January 2015 Update: Frugal Holiday Failure

January 2015 Update: Frugal Holiday Failure

That’s right: December was not a frugal month for the Stapler household. I slid down the slippery slope of consumerism and finally hit the bottom with a big purchase. It started innocently enough, when I bought cute little boxes for my nieces’ and nephews’ ornaments. At $2.50 a pop, it seemed innocuous enough.

Then I put the ornaments in there, and decided I needed to give them more. So I put $10 iTunes gift cards in there too. I got them for a big discount, but at this point I was $35 more in the hole.

When I mailed the ornaments, I discovered that the boxes increased the postage as well. It cost $25 to mail the entire package.

The next slip-up was completely superfluous. It didn’t solve a problem; it just satisfied a “want.” I finally caved to the temptation to buy a KitchenAid stand mixer. I had seen so many great deals on them for weeks, and resisted each time. But my resistance was futile to the siren call of a new appliance, one that would make my cake decorating a lot easier. I fell $165 deeper into the hole.

Lastly, when Mr. Stapler asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I couldn’t think of many things. Our spending limit for each other is $50 and my list had only two items on it. (after all, the mixer was not under $50 and I’d already bought it! What more could a person want?!) So, I jokingly … but not so jokingly … said I wanted a new TV. Our television has had green “snow” on it for four years and all the hours I spent nursing Baby Stapler on the couch and trying to decipher the image on the screen had gotten to me. Toss me the shovel, I have $480 worth of digging to do!

All told, falling off the frugal wagon cost us $680 that was not in the budget.

Oh how the mighty have fallen!

What’s important is that I can learn from my mistakes, pick myself up and get on the right track. Things I learned:

  1. Mailing a box is more expensive than mailing a big, soft envelope. Next year, I will make ornaments that I can mail in a soft envelope. So, no jingle bells or bulky buttons.
  2. I feel guilty sending only ornaments to my nieces and nephews. So, I will increase the budget accordingly and scope out gift card deals throughout the year.
  3. If I don’t have temptation staring me in the face, I’m less likely to make an unnecessary purchase. Stay away from scouring for deals when I’m done with my holiday shopping! Yes, I’m going to miss out on something.

In the spirit of the temperatures we’re “enjoying” in my neck of the woods, I instituted a spending freeze for the month of January. That means we don’t spend any cash on anything that’s not necessary and in the budget. Thankfully, we have a handful of giftcards to Target, Babies R Us, and Amazon, which have covered our butts so far when it comes to unanticipated purchases for Baby Stapler.

Net Worth Status:


2015 January Net Worth UpdateCash: – $1,704.  Well, if I didn’t like seeing it last month, I hate seeing this dip in cash even more. I am back to work now, so hopefully we will see this get replenished.  

Credit Cards: + $1,237. That includes our $680 frugal failure / spending frenzy last month, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

Loans: – $409Nothing surprising here.

Investments: – $4. I’m not going to sweat the small stuff here!

Net Worth: – $2,536.88.  It’s not the end of the world here at the Stapler household, but I can’t say I’m happy about seeing a negative number here.     

December Goals:

  • Survive: SUCCESS! We are still happy and healthy here in the Stapler household.

January Goals:

  • Survive: Let’s keep the utmost important goal in mind when there’s a newborn in the house.
  • Spending Freeze: All purchases must be (1) in the budget and (2) necessary. Any purchase that does not meet that criteria must be either done with a gift card or I have to return or sell something to cover the purchase. One big challenge for me here is that Little Stapler’s birthday is coming up. Although it’s budgeted, it’s not necessary to get him any more gifts. We have gifts for him in the gift closet (gifts we didn’t give him for Christmas). We are having his birthday party at a playspace, and that costs $175, so I’m going to keep that number in mind whenever I’m tempted to get him another gift. He will get plenty of gifts from family and friends.
  • Set Goals for 2015: I have a vague plan in mind, but have not been able to sit down and flesh it all out.

Does anyone else have a holiday hangover? Join me in my spending freeze! Or did you avoid the naughty list and stay within your budget? 

2 thoughts on “January 2015 Update: Frugal Holiday Failure

  1. Your non-frugal month is actually pretty funny. Sounds like a case of newborn-related brain-freeze. 🙂 You’ll recover quickly (especially with your income rebounding.)

    I’m finding that the weather this last week here in the frozen upper midwest is inspiring great things in my budget. I ended up working from home most of the week, which meant I didn’t even buy my customary $1.27 afternoon cup of coffee because I could make it at home. I certainly was not inspired to leave the house for money-spending activities. Perhaps I should root for more weather advisories.

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