Christmas is here and I’m completely finish shopping. You see I start planning for Christmas around October. I make a list of all the people that I plan to shop for so that I don’t have any surprises. This year, I have 35 people on my list! My list includes the names of each person as well as the type of gift I would like to give them. Having a list and checking it twice helps me to stay on task. By combining sales and coupons I am able to save on shopping. I also used the money earned by completing surveys to help save this Christmas.
I consider myself to be somewhat of a minimalist and so this drives my gift giving. I don’t ask my kids what they would like for Christmas but instead I listen to hints that they give. My boys mentioned that they would like Carolina Panthers jerseys so that will be their major gift from us. We purchased jerseys from Kohls when they were on sale during Thanksgiving. Our daughter likes to help in the kitchen so this year she will get her own. We actually only purchase one or two gifts for each for our kids plus their stockings. By the time we exchange gifts with other family members, they have more than enough gifts.
My in-laws give us Christmas money so that we can buy gifts for the kids from them. I purchase one or two gifts from them and then I put the rest of the money into their accounts. Our kids are aware of the money given by their grandparents and are very grateful for it. We use their money for experience gifts. In the past our kids have taken cooking classes, played sports, and gone on the Polar express train ride. These types of experience gifts allow our kids to have memories of new activities as opposed to adding so many more things to our home.
In the rush to find the perfect gift for each person, it can be hard to remember the true reason for the season. Jesus is the reason. As fun as it is to receive gifts it is truly more rewarding to give gifts. Each year we choose names from an angel tree and along with our children we purchase gifts for them. It has become a tradition that we look forward to each year. It is our hope that this small gesture of giving will always remind our children of the greatest gift ever given.
Do you have any family traditions that you celebrate at Christmas?
I simply cannot believe that November is already over! November was very demanding for our family. We were on the road a lot. We traveled to the east and then to the west of NC! That being said, we really enjoyed spending time with our family. We celebrated 8 years of marriage and a Thanksgiving family reunion! Here are the numbers for the month.
Tithes $859- We are so thankful that we get to give each month.
Rent $1050- Our plan is to rent until we are debt free.
Duke Energy $69.48- It started to cool down and I’m loving it! We actively try to keep our temp at 66 during the day and 64 at night.
PNGas $21.30- Our water is heated by gas.
Spectrum Internet $14.99- We have the lowest package but it works great.
Total Wireless Cell Phone $26.31- This is for one cell phone. We have another cell phone provided by B’s employer.
Water & Sewer $82.01- After having issues with the water pump and pipes, we are glad to pay this bill.
B’s Life Insurance $41.43- We feel very strongly about having a good term life insurance policy.
Fee $1- Our credit union charges a monthly fee, but uses the fee to fund scholarships in NC.
HP instant ink $10.66- I love the freedom of printing for homeschool and couponing without running out of ink.
Grocery $599.75- This includes food for 2 adults and 3 kids.
Gas $344.52- We traveled to Wilmington, Fayetteville, Charlotte, Raleigh, TarHeel and Asheville during the month.
Eating Out $192.09- We ate out too much during the month. Most of this was on the road but also included our Anniversary take out dinner at home.
Blow $133.23- This includes B’s lunch and sometimes dinner money when he works late.
Clothes $225.11- We purchased marked down costumes after Halloween, shoes for me, and some clothes for next spring for the kids.
Gifts $237.26- This includes gifts for Christmas, Anniversary and gifts to family.
Charitable giving $16.67- other giving.
Household $33.33- We purchased a towel bar and pillow protectors.
Gap Tax $5.97- Bill we received for our old car.
Vehicle tax & registration $80.73- Fees on our 2006 Nissan Pathfinder.
Car maintenance $714.99- After too many hours at 3 different shops, our check engine light is off. This includes a leak in the exhaust, o2 sensor issues, oil leak, oil change and the inspection.
Geico car insurance $230.58- We pay our car insurance twice a year. This payment is for one car. It is also includes roadside assistance.
Debt $2941.86- This also includes the monthly scheduled payment of $762. Our total payoff is now $87,069.53!!!
Total $7932.27- B earned a total of $6502 after taxes, I earned a total of $232.35 for completing surveys and online studies, and we received $29.70 in a refund from our previous waste services provider. $1168.22 from car savings. Someone ran a light and hit B while he was driving our 2009 Nissan Versa at the end June. The car was totaled. Being a one car family is working out well. We have decided to put off getting another car until being a one car family does not work for us.
So this is the good, the bad and the ugly (I’m looking at you, eating out category). Thank you so much for reading. How did November go for you?