The sneaky way I pay for Christmas gifts.

new-five-dollar-bill

There are millions of ways to sock a little money away to help ease the financial strain Christmas can do to your budget. I have tried several methods over the years from buying things I think I will be able to gift all year long to special short term savings accounts (usually found at credit unions) and even buying gift cards that I thought I’d use to buy gifts when the time came- all with unsatisfactory results. I’ve had plastic storage containers full of good intentions, gift cards I eventually paid for groceries with and not much to show for the money I was able to squirrel away between October and mid December.

So two years ago I came across a method that really changed things for me: The $5 Savings Plan! It’s so simple and I was thrilled by what I was able to save by not spending any $5 bill that came into my possession from about October 1 thru mid December. Last year I saved about $700 in $5 bills. A couple days before Christmas I handed my husband a few hundred dollars for he and the kids to go shopping with so that my gifts would truly be a surprise. Since I am the primary bookkeeper it’s very difficult for my husband to purchase things for me without me already knowing what he bought me just by seeing the charges. That’s not fun for either of us!

The whole family gets into the $5 Savings Plan. We almost treat it as a game. I have an empty cheese ball container washed and labeled that we stuff with the $5 bills we receive when we get change from our regular purchases like the inevitable fast food run between practices or after games. Keeping our stash visible is both exciting to see and motivating to save more. I was so proud when the kids started handing me their $5’s ( money left over from their allowance.) They’re proud to be contributing and I’m proud to have such awesome kids!

Do you have any tricks to help you pay for Christmas? Have you tried the $5 Savings Plan? I would love to hear what works for you!

What’s for dinner?

Every day when the kids and the husband get home the first thing they ask is what’s for dinner? Being a stay at home Nana with 5 grandbabies under 5 (my dream come true-seriously!) I face the challenge of spoiling, I mean caring for the babies while having dinner ready for the troops when I take off my Grandma cape and can just be Mom.  I love to cook and I like to try new things which is quite a challenge in a house full of picky eaters. (More on that later.) I have found a handful of meals we all enjoy, are easy to make, and don’t take too much time to prep. Can you say,  “Hello, Crockpot!” I’ve been making this little number for about a year now and have no idea where I came across this recipe that I call Honey Crockpot Chicken. It’s almost too easy to believe.

3 T garlic

1 t basil

1/2 C soy sauce

1/2 C ketchup

1/3 C honey

3-4 boneless chicken breasts

Place chicken in crockpot. Mix marinade and pour on top of chicken. Cook for 3-4 hours on high (or 6-7 on low) until it shreds easily. I usually serve this with brown rice and what ever sides I have on hand.

Your house will smell so good the husband and kids will ask several times when they can eat. Depending on how many chicken breasts you used you might have some left over for lunch. Bonus!

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

 

Life as we know it.

Welcome! This blog is dedicated to my family and friends who are family. Since turning forty I’ve turned over a new leaf. I try do the things I have wanted to do but didn’t have the time or money when my children were small, learn from my mistakes and there have been many, and strive to make the most of life with the rest of the time I have left. Some of the changes I have made have been slow and painful (I divorced after 20 years of marriage). I have learned many new skills including teaching myself to chalk paint and making healthier lifestyle choices. And I am hard at work preparing for my husband and I’s future (I am the luckiest girl in the world to have married my high school sweetheart) while enjoying these last few years with my three youngest kids before we become empty nesters. I am excited to share my passions with you! I will be discussing books I’ve read, crafts, recipes, finances, and anything else I feel is important to pass along. I want to thank my husband for encouraging me to start this blog-You are such an inspiration!