Review and Renew

The Christmas Budget
How we did and how we're doing.

Photo Credit: Jan Stromme

We Christmas'd.
And lazed around.
And second Christmas'd.
And New Year'd.

And went back to school/work for two days and then blizzarded for 2 days which led to a 4 day weekend. Now we're all a little bit sick of each other and are in desperate need of a shower and a routine - you?

You remember way back what seems a year ago (the beginning of December) when I laid out our Christmas budget plan, yes? I thought it would be a good idea - for myself and transparency - to share how we actually did and our plans going forward for next year.

The Review
The beginning budget:

This was to be for all gifts, decorations, food, the works.

Actual spent:

The budget busters? My husband bought me a new winter coat, a t-shirt he heard me say I wanted and...I caved and did stockings for the kids.

The downside - clearly we didn't hit our target budget.
The upside - we were able to pay for all of it in cash and have no Christmas debt - wahoo!

The Reflection
Here's what I've learned...

When I first added up all the numbers and saw we didn't hit the mark, I was disappointed. OK, I was more than disappointed - I was frustrated. Silly, I know. But there were things on there that I forgot about, like a present for our amazing neighbor and shipping costs for my mother in law's gift and running out of wrapping paper and needing to get more. And I was mad at myself for not planning for these things. And I was a little frustrated with my husband for spending on me and spending big. We don't normally do a whole lot of gifts for each other, and I was trying to do a thing here!

Once I sat with those thoughts for a minute I realized I had a choice.
I could be rigid with myself and others who love me and consider the whole thing a failure because we didn't make the mark or I could be proud of the HUGE strides we had made this year in paying everything with cash and not having any Christmas debt and move forward with a new plan for next year. The latter seemed better for overall mental health and the state of my marriage with the added bonus of not sounding like a crazy person. I went for it.

(I'm thinking that there's a budgeting version of I Corinthians 13 that says something like this:
If you plan to the last penny, and use coupons to their fullest potential, and stay under your pre-determined budget but have not love - you are a lonely, stiff-necked woman named Allison and no one wants to live with you. Or something.)

The Renew:
My plan for 2018 is to definitely put $20 in the Christmas envelope each and every Monday. How I missed the mark in this department last year is that I would see what I had leftover from the week's money and try to stick a $20 in there. Or put the money in on Monday, but then have to take it out by week's end (or mid). This year, $20 is not part of the household budget. So...I go to the ATM every Monday, take out the money for the week's groceries, gas, etc, AND take out an additional $20 that goes directly into the Christmas cash envelope. Saving for Christmas doesn't put a strain on the rest of the week's budget because it is nothing but Christmas money.

$20 a week for 52 weeks will yield $1040.00 Which is even more than we actually spent all tolled, but is a good number because we did several things over the break, including ice skating and going to see the new Star Wars movie and bringing a dessert to second Christmas that I would like to all be included in the Christmas budget instead of digging into a weekly budget situation. 

Extra monies that I might then have left over each week, I'm going to stick them in the Christmas envelope too. I have found over the last several years that right at the end of the purchasing season, my husband tends to get a last minute idea or two for the kids. I love that he thinks of a special something or other for each of them, and I want to be prepared for it. $50 oughta do it, and so a dollar here and there as I have them will definitely cover that cost. 

The Irony:

I have wanted a longer, warmer, hooded winter coat for about 3 winters now. We haven't bought one. This year, with no prompting from me, but a nudge from my daughter, my husband went out and bought this coat. And then we got 16" of snow and wind chill factors of -16. Record setting cold for NJ I'm pretty sure. So this coat is a need - not just a want. And I've worn it every day since receiving it. Sometimes God just reaches in to your efforts and says I'm going to give you this blessing and, because I know you, I'm going to show you how and why it's ok. At least that's how I like to see it! 

Care to join me in saving for 2018's Christmas? It's not too late! My Etsy shop has some Christmas cash envelope sinking fund envelopes in stock, and you can find them by clicking here. But any envelope will do! And if you'd like to join a group of like-minded women who are trying to do the same thing and kind of all starting in the same place, feel free to join our DLD Baby Steppers Facebook Group. It's a closed group, so you'll have to request to join but as long as you're into budgeting, paying in cash, sharing what you know and encouraging others, you're more than welcome!

Happy New Year!
:) allison


Denise C said…
Thanks for the update! I love that you have embraced the cash envelope system for your life, and it’s not just an item in your shop. Very cool!
YES!!!! It has taken me awhile, I know. I have done small things here and there, but I truly didn't think that my husband would be on board with a full overhaul of how we approach our finances. Color me surprised, he was looking for me to take an interest in helping! It's an undertaking that taking a lot of planning and intention, but It. Is. Totally. Worth. It. :) xoxo

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