Christmas Budget

Well I’m not going to deny or try to sugar-coat it: I went over my Christmas spending budget this year. I’m not too happy about it but I’ve owned up to it. I think by being aware of it and learning from the mistakes I made I will feel a bit less stressed about it before and after the “big day”!

I set a budget which I knew was unrealistic, especially when the parties and the little “extras” started popping up. I have learned from this lack of preparation and immediately after Christmas I am opening up another bank account to start saving for next year. In my own defense, my son is growing like a weed and I had to buy him new boots and a new winter coat last week. This was an unexpected cost and has set off another light bulb to always have a buffer “just in case”.

Next year I will be prepared and this is how I’m going to do it:

1)      Open a “Gift-Only” banking account: this will include birthday, anniversary, wedding, baby and Christmas gifts. I’m going to estimate about $20 a week will be enough. That will add up to $1040 for one year. I don’t have many weddings or birthdays to go to lately so if I can’t keep within that budget then I have a problem!

2)      Open a banking account for all “Clothes, Entertainment & Sports” payments to come out of. This is going to require a lot more money than the “Gift-Only” account! I’m estimating $65 a week which adds up to $260 a month. This will cover hockey registration and equipment as well as clothes for my son and myself, and if I have any left over, maybe we can go see a movie every so often! I also hope to take a “mini” vacation in the summer for a few days and want to have the money saved up for it rather than paying for it afterwards.

3)      Shop earlier rather than later and take advantage of “Black Friday” again! I get too stressed out when I wait until the last minute to do things. I tried really hard to save up and wait it out this year but just couldn’t handle it. So, back to my old habits for next year: shop early and use online deals where I can. And take advantage of those Black Friday deals!

4)      Minimize gifts for people other than my immediate family. I don’t give teacher gifts anymore and my son does not exchange gifts with his friends. I rarely go to get-togethers and when I do I take basic snacks and drinks. I have cut back on my baking which I used to give as gifts to party hosts and family members but it started to get a bit too expensive. I’m ok with giving wine or a box of chocolates – they are a little less personal but – hey – isn’t it the company that counts?!

I am fairly confident I will be able to pay off the gifts I put on my credit card by the end of 2013. I’ve added it all up and it’s manageable. It’s just more than I thought I would spend…I’m thinking those are some famous last words we will be hearing many people say after the 25th!

avatarAuthor Bio ~ Kristine  (30 Posts)

A single mom in her 40’s juggling a full-time career and a full-time job of being a “Hockey Mom”. She will be blogging about the trials and tribulations of keeping a budget on track while faced with ever-changing situations. Lives for road trips with the windows down and good music! Always looking for balance in life but will go with the flow till that happens.

14 Responses to “Christmas Budget”

  1. Great that you are so honest and admit that you have learned from your actions. That’s how we grow. We have all done the same at one time or another. Do you use Gail’s jar system? I find it really helps. Sounds similar to what you are going to do only cash is on hand.

    • I do use Gail’s jar system but only for groceries, transportation and my son’s allowance. I have another bank account right now which I transfer to weekly and that is for his hockey. I eliminated the “misc/gifts” jar because I found I was dipping into it for groceries so I cut back a bit on groceries…I find if I have the money in front of me I spend it too quickly!

  2. Thanks for being honest. I’ve been doing my tracking/budget for almost 10 years and it has always been a work-in-process that can only be improved by being honest with myself, reflecting and tweaking as I go along.

    I think I have it pretty much hammered down now – know how and how much to spend.

    Another important note is getting to know the timing of your budget through-out the year!

    • I’m getting a bit better with the timing end of things, especially since it takes a lot to plan for 6 months of hockey payments every year! It’s the birthdays, etc. that I need that second account for so I can get organized on that end.

  3. Make sure you take a look at where the “birthdays” fall in the year – if you have too many birthdays and anniversaries, and babies falling too early in the year, you might not be able to save enough…..if they are fairly spaced out, then you should be fine….I do this and it works, but the birthdays I need to buy for are one in jan, two in feb, one in may, one in july, one in sept, one in oct and one in nov….so I have time between occasions to save the money…..

    • Great point! I think I am ok for frequency of birthdays and luckily there aren’t too many I buy for. Now that my son has his allowance I am getting him to pay for half of his friend’s gifts – that will make a difference!

  4. Wishing I could tell my in-laws that the plane tickets to get our butts over to Scotland for Christmas are their present. At $2,200.00 for two, they are the most expensive “gifts” of the season, that’s for sure!

    Our debt repayment percentage went from 50% of our income January-November, to just under 30% this December. Ouch.

    • I hear you…thankfully December is the only month this happens in! But at least you’re still putting a good percentage towards your debt :) Have a great trip!

  5. I think it is a good idea to set up separate accounts for the various gifts. Just be sure that there are no service charges that could eat away at these accounts. My credit union allows no cost accounts that are sub-accounts of my main savings one. For example account 123456 # 1 ,123456 #2 etc. If this is not practical make your one account break down to several “virtual accounts” by tracking them on paper as sub sections ie Christmas, Birthday etc. This would allow you to “borrow” back and forth between subaccounts when multiple birthdays occur in a single month. Ideally the jar system would do the same thing but having cash sitting around the house may not be ideal. Excuse my bluntness but perhaps a general paring back of gifting may be called for and that might prevent next year’s buyers remorse.

    • That is my main worry – the service charges. In my other account I use for hockey I am charged $3 for every transaction over 10 for the month. I’m positive this used to be $1.50 a year ago. I’m thinking of opening a TFSA for this extra account since they say you can transfer money freely…I will need to look into the fine print on that! You would think that after being with the same financial institution for over 30 years they would show me their appreciation and waive those ridiculous charges!

      • No service charges with ING. I love it! I have 5 other accounts…all nicknamed so I know what they are for. I transfer in and out of the accounts all the time and it’s all FREE!!

  6. I haven’t done so well myself this year. Typically I start shopping in August and have everything all done by the end of November. This year, it’s a week to the big day and I still haven’t finished shopping for my parents or my husband (the most important people in my books).

    I’ve just been shopping and paying the VISA every week for the past month. So far I’ve managed to stay under the line, but spending just about every penny out of our jar money to get there. It’s the first time we’ve ever gone outside of the prescribed spending areas. Not a nice feeling, but as you say, a lesson learned for the future. I think you’re account idea is a good one, makes everything very black and white.

  7. I’m keeping up the best I can too by keeping my credit card payments up-to-date. And most of the gifts I have bought are necessary items so that has lessened the guilty feeling. I’ve also cut back on a lot of things including stockings – I used to do a stocking for my dad and one for myself but now it’s just for my son. It’s amazing how much those little gifts add up!

  8. avatar Yellow Lilly Says:
    December 31, 2013 at 7:33 am

    We use payroll deductions for a Canada savings bond thru my husbands work. I cash them in every Christmas. They do not make much interest and take seven years to mature. I do leave a little in the account to mature , but use it for the sole purpose of saving for Christmas every year. Works wonderfully for us. Never see it never miss it.

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