Kelly had the day off and wanted to "Do something fun". So, we went to lunch at Chili's and then to check out a house that they are considering moving to. It's really cute and has a great yard, a place for Kevin to drum outside of the house and a fence to keep Zaylee safe. However, more money and a few miles further away from us than they already are. SO. good and bad things to consider. One thing that I've learned with Kelly over the years is that she'll do what she wants to do. So, I gave her my input, told her what her dad's thoughts were and left it up to her. We'll see. But. We had a fun time together, teasing and joking. Zaylee was Chili's lunch entertainment today. It was a fun afternoon.
The 80's called. They want their hair back. Today was 80s day at her school. This morning, we gave her some serious 80s hair. I laughed so hard at Liza's response to the photo I texted her. I sent only the photo with no text. A few hours later, she responded with "Please tell me it's 80s day." She guessed it! Or she had very little faith in my sense of style! LOL Gracie loved her hair. Her face look just shocked when Doug suggested that she wear it this way every day. "I don't think so, Dad!" Too funny!
Another Gracieism: Go-Go was digging around in his bed. She looked at him and said, "Go-Go, stop digging that hole. Do you think you're a muskrat?"
I got a ton done on the wedding prep today! Things are coming together!
FYI: While on the phone with my cellphone provider today, I double checked to see if they'd made an adjustment to my bill because two months ago, I discovered that my cellphone plan had been changed without my knowledge and we were $100 over in minute usage. In eleven years, other than the time that Kevin took Kelly's phone (Don't get me started), we have never gone over our minutes. Come to find out, our "plan" had been changed inadvertantly by the salesguy when I bought my new i-Phone last spring. Once discovered, I asked them to put it back to the correct plan immediately and insisted that they credit my account for the $100, since I'd never changed my plan. (Obviously. Why would I have dropped my plan to less minutes than I use every month?) They agreed. A month later, I got a call from them asking if I still wanted to change my plan? A month after I requested the change?
SO. Tonight, when I called the phone company to ask about phone service for my dad, I asked about that balance and it was $238! LONG LONG story short... before all was said and done, they credited my account for the money that hadn't been done yet AND they changed my mother's plan back to the minimum $9.99 plan that it was supposed to be. Somehow, Mom's phone, which is also on our account, had been changed to a $96 a month package...for her phone alone! Mom used her phone for exactly twelve minutes last month. With taxes, those twelve minutes cost $104! Big mistake on their part. All is well now.
My purpose in telling all of these details... with the holidays upon us, and with the economy as it is, we need to be watching for ways to save every penny possible! There's only51 days left till Christmas. That's seven weeks and for most people, a few paydays left to finish up (or start, for some!). Here's some ideas on how to save a little here and a little there for the holidays:
- Check your phone and cable bills. Mistakes are easily made. The woman who helped me today was efficient, apologetically and pleasantly. I'm amazed at how often little mistakes like that can be made and if we don't pay attention, we can really lose out on lots of money. That $100 credit will be most helpful this next few weeks!
- Check your receipts. Watch the cash register monitor for prices to be what they were advertised for or the signage said. If you are using coupons or store flyers, all the more reason to make sure the register gives the correct prices. Mistakes can add up quickly! Last year, during the holidays, Denise and I went shopping... Out of five receipts, four of them had mistakes that added up to over $50.
- Shop after the season... Hershey's Kisses in Halloween colors will taste the same in those peanut blossom cookies as the Christmas foil wrapped Kisses. Check out "regular" products for prices that are more affordable than the fancy holiday package items...same product, different packaging = savings!
- Shop sales and buy bulk! Food is better priced this next few weeks of the year than at any other time of the year. Stock up on canned pumpkin, powdered sugar, pop, anything that's a "steal of a deal" !
- Use coupons! Weekly ads offer many "Buy one, get one free" items! Take advantage of those!
- For the next two months, don't eat out! A friend of mine does this every November and December and saves tons.
- Instead of going out, entertain at home. Dine in with friends. Have potluck.
- Set your goals today. Make a holiday budget. Plan what you will spend and stick to that plan! Don't succumb to impulse purchase over the next two months. If it's not written down and planned on and you don't need it, don't buy it!
- Shop alone. Shopping with friends lends to buying something just because "they" bought one. Again, if it's not on your list, don't buy it.
- If you feel tempted to impulse shop, write down the item and price. Wait 48 hours before making the purchase. You'll be surprised at how many times you realize you really didn't need it after all. This works just as well on a cute holiday decoration as it does for a new flatscreen tv that just happens to be on sale.
- Make an inventory list. What have you purchased through the year that's hiding in the closet already? Don't forget those items and buy duplicates or "instead ofs". Again, stick with the plan!
- Shop online. Even if you don't buy online, shop online. Check the prices before you spend the gas money driving from store to store to shop. Know the prices before you leave home.
- Lots of stores price match these days. You can save time and gas money by getting as much as possible in one store! (Remember, as Doug says, "If you don't A-S-K, you don't G-E-T.")
- If you find a gift that would work for multiple people on your shopping list, buy several and then personalize the gift with a note. This saves time, energy, gas and stress!
- Host an open house for the neighborhood. Have everyone bring a few treats to share. Rather than exchanging neighbor gifts, have a "Christmas Jar" for donations to be deposited instead, then give the jar full of donations to a charity or family in need. (Our old Bunco group did this and my neighbors do this as a "block party" each year. You'd be surprised at how much you can donate as a group, and yet, it saves individual family funds as well.)
- If you're entertaining, have everyone bring a favorite dish or dessert. There'll be plenty to eat and you don't have to spend two days in the kitchen before the party or a week's worth of grocery money on the event. (Have them bring recipes along! This is how I discovered some of my favorite holiday foods!)
- Use a Christmas version of "the envelope method". Leave your credit cards at home in a drawer. Shop with cash only. Designate an amount for each recipient and put the amount in cash in an envelope labeled with their name on it. This gives new meaning to "robbing Peter to pay Paul". Don't do it! By using cash in the envelopes, you'll be more likely to stick to your budget!
- Make a promise to yourself to not buy for yourself while shopping! (This is one of my weaknesses. Not that I buy myself gifts, but I could spend my entire Christmas budget buying new decor each season!) Again, the envelope method would come in handy here. And if you must, have a "holiday decorations" envelope.
- Again, plan, budget, plan some more, budget some more, use self-control!
And here's what we'll be having for Sunday dinner!
French Pumpkin Soup
1 8-10 pound Cinderella pumpkin
1/2 cup butter
3 leeks, white part and 2 inches of green part, cut into 1 inch rounds
12-15 slices of baguette, torn or cut into bite-sized pieces, toasted for 5 min in 350 oven
1/2 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Salt & pepper
2 cups gruyere cheese, shredded
4-6 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut a round hole in the top of the pumpkin, and clean the seeds out of the inside, patting it dry. Rub one tablespoon of butter around the inside of the pumpkin, then salt and pepper well. In a large pot, melt the butter and add the leeks. Cook until soft, then add the bread cubes, sage and nutmeg, and salt and pepper, and toss until well-coated. Taste, and add more salt & pepper as needed. Put half the leek and bread mixture in the pumpkin, followed by a layer of half the cheese. Add the rest of the bread cubes and finish with a top layer of cheese. Fill with broth, add bay leaves. Replace the top of the pumpkin, and put it on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, until broth is bubbling. When you serve it, get a scoop of soup, then scrape some pumpkin from the inside into the bowl, too.
Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed.
Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.