Monday, December 13, 2010

Money Matters Monday: Keeping a Lid on Christmas Spending

Yes, I DO realize that I have only been blogging on Mondays and Thursdays, thank you very much. If you're still following along, bless your sweet little heart! I realize there hasn't been much variety to my lil' ol' blog, but that's going to change, I promise. You understand. It's CHRISTMASTIME, for crying out loud. I'm up to my neck with everything, just like the rest of you. Here's hoping y'all are keeping things together better than I am. But that's another post...

One thing I'm NOT crying about is the state of our finances. At Christmas. Talk about an oxymoron! This is what we already know: Christmas is WAY too commercialized. Any given family spends ENTIRELY too much at Christmas on things. Christmas lists grow by leaps and bounds from the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. And I'm not just talking about what to buy, but also whom to buy for. I've taken a little more control this year, and it's made all the difference. Well, that and Chuck's big fat bonus check! All I can say is "Whoopity-doo!"

We have been blessed beyond belief because Tyson Foods had such an excellent year (thanks, Tyson!). There have been years where we didn't get a Christmas bonus, but when we do, we almost always buy Christmas with it. This year we were able to do that PLUS pay off several of our bills and start an emergency fund (would Dave Ramsey be so proud, or what?!). We still have a ways to go, but what a relief it has been to cut our bills in HALF. I can only imagine the weightlessness I'll feel when it's ALL gone. This has only fueled my fire to get the heck out of debt. It really is a big ol' burden. You don't realize just how much a burden until you are released from it (or part of it, in our case!).

I've also played it smart this Christmas. I began picking up things earlier in the year. On SALE. At the end of the season. To the tune of, like, 75% off. You can't do this with everything and everyone, of course, but keeping your eyes peeled for deals all year long is smart Christmas shopping. I also like to shop at stores like Tuesday Morning and Ross where you can find really nice things at a discounted price. I guess it goes without saying that I'm also making some presents too. They are for the girls' teachers. I'll be showing those soon.

We are also not exchanging gifts with extended family or friends this year. I know that a lot of you think it just can't be Christmas without giving gifts to all those we know and love. But it adds up. Quick-like. I prefer to give my friends a birthday gift and let them know that my Christmas presents will only include the immediate family. I've flat out told friends, " Do NOT buy me a present this year. Your friendship is my present!" (Yeah, I'm smooth like that.) But you know what? The relief on their face was priceless. I consider that my gift to them!

If you feel you must buy presents, agree to keep it just for the children. We all have more than we need, anyway. And so do the kids, for that matter. You might suggest to girlfriends or extended family about having a get-together for breakfast, or finger foods one evening, and just enjoy each other's company. Your pocket book will thank you and you won't have to up your Rx of Xanax come January when you're trying to balance your checkbook and pay the bills! Merry Christmas, all! Here's hoping you wallet is the only thing getting fatter this holiday season!

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