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Posts tagged with: family

Avoiding the Dreaded Gift Exchange…


My family started exchanging names for gift giving about 15 years ago. When you have a family of 9, buying for one is a huge cost savings – not to mention a time savings.

When my husband and I married, I participated in his family gift exchange as well (turns out, his family of 10 was interested in saving money too). It was a great way to feel a part of the family.

Now that the economy has tanked, everyone wants to do a gift exchange rather than a mass gifting. Aunt May, Grandma Joy, and co-worker Suzie want to exchange gifts this holiday. While it’s easy to bow out of work related exchanges (‘My husband is unemployed’ is always a fabulous and acceptable reason), it’s difficult to get out of extended family exchanges. Family members say “it’s only $20 or $30!” but I can’t afford toothpaste much less a $20 Sham Wow. $20 or $30 multiplied by ten or so exchanges just isn’t happening this year.

I know what you’ll say, “Hey, it’s family. They’ll understand.”

Um. Hello?

It’s family. The very definition of people who are allowed to make fun of you and feel no guilt.

Wait. Maybe that’s just my family.


Since I don’t particularly want to say, “Yes, I bought you the Sham Wow but I can’t afford to buy deodorant until February”, I’m going to hold off on gifts entirely this season.

Whew. I said it. No gifts.

Stretching Cash Flow…


In order to survive unemployment for the next 6 – 9 months, we have to really limit our spending. We absolutely can’t spend a dime more than our weekly allotment.

For the most part, this isn’t a problem. If we run out of food, we invite ourselves over to dinner at our parents…er.. um… I mean, we visit our parents because we love them and the free food is just an added benefit.

This week presented a new problem…

We ran out of toothpaste and mouthwash.

Determined to stay on our budget, I robbed my luggage of two travel size tubes of toothpaste. We’re running low but we have enough to last until Friday when our new budget begins.

I dug through our closets but failed to find any mouthwash – travel size or otherwise. I went into the kitchen to see if I could find anything there. Soap? Comet? Dishwashing liquid? And then I stumbled upon a bottle of vodka.

“Sweetie?” I called to my husband in the living room “Do you think I could use vodka as a mouthwash? They’re both essentially alcohol right? Either way, the results will be positive. It will work or it won’t and I won’t care that we don’t have mouthwash anymore.”

My husband laughed as if I were making a joke.

I wasn’t.

I put the vodka back in the cabinet and figured that regular brushing and flossing will have to do until tomorrow.

But this morning, I searched my hypothesis and…


So if you ever run out of mouthwash, you can make your own – and yes, you use vodka.

And just in case my mother reads this, let me clarify – you don’t actually have to drink the vodka.