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Simple Savings For December

It's often the little things that will make or break a budget.  Here are some things we did in October to save (or not spend) money.

If you are new to our Simple Savings posts, this is where I share all (or all that I can remember) the things we did to save money the previous month. These are usually very simple things and yet when you add them up, they can make or break your budget.

But here’s the deal, the things I share are things we’ve done, not things I think everyone should do. You’ll also notice that we do some of the same simple things each month to save money, nothing super exciting, just little things that help us out. You’ll also notice that there are some frugal things that we don’t do, or at least don’t do every month. Sometimes there is a time/money trade off and saving time wins out.

I hope you’ll be inspired to look for simple ways to save money in your life and share some of those things with others and in the comments of these posts.

December is hard isn’t it? There are so many activities, merry making and giving opportunities that it can really wreck havoc on your budget. Here are some things we did to enjoy the month and still stay within our budget. 

SchneiderPeeps - The January Garden in zone 9 is full of green and looks like many zones late spring garden. We are harvesting vegetables such as cabbage, kale, cauliflower and swiss chard.{This post contains affiliate links; you can learn more on our disclosure page.}

We continue to get the majority of our vegetables from the garden. I’m so thankful to be able to harvest all winter long. Some of us are getting a little tired of kale, chard and Chinese cabbage but I just keep reminding them that it will make the squash and zucchini all the better when we have it this summer. 

We have a plan that we follow every year for gift giving – it’s boring but it’s meaningful and it enables us to bless those in our lives. We gave jam and jelly to all of the AWANA workers at our church. Most of these people have been serving in this ministry for years and most no longer have children that are young enough to participate. They give each week with no thought of getting, so it’s nice to bless them with a little “thank you” gift for the holidays. 

SchneiderPeeps - How to cover a frame with fabric. This is a great way to dress up a thrifted frame and make a silhouette gift just a litte more special - especially for a girl.

Phoebe made a silhouette for her ballet company little sister. For Benjamin and Esther we took photos of their Nutcracker groups and made foam ornaments with them as a little gift for each child in their respective groups. I’m going to be honest here, the pressure (real or perceived) to participate in these kind of mass gift exchanges is sometimes hard. We could easily spend over $100 buying little gifts for kids who already have plenty just because everyone is giving gifts. I don’t really want to participate in the excess but I do want to share a memorable time with them – so we give photos. We give the directors and stage manager jams and jellies.

Knowing that the weekend we had The Nutcracker was going to be super busy and I wouldn’t be around to do much cooking, I bought several loaves of french bread and sandwich meat. We’re not huge sandwich eaters but when it’s a choice between sandwiches and nothing, sandwiches it is. For the days that the kids had three performances we had the option to buy lunches at $5 each. We chose to pack our lunches instead at a substantial savings. 

I gave three haircuts (I say that every month, don’t I?) 

We used 76kwh less this December than we did last December. The average temperature for this November was 58 degrees and last November was 52 degrees. Our heater is on natural gas instead of electricity but we did run our a/c one day because it was so humid and muggy. I don’t think the AtticFoil will make much of a difference until it gets hot here again. There is a way we can install the foil on the floor of the attic over areas of the house that tend to get cold but since we only use our heat a few days a month I don’t think I can convince Carl to do that right now. Here is our post on how to install Attic Foil.

SchneiderPeeps -Hot Sandwiches make a fast and frugal dinner.  Add some soup for a real treat.

For Christmas Eve and Christmas Day it was just our family (we celebrated with extended family on Jan. 1 and 3rd) so we chose to keep it simple and have hot sandwiches for Christmas Eve supper and a pot roast for Christmas Day. Both are fairly inexpensive to make and super easy.

I made a big batch of beans at the beginning of the month and mainly used it for bean burritos for lunches. I’ve found that if I can keep our lunches very frugal (bean burritos, lentils and rice and peanut butter sandwiches with homemade bread) it allows us to have things like grass fed beef and pastured chicken for dinner. Since our garden lettuce is doing so well we are also having a big salad with lunch and dinner. 

I’ve decided to no longer buy my beloved Aveeno moisturizer. I’m using the products that I bought for our DIY Spa Sets and making lotion. I’ll let you know when I get just the right recipe. The Aveeno is $16 a 4 oz bottle and lasts about 3 months. This first lotion I made costs about $3 for 8 oz. I’m really liking it right now but I reserve the right to change my mind as time goes on. 😉 

My sister gave me and Phoebe make up for Christmas. She does all kinds of CVS and Walgreens deal shopping and gets great buys on make up. So each year Phoebe and I get eye shadows, mascara, eyeliner, blush and lipsticks for our gifts. It’s great. 

SchneiderPeeps - Get Well Soon Spray is a antimicrobial that can help you fight viruses in your home.  Essential oils are powerful and should be handled with care, this post also has some safety guidelines.

We had a few colds in December so I immediately started everyone on elderberry syrup and those that were sick also got some TriLight Herbs. I also made an antimicrobial spray from items I already had on hand. No one got sick enough to go to the doctor or need any pharmaceuticals (have you seen the price of over the counter medication lately? Yikes!). 

I made my first batch of sauerkraut. It was really good. I’m working on getting more probiotics in our diet without relying on supplements. Much of my family does not like the vinegar taste so I’ll be fermenting different things to try to find someone thing for everyone. 

And last but not least, we rented textbooks for Josiah and Gabriel’s college classes instead of buying them. Renting isn’t always cheaper but it usually is and I don’t have to worry about selling the book back. We just keep the box it came in and at the end of the semester put it back in the box and ship it back. We’ve rented from Amazon and BookRenter with equal success. I know there are other textbook renting sites but these two are consistently the least expensive for me. 

What have you done to save (or not spend) money lately? 

Thanks for sharing with your friends!

Leigh MacDonald

Saturday 24th of January 2015

The extent to which you document your savings is inspiring! I really should be keeping better track.

Angi Schneider

Saturday 24th of January 2015

Thanks, it really helps me remember that all these little choices we make add up to really big things.

Charissa

Friday 23rd of January 2015

This is a great idea to record all the savings you had in a given month. I will cut items out of my budget, but should write down specific examples of where I saved. Are you motivated to try and save more the following month? I would probably start looking at it as a game to see how much I could save.

Angi Schneider

Saturday 24th of January 2015

It's nice to know where the savings some from each month and it really is a series of small choices. We don't have a set goal that we try to save each month from each category right now. Our budget is pretty lean with things that are adjustable (like groceries) and so I enjoy the freedom of staying within that budget.

Rhonda Crank

Wednesday 21st of January 2015

Thanks Angi for sharing these simple and frugal tips. I know what you mean by getting tired of the garden greens, and the thought of fresh spring veggies is delicious! Aren't we blessed to live in the South where we can have a year round garden? I know what you'll say, "Yes Mam we are!"

Angi Schneider

Wednesday 21st of January 2015

Yes Mam, we are! ;-) Eating seasonally like this truly gives us a an appreciation for all the fruits and vegetables. We are so blessed to just be able to run outside to get our vegetables. A friend told another friend that I had an HEB (our local grocery store) in my back yard. Not yet, but hopefully one day.

tessa

Wednesday 21st of January 2015

These are great, Angi! I love how real these examples are and I appreciate you sharing your day to day decisions in frugality!

Angi Schneider

Wednesday 21st of January 2015

Thanks, Tessa. My hope is that this series will help people think about the little things in their budget.