This week, we said goodbye to November and welcomed December! Moving along right from one Holiday to the next. December is the month that tests our resolve to meet our financial goals. The retailers are doing everything they can to get us to spend money and our job is to stay on budget and not change the course of meeting our goals.
Over the years, I’ve learned to stay away from the stores and only focus on our Holiday Spending Plan. This is the 6th year we have not only cash-flowed Christmas but we have also drastically reduced our levels of financial stress.
This week, I finished my family Christmas shopping list. One way I avoid overspending at the stores is to shop online. I also use Ebates to get cash back on my purchases. My current cash back balance is $18.65! By shopping early, I have avoided the “will it get here by Christmas” stress. I was able to shop early because I have been saving money for Christmas for several months.
Money Tip: Shop online, get cash back! (avoid impulse buys)
On Tuesday of this week, I joined a 4 week Bible study group at my Church. We are reading through Max Lucado’s book, Because of Bethlehem. Every year, I read a book in December to remind me of the true meaning of the Holiday. It’s part of my process of becoming better with money because, in December of 2009, I hit my financial rock bottom. I had gotten so sucked into the commercialization of Christmas I was spending money we didn’t have to make sure we had the “best Christmas ever” in terms of getting “stuff” that, most likely, ended up in the following summer’s yard sale.
For me, it’s just as important to have an “in your face” reminder about the true meaning of Christmas as it is to follow the spending plan. That’s why I joined the Bible study. Added bonus for me is that I met new people!
Money Tip: Avoid getting sucked into the commercialization of Christmas
Speaking of meeting new people, I made a whole bunch of new business connections by attending a huge networking event this week! I am a member of a local networking group and the founder, Kerry, does a great job of getting us to meet the right kind of people. If you own a business or work for a company that needs new clients, you should join a local networking group, get to know people, and find out how you can help each other grow your businesses. If you are local to me, I’d like to invite you to join me at one of our meetings!
With a new month, comes an updated our meal plan schedule for the entire month. Meal planning saves me time and money! I use three different ways of meal planning to plan out the month:
1. Subscription to Hello Fresh. This takes care of four meals each week – three meals in the box and one night of leftovers.
2. Meal Plans from $5 Dinners. I LOVE the crockpot meal plans, especially this time of year.
3. Shopping the grocery store sales and creating recipes based on what I purchase. My favorite way to grocery shop is ONLINE! We have two local stores that offer this service for a small fee – Lowes Foods and Harris Teeter. I shop online by adding items to my cart, submit my order and drive to the store. The personal shopper brings the groceries right out to my car and loads them for me! So simple!
Money Tip: Creating an easy system helps me save time and money.
Added bonus: The Hello Fresh meal service adds variety to our meal planning.
To plan my meals, I print out a free monthly calendar and write out the meals for that night in each block. I may switch meals around depending on our schedule but I have one meal for each block. This saves so much time AND deters going through the drive-thru on busy nights!
I spent many hours this week “binge listening” to two podcasts on my list to get caught up:
- “The Money Nerds” podcast by Whitney Hansen. Whitney interviews people who have overcome money struggles and paid off debt. They discuss how they got into debt, how they decided to get out of debt and the plan to do it. The stories are so inspirational which is one reason why I love listening!
- The Small Biz Life podcast by Kristin and Jeffrey Ingram.
If you own or work for a small business, you should be listening to this podcast. Kristin and Jeffrey do a great job giving us real-life examples on how to best run a small business. My favorite episode this week was on the importance of “downtime”.
Money Tip: FOCUS. Listening to podcasts helps me to stay focused on our financial goals.
If your December budget is NOT done, you must make time to get it done this week. No, TODAY! If you need help, a great option is The Monthly Subscription Service for Financial Coaching. Registration for the month of December 15th – January 14th is now open!
I hope to have some exciting news to share with you next week! I did a podcast interview a few weeks ago that should go out this week and I have another interview on Sunday evening for a different online audience. I’ll post those links as soon as I have them to share!
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