Thursday, March 8, 2018

Revising the Christmas budget

Do you set a Christmas budget and save for it throughout the year?

Every year after Christmas Day, I set a new budget and start working/saving towards for the next year's gifts. I've always been a 'shop year round' for the holidays kinda girl. When I worked in the corporate financial world, we used to get a 13th check at Christmas (equal to one month's salary). In South Africa, Christmas falls during the summer holidays, so the majority of businesses close and everyone goes on summer vacation and spend like there's no tomorrow. During January, most people are broke and can't wait until month end, for their paycheck. I was a little smarter than that. I shopped year round when I found clearance deals (I've always been a little planner). When we got our 13th check in December, I would save it for January when everyone's broke. My colleagues didn't understand how I could give them all Christmas gifts and still have money in

So back to the budget. For this year I've budgeted $1500 (don't fall off your This amount includes $500 for BF (Black Friday) shopping. That is, $500 in gift cards. Other than RA & CVS, I don't set foot in the stores during BF. I shop in my jammies, with a cup of coffee, on my computer. I might need to write a post on how and why I save and shop for BF.

So for Christmas, the total is basically $1000. That is for DH, DS and some misc gifts. Neither of us have any family here (well DH has some, but we don't buy gifts for them) and I shop for my 3 nephews/2 nieces throughout the year with gcs and just mail a box to them. So it's mainly just the cost of postage (which is pretty pricey).

DH normally just wants gcs to the Home Improvement store. No problemo. I always get $100 Home Deport gc at RA during BF, because there's usually around $16 rewards back. Another $100 gc I can either get through with my CC rewards or look for a discounted gc. I like to put some items under the tree for him, so I have 2 items on my list that I think he might like. I'm budgeting another $100 for that, even though it will cost a little less than that. We don't do stocking stuffers, because we already have everything we need. I really don't like to get a bunch of stuff we don't need or won't use. That's why we just buy a big ticket item or gcs.

We've already knocked out 3 small gifts for DS with amazon gcs. I'm budgeting another $150 in Target gcs for gifts for him and I'll pick up 2 tshirts with his favorite character at Kohls. None of us like getting clothes for Christmas, but he loves getting these tshirts every year. There is another big ticket item that I have my eye on for him that will cost around $250 cash. I'm really on the fence about this, because it's a high amount to spend on just one item. It's a personalised handmade item, but I'm really not feeling it at that price. I'm gonna add it to my budget, but I'm not sure I'll purchase it.

Then another $100 for gcs for teachers, mailman etc. I like to get each person $10 Target gc when Target has the 10% discount in December. The gcs then cost me $9 each or I'm paying $90 for $100 gcs.

So, in total my new budget is $800 (excluding BF). $620 of that is cash, so I need to earn enough cash from selling our old stuff.

This brings me to my new plan for Savingstar/Ibotta. I usually order Starbucks gcs from Savingstar, as teacher's gift. Earlier this week, I had a lightbulb moment.Why not just cash out Savingstar to my bank account (I don't use my Paypal account) and then buy discounted gcs at Sams. That way nobody gets a paper/egift card and I have more options available (not just Starbucks). Sams usually has good gc deals over the holidays, so I can save a little extra that way. I only need 2 more gcs ($20 total), so any extra cash I earn, will be added to the Christmas fund. That fund currently has $32 from earned rebates. I'm not adding the current cash amount from our sales, because we might still spend some of that cash during the year. I'll just try to build this fund and use whatever Sales cash we have available around October.

I've also decided to get some Sams Club/Walmart gcs through Ibotta. I like to get Target gcs to buy HBA or household items, but we have a decent stockpile and I will continue to stock up at the drugstores. I'll use the Walmart gcs to purchase discounted Red Robin gcs. Sams sell $50 gcs (it's a 3pk of $15 gcs with a $5 bonus) for $42.78. So I'll be saving $7.22 on $50 worth of gcs.  So we'll earn cash back through Ibotta just for doing our regular shopping (if there are MM deals, even better), then pay for our dining out with those discounted gcs. It's almost like eating out for free.  It's a win-win situation.

I haven't done any drugstore shopping this week. I might stop at RA & CVS for MM Colgate (CVS) when I run errands tomorrow.


  1. I budget for Xmas spending too. It comes every year without fail so I don't understand how people are caught unawares when it rolls around. lol
    Now that we are retired and our kids will be 27, 26 and 22 when it rolls around in 2018 the gifting will go down more. The few we gift to that are extended family will no longer happen either...or will just be gift baskets of toiletries I get for free. lolz We may travel or have a big get together for family which will be the bulk of our spending for the Holiday. We also don't spend a lot on each other at Xmas.

    1. I keep telling my DH that I don't need anything. I could do with not getting any gifts because we have everything we need, but he insists. I'd love to travel. Now that DH is almost retired, he's talking about travelling. I've got Europe on my wish list.

      I have a friend whose family takes them on vacation every December. It's the parents' Christmas gift to them. I love that idea, because the experience is so much better than just more 'stuff'.


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