This year I'm leaving the holidays in 2009!

I play the same game every few weeks. I look at my calendar and say to myself, What?! How is it already October TWENTIETH? Where is this month going? What happened to this year?!

I need to stop being surprised and embrace that life is moving fast these days.


As November is fast approaching, I cannot help but get a little nervous. I notoriously try to be “frugal” for the holidays, only to realize New Year’s Day that I failed miserably. For example, I entered 2009 with a $300+ balance on my credit card. Granted, I paid it off in January, but that could have been $300 going towards savings and starting the year off right.

My goal this holiday season is to have a $0 credit card balance and zero regret! I am determined to have a great holiday season, but also to leave it behind me when I enter 2010!

How will I accomplish that? By planning and saving, of course! Here’s some lists of approximate costs for the holidays that will be added to my regular monthly budget in November & December.

Gifts to Buy: $275
-My Family
-My best friend’s birthday – $30
-J’s sister – $15
-J’s parents – $30
-J’s graduation present – $100
-J’s Christmas present – $50
-Unexpected gifts – $50

Perhaps you’re looking at this list thinking I’m A) a Scrooge who needs to give more gifts, or B) friendless. Well, neither is the case. A long time ago my friends and I decided we wouldn’t give gifts during the holidays since December is expensive enough for everyone. Excellent decision. As for my family, we are going on the cruise this year and promised each other we wouldn’t give gifts. I am spending part of the holidays with J and his family so I want to make sure I get them some things. And the unexpected gift is for any silly company or friend “dirty santa/white elephant” gift exchange that may arise. I really don’t like those.

Other Holiday Expenses: $533
-Wrapping paper, cards & supplies: $50
-Gas while traveling: an extra $100 in Nov/Dec
-Eating out/entertainment: an extra $100 in Nov/Dec
-Parties/Food: an extra $50
-Cruise balance: $233 left to pay

There’s always more expenses than just gifts. You know the like: you’re invited to a cookie exchange and spend $20 at the grocery store for ingredients. Your company has a holiday party and that frumpy red sweater doesn’t meet the dress code. You travel to visit family and forget to factor the $5 toll road fee.


    Sure some of this will be out of my monthly budget and sure some of it were overestimated amounts… but still, $800 is a lot to pay for the holidays!

    My broad goals:

    • Have $0 on my credit card on New Year’s.
    • Buy all of my gifts and have them wrapped by December 1st.
    • Pay off cruise balance of $233 by Thanksgiving.

    More specific goals and how I plan to pay for the holidays to come…!!!

    Have you thought about what the Holidays will cost you?

    {photo: via etsy}

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    • Just a thought, my dad and I went on a vacation to Hawai’i a few years back for Christmas and also promised to not give gifts.

      However on Christmas day I found a card from him in the bathroom of our hotel for me. It was a Christmas card just telling me how much he loved me and was proud of me – it was the best present I got that year. =)

      So every though you’re not exchanging gifts with your family on the cruise, you might want to think about still getting them cards with hand written notes in them. I’m sure your family, especially your mom, will appreciate it.

    • I don’t think you’re a Scrooge at all! Times are tough and everyone’s cutting back. I think it’s great that you and your friends have agreed to not give each other gifts during the holidays.

      I usually spend a ton on presents for family during the holidays but with no paychecks coming in I’m going to have to drastically reduce my spending in that regard (i.e., barely spend anything). I know it sounds cheesy but this year all my loved ones are going to be getting hand-made crafts from me (picture frames, etc.). Not my first choice but I’d rather give that than nothing at all. :P

    • Pretty Pennies, I realize that you do not like the white elephant/yankee swap very much. But they are a great way to save money on gift giving with distant family and friends. You can consolidate the gifts into one exchange and still stay connected with those you love.
      Our family saves by gift exchanges online, so that we don’t have to do as much traveling. In fact we even made an online white elephant party, for others to use on Facebook.

      I hope that you can make the zero balance goal this year!

    • I don’t do Christmas presents with friends, either. So that just leaves my parents/brother and BF’s family – probably just his mother, sister and nieces. I have no idea how much to budget for presents, nor (at this stage) where the money’s going to come from… I want to put together a small basket/hamper for my family though, so hopefully that won’t cost too much.