Yesterday we realized that Peter is probably going to have to have rotator cuff surgery. Fortunately it's open enrollment for his insurance plan at work right now, and we were able to change from Plan 1 (high deductible) to Plan 2 (Middle-of-the-road deductible) before enrollment closed tonight. But, even with switching our plans, we're still going to have to pay quite a bit out-of-pocket, which means we're waving good-bye to the savings we had managed to build up over the past few months. However, because we decided several months ago to work on our stewardship, which included building an emergency fund (just in case), we have almost the exact amount that we will have to pay out-of-pocket for doctor visits and medical expenses due to Peter's shoulder problems. I think that's pretty cool and am thanking the Lord that He provided for us in that way. :-)
So what does all this have to do with frugalness and $avings and all that good stuff? Well, it means that Christmas spending has to stop. Now. An immediate freeze on spending due to the unexpected upcoming medical expenses. Thankfully I purchased most of the family (& friend) gifts last year on major clearance (as in 75-90% off!), so I'm done with those gifts. I'm notorious for shopping early, so I'm also done with my shopping for Peter's Christmas. Peter, however, has not done much shopping for me, so he was taking issue with this freeze on spending when we discussed it last night. :-) It doesn't help that my birthday is also in December (I told him that I'm moving my birthday from December to, say, January or February, when there's nothing going on. SMILE). However, I have a few ideas of how he can do some additional shopping without breaking the bank.
This was last years tree - we do wait for Thanksgiving to be over before we get our tree - but we do go the day after Thanskgiving to get our tree!
- Coins Are Your Friends - We save our change, and when we get our little change counter full, I roll the coins. Right now we have a box of coins that I have been saving for a while, and there's a fair amount of $ in there (considering it's all change and mostly pennies). It's amazing how fast all those coins add up. I can take them into the bank and come out with cash-in-hand for Peter.
- Use Credit Dollars- I DO NOT mean "charge it and pay later" - I mean, use those points or gift cash that your credit cards build up for you. We have an L.L.Bean Visa that we use for various online purchases, groceries, and gas. It's paid in full every month so we don't carry a balance. For every dollar we spend, we earn L.L.Bean Dollars. As an added benefit, if you have an L.L.Bean credit card, you get free shipping (and even better, free return shipping) and free monogramming. My mom orders stuff from Bean's from time to time, so when she's ready with an order, I use our card and she pays me back. Bonus for her: free shipping. Bonus for me: I earn Dollars withouth spending anything. She recently placed two orders from Bean's and we got the special they are running right now - spend $25, get a $10 Gift Card. Guess who got to keep $20 in gift cards? Me! Combined with the L.L. Bean Dollars I have right now ($10), that means Peter has $30 (with free shipping and no tax) to spend at L.L.Bean.
- Postpone Christmas Gift Exchanging - No, I'm not crazy. Each year I shop the incredible after-Christmas sales, then store the stuff in my office closet all year. What if, instead of shopping to for gifts to give on December 25th of next year, we just enjoyed Christmas Day without all the hoopla of gifts, then hit the sales starting on the 26th and exchanged gifts, say, a week later? Over New Years? Bonus: I get a less clutter office closet. Just a thought. :-)
- Gift Cards - I doubt I will be able to talk him into this one, but I love using gift cards. I know it's beyond crazy for my husband (who brings in our one income) to buy a gift card for me (who has access to all our money/checkbook/bank account). However, as I told him - you get me a giftcard to Target and I'll have a smile on my face when I use it for toilet paper and kleenex (using coupons of course!). We're going to spend the money anyway - at least I could pay for it with a festive gift card.
- Stockings Only - Go really simple (and small) on gifts and fill stockings only. Hit up the dollar stores/sections, buy candy or special fruits, Christmas socks or holiday pins, maybe a new Christmas CD (keep your eyes open for these at the after-Christmas sales this year). Keep in mind that in the past, all your gifts fit in a stocking (and they were actually your stocking that you wore - not a big sock you got at the store!). Make Christmas simple and fun again and remember the real Reason we are celebrating the day.
- Give/Receive Nothing - This should probably be first on the list. In all honesty, I need nothing. I have all I need and even a lot of what I want. When he asked me earlier (prior to the health issues) what I wanted for Christmas, I honestly couldn't tell him. I couldn't think of anything that I wanted. I'd rather spend the day watching him open the gifts I already got for him (many of which I will enjoy too), cuddling on the couch, drinking hot chocolate, and listening to Christmas music. I'm simple and I'd be happier knowing there was money in the bank to pay for our bills than to have the momentary happiness of a gift and then spend the rest of the day and/or month wondering how we were going to pay for it.