Thinking About Christmas

We’re exactly three months away from Christmas.  Yikes.  I’m already planning because this is my first Christmas as a stay-at-home mom, and my lack of income is going to make it more interesting to purchase Christmas gifts.  I’m sure we’ll be fine though, and it will just spur me to be more creative.  Here are some things I’m working on to make our Christmas season a good one without over spending!

1. Make gifts. This is an obvious.  I need to get a move on this because if I’m going to knit things, it is going to take time.  And with an 8 month old baby, I’m going to have to find time first!  My plan is to knit a ton of dish cloths while I’m riding in the car and when I have some down time.  I think that will be the easiest.  I’d also like to knit some socks for people and maybe some new cute things for Penny.

2. Swagbucks. Swagbucks is a great way to make a little extra money for me.  What I do is use the search engine every time I need to search for something, and when I accumulate enough Swagbucks I cash them in for $5 Amazon gift cards. I am banking them right now to buy Christmas presents.  I think I may also get some Target gift cards so I can do some shopping in person!  I make sure to do some of the easy things to earn more Swagbucks too.  Sign up and start earning.

3. Doing an activity versus purchasing items for people. One of my best friends has two girls and we were discussing Christmas and how it’s going to be different this year.  We decided that instead of exchanging gifts (since our girls are going to get tons of things from other people any way) we’re going to do a special outing or make a nice dinner and spend time together.  That will be very enjoyable, and will save us each money and clutter.

4. Stashing away a little extra cash whenever I’ve got it. $20 here and there adds up, and I’ve been taking $20 from each paycheck for months now and saving that in our Christmas fund.  Also, when I sell things on Craigslist or online, I separate that money and save it for Christmas.

Have you started thinking about Christmas yet?

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Miscellaneous Thursday

For the past 5 months I’ve been a stay at home mom.  There are a lot of things that I’ve noticed over these past few months about our money spending habits.  Before I quit my job, Mr. Money and I enjoyed eating out frequently.  It was our hobby I guess.  Well, after we had the baby we’d find ourselves so tired that we’d grab take out or just go out for dinner.  Looking over our budget and bank balance, I’ve realized that’s got to change.  We just can’t afford to go out to eat like we used to and still be able to meet our savings goals and stay on budget.  I’m going to make a conscious effort to meal plan a bit better and make sure that we aren’t just being lazy when we go out to eat.  Maybe it would help to have a set night to go out to dinner?

I get the moving itch every few weeks or so.  It is hard having a baby and not being around family!  The reason is probably not what most people assume: I don’t feel overwhelmed taking care of the baby.  I prefer to be the one taking care of her.  I just feel like my family is missing out on watching her grow up and that makes me sad.  Sometimes I dream about Mr. Money finding a new job in Michigan, us selling our house and buying a new one up there with a few acres to grow food and have animals.  That would be fabulous.

We’ve got a nice garden growing this year, and that is thanks to Mr. Money. I can’t wait to be able to eat the yummy veggies right from our backyard. We’ve got squash, green beans, watermelon, tomatoes, red raspberries, carrots, beets, swiss chard, and broccoli growing.  Yay!

I am really enjoying not working outside of the home.  I feel like this was just meant to be and I am happier than I have ever been.  It is worth every sacrifice!

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Our 2012 Budget

For 2012, I wanted to come up with a more accurate budget, seeing that our baby would be born this year and hopefully we’ll be able to control our spending without worrying too much about it. I figured if I budget better, then I’ll hopefully be less stressed about where our money is going. Of course, I’ve also decided I’m not going to be so darn hard on myself because I’ll have a baby and have no clue how that’s going to impact our budget. If it costs us more money than I anticipated, then it does, and I’ll adjust our budget accordingly.

Here’s our 2012 budget:

  • Mortgage- $793.19
  • Escrow- $215.00
  • Energy- $150.00
  • Car insurance- $88.00
  • Verizon- $40.00
  • Cable, phone, internet- $125.00
  • Food- $350.00
  • Retirement- $100.00
  • House Stuff- $50.00
  • Gas- $200.00

Some notes:

The mortgage is just principal and interest.  I used to round the payment up to $800 or so, until I found out that the extra money that I was paying was being applied to the next month’s payment!  Talk about annoying.  To make additional principal payments, I have to mail a separate check to a certain address.  What a pain.

We escrow our taxes and insurance ourselves.  We refinanced our mortgage to a home equity loan a few years ago, and the bank will not escrow for us.  We have a separate escrow account with ING.

The reason our energy category is a flat $150 each month is because we budget for irregular expenses by transferring that amount into a separate account each month.

The Verizon bill includes just my cell phone, as Mr. Money has a phone paid by work.

The car insurance went down a little since last year because the cars are older and so are we!

The cable, phone, and internet may get changed this year.  It seems like that’s a high amount for that.  I’m thinking about switching our phone to something like a Magic Jack since I really like having a home phone, and maybe dropping the cable.

I don’t know if the food budget is a reasonable amount our not.  Guess we’ll see after a few months!

We’ll have to really start saving for retirement ourselves, as I won’t be participating in my 401k plan at work, and Mr. Money’s employer doesn’t offer any retirement savings plan.  I’m sure we’ll figure it out.

The house stuff we’ll have to play it by ear with. We’ve done a lot of work to the house over the past five years, so we’re not anticipating any huge expenses like new flooring, etc.  I would like new counter tops and flooring in my kitchen, but that’s not a necessity so we’ll have to see about that.

Gas will go down from our monthly expenses since I won’t be commuting to work and back every day. Yay!  This might be too much budgeted, but who knows at this point!

Of course, I won’t know how this budget works for us until I’m actually staying at home with the baby.  I’m just glad we’ve got a general idea of where we’d like our money to go.  I feel like there are a few categories I’ve forgotten, but it’s a flexible budget, so that’s okay!

Have you budgeted for 2012?

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