gifts that showed we truly cared. Lo and behold! We stayed within our budget this year.
For my part, I provided love in the form of food (naturally), including modest feasts for our family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I did not scrimp, but did turn to homemade recipes, especially for the special dessert. Of course, I did not get a picture of it. My bad. But it was good. *
Our big splurge took us to SASMuseum (aka SAC Museum) in Ashland, where #1 (aka Army Man) requested we visit. Then we headed to Round The Bend Restaurant in South Bend for the steak dinner we promised him. Leftovers for days! The guys laughed when I put the chopped lettuce from the nachos in the to go box. But that was for my lunch today! (And we ran into our pastor friend and his family, also dining there, which was a nice coincidence.)
So, I have enough food in my fridge right now so that I probably wouldn’t have to cook for several days, except that we don’t like the same ole boring. I’ll be freezing some of it, transforming some of it, and doctoring others of it. Ham, anyone? Roast beast? How ’bout some medium rare petite sirloin and fries?
Here are some additional, new things we intentionally did this week to save:
- Cancelled an online order (they didn’t tell me it was out of stock till I inquired when it wasn’t delivered within two weeks!), and ordered the same item from another site for $10 less and free shipping! Total saved: $19.
- Used unexpected and expected bonuses to pay down the account for the new air conditioner.
- Walked away from tempting clothing deals this season, and just dressed up existing clothes.
- Pared down the Christmas card list. Actually, to be honest, they haven’t gone out yet. But the list is pared down! New Year’s greeting will be mailed in the next day or two.
- Decided not to have some car repairs done. Not major issues (yet), so DH will top off the fluids regularly. Savings: $700.
- Purchased a replacement side mirror for said car (which mirror shattered on the way home for some unknown reason) at Advance Auto Parts and will install ourselves. Savings: probably $50.
- Did another freezers/pantries inventory and will begin meal planning for January and beyond on Sunday.
- Walked in our neighborhood instead of driving to DH’s favorite Hitchock Park or Chalco Hills.
- Shared some thrift store purchases with Project Hope. They cost less than $1 each, and I passed them along so others could make use of them. Also, DH had some pants we donated, too. Project Hope serves one of the poorest communities in Omaha, offering clothing, books, food and other donated items.
Next week I’ll share Thrifty Next Year, The Resolution Edition, wherein I outline money-saving strategies for 2014. I have big dreams for next year, which is going to be so much better! I have a plan. We’re taking various steps to get there, even now. I’d also like to include more fun events on the thrifty side next year, so I’m trying to plan that in, as well. It’s a process, what can I say?
Right now we’re doing what we can, and what we have to do, to make things happen. Every penny counts, and I’m counting every penny!
* Special dessert bonus: One recipe of your favorite cake-like brownie batter, divided equally into two round cake pans, cooked till done. Cool them completely. Layer one brownie round, about an inch of softened peppermint (or vanilla if that’s all that’s on sale) ice cream, another brownie round. Cover and freeze a few hours. Cover with vanilla frosting and make it as smooth as you can. Sprinkle the top with two crushed candy canes. Lightly cover with two layers of plastic wrap. Freeze overnight or all day. To serve: take out of the freezer and let sit 15 minutes before cutting with a long, sharp knife. Serves 12. Promptly return uneaten portions (what’s that?) to the freezer, wrapped.