Christmas Gifts

My family and I aren’t huge Christmas present people. We like to purchase one or two meaningful gifts for immediately family members but that is about the extent of it. For the mail man, and the neighbors, and the extended family we stick to homemade baked goods. I don’t know if it is just me, but people who cook and bake seem to be becoming a rarety and folks just appreciate a real homemade loaf of bread or homemade cookies, and such gifts won’t break the piggy bank. Sure, if you were to buy all the ingredients for full price in November and December, it could get pretty costly but if you start to plan ahead back in the spring…I know what you are saying, “Spring?”. But yes, in the spring, and your holiday baking expenses won’t be as much.

For example, this year my older children wanted to grow giant pumpkins. Pumpkins aren’t overly cost effective to grow in your garden, but I figure it was a learning experience for the kids. So, we picked out seeds early in February for giant pumpkins that average 50-100 pounds and were excellent cooking pumpkins. In June, we planted our pumpkin seeds and nurtured those pumpkins and in September, they were about 60 pounds each and we got 2 of those and 2 smaller 10 pound pumpkins. The kids loved those pumpkins and we got so many comments when we put those pumpkins in the front of our house. But as with all good things, it had to come to an end. It became very cold and the pumpkins froze and didn’t look good any more. But we had a warm snap and the pumpkins began to thaw so I pulled out my knife and 5 large pots and started to cut up one of the pumpkins. We cleaned them and started to dry the seeds and then boiled the pumpkin until it was soft and ready to be put in the food mill. We have gotton over 20+ cups of pumpkin just from half of one of the large pumpkins.

Now if any of you purchase canned pumpkin in the store, those little 15oz cans are not cheap. But for free, I have such an abundance of mashed pumpkin I can make dozens of loaves of pumpkin bread for a much lower cost. And pumpkin bread isn’t the only thing you can make with it. There are tortes, cakes, cookies, soups, bread and more, and it was ALL for only the cost of seeds which if I remember right was like $3.00 or so and I still have a whole pumpkin to go.

This brings me to sharing. Our family could never possibly go through that much pumpkin in a year or two so I have enough to share with others. Not only did God bless us with these pumpkins, he has enabled us to share our abundance with others. By being wise with our money, God gives us ways to share and bless others. We only need to pray and ask God to open our eyes and make us alert to those opportunities that He gives to us.

Using Department Store Coupons

Last week, I got a coupon in the mail for $10 of the purchase of $10 or more at JC Penneys. This was for an in-store purchase only. This is a great bargain if you use if correctly. I personally do my shopping at City Mission and thrift shops and garage sales, but $10 is $10 and it is free money so I’m not going to throw that away. So today, I went Christmas shopping with my Dad, and wanted to take advantage of being at JC Penneys. My first stop was to check out the clearance rack. There was nothing there so then I just started browsing the racks looking for the best deal. I ended up with a $30 pair of pants for $5.09 after all the discounts and my $10 off coupon. Wednesdays are GREAT sale days and the pants were already marked down 50%. I would have never dreamed of paying $30 for a pair of pants, but $5.09 is do-able and this is one of those items that you would never find used at a thrift shop or a garage sale. I was thrilled with my bargain of the day.

Grocery Bargains during the Holiday Season

Many people think that you spend MUCH more on your groceries during November and December, but you can actually save and stock up this time of year. Most of your baking needs are on sale during November and December. This is the time to stock up on those items. Check your Sunday newspaper for coupon inserts and most likely you will find coupons on those already sale items, for even lower prices. Last week, K-mart had a advertisement that they would double up to 75 manufactor coupons up to $2.00. Most of the time, K-marts prices are way more expensive than the sale prices at Price Chopper or Hannaford. However, they did have some limited sales and after sorting through all my coupons. I had a large stack to take to K-mart and to start price checking. K-mart certainly didn’t have the greatest selection, but they have most name brand products. I had a coupon for $1 off the purchase of one Betty Crocker cake mix and frosting. The coupon was doubled and K-mart had a sale on the purchase of both the cake mix and frosting. When it was said and done, I got both items for $.19!

Watch those sales everyweek and use them to your advantage to save money and share your abundance!!!