Sunday, September 23, 2012

Christmas Panic Step 1 - Budgeting

Time for Christmas Planning Step 1 - Creating A Budget

At his old job, my husband received a bonus every year right before Thanksgiving - that was our Christmas budget. It wasn't huge, but it was just enough to pay the holiday expenses without us going into debt.

We won't be getting a bonus this year, and with everything that has happened, saving for Christmas just didn't happen.
We had some serious planning to do if we are going to enjoy the holiday rather than stress over paying for it.

First, a list of all the expenses -

1.  Gifts for the family - each of the 5 kids, me and my husband
2.  Stocking stuffers /Saint Nicholas Day (All the little stuff adds up!)
3.  Extended family(his family and my multiple family parties)
4.  Other misc. gifts (teachers, daughters' boyfriends, Secret Santa at work, etc)
5.  Cards and postage
6.  Gift wrap/ribbon
7.  Decor (this includes the tree as our old artificial tree was ruined in our move)
8.  Food  - special meals, potlucks, cookies
9.  Events - Polar Express train tickets, donations

Basically, everything we could think of.

Tsh, at Simple Mom, has a great Christmas Budget download available here:

Even though I wasn't extravagant with anything in our budget it added up to a shocking amount of money!
I went back and cut a bit here and there until the numbers in front of me seemed more manageable. It would mean we had to plan carefully and keep away from the temptation to impulse shop.
Then we made a savings plan so we could cover the expenses.

With that done, I headed to my "Inspiration Mecca" -aka Pinterest- and started pinning away!
(You can follow me on Pinterest here!

Next up- sorting the ideas, choosing which ones to tackle, and creating a calendar so these pinned ideas actually make it into reality!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Coming Soon! Crafting a Cozy Christmas!

As summer was winding down and autumn was fast approaching and everyone was loving on the return of Pumpkin Spice Latte's and pulling out boots and sweaters,

I started having panic attacks.
Full-on can't-breathe sleepless-nights panic
What would give me Panic Attacks with all the lovely fall-goodness surrounding me?


 ACK!! Christmas is 3 months away!!!! Holy CRAP!! 

With everything that has happened this past year, we are less than prepared to face the holiday!

So instead of indulging in autumn projects and Cornucopia centerpieces, (we don't host for Halloween or Thanksgiving so skipping fall decor isn't a tragedy) I am diving headfirst into Christmas Planning

Now I know, for many of you Extreme Organizers/Budgetters/Knitters/Sewers/Crafters out there, three months is NOT planning ahead, but for this mere mortal, I am hoping it will make the difference between doing what we can, and doing what we want.

With just 94 days to go I have to get crackin'!

Tomorrow, the #1 most important Holiday Panic planning tool - The Budget!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Digging Out From All Kinds of Messes

Again I've been MIA
When my husband lost his job the week before Christmas it was a horrible blow.
I wanted to be one of those inspiring bloggers who turned their challenges into triumphs.

I wish I could say I just pulled up my big girl panties and turned that lemon into lemonade.

But I didn't.

I stared with hate and malice at that ugly lemon until it had shriveled and putrefied on the counter of life. I pouted and threw hissy fits over the loss. I cried a lot. I lamented the past 20 years I have spent as a SAHM and my lack of job skills that made it impossible for me to make a meaningful contribution to my family's welfare. I wallowed in that for quite some time. I was the opposite of inspirational.

I did do my best for my family. In my daily life I stayed positive. Our family is even stronger for what we've been through and for that I am grateful.

Luckily, my husband happened into a job. We were watching the news one morning when there was a story about a new restaurant opening in town. They were holding a job fair that day to hire staff.  He told me he was going to check it out. He'd waited tables eons ago and he knew he could make more doing that than he was collecting in unemployment. Plus he hated just sitting around, and if he was waiting tables he could still go to interviews during the day. If nothing else came of it, at least he would get in a little interviewing practice. He went in and was hired as a server.
Well, one thing led to another and he's fast-tracked up the ranks and into management in a matter of a few short months. It's been stressful, but great. He has decided that he's having fun doing this job, he's feeling appreciated and valued by his bosses and really enjoys the people he works with. So the temporary job he got on a whim has turned into his new career.

Who knew?

I guess we should have. Things we do on a crazy whim have a way of working out better for us than the things we carefully plan. Sometimes you just have to trust that life throws things in your path for a reason. They aren't annoying detours, they are the signs pointing you in the right direction.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

From Have to Have Not

I've been away. Life once again got the better of me. Things were rolling along. I went back to school. Finally finishing my degree and knocking a biggie off my bucket list. My husband was inspired to go back to school as well. Things were a bit crazy, but we were trucking along. We were making major plans.
Then the rug was pulled out from under us.
My husband headed to work just before Christmas. He was returning after 3 days off. A few hours later he was standing at the door. He had been blindsided by a request to resign or be fired.
He resigned
He knew his current boss didn't care for him. Things had been rocky at work for awhile, he had even debated leaving, but we were so close to finally being on top of things financially he decided to stick it out.
Then this hit.
Of course they had "reasons", but they were the kind of things you could tag on any employee.
He had received a commendation a few days before.
He had some of the best numbers in the department.
He was in shock.
I cried for two days straight.
Who fires someone at Christmas without good reason? (a reason like he did something illegal or immoral)
I was panicked. We returned Christmas gifts so we could have extra money to get through this.
It sucked.
But the world did not end.
Our kiddos had an amazing Christmas and so did we.
Our family has stepped up to help us out in big and little ways.
We realized if we have to go through these crappy things in life, then we are blessed to be doing it together.
Things are still hanging by a thread.
Our saving were minimal.
My husband was out of work for nearly a year when the recession began. We had just nearly dug our way out of that hole and we have had medical and life expenses that have eaten up all the extra.
I'm not sure how we will pay bills. We are learning to live with less.
We have some serious decisions to make in the next couple of weeks.
I still cry sometimes.
But mostly I am grateful.
Grateful for my family who is always there through good and bad.
Grateful that this has made us closer instead of pushing us apart.
Grateful for the opportunity to really and truly discover what is important.