December has to be my favorite month of the year. And not just because of festive celebrations. December is when I finish up all my plans for the year and start planning the coming year(s). Planning, dreaming, scheming might just be my favorite activity. Our December expenses were really amazing! Even with 2 big expenses, our spending came in under $2400. Isn’t December suppose to be an expensive month? Apparently not if you plan it right.

Cash Back Rewards and Backpacks

You will notice our gift expenses were a negative number. I cashed in the rest of our $1000 of cash back. That effectively made our gift cost for the entire year zero! Plus I had enough left over to buy gift cards with the rewards points (at a 10% discount) as gifts for my family next year. I got my mom’s birthday and mothers day gift. Plus a fathers day gift. The Land’s End gifts cards offer was $40 of cash back for the $50 gift card, so I snagged one of those to buy clearance Land’s End backpacks for the kids.

This was a hotly debated topic in the August Expense post, as I lamented how hard my boys are on their backpacks. So I took all your words to heart, and decided that Land’s End backpacks were the right choice. But when I checked in August, they were also $40 a piece.  By December, the backpacks were 50% off, and I had a coupon for an extra 20% plus free shipping. I was able to get 3 new backpacks and a shirt for $42 ($40 of cash back rewards plus $2 out of pocket). Per backpack ($14), it ended up being cheaper than your average Target backpack. Sometimes knowing what you need and waiting a while pays off. Hopefully these backpacks will hold up for a few years.

2 Big Expenses

Very sadly, our upright freezer also started to die. Before our 6 week road trip, we had made a repair on it, but now the temp wasn’t holding. It looked like it would be $325 starting price to have it fixed. New upright freezers were running $850 when we first looked. But then they went on sale about 25% off. Plus we get a 10% military discount. Which brought it to $560. They offered free delivery, which I gladly accepted beings it had to be carried down our stairs into the basement. When the guys delivered it, they said it was dinged up (I can’t really tell, and don’t honestly care because this thing lives in our basement). But they said they would take another 10% off. And I said, “Thank you!” So our new freezer set us back $504. At the repair shop, they said if the repair is over half the cost of a new one, you are better off buying a new one. Plus our 20 year old freezer was much less energy efficient than the new one. Which claims to only need $54 of electricity a year to keep our 120 lbs of free venison and $1 a pound cherries nice and cold.

I also had a medical bill come through from very late from this spring. So that set us back $337.

Best $100 spent

Another expense we have each year is our Gingerbread House Construction Party. We actually rent out a space so that we can invite lots of people. We take the kids shopping and they pick out 40+ bags of candy, decorations and cookies. Each family that comes brings a box of graham crackers and we provide the rest. It’s something we have been hosting for 7 years now. It sets us back about $100, but might be my kids favorite event we do each year. We don’t do a lot of candy and cookie shopping the rest of the year, so being able to pill up a whole cart full of treats is amazingly fun for them! It’s hard to imagine a better way to spend $100.


Our giving was higher than average. We have never itemized (it’s a hassle, and almost never of any tax value) so we don’t get any deductions from our giving. But we still gave a few donations at the end of the year. One of which I will be explaining in a post coming up next Wednesday. I also want to do a post about the overview of our whole years worth of expenses. Kind of a “How much does it cost a family of 7 to take a year off?” It might give you the big picture view of a whole year of spending. =)

December in a nut shell

Overall December was an amazing month. Also the 5th snowiest since 1899 with 36+ inches! We got together with lots of friends and family. We did a bunch of fun holiday activities like celebrating St. Nick’s Day, building gingerbread houses, and making a paper Christmas tree. Mr. Mt processed a bunch of free venison. We made some progress on our master bathroom build out. (Which is STILL not done. Kill me now. This is the longest, most painful remodel yet!!!) Finally,  I spent a bunch of time dreaming about what 2017 will hold for us. We started the month talking about what we were going to either cut, pause or streamline for 2017. And then we gave a lot of thought to what our focus would be for the year. It’s all starting to come together, and create some momentum. If you want to check out a few of the new things on our plate, take a peek at the new Work with Me tab coming next week! To get first dibs on any of the new offers, make sure you sign up for my email! The spots will be super limited.

Let’s Chat:

Any traditions that cost you some coin, but always make the cut?

How do you handle finding a decent price when you need to replace something?

If you track your spending, any surprises from your year’s expenses?