Monthly Archives: October 2013

5 Ways To Save At Christmas

christmas savings

‘Tis the season to be jolly, right? Well, for some people, ’tis the season to go broke, drive up the credit card debt, and have to dip into savings. Here are ten ways to save yourself from plundering into financial unknown at the most wonderful time of the year.

1.  Downsize

Many years ago, our family decided the adult children would stop buying gifts for each other. We have a large family and it was becoming financially difficult for most of us to keep buying. We adopted the motto, “Christmas gifts are for the kids.” We buy for the children and our parents. This allowed us to focus on the kiddos, food, and holiday spirit.

2. Mindset Change

This one is tough for many, but Christmas is not about buying gifts and breaking the bank. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, celebration of family, friends, neighbors, and giving love, joy, and a small token gift like the wise men gave at the birth of Jesus.

Our media and culture has taken Christmas and turned it into, “cash in their pockets,” with no mention of Jesus, Love, Joy, or Family. They simply want you to break the bank, spend that Christmas bonus, and buy the “hottest new toys, electronics, expensive clothing, gift wrap, and all that goes with it.”

It is time to break the cycle! Look at consumerism as the anti-Christmas. Think of frugality, homemade gifts, and time spent with family and loved ones as Christmas.

3. Shop Smart (and early!!)

I always joke, Christmas shopping for me starts on January 1st! It is true. The stores are clearing out merchandise at a super fast (and cheap) rate right after the holiday. Throughout the year, toy stores and big chains run huge clearances on items. Here is my method for gift clearance shopping throughout the year.

  • Right after Christmas – stock up on tissue paper, wrapping paper, ribbon, Christmas ornaments, and any other holiday items needed.
  • Right after Christmas – head to the toy store and grab some clearance items for next year, for birthdays, and some general gifts to put in our gift bin. This is a great time to stock up on stocking stuffers for the next year.
  • Each month – stash away some cash in an envelope for Christmas and birthdays. When I know a store is running a clearance sale, I dip into the fund.
  • Christmas in July – July seems to be the month for moving in new toys and items in preparation for the upcoming holiday season (they begin early) so many stores have large clearance sales in July. I was able to buy pricey, name brand toys for $4 and under at Toys R Us this summer!
  • Cyber Monday – for the past few years, I have gotten some amazing deals on Amazon and other websites. This is especially good for big items. Last year my husband bought me a Kindle Fire on Amazon at a big discount. I typically buy my husband three or four Xbox games at around 60% or more.
  • Avoid Black Friday like the Black Plague! Many people LOVE the game that is Black Friday, if you do; go for it! I find it too stressful and the sales are not there.

4. Start a Tradition

Make a change and suggest to your family a new tradition, such as everyone receives a handmade gift, start a caroling group, meet up at the local food pantry and give your time, or throw a Christmas potluck gathering. That options are endless. This year we all decided our children receive too many gifts. We are going to set up a simple name drawing system for our children. They will each pick the name of a cousin and buy a very special gift. Our hopes is to downsize the amount of gifts they receive, teach them to give, and maybe give them a lesson on spending. 🙂

5. Relax

This one is important. Stress causes us to react and a knee-jerk reaction while in a store full of grumpy people at Christmas time, can cost a lot of money. Try to avoid shopping when the stress meter is high. If the holidays are causing you a lot of stress and a lack of joy, simply take a break and find where the stress is coming from. Once determined, address the issue.

It is my hope some of the above suggestions save you some hard-earned cash at Christmas time. It is most important to enjoy the holiday season without the worry of debt and draining the bank account.

What are some of your saving methods at Christmas?

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

The Lesson

be still

Alas, I have hit the 40 week mark in my pregnancy and I am still pregnant with Baby Morgan. Baby Morgan is fully content to continue his/her residency within the womb and while I am happy with this, I am also very uncomfortable and ready to begin real labor.

For those that don’t know, I have been in simulated or false labor since 32 weeks. I have had full days of contractions and labor symptoms only to have them vanish and come back days later. The most frustrating part is the lack of understanding many people have. They think, oh,  false labor. No big deal. Right? Wrong. False labor is much like real labor, minus the effacement and cervical dilation. Thankfully, without the effacement and dilation, one cannot be in pre-term labor. This scare became real for us just after 32 weeks while on vacation in New Hampshire and while we soon learned we were not in danger of pre-term labor, the false labor continues to this day. I have asked the Lord more times than not, “Why does this have to be hard?” He always says to me, “It doesn’t have to be.”

Another frustrating part is the “advice” others have. The say, “Oh, stress is bringing this on, go relax somewhere.” They say, “Be patient. The baby will come when the baby wants to.” They tell me, “Stop worrying so much, you’re such a worrier.” “Don’t think about the fact that you are moving to a new house. Focus on the baby but don’t focus too much because the stress will cause contractions.” Truthfully, hearing these “bits of advice,” while coming from well-meaning people, only adds to my stress levels. I have often bowed my head and asked God, “Why do people blame me? Why do they want to make this hard for me?” He always says to me, “They love you.”

False labor has caused us to head to the hospital more times than once to check the baby, to check on unknown bleeding, to check on possible amniotic leakage, and just 36 hours ago, we were at the hospital in what I remember as, full-blown labor only to find out my uterus was in full-blown panic mode and not actually doing much. I have asked the Lord, many times, “Why is this happening?” He always says to me, “Trust me.”

Running to the hospital in the middle of the night, uprooting our three-year old from his bed, and the simple exhaustion of it all has been tough. Coming home to a house full of boxes, working on the logistics of moving, trying to keep up care with the house, bills, and family, has been tough. Much of the past eight weeks has been quite tough. There are times I bow my head and ask God, “Why does this have to be so hard?” He gently says to me, “Megan, there is someone fighting a far harder battle.” It is true. Someone is fighting a far harder battle and while it is important not to diminish our own feelings based on what others are going through, it is far more important to pray and send love to those fighting that hard battle than it is to wallow in our own battle. It is important to put all of our worries and stress and frustration at the Lord’s feet so we have the strength to pray and love and hope for those fighting their hard battle.

When I step back and look at the whole picture, I realize just how  blessed I am. While everything might look like a hodgepodge of life thrown into one box, shaken up a bunch of times, and scattered at my feet, I know I have it easy. I am blessed with a beautiful family, family and friends who care for and love us, a brand new baby in my womb and heart, and the gift of living my life with those I love.

We all have much to learn and while our battles teach, guide, and shape us, it is the struggles of others that truly humble us. They force us to step outside of our own lives and give us a chance to pray for the renewal, comfort, and the wisdom of God for those fighting the hardest battle of all.

I know at the end of the day, God is ultimately telling me, “Do not lose yourself in your own battle for those fighting their hardest battle, need you.”


Blessings, Joy, and Love,

The Joyful Homemaker