This year has been a year of many lessons in frugality. While our 2010 family resolution was not intended to be a penny pinching endeavor it has become that and I am very grateful to have had the preparation. In January we never imagined the negative impact that a new teaching contract would have on Andrew's take home pay, nor the sharply rising costs of insurance and food (have you SEEN the price of butter?!) generally.
Like many Americans a single paycheck just isn't cutting it no matter how frugal we try to be. We are blessed to have some savings and I earn a small amount from babysitting which make up for the difference, but savings won't last forever when there is always a deficit. After Christmas I will need to get a part-time job and the necessity frightens me. Going back to work isn't frightening so much as the need to go back to work despite my tireless efforts to reduce our spending. We live very frugally and just within this past year we have let go of a cell phone, new clothes, a car, cable TV, Netflix, eating out, comfortable thermostat settings and taking vacations all in the name of THE BUDGET. The only thing that we haven't cut back on is food but I am not willing to sacrifice the health and happiness of my family and live on beans and rice. Yet...
With these looming financial pressures Christmas appears on the horizon. After figuring out the budget we decided that we would only spend $150 total which is the smallest amount we have ever spent on Christmas in our entire marriage. After the gift giving list was tallied that left only $30 for me and Andrew but we are excited for the challenge and know we can make it work and still have great gifts! How? Nearly all of the gifts we are giving are going to be handmade/secondhand which we have had a lot of practice doing this year! Luckily for Ravenna, I have been collecting her gifts throughout the year at thrift stores and garage sales but her gifts will also not amount to more than $15.
This post is not written to worry anyone (especially our families) about our family, but to honestly state that we understand the financial pressures of a down economy very keenly; we sympathize with the greater struggles that others are going through and we know we are blessed. Despite a small budget we will be able to find ways to still participate in holiday traditions despite. God gave us magnificent brains and a desire to create. If I can harness those two energies I know I can learn how to use them to give joy to others in a frugal, yet still loving, fashion.
Does anyone else have a frugal Christmas plans? Maybe we can share ideas? I already have a growing list of Internet links with great (frugal) gift giving ideas that I am going to post soon. Handmade Christmas gifts take time and planning so getting started ASAP is a necessity!