Wow! Another Christmas is in the books and now we’re in a new year. Can you believe it??
December is truly one of my favorite months, for obvious reasons! My mom and brother came out from Vegas to spend 10 days with us, and it was awesome getting to hang out with them. Haven’t seen my bro for over 2 years!
I know that their usual Christmas isn’t very “Christmas-y” because it’s just the two of them. There’s no tree or exchanging gifts or homemade turkey dinner. Normally, they would just go out to a buffet and then watch some Jeopardy at the house.
So, I loved that they could get a full Christmas experience here in Colorado. Snow on the ground. Decorated Christmas tree. Lots of gift-buying and gift-giving. Big family dinner.
And lots of card playing! (Liverpool rummy is our family fave!)
After they went back to Vegas, the house was quiet and life got back to normal. Which, I also love. I mean, family is great! But 10 days of nonstop visiting can really wear me down. I was thankful for the time we spent with them, and also for the time to myself afterwards.
If it wasn’t for substitute teaching, Christmas would have been pretty slim this year. I’m so thankful I have a job that allows me so much flexibility and the ability to add to our income. We didn’t charge anything this year, which is a big deal for us!
It feels so good to start this new year without the usual holiday debt that we typically have. Of course, we still have a lot of debt, but I’m pretty proud of us for sticking to cash to cover all of the expenses the holiday normally brings.
Even though we didn’t go over budget, we still struggled with keeping our food bill within an acceptable range. I really need to work on this! I told my husband a couple weeks ago that I just realized I don’t really like to cook. Like, I never even thought of it before; it’s just something I had to do.
But now that I’m *aware* of this revelation, any motivation to make dinner every night has basically disappeared. Of course, this doesn’t help when I’m the primary dinner-maker. So, I need to figure out a way to get dinner on the table without feeling like it’s a total chore.
And I have one big idea: freezer cooking.
Yep, I’m going to try prepping 10-15 meals at a time and freezing them. It will take me a whole weekend afternoon, but if it saves me time and effort the rest of the month? I’m in.
I’ll let you know how it all pans out!
Okay, here’s the good and bad for December:
GOOD: We received a letter from our HOA saying we owed back payments – totalling $415!! I did a little investigating and discovered the payments were all $20 late fees, every month, for like 2 years! They had been accumulating and nobody ever told us (we don’t get a monthly bill). I quickly sent off an email to the person at the bottom of the letter and asked that these (totally unreasonable and ridiculous) fees be removed, and – *thank the Lord* – she wiped out the balance!
GOOD: I hit my goal of generating $2,000 from subbing in November (which was used for our December budget). This has been my goal since the beginning of 2019, and I was finally able to hit it!
BAD: In December, I was only able to work 10 days, so I won’t hit my $2k goal for our January budget. I’m okay with it though, because I chose to take some days off to spend time with my mom and bro.
GOOD: We paid cash for all Christmas gifts!! WOOHOO!! I honestly can’t remember the last time we were able to do this. We didn’t charge anything, and didn’t take anything out of savings.
BAD: My husband’s income for December was pretty low, which is typical. He always takes the last 2 weeks off for the holidays, and usually just gets one week of overtime. This means our January budget will probably be pretty tight.
GOOD: My mom gave me some cash for groceries and paid for any extra outings we went on, so we were able to go visit some museums, go to the movies, and other fun stuff. We always pay for their airline tickets here with my husband’s points, so it’s not too much of a financial burden to her.
BAD: Our food bill is still out of control! As I said above, I need to try a new strategy to keep from spending too much on groceries and restaurants. I’m hoping freezer cooking will lower our grocery bill, and make eating home easier.
BAD: I have no idea why, but I totally spaced on paying our water bill for November. Which meant our December bill was about twice as big as normal. That sucked! But I was thankful we had the money to pay it.
GOOD: Every December we get a dividend from the insurance company. Except instead of sending us a check, they lower our insurance bill for the month. It’s a nice perk, especially around the holidays.
BAD: I didn’t pay any extra on my student loan. I know, I’m so terrible! This was my big goal, to pay off that stupid loan by the end of this school year. But so far, I haven’t been able to pay any extra. Well, admittedly, I probably could have in December. But I chose to spend the extra money on Christmas gifts (*smile*).
Our Savings & Debt
Even with all the holiday expenses, we still paid down some debt and added to savings.
Was it much? No. Not much at all.
But it was something. And that’s what’s important to remember.
Baby steps. A few dollars here, a few dollars there. Fitting it in alongside blessing others with giving.
Making progress, little by little.
Don’t downplay your little by little! Every bit counts.
So much to be grateful for!
- Visiting with family that lives far away
- Sharing the Christmas season with people I love
- Having time off together as a family
- All the laughter and fun we had playing cards around the table
- Listening to my big brother (who once was the family rebel) talk about giving God control
- Spending time with my mom, who will be 80 next year!
I hope you had a wonderful holiday season!
But now it’s a new year – which means setting goals and making plans to make it the best year yet!
Are you ready? I am! Let’s do this thing!