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Busy times

December 18th, 2012 at 03:04 pm

This past weekend I went to my first Christmas celebration. It was me and my kids and grandkids, my ex and his wife, and my nephew and his family. Since I will see my kids/grandkids on Christmas Day, we didn't exchange gifts. I only exchanged gifts with my ex and nephew's family. Complicated, huh? I received a big gift basket with wine and fancy snacks, and a Barnes & Noble gift card. The gifts I gave were well-received. We had a great dinner that my DIL cooked. (Prime rib -- way too expensive but delicious!) It was a very good day.

The following day, Sunday, I was exhausted! But I did two loads of laundry (which involves lots of stair-climbing) and I wrapped a lot of gifts.

Yesterday I drove to work because of an office Christmas party after-hours. I decided to use the opportunity to haul a box of donations for Goodwill and some packages to mail. I also ran out to Kohl's at noon to buy a little something for my grandson. Well, I got carried away, and spent $75 on toys for both of my grandsons. (They were such good deals!) I am telling myself that I won't be able to do this much longer -- after I retire, my income will be sharply reduced. And I realized that my other gifts were very practical and educational but these are fun! Ah well, it's hard to be a frugal grandma at Christmas time. I have to remember I scrimped and saved all year to do this.

I got an email blast from my property manager saying that our homeowner's association was successful in getting our property taxes reduced. Since I haven't paid them yet, I won't really know the difference when I get the bill. But I believe I was figuring on about $3400 to $3500 for the year, so we'll see what it turns out to be. Supposedly I will get an additional break because of my age. That all has to be figured out in the new year.

Once again I paid double and then some on my mortgage. I won't be able to pay it off before I retire, but at least I will make a dent.

The bright financial spot of this season is the plethora of free food! All these parties, and treats in the office all the time!

11 Responses to “Busy times”

  1. Wino Says:

    Grandkids can do that to your budget. This month is going to end thin for us, too, but at least we haven't used any credit cards. I love Christmas too much not to buy stuff for people.

  2. buckybadger Says:

    Let me first say that I lovey your blog and it is one of the few that I keep up with religiously.

    Now on for the part that I hope you don't take the wrong way -- but that might help you keep from buying stuff for your grandkids.

    Do their parents actually WANT you to get them all this stuff? The shear volume of toys and things that kids accumulate is tremendous and overwhelming. Kids don't have time to really even play with anything because they have too much to choose from. My mother in law is constantly buying her grandkids (my nieces and nephews) things and her daughter can't find a polite way to tell her to stop. The kids have too much stuff as it is and my sister in law would much rather that they get one special thing from grandma a few times a year rather than something every time she sees them, or a million things at Christmas and birthdays.

    My mother in law is constantly buying us stuff, too, although we don't have kids. Much of it is still packed away in the boxes in which she gave it to us. We don't need it and would rather that she keep her money for more important things than stuff to fill our house.

    I've seen a strong trend in your blog, probably stemming from when you had your booth, that you have to buy things here and there for people. It's hard to turn down a good deal, I know, but your family love you for yourself, not because of the number of gifts that you put inder the tree for them.

    Anyway -- sorry for the totally unsolicited advice and I hope I didn't make you angry. I recently had a discussion with my sister in law about what to do to try and keep grandma from buying so much stuff for her kids,s o your entry kind of hit a chord with me.

    Merry Christmas!!

  3. SecretarySaving Says:

    I love all the food. We had dark chocolate covered walnuts here at work they went fast. Great job on paying double and then some on your mortgage. Very impressive!

  4. Petunia 100 Says:

    It's so nice that you AND your ex can be included in family gatherings without any drama. Smile I've really tried hard to put aside my anger and resentment and have a co-operative parenting relationship with my ex. It isn't always easy, but then few worthwhile things are.

    I know you have retirement savings, do you also have some sort of pension? Do you have a feel for how much income you can expect post-retirement?

    While retiring without a mortgage is better, retiring with a small mortgage is not so bad. Your mortgage is quite a bit less than you were paying to rent an apartment.

  5. CB in the City Says:


    Thanks for reading my blog! I think I'm very boring.

    I am not at all offended. I haven't been real clear about my situation, but I am by far the grandma who gives the least, not the most. I am the "poor" one in an affluent group. I certainly don't think my son and DIL would ever say I give too much! Last year I gave small gifts to my grandsons and then paid for hockey and swimming lessons in the new year. It just didn't feel right. I felt cheap on Christmas Day in comparison to the other grandma (who is there at the same time), and while I think my kids appreciated what I did, the grandkids did not understand even what it meant that I was paying for their lessons. So I decided to go for toys this year. I guess you could say I am caving into pressure, but I am also doing what feels good to me.

    I know my kids love me for myself, but I do feel judged, or maybe pitied, by all the other grandparents (broken families mean lots of grandparents). They are all much better off, and I am very sensitive to this. This is my solution this year. Next year it may be different.

    Anyway, before I even read this comment, I figured up what I spent on Christmas gifts this year, and it is $452. That is much lower than I thought, and pretty amazing, I think, given that I give presents to 18 people (give or take, depending on who's there). I accomplished that by picking up bargains throughout the year, and by using MyPoints rewards and Discover rewards for shopping on Amazon. So now I'm not feeling bad at all about the money I spent yesterday.

    Petunia, my retirement savings are what you see on my sidebar. I do not have a pension. So I will be depending on social security heavily. Yes, it will be very challenging, but I have been through hard times before, and I know I can do it. Anyway, I have to!

  6. Petunia 100 Says:

    CB, in your sidebar it says that retirement fund #1 is "static, providing income". Does this mean you are currently drawing from it?

  7. CB in the City Says:

    Yes. Long story, but I retired early in 2007 (?) to help a family member and re-entered the workforce a couple of years later.

  8. Petunia 100 Says:

    I've read that story. Yours is one of the blogs I have gone back and read all of the archives. Smile

    So you know exactly what to expect from retirement fund #1. That's good, it makes your planning easier.

    Do you know if your mortgage will allow you to recast if you so desire? I know with mine (owned by Freddie Mac) I can recast any time I wish, for a $250 fee. I don't know that I ever will, but it is something I keep in mind as an option. Since you're making aggressive prepayments, it is something you might do in the future to lower your minimum monthly payment. But of course, would add the time you have saved back on to the end.

  9. CB in the City Says:

    I have a 7-year ARM and I expect I will open an equity line of credit at that time. That's why I really want to pay down the principal now.

  10. Petunia 100 Says:

    That's a good strategy. Smile

  11. rob62521 Says:

    You are smart to make a dent in Your mortgage. I think you have a plan to make sure when you retire, you can afford it! It sounds like y found some bargains shopping.

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