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A Merry Christmas That Was Under Budget


Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope that everyone is having a pleasant holiday season. I had a great and simple Christmas this year and spent it with my mom. We did a bit of grocery shopping, retail browsing, and spent most of our time at home. We discovered that Christmas Eve seems like the best day of the entire year to find movies on television, and not just Christmas movies. There were so many movies showing on TV that we ended up watching many old classics like the Wizard of Oz, all three versions of Scrooge, Shrek, Polar Express, and of course, a Christmas Story many times over. On Christmas day we opened presents, ate a nice dinner, and went to the movies. I also think that we were sincere when we answered the question of what a great holiday blessing was this year as simply being able to spend the holiday with each other.

I am also happy to be below budget for Christmas this year so I am feeling like a master budget-er this time. I saved $350 for the holiday this year, starting by saving $75 in October. My personal gifting philosophy is a balance between quality gift giving and frugality. I believe that people have to find what works for their budget, lifestyle, family traditions, family size, etc. For me, I like to give quality gifts to the most immediate people in my life, such as my parents and boyfriend, even if that means splurging a bit. For my family and friends, I seek to give gifts that are still meaningful, but don’t have to be amazing.  

For example, this year I am gifting smart watches to my parents. It’s no cheap gift. However, it is worth it to me, especially because I want to push my parents to remain active, and also to answer all of my calls and texts immediately, of course. I got the Fitbit Charge 2 on sale on black Friday for about $125 for my dad and a Fitbit-type smartwatch that has different features that my mom would like and is cheaper on Amazon. This turned out to be a great choice, because a few days before Christmas, my mom told me that she wanted a Fitbit. I think she reads my mind sometimes.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, personalized gifts work well as a frugal option for me. I got an engraved cutting board for my stepfather. He really enjoys to cook and likes collecting any type of cooking paraphernalia. The total cost came to under $10. I also got gifts for my supervisors. I ended up finding three nice gifts and a set of gift bags from Burlington for a total of exactly $25. After my spending is totaled, I ended up having about $60 left. My original plan was to put this entire remainder toward my credit card, but then I got a bill about balance from a recent doctor visit and I will put it toward that and the leftover will be absorbed.

Another reason that I ended up below budget because I was not sure where I was going to spend Christmas this year. Sometimes I am with my mom and just the two of use exchange gifts. One year, I was with one side of the family and we decided ahead of time that none of us would exchange gifts and we all pitched in for a gift for my grandmother only. Another year, I was with other family members who traveled to Disney World and had a magical time and we all exchanged gifts with everyone. This is where family size and tradition comes into play and when I know ahead of time, I can budget accordingly. This year, with just my mom and I, I remembered the beauty of simple times spent with loved ones.

Insurance Policies You Might Need After Age 50


There are many reasons that people think about insurance as they get older. Making sure that loved ones are taken care of is a primary thought, but there are also some specific insurance policies you might need after you turn fifty.

It can be harder to obtain certain types of insurance as you age, but there are still many possibilities for coverage against the unexpected regardless of your age.

Here are what we believe are some of the most important types to consider.

Life Insurance

The older we get, the more we worry about our dependants. Would they be financially stable if we were no longer able to support them?

It shouldn’t be difficult to obtain life insurance beyond 50, especially if you live a healthy lifestyle. For non-smokers without any major health-related issues, it can be very similar to getting life insurance before turning fifty. Still, many companies will request a physical exam.

The most common types of life insurance are term life, coverage for a selected period, and whole life, coverage for a lifetime.

One thing to consider is your circumstances. If your children are still in college, or your mortgage still has some years remaining to pay, you may want to take out term insurance that covers your family until these expenses are paid in full.

Medical Insurance

While some debate the importance of health insurance over age fifty, medical insurance remains an important safety net to have.

Again, a physical exam may be required, but as long as you live a healthy lifestyle without significant health-related issues, getting coverage should be a simple process.

The four most common plans are as follows:

  • Health maintenance organizations – There may be a lack of options when it comes to finding a care provider with this type of plan
  • Preferred provider organizations – Most costly, but there is more freedom for selecting your care provider
  • Exclusive provider organizations – You can choose from the companies’ care providers; otherwise, you will have to pay more
  • High deductible health plans – This plan is combined with a health savings account
  • Point of service plans – These plans offer a lower premium, but this does result in fewer options when it comes to your provider

For many people, the older they get, the more medical attention their bodies require, so a good level of medical insurance can be a good idea.

Travel Insurance

Many insurance companies are offering favorable deals for those over fifty. They take into account some of the relevant information that affects this demographic, such as medical conditions. Some people will find it hard to find travel insurance if they have suffered from a heart condition, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke or cancer.

Coverage can also protect you against a lost or stolen passport, cancellations, and even pet care.

Travel insurance may be available as a multi-trip policy as well. This is great for anyone who travels a lot for their work or other reasons.

Car Insurance

Essential insurance for any age bracket, you cannot drive a vehicle without it.

Still, anyone looking to continue driving after age fifty should be able to get a reasonable quote from a tailor-made policy for their age range. As a more experienced driver, you are likely to pay a better price than a new or young driver.

Consistent, safe driving over a period of years will work in your favor in some areas. Some companies reward drivers if you can show that you have not been at fault for an accident year after year.

Home Insurance

Seniors who are not in the same physical condition as they once were will benefit from the peace of mind that if anything goes wrong with their property, they are covered.

Homeowners should already know that it is a legal requirement for them to have home insurance.

Insurance companies have found that the over fifty demographic make fewer claims, and when they do, the claim tends to be for less money. This has resulted in cheaper policies for those over fifty. This is great because it is important for seniors to insure their belongings as well as the building itself. Seniors tend to have more valuables and even antiques that need to be covered in the event of an accident or theft.

Pet Insurance

Vet bills can be a major expense when you are on a fixed income.  Instead of having to part with a family friend because of the expense, people choose to purchase pet health insurance policies.

These policies work in many of the same ways as normal health insurance and can make expensive vet treatments easy to handle.

It’s clear that people over fifty don’t require different insurance from other age brackets. They can enjoy some of the added benefits that their age may bring. It’s always good to be protected against some of life’s unwanted surprises no matter what your age may be.