christmas-moneyWe have gone into Christmas lockdown of the finances. Yesterday marked 100 days until Christmas and that means it’s time to save now so I don’t become a credit card wielding idiot come December!

I generally spend about $1000 on Christmas. I don’t know exactly how that happens, but this year I want to be really careful and try to make lists of what to get the kids in advance so I can spend less and have more under the tree. Last year I got the bigger gifts but then it seemed like it wasn’t going to be enough and we went to Five Below to try and make up the difference and viola! $1000 for three kids under 10 on Christmas gifts.

Last year I gave the two older ones a choice between a Nintendo DS and an American Girl Doll (because both wanted both and I nearly collapsed) and one chose one and one chose the other. The AG Doll hasn’t gotten much play but that DS is passed between the girls constantly. Oh, see, I should get her some DS games.

The list is always the worst part. I want to give them everything that looks cute and have a huge pile of toys under the tree. Of course, the only times I’ve ever seen that done the kids don’t actually appreciate much of any of the stuff under there because it’s juts overwhelming. They have most of what kids could want as luxuries (bikes and games and video game systems) and I don’t know what I could even get them this year that wouldn’t be excessive.

Maybe tablets? Is it too soon for tablets? Are they too young?

Maybe I should just do a handmade year. Make DIY DIY craft boxes or something.

Whatever I decide to do, I have to start now to fund it when the time comes. With 100 days left it’s about 13 weeks to Christmas which means I need to set aside $77 a week toward Christmas in order to make sure I have enough when the time comes. Starting with tomorrow’s check. Okay, now, to be clear that’s going to be a huge percentage of his weekly check. Well, huge in my mind. 17.5% is a crazy amount to take out of the paycheck on a regular basis, but honestly this is one of those decisions where it’s all about the priorities.

Every year I say, “Next year I’m going to use SmartyPig and do an automatic withdrawal and then if I save just $20/week I’d have $1000 for Christmas!” Or if I saved $39/week I would have $2000 by December 25th. I don’t think I’d spend that much on Christmas gifts, but that would also cover those two January birthdays that come all too soon after Christmas.

Here are some ways we plan on cutting back so we can put that money away for the kids:

  1. Craigslist – We are selling anything that’s not nailed down (as long as it does not have a lot of sentimental value or serve an important function) and putting the money in an envelope marked “snowflakes.” Usually, snowflakes refers to extra money that gets thrown at debt during the second Dave Ramsey baby step of paying off debt. In this case I figure it’s easy to repurpose the meaning for Christmas snowflakes. Because sometimes I like to say things that are cute. I can’t be all bloody vampires and angry judgments. I have depth, y’all.
  2.  Extra Clients – Mr. Brickie has two jobs and clients on top of that. He’s also going to a training for a third job next month. With him having all those jobs and schedule transitions on his plate, I have to keep things held down at home. This is really not something in my comfort zone, but I’m making a sacrifice by focusing on laundry and homework instead of writing and working online. He’s throwing himself into work to score more clients while I’m throwing myself into homemaking.
  3. Starbucks – This one is difficult. I love Starbucks and as a temporarily displaced rich person (that’s what we’re calling poor nowadays, right?) I have to cut the treats. Even though I only go to Starbucks about once a month, that’s one time too many.
  4. Eating Out – This is another one we only do once a month as it is, but that’s $30 a month that can go toward Christmas. If we have a hankering for eating out, I plan on asking Mr. Brickie what he’s in the mood for and then picking that up and making the same thing at home. There’s nothing we get from a restaurant we can’t make at home.

Really and truly, I don’t know if those cuts are going to be enough but it’s 100% better than not doing anything and not thinking ahead! As much as I truly hate giving credit for all this to a bearded dude and some elves, one day they’ll look back and know how much effort and time I put in. If they don’t, I did, and as long as I can look at myself in the morning and know I did my best, that’s enough for me.

Ultimately, I consider myself lucky. I only have two people (and one white elephant gift) to buy for in addition to my kids. How many people do you buy for?

Also, if you have kids do you have a certain number of gifts you get each one?