It’s been a good weekend around here so far. We got a Christmas tree last night, for the first time since 2003. Our son is fascinated by the lights on houses and trees when we go for walks, and we decided a tree would be fun. We got a Charlie Brown sort of tree that was cut from forest land to prevent overgrowth, and my husband set it up in our living room this morning. We spent $18 on our tree, and that will be all we’ll spend as far as decor goes. We have a box of decorations in our crawl space that we’ll drag out tonight, and a stocking for our son that my MIL sent us.
I also got our Christmas cards, and I’m thrilled with how they turned out. We’ve been doing photo cards for several years now, and I’ve usually used Snapfish along with a couple other places that I can’t recall. I know that I’ve had to order sets of 20 cards, and I send out about 50, which means we have 10 cards left over each year. I think I’ve usually spent around $30 for our cards in the past. This year, I used Costco, and I don’t think I’ll ever get pictures printed anywhere else. If you have a Costco membership, their photo processing center is amazingly inexpensive. 39 cents for 5×7 pics, $1.49 for 8x10s and 13 cents for 4×6 prints (I’ve found similar deals on the 4×6 pics, but I get a lot of enlargements, and I haven’t found anything cheaper than Costco for bigger prints). Anyway, they also do photo cards. They print cards that are 6 inches by 7.5 inches (still just one stamp to send), and the option we chose allowed us to put three pictures on the card. We put a large picture of the three of us, and then two smaller photos of our son. I uploaded the pics to their website on Thursday night, created our card online, and then picked up the cards yesterday at our local Costco. 50 cards and the total price was $16.21 including tax. Feeling very happy about that.
I’ve been working on a scrapbook for my MIL, and I finished it last night. Lots of hours of work involved, but the only money I spent was on the book itself (which I bought half price last summer at Hobby Lobby when they were having a sale) and on the photos I printed. My MIL gives me scrapbook supplies as gifts, and I tend to use simple embellishements (lots of paper, embroidery floss, pens, etc.) that are inexpensive. So while it turned out fantastic and I know she will love her gift, it didn’t cost me much at all. Overall, I’d say we’re on track for spending less than $200 on Christmas, including cards, gifts, postage, tree, and food for Christmas dinner (we’re having my family here, and will be feeding 9 people). So that’s going well.
It’s Sunday, so that means it’s time for my weekly round up. Here’s what’s been going on in the Frugal Blog Network this week:
Frugal Zeitgeist has an article about why she hates shopping for suits. I used to wear suits to work every day, and I agree with her style (the stuff she found in the closeout store sounds horrible). I wore black, dark brown and grey, and nothing trendy (if bows are in style this year, they won’t be next year). I shopped at second hand stores and consignment shops though, and rarely spent more than $20 or $30 for my suits.
Not Made Of Money has an article with tips for inexpensive stocking stuffers. Our son will have a stocking this year (courtesy of his grandmother) but we won’t worry much about putting stuff in it, since he’s only seven months old. But if you have older kids, check out this article.
The Frugal Duchess has written about Swaptree, where you can get free books, music, movies, and games. Sounds like a winner to me.
Tight Fisted Miser has an article about frugality as the new trend. I agree that it’s a lot more common these days to see people starting to adopt the sort of habits that we frugal folk have had for years. But I think Andy makes a good point when he says “My guess is that once the economy recovers the vast majority of these people will abandon their frugal ways and return to being regular consumers.” But there will be a few who retain the frugal spirit, and it will stand them in good stead regardless of what the economy is doing. It’s ironic that my husband and I were struggling mightily five years ago, when the economy was booming, and now we’re doing ok financially during a recession. I think that the frugal habits we developed during our own hard times make it a lot easier for us to weather a recession.
Almost Frugal has a very insightful post about how becoming frugal is like quitting smoking. Even for those of us who have never smoked, this article resonates – we’ve all encountered situations that are harder than we expect, and where the payoffs don’t happen overnight. Good reading.
Have a great frugal week!