As I log into Mint.com tonight to take a look at my spending trends lately, the first thing that jumps out at me is a piggy bank wrapped in Christmas lights with a note that says, "The Holidays are only 12 weeks away!" Since I can feel my heart start to beat a little bit faster with this news, I thought I would have to share this with you. OH MY GOD, since I normally do my Christmas shopping starting on black Friday, that means that in about 8 weeks I will need to have enough Christmas money set aside to do my shopping.
Wow, it's amazing to me how quickly that can make me nervous. We have been doing so well with our spending, but somehow around the holidays, we get a little crazy. For the past few years, we have been waking up at 4am to Christmas shop on black Friday morning. Well worth it if you have kids, as there are some really great deals. I normally start googling the black Friday ads weeks before and planning out my mission. I know that I need to get to each store right when it opens if the item I am looking for is something that will go quickly. From recent years, Walmart opens at 5am, Target at 6am, and last year, we were walking into Toys R Us at 4:30am which was 4 hours after they had opened. CRAZY but true, the Saver in me comes out this day every year and I normally do pretty well with my Christmas shopping.
To start, I first make a list of everyone I need to buy for this year. Then I set a budget for each person or couple depending on how they are listed. For the girls, I do set a budget too, but I have never been very good at sticking to it. Then I start to browse the ads and begin picking gifts for each person on my list. I circle the toys for the girls and zone in on the best toys for the best value. I also have a knack for going to my rewards points this time of year. My Wachovia debit gives points for each time it is used as a credit card, and last year I got a $100 Toys R Us gift card with the points that we used to buy our toddler a toy kitchen. I didn't have to pay anything for those points, I just have to remember to use my debit card as a credit card when I pay at places like the gas station and stores.
So beginning this week, I am going to try to cut my spending back another $20 so that I can begin putting that toward my Christmas spending. As I write this, I am labeling an envelope "Christmas Money" and placing it into the junk drawer. I will need to put $20 in each week so that I start out with a pot of $160.00 that money that I know won't go onto the Credit Card.