Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Holiday fun on a budget: Total Money Makeover

It's hard for me to digest that Halloween is two short days away & November three!  That means Christmas is right around the corner!  Christmas is by far my favorite time of year, but with it comes stress.  Get togethers & parties cramming every weekend, shopping, wrapping, trying to fit in as many magical moments as possible for the kids.  But most of all, the stress topper tends to be all of the money flying out the window $$$$$$! 


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!

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  1. So proud of you, Allison! You always were a disciplined person, so I'm not surprised you handle this so well! I agree with you on so many levels here! I love Dave Ramsey's quote, Christmas comes every December, this should be no surprise! Also, I too get annoyed with the Target cashiers, and try not to shop there anymore since we switched to Aldi. Helps a lot with those super cute Target temptations! And if you handed Aldi people a credit card, they would tell you to drive home and get cash or a debit. :) My kind of people! You are smart to include the tree...we never get a real tree because I never budget for it. I always want to get one, but alas, no money. So up the fake ones go! I should try to remember that next year. I was literally sitting here doing my own Christmas budget as I saw your post! We too keep gift giving to a minimum and only buy for parents, each other, kids and do a $5 gift exchange among the young cousins. No siblings, no extended family. I budget $700, and if I need extra for someone I didn't think of, then I reduce the kid's amounts. Kids have way too much crap and we try our best to keep all crap to a minimum here! So for Christmas they will usually get something practical that they would eventually need (like a bigger bike or shoes) or something educational as well as fun (wooden marble run, magna tiles, art supplies, etc.) I also try to add in at least one "experience" to a play or another live event, at least for Adelaide. I know my kids and if they are asking for something that a) I know they won't play with or b) they already have something similar then it's a big fat NO! Like Adelaide wants more American Girl doll clothes - ummm NO. When's the last time you played with your doll? I also try to have grandparents go together on bigger ticket items instead of a bunch of little things that the kids don't care about after 5 minutes! Another good grandparent idea I use is a membership to a children's museum, park district class or another sort of entertainment place. Although when Adelaide was 3 she got a gift card to take gymnastics and ballet and she threw it across the room...too young to understand the idea of the gift! Sorry for the novel. You got me going! Happy Christmas shopping my cash loving friend!!!

    1. Thanks Lesli, you've been a HUGE help in getting the ball rolling on our budgeting & I always appreciate that! I totally agree on buying extremely practical gifts. I cannot stand waste & excess, it makes my stomach sick. I am SOOO cheap (frugal?!) when it comes to clothing & toys for the kids. If we get them something & they rarely play with it, it always makes me feel like I threw money out the window. I also agree on the getting family members together to go in on a big gift vs. a bunch of small crap. One year my mom got Reese the playroom table we use every single day... love gifts like that!!

  2. Love your tips! We are also trying the 4 gift idea I read about for the kids; something to want, something to need, something to wear, something to read. Also making homemade vanilla this year for all the women i need gifts for. Comes out to less than $5/person!

    1. Thanks so much! Homemade gifts are awesome since they're so personal & inexpensive. Homemade vanilla is an awesome idea; perfect for the bakers in your life!