By: Revanche

Diving into the holiday season

November 25, 2013

 

TDayI hope everyone had a happy and fulfilling Thanksgiving Day, full of family, friends, or whomever you chose to celebrate with.

It was probably the first really decent Thanksgiving we’ve had in a while. It’s been over six years and the specter of loss still hovers over the holidays. Both of us have lost parents and other family in the month of November over the years; it’s been hard to shake off the sense of doom associated with the winter months and the holidays.

PiC got a great workout in, in the morning, while I slept late and then we spent the day cooking all kinds of goodies: a really big turkey, a new stuffing recipe, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a new brussels sprouts dish. We shared our Thanksgiving dinner with an entirely new group of family and their friends.

I even managed to resist working all day. I confess to reading several work emails, but I did absolutely nothing with them. #WordsofAWorkaholic

And now that our bellies are full, I have turkey headed for a soup bowl and turkey bound for the freezer, Thanksgiving Day has been enjoyed and shelved.

We can officially look forward to Christmas carols and all things wintery!

ChristmasHolly

The Christmas Carols and commercialism that starts as early as September gets on my nerves, but I will admit to thinking ahead to Christmas even earlier than that if we’re talking about gifts or scheduling holiday plans.

Normally, there’s nothing I enjoy more than snagging great deals throughout the year and wrapping gifts starting in early December but we’ve been a little busy this year with travel and planning wedding things and so on.

Originally, I thought that we’ll get everything done two weeks ahead of the reception but neither vendors nor PiC cooperated with my timeline. So, instead, I’m still working on keeping a level head and stripping out anything that we don’t have time for or don’t have the energy to spend on as time ticks by. I impose the Rule Of Sanity!!

And in keeping with that:

1. Christmas gifts this year are going to be photographic mementos. Originally that sounded like it’d just be easier than trying to go shopping on a straining budget. It’ll be cheaper and perhaps more meaningful but it’s going to take time to dig through for the right photos.

2. Money Matters: I’ll note that I refuse to dip into real savings for the reception, I’m determined to cash flow this. And of course it’ll probably sound like I’m cheating a little, because in order to pay for this out of normal cash flow, which hasn’t been adjusted to accommodate this line item, I am dipping into another “savings”.

In the last few years, I’ve instinctively hoarded any bits and pieces of money that was budgeted for spending in the Expenses savings account. That money was earmarked for spending and instead of being my usual miserly self, I didn’t pop it into the emergency savings account from whence it can never emerge unless one of us loses our jobs, or something catastrophic happens. This gave us a several thousand dollar headstart. And even though all our budgeted categories for 2013 are averaging something like a 90% spent rate, I’ve throttled spending as much as possible where it doesn’t matter as much. Or creatively financed by ….

  • Using Swagbucks to eke out $5 Amazon gift cards. (If anyone wants to sign up, I’d be very happy to send you a referral invitation!)
  • My three step checklist before buying online: Always check Ebates (referral link) or Fatwallet for cashback; Always check Retailmenot (or just google) for coupon codes; Always double check credit cards to decide which one gives the highest payout for specific kinds of spending. I am a determined bargain hunter, but as eemusings just so wisely pointed out, there’s a tradeoff between time and money. I want to make the most of both so there has to be a balance, and an end in sight when searching.
  • SingleMa also shared a great price tracker, in advance of Black Friday, that was really useful for Amazon shopping and comparison shopping.
  • When I knew we needed to spend at certain stores, I bought gift cards from Cardpool and ABC GiftCards. Best bargain? 27% off Michael’s gift cards, combined with 50% off coupons at the store. That really stretched our dollars.

3. Moderation: I’ve treated myself to a few things (again, gift cards). New undergarments, a Pacific Rim DVD, a new mouse since my working mouse is driving me crazy.  Life isn’t always about taking care of everyone else.

I hope everyone has happy and sane plans for the month of December!  Do share.

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