Happy Advent everyone!
It's that wonderful season of waiting and preparation for our Savior's birth and I'm super excited for this season to be here! Why?
We only have three more weeks until Christmas.
We only have two more weeks until my parents are here to visit.
We only have a few days until the semester is done!
I'm ready for some family time, a break from work and a chance to slow down and rest a bit for a while.
Honestly, taking this season of Advent and slowly decorating the house for Christmas as we usually do (so far, we only have the Advent wreath and the Nativity sets up so far) has been really therapeutic for me.
I've been trying to figure out how to purchase gifts for my husband's family (we draw names, but now we have 4 more people we need to buy gifts for!) and not go over our non-existent Christmas budget, have all the delicious goodies we usually have while feeding more people than usual and make it through all my other anxieties and the painful days without going completely crazy.
Digging out all the decorations we have, making a meal plan with all the food we have in the pantry, cupboards, refrigerator and freezers, and slowing down to actually make gifts this year has really helped me refocus and remind me how much we truly have! We are so blessed!
We have continued to be as frugal as we can, which helps with my peace of mind right now too. It's a relief to know that we're going to be truly find even if our budget has zero room for anything that isn't non-essential.
Frugal things we've done the last two weeks:
* Used points stay a hotel while visiting my in-laws over Thanksgiving. It was nice to have our own space and a bit of time just to ourselves in the midst of my husband's large family. We also didn't have to worry about pushing other people out into the living room floor or sleeping there ourselves which meant we all got a good night's sleep.
* Used the grocery store while on our trip for snacks and other food items we needed rather than going out to eat. It helped keep costs down rather than spending so much on food!
* Exercised for free in spite of the really icky outside weather while at my in-laws by using the pool and exercise room at the hotel and attending Jazzercise classes in the neighboring town for free with my current "membership" (I'm an instructor so membership comes with my instructor position). My MIL, who got me started years ago, was able to attend with me - which was so much fun!
* Ate meals at home, at my in-laws house, at the hotel or brown-bagged to work.
* Worked on making Christmas gifts here at home for my parents, my children and my husband. Our daughter worked on making a gift for my mother. Both children worked on making gifts for their teachers. All gifts are made with items we already owned.
* I used a gift card to buy a gift for one of husband's family members and some new underclothes for myself that were desperately needed.
* I used another gift card to buy the rest of the Christmas presents we needed to actually purchase. No matter how talented I am, right now I can't make the diabetic crew socks that one family member asked for!
* We used items we already own to decorate for Christmas. I do have material from last year to make a new set of placemats for Christmas. I'm going to finish the gifts first and then see how much time I have! I'm hoping I get to them this year as I didn't last year and they've kind of been hanging over my head for the whole year!
* We continue to clean out and my husband listed a couple of additional things online for sale. We also took a large load of donated things to the local thrift store. Our recycle bin is usually full each week as well.
* I was able to buy a turkey this week on clearance after Thanksgiving for $0.79/lb. That is 20-cents cheaper per pound than the sale price for Thanksgiving! That will the only turkey I buy this year unless they come down that low again after Christmas (which they might).
* I searched through my cookbooks and online for new recipes that use the ingredients we already have on hand rather than spending on new ingredients.
* I came home early from work two days this week and took a long nap to stave off a virus that was traveling through our office. I also went to bed early, drank lots of liquids and took extra Vitamin C. It worked! Other than feeling tired for a day or two, I've been fine.
* I repotted indoor plants using pots and extra potting soil I already owned.
* We checked out books and audiobooks from the public library and watched a few videos for free online. I greatly appreciate that!
* Our office at work has also been passing around books to share - I've gotten to read some things I couldn't find at our library!
* We updated the budget book and revamped a few things. I think we're going to be in better shape going forward than we have been the last few months while we've been figuring these things out!
* I scored the very last pair of boy's snow pants at Target this week and they were only $20! I was ecstatic! They're a good brand, a size too big and I'm hoping he can wear them next year too. I had expected them to be either completely out or for all the pairs left to be $50 and up in price.
* Our children had a day off school and we signed them up for a day out through the community Parks and Rec department. They had a great time and the cost was less than the other options we had and included lunch.
* We've baked oatmeal cookies, cornbread, oatmeal muffins, cinnamon rolls, chili, two types of soup and sandwich bread from scratch at home in these last two weeks.
What have you done lately in the frugal realm?