December 03, 2012

Monday Musing

Good morning and Happy Monday! Don't mind me.  I'm practicing positive thinking and trying to convince myself that Mondays are a good thing.  Is it working?  Eh....

The weekend was pretty good even if I am still a bit of an "orphan."  I keep telling myself I just have to live through this week and then Tim will be back to working a fairly regular schedule in the weeks leading up to Christmas, or at least that's what he tells me, and then he's planning to take the week of Christmas off.  Yea!

I actually got to relax a bit, which was nice with the Christmas season kicking into gear and last week being filled up with funeral stuff.  Saturday morning I got up and headed of to meet with the women's group from church.  We meet at the house of one of the ladies....she has a beautiful home overlooking a lake.  We finished up Beth Moore's study of Esther and talked about deep things and silly things and laughed and cried.  Now we'll take a break and start up again in January with Beth Moore's study of Jesus.  Saturday evening was church and the fellowship dinner.  It felt so odd not to pick Aunt Peg up and take her with me.

Sunday I did a major grocery shopping trip.  Hate those.  Especially now that it seems like the prices of everything are up every time I go.  Even with coupons, store cards, sales and all the rest it can be depressing.  The matching recliners we bought a while back are finally in and delivery is set for Wednesday morning so I had the people taking the old chairs come and get them yesterday.  The living room looks so bare....and seating is at a premium.

Hmm...yep, that was pretty much my weekend.  I did some reading, some cleaning, watched the Steelers get lucky.  Like I said, it was nice.

Today I thought I'd share some tips I read over the weekend to help lighten the financial burden of Christmas  I don't know about you, but anything that helps with that this year is more than welcome.  Most of us are feeling at least a little of the pinch, I'm sure.

1.  Keep your long-term goals front and center.
What is it you really, really want?  A big vacation, sending your kids to college, remodeling your house?  Whatever it is, keep thinking about it.  Having those big expensive goals on your mind might help you say no to excessive holiday spending.  You want your dream more than the kids need that mega-bucks toy that will either be broken or forgotten in a very short time.  They say imagining the bad stuff can help, picturing the little old ladies who are working at Walmart, the local diner, or grocery store because they have to.  Do you want to be in their shoes?

2.  Set a budget and stick to it.
Set a limit as to how much you are going to spend on each person.  Then when you are shopping and see a snazzy gift that Uncle Bob would flip over, but costs, say...$40, more than you budgeted, you can ask yourself what else you could do with that $40.  Stick to your budget and Uncle Bob still gets a gift you picked out just for him and you have the extra $$ in your pocket.

3.  Whatever your budget amount is....tell it to someone.
It's very easy to sneak right on out of your budget if you're the only one who knows.  Sharing your bottom line helps keep you accountable.

4.  Give more for less.
How on Earth do you do that?  Gift cards.  You buy Mom a $100 gift card before Christmas.  She goes shopping after Christmas when everything is on big-time sale.  Voila!  It's like you gave them more than you did.

Check your local grocery store, too.  Ours sells all kinds of gift cards and if you swipe your store membership card you earn gas discounts (good at the store's own chain of stations) for spending at the store.  Even if you plan to buy a gift, check the grocery store to see if they have a gift card for the store you're shopping at.  You'll still buy the gift, but by buying the gift cards to use like cash, you earn the gas discounts.  Our grocery also gives discounts on food when you buy gas at their stations.

5.  Be aware that stores are set up to get you to spend more money.
It's a common belief among most of my friends that no matter what small, single item you enter Walmart to's going to cost you $50 to get out of the place.  They're not wrong.  People go to school and learn how to snag us.  Ever notice that the things aimed at kids are at their eye-level whether they are walking or riding in the cart...bam! there it is.  For the rest of us it's those shiny, pretty displays sitting in the middle of the aisle or on the endcap....Oooooh, I didn't even know they had that/or made those, but it's so pretty/clever.  I want one/Aunt Thelma needs one/Charlie will LOVE this.  Then there are the displays at the checkout...carefully planned because they know you're going to be standing there with time to look at it all.  Even the music in the stores is geared to get you in the mood to spend by bring back happy memories.  At least if you're aware of this stuff you can try to talk yourself out of it.

6.  Shop online.
Most stores have the same deals online as they have in the store and many are offering free shipping.  Shopping online eliminates the dangers of #5.  You save gas money.  You save TIME.  Know what you're looking for and stick to your list.  Plus, past experience shows that once you make an online purchase and register with a company's website they often offer even better deals and promotions.  The first year they did Cyber Monday I was looking for the set of Twilight books for my daughter-in-law.  In the store and on most websites they were running about $80 for the set.  Barnes & Noble offered them with free shipping for $20! Plus, there's no tired, aching feet, no meals to buy while you're out can shop in your jammies sipping hot chocolate.  Does it get better than that?

Hope something here helps.  I know we're all starting to feel the pinch this year and there's the uncertainty of that "fiscal cliff" hanging over us....what will the next few months bring??  Every little bit we can save isn't going to hurt.

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