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Christmas Plan


I have really struggled with Christmas spending this year. Not overspending as you would expect, but not wanting to spend at all. What a change in mindset for me!

But the debt numbers going down and the larger debt payments lately have really been inspirational. And I keep wanting to push harder.

That being said, I really appreciate the recent reader advice on Christmas presents. While Princess and Gymnast are pretty easy to buy for, the twins are much more challenging. But I have finally come up with a plan!


Gymnast will be spending Christmas with his dad this year. Don’t get me started on the emotions that rile up anytime I think about this. But with that being said, I have finished shopping for him early and am getting a box in the mail to him next week so that will be done.

I spent right around $50 on his presents and while shipping will bump that a little bit, I feel good about what I am sending and hope he enjoys it. (Can’t reveal what I got him as I’m not sure if he has ever stumbled upon this site.)

I do realize this is less than I am spending on the other three, please don’t crucify me for it. There are two reasons for this: 1) he has been quite spoiled since moving to his dad’s and wants/needs little to nothing and 2) the other three kids just have me, while he will be getting presents from his “new” family as well. I did put thought into this. Any parents who have dealt with this know what I mean. In no way am I trying to “short” my youngest son.

New Christmas Tradition

Last year was our first year in our home, in our new state and I really wanted to create some new Christmas traditions after the years of hardship. With my dad’s sponsorship, we played the Saran Wrap Ball Game, it was so much fun!

I have decided to add that as part of my Christmas budget, not tied to a particular child. As you can see from the video above, the items don’t have to be expensive. I’m budgeting $40 towards the creation of our “ball” this year.


Stockings are one of my favorite Christmas traditions from my own childhood. I have debated on what to do about Gymnast in this regards and have finally decided that this is one tradition I will not be able to share with him from a distance. I am keeping his stocking here in hopes that he will be home again someday. But I’m sure his dad and girlfriend will have some traditions that will take it’s place this year.

As for the three oldest, I am budgeting $5 10 per stocking (had to revise this number after some browing and idea gathering,) but am also putting some of the presents from their uncles and aunt in their stockings as they are gift cards. This serves two purposes, it will bulk up the stockings a bit and more importantly, keep me from losing the gift cards that came back from Texas with us!

Christmas Presents

I have decided on a budget of $100 per child. And as mentioned previously, I feel pretty good about what I’m going to get Princess, but the twins are still a mystery. I hope they reveal some needs/wants that aren’t over the top in the next couple of weeks.

I know they are all going to get cash from my parents so I will not be giving any cash or gift cards (other than the saran wrap ball.) I love this time of year. I love giving gifts. And I’ve been trying to think of a way to implement the “gift a month” idea one commentor posted recently – maybe a stack of “coupons” by month. I don’t know, I’m still thinking about it.

Christmas Total

This brings my Christmas gift total to $350 plus shipping + stockings $30 + saran wrap ball $40 = $420! Yikes, that adds up quickly. And now I’m back to wavering on these numbers again. Well, let’s say this will be my max, but I’m hoping to spend less than this. I will let you know how it goes!

Hope’s Winter Budget – Revised December 2018


As I mentioned in my debt update post yesterday, I am working on a new budget for the beginning of 2019. This is my first pass at it.

Hope's Monthly Budget - Rev 12/2018

DescriptionMonthly Budget
Total Personal$2,878
Household (hygiene, cleaning, etc.)$25
Auto - Gas$120
Health Insurancemedicaid ($305)
Auto/Rent Insurance$100
Utilities (gas, electric, water, trash)$290
Life Insurance$23 (paid quarterly)
Kids Activities$50
Misc - Entertainment/Clothing$150
Auto - Maintenance/Fees$80
EF Savings$84
Debt Payments - minimum payments
Car Payment$400
Collections #2$246
Credit Card$60
Collections #3$0
Student Loansibr ($300)

For the first time, I have removed all business related line items. With my new structure and organization, my business related costs are 100% covered by my business income/account. It feels so good to be a stable place again.

Budget Notes

With that being said, there are a few new things here that are worth pointing out:

  • Auto Costs – While my car is older, it is still pretty reliable. I decided to break out the monthly fuel cost from the maintenance costs. The maintenance/fee costs are not used every month and are growing a buffer for the time when I do need to put some money into the car.
  • Savings – This fall I did not save at all. I established a $1000 EF with my Self Lender account this summer and just left it, focusing instead on debt payments and getting back on solid ground. I have set a goal to save an additional $1000 in that fund this year. That is the $84 per month. I know a $2,000 EF is not much, but I’m taking baby steps I feel good about.
  • Buffer – I put several line items under the “Buffer” headline. These are items that are not spent every month or all the time, but I want to start creating a savings towards them on a regular basis. While we really have no activity costs right now, there are times when Princess needs money for school activities, etc. that don’t give me much notice. (This past week they went on a field trip to Medieval Times that cost $40.)
  • Debt – Unlike my last budget, I included my debt outlays in this budget. And I anticipate these number will change before this budget will take affect in January, but this is my jumping off point and where I am today.

Where can I trim?

I’m anxious to get our monthly spending below the $2,000 threshold. That just seems like a good number in my increasingly frugal mind. But I feel like we are living pretty close to the minimum with our spending as is. Do you see anywhere we might could cut out?

My eye immediately goes to groceries but with two grown, working, college attending men and a growing teenage daughter, I just don’t see that as going down while they are all still at home. But I’m been scouring recipe books and sites to come up with some ideas. Meal planning and prepping definitely helps me keep it under control.

We restocked the pantry when we returned from Texas with canned items and bulk items from Sams Club. I am waiting on a meat sale at our local Quality Food grocery store to stock the freezer. Perhaps a quarterly “eat through the pantry” month would be a good way to help with these. We took it down to almost nothing with our No Spend October and part of November.