It’s almost here! My schedule this week

With Christmas less than a week away, Jeff and I are both just a little tired. Hence, the lack of posts for about a week (so much for NaBloPoMo this month!). The last two weeks have been filed with Christmas parties and get togethers. I think we are pretty much past that part of the season. Now, on to what I call clean up week.

Generally, I take off the week between Christmas and New Years because I can catch up on a bunch of things I need to get done around the house before tax season starts. My birthday is also that week so I generally do something fun with Jeff. Before I get to that though, I need to make it through this week.

Today’s schedule includes running to school for an interview and attempting to get some grading done. Then I am running to a friend’s house to make Apple Pie Liqueur. I had some of this at a party a few weeks ago and it is amazing. It really does taste like apple pie. I’ll post the recipe. Tonight, I need to take a diagnostic GMAT exam so I can get my study plan together for the next month. More on that soon.

Tomorrow, I have to go to school for a class on a piece of software I am beta testing next semester (why do I sign up for these things?). Then, hopefully, I can finish my grading for the semester. Tomorrow night is my first meeting back on the Board of Education. Need to be there at 6:30. Those meetings can go really late so I don’t think I’ll get any studying in.

Wednesday, I need to make sure grades are done and posted. I also need to get some studying time in. Hopefully, by Wednesday the last of the Christmas gifts will have arrived and I can get wrapping finished. Did I mention that we still haven’t finished decorating the tree? We’ll have to fit that in somewhere, too. A bunch of the lights we had aren’t working so Jeff is off to get some today. Need to ship some things last minute as well.

Thursday, I’ll decide what Jeff and I are going to have for Christmas dinner and I will go shopping. I got a little hint about one of my presents thanks to Jeff using my Amazon account to do some of his shopping. Who knew that they sent out emails with the item name in the subject when the item is shipped? Oops! Therefore, I think we are having an Italian Christmas dinner. In the afternoon, I need to pick up my niece in Massachusetts and bring her to the train station in New Haven. I’ll do my shopping on the way home.

Friday is my final wrap up day. I have to make sure all the gifts are wrapped and ready to go for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I also want to make some toffee for last minute gifts, plus I promised to get my recipe together for an old friend from high school. This will be the day I realize that I have forgotten to get a gift for someone and I’ll run around like a lunatic.

Saturday is family and friend day. We’ll drop off gifts and visit loved ones on Saturday morning, then to mom’s house in the afternoon and my aunt and uncle’s house for a big party in the evening. If we can make it through all that, Sunday will be a breeze.

Christmas Day is the easy day. When Jeff and I first got together, we ran around like lunatics on Christmas Day. Jeff’s parents gave us some excellent advice when we got married: start your own traditions now! So that’s what we did. We were so tired of running around to half a dozen places on Christmas Day so we decided that Christmas Eve we would do our running around and Christmas Day would be our day. We open up the house for visitors and always have tons of food but we don’t go anywhere. We have really enjoyed Christmas since we started this tradition and we will continue it this year as well.

I can’t wait for Christmas. How does your week look this week? What do you have planned? Are you ready for Christmas?

Can I justify a tablet?

For the past few months, I have been contemplating a tablet computer. I have looked at them, played with them and talked to other people who use them. I have done research on different models to see what they can do. Now, Jeff has decided that he wants to get me one for Christmas… I am torn.

There are a lot of things I could do with a tablet that would make my life so much easier. It would be extremely helpful for bringing documents to meetings and taking notes with clients and in board meetings. It would allow me to get many of my magazines in digital format, clearing up a lot of clutter in my house. I could use it to write notes for my classes and bring the tablet to class when I teach. It would also be much easier to use than the laptop for storing and using recipes. I could even see myself writing blog posts and working on my novel (yes, I’m writing a novel) while waiting for appointments. There are certainly a lot of uses for a tablet that make it much more convenient that carrying a laptop around with me. Plus, I have a bad back and am not supposed to carry my laptop around with me.

There is also one huge con… the price. The tablet pictured above is a Samsung Galaxy which will cost me about $500. My other issue is that I always get the new technology in the house. Poor Jeff gets my hand-me-downs. When we get a new computer, it’s generally for my business and Jeff gets the old one. It would be nice for him to get the new toy productivity device for once. He has stated that I am the wife and I should get the new toy productivity device (he’s such a good husband).

It’s not that we don’t have the money. We actually saved up a bunch of money for vacation but due to our busy schedules, we aren’t going to be able to go. We’ll still have money left in the fund. It’s just the idea of spending that much money. I’m terrible about big purchases for myself. I was willing to drop $450 on a leather coat for Jeff (luckily we found one for 70% off that price), but I would never dream of spending that kind of money on myself.

Jeff has given me a week to decide if I really don’t want the tablet. I could use any and all advice on this one. I’m out of my frugal comfort zone. HELP! Also, if you have a tablet let me know what you think of it. Was it worth the money? How has it made your life easier?

Alternatives to the same stale gifts

As I start checking my list for holiday shopping, I want to get my family and friends cool gifts that are unique. This season, I will be doing some of my shopping at




The concept is simple. Bring artists and other creative folks together with millions of users who are looking for neat stuff at great prices. Exposure for the seller and deals for the buyer. There are all sorts of cool things on this site. Clothing, art, household stuff, even dog bowls. If you are looking for interesting gift ideas, check out

No payment or incentive was received for this post. In the interest of full disclosure, I did use my account refer link in the links.

What I’ve learned this month

  • I’ve learned that sometimes you just need a break from the blog and even if you don’t write for almost a month, people will still come to the blog. You guys amaze me and I love you all for it.
  • I’ve learned that you can rebuild relationships.
  • I’ve learned that spending a little extra on really good food saves me in the long run because I don’t crave crappy fast food as much.
  • I’ve learned that I will never knit Christmas gifts as fast as I think I can.
  • I’ve learned that even my evil black cat can sense when I’m sad and will come comfort me.
  • I’ve learned that you don’t need to decorate for Christmas to have a festive holiday.
  • I’ve learned that I hate Christmas shopping for my husband and from now on we’ll just go shopping together, even if it’s not a surprise.
  • I’ve learned I can make a damn good turkey dinner and that oven roasting bags are AWESOME!
  • I’ve learned that I can pull off a successful holiday meal with a bit of planning and a husband who cleans (Thank you Jeff).
  • I’ve learned that all you need to get your friends out of the house is bacon, cheese and chocolate (I’ll explain soon).
  • I’ve learned that I can’t always do it all and sometimes I need to accept that.
  • I’ve learned that it’s not about how much you spend on a Christmas gift but how much thought and effort you put into it that counts.
  • I’ve learned that I still hate shopping, except at Stew Leonards.
  • I’ve learned that a hot cup of coffee and some good kinmates make the season bright.
  • I’ve learned that turning 30 is not nearly as bad as turning 29.

While it may not be evident on the blog, it has been a very productive December for me. I’ll catch you all up soon. What did you learn during the holidays?

I’m sorry

I’ve been under the weather for about a week now, which is why I haven’t updated at all this week. I’ve also been extremely busy with work and school, which is a terrible combination when you are sick. The great thing about being sick is that you really don’t spend any money.

WARNING: Getting sick is not a good way to start being frugal!

I hope your October budgets went well. We did really well on our food budget and didn’t spend much on other things. I started my Christmas shopping and I had a wedding to go to this month. Thank God for the gift account. Having that money put aside saved me from breaking my budget this month. I haven’t make November’s budget yet, but I haven’t spent any money either. I’ll try to get to that tomorrow and will report soon.

Christmas Shopping

I’m pleased to report that most of my Christmas shopping is finished. That doesn’t mean all the Christmas knitting is finished, but I’m pleased with my progress.

The biggest problem I have each year is the nephews. The nieces are easy. I knit them something pretty and they always love it. Nephews don’t seem to like anything that doesn’t involve a video game or flashing lights. As the boys get older (2 in high school and one in the high single digits), they are harder to shop for. Since we don’t have kids yet, we don’t know what the latest cool thing is. Plus, have you seen the prices for the latest cool things? Yikes.

So, I call out to you, my frugal clan to ask for your help. How do you satisfy the male children in your life?

WARNING: The holidays are coming!

Today is the last day of September which means that tomorrow is October first. Soon it will be Halloween, then Thanksgiving and Christmas is right around the corner. Now, I’m sure you all know that these holidays are the same time every year. Yet, every year we all start to panic. We didn’t save as much as we wanted. We didn’t start making gifts in May like we promised ourselves we would (my yarn was shipped today).

It’s not too late to start a plan for the holidays. There are still a lot of things you can do to make sure you don’t have to whip out those credit cards to make the holiday great.

  • Make a budget. If you haven’t been saving up all year for this, you need to figure out how much money you can scrape up for all your holiday obligations. Don’t forget Halloween and Thanksgiving. You have to pay for these things too.
  • Once you have a budget, make a list of everyone you need to buy gifts for. Don’t forget teachers, babysitters and other people that we tend to forget until the last minute. It’s because of those purchases that you end up over budget. Also jot down some ideas for each person. When out and about, look at your list to see if there is anything on sale that you could pick up early.
  • Allocate your budget between everyone on your list. If this seems impossible, maybe you need to have a family meeting at Thanksgiving and propose a secret santa instead of trying to purchase gifts for everyone.
  • If it looks like your budget for your kids is out of control, it probably is. I always think it’s funny when people buy gifts for kids and the kids end up playing with the box. I’m not suggesting that you give your kids a box but think of other things you can do instead of spending money. Consider giving the kids your time. Most of us are so busy that the one thing the kids really want is more of mom and dad’s time. Give your kids movie night with mom and dad or bowling night. Make up a cool looking coupon on the computer and wrap it up. Make up a cooking class and give that to your kids. Be creative.
  • Make things. Consider taking family photos and framing them with inexpensive frames. Create a family cookbook. Make cookies or candy. I love homemade gifts. They are cost effective but the recipient appreciates the effort you put in.
  • Be realistic. Don’t plan to make 800 pairs of mittens between now and Christmas. It’s not going to happen. You’ll stress yourself out and then end up going over budget as you rush to the mall at the last minute.

Start thinking about this now. Start budgeting for this now. Put the cards away and pay cash this year.

It’s time to start planning for Christmas 2009

I know what you’re thinking. Kristin, we just celebrated Christmas. It’s not even 2009 yet. Can we get through New Year’s please?
Okay, okay. Enjoy New Year’s, but then you need to start planning for next year. How did you pay for the holidays? Did you charge everything to pay it back over the next 12 months? Did you scrape money together and maybe let other obligations go unpaid? Or did you have a smaller holiday than you wanted because you didn’t save? Well, Christmas 2009 will be different, but in order to do that, we need to start today.

Sundays are for… well, lots of different things

I want to thank all my friends on Facebook for the many topic suggestions. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me. You guys are the best.

I’ve been getting a lot of reports regarding credit card credit limits. As I said in my post about changes in terms of service, make sure you open every piece of mail from your credit card companies. These companies are now sending notices reducing credit limits.

Sundays are for distractions

Since we are in the middle of a deep discussion of budgeting, I thought Sunday would be a good day for mild discussion. A few days ago, it hit me. We are nearing the end of September, which means it’s almost October, which means the holidays are right around the corner. I can see some of you rolling your eyes, but I start thinking about gift giving early.