A Minimalist Holiday Season

For the longest time, Christmas stressed me out.  Then last year came, and Mr. Money had just lost his job, and we were on no-spending mode so we really didn’t do too much as far as gifts went.  This year we’re dealing with a huge pay cut, so we’re being very careful with how we spend the money we have budgeted for Christmas.  I’ve also decided that instead of being stressed out about buying gifts for everyone is not something I’m going to do this year.

Mr. Money and I don’t typically buy each other extravagant birthday, anniversary, or Christmas presents.  A lot of the time we don’t really need anything so to go out and buy something just because feels silly to me.  I try to keep our clutter to a minimum, so buying some tchotchke does not bring a smile to my face.  Last year Mr. Money bought me one present: a Home Alone DVD, and that meant more to me than if he had bought me a diamond ring.  I love that movie, and it was such a thoughtful gift!

Penny is going to be almost two (what!!) at Christmas time so she still doesn’t really fully grasp the idea of presents.  I’m sure she’s going to enjoy opening them, but whether she has 3 presents or 30 I think she’ll be happy.  For that reason, I’ve decided I’d like to get her one big present (probably a nice doll if I can decide which one) and then some accessories.  I’m going to make some cloth diapers for her doll, a baby carrier she can wear her baby in, and I’ll knit her some mittens too.  I know she’ll be happy with all that, and I won’t have a million plastic toys taking over my house.  I’ve already done the great toy purge in anticipation of some new ones making their way into our house.

As far as other presents go, I’m planning on knitting some items for people, making some wool dryer balls and figuring out some other things that Penny and I can make.  I always feel like I am the worst gift-giver so I’m trying to put a lot of thought into things we can make that will be nice and others can enjoy.  Sometimes I feel like people don’t appreciate hand made items and think it’s a crappy gift.  I’ve got to stop thinking that way- I know that when I receive a hand made bar of soap or hand knit item I cherish it because I know the work involved in it.  Someone invested their time into making something for me!

I hate being stressed out, and Christmas surely can do that to people.  This year I hope to avoid most of it by getting everything done early so I’ve got time to enjoy the season.  I can’t believe there is a little more than a month left until Christmas.  I know if we buckle down we’ll be able to get everything in order and then enjoy the rest of the season.

How do you avoid stress at the holidays?

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I Don’t Have a Cell Phone

I left my job at the bank in January of 2012 before Penny was born. Mr. Money was working for a restaurant and they provided him with a cell phone (an iPhone) that they paid the bill for.  When he lost his job, he obviously lost the previously paid-for cell phone plan.  This left us with a dilemma: we needed to figure out what we were going to do about our cell phone service.  Prior to him having that job, we both had Motorola Razrs (ha!) that we had on a family plan with Verizon.  The phones served their purpose and we had a basic plan. We’ve thought about starting our own business and then we could use both phones for that, but once we realized the importance of business loans we squashed that idea.

Mr. Money became spoiled by the iPhone and wanted to keep the phone active.  We checked with various providers and the plans were around $80 a month, a lot more than I wanted to spend. We discussed putting both of us on a family plan again but I was hesitant to sign a two year contract.  That feels like debt to me, and I don’t like contracts or debt.  The best idea was for Mr. Money to take over my phone number and use his iPhone.

We ended up going with a prepaid option that costs about $45 a month and has unlimited talk, text, and web.  He was able to keep his iPhone so there was no cost for the phone.  The service works great and the only thing we have to do is remember to refill the phone each month.  He receives a text when it’s seven days from coming due, so that is very helpful.

I have no had a cell phone for about nine months now.  I won’t lie, there are some days that I would love to have a smart phone so I could look up something (remember when I was considering getting an iPhone?) or be able to text a friend.  Overall though, it doesn’t bother me and the savings are definitely worth it.

We have a home phone, internet access, and I have an old iPhone I use as an iPod sometimes so it’s not like I need a cell phone.  It is kind of weird to meet new friends and they’ll ask for my number to text and I have to explain that I don’t have a cell phone.  Sometimes I do worry about not having one for emergencies, like when I’m out shopping with Penny, but a lot of the time my sister or Mr. Money are with me so no big deal.  I’ve considered going with a prepaid phone but right now I don’t want to have the added expense so I just do without.

I’m sure I’m in the minority of thirty year olds that don’t have a cell phone.  I figure that people lived without them for so many years that I am able to as well.  I’m not against cell phones, but right now I feel like it’s something that I can do without to save my family money.

Could you live without a cell phone?

 

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Surviving a Pay Cut

Last November Mr. Money lost his job.  Luckily, he was able to find a great job that paid really well and actually provided benefits. Last week we received the unfortunate news that he will have to take an hourly position for 40 hours a week at a huge pay cut.  I’ve been an emotional wreck for a few days, but I’m trying to see the positive in the situation and try to do something about it.  I feel if I have a plan that will make me feel better.  Here are some of the things I’m going to be doing:

-Going over our budget and getting back on the bare bones budget.  🙁  This bums me out because I liked having wiggle room, saving for retirement, and being able to pay our bills.  With Mr. Money’s new pay, we’re either going to be really close or short with being able to pay our bills.  I’ll know more once he gets that first lower paycheck.

-I’m going to be working more at freelance writing to see if I an generate more income this way.  I could go try to find a job outside of the house, but with the small salary I’d make it wouldn’t be worth it after we had to pay daycare expenses for Penny.  I’m really hoping that I can help bring in some money this way.

-We’ll be making more of our beauty products and cleaning products. I actually used my laundry detergent recipe the other day and made a batch.  It’s been working well. I’ve also started using vinegar in a fabric softener ball to help the detergent.  I’ve gotten used to buying expensive natural beauty products like toothpaste, shampoo, etc and I’ll have to stop that.  I think I’m going to come up with a different toothpaste recipe and start doing No Poo again.  I’ve been using baking soda and vinegar to clean pretty much everything in the house so that won’t really change.

-Line drying our clothes is back in full swing. When it’s nice outside I am able to hang out clothes out to dry.  It’s nice because the sun also helps remove stains.  When I’m worried about rain, I hang dry in my basement. Fun times.  The towels are crunchy but Mr. Money said he actually likes them better that way. Weirdo. 😉

-Stop paying extra on the mortgage and put retirement contributions on hold for the time being.  We were putting an extra $50 a month on the mortgage and it was lovely to see the balance go down more each month, but if we can’t do it right now we can’t do it.  Also, not saving for retirement scares me but I can’t worry about it.  We’ll catch up soon, I’m sure.

Hopefully we’ll be able to make it work on his new salary.  We’re going to do everything we can to live on it and I hope we’re successful!  At least we weren’t used to an extravagant lifestyle so this isn’t going to be too much of a shock.  I’m also very, very thankful that he still has a job!

Do you have any tips for surviving a pay cut?

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