MMXX: December.

We can now finally bid adieu to our Annus Receptaculum Ignis. Let’s all pretend that 2021 will treat us more kindly.

MMXX: TWELVE

LEARNING

I made a little progress on the wardrobe course I started last fall, but I’m going to have to manage my time more wisely if I want to finish it properly. I also found a simple tai chi course on Udemy, which has been a helpful refresher for the Yang-style short form I prefer.

MAKING

I don’t think I got any sewing done in December at all. I made some excellent pasta e fagioli, and gluten-free flatbread, and I made that crustless pumpkin pie again for dessert on Christmas.

WRITING

I sent out my newsletter twice but didn’t make much progress on any of my fiction projects. I’ll likely be mostly dormant in January, too, as it’s the busiest month of the year for my day job.

CONNECTING

My Mom has finally learned to video call, so we had our family Christmas over Google Meet! It was pretty fun, considering the alternative of…nothing at all. I also got to see her for a few minutes — masked, outside, and at a distance — when she dropped off our gifts earlier in the month. I think I talked to everyone and their dogs over the phone, texted almost every day (and heard from several people I don’t hear from regularly, too), and enjoyed a walk with Lennox every week.

HOUSEHOLD

I ordered a simple (but very bright) lamp for my office area that makes it feel a lot less like a cave. It has a high-speed USB connection in the base! I’d never seen that before, but now I feel like I’m really living in the future. A lamp that also charges your phone? Yes, please.

MONEY MATTERS

My Personal Spending
I didn’t overspend as badly in December, though I suspect I missed a clothing purchase in the total listed below. I actually spent more on books but didn’t count purchases paid for with gift cards. (The funding didn’t come from my budget, after all.)

December Budget / Actual Amount Spent
Books $25.00 / $30.07
Audiobooks $25.00 / $25.71
All Sewing $25.00 Planned / $26.28
Clothing $75.00 Planned / $85.68

Household Spending
I just finished our annual budget review yesterday, and we fared far better in 2020 than I expected. We were right to make so many changes when our income dropped, and we managed to live within our new budget, even after accounting for the huge increase in medical spending. Next year’s medical spending is not likely to be less, as I still don’t have a real diagnosis, and I also have a huge dental surgery looming, so I adjusted our budget for 2021. I know budgeting isn’t fun for most people. I’m a straight-up weirdo who enjoys crunching numbers, and end-of-year analysis is kind of my jam. (I mean, this is what I do for my day job!) But it makes all the difference. Many people think that budgets are some kind of financial “diet,” and although many people adopt a budget when they need to cut their spending, it’s not just for reduction. A budget is a plan, a roadmap for your financial life. Sometimes your destination changes, or you take a detour, so you have to adjust the route. That’s what we did, and I’m glad to say it worked.

How I saved money in December:

  • I downloaded a few free graphics sets from Creative Market.
  • I cashed out survey points for two Amazon gift cards, then promptly spent those cards on books.
  • I redeemed credit card points for $225.00 cash back on one card and $350.00 on another. This made up the bulk of our holiday gift spending.
  • I downloaded a free Prime First Reads title.
  • I downloaded a free wrap skirt pattern. I think I have three different free wrap skirt patterns now, and I still haven’t sewn one! Whoops. I also downloaded a free sewing pattern for simple pajamas.
  • I signed up for 2 months of Kindle Unlimited for $1 and will cancel the membership before it renews at full price. I haven’t found as many things to read in the Unlimited catalogue this time around, so I’m not tempted to keep paying for it.
  • Edited to add: I forgot my book list! I read ten ebooks and one physical book from the library, two Prime titles, and two books from the Kindle Unlimited catalogue for approximately $0.25 each. I also read one free Kindle book and listened for a second time to an Audible title I already had. I even read a paperback from my “unread shelf,” which I hope to make a habit again in 2021.

How I made money in December:

  • I finished a short-term project for a client and billed them.
  • I worked a little extra to fill in while someone else took time off for the holidays.
  • I did the bulk of five months’ worth of work for another client but got stuck waiting for info from them. At least it will be easy to finish and bill next month!
FINAL THOUGHTS

I’m already plowing headlong into January’s annual busyness. It’s my busiest month of the year, work-wise, and this year may be extra harried. I need to have all of my customary work done half a week early, as I have a dental surgery scheduled late in the month, and I’ll be out for a few days after that. Still, looking back at 2020, as bad as it was, some things worked out well. I’m grateful we’re both still working and that we managed to live within our means under trying circumstances. I managed to participate in a virtual holiday show despite the pandemic and my ongoing illness. I’ve even been feeling a little better physically. Yes, 2020 was absolutely a dumpster fire — and even worse than that for many — but it’s over now. And that’s a comfort, to be honest.