Oct 4, 2010

Budgeting Software Giveaway (Carole)

With the holidays just around the corner, we thought it would be fun to have a week full of giveaways!
Today's giveaway is Dave Ramsey's Personal Finance Software, version 5.4.1  -- It appears to work exclusively on a PC, so if you win our random drawing and own a Mac, we'll choose something else for your prize.

On to the topic for the day. . .

Did you know that the average American family spends $935 on Christmas gifts each year?  Considering most families have no savings and live on the very edge of their monthly incomes, this amount typically gets charged to a credit card.  Of course, we frugal folks hate even the idea of putting nearly $1000 on a credit card at the end of each year.  What a terrible way to ring in the new year!


To help us all escape this terrible fate, please take a moment to share with everyone how you and yours keep to your budget through the highly commercialized holiday season.   Even though many of us are frugal, frugal, frugal, we are more than happy to learn a new trick or two.  In fact, it's the reason we love this blog!!

57 comments:

Brandi said...

Hubby and I are not Christians, though we both grew up still celebrating Santa Claus and enjoying trees and gift giving. In the past, we have spent quite a bit more than we should have on gifts for friends, family and each other. This year, we're more committed to finding little personal items that are inexpensive, or giving the gift of our time to someone we love.

We also really like to give over the holidays - and there are loads of wonderful organizations that needs donations. Bonus - you can get tax deductions!

Krystina said...

I actually make a lot of the presents that I give to friends and family. I'm a pretty avid crafter- so quilting & crocheting gifts are a way for me to indulge my hobbies & still give meaningful gifts to the people that I love. I also have a separate savings account that I add to each month for presents that can't be made. It helps to break the cost up over the whole year! And any money that's left over, can be used later on for weddings or baby showers!

G said...

We don't over indulge our kids. Just one gift from us and one from Santa. And if one is kinda big, the other is smaller to compensate. Stocking stuffers are bought throughout the year so they are things we almost kinda need rather than useless fluff.

Merry said...

My husband and I decide on an amount that we're willing to spend on each person, and then we only spend that amount. Getting the amount out in cash helps us stick to the plan.

Aleta said...

I'm not crafty, but I can bake! For an office "secret santa" I made bread and homemade cinnamon honey butter for a couple of the gifts. We also draw names in our family, so we don't have to spend a bajillion dollars on each and every person in the family.

Emily C said...

I try to start thinking of gift ideas in July, so that I have the time to find a good deal or the time to craft something special but inexpensive.

Homemade is usually greatly appreciated and better remembered than whatever stuff I think to give, anyway.

One side benefit to getting it done early--life is so much more relaxed during December!

Nathan and Sharlynn Heinitz said...

For the family we rotate names of who we give to that way we each only have to by 1 gift per family and that gift can be something that is actually nice and wanted.
For friends/neighbors/coworkers we usually bake treats and drop them off. This actually works out nicely because it gives us a chance to chat and catch up for a while; spending time with our family and friends which is part of what the Holiday season is about.

Christine said...

Planning far in advance for Christmas is really the key to saving. Then you can shop around or wait until the item you want to buy goes on sale.

This year my family has decided not to exchange gifts since we are all going to Maui for my wedding in Jan. We will just enjoy Christmas dinner together.

christinewhetstine@gmail.com

Chrissie said...

If I see an amazing deal on something, even if it's July, I'll buy it and save it for Christmas. I also shop a lot online through ebates or give homemade gifts.

Sunny @My Well Calculated Wedding said...

Planning in advance. I put back a little each week and then it doesn't seem so bad.

Also I just started reading the Total Money Makeover so this would be so fitting for me right now!

Marsha said...

I make a list of items I want to buy for Christmas in September and then watch sales to get the best prices. I also have more time to make gifts more personal.

Linda said...

We buy used clothes and toys from craigslist, garage sales, etc. We have hardly bought our son any gifts because he is too young to know the difference. For each other, we set a budget and either shop together or do something together so that we get extra time to hang out too.

Megan said...

I've already purchased several Restaurant.com $25 gift cards for family member Christmas gifts for $1 or $2 each. Score! I also try to bake gifts for neighbors, coworkers and friends. Baking in mass helps cut down the costs and gives me or my husband a chance to catch up with the receiver when we deliver. Since I'm not very crafty, I actually try to avoid those types of projects to save time (& money). My family isn't big into surprises so sometimes I'll ask a sibling exactly what he/she wants in advance so I can try to scout deal.

Jesslyn Ann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jesslyn Ann said...

Well, I'm a college student so my friends and family know I won't be able to do something very extravagant. I make a list of the people that mean the most and that I want to get gifts for, buy them throughout the year so I am not spending all my money at once, and then do something homemade and heartfelt for everyone else.

TheMoncurs said...

My gift for my sister and bro-in-law involves a lot of sewing and a decent amount of thrifting. Their gift will likely end up under $15. We are giving my parents a restaurant.com gift certificate that we got the other day for 90% off (thanks Janssen!). For our kids we decided long ago to do one book, one toy, and something to wear, all of which can be had very inexpensively.

Our Christmas is never anywhere near $1000 but this year it will probably come in under $100.

traci527 said...

To save money, we just don't buy christmas gift for everybody! I do not even do baked goods for friends/family because it seemed to defeat the purpose of spending less. For our children we tend to go one special toy, a dvd and books. After last year I realized that they were less overwhelmed and really enjoyed the gifts they got.

Kylie said...

We start planning early in the year, and buy a little at a time, when the budget permits. My daughter's Christmas shopping is probably halfway done.

But my husband also gets paid bi-weekly so there is always a month or two that you have three paychecks instead of two. So we typically save a portion of that check for Christmas shopping, and part for debt payment.

Emily said...

We enjoy holiday baking so we'll have fun and make something with the kids that we can then give as neighbor gifts. It's easy to double or triple a recipe when you're already making something. We use solid colored plates (think red, green, silver) from a dollar store and make our own gift tags from scrapbook odds and ends.

I'm not crafty but we've also mod-podged small sized clipboards with scrapbook paper (they're so cute!) or burned CDs from iTunes.

Johanna said...

Well this is a great question
I have recently gone from full time, healthily paid work to a part time job as I complete my graduate diploma at university. I also moved out of a flat, across an ocean and into a little flat by myself. Costs went up, pay went down ARGGG
Christmas:
I am in a family of 6, we draw a name out of the hat and each give and recieve one REALLY awesome pressie each. Mum still does stockings with little gifties of a cheap nature such as chocolate money, fancy toothbrushes, pretty tupperware etc.

This year I am buying for my Mamma. As I see little things over the next few months I will buy them and store them until Christmas. I am going to make things if I can and am keeping a keen eye out on design/craft blogs for good ideas.

For those I want to bless at Christmas (outside of family) I bake - They LOVE IT

Carly said...

I'm sure I've mentioned it on here (in a comment) before... but Christmas is a big deal in my family (the home I grew up in). We give to everyone. EVERYONE. Last year I knew I couldn't afford it all... so I started in last September and made almost 30 gifts. It was still stressful. But I did it all for about $100.

This year I started in April? May? and decided--like it or not--I'm doing family gifts rather than individual gifts. I got a lot of sewing done this summer... but not enough. Since my baby is due early December I WILL be done by Thanksgiving though. That's a happy thought. I sew almost everything... and I try to re-purpose or thrift my fabrics (since fabric is ridiculously expensive where I live). I should be well under $100 this year.

I get many of my gift-making ideas online from craft blogs. Or I design them myself.

I love the idea of having a "gift" savings account that we contribute to every month, however. Someday when we can afford to squeeze that into the budget!!

Jenae said...

The best thing for us is shopping all year long. In February if I see the best little do-dad on sale that my brother would love I'll get it, put it in the special "gift tubbie" and mark down the purchase on a card I keep in my wallet (that way I won't forget that I already got them something!) I also try to make things as much as possible. I also stay away from giving gift cards since I usually spend more on a gift card than an actual present and it's impersonal.
jj

lacie tidwell said...

Ahhh Christmas!! coming from a large family, and marrying into a large family, I always panicked about Christmas- but luckily on my hubby's side we decided to do away with getting each other gifts! there was no need and we were ok- we have the cousins get each other a little something thats it! As for my side, I do the pack it away thing all year- I know, it's a lot to keep track of but I scored a killer deal on a purse my sis will LOVE and I'm not overhwlemed at the end of the year- Ryan and I usually keep it low key- sometimes well just go on a nice date or something and we don't go overboard for hailyn because she doesn't know any different anyway and her birthday is in october where she tends to be wonderfully spoiled by family and friends. Last year I scored free christmas cards- I hope to find the same deal this year- otherwise we eont do them. we just try not to go overboard and space out purchases throughout the year

*Katie* said...

In our extended family, we choose an organization that needs some help (often times some sort of secret santa/angel tree thing) and in lieu of a Christmas party, we shop, wrap, and deliver all together. Then we make doughnuts and have cider or hot chocolate - it's a way to teach our children that it's not about giving, and there are those far less fortunate than we are. We've been students for the last several years, so my husband and I are on a tight budget -- with our kids gifts, I shop through the year, which doesn't make it seem like such a burden. It works for us!

Chelsea said...

Cool! I have been looking for good budgeting software actually-- but didn't want to pay for it :( ha

Over the holidays, I love that both family's have started a gift exchange-- where we only give one gift to another sibling (and then the parents). Since Brandon has 10 kids + 6 in-laws in his family, this has helped out a ton!

Caitlin said...

I drive pretty regularly as part of my job and get reimbursed for the gas money I spend. Since I've already budgeted enough money to buy the gas I need in the first place, we've started putting all of my reimbursement checks towards Christmas. It's like spending money we didn't even plan on having! My husband and I also decide on a set amount to spend on each other and stick to it - last year it was only $25 but it was one of the best Christmases yet!

Tristen said...

This year we have been better during the summer at putting our extra income that really comes only in the summer into our savings so now we have money for Christmas Yay and NO credit card! We are going to sit down and write down an exact budget for it as well so we don't go spend more than we want.

Marie said...

I'm so tired of useless "filler" gifts that my kids toss aside after 5 minutes of play. They get just as much fulfillment from a homemade, wooden sword then they do from something store-bought and more expensive. This year we have set a very low Christmas budget and are going to get creative! It should be a lot more meaningful and fun this way!

Stephanie T said...

We buy most of our children's Christmas presents off of Craiglist in September and October. Seems like lots of moms clear out the clutter when their kids get back to school. Scored a dollhouse with 15 rooms of furniture and people for $30 last year. Also bought a bunch of wii accessories and games off of craiglist for $20 for my boys. We have also bought boxes full of books for just a few dollars. A tramp for $50, all sorts of stuff.

Mainly we don't overgive to our children. They usually get 2 fun toys (one from Santa, one from us) and books they love. They get more then enough from grandparents, aunts, and even their siblings. We also make our kids pay for their siblings presents even if they are only 2 1/2.
But we go all out on the Christmas Spirit! Decorations, parties, tickets to shows, and misc gifts. That I would drop if we needed to The only reason we need to save up for Christmas is because of our Holiday traditions instead of presents. We use the $$ after we max out our SS contributions for the year.

Angela said...

My husband and I love Christmas, and I break out the Christmas music early (last year it was August, this year I've been holding out for at least October!), so we are always in the mood to start looking for Christmas gifts. I watch for sales and specials that stores (specifically Amazon or Kohl's) have and take advantage of them. We usually send out Christmas cards that we make on Shutterfly, so I watch for their specials a few months in advance and we save a bundle on those too. We also are very diligent at setting specific amounts for each other, parents, siblings, and we stick to those amounts.

Also, we start adding "Christmas gifts" as a line item in our budget a few months before December, so we don't spend that on other things. Then when the gifts are purchased, everything is already accounted for! Between the planning ahead and the financial piece being handled well, we always have a very relaxed holiday season.

I'd love to win that software :-)

Janice said...

We always make our presents, from sewing to painting to getting creative, it's a lot of fun to give and get!

Melanie said...

We save money by just being honest. After a few years of going overboard, we started asking if people really want to exchange gifts. In almost every scenario, people were thrilled to be able to opt out. Now we focus on just gathering together and enjoying the company of our friends and family. It has saved time, money and lots of stress along the way - and we'll never go back to our old ways!

chelon:) said...

i try to buy stuff throughout the year when things go on sale. i also put money away with each check. with 5 kids to buy for, it sure eases the pain!

btw... I LOVE THIS BLOG! thank you all for your dedication :)

Tricia said...

I LOVE Christmas but I try not to give to many gifts. My husband and I do a special service to each other and my kids get one present from us and one from Santa. and little things in their stockings. I never feel obligated to give a gift to anyone but when I do I like it to come from the heart. I usually end up making some - one year I crocheted afghans, Another year I hand painted signs for my brothers home...
We are really into birthdays though but I always make sure to save for those!

Mary said...

I buy gifts for people year round as sales hit. For example, around June there was a home decor store in our area having a liquidation sale. I went just to browse but found a gift that would be great for my sister-in-law and it was super discounted. So I picked it up put it in my "gift box" which is where I keep all the great gift finds I pick up throughout the year.

Mrs. Carioca said...

I save money over the holidays by making gifts for everyone.

HillsRus said...

Normally for Christmas we draw names for mine and my husbands siblings, so there aren't too many gifts, but I know that it can still add up. I love to make fun things for the gifts I give away.
Thanks for the giveaway.

Bart said...

I use my "Well Being Rewards" gift cards my employer provides for exercising to fund some of our gifts.

Ben and Summer said...

First of all, I REALLY hope I get picked because I could REALLY use that software.
Anyway, we're in grad school, so people don't expect much from us, which is great. But this year I do want to give gifts to those closest to us, so I've been watching some DIY blogs to find cute, easy, meaningful things to make. I'm excited!

Carolyn said...

My mom starts Christmas shopping in June or July, so that she is not in a hurry and can find the best deals possible. Sites like Ebay typically get more expensive the closer to Christmas you get, but during the summer you can find things for much cheaper!

Pamela Early Settoon said...

We bake for friends. We save throughout the year and we don't buy to many presents for our kid.

Michelle said...

We set up a budget spreadsheet each year so we can track exactly how much we want to spend on each person we are giving to and then as we buy gifts they are entered into the spreadsheet. Once we hit the amount, we're done! If we stay under, even better. I also start shopping months in advance so my purchases don't all hit at once and, when possible, I make things.

Smart Girl said...

I wish I were more frugal but I have to be honest....I tend go nutty at Christmas and overbuy. I'm not proud about that, just honest.

I'm starting my baby steps toward being more frugal. As silly as this sounds, my main goal for Christmas is not to buy anything at full price.

Hopefully, next Christmas I can be more like the other readers and start making things :)

Tara said...

Our problem is that my husband use to get a pretty good bonus a week before Christmas. So we would wait for his bonus and then go do major shopping. Since my husband is in school we haven't gotten use to not receiving that bonus. Last year my husbands family did Christmas for us and they went way overboard. The hard thing will be explaining to the kids that Santa had to cut back this year because I think that the one present from Santa and one from us idea is great. Only the kids exchange on my husbands side and we aren't exchanging on my side since we are going on a cruise the first of the year.

Natalie said...

I try to keep my eyes open throughout the whole year for potential gifts for family members. Other than that, I like to do lots of homemade items, using materials I already had around the house!

amber waves of grain said...

Since we got married last summer we gave framed photos as gifts for our families (a hit!). We also did "family gifts" i.e. a gift basket for my brother & his family full of homemade goodies. I try to find sale items in advance and try to avoid spending money on "filler" items. However, I usually go overboard and at the last minute end up spending too much money. :(

iluved said...

start early! plus, i have a small group i need to buy for. the challenge is usually work gifts - must find something cheap but cute and not pointless! i am thinking peppermint bark, so delicious and always a hit. =)

Kimberly said...

I buy everyone books for Christmas. It still requires some advance planning, to be sure, but some of the best books are relatively inexpensive. Because I do this every year, all year long I can come up with ideas and watch sales. That being said, I wanted to buy my dad a book last year that was $60. I talked myself out of it eventually, but I think this year I might have to come up with a maximum per book limit to avoid a repeat problem. I can't wait to see what everyone else does.

Strong Family - said...

In the past we have saved the rewards we get from our VISA/debit card until the end of the year to buy gift cards. We either give the gift cards as gifts or use them to buy gifts. So nice to do the bulk of your shopping for "free."

Elizabeth said...

There are a lot of great ideas here, which is awesome because I need all the help I can get keeping Christmas costs down.
This year I figured out that you can buy magazine subscriptions with your Delta/Northwest miles. Because we moved away from the NW hub we used to live, my miles are no longer accumulating and I don't have enough for a ticket, so I am buying everyone I know a subscription to Entertainment Weekly for Christmas. It costs me nothing more than the miles I already have and won't use anyway.

Corbett Family said...

I was going to say what Lauree (Strong Family) said. I often use the gift cards I receive from credit card points as teacher gifts, gifts for siblings (we rotate names so only have to do one each year from my family and one from my husband's family), or for my nanny. I also start in the summer and slowly get things so my costs are spread over six months and not one.

Kelly said...

I stick to the good old cash in envelope trick! I put all of my budgeted gift money in an envelope, and when it's gone, i'm done shopping!

Sammy said...

One of the ways we save is by doing sentimental gifts for our parents. Gone are the days of trying to all go in to get them a new camera or something else material... we now make memory books, frame old pictures, have the kids draw pics etc for both sets of parents. They LOVE them so much more than anything we could ever buy.

BrittWilk said...

i'm with janssen - hubby and i don't exchange gifts. and we do the same thing with our kids - something to wear, something to read and something to play with. :) for friends and family i try to make lots of the gifts.

Jen said...

our family is getting bigger and bigger as we all get married and start having kids... last year, we started limiting the gifts to $40/couple(or family). We have an online spreadsheet where we put down gifts under $40, and people check them off for that couple when they buy it. it's like a christmas registry! it is so awesome. we have started putting away savings per month for christmas so that we don't have to take out a big amount during christmas time.

Kathryn said...

We are the most frugal of the family which makes it hard when it comes time for gift giving. But we just decide ahead of time how much we have to spend on each person and stick to it. We try to add really personal gifts for each person as well as making some gifts.

Chelsea said...

Tom and I set a budget every year for what we can spend on each other and our parents.