It’s a new year, fresh budget, and time to reset my cash envelope wallet.

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Budgeting For Christmas

Christmas Pix (2)

Christmas 2013 was the first for my husband and I as a married couple. We had figured out what we were getting everyone: homemade puppy chow in mason jars. I calculated everything out, waiting for the grocery store sales, and covered my kitchen counter and dining room table with pans of cooling puppy chow. But we ended up spending more money than we anticipated.

January 2014, I was working on the monthly budget, and we were able to put away $50 for Christmas. We were fortunate enough to be able to do that for every month, giving us $600 for Christmas. For some families, they are not able to set aside so much, so my recommendation is so set aside as much money as you can and try to stick to that amount for Christmas.

Since I knew my estimate, the next step was to figure out what to do as Christmas presents and how many people were on our list. It took longer than usual to figure out what we were going to do.

We eventually decided on Emergency S’mores Kits. Packages included: (4) Santa modeled chocolate bars; (4) Jumbo marshmallows; (1) package of plain graham crackers (the ones that come in the 6 half packs); (4) bamboo skewers; package of water-proof matches; and a packet of Wise Fire Emergency Fire Starter. (Husband found those in the LA Police Gear catalog.

Here’s the price break down:

Santa modeled chocolate bars $3.97/6 pack (total needed: 14 packages of chocolate bars, $55.58)

Jumbo marshmallows

Graham crackers $2.98/6 pack (total needed: 4 boxes of graham crackers, $11.92)

Bamboo skewers $1.99/100 skewers (total needed: 1 package, $1.99)

Water-proof matches $3.99/4 pack (total needed: 5 packages, $19.95)

Wise Fire Emergency Fire Starter $27.19/15 pack (total needed: 2 packages [way cheaper than buying 5 more individually], $54.38)

There were some other gifts bought mainly for convenience and we knew certain family members would not have appreciated the Emergency S’mores Kits.

Gift card for out of state relative: $50.00

Grandma’s gift: $30.00

Mom’s gift: $28.33

Total spent on Christmas 2014: Jumbo Marshmallows + $252.15.

So we were way over on our estimate for Christmas, but I don’t have problem with that. The extra money went towards other things in the month of December after presents were taken care of. It was really nice not having to worry about if we had the money for presents or general living in December. My job’s pay schedule is really messed up Thanksgiving through the end of January.

Everyone that received an Emergency S’mores Kit LOVED it! My uncle and cousin were going hunting a few days after Christmas and were very glad to have these to take along.

Now it is 2015. We’re setting the $50 aside again this year. If it becomes a hardship some months, I now know that cutting back won’t be a big deal. Budget estimate is set, now I need to figure out what we’re going to do this year for presents!

© Cori Large January 1-2, 2015

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

Summary:

Dave Ramsey teaches readers how to conquer their pile of debt, build an emergency fund, and save properly for the future. He makes it very clear that this isn’t a get rich quick scheme; that it will take lots of hard work and dedication. His motto, Live like no one else, so you can one day live like no one else, may not make sense at first, but when you do finally comprehend it, you will feel inspired.

Opinion:

Truth: for the longest time I thought Dave Ramsey was some other financial guru who likes to hear himself talk. I was given the audio book as a gift from someone who had tried his method and it worked for her family. He does have good ideas, thought I’m not a complete convert. Once fiancé listens to it as well, we’re going to discuss what we’d like to implement in our financial life.

Dave Ramsey’s website had a lot of helpful tools. He also has an afternoon radio show on AM 540 where he takes phone calls and tries to help people through their financial questions on air.

© Cori Endicott March 8, 2013