This is when it begins... all the holiday craziness! The non-stop party schedule officially starts tonight. Well, it's actually the hub's godson's birthday party tonight, but it's still a party! But yeah, from here till Christmas, our weekends are jam-packed with festive shindigs. I hate that we can't make it to all the big to-do's around town, but there are only so many days in December!
And given that the month of December is always so nuts, I always have the goal of getting all my Christmas shopping done and all gifts wrapped before December arrives. I think this is the FIRST year ever that I actually accomplished it! Well, technically I was wrapping the last few gifts on December 1st, but hey - it's done! I do have a couple of gifts left to buy, but they're for family friends we draw names with and I don't know who we've got yet, so can't buy those just yet. But otherwise, I'm 100% done and wrapped up! And it feels great. Plus, I love being able to admire all the fun prezzies under our tree for a few weeks rather than feverishly trying to get everything wrapped up on Christmas Eve (like last year).
And you know I have my master Santa spreadsheet where I do my gift budget! I had to delete Charlie's column this year... sniff, sniff. But yeah, I set a strict budget (because we're on a strict budget, duh) for each person. As I think of gift ideas randomly, I note them on the spreadsheet, because Lord knows that idea will disappear from my brain 5 minutes later. A lot of friends tell me they try to set and stick to a budget for gifts but always go overboard. Well, I don't have much of a choice but to stick to our budget, but I think my two big tips to do so would be (1) use cash - as in actual dollar bills, and (2) don't wait till the last minute.
I'm usually a big online shopper, but I think I only got like two gifts online this year and bought the rest in store. It's normally the opposite! But, yeah my best advice is to use cash if you're shopping in stores. We do cash envelopes for all of our spending anyway, so this is obviously not a big deal for me to do... but the easiest way to stick to a budget is to pull out the cash for that category (Christmas gifts, in this case), stick it in an envelope and write "Christmas Gifts." You buy Christmas gifts with the money out of that envelope. And only Christmas gifts. Once it's gone, you're done. So yeah, I think you'll pay a *little* bit more attention to how much you're spending, won't ya? Heck yeah, you will. Overspending is WAY too easy when swiping a card. Not so much with cash.
And I've found that any overspending that occurs, at least for me, is on those last minute gifts. I find that I'm not as frugal or cost-conscious because I'm in a hurry and I need to just get something so I can cross it off my list. Who cares if it was $10 more than I needed to spend? Plus at that point, the *joy* has about run out and I am OVER it. So yeah, I really try to avoid doing that! And I'm proud to say that I came in right on target this year! We budgeted a total of $500 for gifts. And that is really, really tight. We would LOVE to do much more, but hello... you know we're on our debt-busting mission. Our list is not huge - neither the hub or I have huge families. And outside of our fams, we really do not buy for many others except for a few close friends. But I of course make that $500 stretch as far as humanly possible. I always keep up with what I'm spending versus the value I'm getting on everything in my master spreadsheet. I didn't do quite as well as last year, but we did average about a 45% savings overall. Pretty decent. I'll give that a B-.
So how do y'all tackle Christmas shopping? Is there a method to your madness?
In other goings-on, we got an appointment set up with Dr. T for Thursday, the 16th. So I guess we'll decide at that point if I'll be doing another surgery or not. I started thinking about it this morning and remembered all the crap I had to do before my 2nd surgery and was like "OMG, am I going to have to do all that again for this one?" Lord, help me. Or help my husband! I remember Dr. T had me on Depot Lupron shots for a couple of months prior to the surgery. NOT fun! Major menopausal symptoms. Crazy hot flashes and the attitude to go with 'em. And then I was remembering the pre-op procedure I had to go through and how I nearly passed out in the bathroom afterward. Hmmm.... good times! Maybe I won't have to do all that this time though - I don't think I will - at least not the Lupron. Let's hope not. But anyway, we'll get the scoop on all that junk in a couple of weeks. For now, I'm enjoying little cheats here and there on Moo Goo. I'm not dumping the diet altogether - I stick to it when it's just me. But holiday parties and such? If it's something I REALLY want, yeah I'll be a little crazy and go for it. Oh but wine? That's a different story. I think I've had a bottle and a half of red wine since Wednesday. Ha!