Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How I saved/earned over $1000 for Christmas

When we were a double-income family, I took for granted that I could buy Christmas presents in the last few months of the year (charging them) and just pay them off with our next paychecks. The expense of Christmas was not a huge deal.

My whole outlook on that changed when I quit my job to stay at home with my kids. Now all of our expenditures must be carefully planned and budgeted, and our Christmas budget cannot be easily absorbed into a few months of credit card spending.

So back in August, I set myself a mini-goal of spending the next 4 months (through November) earning and saving what I could for our Christmas budget. I was inspired by Couponing to Disney, who uses this same philosophy to pay for vacations to Disneyworld. I wanted to see how much money out of our Christmas budget I could earn myself or save from unexpected income sources without taking from my husband's paycheck or using our standard monthly budget.

I had some ideas on how I would accomplish this--some things were easy, like our healthcare flex spending fund. That was an easy check in the mail that I could cash in and put in the Christmas fund and it wouldn't affect our monthly budget. Credit card rewards. A garage sale.

Here is what I did by month:

August: $310.22 ($220 gas reimbursement, $66.22 from working on, $22 sold books to Half Price bookstore)

September: $200.56 ($150 credit card cashback reward, $50.26 working on

October: $315.97 ($171 garage sale/Craigs List, $122 healthcare flex spending check, $22.97 working on

November: $243.28 ($40 for doing a mascara study at the local mall, $25 Amex giftcard through a Facebook contest, $80 healthcare flex spending check, $63.15 selling old clothes to a used clothing store, $18.17 from our loose change jar, $6.96, $10 doctor's office refund)

For a grand total of..... $1070.03!

Honestly, when I started all of this I thought I could probably get maybe $500 to go towards Christmas, so I was pleasantly surprised when it all kept adding up. Our budget for Christmas is around $1000 (which sounds like a lot, but we spend about $150 for each of our 3 kids, plus we buy for 7 adult family members and 4 nieces/nephews, and 5 teachers plus stuff for charity so it goes rather quickly).

I want to start saving again in the new year and just keep an ongoing birthday/Christmas fund.

I'd love to hear your ideas on saving for Christmas or making your budget stretch further. Please share!


  1. I really enjoyed this post. It was inspiring to me. Makes one think outside of the box. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I also really enjoyed your post. Recently I was inspired to start saving for Christmas and our dream of taking our kids to disney. After just the first 5 days I already had $35.00. I hope I can keep this rate up, you have been a true inspiration of how quick money adds up !