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Posts tagged with: holiday budget

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?



Ashley’s September 2015 Budget Update


Things were pretty ho-hum in terms of spending and budgeting in the month of September. No spending was crazy or out-of-line with what would be expected. Here’s our budget from September:


Place Amount Spent
Rent 1200
Electricity 251
Water 60
Natural gas 34
Cell Phones (2 lines) 82
Cable/Internet 97
Car Insurance 117
Trash 35
Preschool 916
Gift-Giving 30
Personal Maintenance 14
Restaurants 105
Groceries 601
Gasoline 74
Household Goods 50
Clothing 81
Toddler purchases 0
Postage 14
Rainy Day Savings 225
Savings Goals 500
Debt Payments 2564
Total Budgeted $7050


Last month I’d reported issues with both my cable and cell phone bills. I was happy to report when both of those issues are resolved.

The $50 household goods charge was for all those Bath and Body Works candles I bought (remember?) And the clothing purchases still never did include those black pants I was after (in fact, I didn’t go shopping again for the rest of the month after that incident). But the first weekend of October I managed to score a really cute pair for 50% off at Banana. That place is becoming my gold mine! (side note: how is a plain pair of black pants “super cute,” you may ask? Aren’t’ they all rather plain? And the answer is no. The ones I got are adorbs. They’re ankle-pants, like the new kind that are in style now. I know that’s not necessarily great long-term since they’re likely to go in and out of style, but I lurve them! They’re super flattering, go with a ton of stuff, and I will get lots of wear out of them!)

Our rainy day savings was a little slim this month:  $200 toward our dental fund (in anticipation of hubs’ upcoming dental work needs) and $25 toward the girls’ college savings. Nothing else. I’ve really gotten a little too close to the line on our savings. I’ve been a little skimpy in favor of making larger debt payments. But this needs to stop.

We’ve got to beef back up our:

  • 3-6 month EF (which we depleted down to about $1,000 back in August and have never replenished)
  • car repair fund (which we always end up depleting everytime it gets to about the $1,000 mark. Right now we only have $75 in it!)
  • annual fees fund (which is just silly to neglect because these are known and expected expenses)

So those will be priorities in the coming months.

The $500 toward our savings goals represents the $500 funneled toward Cruise 2016 (only 6 more months until the sale date! We booked 12 months in advance so it feels like it’s really coming up even though its still half a year away!)

That’s it for this month!

How was your spending in September? Are you anticipating any big holiday spending in October? I’ve really been trying to keep my eyes peeled for possible Christmas gifts. I’d rather spread out the shopping a little instead of having it all concentrated in December!