Happy Thanksgiving

We woke up this morning to a light dusting of snow covering the ground! Winter is coming. It's a perfect day to stay cozy and warm inside with family.

We've got the bird in the oven, the pies and sweet potatoes are made, and I'm about to prep my mother's infamous stuffing recipe. I took a little cooking break, hopped on the computer and found a really fun Thanksgiving trivia site. Check it out!


Gobble, gobble!

K.I.S.S.-ing Christmas

Normally by now, I’d be in a frenzy of activity. Baking, menu planning, creating lists of gifts I’ve already purchased, and more lists of gifts I need to buy, preparing Christmas cards, and shopping like a mad woman to try and finish up before being crammed into the malls along with the rest of those last-minute shoppers.

As I mentioned in my last post, however (Check it out, then come right back!), we’ve had to suddenly and severely curb our spending. But I’ve discovered that not having discretionary income can actually be kind of liberating and stress-reducing around this holiday time.

For example…

Christmas cards: Ordinarily I either hand make, or painstakingly assemble a collage of photographs collected from throughout the year in order to create a unique Christmas card to send out to almost 100 of our closest friends, family members and work colleagues. But not this year. Uh-uh. With the cost of mailing those cards being close to $40, (not to mention the cost of the cards and envelopes themselves) we’re simply taking a year off. I thought I’d feel sad about this, but surprisingly, I’m feeling relieved. One less thing to do.

Those dreaded home parties: It seems like every year around this time I get inundated with home party invitations--jewelry, candles, scrapbooking, home products, food, you name it. Really, I love any excuse to get together with my girlfriends; but I always feel obligated to buy something at these shindigs. Not today!

Tonight I’m headed to a friend’s home where I’ll socialize to my heart’s content. But she knows I’m not whipping out my checkbook, no matter what. She is completely aware of our situation, so no guilt!

Gifts for Extended Family: Every year we put a lot of planning into creating unique one-of-a-kind homemade Christmas gifts for grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and close friends. This year we’re just going to bake some cookies to share. Voila! Check that off the list.

Gifts for the Kids: No overloading our two kids with the latest IPods, newest game systems or other technological wonders. My oldest daughter has suggested that we share only three gifts this year, just like Jesus received on his “birth” day. Gee, focusing on Jesus as the reason for the season. What a novel idea.

Despite our lack of income, and the fact that we don’t know what’s going to happen, I’m actually feeling…calm. Relaxed. Able to focus on the simpler things that make this season so magical. We’re K.I.S.S.-ing (Keeping It Simple Sweetheart) Christmas this year, and it feels great.

Let's Talk Turkey!

I just saved $16 on our Thanksgiving turkey! I know to some of you regular bargain shoppers that may not sound like much, but for me, this is big. Really big.

We recently experienced a drastic change in our income when, due to unusual circumstances, my husband lost his job. Up until that point, I’d worked sporadically at my freelance writing, occasionally selling an article here or an essay there.

I had dreamed (a distant future kind of dream) that I would eventually expand my writing projects, ultimately getting back into commercial writing to help cover college costs for our kids, as well as contribute to our retirement savings.

But all of a sudden, it was here. Now!

While my hubby searches for new employment, and I search for ways to boost my income, we are both looking for ways to cut expenses. This has caused us to re-examine spending patterns in all areas of our life.

And although I’ve never been a big bargain hunter, that has changed as well. I started with our food budget.

Desperate now to save money, I grilled one of my good friends who is truly a Grocery Shopping Master. She gave me all sorts of tips.

“To start with, you look through the grocery store fliers when they come, to see what’s on sale,” she told me.

“When do they come?” I asked.

“Every week, they come with your mail. They’re really big, I don’t see how you could miss them.”

“Oh, you mean those big pieces of paper that clutter up my mailbox? I always toss those.”

She rolled her eyes.

“Anyway, you go through them and find the best prices on the items you need to buy. Focus on the front and back pages of the fliers, that’s where all the really good deals are. Then you clip your coupons.” She looked at me and waited a beat. “They come with the newspaper.”

“I know!”

“Okay, okay, just checking. Now, it works out best when you have a coupon and the items are on sale,” she advised. “For example, I just bought a box of Puffs tissues for 49 cents. They were on sale for $1.49, and I had a 50-cent coupon, which was doubled at the register.”

“Wow!” I was impressed.

I’ve always despised clipping coupons. I wondered why companies couldn’t save some trees and save us all a bunch of time by just lowering their prices on occasion? It’s such a hassle! I would occasionally clip coupons, then forget to bring them into the store with me. Or get distracted by the kids and forget to use them once I got to the checkout.

But now I was anxious to try this new way of shopping and help us cut some costs. So I went carefully through the grocery store fliers, clipped my coupons and went to work grocery shopping.

The result: I saved a whopping $42.89 by my using my coupons and taking advantage of in-store discounts. Amazing…I think I’m addicted!

In the beginning...

Welcome to my very first Blog posting!

I've established my freelance commercial writing business, "Write Expressions," created my website, and now I've discovered that a Blog is also considered a "must have" for every writer trying to make his or her mark in the world. So here you have it.

As I embark on this freelance writing adventure, I find the more I learn, the more I need to learn.