Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saving the Moola: December in Review

I'm pledging to fill my and Jason's stockings for Christmas 2012 without using any money.
December is usually a difficult month to swallow (as is November). Jason and I have increasingly become more and more frugal and not out of necessity but because we have set goals, desires and motivation and those things tend to get in the way when it comes to spending money.

It is our belief that money is an easy commodity to come by. It's easy to earn - you can pick up pop bottles on the side of the road, you can find quarters laying on the sidewalk, you can find a job (yes, you can, and it may not be the job you want, but we went out shopping last Saturday and most stores still had their "Now Hiring" signs posted).

But it's what you do when you get money that dictates the kind of person you are and the kind of life you want to lead. We were gifted with several gift cards this Christmas season and it was hard finding items to spend them on! (and we still have some money left on them...)

November and December usually mean spending some money. We had a tradition of going to get manis and pedis together, we bought gifts for our stockings, we set aside money for any extra costs that came up that we were not expecting, we traveled more (and needed more gas for our car as a result), etc. etc.

Well, it probably isn't a big surprise then, that in the midst of December and all of this spending that Jason and I looked at each other and thought: there's got to a better way! Or, at least a more frugal way.

With that thought in mind, we decided to permanently forgo our tradition of getting manis and pedis together at a salon. Our reasons for this are many, but it basically comes down to the fact that not only are we no longer willing to spend money on this, but we can create an equally wonderful spa experience at home with homemade products (or if you wish, store-bought products). Also, we can do this on our own time (such as 10 PM if we so chose) instead of being forced into an appointment time at a salon.

This year, I will be the one to fill the stockings for Jason and I. Typically, we have a set, modest budget for each of the stockings, but this year, I'm choosing to eliminate that budget. I'll post about this throughout the year as I gather up gifts, but there are three main ways in which I plan to spend zero money on Christmas gifts for Jason and I:
  • Homemade gifts - Jason and I love to craft, and I plan on making several of our gifts this year. I will share tutorials on this throughout the year.
  • Swagbucks - If you're a regular reader of this blog, you're probably sick of hearing about Swagbucks! But we can't really say enough about it. I've already ordered one gift for Christmas 2012 from Swagbucks and have plans to buy many more. You can read a brief tutorial on Swagbucks here.
  • Kohl's Cash - Jason and I have a set (but not modest!) budget for the day-after-Thanksgiving each year. We plan on participating in this day a little bit differently this year, but I'm already thinking of a couple of things I didn't get from Kohl's last year that I would like to pick up this year. I'm really, really hoping Kohl's offers the same (or an even better) deal this year: $15 in Kohl's Cash for every $50 spent. Jason used $45 in Kohl's Cash to fill out our stockings for Christmas 2011. He got a bunch of items for an out-of-pocket cost of $3 and change! I'm hoping to get at least $30 in Kohl's Cash to help fill up the stockings.
December is also a hard month to take because it means finalizing our budget which usually means making last-minute sacrifices because we want to keep growing our savings as much as we can. With that thought in mind, Jason and I opted to start using half of our gifts cards for household and grocery items. You can read about that decision here.

With those three major decisions, Jason and I will be saving about $500 each year. That's something to definitely get excited about.

Well, that's our December in review. Jason and I are always looking for new ways to save money but also new ways to use money to make our lives and those lives around us even better. We're both excited about all of the good decisions we made in December and we're hoping January will bring us even more wisdom and grace!

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