Frugal things amid the holiday spending

There is basically nothing frugal about my life right now. This is always a pricey time of year. We’re not traveling over Christmas but we’ve booked a lot of local holiday events and it turns out that buying 7 tickets to anything is expensive. I just booked several weeks of summer camps, putting deposits down on some but paying in full for anything where that would get me a discount. We bought tickets for spring break trips and then there are presents!

So anyway, it feels like a giant sucking sound of money going out the door. This always makes me uneasy, though I don’t know why. Nothing is unexpected, and I am grateful to have the money for it all plus regular life and savings goals. I’m sure a psychologist could have a field day with this.

But! In this spirit of The Frugal Girl’s 5 Frugal Things, there are still a few money-saving things going on…

I eat leftovers for lunch. Today was the epitome of using it up. I ate the little bits of chicken tenders from the bottom of that bag, mixed with some green beans on the verge of going bad, plus leftover spaghetti from the other night. With a little chipotle aioli on the side it wasn’t bad at all!

I’ve dug out the winter hand-me-downs. My 3-year-old is now wearing a coat that says “Vanderkam” in it. This might not sound odd (isn’t my name Vanderkam?), but my kids have a different last name than I do. Vanderkam is from my brother’s kids…who are now all adults. Yep, this coat has made it through two decades. With yesterday’s first snow fall we had a ritual Trying On Of The Boots. Kids #3-5 can all wear boots we already own. I had hoped the 14-year-old could wear an old pair of mine but…nope. So he and the 16-year-old got new pairs but I bought slightly big for each of them so hopefully they can wear them next year, and then the 14-year-old can wear the 16-year-old’s…and the size I bought for the 16-year-old is only one size smaller than my husband’s, so if need be they can likely swap back and forth.

I waited to buy a rarely-discounted item. I know that buying stuff on sale is still buying it. But if it is something you’re going to buy anyway, waiting for a sale means spending less than you would. We’d discussed and decided to buy a nice Pendleton wool blanket for the guest room. These don’t really go on sale…except for cyber Monday, when most of them were 25 percent off. So I bought it on Monday.

I am re-doing my holiday puzzles. Puzzles are cheap entertainment anyway (usually $20 or so for a reasonable quality 1000-piece one). They are even cheaper when you re-do ones you’ve already done! I own four Christmas-themed puzzles now, which gives me plenty to do between mid-November and December 25th. (After I finish a puzzle I tend to leave it out for a day or two to bask in my accomplishment, then take it apart and put it back in the box.)

My default friend activity is free. With the two local friends I probably see most often, I run with one and walk with the other. The fact that we’re exercising together is no doubt *why* I see them most often (yay multi-tasking) but it occurs to me that a default friend activity could be getting coffee or lunch or drinks, and we do those things sometimes too, but free is good.

I’m getting miniature freebies. Ok, this isn’t so much frugal as making use of free child labor, but hey. I’ve been building miniature scenes in my office (“add whimsy” is a bonus rule in Tranquility by Tuesday). This is not frugal. However, my daughter has been excited about this project, and when she saw I’d created a laundry room scene with a drying rack, she decided to make me some miniature clothes to put on it. I present the hanger she made out of a Q-tip and a little shirt. Cute!

10 thoughts on “Frugal things amid the holiday spending

  1. What a delightful post. I also hear the whooshing sound, but enjoy finding ongoing ways to balance that out with making thoughtful choices about how/when/where we spend.

    That holiday miniature is too cute. Your daughter really seems to have a flair for the creative – first the Starbucks cup vignette and now fashion designer on the cutest scale.

    I also love exercising with friends. Two birds, one stone kind of thing and makes walking/running so much more pleasant (for me).

    1. @Elisabeth – thank you! Yep, it probably doesn’t really balance anything but at least it makes me feel better.

  2. I agree with the unease of the money flying out the door this time of year, but I may also pause to consider what frugal strategies I’m using. Hopefully thinking about them will help me seek out more frugal opportunities! And about those chicken tenders-the ones at the bottom of the bag can be the ones with the most crunch-maybe not as much protein, but they are definitely tasty!

    1. @Kristen – yep, not much chicken in them, but it made eating all those green beans feel a lot more fun…

  3. How about doing a puzzle exchange with another family? This way you each get a new puzzle or two to do, at no cost!

    1. @Amy – that could be fun! I know some libraries lend them, though it strikes me that many might be missing a piece or two by a few families in…

      1. I’ve been delighted to find a local facebook group for puzzle swapping. The most local one is run by a person who has a large rubbermaid cabinet in her carport. People in the group can come and drop off or pickup puzzles (like a free lending library). When I last went, there were probably 50 puzzles to choose from. I love this option and plan to continue to use it! I have a set amount of space for puzzles at home, so this helps me see when it’s time to donate or send some back :).

        1. @Allison – what a cool idea! And very convenient that she has accessible but covered puzzle storage space 🙂

  4. I too feel the giant whoosh of money leaving my bank account. Feel somewhat on top of things as I have done a lot of my Christmas shopping already. But lots of eating out, attending Christmas events, etc, which ends up costing a bit. I feel you on the 7 tickets issue- that would make events super costly.
    I would like to eat leftovers but my teenage boy eats everything late in the evening. No matter how much dinner I make it is all gone in the morning. I guess we are not wasting food though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *