This is a series in the style of The Frugal Girl’s Five Frugal Things, where I post weekly about what I’ve done lately to save money and make things stretch in order to further our financial goals, which currently include us paying off a decent hunk of debt. I encourage you to play along and post your own weekly frugal wins in the comments section below!
I feel like every year, the second Thanksgiving is over, it seems like it’s game on until the end of the year — like no matter what, life just seems to speed up double pace, and the calendar starts to fill up more and more, and I’m constantly left wondering where the time went. This year might feel *slightly* less hectic because we’re under strict orders from multiple doctors to not take Naomi out among crowds or large family events (which automatically removes us from several of our usual holiday things), but there’s still so much to plan and do and enjoy.
One great thing about flower farming being our main gig though is that December is a natural slow point in our year — we’re not quite starting seeds yet, but we’re beyond the ability to do any more outside prep until spring since the ground is frozen. So although I have been working on some behind-the-scenes stuff, like our new business website and opening up our bouquet subscriptions for next year in case people want them for Christmas gifts, I’ve overall had much less traditional “work” on my plate.
Anyway, that’s all to say that this last week, we’ve managed to keep plenty busy but not have much to show for it.
And that’s totally okay.
Our Thanksgiving was particularly lovely, since it was *just* small enough (and old enough) of a group that we could still attend, and we didn’t take it for granted. With Naomi needing some special considerations this winter due to her congenital heart defects, it kind of feels like COVID all over again. But we are grateful that we haven’t had to limit ALL contact and that we’ve still had plenty of social opportunities, which I’m much less likely to take for granted after what we all went through during the pandemic.
Anyway, I hope you all had a lovely holiday, that you have some Christmas traditions and experiences that you’re looking forward to, and that you were able to stay on budget over Black Friday weekend 🙂
Here are some of our frugal wins for the last week:
Note: There may be affiliate links to books, products, or services mentioned in this post.
We cut the non-working lights off our old Christmas tree + put on new ones
We’ve been slowly but steadily putting up our Christmas decor over the last week and a half or so, and one of the last pieces was our tree. My husband and I bought our tree the very first year we were married, so we’ve had it for 12 years now. The lights went out on it a few years back, and we’ve been making do with some of the random white Christmas lights we happened to have around, but it was constantly driving me crazy because the lights were two different shades/tones of white (one cool, one warm). So after last Christmas, I went ahead and bought two new strands of LED lights on clearance.
Even though our tree is looking a little old and worse for wear, it wasn’t in the budget to get a new one this year, so we made do by having Matt cut off all the old lights (no small feat, as it took him a couple hours at least) and then re-strung the new ones on there. And with all the ornaments on it and the new lights, it’s looking almost as good as new.
I took advantage of several Black Friday sales online
I’m not a huge Black Friday shopper by any stretch of the imagination, but I tend to just order most of my Christmas gifts on that day anyway, so I tend to get some good deals by default. I linked a few of them in my Loving and Learning Lately round-up post that I did last week.
With every purchase I made that had Rakuten or Coupert giving me cash back offers, I made sure to take advantage of those. Sam’s Club was (and still is, I think!) doing a 10% cash back offer on a ton of different things (not just new memberships), so I was able to get 10% cash back on the two or three bigger gifts I bought online there PLUS some online groceries I ordered!
We said yes to an offer of hand-me-down bikes for our boys!
My sister and her family are avid bikers (multiple of their family members do competitive races), and they had two small bikes that their youngest kids had outgrown that they offered to us for free. Now, these are no yard sale bikes, or the latest deal at Walmart — these are fancy imported European bikes that they could have totally sold for plenty of cash on Facebook Marketplace, but that they offered to us instead.
Seriously, we have the best people in our lives, and our family members and friends have been unbelievably generous with us this year especially. Our boys are going to love these! We haven’t figured out if we’re going to make them a part of their Christmas gifts or what, but we’re grateful to have them nonetheless, especially since our boys only had balance bikes before.
I took my daughter out rollerblading for some (free) one-on-one time
In times past, my husband and I have been on-and-off about taking our kids out for one-on-one “dates,” and our oldest, who’s 8, has been asking impatiently when we’re going to start those up again. Wanting to take advantage of the last really beautiful autumn day, I told her I would finally take her out to a local park so that we could start teaching her how to really rollerskate (since she got a pair of skates last Christmas but hasn’t taken them out past our back deck in all this time). Matt had kept his old rollerblades from his teenage years, so I strapped those on (we wear nearly the same size of shoe), and we went for it.
Everything was going great (and I’d totally forgotten how much I love rollerblading, seeing as how I hadn’t done it in probably 20 years), and then I made the mistake of taking Raven down a slight incline (very, very slight). I probably should have given her more practice/warning about what to expect and do, but she totally panicked and brought us both crashing down hard on the pavement, which left me with a terrible tailbone injury that still is working on healing.
But the frugal thing about it was that the date cost us nothing, and since I didn’t bother to go to a doctor after to see if it was broken or not (since the recovery/treatment is the same either way), I guess I saved money there, too 🙂
We cleaned out one of the heater vents
This was an accidental frugal win. Raven was crying because one of her brothers threw one of her cherished prizes from school into one of our air vents in our front living room, and she was insistent that we try and get it out. This particular air vent is awkwardly placed under our built-in bookshelves by our fireplace, so it’s really hard to get to. After grabbing some kitchen tongs, we managed to wedge ourselves under the shelves just enough to start fishing some stuff out as we came across it…and boy, did we ever come across a lot of stuff! A missing shoe, several toys, a stuffed animal or two…it was a veritable treasure trove of lost goods in there.
When we finally got it all out, it was no wonder that the front room seemed instantly warmer over the next several days — the heated air actually had a chance of escaping now!
Other Frugal Wins:
- I got some Kindle books on Black Friday of titles I’ve been wanting to read for awhile, which were deeply discounted
- Even though I had cash to pay for all our huge flower farm expenses for 2024 upfront, I decided to charge them to my cash back credit card and pay it off immediately after. Doing this meant I had $160 of free money, which I just used to go towards the balance on the card. That’s basically like getting $160 just to go towards buying more garden roses, right? 🙂
- I gave Matt and our boys haircuts (this is the home haircutting kit we use; it’s literally saved us hundreds of dollars by now)
- I was assigned to bring mashed potatoes to our extended family’s Thanksgiving gathering, which is literally about the most frugal dish I could have made
- We filled up at the cheapest gas station (twice) on our way to and from our Thanksgiving celebration two hours away
How was your Thanksgiving? Did you take advantage of any deals on Black Friday?