Friday, December 7, 2012

$100 Christmas: From Clutter to Christmas

Photo from Centro Architecture

When I started out this challenge, I wasn't sure how it would end.  I had a few goals in mind:

1.  Simplify Christmas - Try to cut down on the amount of food we make, try not to go crazy making Christmas treats, try to find gift cards and consumable items so people aren't left with things to re-gift to someone else, don't buy any new decorations, etc.

2.  Cash only for Christmas - No debt, period!   If I couldn't pay for something in cash, I didn't get it.  I gave myself $100 out of pocket to start with.  We have paid for Christmas upfront for many years and it is so nice on December 26th to know that everything we did and bought is paid for and we have nothing left  to pay for- no lingering bills!

3. Focus more on being with family and friends and doing things together instead of focusing on the gifts and the stress that comes with it.
Photo from Deposit Photos

Things I liked:

1.  I worked within the resources I had.  I didn't worry about if it was enough or not, I just tried to make the most of what I was able to get.

2.  It was nice to get rid of things we no longer need or use and have that money go towards Christmas.  I didn't have to spend a lot of money out of pocket.  In fact, I probably could have done it without the initial $100 out of pocket if I wanted to.  

3.  I felt much more eco-friendly than past years.  I didn't buy any wrapping items so far.  If I end up buying any, it will be very little.  Most of the gift cards I bought had complimentary envelopes to put them in that were Christmas colors or had Merry Christmas on them, etc.  We will have very little Christmas trash generated as a result of the gifts we chose to give. 

4.  As much as I miss not having all the yummy treats in the house, it will help us to be healthier and it will save us money since I haven't had to buy a lot of butter, nuts, chocolate chips, etc. 

5.  I didn't have to worry about spending hours in a store shopping, waiting in lines, etc.  I wasn't too tempted to go over budget since I tried to stay out of stores as much as possible. 

6.  This challenged me to think of other ways to finance Christmas instead of just going and buying stuff with the money we had.

7.  I was able to pay for several unexpected things that come up, because I didn't use the money for Christmas like I normally would have done.

8.  Where there is a will, there is a way.
Photo from Eline Pellinkhof

Things that were a challenge:

1.  I don't feel like I was as thoughtful this year in my choice of gifts.  I chose practical or consumable instead of really taking the time to think of something special for each person.

2.  Timing:  I don't know if one of the gift cards will come by Christmas, since we won't have enough points until the middle of December.  But, I told the recipient ahead of time and they really don't care if it comes on Christmas or not, so there really isn't a problem there. 

3.  This was something different than what I am used to doing.  Any time you try something new, it is a little bit of a challenge. 

Photo from Cabot Cheese

What I would do differently next year:

1.  Start earlier.  This way I can just save the points from credit cards for Christmas instead of just using them all year long.  Also, set the money aside all year long that we get from reselling things we no long want or need and save it for Christmas.  Then, go out and buy gift cards in one trip if that is what I choose to do again.

2.  Consider a trip instead if we have enough money saved.
Photos from Michael Johansson and also Michael  Johansson

Even though it has taken a little more effort this year to finance our Christmas gifts, it is nice that my home is less cluttered, that we have a lot of fun gift cards to use after Christmas and I realized that I can save myself a lot of money as well as be more eco-friendly by doing things differently. 

If you are interested, my $100 Christmas list of what I got and some of what I give can be found here.  I still have some money coming, but it is winding down and I feel peaceful about all that I have done. 

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