Christmas-Frugal Style

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Christmas is now less than 5 weeks away. Wow! I’ve not bought the first gift. I am a horrible procrastinator and my family is horrible at letting me know what they want for gifts each year. The combination of these two things is chaos nearly every Christmas season.

It’s also been an especially expensive year. I probably should stop saying “especially” because I honestly feel like I write that every year. I guess that’s the downfall of having an older car and condo. The good news is that my kids are grown and although I still buy gifts, I don’t go as overboard as I used to. That takes a bit of the pressure off.

Frugal Ideas for Paying for Christmas 

I save up my various rewards points through the year. I have a credit card that pays some cash back every month, I have shop kick points that can be turned into gift cards that I use to buy Christmas gifts, and a couple of other smaller survey sites I can cash in. My insurance company usually pays out a little holiday dividend every December that is also earmarked for Christmas gifts. Continue reading

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2021 Sprint to the Finish

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How is it that there’s only 7 weeks left in 2021? This year has really flown by. 2020 was such a crazy year that had us all so isolated and stressed. I think many of us really had big hopes and dreams for a better 2021. And as life has opened back up a bit more with the loosening of Covid-restrictions, I do think it was a better year in a lot of ways.

My Current Situation

I am currently sitting in a hotel room on a mini-vacation as I write this post out. I’ve been working crazy hours. Although our office never closed, there was initially some schedule shifting so that we were isolating from each other. Between alternating days in the office, catching Covid in March, and a lot more work created because of various Covid-relief funds coming into our office, it has put me WAY behind. Between a scheduled day off this week and a holiday closing the office one day, I decided to take a personal day on top of those and enjoy a 5-day weekend.

I’m splurging on a hotel for myself for 2 days and then I’ll stay with my son at his apartment for another 2 days before headed back home Sunday. My hotel splurge is being used as a mini writing retreat and for some overall relaxation. I have access to a gym, pool, my laptop and plenty of stuff to read. Most importantly, it gives me some quiet time to reflect on how this year went on a personal level for me and think about what I want for this next year.

Reflections

Part of my reflection process is looking at the goals I set for 2021 and see how I’m progressing towards them. I won’t lie, it was a bit of a rough process.

I set some lofty financial goals that I am not going to meet (unless that Powerball hits in the next 7 weeks). I’ve increased my emergency fund a bit but made negative process on paying down my credit card debt. An expensive air conditioner repair, new tires for my car and several other pricey car repairs killed me this year. And honestly, although I plan on reduced Christmas spending this year, I’ll probably still be dipping into the emergency fund a bit to avoid any more damage to the credit cards.

Progress on my writing/blogging goals has been abysmal. I have less than a third of the views I wanted on my blog this year and less than a quarter of subscribers I was aiming for. This post will be the 13th post this year, a far cry from the 48 I was shooting for this year.

Hmmm…seems like a year of failures…or was it?

I will easily meet my reading goal of 24 books. I did submit 4 pieces of writing for publication consideration. I’ve taken a couple trips to see Michael at his new place, I’ve been able to tag along on a friend’s camping trip, had a couple of dinners out with friends again, and I’m enjoying this miniature writing retreat. My boys have both graduated from college and they’re working hard on their careers.

The Take-Away

Life is all about balance. I’ll be honest, this is something I struggle with constantly. I could have kept up my crazy work pace and skipped this vacation and saved quite a bit of money but what would that have done to my mental health? My father-in-law died unexpectedly a few weeks ago and there’s nothing like losing someone you love and adore to put life in to perspective. So I’ll take this time for me, and I’ll enjoy my visit with my son, and I’ll keep making big goals for myself. Maybe one day I’ll get to the end of the year and look back and think, Wow, I hit every goal I set for myself this year! I hope I don’t though because if I do then I probably lowered my goals/aspirations and I’m not okay with that.

Are any of you reflecting on this past year? Are you getting ready to set next year’s resolutions or goals? 

 

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Dream Homes

dream condo

If you’re at all familiar with me, you’ll know I love HGTV…almost as much as my Hallmark channel. One of my favorite shows on HGTV is My Lottery Dream Home with David Bromstad. It’s basically House Hunters for recent lottery winners.

Part of the fun is watching a random episode and trying to guess which season it is by the different number of tattoos David Bromstad has because he’s added quite a few over the 7 seasons that it has been on. The best part of the show for me though is imagining the type of house I would shop for if money was no option. I also like guessing who is going to blow through their lottery winnings and who won’t. C’mon people, if you were about to be evicted from your 1 bedroom apartment and you’re shopping for a $900,000 home with your $1 million dollar lottery ticket….guess what? You’re going to end up right back in that 1 bedroom apartment sooner rather than later because you still have no concept of how to budget your money! Continue reading

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Making Time

Busy lady

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Life is busy. I think more of us than not live lives filled with crazy work schedules, tons of extra-curriculars (especially if you have kids), and lots of stress because of these crazy schedules. Being asked how you are and responding Crazy busy, used to be a badge of honor almost. I think society is shifting a bit though. I’m not sure if it’s because of Covid or something else but I think it’s good that people are wanting to slow down the pace of their lives.

I have lived a crazy busy life for just about as long as I can remember. I blamed it on being a single parent for awhile. Working full-time and then juggling in all the kid responsibilities was hectic. This got even more crazy once the kids got into sports and other extracurriculars like junior firefighters. It seemed like I lived at either the office, in my car, or on the sidelines of a sports field for several years. Continue reading

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My Fall Bucket List and Hygee

hygge

Fall starts in a little over 3 weeks…September 22nd this year to be exact. I can’t even express how happy this makes me. Fall is my very favorite time of year. Jeans, boots, sweaters, bonfires, roasted marshmallows, colorful foliage, hot lattes and cider. I think you get the drift. Fall is also a great time to practice Hygge.

What is Hygge

First off, if you’re not familiar with hygge then you’re most likely reading/saying it wrong. It’s actually pronounced Hoo-gah. 

But what is hygge? I couldn’t find just one definition that seemed to fit so I’ll give you my definition. It’s a Danish word that basically describes a way of living that embraces being cozy and calming and living more simply. Fall just seems to be a perfect time to slow down and start appreciating a slower life pace. Continue reading

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Life Clutter

messy desk

I was finally able to visit one of my relatives a few weeks ago. It’s probably been a year and a half or longer since I’d been able to do this with the whole Covid thing. It was a very quick but nice visit. As I walked back into my condo Saturday evening, my first thought was Man, I need to clean and organize my house so it looks like Aunt Sue’s.

I will be the first to admit that I did not get the “clean and organized” gene in our family. I want to be clean and organized. Walking into friends or family’s houses that are like that makes me feel calm and relaxed. Sadly, that’s not been motivation enough for me to change my messy habits.

My house is not the only thing that’s cluttered though. In fact, I would even venture to guess that the frequent status of my house is a by-product of other things in my life that are cluttered. I suspect that if I straighten out some other areas, I’ll find it easier to deal with the physical clutter going on. Continue reading

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Creating Good Habits For Success

Creating habits

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Do you ever think about habits? A habit is basically something that you do often or regularly enough that you can often do it without thinking. Your morning routine is a good example, most of us probably perform the same or at least a similar list of activities each morning. My list includes showering, brushing my teeth, scooping the litter box and grabbing my large Diet coke from Dairy Queen on the way to the office. Okay, Dairy Queen isn’t really on the way to the office but it’s the route I take, lol.

Habits can be good or bad. Lately I’ve noticed that I have developed some really bad habits. I’ve been working way too many hours, which leads to me being starved by the time I leave the office so I either grab some fast food on the way home (expensive and bad for me) or eat a frozen pizza or bowl of cereal when I get home. It gets worse…then I veg out in front of the tv until midnight before finally heading to bed to do it all over again the next day. Here’s the result of these bad habits: I’m busting the budget eating out, I’ve gained 25 lbs, my writing goals have gone by the wayside, and I’m burnt out at my job. Continue reading

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How Do You Spend Your Money?

budgeting

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Personal finance is a simple subject and a complicated one. Obviously there are some basics that everyone should try to apply in their financial lives. Create a budget so you know where your money is going, live within your means, have an emergency fund, and saving for the future are just a few that immediately come to mind.

I love to talk about budgets because I firmly believe that everyone needs one. Some people are resistant to the idea of a budget because they think of it as something that stops them from spending on things they want. That’s the wrong way to look at a budget though. A budget is a good way to manage your finances so that you have money to direct towards the things important in your life. Continue reading

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Embracing Change

change

I DON’T LIKE CHANGE

If you even remotely know me, you know this fact about me. I am a creature of habit and like to plan everything. I am the master of the list. This year I bought 3 wall calendars, my son bought me a planner for Christmas, and I bought two more for myself. I go to Dairy Queen first thing every morning for my large diet coke. 

We were talking about change just today at my book club. Our book club has been in existence for 12 years now. Some of us are original members, some have dropped out, and some have joined over the years. One of our long-standing members is moving out of state though so I was teasing her and asking if we were just going to have her join in via Zoom from her new home now. Someone jokingly said, you know Holly doesn’t like change.

My current job came about when a friend called me one day and said, I know you don’t like change but listen to this opportunity you might be interested in…

As I said earlier….it’s not a secret that I’m not a fan of change. Continue reading

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Our Life Stories Are Not The Same

Have you ever fallen into the comparison trap? That’s when you’re going along in life and then you see someone else with something you really want or doing something that you really want to do and suddenly you’re frustrated with yourself or your life. I love me some social media at times (mostly to keep up with family and friends and posting ridiculous amounts of pictures of my boys to drive them crazy) but I do realize that it can trigger some definite comparison envy. Continue reading

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