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Groupon for the Win!


I decided that one of the presents for the family would be a trip to Stone Mountain Christmas. For years and years, we were blessed to live literally next door to Busch Gardens Williamsburg and almost always had season passes or attended their Christmas programs. I/we’ve missed those family outings.

And even though I did splurge on Universal passes last year for the littles and I, we only went twice. (I know bad financial decision, I’ve learned, I promise!)

Old Fashioned Family Fun

The idea came when we drove past a billboard for it on our roadtrip to Texas last month. I’m just ready for some good old fashioned family fun! But the tickets prices…eek! They would take up almost a 1/3 of my Christmas gift budget. And while I am doing great at staying in budget, really well in fact, I didn’t want to use quite so much on this excursion.

BUT…a quick search on Groupon and SCORE!!! 4 Christmas Tickets including all Christmas activities for $96 (a $31 savings off the online price.)

The kids and I are all excited for a weekend of fun, together as a family. All done and ready for Christmas. It will be a blast!

Discount on Groupon

As a sidenote, Groupon has a website banner offering an additional 25% local deals through tonight. If you are Groupon shopper, now would be a great time to check it out. Use the code: FRIENDS to receive the additional discount on some deals. (My Stone Mountain passes were not eligible, but I am still quite happy with my savings!)

This is not a sponsored post, I just got a good deal and know others could use some good deals this time of year. I hope you find something local in your area to experience with your family and/or friends this holiday season!

All of our Christmas traditions are newer to us these last couple of years. And with Gymnast missing this year, for the first year ever, I need some joy and distracting family fun. I think this will hit the spot for me.

What are your Christmas traditions? Do you add new ones?


Ashley’s Christmas Budget


It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a detailed budget or financial analysis. In all honesty, I’m trying to keep some of that private while I’m going through the separation process, as we’re in negotiations and I don’t want to publicly post about anything related to that until its set in stone (aka: has been agreed to in writing in a legally binding document).

I do think we’re making headway in that regard (much more than in previous months), so hopefully I’ll be able to share more long-term financial plans soon. But in the meantime, I wanted to talk about Christmas budgets.

Since I moved out of the marital residence, I’ve been on a pretty strict budget. I’m trying to save as much as possible, as the financial future is a bit unpredictable at the current time. Unfortunately, I don’t feel comfortable making any big allowances for Christmas, so this year’s Christmas budget will be pretty minimal.

Our big gift from my Mom was to purchase the three of us (me + both kids) plane tickets to come back over part of the winter break. We’ll remain in Tucson for Christmas (hubs and I will split time with the girls on Christmas day), but we’ll be able to visit family in Austin over the New Years holiday timeframe. This was a super generous splurge from my mom, as we’ve always driven back as a family in the past and, while I know I can do the 14-hour drive solo, it’s certainly not preferable (especially in the winter when conditions can range from just a bit cold to downright snowy. I’ll never forget the year we almost got stuck in El Paso, as the highway shut down due to high snowfall).

Usually, our Christmas budget has been at least a few hundred dollars. This year I budgeted $125. That’s it. For everyone. The whole family: Grandparents, Great-Grandparents, My kids, My nephews, My sister, and My Kids’ Dad. Getting gifts for this many people on such a small budget is going to be tough.

Grandparents & Great Grandparents (Budget: $5)

We have 2 Grandmas and 2 Great-Grandmas. I plan to do small/sentimental picture gifts for them (e.g., the kids’ new school picture in an inexpensive dollar store frame). I already bought pictures back in October, so I’d only need to buy frames.

My Nephews (Budget: $40)

In the past, I’ve gotten small gifts for my 2 nephews (age 2 + 5) PLUS made a donation to their 529 college accounts. Not sure what to do about that because I really liked the college donation, but I’m really short on cash sooooooo…..yeah. Going to have to figure something out there. I’m only budgeting $20/nephew.

My Sister (Budget: $25)

My sister is one of my best friends and has always had my back through thick and thin, but perhaps more this year than ever before given the ongoings in my personal life. I know we’re adults and a lot of people will say not to get her anything, but I would like to do something for her, just to let her know I love her and am thankful for having her in my life.

Kids’ Dad (Budget: $15)

I don’t feel the need to send a gift from me, personally, but I think it would be nice to let the girls pick out something small to give their Dad for the holiday.

My Kids (Budget: $40)

Last but certainly not least, I’ve got to get my kiddos something! To be fair, on Black Friday I bought tickets (no expiration) to a local fun-park called Funtasticks. I like to do experience gifts so I think that will be fun and it was paid in November so it’s not part of the gift-giving budget for December. But I have literally zero presents under our tree right now and I’ve got to figure out some inexpensive but fun items I can have for them to unwrap. It’s going to look pretty barren this year already given that my Mom’s gift was the plane tickets and hubs’ Mom will send her gifts to Hubs’ house. The only gifts under our tree will be the ones I personally purchase. So even if it’s small, I need something for them to unwrap under there.

Looking at this long list of people to buy for, I’m feeling like it may be an impossible task to keep to $125 budget for everyone.  I was texting a friend the other day who said she’d just finished all of her holiday shopping and I wanted to yelp. I literally haven’t even come up with a gift list yet, much less bought anything from it!

Help me out! What are some ideas of inexpensive gifts I could get for the people on our list to help me stay within my tight budget?