December 2016 Frugal Momster Expense Report

The end of the year was quite a doozy for us! We went on a bit of a shopping spree for household items and various projects in addition to the holiday shopping and gift giving season. You’ll want to sit down for this one.

Chimney Sweep, Fireback & Vertical Rack

The first of our major costs was scheduling to get our chimney cleaned and inspected.

Also, we decided to purchase a reflective fireback and a vertical fire grate since we had some difficulty with smoking in our fireplace. These two combined cost well over $1,000 when all was said and done.

The fire grate that was in the fireplace when we bought our house was rather large and came out a bit too far in the front of the fireplace. Couple that with two amateur fire starters and there might be a small issue… Since we started using the new, and rather expensive, new chimney fireback and rack we’ve had several astonishing fires that burn hot and smoke-free.

Gift Giving!

Not so much for our children, the Crab received exactly three books from us, but we tried something new this year sending food gift baskets and gave a generous gift to someone we care a lot of about and who helps us quite a bit all year round!

I’m not sure I’ll do the gift baskets again, as some of them proved to be pricey for the few items that ended up coming in them.

For our kiddos, the little one didn’t need much since he has so much from his brother, and our families were so generous with the amount of gifts and clothing they received. Despite trying to keep our gifts to a minimum for our guys, the house looked like a toy store by mid-Christmas morning.

I’ll admit, we did take a trip to Ikea to pick up some fun tents and other kids craft items like paint brushes for them, too. In addition to those items, we bought two ottomans. One for our living room, and one for our family room.

Oh, how I missed our ottoman that Chris sold with our couch last summer! I have been using my ottoman in the family room daily while watching the children play or crocheting in my chair by the window and fireplace.

We joined Costco, oh my!

After months of debating if we should or we shouldn’t, I finally gave in and joined Costco. We have consistently heard from people about the deals they’ve gotten from there, and we’ve enjoyed several items from their store over the years. I love that they are an employer that people are happy to work for, as well.

We used to shop there with our family friend, Mar, but she’s now laughing at us from the other side as we wind our way through the warehouse.

I look forward to buying nuts, maple syrup, coconut oil, and a variety of other goods from Costco. Chris was thrilled with his new socks from there. Now, he wants to go back and get another set. He hasn’t gotten new socks in a few years, so he was due.

What do you like to buy at Costco? What is a good deal for you?

We have been cleaning out the fridge and cabinets to rid ourselves of old food, but I hope to stock up on some staples in the coming months.

Running Shoes… a personal expenditure.

I’ll admit, it’s been well over a year since I bought a new pair of running shoes, despite probably putting enough miles on my latest pair well before I stopped wearing them. Besides, my other two pairs that I swapped out were 3-4 years old at best. At worst, they were pushing close to 5 years…

I spent this fall trying to find shoes that made me happy. Zero-drop and cushioned for distance running. I fell in love with the Altra Torin 2.5 but also wanted a trail shoe and a walking shoe. I ended up getting their Superior 2.0 for trail running and their One for walking. Now, my three pairs have been replaced by the most comfortable running shoes ever.

And by comfortable, I mean barefoot style comfortable. These shoes are cozy and warm when I run, but allow a good deal of airflow to cool my feet off from sweating. Win-win.

How I have not heard of this company before this fall, I have no idea. I guess I got sucked in by brand loyalty, but after Brooks’ shoes had become narrower with every new generation, I gave up on using their line and ventured outward. Brooks shoes just aren’t designed for my foot or footstrike, nor my desires for zero-drop and a decent comfort in the toe box.

When you’re looking to do half marathons or longer, the toe box is necessary. I learned my lesson how important almost ten years ago when my big toenail fell off training for my first half marathon. Yeah, only a few months before our wedding and open toed shoes. Good thing my dress was long and Chris is forgiving.

For Christmas, Chris bought me two items for running: a hot pink sweatshirt and a turquoise workout shirt. Usually, he buys clothing that doesn’t fit, and I sadly have to return it. Surprisingly, this year he hit the mark after 13 years together! So, I am thrilled to wear these two items to reach my goals this year.


We received a little snow for a day or so, mid-month, so the Monkey was super excited to get outside before the rain came in to wash it away and build a tiny snowman. I can tell this winter is going to be A LOT of fun building snowmen and coming in for hot chocolate.

Oh and Santa made his presence known this month! We saw Santa everywhere, including on Grandma’s front porch!

And it was a pleasure to see Christmas cards that included photos I took over the past year. I love to see my work printed, especially for holiday cards! Even though I closed my business for the foreseeable future, it always warms my heart to see my images used in a variety of ways.

In the end, the holiday was a success! We spent too much, ate too much, and did too much of nothing for our health. Isn’t that the best way to experience it?

The kids loved their hats, and while this was not in my 7 days of crochet, I wanted to highlight this little bear here. It was for my cousin’s son, Logie Bear, which obviously, I had to make him a bear! I’ll be sharing more crochet items in my new Etsy store:

Now that you’re all caught up let’s see how December shook out…
ItemAmountFrugal Mom$ter Musings
Cash$387.99We use this mainly for gas for commuting to work or take-out.
Clothing$0We used our personal savings accounts for gifts, and I purchased a few pairs of running sneakers.
Food$909.10We ate out several times this month, especially over the holiday break. Time to reel it in! (budget $537.50) Also, we joined Costco! That first trip was well over $200.
Gas$19.83Sometimes I take out less cash allowance and get gas using our debit card, this covers the difference.
Gifts$1,148.85We bought and shipped a bunch of gift baskets and gave little extra this year in a gift!
Household$645.99This is a budget category for items I can’t place anywhere else. Included is a mattress and sheet set for our spare bedroom that’ll eventually go to our oldest. Also, we bought two ottomans, too.
Auto Insurance$158.00We’re back to this regularly. No fee reduction if paid in advance, so we do it monthly.
Leisure/Travel$64.30Haircuts for two of the three guys and a trip to the craft store for some yarn.
Mortgage$2,000.00We like to overpay just a bit, but more on our mortgage payoff goals soon!
Pets$8.90I picked up a little holiday gift for our Ruby and a relative’s pet.
Projects$1,071.33This included a new fireback and vertical fire rack for our fireplace, several trips to Home Depot for Chris and a new 4 Gallon Shop Vac for the woodworkers in our home for Christmas!
Electric$82.00Budget Bill.
Internet$64.90A staple these days.
Natural Gas$41.35Still enjoying a small credit from our previous year’s budget bill.
Water$35.50I love how we can drink so much of this inexpensive liquid!
Tracfone$16.35We don’t have regular cell phone plans, and Chris needed a little more airtime.
Total Spent$6,654.39Oh my! $2,461.47 over November!!
Without Mortgage$4,654.39Gah! I knew this was going to be an overboard month, which is why it didn’t hurt as much as it would’ve years ago. We live frugal all year long to afford these swings.
Wondering why some bills may be missing from this report?

The September 2016 Expense Report will share our secrets.

What’s coming in January?

Chris and I decided to do a “no spending” month. So far, we’re making headway, but it’s only 3 days in. We’ve done very frugal months and years previously, so it’s time to get back into focus our goals for this year and our finances.

December we went overboard, and by “we” I mean “me.” Chris is gung-ho for any suggestions about spending or not spending. I’m lucky that he typically reels me in when I’m in a state of unending spending, and I can reel him in when he brings up having a smartphone. In January, we’ll be working together to keep each other in check. It’s time to save more of our side income and make some financial goal headway.