Our Best Christmas Ever

By glblguy

Best Christmas Ever
Photo by: Kurt Magoon

As I write this article, I am surrounded by boxes, new gifts, and the remaining bits of wrapping paper. Our house is in a bit of chaos, but that’s alright, it was a wonderful Christmas both financially and emotionally. This Christmas was one of our best Christmases ever.

This was the first Christmas that I can remember where we didn’t rely on credit cards. In the past we would have used whatever spare cash we had to purchase gifts and then rely on our credit cards to pay for the rest. We seldom stuck to a specific budget and frequently purchased gifts for our children and for ourselves that were way beyond our means. This year was different:

We started saving for Christmas a year ago

We made the decision early last year to cut up our credit cards and no longer use them. As part of this decision, we looked at all of the various expenditures we relied on our credit cards for: property taxes, overspending, Christmas, special occasions, etc. For known upcoming expenses like property taxes, special occasions and Christmas we began setting aside money each month. I talked about this already in a previous article, but wanted to share a little more detail with you.

To do this, we determined the amount we would need and and how many months from then we would need it. For example, for Christmas our amount was $1800.00. Since it was January, we had 12 months before we needed the money and thus started putting away $150.00/month into a special ING Savings account named “Christmas Fund”. I made these deposits automatic and a fixed line item in our budget.

We applied the same principles to our other upcoming expenses.

We budgeted our Christmas fund

In November we budgeted the $1800.00 up across all of the various people we would be purchasing gifts for, including ourselves. We set an amount for each of our children, our parents, our friends, and ourselves. For our children we tiered the amounts, giving our oldest a higher budget amount since the items we wants are generally more expensive than our younger children. Madison over at My Dollar Plan wrote about this same topic of spending different amounts on children.

We purchased our gifts using a special checking account

We started purchasing our gifts early to avoid the Christmas rush. I transferred the money from our Christmas fund into our ING checking account and we used the associated debit card to pay for all of our gifts. This kept up us from mixing our normal income with our Christmas expenditures. In other words it avoided another potential area for overspending and allowed us to easily track our Christmas spending and budget.

No Stress this year

While we have always enjoyed Christmas and I certainly don’t want to imply we haven’t enjoyed it or looked forward to it the past, but until this year there was always a level of stress we had to deal with. Always that feeling of dread as I thought about how much further into debt we had slipped, wondering how we would pay for it, and dreaded seeing the credit card bill in January.

Not this year. This was the first year we didn’t stress nor even think about money. We paid for all of our gifts in cash and never touched our credit cards once. No new debt, no feeling of dread, no stress. This year we were able to relax, enjoy spending time with our family, and playing with the gifts our children received knowing they were 100% ours and paid for. It was truly our best Christmas ever.

How was your Christmas this year? Did you use credit cards this year or did you use cash? Was it another stressful Christmas for you? Share your story by adding a comment below.

15 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Our Best Christmas Ever”

  1. Mrs. Micah Says:

    That’s great! Our Christmas was slightly guilty/stressful at times because we didn’t buy any gifts (though we told people we weren’t expecting them either). But it was also nice not to feel a financial burden. We honestly just couldn’t afford it…

  2. Laura Says:

    I’m so glad that this year was stress free!

  3. My Dollar Plan Says:

    The best part about not using any credit cards is that you won’t be feeling the Christmas blues in January and February when the bills would come! Great job saving ahead of time.

    Glad you had such a wonderful Christmas and thanks for the mention!

  4. Shay Says:

    We had a easy stress free (well kind of stress free) christmas this year with five kids in our extended family, two who are teenagers…gift shopping would of turned out expensive if I hadn’t been strict. I set out with $475.00 in my purse and got all our food for the season and the presents all up I spent around 550.00 On christmas compared to past of up to 3500.00dollars (AUD) We had a fantastic christmas and got back to what christmas is about Family!

    I hope you have a great new year!

  5. Lynnae @ beingfrugal.net Says:

    No credit cards for us this year either. And I’m much more relaxed this year, now that Christmas is over. In the past, I’d be stressing about how to pay the credit card bills by now. It’s definitely a nice change. :)

  6. glblguy Says:

    Thanks for the great comments everyone. Paid bills this morning, it was nice :-)

  7. Patrick Says:

    I’m glad you had a great Christmas, glblguy! Not having stress is a beautiful thing! I hope each Christmas is better than this one. :)

  8. James Says:

    I happily did not use credit cards this year. That must be the first time in years. I did however stress and will now make a plan with my wife to budget for next year.

  9. glblguy Says:

    @Patrick – Thanks. I agree, no stress is a good thing. Glad to read your was good as well.

    @James – James, that is wonderful news. I think you’ll really appreciate having a plan in place and saving the money in advance. Thanks for the comment and for reading!

  10. WJ Says:

    Congrats on the stress reduction. Sounds like you have your ducks in a row!! Way to go, credit cards are such a temptation this time of year. As you stated, usually the joy of seeing all the smiling faces is followed by “Am I going to have to get a part time job” thoughts. Hope everyone has a great New Year holiday as well.

  11. glblguy Says:

    Thanks WJ and what you said is so true. That was me prior to this year. Hope you have a wonderful New Years as well!