hand and a gift

I buy my Christmas cards in January!

Does that make you think I’m super organized? Do you picture me as one of those people? The ones who buy, wrap, and stash all their gifts before the Fourth of July?  Ha! If I somehow performed that shopping miracle, I’d never find the gifts in December. (I shared what really happens during the holidays in this post.)

So why do I buy my Christmas cards in January? Because I’m frugal (a.k.a. cheap). While shopping at my local Bartell Drugs, I noticed the price of their sixteen-dollar-per-box cards was slashed to fifty cents. I promptly bought two boxes. Not only did I score a great deal, but I also eliminated the I-don’t-have-any-cards excuse from next year’s holiday to-do list. (Don’t worry, I left my future self a digital reminder. If you grew up when I did that sounds so sci-fi cool. If not, just shake your head and sigh.)

I believe I come by my frugal tendencies through a combination of nature and nurture-plus a healthy dose of necessity. I don’t recall any serious money problems in my childhood, but I did learn it was NOT to be wasted. After my husband and I married, we existed on a strict college student budget. We found creative ways to stretch our limited funds.

I still don’t like to splurge. Restaurant desserts or appetizers feel like unnecessary expenditures. Off season vacations offer travel experiences and a discount. If I can possibly avoid doing so, I don’t pay full price or shipping charges. (Read my post about refusing to return the wrong socks here.) Large purchases-like a coffee table-cause me anxiety. (See that post here.) Don’t get me wrong, I spend money-even on lattes-but my soul craves a bargain.

My earliest training in frugality came courtesy of my maternal grandmother. She lived over one hundred years. During her lifetime she experienced the Great Depression, World War II, and I’m sure many financial hardships. She grew up in a rural community as a member of a large family. She planted gardens, canned vegetables, mended clothing, and pinched pennies. I remember her saving string, margarine tubs, and I think every magazine she ever received. (Of course in her defense, she didn’t have internet access or e-readers.)

She kept a neat and tidy household, but the attic, closets, and basement were stuffed. She was NOT a minimalist. If she thought something might be useful, she stashed it away. Useful things included but were not limited to: empty and washed Pringle containers, all her mother and mother-in-law’s earthly possessions, and my own mother’s prom dresses. Bless my aunts, they had quite a task when they cleaned out her house. My husband and I have spent the last few years downsizing. Hopefully when the time comes, our children won’t face such a Herculean task.

Whether I credit genetics, osmosis, or necessity, I squeeze my money’s worth out of possessions. I wear out jeans myself-no overpriced designer needed, eat leftovers, and use appliances until they die. (My blow dryer recently exploded. See this post.)  If that wasn’t bad enough, the zipper on my winter coat broke also. I MacGyvered it with a ribbon but after years of wear and tear, it showed its age. So, at my husband’s urging, I ordered a new one. (After all, the Orphan Annie look might not be the most fashionable.)

I try not to be SO cheap that I cost myself money. I don’t buy poor quality fabrics or skimp on vital features. However, I’ll never pass up holiday cards that are practically FREE!

Have you found any great deals or do you prefer to splurge? Share your story in the comments.

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2 thoughts on “I buy my Christmas cards in January!”

  1. As a college student, I experienced my first real need to be frugal when funds got so tight we were starving. After that. I became excessively frugal. I remember becoming physically ill after seeing the prices at Nordstrom. While I no longer have to be, I find myself still tending toward saving every penny I can.

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