5 Tips to Celebrate Christmas on a Shoestring Budget


Winter movies

Christmas is a little less than 7 weeks away. It shows up on the same day every single year but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ever (always) found themselves a little unprepared for the extra expenses that comes with the holiday. Here are 5 tips for keeping your Christmas holiday in check.

Figure Out Your Budget

If you’re running low on funds then this step is especially crucial. Set your dollar limit and then create your list of people that you need to buy for and make that list fit into your budget. Don’t be tempted to increase your budget figuring you will play catch up in January…that never works!!

Here are some tips to keeping your gift-giving in check:

Small kids: they don’t need a hundred presents under the tree and they don’t need expensive presents. Check out goodwill, or Craigslist, or just hit up the Black Friday sales if they just have to have that popular toy of the year.

Older kids: Definitely don’t need a hundred presents under the tree, especially if they’re old enough to “know” who is getting them the presents. I never tried this but really like the idea of Something you want, Something you need, Something to wear, and Something to read.

Spouse/Significant other: Make plans for a cheap date after the holiday. You shouldn’t have to impress them with material things if it’s not in your budget.

Other adult family members/relatives/Co-workers: Again, don’t go into debt trying to impress relatives with “stuff”. Make plans to get together after the holidays or send a nice note card to them. Bake some muffins or cookies.

Large families: Draw names so you don’t have to buy too many presents. Suggest only buying for the kids. Buy one family gift rather than a gift for each family member.

Use Rewards Points/Gift Cards

I have several different rewards programs I participate in throughout the year and try to save the earnings/rewards from these programs specifically for use at Christmas time. One of my credit cards also offers cash rewards and I will cash that in as well if I need to for Christmas gifts.

Some stores also offer discounts on their gift cards around Christmas time. You can buy these and either use them as actual gifts (because who doesn’t love getting a gift card) or you can use these discounted cards to purchase a gift for someone on your list.

Pick up a Temporary Job

There is so much opportunity to grab a part-time job during the holidays to earn a little more spending money for gifts. Retail stores are hiring to cover their longer hours and increased sales volume. Delivery places are hiring, such as UPS and FED EX to keep up with demand. Families are often looking for babysitters or people to watch their pets or homes while they travel for the holidays. Elderly people might need help with shopping. Just look around, and I guarantee you can find some way to earn extra funds right now.

Eliminate the Extras

It’s easy to get caught up with all the lights and glitter and festivities at Christmas. Guess what though? You don’t have to buy a new dress/suit for every Christmas party.

You don’t even have to attend every Christmas party you’re invited too.

Your home doesn’t need to look Martha Stewart decorated it for her magazine cover. You don’t have to spend a fortune putting a million Christmas lights on your house.

It’s also not necessary to buy expensive holiday cards to send to every long-lost relative and friend you probably don’t even talk to throughout the year. Have you seen the cost of postage lately??

Enjoy the Frugal/Free Activities

Take a look around your city/neighborhood and I bet you can find several frugal activities for your family to enjoy.

I love to drive around the various neighborhoods to see the Christmas lights.

Many churches and schools will offer free or low-cost choir performances or Christmas plays.

Tree lighting ceremonies are also popular events that are often free.

I am constantly teased about my obsession with the Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas movies that they have running non-stop through November and December. Make a batch of hot cocoa, light up the fireplace, and put your flannel pajamas on and settle in for a wholesome Christmas movie marathon.

My kids are older now and in college. I have a hard time even convincing them to give me a list of what they want for Christmas so you’re probably thinking it’s easier for me to have a frugal Christmas. Maybe it is but even when they were younger I made sure not to go overboard to the expense of our budget.  I know you want to bury the Christmas tree with a thousand presents but I would encourage you to reconsider if you aren’t in a place to do so. Stress to your kids the true meaning of Christmas and show them family time is more important than creating havoc on your finances for some toys that will most likely be discarded or broken before you can even pay off the credit card bill.

What about you? Any other tips you use to keep your Christmas low-cost?



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How To Pick the Perfect Part-Time Job


I currently work two jobs and have done so for almost two years now.

The decision to work two jobs was primarily due to the fact that we lost nearly $1,900 a month over a two year period.  I am grateful for the Social Security payments we received over the years after my husband died, but certainly wish the benefits could have continued through their college years. Living expenses don’t stop if the kids go on to college.

Our financial situation is certainly not uncommon in today’s times though and it’s not limited to only single-parent homes. I don’t know too many people that could easily survive on one income in today’s environment. One solution to ease the financial burden, regardless of whether you’re a single parent or a dual-income family struggling to meet your financial responsibilities, is to find a part-time job. Continue reading

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Life Insurance and The Day My World Collapsed


Insurance-it’s a crazy thing. It’s the one thing you pay for and pray that you don’t have to use. Auto insurance protects our cars, home insurance our houses, health insurance our health and wellness…and then there’s life insurance. This is arguably the most important insurance of all because it doesn’t protect our health or possessions but our families and our legacy. Continue reading

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September Update and Let’s Try This Again

I let my habit of setting monthly goals slip for quite a few months until I realized I was feeling uninspired in life. I felt a bit adrift and didn’t like it so I decided to start back up with setting goals for myself again in September. It was a rough start back but that just means there’s a lot of room for improvement in October. So how did I do? Continue reading

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6 Things My Kids Pay

Personal finance is called that for a very good reason. It’s personal. What works for me might not work for you and vice-versa. Someone reading this might be a dual-income, no kids family (DINK), or you might be like me and running a single mom/dad household, or maybe you have dual income with kids. All of these various living situations will result in very different budgets.

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September 2018 Goals

As promised, here’s everything I’m going to accomplish this month. Help keep me accountable please!! I’m not sure who said this first but it’s one of my favorite quotes:

Don’t think about what can happen in a month. Don’t think about what can happen in a year. Just focus on the 24 hours in front of you and do what you can to get closer to where you want to be. Continue reading

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5 Tips For Setting Monthly Goals


Okay, you all know I’m a big planner and if you’ve been following my little blog for any time at all then you know I used to always (okay, maybe always is a strong word but mostly) posted my monthly goals at the beginning of each month. I posted my annual New Year’s resolutions this year but I haven’t actually posted my monthly goals since last December. I’d made a decision in March of this year to take my blog and writing more seriously and I think either consciously or sub-consciously I thought I should stop with the monthly goal posts since no one was going to be interested in those.

Well, you may still not be interested, and if so, feel free to skip that day’s post (don’t worry…thousands of people skip ALL my posts so I won’t be offended) but I’m going to start the monthly goals back up starting in September. I’ve discovered I’m the type of person that needs accountability to push myself to achieve my goals and dreams. So today I’m going to go over 5 tips I have for setting goals. Continue reading

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Simple Comforts

There’s too much going on in my life right now between busy times at work and kids coming and going between out-of-state summer jobs and returning to school for the fall semester and struggling to find the time and energy to work on my writing. It’s caused a bit of writer’s block, which further adds to my stress. I decided to take a step back and think about my favorite simple comforts/routines that center me when life gets to be too much.

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Dealing With Life’s Curveballs

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans…John Lennon”

This is a favorite quote of mine and boy has it proven to be true this summer. I had some really grand plans this summer and let’s just say they have not materialized. My oldest son was going to be working out of state and my youngest son was going to be home but working multiple jobs over his summer break so I was ready to make this the summer of Holly. I was going to pump out two fabulous blog posts a week and work on getting some freelance writing gigs and life was going to be fabulous.

Well, if you read my blog with any regularity at all you’ll see that this is only my 5th blog post of the quickly disappearing summer. I have not been able to work on any freelance writing or even my own personal writing projects for that matter. Some family issues arose that have been very time and emotionally consuming for me.

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Budgeting-It’s not a four-letter word

This post was originally published in February 2017 but I felt it is worth a reprint.

Okay, so I will admit that I am a bit of a numbers geek. I love playing around with numbers and creating my budget each month. Creating a budget gives me a sense of security so I’m truly baffled that the word Budget strikes fear in so many people. Don’t you want to have a plan for your money?

So here’s some theories I have on why you don’t have or want a budget:

Maybe you have so much money you don’t need a budget because you’re free to spend whatever you want worry-free. In that case, I’m not sure why you’re bothering to read my little money blog, unless of course it’s just to have your weekly dose of Holly-ness.
Or maybe the more likely scenario is that you don’t have enough money and you think a budget isn’t for you. DUH!! I’m right there with you in the not enough money scenario and that’s exactly why I know it’s so important to have a monthly budget because you don’t want to be running out of money on day 22 of a thirty-day month.

Maybe you just think it’s too complicated and you’re not a numbers geek like me so you don’t even know where to start. Wow, this is your lucky day because guess what?? It’s not complicated and I’m going to tell you how to do it. My kid is taking calculus, that’s complicated. Geometry…that’s crazy complicated, all those stupid shapes. Setting up an easy budget is not complicated if you know how to add and subtract. You can even use a calculator or a spreadsheet…that’s not cheating, I promise.

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