Monday, December 18, 2017

Am I Normal? Christmas and a Wedding

Planning this wedding around Christmas time has made me realize either I am not normal (whatever that is) or the rest of the world may be crazy.
I'm not a huge fan of a large part of the Holidays. I love the lights and food and being with family but I don't like the pressure to buy more stuff. I know "I don't have to buy it" but what do you do? Not give your kids and grand kids gift? I want them to know we care. At the store yesterday Cowboy and I were both stressed, though I kept joking and goofing off to make light of the situation I could tell Cowboy was ready to bolt. We both made up excuses to get out of there and "Do it Later". At our age we help our kids when they need it, spot them a $20 or help out if we have it, take them to dinner and still buy them a haircut, gas or clothes even though they are young adults. We know it's hard and we like to help. So buying more at Christmas seems forced. Though we do it.
Yesterday I told Cowboy I wanted to do something very practical and give them a gift box of basically personal items we use every day and a book on Financial planning. We purchased them all a gift or four depending on the budget we had given them. They may open this box and wonder what was mom thinking. That's okay. It will save them money with out giving them more money which I don't like to do at Christmas.
This year I told them something you want, wear, need, and read. Only one kid listened. Why do I ask. I should just say give me a list.
I've ask all the adults except a few who have no other family to not give gifts. I would rather sit down and talk to you and share a meal.

The Wedding...

I am so grateful we decided to do this at home but man the pressure is still there. I won't go into details and I know it's me not those that keep asking me questions but I want to do it my way. Sometimes I feel like I am being passive aggressive in digging in not to follow the norms. Yesterday we went to the deli bakery and the sign for a basic wedding cake $140. I said "Cowboy we are ordering 4 dozen white and chocolate cupcakes with white icing". We don't even eat sweets so this is for our guest. Total for 48 cupcakes $24. When he saw that a basic wedding cake was so expensive he was grateful that I am the way I am.
On the flowers my mom has generously offered to buy them and I have to keep reeling her back in though. I am quite sure she doesn't want to tell the designer florist that her daughter only wants a baby's breath bouquet. Mom was dreaming of orchids.
On the pictures I have ask our small group of guest, mainly our family to take pics and share them with us and I will print them out on a free app from my phone.
On the music I said in the email invitation (Emily Post just rolled over in her grave) "If you like to make playlist I love old 60's and 70's music and Cowboy loves old Country. If this is your thing then please make one." If no one does we will just put in a cd or turn on the radio or t.v. music. See I don''t really care about all of that.
What I do care about. I care that you are comfortable. I care that there is love and friendship, family and fellowship. I care that everyone has a full belly and lots of laughs and feels loved. I want the people around me not to suffer and have an experience of love and happiness. None of that depends on what you get for Christmas, what kind of flowers I hold, if we have a fancy cake, if there is music on or lots of talking. Love and Kindness come together around a shared meal and an atmosphere of belonging and love. As Maya Angelou said "It's not what you do that matters it's how you make someone feel", that is what they remember about you.

Friday, December 8, 2017

What not to do when saving money.

There are lots of things you can do to save money but there are a lot of things you don't do to save money. Basically it's about choices. You can't do everything all the time. I'm having a big struggle with this one right now. I'm a saver, however I love to go out to eat with friends and so this is the one area where I do spend a little more, but I don't shop very often unless I need something, I don't drive an expensive car, and my house is modest. I struggle to buy things often because I was raised with a use it up, wear it out, or do without mentality. Grateful for this on one hand because it's made me a frugal saver on the other hand this year my accountant told me I needed more expenses so I could buy new office furniture (ugh..I was going to just paint my Granny's old desk). Right now I'm trying to figure out if it makes sense to spend money to save on taxes..this one has me perplexed. Maybe a post on that when I figure that one out. For now there are lots of things you can "not" do to save money.

I'm not a fan of "negative' words but I think this is the only way that the point gets across on this one.

Don't go shopping for things you don't need. I don't shop unless I need something, it actually causes me anxiety to shop.

Don't wash your clothes until they are dirty. If I wear something and it doesn't get dirty I hang it back up. I generally wear something three times before I wash it unless I work out or get sweaty in it.

Don't go out to eat as often. I have a few standing lunch dates with friends but we usually meet at restaurants that have lunch specials or I simply just save my money and use it for this one thing I really enjoy, it's not so much about the food as it is the company.

Don't drive a new car every few years. I had a paid for car but due to some repairs it needed and the amount of travel and the fact that I was a single mom at the time I wanted something super safe and reliable so I purchased my first new car in over twenty years. I bought one that was cheaper than what I could afford and put down a huge down payment, I pay more on it every month and should have it paid off by the three year mark. I feel safer in this car because of the all wheel drive especially if I'm out in the middle of no where in a storm or bad weather. This was a conscious well thought out choice.

Don't pay the minimum payments on any loans. I always pay my credit card in full each month (this is a work card). On my car note I always add at least $50. There are some lean months for me that I can't but if I have extra I always add more. When I get a job that pays a little more I pay the debt first and sometimes pay double payments. When I sale my other home (we have moved) I will pay my car off and there will be no debt.

Don't go to expensive events very often, opting for free or inexpensive entertainment.  There is so much to do this time of the year but much of it is very pricey.  My birthday is coming up and I purchased a chiminea used online and ask a friend to come over and we are making some appetizers and sharing a bottle of wine by the fire. This is cheaper and more fun for me than a bunch of people going to a restaurant.

Don't replace things until they need replacing. Really struggling with this one as we built a new house, it's smaller and the land is bigger (we saved to buy the land) and hardly any of my old furniture fits in here. It's crazy, the house is smaller (by 1000 feet) and I need smaller, taller furniture. My old furniture looks out of place and needs replacing. My accountant told me since I built the house in this year that the office furniture is 100% deductible and everything else I can deduct the tax on (9%). So I'm weighing this one out. I've decided to do the office furniture only if I can really find what I like and to only buy what we don't have that needs to be replaced. Mostly I think I need to start donating and take the tax deduction.

Don't buy an expensive magazine ($10) that says how to save money on meals when you can easily find bean based, plant based, and cheap healthy meals online or in cookbooks from the library or that you probably already own.  This happened tonight. I love to cook and I saw this magazine and it was $10 with cooking healthy and cheap. I thought "I know this stuff". Beans, plants, peas, carrots, potatoes, onions are all cheap. Processed food, meat, and exotic foods are not. This is not rocket science. The best way I have found to save money is to make a list and a menu plan. This never fails to save me money.

Don't overbuy on Christmas. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving because there is no fuss other than the focus on food, family and gratitude. This year we have two mortgages as we try to sell one house and I'm exhausted from moving, working and oh yeah...I'm getting married in two weeks. I told the kids (we have six and three grandchildren) that they were getting limited presents this year and I'm not doing stockings this year for the kids. I want it to be more about family and gathering together than about stuff.

Don't fall into the expensive keep up with the Jones trap. You can buy a used prom dress, and do your kids really need a high school ring (mine didn't even ask) that they will not wear after they graduate. Do you need an expensive wedding. We are getting married in three weeks and only because Cowboy finally agreed not to have the big wedding. I was dead set against it. First of all it's ridiculously over priced. We did plan one and I cancelled it because seven to ten thousand dollars for one day is crazy to me. We are getting married in the living room. I sent out an email to my family and closest friends and said be here at 2 on Jan. 1st if you want to be at our wedding. Please bring a dish instead of a gift (we need nothing) we are providing a vegetarian meal and asking for sides. My mom is borrowing some lanterns and we will have tea lights for candles. The cake will be small and is a gift from my mom with some basic white and green flowers. We will get married in front of our mantle in our cabin. There should be about thirty or forty of our family and friends here. I'm asking the kids to put together a play list and bring a speaker. I'm going to ask the guest to take pictures and share this with us. We will eat, laugh, hang out by the fire, eat and drink and keep it simple! No thank you cards required either, take your dish when you go!

Have a great holiday.

Love and Light,