Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas All Year Long - 2014 Budget Update

I finished my final gift on Saturday.  Then on Sunday I got the last of the gifts wrapped and put under the tree.  Hooray.

Remember my budget?  I had $100 cash, a $25 gift card to Bath & Body Works and a $25 gift card to JoAnn Fabrics.  I used the entire gift card at Bath & Body Works without any trouble.  I still have $4 left on the JoAnn Fabrics gift card after purchasing craft supplies throughout the year.

And the cash…

Not surprising, but I pretty much used it all up as well.  I have exactly 17¢ left.

The bulk of that money I spent on gifts and stocking stuffers for my girls.  I took advantage of sales and coupons to stretch it out as far as I could purchasing only a couple gifts and making the rest for them.  For friends and other family I put together handmade gifts and used a lot of creativity, in particular, to put together one gift basket for a certain gentleman in our life.  I'm hopeful he'll like it.  We put a lot of work into it and it was definitely a family project.

I made all of our Christmas cards using supplies I already had on hand.  Our annual Christmas letter included pictures of us and I printed it out on plain copy paper to fold and tuck inside.  I mailed them out on Monday.

We have plenty of baking supplies in our pantry to make cookies, fudge and any other treats we like this season by shopping throughout the year and incorporating those items into our regular grocery budget.  I've already made a batch of peanut butter blossoms which I needed chocolate stars for.  I bought them from the bulk bin at Fred Meyer with the last of our Christmas cash.

Do I feel like I had to make too many sacrifices? 

Nope not one little bit.  Truth is I had a ball making all of those gifts and creatively shopping to get all the things on my list that I couldn't make.  It was challenging and really made me think outside the box.  But you know me.  I'm always up for a good challenge.

So will I do the same thing next year?

Probably so.  I am planning to increase the budget, however, as I don't think we'll have to refurnish an entire house like we did these last few months.  At least I certainly hope not.  But I don't think it will be a huge increase.

Did you set a budget for your Christmas expenses this year?  If so, how are you doing?  How are some ways you are saving money this season?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

On Sunday I made four more Christmas cards and put the finishing touches on our annual Christmas letter.  Then I printed out the copies I needed to tuck into the cards and got them all ready for the mail.

I went into Albertsons and picked up more eggs and non stick spray on sale.  I also bought a package of bagels from the bakery markdown bin and picked up some cornmeal and margarine for baking.

I helped my daughter make a birthday gift for her friend.

Fred Meyer sent me two "Best Customer" coupon booklets in the mail.  Two!  I was thrilled and clipped almost all of the coupons out of them knowing I will be using them on future shopping trips.  I love how they make these up based on what I buy on a regular basis.

I had chicken noodle soup on the menu plan this week.  It was an excellent opportunity for me to clear out several small containers of this and that out of the freezer and finish off the remnants of three bags of frozen veggies.  It was a delicious soup.

Favorite place to take a nap these days.
It was definitely a week of using up every last bit of stuff.  I added water to the empty dish soap bottle and got enough to wash three sinks full of dishes.  I washed up the breakfast dishes one morning by rinsing off the soap that had collected on the cap.  I helped the girls flatten out and get the last of the toothpaste out of a tube.  I also stuck the soap sliver in the shower to a new bar so it didn’t end up going down the drain and going to waste.  I added water to the hand soap dispenser at the kitchen sink to get the last of the soap out of the bottom of it.  My oldest used a rubber spatula and scraped the empty peanut butter jar for enough to make a sandwich for her lunch and I did the same thing with the Nutella jar.  I smeared it on Ritz crackers for a quick dessert after dinner one night.

I picked out two hardback murder mystery novels from the freebie pile at work to give to our next door neighbor for Christmas.  She loves to read and we try to give her a couple books every year.

I worked four hours of overtime this week.

We watched Hallmark Christmas movies on Youtube for free using our Roku.

It's hard to be thrifty this time of year.  How did it go last week?

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Toilet Phone

The Saturday before last I was busy cleaning the bathroom.  I finished cleaning the toilet and promptly dropped my cell phone in it.  Right into the bowl of Comet cleanser water.  It died instantly.  I grabbed it up and hurried to pull it apart and dry it.  I even put it in a bag of rice but it didn't help.  Dang it.

I began to shop for a replacement and I found an affordable phone option, only $19.99 with free shipping, but it was out of stock for a couple of days so I decided to wait.  The next day I got an email that it would be a couple more days.  Bummer.

Since it was Cyber Monday I got online to see what my next best option was and I am really glad I did.  Although the backordered if phone was a great buy I found another option for even less.  $9.99 with free shipping and it was in stock.  When I checked out I was able to use some rewards points from an old credit card I rarely use and saved even more.  Final price on my phone came in at $5.28.

So while I didn't do any Black Friday shopping this year I did do a little Cyber Monday shopping.  My phone arrived that Thursday and I was back in business in less than an hour.  Can I confess something?

I really enjoyed the peace and quiet of no phone for those five days.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

My Uber Thrifty Month In Review - November

I'm a touch late in getting this post written but it is here nonetheless.  November was a busy month for us and December has kept up with the same momentum.  I'm super pleased with how we did last month in getting things accomplished.

I was able to get all of my bills paid on time, most of them early actually, and that is always comforting.  I also managed to put away a little in the savings account and meet my monthly financial goal.  I even managed to stay within my grocery budget and stock up on quite a few things in the process.

A lamp I've been keeping my eye on in my "watch list" on eBay had a price reduction of $6.  I went ahead and ordered it for my bedroom.  It also included free shipping.  Yaaaay.

Christmas shopping was completed, with the exception of stocking stuffers, using money I had saved up all year in an envelope.  I was able to get some excellent buys and even used a few coupons to save even more making those dollars go much further.  I used gift wrap, bows and tape I already had on hand leftover from last year to wrap some of the gifts.

I made a lot of gifts using items from my craft and sewing supplies that I already had.  Remember that big bag of craft supplies I bought a couple years ago at the thrift store for a song?  I am used things that were in that and I still have a ton of stuff left.

We saved money at Thanksgiving by serving roasted chicken from our freezer instead of buying a turkey this year.  Buying a turkey would have put me over budget.  We had everything else we normally have for our dinner so we really didn't miss the turkey.

My biggest accomplishment was to work enough overtime to pay off my living room furniture in full, long before the six months was up on the no interest financing.  That left only my box spring and mattress left to pay for.  I was very excited about that.

Now I have one more month left of my uber thrifty year.  I think it will be a roaring success as well. J

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Creamy Parmesan Veggie Dip

Need a super simple and tasty dip for your next veggie tray?  Here is a good one.

Creamy Parmesan Dip

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 Tbs. milk
1 tsp. dry Italian salad dressing mix

Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth and well combined.  Serve with assorted crisp vegetables - broccoli and cauliflower florets, baby carrots, celery sticks, sliced jicama, radishes, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper strips, cucumber slices, etc.

It doesn't get much easier than that. J

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Horse Doover Nite 2014

HorseDoover Nite was on Saturday and a roaring success.  The girls had been eagerly anticipating it all week long.  Easily it is one of the highlights of our Christmas season and I can't imagine not doing it.

Our tree is up, despite the fact that most of our lights flat would not work.  Weird, because the ones that work are really old and the ones that don't are new.  One set was still in the box.  But I made do with what we had that did work and our tree is every bit as beautiful as if they all were working.  Good thing because I definitely did not have any room in the budget this year for new lights.

The food is also what Horse Doover Nite is all about and this year I did not disappoint.  I used some money from last month's entertainment and dining out budget to buy a few extras to put this night together.  Along with a few items from the pantry I was able to make some really nice appetizers.

Veggies & Creamy Parmesan Dip
Corn Dog Muffins & Mustard
Summer Sausage, Assorted Cheeses & Assorted Crackers
Cream Cheese Spread & Crackers
Pickles & Olives
Peanut Butter Blossoms

The girl's grandparents joined us and brought a nice bottle of wine.  I put on Christmas music and we visited while the tree was decorated.  It was a very lovely evening.

Is your tree up yet?  What traditions do you and your family enjoy during the holidays?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

I put the last of our Thanksgiving chicken into the slow cooker and filled it up with water to make soup broth.  After picking the bones clean there was plenty of chicken left to make soup and put some in the freezer for another batch later on.  I added veggies and cooked some pasta.  We enjoyed it with the last of the dinner rolls I had made.  There was also plenty of leftover soup for another supper and two lunches during the week.

I went to the dollar store and bought five picture frames for some art projects I am working on for our home.

I went to Albertsons to pick up a few loss leaders in the sales ad.  I found cheese marked down so low they actually paid me a penny a piece to take them.  I also bought three packages of Oscar Meyer wieners marked down to 99¢ each, two dozen eggs for 99¢ a dozen and a can of non stick cooking spray for 49¢ with a store coupon.  I returned on Saturday for more eggs and another can of spray since they had a limit on these items.

After work on Tuesday I stopped for gas and used my rewards card to save an extra 20¢ per gallon.  Then I swung into Walgreens next door to buy two packs of gum on sale for 79¢ each.  I used two 40¢ off coupons to reduce the price further to 39¢ a pack.  When I got home I put them in the bag of items I'm collecting for stocking stuffers.

I went to Fred Meyer after work on Friday to pick up the rib eye steaks that were on sale for our Christmas dinner and use a few coupons I had that were about to expire and the items were also on sale.  I bought two jars of Skippy peanut butter on sale for 2/$3 and used a 55¢ OFF coupon too.  I bought a five pound bag of flour on sale for $1.59 and used a 40¢ OFF coupon and a bag of lettuce mix for 88¢ and used a 40¢ OFF coupon.

When I got home there was another Fred Meyer coupon book in the mail for me.  I was super excited to see that.  Lots of great coupons I will be using to save money on next month's groceries.

I finished making two more handmade Christmas gifts for the girls.  I also made a gift for a friend of ours.

I re-gifted a white elephant gift I received a few years ago.  I plan to use it for the white elephant gift exchange at my Bunco Christmas party this week.  I'm ready to let someone else enjoy it for awhile.

I ordered a new light fixture for my bedroom from Home Depot.  It was on sale for 50% OFF and included free shipping.  It is really pretty and I am super excited about it.

I went back to the dollar store Saturday to finish up my holiday shopping and pick up a few final items as well as two bags of bows.

I made my first batch of Christmas cookies - Peanut Butter Blossoms.  So good and pretty too.

How did you do last week?  Any great buys?