Friday, October 24, 2008

Holiday Shopping - My Thoughts

Ramblings of a Mad Woman
I've been asked about my holiday budget ideas. Here's my thoughts on budgeting and my thoughts follow what I later heard from Dave Ramsey:

Christmas is not an emergency. You have ample warning 365 days ahead of time for you to get ready for the holiday. It doesn't sneak up on you. Start saving on January first for the next Christmas. It's never too early to start saving! Even if it's a little bit here and there-- it adds up and saves your sanity once the reality of Christmas is right around the corner!

I think I'm a rarity, just because I have only one child. Nothing against those who have a larger family, but I knew our limit ... one. He doesn't get whatever he wants during the year. He's not showered with gifts and huge wardrobes and electronics just because he asks. In fact, the poor kid celebrates his birthday right before Christmas, so any showering of gifts happens in December. I'm a frugal shopper during the year. I watch my budget during the year. I keep up with my bills and making sure their aren't any errors made. Because I watch all of that so closely, I feel I am able to save for a decent Christmas. This leads me to my next thought:

I am in debt. It's something I did. I made the mistakes. I used a credit card repeatedly for things that I can't even tell you. My son didn't sign his name to any of those purchases. In fact, I don't even think he guilted me into any of the purchases. I can't blame anyone else for my debt except myself. It's not his fault, so why would I take the holiday away from him?

Of course, I can say this because I have added Christmas/Gifts to my monthly budget. The idea of a budget is to give every dollar a name and a purpose. When you make a budget you find where your priorities are and plan for them. To some people, the priority is a vacation. To others, blow money for expensive hobbies. I had listed Gift Giving a priority on my budget and I have saved for it all year. It's important to me. So I'm ready for the upcoming holiday.

My other methods of getting through holiday shopping?

  1. Don't pay full price for anything! (except a gift card -- but sometimes there are even perks to buying a gift card)
  2. Make a per person budget and stick to it!
  3. Find things on sale during the course of the year.
  4. Know your prices! After Thanksgiving doesn't always mean the best deals are available then. I've found that some of those "sales" they offer are actually higher than the same item in say, June!
  5. There's no shame in coupons, deals and clearance racks!
  6. All else fails -- get artistic! Make something. Last year was our first Christmas on the Dave Ramsey plan. My dh and I budgeted $40 a piece for shopping for each other. Of course, I am more frugal savvy than my hubby is - but his favorite gift was little coupons for things that he would like during the year: his choice of a homemade meal, a back rub, breakfast in bed etc. They didn't cost me anything, and he was able to enjoy them all year -- in fact he wants more THIS Christmas because he ran out!
  7. It IS the thought that counts - not how much money you spend.

Above all, Christmas is about love and family. We've had our share of lean Christmases and we've had our share of grossly exaggerated Christmases and to tell you the truth I can't tell you that I favored the one that I spent a lot of money on over ones that we were pretty well broke. Over all, when I look through the pictures of Christmas - I'm seeing smiles. I'm seeing happiness. I'm seeing family and I'm seeing love. ... and a Christmas tree that's always somehow a little lopsided. My son can't recall the difference between the two either. He's looked forward to Christmas no matter how many or how much the presents were that were under the tree. Your kids won't either ... in the grand scheme of things wheh they grow up they will remember the traditions and the love.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gearing up for the Holidays (already) and Updates

October Updates:
I'm sorry I didn't post my October budget snapshot for everyone. It's much of the same from last month actually. We're still plugging away at the bills - just not as intensely as we were. I guess our gazelles needed a break.

Money Savings:
The stockpile is growing leaps and bounds by the deals I have been getting at Walgreens and Meijer lately. The industrial size shelving unit I bought to put in the basement is nearly full! My freezer is getting full, and my pantry is overloaded! I feel like a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter.

Possible Surgery:
Overtime does take it's toll.... eventually. The dh went to the doctor last week and they are discussing surgery on both of his knees. Thank goodness for disability insurance and an emergency fund! Even if he's out for a bit (which Mr.Stubborn probably won't be) we'll be covered.

Christmas Shopping:
The task has started. My teenage DS's wish list includes an IPOD and not the Shuffle or the Nano. This kid is no slouch! We're talking the iTouch! Thank Goodness for ChaCha! I've got that one covered. As the years go by, I have less gifts to buy -- they just cost more!

I remember last year, November killed my budget. Of course, I forgot to write down what about it killed the budget so I can't remember what needed the extra funding. I have dog-eared the thought so I can set some extra blow money aside for whatever it is that November holds ... especially if November is when dh is out for surgery!

BTW: I finally updated my debt totals to the right and the pie chart is now correct.