Saturday, December 3, 2016
Frugal Friday posts were plenty yesterday. I didn't feel like anything about the last week was particularly frugal, knowing doctors bills were coming, medication copay receipts were on hand, and Christmas expenditures are happening. But wait, maybe December is not or does not have to be money suck conventional wisdom says it is. I can't help the timing of the medical expenses, but there are things to mitigate the out of pocket. Christmas is not a surprise budget item, and I've been planning for months. December is a reason that having a yearly budget, planning for the ebbs and flows of the calendar, is essential.
I set up medical pretax, less generously than I had in 2015, because I was allowed to roll over $500. with DH's bat bite, some uncovered dental, my surgery, and a hand-knife kitchen accident for my daughter, we will suck that account dry, but now I will start doing all the paperwork and to get the money flowing. Knock on wood that next year is better, but I'm putting the money in my flex account again, so even though no roll over, we still should be covered for most out of pocket costs. Requesting reimbursement in December to early January means the reimbursement comes when my slightly higher credit card bills come. We use the credit cards for the cash back points and pay off in full. This is not free money for going out on the town, but it is money that can be tapped in to help even out cash flow that spiked at other times of the year.
I'm sticking tight to my Christmas budget, making the decision when we didn't reach the original 2016 savings target, to scale it back by $200. I'm using any promotional tools, coupons, and any schemes I can to keep it low. A November $10 birthday promo plus 20% off at Kohls stretched my purchases the other night. Before I go into a store or sit down on line, I have a list with ideas for the recipient. I want to know what I am looking for, but have alternate if things are unavailable or more than I budgeted. I think I am a good gift giver, really thinking about the person. I won't just throw things into a cart. Still, I'm not opposed to gift cards when sometimes I'm just stuck. I also am keeping an eye out for future gift giving needs. My niece is getting married next summer and I'll need shower gifts.A gift I have planned is to give her a set of holiday dish towels, buying them year round at clearance. I found "Fall into Love" autumn designs on clearance and with 20% off, just for $4.80 for the pair. I'll do this after Christmas, Easter, and when summer clearance starts in late June to end up with a unique, but usable gift for under $20, less than half if bought full retail These are covered in my annual gift budget, separate from Christmas.
In early December, traditional holiday staples are on special, and many have been paired to match coupons in the Sunday circulars. I'm on the look out for crescent roll and pizza dough, and will snatch it up when it goes on sale. It will keep for weeks until I need for Christmas Eve and day. In the grocery store, check the dates on items, and don't worry about buying too early as my experience as the week of Christmas, the deals aren't as good. Even if you are not a super bargain shopper, December does not need to change your grocery budget. December doesn't need to be a budget buster month. Even using my few strategies helps keep my financial stress at bay, and helps my overall spending stay in comfortable levels for me and my family.