Money doesn't have to be the star topper on the Christmas tree of stress though, if you're prepared & on a budget. I've blogged about our budget, but not lately. We follow Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover & stick with a completely cash-based budget to help pay down all of our debt. We've been doing this for nearly two years & we've made a lot of progress & hope to be debt free in the next year or so (minus our mortgage). I keep envelopes in my purse that my sweet friend Lesli made for me, take cash out of the ATM each Friday & use no more than what we allot for each household expense.
I keep six envelopes: Groceries, Entertainment/Fun, Gifts, Clothing, Pets & Personal/Home Care. Sometimes I get strange looks when people see me with my stash of envelopes, but it doesn't bother me. I get harassed the most at Target since the cashiers are always looking at me with shock, "You DON'T want to get a Red Card & save 5%?!?!?!?!!?" Um, no, no thank you. Just today I was asked & my response was, "No thank you, I'm a cash girl!"
Week to week, things go very smoothly with the budget since we only spend what we have, never using our debit or credit cards. Vacations, birthdays & holidays take much more planning though. Last year I worked out a Christmas budget including anything we'd be spending money on: Who we shop for, how much we spend on each person, the Christmas tree, Christmas cards & postage, teacher gifts, etc, etc, etc, etc. For us, this adds up to $1,500. Sometimes it's not fun to budget & plan, but it's a must for us to stay on track. Like Dave Ramsey says, Christmas comes every year in December, it's not unexpected & our budget shouldn't be blown because of it.
When we hit the stores last year, I literally had a calculator out to stay on budget for each person we bought for. That curbed the tempting, "Oh, but he/she would love this!" Those little extra buys throughout the holidays seriously add up.
I find that so many people live in a world of excess with instant gratification & unnecessary purchases happening constantly. Your kid loves Lightening McQueen so he has every car available in stores. Minimizing is another perk of staying on budget; it keeps your house less cluttered & your kids less distracted. So here's to hoping we all have an awesome holiday with less stress & less unnecessary money spent!