Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cash for Christmas

Have you started your Christmas shopping? Do you have a budget? Do you make a budget and then end up spending more than you intended? Many people do just that so you are in good company. But remember -- just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean it's a good idea!

Ideally you want to plan for Christmas spending all year long. Remember -- Christmas comes at the same time every year so don't let it "sneak up on you". Set aside a little money every month and then next December you will be ready to go. Remember those "Christmas Club" accounts that your parents might have had at the local bank? I wonder why those fell out of favor with people? It's a great idea to set aside the money every month. I bet it was when the banks started issuing credit cards; they would rather you spend using those and then take half of the next year to pay them off.

At the first of December go to your bank and withdraw CASH for the amount of your Christmas budget. Put it in an envelope and make your spending list on the back of it. Decide ahead of time who you will buy for and how much you will spend. If you budget $20 for Uncle Joe and end up spending $40 on him then you will need to take $20 away from someone else to make it balance. When the money is gone, that's it -- you're done!

The first year we did this was was just amazing! We ended up finding sales and stayed under budget. As a result we were able to make a larger donation to a local charity than we had planned. Every year I feel such power and control when I spend cash for Christmas. I pay more attention to what I'm spending than if I were just swiping the debit card ) or worse -- the credit card. I do still use the debit card when I shop online, though. I simply make sure that I have enough cash in my envelope first and then set it aside to deposit back into the bank the next time I am out running errands.

This system has worked for us for many years now and I know that if you give it a chance it will work for you, too.


Robin Cooper said...

Amen! I "saled" throughout the year and as a result, have no problem meeting my December budget! Funny thing is, I am actually enjoying this holiday season more since I am not so stressed out! Robin

Anonymous said...

We've intended to do this also for about three years running but alas, I got sidetracked again this year. Maybe next year that could be a New Year's Resolution that I actually KEEP, for crying out loud?

Ladysopinion said...

Wow, what a good idea. I believe I will try cash for Christmas this year as well.

I met a lady in WalMart after Christmas and we got to chatting over the few remaining reduced Christmas items. She told me she had been layed off this past year. She relayed that she was so stressed out the year before when she had a job with finding, buying, and wrapping presents. This year she didn't have the money to do this so instead went and bought dollar items for all ages and genders. Then when her grown kids and grandkids came for Christmas they had a great Christmas meal and then she brought out about 50 items (her husband helped her wrap the small inexpensive items ahead of Christmas eve) and plopped them in the middle of the living room floor amongst the Christmas tree and decorations. She announced they were going to all sit on the floor and play a game. The first person would pick a gift and open it and so on around the whole room until everyone had a gift. Then they would start over and the person could pick a gift from the remaining pile of gifts or take a gift from someone else. She said they laughed, teased, and talked and laughed so hard at the fun they had that they cried. Everyone really connected with each other and had such fun. She said it cost between $45 and $55 dollars for the gifts and she said the fun lasted for hours, not just minutes of opening a gift and leaving.

They all decided to do the same thing next year. Only they are starting now looking for inexpensive items and this year everyone will contribute not just Mom/Grandma so everyone's stress level will go down and "fun level up". Additionally, as the items are purchased they will be wrapped so that everyone will forget what the items are by the time Christmas comes.

My own observation this past Christmas seemed like a return to the simpler, happier, more fun times of Christmas. I think because of the economic climate etc in the US people had to cut back or chose to. The bonus was a return to really listening to their loved ones and friends, talking with them, renewing old acquaintances instead of as much of the hustle and bustle....and that is a good thing!

LisaMarie said...

I love it! We have come up with a similar plan for next Christmas in order to simplify everything. At some point we as adults have to say that we have everything we need and it's really hard to shop for each other. I hate wandering the store looking for a gift for a family member because I have no idea what to get them. Half the time we used to end up just swapping gift cards. There's nothing personal in choosing that kind of gift. Thanks for giving me something to think about for next year.