Hello all! I am here to introduce this year’s hottest frugal book, Memorable Holidays 2010 edition: Money Saving Ideas for the Holidays, brought to you by Team Search Amelia. This year, the honor of editing, updating and including the most recent and innovative money saving tips and techniques was stowed upon me. I gladly took on the task, working long hours researching and training myself to minimize the frequency of blinking so as to mentally download the most up-to-date information, Matrix-style. In all seriousness, I love to hunt down the latest and greatest ways to simplify and save money on necessary expenditures.
Just as a side note, this year’s frugal holiday book is currently only available in PDF form. Aside from the obvious benefits for our planet to publish a green book and to just say “No!” to the carbon footprint temptress, we had to think long and hard before choosing PDF as its sole format. Nonetheless, our ultimate decision was founded on two philosophically sound and consumer-friendly reasons.
- Maintaining the Frugal Spirit. This book has been over three years in the making; there are 120 pages of essential, accumulative content. Just passing on (with no markup) the overhead costs of printing, copying and shipping that size of a book would mean much higher prices for you, a consumer who really doesn’t need any more markups, thank you very much. Our goal has always been to offer you the most valuable information while maintaining the spirit of frugality. We decided a downloadable PDF achieves both these goals. We hope you agree.
- Offering Value. During the holidays there is a distinctive pressure of time, unlike any other season of the year. This book claims to be a money saver, not because it contains exclusive information or tips you won’t find anywhere else (which could very well be true, but nonetheless beside the point), it’s a money saver, because it will save you time, and lots of it. Unless you have four to five hours a day to spend diligently surfing the World Wide Web (or have a background in technical Frugal Blogging) this book will serve its purpose well as a basic instructions manual on how to execute every aspect of the holiday season that involves any type of planning or spending. We want the chance to offer our heavily researched guide to anyone, at anytime. Saving time is the key. In this case, a printed book is not as effective as a digital copy. There will be no driving to the bookstore, no waiting for shipping (or paying for shipping), no book to lug around or damage. Anywhere you have your computer (laptops especially), there’s a copy of our book. Convenient, isn’t it?
Now, all promotions aside, I think you should get familiar with the voice behind my contributions to the book’s content – Moi. Hi. How are you? Hey… No fair. This format of communication has limited us to a one-way conversation. Well, if you have anything to say during my side of this shoddy meet-and-greet or while reading the book, just jot it down and shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you!
Now where do I begin? Well, for starters, I’m the middle child of three girls. I was born in a big city, raised in a small town. I studied Spanish and philosophy at the university, and was in their Honors Program, where I met my husband, Eddie.
Rewind a few years to the best years of my childhood, and you’ll find me at seven years old, right here on Amelia Island (within Fernandina Beach city limits, believe it or not). I was a witty little thing with a knack for getting cheap laughs and throwing a football with a perfect spiral. I remember Christmas growing up (those memories are what make age seven the best year of all). I remember waking up my parents at the crack of dawn each year to see what Santa had brought us. The presents varied Christmas to Christmas, but the sweets never did. He always brought us a stocking full of Hershey’s kisses. (Looking back, I never really liked Hershey’s chocolate, yet I find that every time I eat a Kiss it brings back the fondest memories of holiday joys from years past.)
Now, fast-forward to about two years ago and you’ll find me at age 20, a scared undergrad newlywed, under adult economic pressure, constantly strategizing just to keep our heads above water. I was overwhelmed by the “Internet approach”; there was too much “information” to take in, and I couldn’t make heads from tails of it. Some of the information I found was helpful and explanatory, but before I had the how-to knowledge I do now, many hours a day were spent frivolously sifting through pages and pages of useless, generic “money saving” tips and articles. So, I started to expand my frugal approach.
For me, it started with just clipping coupons from the Sunday papers and only using them on groceries. Soon, I moved on to using coupons on drug store deals. Eventually, I spiraled into visiting drug stores at all hours of the night, going to nearby cities and buying every good-looking deal just to save a quick buck. This is not the way to go. Despite all my best efforts, we still were not saving any more or spending any less than we were before I developed my frugal habits. To really save money, you need to weigh the cost of your time, resources and energy it takes you to get a deal, to the amount you are going to save. For us, the out-of-town trips were not worth it – big surprise there! =)
The first year on our own, when the holidays inevitably came around, I had no clue where to start! I remember sitting at our coffee table, looking at stacks of coupons and asking myself: Where do I begin? Is ‘couponing’ even applicable to the holidays? I didn’t know how to identify a good deal from great deal, when to start shopping, where to even look for deals or who to go to if I had a question. Not to mention, I had no clue how to “match up” a coupon with a sale or rebate. (Heck, I didn’t even know what a rebate was exactly!)
My working family was desperate and broke, and our hope for a warm holiday was growing weaker by the day.
My experience with saving money has been quite the journey; saving on holiday expenditures was a side-road in and of itself.
We did not give up. We researched. We saved. What money we did spend, we planned out and spent wisely. Most effective of all, we committed ourselves to the frugal lifestyle year-round. During and since these trials and tribulations, I have compiled the resources and techniques that were most successful in helping us stay within our limited budget, and for your convenience, I have included them in this book. It is my hope that this piece serves as a message, from our home to yours, that in spite of (or sometimes, thanks to) harsh economical times, you can still preserve the Holiday Spirit with a little know-how and creativity. Do keep in mind, all the information you read here is just an outline; it’s ultimately up to you to be your home’s manager and to decide what content is relevant to your family and how to apply it in order to meet your specific financial goals.
To date, my husband and I have been unfruitful in establishing our “dream” careers. Since graduating this past May, my job outlook has shifted from being a lawyer slash teacher slash lifetime student to being a home economist and odd-job extraordinaire 24/7, making money at every possible opportunity (e.g. babysitting, mystery shopping and selling my stuff on eBay). My husband’s dream of attending graduate school has since been put on hold as well; he’s become our family’s sole breadwinner, doing the type of work that’s considered “below” his educational level.
We are still barely scraping by, just like we were in college, and I am actually perfectly fine with that. For us, it was the transformation from being spenders to being savers that did it. We are constantly becoming more and more content with less and less, achieving a level of peace we may have never reached without having to go through “hard times.”
The truth is, what some call “hard times” I call a blessing in disguise. If you’re reading this e-Book today, then you are probably dealing with a less-than-ideal economic situation, but I’m telling you, it does get better, even if your income doesn’t. It’s all about your attitude and willingness to make-do with what you have.
This holiday season, I pledge to follow my own advice: create a budget for (1) spending, (2) saving, and (3) earning. I will stick to the budget and note my progress. I will not supersede the budget because “I have got to get this for so-and-so!” I will be strong, wise and determined, and most of all, as a result of my efforts, I will be giving the greatest give of all: setting a good example for my own family and friends that excessive spending is a choice, not a necessity, and that the holidays are a time to be joyful and free. Money does not create happiness.