Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas on a Shoe String

So, I think I am just about done with Christmas shopping, only a couple of straggling gifts to pick up. My budget this year was $300 cash in hand to get the job done and anything I could cut a deal on or get for free was not going to impact the cash reserves.

Gifts given that did not cost any cash include:
$25 gift cards to Kohl's, Cracker Barrell, Panera Bread, and Olive Garden (MyPoints)
$50 in Amazon gift cards (Swagbucks)
$10 Chili's gift card (MyCokeRewards)
$25 Applebee's gift card (Speedway Rewards)

That's a total of $185 in gifts that were not taken from our $300 budget!

I usually do bank up points over the year and cash them all in for gifts, but I think that this year was my best year by far. I've never really tracked it all that closely, but this year I definitely am keeping track and will set myself a goal for next year to at least meet the same or hopefully beat it!

What definitely helped keep me on track this year was an unsolicited offer from Amazon for a 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime, which gave me free 2nd day shipping on most items regardless of the cost of the purchase. So I wasn't looking to get to that $25 minimum for free shipping all the time. I was able to use my credits on Amazon and free shipping to buy: 2 DVD's, 2 Nintendo DS games, a dancing Buzz Lightyear, a Bakugan carrying case, and a Bakugan booster pack. As you can see, the Amazon credits were used primarily for gifts for my son Nathan who is 110% boy in his likes! I might end up putting one of the DS games away for his birthday in January, I haven't decided yet.

Even more exciting than the fact that we pulled off our Christmas on a shoestring this year is that in the month of December were were able to put $80 towards our debt snowball as well!

The winter months are hard on us, and I wasn't anticipating having ANY extra money in the budget at all for the snowball, but God promises that he will provide for us, and once again he has provided not only for our needs, but provided in abundance as well. We have food in the fridge, gifts under the tree, our tithe to church is being met, and we gave for Christmas charity as well. We are truly blessed!