Archive for December, 2010

What Will the New Year Bring?

I have high hopes and expectations for the coming year, but I’m not exactly sure what it might bring. Things are not looking good with my current employer. The company I work for has drastically cut back over the past five or six years.

The first hits came to funding for education, then on pensions, followed by bonuses and paid time off. Now we’re looking at a lack of pay raises and a drastic reduction to the charitable contributions program.

There are rumors of massive layoffs in the new year and even if I survive the cut I’m not sure what work will be like there. I don’t talk much about work on this blog, for a whole host of reasons, but I have to say that I’m feeling unbelievably disappointed by it lately.

Over the years my job has presented me with amazing opportunities. It’s given me a place to learn new things and expand my mind, but the longer I work there the more frustrated I become. My coworkers tell me I’d be frustrated working in any big corporation. They say I’m a free spirit, a hard working employee and that neither of those characteristics is truly admired in the big, corporate world.

They are probably right. I can’t say for sure. What I can say with certainty is that this company and it’s day-to-day policies has drained me of my desire to achieve, to do the right thing and to do an amazing job. For now I stay because the job offers a lot of flexibility and high quality health benefits, but I wonder if that’s enough to keep me going through the long haul.

Of course, the way things are looking lately I’m not certain I’ll have to decide how long to stay or what to do next. The company may very well make at least one of those decisions for me.

December 30, 2010 at 8:00 PM 1 comment

Free $5 Amazon Video on Demand Credit

I took advantage of the free $5 Amazon Video on Demand credit this afternoon and watched two recently released movies for 98 cents. It was the perfect way to spend a chilly Tuesday afternoon.

To take advantage of this offer you have to click the link above, log in to your amazon account and click on the Tweet and Get $5 button.

By clicking this button your twitter account will automatically follow @amazonvideo and “I just got a $5 credit for instant movies and TV shows @amazonvideo. Click to get yours. #get5″ will automatically display in your twitter account.

The offer appears to be valid through January 1, 2011 at 11:59 pm.

December 29, 2010 at 3:10 AM 1 comment

The Day of Returns

Tomorrow I plan to return a handful of items to six separate stores. Of course, the stores are geographically spread across the map, which means I’ll need to stop by at least two separate malls and three stand-alone stores.

The trick is to return as many items as possible without getting lost in the madness of after Christmas sales. I didn’t get everything on my Santa wish list, but I surely don’t need to buy a bunch of stuff just because it’s marked down 70%.

The question is do I have the guts to get in and out without scanning the shelves for bargains? I’m not so sure. The one saving grace is that I’ll have my hands full with returns, so that will leave little space to pick up anything new.

Of course, strategically I need to return the heaviest items first, so by the time I’m finished with the last item, my hands will be light and free.

Hopefully the mall won’t be packed with people and the lines will be short and quick. I spent today watching movies and reading books and I’d really prefer to get out of the mall and back to my warm house as soon as possible tomorrow.

December 27, 2010 at 3:25 AM 1 comment

Merry Christmas!

The final countdown to holiday festivities has begun. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas Eve and a magical Christmas day!

December 24, 2010 at 9:20 PM 1 comment

All Ready for Christmas

The tree is lit, the gifts are wrapped and I’m all ready for the Christmas festivities to begin. The next day or two will be a whirlwind of time spent with family, opening gifts and eating tasty food. Every other year I hold Christmas Eve dinner at my house and I have to say I’m happy that I’m not hosting this time around.

Tomorrow I plan to do absolutely nothing but read a book that’s been sitting on my nightstand for over a week. I want to sleep in late, take a long morning shower, change into comfy clothes, light a fire and snuggle onto the couch with my book and my kitty. I planned to do that today, but a few last minute coupons and gift ideas got in the way of a long, relaxing afternoon.

I need to prepare a small appetizer for tomorrow’s get together. I haven’t figured out what to make yet, but I do NOT plan on going to the grocery store in search of ingredients. If I don’t have everything I need on hand, then I’m taking a large tub of hummus and some veggies.

I’m looking forward to Christmas and to seeing all of the people I love. Now I just need to maintain these warm, happy feelings as my husband and I rush and hustle from one location to another over the next two days.

December 24, 2010 at 4:50 AM 3 comments

The No Gift Christmas

How would you feel about a Christmas in which you purposefully didn’t give or receive any gifts? Would you be happy? Sad? Relieved? Would it not feel like Christmas if you didn’t have any brightly colored boxes to open and nothing under the tree?

My mom proposed the idea a few days ago and I’m not sure exactly what I think about it yet. My mom’s reasoning for no gifts is simple: we all have everything we NEED in life. The items we receive for Christmas might fill gaps in the WANT category, but they are definitely not a necessity.

Rather than spending days and days searching for the perfect gifts, she suggested giving the money we would typically spend on gifts to charity. We don’t have any details defined yet, but we could proceed in any number of ways.

Each family could simply give money to a charity of their choice, we could all pull our money together and give to one agreed upon charity or we could all chip in and adopt a specific family in need.

At first glance I love the idea. My family doesn’t go particularly overboard on gifts. We tend to stick to a relatively small budget, but my parents definitely spend more than I think they should on two grown kids, their spouses and two grandchildren.

My brother and his wife and my husband and I make much more money than my parents ever did, even in their peak earning years. If we don’t donate to charity next year I would still like to see them cut down on the amount of money they spend on Christmas.

At first I was all behind the idea. Of course, I love the idea of giving to someone in greater than need than myself, but then I wonder if it will feel strange to have Christmas without ANY gifts.

What do you think? Could you imagine a Christmas in which you gave gifts to a family of strangers, but didn’t give or receive anything from the ones you love?

December 22, 2010 at 11:45 PM 6 comments

The Final Christmas Tally

The final tally of my Christmas gifts is just over $222 in credit cards and cash (including coins), plus an additional $105 in redeemed gift cards and certificates. I can’t list all of the gifts on account of any wandering eyes who might glance onto my blog, but my best deal by far was at the Body Shop where I spent $20 for $80 worth of goods. I bought a $20 Groupon for $40 worth of Body Shop products and paired it with a 50% off deal I received for spinning a wheel at the front of the store.

Now that I’ve finished my Christmas shopping and tallied up my totals I must admit that I’m somewhat surprised that I spent $222. I used every coupon and discount available and even waited until free shipping day to buy a gift for family members living in Hawaii. (The shipping fees to Hawaii often cost more than the gift.)

My next task is to write down every gift I purchased, where I purchased it and who received it. I’ve been keeping a list like this since 2003. I know it seems a bit type-A and maybe a bit crazy, but I like to keep track of what I purchased so I don’t buy the same or similar things for people year after year. It also helps me to reflect on the act of giving and to count my blessings for all of the people in my life that I love.

I’m happy that my Christmas lists are finally crossed off and that I can now sit back and enjoy the rest of December. Bring on the eggnog!

December 20, 2010 at 4:58 AM 2 comments

Armed and Ready to Pick Out Stocking Stuffers

I plan to complete my final round of Christmas shopping sometime between now and next Monday. I’ve purchased all of the primary gifts, but I have a handful of coupons I hope to use for stocking stuffers.

Included in the list is a JCPenney coupon for $10 off a $10 purchase, a Victoria’s Secret coupon for $10 off any Pink purchase, a Rack Room Shoes coupon for $5 off a $5 purchase, a coupon for a small bottle of lotion from Bath and Body Works and a Macy’s coupon for $10 off a $25 purchase.

I’m happy with the amount of money I’ve spent, (or not spent), on gifts so far this year. All of the gifts I bought are wrapped and waiting under the Christmas tree.

I have one more day of work before I head out on a much needed vacation and I plan to sit back, watch movies, take long walks, read great books, write in my journal, meditate and just chill out. I love the time off that comes at the end of they year! It always puts me in the mood for the holidays.

December 18, 2010 at 4:58 AM 2 comments

Appreciation for my Husband

I am most appreciative for the love and support my husband provides. Unfortunately, I’m not the most optimistic person in the world and sometimes my health really brings me down. It’s tough to wake up day after day feeling like an old lady with tight muscles and aching bones. I try not to complain, (my husband actually has no idea how often I hold it in), but every once in awhile I pity myself ever so slightly.

On those days when I can’t bear the pain I put on comfy pajama bottoms or sweatpants and crawl under the covers of my fluffy bed. My husband never complains that I need to rest. In fact, most of the time he follows me upstairs, lights a few candles, dims the lights and searches for a book or magazine for me to read.

He works in the home office while I’m upstairs, but every so often he wanders back into the bedroom to check on me. When I don’t feel good he reminds me that a) I’m alive and b) I’m not suffering from an incurable illness.

When times are tough, and they aren’t always easy, he’s the best person in the world to have around. I can’t count the number of times that he’s brought a smile to my face when my eyes and cheeks are filled with tears. Somehow he always knows the perfect thing to say.

I cannot imagine my world without him. His very presence in this world makes it a better place and I am so appreciative of the time I get to share with him.

I never take a moment for granted with him and thank God every day for injecting him into my life.

*Reverb10, Prompt #14What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

December 16, 2010 at 3:55 AM 2 comments

Deep in My Soul

Deep in my soul I know I’m a writer. I always have been. My mom taught me to read by two and a half and I’ve yearned to read and write ever since. I wrote my first poem at age four and filled the days of my early childhood creating whimsical stories of far away lands. At the urging of my English teachers I tried to get published, but unfortunately failed. A few of my poems made it into the local newspaper, but that’s as far as my words traveled.

Over the years my desire to write comes and goes. Sometimes I’m inspired to write and other times I can go months without jotting down a single word. I started this blog as a way to rekindle my passion for the written word. I needed a topic and personal finance seemed as good as any other. It’s hard to believe this will be my 894th post on One Frugal Girl.

Recently I searched through my shelves and decided to sell a few books that I hadn’t read or didn’t plan on reading. I found a few book buying websites, entered my ISBNs and pulled out boxes for packing. I gently placed the books inside and then decided I wasn’t ready to ship a few of them.

I pulled five from the stack and decided to go on an all out book reading binge. I read five books in seven days, because they had to be postmarked within a week’s time. The books discussed similar themes; the desire to understand yourself, take time for meditation, learn who you really are and follow your callings.

As I flipped through the pages I found new inspiration to put a pencil to paper. I bought a small journal and placed it beside my bed. The cover simply reads: BELIEVE.

I know that I resist writing, because I resist failure, but if I write from the heart and for myself than I should have nothing to fear. In fact, I don’t have to share my words if I don’t care to, but I do need to reconnect with the writer inside me.

After finishing those five books I placed them snugly in a brown cardboard box and shipped them away. As I rearranged the remaining books on my shelf I came across three that I bought a year or so ago but never read. All three books focus on how to write stories. I’m taking their presence as a sign that I should awaken the writer within.

I have to start somewhere and knowing me I have to start somewhere small. I’m not the type of girl that makes big leaps in life; I’ve been married to the same man, living in the same house and working at the same job for years. My first step is to write just a little each day. At this juncture it’s more about journaling than writing, but it’s a start. My next plan is to read the three books about writing that have been sitting idle on my shelf for years.

Once that’s done I’m not sure where things will land. I don’t want to put too much pressure on the goal. I want to take one step at a time and see where things go. I want to help fill in that hole that seems to be missing in my life. I want to fall in love with words again.

*Thanks to Reverb10 for inspiring today’s post with prompt #13: When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

December 15, 2010 at 4:50 AM 4 comments

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