There are a TON of super talented people who are kind enough to share their gift tag creation skills with us, all for free. All you have to do is print them right onto computer paper (or cardstock is even better – I got a huge package of neutral cardstock on sale that I use all the time for random projects that come up), cut them out, and you’re set.
Melanie is here with an update on her Spending Diet progress, and she is absolutely killing it! – Anna
With the holidays here, the Spending Diet is getting harder and harder. I was hoping to spend my allotted $100 Spending Diet budget on gifts, but that didn’t go as planned. I stuck with my budget of $100 for my Spending Diet allotment and but I also spent an additional $100 for gifts, and that’s not what I intended to do. It’s becoming harder and harder to resist temptation.
I don’t usually go shopping. At all. I stay out of stores to resist temptation, but the holidays have forced me to go into stores (coupons in hand) and actually shop. During a recent shopping excursion, I bought a fleece jacket as gift for myself. I had a coupon, it was a super discount and I used my Spending Diet allotment, but had I not gone into that store, I would have never known about that jacket.
I know what you’re going to say at this point– I could make all the gifts. I’ve told myself that several times. But craft supplies cost money too and as a working girl with two jobs, I have a time budget. There’s only so many hours in the day and making beautiful gifts for almost 20 people isn’t my priority. My budget (and my family!) is my priority. Yes, I’ve planned to make a few gifts, but the majority have been or will be purchased.
And yes, I know that the holiday season isn’t all about consumerism. It’s about spending time with the ones you love, spreading joy, helping others in need and eating way too many holiday cookies. I plan on doing all of the above and spending lots of time with my loved ones (whether they like it or not!), but I also would like to show my appreciation through a token.
This month I’ve been fighting a bit of an internal battle. I want to be giving and I don’t want to be selfish, but I want to stay on budget. I want to save for me and for my future. This month has also forced me to think about my struggle with perfectionism. I try my best at everything in life. My perfectionism has helped me in certain aspects in my life, but with budgeting, my perfectionism often tells me that I’m failing. I managed to save another $1,000 this month and that’s amazing. I’ve saved $5,600 in just 5 months. A couple of years ago, I saved nothing at all. This holiday season let’s all tell perfectionism to get off our backs, ok? We have a budget, but we’re not going to beat ourselves up about it. Can I get an amen?
Month 5 Savings: $1,000
Started the Spending Diet: July 1, 1014
Savings to date: $5,600
How do you let perfectionism go, and be happy with your accomplishments even if they fall short of your goal?
Continuing on with my Kmart partnership, I’m sharing something that is super important to me, spreading kindness! If you are short on ideas or just need a boost of inspiration here is a post called 134 Random Acts of Kindness Ideas that will give a great list to start on.
This holiday season, it feels like people I’ve run into have been especially kind. People have held the door open for me when I’ve had my hands full with Henry, and groceries, they’ve been letting me into traffic even when the traffic is thick and busy, and there was the clerk at the grocery store who went out of his way to help me out with something, and all that goodness that I’ve been fortunate to receive reminds me to spread the love too. I always try to, of course, but sometimes, it’s so nice to have those reminders.
I’m so thankful to have all of those in my life who are healthy and happy (especially my baby son), and I really want to give to those who are not. Kmart makes it easy to give back because between 12/7 and 12/13 (today!), Kmart is donating $1 to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital for every Fab 15 toy that is purchased (up to a max of 25k). Kmart is one of the all-time leading St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital fundraising partner, and they have already donated more than 10 million this holiday season alone (!!!).
Here are a couple other ways you can support St. Jude through Kmart this season…
Due to a sudden change in roommate status, I was unable to save for my first month of the Spending Fast. My roommate decided to suddenly move out, so I had to unexpectedly cover the month’s bills. I’ll get a new start in this second month. The good news is my dear friend, Tina, has decided to live with me for the next year and a half, giving me the time I need to complete the Spending Fast.
What are some of the good and bad living situations you have encountered?
I’m sure everyone has experienced it in one-way or another. I know I have many times over! But after the Spending Fast, my hope is that it will be the end of roommates.
I’m not counting this month as a total loss, but instead as a month of changing bad habits to achieve my goals. I tackled my worst habit of buying breakfast and coffee from Starbucks EVERYDAY! I am proud of myself for this WIN. But how did I do such a thing, you ask? It wasn’t easy. I dusted off my old single serve coffee machine and got a killer deal online of T-disc for 50 cents per cup! Who knew I could get so excited over math! Changing everyday decisions like these will help me in the long run, and is why this was my first area of concentration.
The next thing I need to tackle is spending money on social situations. This month I went back through my online bank entries and wrote down every entry that could have been avoided. Between social situations and spur of the moment decisions, I could have avoided spending $112.49. A movie, a pizza delivery, a sushi outing and 3 bar tabs. Those were my weak moments that I need to tackle next and avoid.
I am not perfect and these were my results for the month. Looking at this in writing, and knowing that I could have the amount of $112 as opposed to $0 saved, makes me face this reality and want to do better.
On Facebook people kept telling me about a liquid laundry detergent recipe they were seeing on Pinterest, and I decided to give it a try. I’ve experimented with making my own powder laundry detergent in the past so I’m familiar with the general idea of how to make detergent at home but the liquid version always eluded me because for one, I didn’t want to put soap in the big pot that I cook in all the time because I thought it would ruin it, and also because the recipes I was coming across always seemed super intense. So when people told me about this recipe for DIY laundry detergent, I was like, “Okay, now this looks doable”. I gave it a try, and it was easier than I expected.
I wasn’t going to put this recipe on the site if I didn’t work so I decided to test it out on the grossest, dirtiest, narliest thing I could find: my baby’s super-poopy, cloth diapers that had been sitting in the diaper pail for a day or so just marinating into a nasty, smelly poo stew. I figured, if we’re gonna test this recipe, we’re gonna TEST IT.
We always buy the generic, perfume and dye free detergent for all of our clothes, and I have been using a special (read: expensive) cloth diaper detergent for the diapers. I’m happy to report that this laundry detergent recipe worked great, and the diapers came out whiter than I have ever seen them before. Also, they passed the sniff test, and no stinky residue was present. We will now be switching over to this homemade version for both our clothes and the diapers especially since this recipe is INSANELY inexpensive to make, costing just under 5¢ per load. Seriously. (See the full break-down at the end of this post if you’re curious about the numbers.)
(Also, just as a side note, I tested this recipe on our front-loading HE washing machine.)
When Aaron and I did The Minimalist Challenge we got rid of a total of 748 items (!). Following the challenge we did a big ol’ garage sale, and made some money on all the things we were getting rid of. It felt so amazing to clear out all that stuff, and to this day I haven’t missed a single thing that we got rid of!
A whole bunch of people told me about how the garage sale idea was great, and all, but they just didn’t have the right set-up with their home (apartment or condo) or time to do one. Also, with cold weather your options are limited to only holding garage sales at a certain time of the year. I completely understand all these issues because I’ve encountered them, too.
When I found out about this site that basically allows you to hold virtual garage sales, I instantly thought, “Yep. There it is. Perfect.” It’s called, appropriately enough, VarageSale. Get it? Get it? Virtual garage sale! ;) In 2012, it was founded by a woman named Tami when she was on maternity leave. She then worked with her husband to develop the site.
Here’s How You Can Hold Your Very Own Online Garage Sale…
Hi, I'm Anna! I paid off close to 24k in debt in only 15 months & it completely changed my life! I want you to have a debt-free life too so here you'll be able to read all about: How to do a Spending Fast®, saving & making more money, DIY's, & a lot about living awesomely with less. Let's do this!
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