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!
Wow, what a week! So much good, so much hustle and busy-ness and celebrating and driving and family time…so much everything. And thankfully, most of it was really, really wonderful and heartwarming and memory-making, but there’s definitely just a lot of EVERYTHING around the holidays, so I definitely look forward to this week between Christmas and New Year’s, since it gives me some of the down time and reflecting that I so desperately crave the rest of the month (but have a harder time coming by).
This week, I’m focusing on doing as much decluttering as I can to see how far I can make it into my Minimalist by 2024 Challenge. I’d be pretty shocked if I was able to make it through every last area on the list, but I’ve made it through about two-thirds already, and the difference in our home has been astounding. I’m always especially motivated to simplify and declutter right after Christmas just because we are so spoiled and get so much every year, and I’ve also reached a point where I want to have things in my home that I LOVE, not just that suffice. So that means if I have one thing that I love and five other things that serve the same purpose that are just okay, I’m trying to just keep the one I adore and let go of the rest, or at least drastically pare them down.
As I’ve said many times before, going all-in on minimalism is probably the most frugal thing I could ever do since it helps me to able to manage and track and take care of the things we have so much better, which means I’m not constantly going out and buying duplicates or thinking we need more stuff because I don’t actually know everything we currently have…it’s been a huge process for sure, but it’s been one of the best things I could have ever done for both myself and for my family.
I’ll talk more about our Christmas in my upcoming monthly recap/goals post, so for now, I’ll just get on with some of my frugal wins during this very celebratory week:
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We had a (very inexpensive) Winter Solstice celebration
A tradition that our family started more recently (basically since we started flower farming, I believe) was that we now celebrate the Winter Solstice each year with a candlelit dinner. Farming has made me so much more aware of all the seasons and the nuances of each, and the length of daylight hours each day is something I actually pay a lot more attention to now since it affects certain crops that I grow.
Anyway, I’ve always struggled with winter, and so celebrating the Solstice and the returning to gradually longer days is something that I look forward to every year, and I love that it also gives us a chance to really pause in the holiday season and reflect on Jesus, and how He is the bringer of all light. Obviously we do other spiritual things throughout the month that focus on the nativity, but I find that so many of our holiday traditions where we talk about the story of Christ’s birth are often immediately followed up by presents or games or other more traditionally “exciting” things, and so the chance to pause and really reflect is basically gone because the kids are so focused on what’s coming next.
With our Solstice dinner, we purposely make it a quiet affair. There are no presents, no games, no activities — just a quiet dinner by candlelight as a family, where we talk about how Jesus came into the world to bring light to us all, and we reflect on our blessings and gratitude for all we’ve been given.
Honestly, it’s one of the things we do that makes me feel the “Christmas spirit” most of all, and it isn’t even traditionally Christmas-y.
Anyway, we were able to do it very cheaply this year indeed, as we’d been gifted a turkey a few weeks ago, and I already had things on hand to make homemade rolls (gluten-free, of course), mashed potatoes and gravy, and carrots. All we had to buy was a bottle of sparkling apple cider to make our yearly family toast to the lighter days ahead, and we just lit candles we already had on hand. Total cost for this favorite tradition of mine was about $4, unless you count the $15 I spent on fresh flowers at Trader Joe’s so we could enjoy those as a centerpiece throughout all our holiday festivities this week.
I returned a gift I’d accidentally bought a duplicate of
I don’t know if everyone hates making returns as much as I do, but I’ll admit that sometimes, I’ll just try and “find a use” for the thing I really should return instead of going through the hassle of actually returning it, but it’s something I’m trying to be way better about because I know now from long experience that I tend to never actually use the thing — I just end up decluttering it.
I’d accidentally ordered a second copy of the same book from Amazon (I must have added it to my cart twice), but rather than try and justify keeping it or think about who I maybe might gift it to in the future, I just returned it the first opportunity I had when we drove through the nearest big city and got my $12 back.
I skipped using gift tags
When I started wrapping all our gifts, I quickly realized I didn’t have a single gift tag on hand. I debated on whether or not I wanted to run to the store to just pick up some, but I knew that 1) I would buy other things while I was there that I didn’t actually really need, and 2) I could make do without. So I took a Sharpie, wrote who each present was to/from with that, and Christmas was not ruined because of my lack of fancy gift tags.
We escaped the hustle and took a hike
The weather has continued to be strangely warm this winter, and while the flower farmer in me is freaking out internally at the lack of precipitation/consistently cold temps, my mental health has not been complaining about it one bit. The first day the kids had off from school, we took advantage of a particularly sunny day (with highs around 50) and went on a hike. In December!! In a mountain town in Utah!!! It was nuts. And amazing.
Coincidentally, that’s what most of the pics in this post are from.
Anyway, so many holiday things end up costing money (even certain drives to look at particularly dazzling light displays in certain neighborhoods can cost money now), so it was wonderful to just escape the hustle and bustle of crowds and just get out and enjoy nature together, for just the cost of gas to get to our nearby canyon.
Our kids were in heaven, and so were we.
We took advantage of the clearance sales after Christmas
I don’t always hit up the clearance sales after Christmas, but I do try and visit them when we have a genuine use for something that will be there. We’d used up a good portion of all our wrapping paper this year (and I knew I wouldn’t mind having gift tags as an option for future years), so I had Matt pick up some of all of that while he was already out and about.
Other Frugal Wins
- We re-used some bins and buckets we’d gotten Christmas gifts in to organize some other areas in our home
- Matt asked my mom to hem some pants for him that he’d purchased on clearance in a too-long size
- I used a 50% off promo code to get some shirts from my favorite athleisure-wear company (promo code: EARLY50)
- We had our dog Onyx stay with family instead of paying to board him (or paying a neighbor to watch him) when we stayed overnight out of town
- Matt gave Onyx a haircut/groom instead of paying out for one
- I brought out some hand-me-downs from our storage basement for my girls, which reminded me that I don’t, in fact, need to buy them any more clothing — I just need to shop the million bins in our basement that I haven’t looked at in years. (Truth: These bins will be the reason that I don’t fully complete my Minimalist Challenge before the end of the year…there are just SO. MANY.)
How was your Christmas this year? And what do you like to do in this strange week between Christmas and New Year’s?