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How Do You Decide on a Christmas Budget?


Budgets are something that we discuss often. And many would say I don’t have a budget, but rather monitor my money with the spending spreadsheet where I forecast out a year. I would say I do have a budget, but we are not going to get into that.

For Christmas, I make a detailed budget and stick to it. It usually starts with me figuring out a total dollar amount and then dividing it up to save throughout the year. I start with the ”fixed” or non-negotiables like stocking stuffers and food and fit in everything else.

Hope's Christmas Tree

I did hold true to my desire to decorate for Christmas early. Our Christmas Tree and the bulk of our decorations went up the week before Halloween when all the kids were here to celebrate the twins’ birthday. I love it! And get to enjoy it every day while I work.

Our Christmas budget has changed a lot over the years as our family has grown, jobs and income have changed and the kids have gotten older. But it’s currently about $2,000 per year. This covers good, holiday activities and all gifts.

In addition, our traditions have changed. While we are still very big on presents, I think we’ve all become alot more thoughtful in our gift giving. I know I work very hard every year to find a “wow” gift for each child and then also fulfill some needs and a want or two. Experiences have become my favorite gift to give as well.

I Love Tradition

Our roller coaster life has really hindered creating many traditions that stick. Stockings remain. Some type of game on Christmas Eve. And we do tend to have “junk food” day on Christmas with our family meal the night before. While almost all of my Christmas traditions cost little to no extra money, I am of the opinion that I would like to create some sort of experiential tradition now that the kids are older. But I have no idea what that would be.


I know everyone has a different feeling about this topic. I personally love Santa. I love how excited kids get when talking about him and for many years we had Santa gifts as well as gifts from each other. But after the twins joined our family, the financial burden was too much for me.

I wrote them all a “good-bye” note from Santa one year. They still talk about how devastating that was. (Terrible mom idea by the way.) I’m not sure what the kids will decide to do when they have kids. Of course, I will support whatever they decide, but I like the idea of one or two Santa gifts only. Not only does this put a limit on things it also sets a reasonable expectation for what Santa can do. This is what worked for me when Gymnast and Princess were younger.

I wrote a couple of months ago about my desire to use my Christmas budget a bit differently this year. I’ve not completely given up that idea. But I also haven’t come up or settled on any brilliant ideas on what they would look like.

Some people spend $0.00 on gifts and that is 100% fine. Though Christmas will always be Christmas even without the gifts, there is a big part of me who gets genuine joy with the exchange of a gift.

How do you decide how your budget will get broken down? What are your non-negotiables?

House News!


When our realtor contacted me, she initially told me she had two offers in hand.


Nothing makes a heart go pitter patter quite like two offers (said dripping with sarcasm). By Monday, we had 13. Lucky number 13. AND, they were what we wanted to get for the house.

Helpful advice for those who are selling (and it’s in line with Dave Ramsey) pick a top performing realtor. Our realtor is in the top 5% for our county. She met with us at the very start to discuss exactly what we needed to do and what we didn’t. She did several walk throughs, giving us lots of helpful feedback along the way. Some things she recommended specific to our situation

1) Home staging. She recommended we stage the home since it had no furniture…at a painful cost of $1,800 (she split the cost with us). I disagreed but went with it anyway. When you have a top performer, you have to listen. While I don’t think this is great in every situation, it definitely worked in ours. Feedback on the staging was amazing from nearly everyone who saw the house. Heck, I wanted to move back in!

2) Home warranty. This is very un-Dave Ramsey but she said in very sue happy California, it’s been her experience that it’s just less stress to get one… at a price tag of $500.

3) Remodeling before selling. She doesn’t always recommend this (she rarely does) but since my husband is a contractor and we only have to pay for materials, it made the most sense. We redid the kitchen, a bathroom, repainted the entire house inside and outside, and a whole bunch of other small repairs based on her recommendations. Total cost about $20K.

4) She put on house on the market on a Friday morning and held open houses Saturday and Sunday. We had over 200 people through our house those days. Thirteen offers by Monday afternoon. All but two were over asking price.

Would the above work for you? Nope. What is the best for your situation? GET A GOOD REALTOR! Everyone is a realtor these days. We have an aunt in Texas who is a brand-new realtor who assumes she will be our realtor next year when we buy. There will be a very painful conversation explaining that won’t be happening. This experience really drove home Dave’s advice. This is the BIGGEST sale and/or purchase of your life. Now ain’t the time to be concerned about Aunt Nancy’s feelings.