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I’ve promised myself I won’t bore you with yet another “50 Thrifty Christmas Gifts” list this week. Or a heartfelt “Have A Crafty Christmas!” or even, “Christmas Gifts for Even the Most Discriminating Relative for Less than Five Dollars”. I suspect you might find such lists and advice simply by googling them anyway.
Instead I just wanted to share with you some of the normal, carry-on as usual, frugal things that have been a part of my life this week. Living frugally doesn’t change just because it’s Christmas. Living frugally doesn’t change ever. It’s a lifestyle that I don’t want to change, since it keeps me in a sweet spot of living well on very little. To that end…
Monday: We applied for the ‘tax relief’ that homeowners age 65 (or disabled) are eligible for, IF your income falls within the income guidelines. We qualified for both city and county discounts, saving us several hundred dollars. Now, if you have to wait a while before you (or your spouse) turn 65 to be eligible for this tax relief, (Michael is the qualifying one in this household, just sayin’ 😉 ) you can simply commit to learning to live well on less in the meantime so that you’ll have the money to pay your property taxes when they come due. Or fill in your own blank here, you get the idea. Frankly, I’d lots rather have money set aside to pay my taxes than I would ANY fancy-wrapped Christmas gift. I’ve read many, many true stories of people losing their paid-for homes during hard times simply because they were unable to pay the taxes on them.
Tuesday: I have out of town friends that recently bought a new (to them) home. I wanted to send them a little housewarming gift that was meaningful as well as lightweight to ship. My traditional ‘new home’ gift is a homemade smudge stick and a tin of good tea. My blooming Christmas cactus is just a pretty addition to the picture:
The smudge stick is made by wrapping a healthy sprig of fresh sage leaves tightly with cord or twine, but they can also be made by bundling other herbs, such as cedar. The smudge stick has been traditionally used by Native Americans to purify or bless people or places. The tip of the stick is lit and allowed to burn briefly, until it begins to produce smoke, then is carried through the home (or teepee, as the case may be) to cleanse the space. I’ve given many smudge sticks away over the years and people really seem to like them. I love the idea behind the ritual, it speaks to my own earth-centered spirit, as well as to my frugal sense.
Wednesday: I FINALLY got around to cleaning my window fan before storing it away for the winter. I’d wanted to clean it last fall before storage, but I couldn’t get it apart to save my life..but then again, I was kinda busy trying to save Michael’s life last fall, so my heart wasn’t really into saving this fan then. It works fine, but was sooo dirty that I swore if I couldn’t get it cleaned I was going to buy another fan come spring. Patience, combined with a sunny afternoon on the patio helped the process. That, and removal of a dozen screws of course. Here’s how it looked before (and this picture really doesn’t do the filth justice):
I’m pretty sure this was a health hazard, blowing into my bedroom every summer night. But look how an old toothbrush, an hour’s time, and a little airbed pump blowing OUT cleaned it up…
I figure I saved about $40 by not having to buy that new fan. AND I learned to look more carefully at the ‘cleanability’ of future purchases.
Thursday: I clean my coffee pot each month by running a vinegar/water mixture through it. I try to do it on the first day of each month, just so I can remember it. I also apply the pets flea meds on the 1st, but only April through November. So when December 1st rolled around, I forgot to clean the pot, and just got to it yesterday. Once it drips through the coffee maker, I then pour the hot mixture down the bathroom drains to keep them running clear too. Buy once, use twice. A gallon of Apple Cider Vinegar is about $3. By reusing that quart, I’ve saved 75 cents. Don’t forget, the little things really do add up.
Friday: Speaking of flea meds: the internet store that I order them from offered a 25% off deal plus free shipping if I ordered a 6 month supply, which is what I always order for the best price savings anyway. So, I saved $49.98 on my order by buying in the ‘off season’!
We enjoyed walking downtown with several friends this evening for an open house event to see the new loft apartments that were renovated-from-an-old-produce-market that will soon be leased out, never to be seen by the public again. In a wonderful show of support for this huge project that will hopefully bring more folks to live in our downtown area, several nearby local eateries contributed food that was set out for the lookers. Apt 302 had Holy Tacos, Apt 304 had Main Street Pizza slices, Apt 306 had Ale House beer, Apt 308 had Downtown Deli sandwiches and so on. We ate our way through the building-literally. When we’d seen all the new apartments and tried all the goodies, we were rewarded yet again as we left the building with a $10 off coupon to use towards a future meal at Holy Taco! Merry Christmas to me!!!
Remember: Christmas isn’t just about the gifts-don’t let the pressure of Christmas get to you. It’s just one day. Spend the next couple of weeks listening to all your old Christmas CDs, watching Christmas movies, spending quality time with your loved ones, spreading peace and loving one another. It’s what Jesus preached. And if you do buy some things, please buy from a locally owned business (and then wrap ’em up in something recycled). By the way, Walmart and Target aren’t LOCALLY owned stores. Those national chain stores just happen to have a store in your town. Just sayin’…
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