How to Make the Most of What You Have |Frugality & Gratitude


Make the most of what you have

I have been feeling pretty low lately. Money is tight, and I’m bracing myself for my first Christmas without my dad. Both are difficult scenarios to deal with, but the financial situation is the one that is not new.

Each year as Christmas approaches we are reminded that our financial life is not quite where we hoped it would be. As my husband put it recently, “the holidays shine a spotlight on financial struggles.”

But I don’t want to wallow in despair at the holidays, because it really is a magical time of year that I have always loved. I needed to lift my own spirits, and the spirits of my family. So I asked myself, what can I do without spending ANY money? What can I craft? What can I bake?

I went searching through our bins of Christmas decorations, and then pulled my dusty box of craft supplies (that hadn’t been touched in ages) out of a closet. I may not have money for a shopping spree at Target, but it turns out I was rich in other ways! I had a straw wreath, plenty of felt, plenty of yarn, and a glue gun.


These were items I had purchased nearly five years ago for a project I never completed! I got to work immediately and in just a few hours, had a lovely new Christmas wreath to proudly display in my living room.



Christmas spirits lifted! No money spent.

If you are feeling down because of your financial circumstances, I have a challenge for you. Look around your home, really look, and see how much you already have. Take a moment to be grateful. And then make something out of nothing!

What could you make without spending any money? I challenge you to gather any supplies you may have – everything from paper plates, ribbons, construction paper and clothespins to old t-shirts, used greeting cards, buttons and fabric scraps – and then get creative!

If you are reading this blog post, you have access to the internet! That’s a blessing and a privilege in itself. There are a million and one ideas waiting for you on Pinterest. Search by “ingredient.” If you have yarn, felt, newspapers, or a stack of old magazines, there are crafts and projects for all of them!

Make a beautiful new decoration to brighten up your home. Make a homemade gift for a family member you didn’t think you could afford to buy a present for this year. Bake something sweet for a neighbor with ingredients you already have in your pantry.

Don’t focus on what you don’t have and what you can’t get because of your financial situation. Instead, look at the things you do have and see what you can do with them!

I hope you feel encouraged to make the most out of what you have! It’s something I’m going to try to do more often.

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  1. I’m so sorry to hear about your father and your financial struggles. Been there, done that, too. But I totally admire your positive attitude! There are lots of things you can make for little or no money and if you make them with love, they will be worth more than any store bought gift. The Christmas spirit does not come with a price tag and we all need to be reminded of that once in a while.
    Thank you for linking up to the Holidays Celebration Link Party! Your post has been pinned to the party’s Pinterest board ( Feel free to link up other posts too, and stay tuned for the features on Friday!
    Teresa recently posted…(Almost) Wordless Wednesday – November SunsetsMy Profile

  2. Ingenious.
    Sorry about what you’re going through both financially and spiritually. You’re husband said it best with that phrase.

    Holidays seems to be highlighting what’s there.
    Lux recently posted…#Blessed And Not BraggingMy Profile

  3. Hi Erin, I’m sorry that it’s going to be your first Christmas without your Dad, that can’t be easy. Your husband sounds like a very wise man and at least you have taken a positive approach to being a financially strapped. I’ve just come off the phone to a friend who has just had some news that is going to affect them financially before Christmas, I left her with a list of stand up comedian shows to check out, just to lift her spirits. I’m not sure she’s in a place to take on arts and crafts, but I a sure she would tackle a little Christmas baking to get herself feeling a little more festive.

    Have a Merry Christmas.


    • Thank you so much for your comment Debbie. I really appreciate it. I hope you have a Merry Christmas as well, and I’ll be thinking of your friend too. <3

  4. I love this! Love your attitude, love the frugal nature of this challenge, love the idea of creating something lovely with what you already have.
    Jamie @ Medium Sized Family recently posted…5 Ways We’ve Saved Money This Week 13My Profile

    • Thank you Jamie! 🙂 Your comment made me smile! I’m learning more about saving money from your blog – so thanks for that too!

  5. I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your father and financial struggles. Losing a loved one is certainly not easy, doesn’t matter the age. You should be very proud of your wreath, I thought it was creative, festive, and may I say adorable? Amazing attitude- love the wreath!

  6. I am sorry for the loss of your father. I am with you on that I want to decorate but I do not want to put us in financial trouble. I do the same things, and it makes me love my Christmas décor more knowing I made it for free.

    • I’m glad you understand Sherry! I’m more proud of my wreath than anything I could have bought at Target! 🙂 Hopefully I’ll enjoy it for years to come.

  7. Very sorry for the loss of your Dad. I’m sure his reminder is everywhere and I hope that you take some time to let the memories of your Dad wrap around and comfort you! I love your wreath. It turned out beautifully! Hugs to you!
    Thank you for sharing with us at Snickerdoodle Sunday!
    Laurie recently posted…Snickerdoodle Sunday #110My Profile

  8. I love this. I hope things get better with the loss of your dad. Hang in there!

  9. The Holiday season is so tough and it puts a lot of people under financial strain. I think this post is great because it reminds people you don’t need to buy expensive things in order to have a great Holiday season.
    Healing Mama recently posted…6 Ways To Overcome ObstaclesMy Profile

    • Thanks Nikki! I wish there was less pressure on all of this at this special time of the year – then we could all enjoy it more!

  10. These are fabulous ideas! Christmas doesn’t have to be about money! I would love getting a beautiful homemade wreath!
    Sometimes the things we make soothes us, makes us feel more invested in our gift giving, and warms the heart of the receiver.
    That is Christmas. <3

  11. I love this challenge! In an age of consumerism, it’s refreshing to have someone encourage others to be thankful for the things they have and to find ways to breathe new life into items we already own.

  12. Sorry to hear that this will be your first Christmas without your Father, Erin. This time of year, as well as shining a light on what we don’t have, also tends to shine on a light on who we don’t have! I like your positive approach and your challenge to see what we do have and make it into something beautiful, like your gorgeous wreath. We have struggled financially since having a baby and sometimes I feel envious of the people in the supermarket plopping things into their supermarket without having to keep a running tally in their head lest they spend more money than they have (or at least, that’s what I image their situation to be – who would know!), but I do take more pleasure in the little things these days 🙂

    • Thanks for the sweet comment Robyn! I just realized it’s actually my second Christmas without my dad, since he passed late at night on the 21st last year. That Christmas was a blur. I’m glad you understand some of what I’m going through! I’m the crazy lady in the supermarket who has a calculator in her hand! 🙂

  13. I agree. In most situations I say you don’t have to have stuff to make you happy, but in this case, some stuff has really helped. I think making things yourself can bring about a sense of achievement and that in it’s self is enriching in many ways. I love getting a bit craft-y it always brings out the best in people and their moods.

    Sally @ Life Loving

  14. This year was exceedingly tight for us too. But we were grateful to be spending it together, just the four of us. I am so sorry that you are also grieving the loss of your father. Hugs sent your way, big ones. Your wreath turned out gorgeous, those flowers are awesome! We used all our old decorations, we have 15 years of stuff saved, so we were good there, but my son and daughter looked into all the “craft stuff” I have and began to create things, they are 16 and 23, so it was tons of fun to see what they could come up with, paint and bleach and stencils and tie dye. It was a lot of fun. You are so right, be thankful for what you have, once we are there, hopefully more will come to us to be thankful for. I am wishing that for you! xoxoxox
    Nikki Frank-Hamilton recently posted…Merry Christmas To All…My Profile

    • I love that your kids got into some holidays crafting too! My parents have quite a collection of holiday decorations built slowly over the years, I love it. Happy holidays and thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  15. that’s good, thanks for sharing,.. I think this is great blog

  16. Erin, so sorry about your dad. My father died 10 years ago and I still miss him every day. I think your “Don’t focus on what you don’t have and what you can’t get because of your financial situation. Instead, look at the things you do have and see what you can do with them!” is really the main key to contentment for all of us. Too many people are unhappy because they allow their wants to exceed their means. Even if a million dollars magically appeared in my bank account, it would just sit there — I don’t want a bigger house, a better car, jewelry and furs, more clothes and shoes — while I enjoy a life as simple as I can make it.
    Jean | recently posted…Tourtiere – French Canadian Meat PieMy Profile

    • Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughtful comment Jean. You’re so right that appreciating what we already have instead of wishing for more is a huge key to contentment. I need to work on that concept even more. Happy new year! 🙂

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