Financial Review {Five Months}

Moment of honesty: Sticking to a Christmas budget is never easy for us. No matter how many times we say to ourselves and to each other, "this year, we're going to tone things down, we don't need anything" - we get hooked by the holiday spirit and we both end up with a pile of gifts under the tree. The upside? They're all paid for, which means that there's no credit card sticker shock in January. Not only that, but we even paid for several of our gifts with Amazon rewards cash, so that's a double yippy-skippy for us.

Remember what I talked about last month? Point #2 was that we've learned that we needed to allow ourselves some wiggle room or we don't stay the course long term. Did we take a financial detour this month? Yes, we did. Have we stayed on track with our financial goals the other eleven months of the year? Yes, we have. So, what does that mean for our larger goals? Other than our one scheduled extra mortgage payment, we didn't add a big chunk to the principle like we have been doing, because we paid for Christmas (and my birthday) instead.

What didn't we do? We didn't pull from our savings to pay for the holidays, nor did we pause the weekly scheduled deposits to our savings account. We're still repaying the savings account for the car purchase earlier this fall, so pausing the saving account additions was not an option because you never know when those rainy days are going to hit you. Additionally, we didn't change the automatic extra payment that we make to the principle each month, even though we didn't do our mid-month deposit.

I know a lot of people who stick to a cash-only budget for their holiday shopping. If you're the kind of person who goes a little overboard and you're looking for a way to keep yourself in check, then I would recommend reading THIS POST by Crystal - she has several ideas on how you can stick to cash and still shop online. My advice? If you know your areas of weakness, meet them head on and find a way to work with yourself now rather than beating yourself up when you wake up in January to a mountain of Christmas debt. Although our Christmas is paid for, finding a way to both pre-pay for the holiday AND pay off the mortgage is on my list of goals for 2012.

Reporting on our progress for the last month:

1) Sold "The Bean", which helped repay the savings account for the purchase of "Vader"
2) Continued to rebuild the savings account with regular weekly automatic deposits
3) Paid for Christmas before Christmas, which means we'll be back on "the plan" come January 1, 2012

And now it's your turn! How are you doing with setting a budget and sticking to it? Are you maxed out for Christmas or have you found creative ways to work within your financial limits? Have you set or reached any other goals - financial or otherwise? If you've written a blog post about a financial success (or failure, because, let's be honest, they happen!), please feel free to leave the link in the comments. Have a Happy Christmas and I'll see you next month!


  1. Hmmmm well, most of our Christmas spending is probably coming out of our weekly food budget but we've been hit with a large tax bill (due to a technical stuff up at hubby's company) and an unwelcome car repair bill too. We've had to forego the holiday altogether and are keeping things as simple as we can. I'm always so impressed at all your financial goings on and your discipline!

  2. I love your financial updates. : ) OK, November was my first month of budgeting -- woohoo! It didn't go perfectly, but for me it was a great start, and I'm determined to stick with it. I'm using the program You Need a Budget (YNAB), which is helping a lot. We should have started saving for college years ago (won't tell you how old our kids are!), so I am committing to put a big chunk into college savings each month from now on.

  3. Sophie - I'm sorry to hear about the taxes and car repair (I think those would qualify as rainy days!). Praying that you find unique, simple, and FREE ways to celebrate His birth this year!

    Sandy - WOO HOO {happy dance} for you as you have successfully completed a month of budgeting! I'm so glad that YNAB is working for you and helping!! :-D Keep up the good work and keep me posted - it's encouraging to me as well!


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