Holiday Blog Series: The Gift Budget

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind me, I struggle to write this blog post. I wish this outlandish buying frenzy would stop. Our society so driven to buy, buy, buy and Christmas was never meant to be about that…(Now I am off the soap box, I promise)

When trying to figure out who and what to buy, don’t forget about the how. How will you pay for it? Please don’t rely on credit lest I stand back up on my soap box again! The best thing to do here is to create a budget and track your spending. Here are 5 easy steps to do this:

Step 1: Decide how much money you have to spend in total. That is your gift budget.

Step 2: Break down the total into smaller budgets for each person. Let’s say your budget is $300 and you have 4 children and a spouse. Your breakdown may be $50 per child and $100 for your spouse in gift spending.

Step 3: Brainstorm a list of items as gift ideas. Write them down. Also write down the amount you intend to spend on each person.

Step 4: Take it when you shop – the brainstorm list and your budgeted amounts

Step 5: As you shop, write down what you purchased and the cost. When you reach the budget limit for a particular person, stop buying for them.

In the past I have carried a tiny notebook in my purse, using one page per person that I intended to buy for. On each page, I also wrote the budgeted dollar amount beside their name. Then I switched, for a few years, to an actual Christmas Planner. Just Google “Christmas Planner” and you can download forms/lists to make your own holiday planner.

In a blog post, I showed some ways you can make your own holiday planner, if you are crafty. But now, I just use my Evernote. I have talked about Evernote before when I shared how I turned my recipes into a digital format and how it can be used to help you organize your travel plans. This is my second year using Evernote for my Christmas shopping. It’s really convenient for me because not only is it on my tablet, but it’s also on my phone (which goes with me everywhere)! Essentially I created a notebook called Christmas 20xx, then made a page per person just like I used to do in the notebook I kept in my purse. Here’s a screen shot of one of the people I shopped for last year. Next to his name was my gift budget for this person.

Evernote_Christmas_pageWhenever I went shopping, I paid attention to the bold items because bold items were what was left to shop for. The numbers in pink represent how much I had already spent so far.   This system of writing things down and assigning a budget to each person has really helped me to stay within my personal budget and not incur debt during the holidays. Give this a try when you shop this year; it’s easy to do whether you are using paper or your smart phone app!

Christmas Shopping on a Budget

Today, I’ve decided to do something a little different.  I’ve invited a guest blogger to post on my site.  I think the blog is perfect for this time of year.  Let me know what you think.  I would love to hear your thoughts.  Happy Holidays and happy shopping!  Warmly, Natalie

Do you wait until the last minute to do your Christmas shopping?  Well, with only a few days to go, you need to get moving!

Although this is a fun time of year, it can be stressful especially in today’s economic climate.   A lot of us can feel the shortage of cash these days and most of us need to be aware of what we are spending.  Do you have a Christmas budget?  If not, here are a few tips that can help you control your spending during this festive time of year:

  • Leave your debit and credit cards home.  This gives you an instant visual indication of how much you’re spending.
  • Shop at outlet malls. Shopping at outlets of your favorite stores and designers can save a bundle.
  • Have a game plan.  Set a budget, even a good deal isn’t a deal if you can’t afford it.
  • Hang onto your receipts.  Many stores give price adjustments within 14 days.
  • Shop with a list.  You can zip through the stores faster and are more apt to avoid impulse buying.

I hope I have given you some good tips and even if you don’t use all of them, just a few will be better than not using any tip at all.

Guest Blogger: JoAnn Lennon, Pure Edge Nutrition –
Pure Edge Nutrition is dedicated to providing you with the most advanced, all natural, weight loss supplements.
Also check out the new beauty line!

Not another gift exchange!

A while ago, I did a post called Stop Buying Useless Gifts.  The essence of the post was that we need to be more conscientious of the kinds of gifts we are buying.  Let’s not add to one another’s clutter. Now that we are in the largest gift giving season in America, it’s important to consider the gifts we are buying.  This post is a result of a recent almost-useless-gift-exchange.


Recently I was hosting a ladies luncheon and the attendees suggested we do an ornament gift exchange since it was Christmas this month.  In my head, I immediately thought “Oh, great more clutter!” (I also wanted to roll my eyes but fought the urge.)
Rather than an ornament gift exchange, I thought about another gift idea.  I suggested that we each purchase a toy and bring it wrapped to the luncheon.  The ladies agreed and after the luncheon, we gathered around the table with all the wrapped toys. We proceeded to play the infamous “stealing game”; each person takes a turn, chooses a gift to unwrap or can steal one that has been opened by another person.  As each toy was unwrapped, we “oohed and aahed” and talked about our childhood memories of our favorite toys.  Once the “game” was over, they all said good-bye and left the toys….with me.


Not to worry, it was all part of the plan.  I then took the unwrapped toys to a local non-profit that serves homeless families.  They were overjoyed and said they prefer the toys be unwrapped so that they can see them and determine which child should get what. And so, the luncheon was a success; everyone had fun, got to unwrap something and somewhere in our city a little child will be blessed with a new toy on Christmas morning.


Put a little thought into your gift exchanges this year, and let me know what you decide to do. I’d love to hear your gift ideas!


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