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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How to have a low stress, budget friendly Christmas!

So in the past I always get ultra stressed around Christmas.  I don’t know why, but it was like Christmas time would catch me off guard.  Plus, after getting married there was adjustments to different Christmas/Holiday traditions to get use to and all that comes with it.
Well, on the 5th year, I finally figured out what makes me work, and for the first time in a while I am having a pretty stress free Christmas:
1)      Plan Early! Duh! For some reason, I would forget Christmas was coming, then when I realized it was so caught up in the wants and needs of everyone else that I could barely hear myself think…plus I was BROKE!  So, this year, I started thinking about Christmas in October, making my list, deciding how much money I needed, and saving from paychecks to make it happen. This worked so well, I’m going to start even earlier next year, oh and I started a Christmas Fund (saving for 12 months).
2)      Pay Cash! Duh…please don’t charge Christmas. Did you know that the average American doesn’t pay off Christmas for 6 months following Christmas! Click Here Don’t be a statistic. MsMoneyGuru doesn’t believe in using Credit Cards, so this wasn’t an option for me anyway.  But NO ONE (on my Christmas list), not even my child is worth my financial stability and responsibility I have to myself and my family.  Sorry, if I don’t have the money I don’t get it.
3)      Make a list, check it twice. The B-WORD again!  I’m sorry, there is no getting around it…you need to budget everything you do!  Including Christmas.  So using my trusty EXCEL Spreadsheet, I made a list of all the people I wanted to give gifts to, including any gift exchanges, and Christmas decorations, etc.  I put 3 columns next to each person: 1) gift (description), 2) Budget Cost, and 3) actual cost.  In some cases I didn’t spend that much, maybe what I wanted was on sale or maybe I used “Kohl’s Cash” or coupon codes from another purchase…it evened out the budget on items I went over budget on.  As long as I made it within my overall budget I was happy, and therefore I am!  
4)      Tell everyone to get over it!  You don’t have to actually say this…just do it!  In the past, I would succumb to the pressure of buying gifts when I couldn’t afford it. I would just “charge it”. Well, last year was the year I stopped charging.  I had overwhelming debt and obligations, so Christmas budgeting was the last thing on my mind.  Well in the end, I managed to scrape a few dollars together to get some gifts for family, but I had to stand my ground and tell my family that the gifts would be small this year. Not everyone understood this…but honestly who is going to be in my house the following month paying all these bills, not them! 
So, if you suffer from the same issue with pleasing others that I once did, LET IT GO!  Get what you can afford and move on…Christmas is about spending time not money on people; if they can’t understand that, then that’s not my problem…I have my own problems to deal with. Now a days I don’t wait to see what people want me to do, I just do what I want to do, and give what I want to give…I’m the giver, I get to decide what and how much! Plain and simple!
5)      Remind yourself “Who” is the Reason for the Season!  It helps calm your nerves because you realize why you have the ability to give. Continue to thank God for His grace and mercy and for sending Jesus to the world to rid it of its sin. Once you center yourself on that, everything else is cake. 
MsMoneyGuru

My Favorite Things!

In the spirit of Christmas I thought I would make a list of my favorite things, of course a lot of them have to do with money and money management, but some things you can just enjoy too!
Here we go!
MsMoneyGuru’s Top Ten Favorite Things:
1)      Credit Unions—once I got over the fact that there wasn’t an ATM on every block, I actually LOVE Credit Unions…they really know you, and although they are a bank, they have a live real person that I can contact if I need to solve a problem!  My experiences with BofA and Chase have not yielded the same results, oh well, that’s why I took my business elsewhere!
2)      Check book registers—MsMoneyGuru loves to balance her check book!  I love knowing EXACTLY to the penny how much money I have in the bank.  I even track my cash expenditures…its fun!  If any of you are of the same, you will notice that 1 checkbook register per check book box is not enough! So I regularly ask the teller at the bank for extra checkbook registers, they are free!  
3)      Having multiple checking accounts—they are free so why not have multiple?  Each one has a separate purpose, that way I’m not always second guessing my purchases; it’s organized the same way I think: IN CATEGORIES!
4)      Coupon Codes—I am always on the lookout for coupon codes, I like to shop online and having a code to fill in the box at checkout always puts me at ease—I hate feeling ripped off.
5)      Mint.com—free budget software website. They are awesome because they pull your accounts real time to one place where you can categorize them and compare them to your monthly plan (BUDGET); you can even make charts to compare your spending trends!  Awesome!
6)      www.DaveRamsey.com---love him!  Need I say more?
7)      Google and therefore my Google HTC Smartphone—they have everything I need in the palm of my hand: directions, internet (Google), social networks (Facebook, Twitter, BlogSpot, WattPad), etc.
8)      Microsoft Excel—my whole life is one big Excel Worksheet! 
9)      The book of Proverbs—want to know how to manage your money God’s way; he wrote it down in a book! Check it out!
10)  Family, Friends, and all of you!  Merry Christmas!

MsMoneyGuru

Hello Out There!

I know it’s been a while since I have check in with you all…hopefully, you are still out there! 
I have been extremely busy with my “real job” and with all the Christmas/Holiday activities that I haven’t had a moment to sit down and write! 
You will be happy to know that several ideas have been storing up in my brain and all I need to do is organize them and let them all come out! 
Okay, so for the final days of the year you will be hearing a lot from me…Stay tuned….

Ms Money Guru
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