Cost of Christmas

Christmas already feels like months ago, but our family budget is just bouncing back. We tried to keep our expenses reasonable, and bought gifts we hope will entertain, educate, and endure for years to come.

We also had lots of fun signing carols, exchanging cookies, and spending time together.

The grand total did surprise me though, perhaps because I’ve never actually calculated the cost of the holidays. I don’t feel any real buyer’s remorse, and some of our “expenses” were for charity. But I do plan to get creative next year to cut down the tab…

Big Guy
WeeRide Pro-Pilot Bicycle Tandem Trailer  – on sale for $99.99
Frosty the Snowman – $9.99
Green Toys Jump Rope – $8

Smart Gear Smart Balance Bike (on sale from Zulily) $49.99
Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star  – $5.99
The Animals’ Advent – $4.49

Oregon football hat – $22.98


Eco nail polish $14
Adidas workout outfit – $52.50 (Hubby)
Kitchen Kabooble – food processor – $46.80 (Kiddos)

Twin Sis’ stocking
Eco nail polish $14, World Map notebook $10
Second-hand outfits $40

Cousin’s gift exchange
Ecoist clutch – $35.84

Christmas Charity
Toy Drive  $10 (two puzzles from Ross)
Sponsor-a-family clothes $65.95 (coat, hoodies, jammies from Ross)
Extra tithe for Grace – $100
Plus canned food drive

Christmas tree permit – $5
Holiday cards – $131.25 (Hubby loves his traditional cards, but next year we’ll either make them or go electronic…)
Annual julefrokost – $230 (lots of food and booze, but lots of fun too 😉

TOTAL: $1018.24 ($446 on gifts)

Note – the total is approximate…p lus stocking stuffers…p lus Christmas dinner…

Do you know how much you spent on the holidays?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Skamania Get Away

As an early b-day present, and last holiday hurray – Hubby and I headed out to a night sans kids at Skamania Lodge in the Gorge.  We thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful view of the Columbia River, and it was a wonderful way to start the new year…I soaked in the spa and sweat in the sauna, while Hubby indulged in new year’s day football – so we got the best of both worlds. Plus we went on some beautiful hikes the next day. 

I splurged on a “deal” at Skamania Lodge through LivingSocial, which cost us $169 and was valued at $339. We received a $35 bottle of wine, $25 breakfast, and $25 resort credit on top of the accommodations.

In theory, it was a good deal with these add-ons, but you always need to read the fine print. Taxes and resort fee were not included. Neither of us were in the mood for a spendy new year’s day dinner or a huge brunch, so our meals weren’t too much. For dinner, taxes and the resort fee, we spent an extra $63.17. But I roughly calculated that if you splurged on dinner, brunch and a single spa service, you could easily walk away with an extra tab of $175 plus.

We also paid for gas and lunch on the way out, so our whole trip cost us about $270 In my mind this was more of a luxury get away than a bargain, but it was certainly worth it.  Funny enough, we were both a bit boozed out after the holidays and opted to save the bottle, so we still have it to savor.

The real highlight of the weekend was having real conversations over meals…I love our kids, but uninterrupted conversations is not part of our daily reality! 

Do you spend weekends without your kids?
How much do you spend?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Consciousness Check

Most wake up calls don’t feel very enlightening at first, but I was lucky enough get a reminder in the mail about how unconscious I used to be about our family finances. 

Over the weekend I got a letter letting me know that I never cashed a $208.33 pre-tax reimbursement check for child care tuition. Ironically, the check was issued 1/19/2009, just 6 days before Girly’s birth! I was obviously busy with better things, like planning for a home birth. I guess my “mommy brain” kicked in a little early 😉

But don’t really have an excuse, I used to simply be really unconscious about our finances. My old self would mentally celebrate any possible avoidance of dealing with our finances, and there was always something more worthy of my time and energy. 

I don’t claim to be perfect these days, but both Hubby and I are making a sustained effort to keep our finances in order. Over the weekend, Hubby spend some time filing everything from our recent mortgage refi. I wrote a request for the $208.33 check to be reissued, and started to dive into our post-holiday finances! 

Then we all went out on a bike ride to the park to test out Big Guy’s new tag along bike

Have you ever been lucky enough to find money you didn’t realize you lost?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Healthy Eating & Living

In honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Obamas spent time yesterday volunteering at Stuart Hobson Middle School in the District of Columbia painting apples in support of Michele Obama’s initiative to create healthy eating and living habits.

Creating healthy eating habits for your kids (and yourself) is not only good for your health, but also good for your wallet.  Some quick tips on how healthy eating can help your bottom line.

  • Eat in, rather than out, is almost always healthier and cheaper
  • Veggie snacks, i.e. carrot sticks or ants on log (celery with peanut butter and raisins)
  • Hot cereal! This is a great and healthy alternative to expensive cereals, add in apples, raisins and nuts for an added bonus. Yum! 
  • Make your own applesauce with kids instead of cookies, they will remember the activity
  • Buy in bulk, you’ll save more than you think on good whole foods than you think you can
  • Make a list and stick to it.  Good intentions can go out the window to grocery marketing.  Better yet, shop at spud! (mention SFF and we get a referral)
  • Drink only tap water and you’ll save a bundle and be much healthier
  • Don’t buy junk food.  Not only is it bad for you, but it’s bad for your wallet
  • Buy in season and on sale, it is amazing how much you can save when you shop smart
  • Visit a farm and see where your food comes from, great cheap activity that reconnects

Help build happy, healthy, and smart kids.  Here is a great resource for kids volunteering , on a site called Compassionate Kids.

Another quick shout out to a great blog post on MLK, Jr. from the folks over at The Story of Stuff, entitled Honoring the Spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.Through Action.

Did you volunteer yesterday?  It not too late, the volunteer spirit lasts all year!
What are your tips for healthy eating?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.