So, as if being a blogger in the woods isn’t odd enough, I should tell you that my husband also has his own live radio variety show. It’s a really fun show with sketches, stories and music that celebrates the communities of northern Minnesota.
And last weekend, his show was at a casino. Yes. The Northern Cheapskate spent the weekend at a casino.
Casinos and Christmas
Many of my friends and family gave me a hard time about going to a place where money tends to slip through your fingers like water. But, as I told them, I was really only there for the cheap food and free entertainment.
Now, I will confess. I did gamble. The casino offered us a $35 a night discount on our hotel room if we signed up for their Players Club. The sign-up was free, and you got $5 in slot machine play if you put in a dollar of your own money. So for a whole $2, my husband and I enjoyed (well, that may be a strong word for it) $10 in free slot machine play. We didn’t win a thing.
It’s actually kind of humbling visiting a casino. The bright lights, the noise of the slot machines and the smoky rooms mix with a sense of anticipation, and desperation. It is a good reminder not to rely on a stretch of good luck when it comes to your finances.
There was a family holding a holiday party at the event center at the same time we were there. I’m sure a lot of folks think it is odd to celebrate Christmas at a casino, but this family (with more than 150 people in attendance!) wasn’t there to gamble. They simply needed a large, centrally-located meeting space where they could share a nice meal. They met there to connect with each other, swap stories and gifts, and enjoy spending time together. Seeing the joy on their faces was a sharp contrast to those mindlessly pouring money into the slot machines.
Still, I’m glad my family doesn’t gather at a casino for the holidays. I’m stuck on old traditions, I guess.
Speaking of traditions, my family will be making our graham cracker houses this weekend. The kids always have fun designing and decorating their creations. We use leftover candy from summer parades and Halloween to decorate, so it doesn’t cost much to do. If we ever get any measurable amount of snow, we’ll be out sledding, too.
Are you done with your Christmas shopping? I’d love to be as organized and put together as I try to pretend to be, but I will confess that I’m not quite done. Just a few more gifts to get. I think the hardest part of managing your money during the holidays is that there is so much temptation to overspend. You see gifts you never thought to give. You see great deals you never see any other time of year. And if you’ve procrastinated (like a certain cheapskate did), you have lost much of your window for making homemade gifts, so you’re shopping in desperation mode. (Never smart!). Fortunately, we had money saved for these situations, but I do feel like I’m more of a big spender than a frugal saver this month. January will be a chance to get a fresh start.
I haven’t had much time to pick up an actual book lately, but I have been keeping up with some of my favorite websites. Donna Freedman at Surviving and Thriving has an excellent use for all those little bits of money she finds throughout the year. It’s a good reminder that you can be generous even when you’re broke.
Cash Cow Couple poses a thoughtful response to the question, “Can Money Buy Happiness?” A lot of what they write aligns with my own approach to personal finance.
If you’ve ever been with someone for a long time, then Clint Edwards post Love is a Verb at No Idea What I’m Doing: Daddy Blog may resonate with you. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with money, other than making sure you and your significant other are in a loving, healthy relationship.
As you set goals for yourself for the new year – whether they are financial or not – you should think about how you approach the idea of rewards. Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project has a great short video in which she discusses Why Rewarding Yourself May Be a Bad Idea, for Habits. It just might change your view on rewarding yourself for achieving your goals and could do a lot to change an attitude of “I deserve this.”
And finally, some exciting new changes
I’ve been blogging here at Northern Cheapskate for 7 years now, and I don’t know if it’s the Seven Year Itch, or what, but I felt compelled to make some changes around here. In the next week or so, I’ll be unveiling a new look for Northern Cheapskate, and with it will be some new features the site has needed for awhile. I’m hoping the new design will make it easier for you to find and share all of the money-saving ideas we’ve talked about here over the years.
I’ll also be sending out a new e-book to my subscribers that will help you get in the mindset for a financially successful new year, so if you aren’t already on our e-mail list, be sure to sign up now. You’ll get our free guide to saving money on groceries as well as the new e-book when it is released!