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Christmas spending strategy

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Every year we have a crazy travel schedule and a lot of people to see and catch up with over the holidays. It’s always a lot of fun driving cross country, staying in random hotels with family and friends, being fed everything and anything (mostly sugar, cookies, and gas station food) and eventually wearing dirty socks because everything in our suitcases has already been worn twice. It doesn’t sound like fun but it’s slap happy and full of my favorite people! I can’t wait for the adventures this year.

We try to plan for extra Christmas spending every year and do a good job of that. My issue is that we do the majority of the gift buying on the fly and that leaves very little time to plan and that means we don’t save money on our any of our gift purchases. What typically happens is at the very last minute, (less than a week before christmas) we find ourselves with a list of names and a general idea of what we might want to get each person. We end up running to the store with a list of names or paying crazy shipping for things we buy online. Not fun or practical.

This year I am doing cheerleader kicks, cartwheels, and I’ve been high fiving myself left and right because WE are hosting Christmas at OUR house!!!! YESS! I’ve loved Christmas hosted by everyone else, but hosting has a lot of advantages. For one, we don’t have to travel. I’m hoping that staying home for Christmas will take some of the stress of travel away and leave us time to plan purchases better. Instead of worrying about getting us across the country with everything we need and gifts, we just have to worry about gifts. What a relief!

Also, not having to travel will save us a ton of money. Even driving expenses really add up. Because I’m hosting, I feel like I can ask guests to forgo big gifts and stick to stocking stuffers for this years christmas for the adults in the family. I can’t guarantee that my family will play along, but as the host, I can make that suggestion and cross my fingers. I’ve always felt like I had to play along with our parents wishes for the holidays, and we did so respectfully. This year I’m excited to try some alternative ways of sharing and spending the holiday together. Maybe they’ll even like doing a white elephant exchange? You never know! It’s not that I don’t want to spend money on giving gifts to my loved ones, I think it’s more that we should spend time enjoying each other rather than focusing on gifts. Just pondering this.

What’s your gift giving and spending strategy this year ?
Last leg of last years travel:

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Last years tree:

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Ice skating at whole foods: (I was showing off and ran into that guy 3 seconds after this was taken)

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Our week in review

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This weeks ups and downs in our little world:

The good:

We were interviewed for a radio segment on Marketplace for NPR. Depending on how ridiculous we sound, we’ll post a link to the podcast for y’all. Overall a really fun experience talking to an expert about our financial situation and getting some third party advice on our debt payoff strategy.

I moved out of my studio space: I’d been renting a shop/ studio for over a year, which had its own ups and downs. While it would’ve been possible for me to work from home in the last two rental houses, I felt it would have been inconsiderate to the neighbors (because of the noise and clutter) disrespectful of our agreements with our landlords, and could have hurt my business because both neighborhoods were kind of sketchy- ghetto (but cheap).
Luckily, I was able to move over the course of the week, which gave me time to clean and organize while I went. I did 90% of the moving on my own, which saved me the expense of hiring a crew. It definitely wasn’t easy and I got pretty beat up and exhausted, but at the end of the week I could see what I’d accomplished. I love that feeling! I’m looking forward to the money saving benefits of running my business from home! I wont have to pay rent (about 450 a month) I’ll be saving in gas (300 a month) and hopefully Ill be able to cook, clean, and get household chores done throughout the week. Hopefully this working from home gig will also help us spend less on groceries and eating out! YAYYYY!

We may be borrowing some mini donkeys: One of my clients offered to let us borrow them for two weeks to help accelerate clearing the land. I’ll keep y’all posted on if we get them or not. I am SO excited! MINI DONKEYS!!!

Cooking day with my sister: we spent half a day cooking some meals for our families and one of her friends that just had a baby. My sister is a master at cooking yummy food on the cheap, and I was once a manager in a commercial kitchen (for a summer in college) so together we can get a lot of goodness done in a little bit of time. This time we just made Thai coconut chicken curry and meatballs with sauce, which were both were uber inexpensive and delish. It’s a good way for me to spend quality/ fun time with my sister and get stuff done at the same time. Lots of giggling and making fun of eachother. 🙂

Getting the rental cottage cleaned and occupied: we were both pretty nervous about our previous renter moving out and the new renters actually showing up and moving in. It turned out to be pretty stressful, but it goes in the good category because we cleaned and prepped the space together, without hiring a crew, and the new renters said the place looked great! I’m proud of us for getting all the cleaning done pretty efficiently and working together. I’m also happy the new renters are here, moved in, and paid. What’s that saying? It ain’t over until the fat lady sings? I think we both kept thinking they were going to back out, but it’s gone we’ll so far!

Free baseball game: A fun date on the cheap! Even parking was free! And the game was awesome!

The not so great:

Adjusting to a new budget: I feel like it’s just one more thing I’m going to worry about, and it’s going to take some more adjustment on my part to get used to the new way of spending money. Or not spending money. Bah humbug! 😉

Waiting for the previous renter to move out: This was really, really frustrating. We told him we had renters moving in on the first, and we would need to get in there and clean as soon as possible, and he said he would be out by Sunday the 28th. At 11pm on the 31rst and he was still over there “cleaning” and moving, leaving us to hustle booty to get it cleaned and ready for the renters who were moving in later that day. I was already pretty peeved at him for leaving the house so messy when we would have showings (it was so gross we were not sure we were going to be able to rent it), but this last minute move out was icing on my angry cake. It was really, really frustrating having to clean up after a grown man. I know he knows better than to leave the house in that condition for showing and when he moved out, but he did it anyway. Not cool.

Fighting about renovations: I really would like to at least try to make some updates to our home. It hasn’t been updated or really even cared for since it was built in the early 90s, and the wear and tear from it being a rental for so long really shows. I’m starting to feel like we shouldn’t have bought this house (or any house) if we knew we wouldn’t have the funds to make it a nice home. Before we bought this house, we should have agreed on a time frame for renovations and made sure our goals were clear. I think I’m just generally frustrated that we don’t share the same goals for making the house comfortable and homey. When we talk about it, Adam brings up good points about needing to save for a bigger emergency fund, retirement, paying down our debt and then paying off our mortgage early. I think he’s probably right, I just wish we could compromise a little 🙂

Work flow: With the move this week, it was hard for me to schedule appointments and meet with clients. I still have some rearranging to do at home before I feel comfortable inviting customers over for sales and consultations, and I need to get it done fast! This was a week with no sales, and that’s frustrating. I do have some great projects coming up, but I’m a little apprehensive about how I’m going to run the business from home. I’m hoping it will be a huge advantage to us and not an extra stressor.

Yay for the weekend! I’m ready to kick back a little and chill 🙂 Thanks for following us as we are on this crazy journey. 🙂

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