Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Fantastically Frugal Christmas

Way back in September, when I was first blogging about the envelope system and sharing how Eric and I were living our lives to be debt free, we realized that the holiday season was fast approaching and that once December rolled around it could easily throw a monkey wrench into our iron-clad plan. As Dave Ramsey would say, Christmas seems to take some people by surprise by coming in December every year (haha) and the end result usually leaves bank accounts aching with emptiness, and for some, credit card statements groaning in excess. Eric and I decided we were so not going to join those people!

But how much would we set aside for our girls' Christmas gifts? We knew that whatever dollar amount we chose would mean having that much less to throw at our debt in the month of December. And I'm not joking when I say we're aggressively paying our debt. Even at Christmas time we made a promise to ourselves to stay frugal - not to be cheap, just careful with how we allocated our money.

And the total we agreed upon was: $200.

I'm not going to lie to you, I scoffed at that number when Eric first threw it out there. But eventually we agreed that during these early years of getting our act together and our marriage set on a firm financial foundation that $100 per kid was just going to have to do. And I knew that it was pretty much my job to do the hunting and gathering of Christmas gifts.

Adrien's Christmas Present Dream List:
  1. A kitchen set that makes noise and comes with a few accessories. 
  2. A Jumperoo so Gracie can bounce her little heart out in a few months. 
  3. A dollhouse - because every girl needs one, and I know Evie would love it.
  4. A pretend grocery cart. Evelyn loves pushing toys around and putting things into baskets - perfect!
  5. A baby doll stroller - I know Evie loves them, but we don't have one. 
  6. At least one new small toy for Grace

I began my search merrily and hopeful, but soon the air in my optimism began to leak, leaving me totally deflated. There were two gifts I knew for sure that I wanted the girls to have: A kitchen set for Evelyn and a Jumperoo for Gracie. Those would be their "big" gifts and no matter what they just had to be under the tree on Christmas morning. My internet search was revealing that these two presents were not going to come cheaply. All of the decent kitchen sets were well over $100, and the Jumperoos were about $90. That was my entire budget. :(

And for a month I kept my eye out for a good sale or a fantastic deal with no luck. It was only October, but I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that there would be two gifts under the tree and that was it. Forget about the play grocery cart I was hoping to get for Evelyn, or some baby doll accessories. She was just starting to get into imaginative play, and I was so wishing that I could gather a few toys to keep her interest. And what about Grace? I didn't want to get her a lot of toys, anyway, but I was sort of hoping that she could have one or two things to call her own that hadn't already belonged to her sister.

I realize that I was a bit of a fruitcake, Christmas fruitcake that is, for thinking that I could get all of that stuff for $200. I mean, dollhouses? They cost more than the kitchen set! But then one day I saw the silver lining when I stumbled across a great deal on a play kitchen, and it seemed that the ball just kept on rolling from there. I stayed diligently on top of deals. I found coupons and waited for sales. I compared prices and found "deals of the day - one day only!" And this is what I came up with:

Please excuse the lack of makeup and general nerdiness. Oh, and yeah, I know that it's "Jumperoo," and not "Jumper-REE" haha.

Untitled from Adrien Robert on Vimeo.

And the grand total of it all? $183.00. Cha-ching! I got everything on my list and still came out under budget. Guess I wasn't a fruitcake after all. :) So let this be an encouragement to all this Christmas that saving money and not charging your life away is totally possible. We're not feeling the sting of overspending one tiny bit, and we still have money leftover to continue to pay down our debt. 

You know, one day we'll be debt free and making three times as much money as we do now...but I'll probably do Christmas the same way. I love being fantastically frugal!


Cassie said...

Woohooo!! Way to go! I "liked" DR on FB a few months back and his little statuses about how much debt people go into at Christmas time, After our first DR class we strated putting money back for Christmas and I haven't put a single thing on my cc yet. Woot woot. lol. We also started a Christmas Club at our bank for next year. Perfect!! I don't even notice the bit coming out of my paycheck. And come next November when I have a ton of straight up cash to spend I'm gona be singing a totally made up DR song while I shop. Baha. Keep it up!!

Meagan said...

Not going to lie...Christmas gets me every year, don't go into debt using credit cards (those are off limits) but the bank account definitely feels the pain!! It wouldn't be so bad if we didn't have 493795 people to buy for...we draw names three different times so that's six extra people added to the list and an extra $220 out of our pockets...which btw wouldn't be that much if Ryan's family didn't have a $50 spending limit....RIDICULOUS!!

Cassie....what do you have to do for the Christmas club? We talked about doing that too for next year but haven't yet.

Cassie said...

Meagan - we bank with PDR bank and I just went in and signed some papers and told them how much out of each paycheck I wanted them to take out. You get a little bit of interest off of it too. I believe it pays out at the beginning of November. Heck even if it's $10 a week, that's $520 plus SOME interest. Easy peasy!

Adrien - P.S. didn't you just have a baby?!!? And that was Baby #2!! You look awesome!!

Adrien said...

We talked about doing the Christmas club, too! Haha, thanks Cassie. I always joke that my babies suck the fat out of me. Okay...that's kind of gross, but it's sorta true. :)

Andrea said...

This is awesome. I wish I would have seen this before I bought all of my presents. I will be taking notes for next Christmas though. Its amazing what you can do if you set a concrete budget and do what you can to stick with it. I cant believe you got everything and had money left over! Great job!


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