Thanksgiving and Black Friday are almost here, so it’s time to start thinking about ways to make it through the holidays without overspending.  Here are six things I do to maintain my budget during the most wonderful (and expensive) time of the year:

Make a Reasonable Budget
I’ve been making a Christmas shopping budget each year since I was ten.  It started with a list of family members I wanted to buy gifts for, but has now expanded to include all of the events that surround the holidays.  Presents for gift exchanges, hostess gifts, dinners with friends, holiday light tours and the list goes on.  Determine a realistic amount for your holiday spending and begin to make a budget.

Prioritize Your Money and Time
Once you have a number in mind, think about the people who you would like to buy gifts for and the events you would like to attend.  Sometimes saying “no” to an invitation or restraining yourself from spending on the perfect (but way out of your budget) gift can feel painful, but your sanity and finances will thank you for prioritizing what’s important to you.  After you have settled on whom you will buy for and the social events you will go to, set a dollar amount to spend for each gift and party.

Pay with Cash
While I don’t normally use the “envelope system,” I find it a really helpful tool during the holidays.  With your budget as a guide, take out the amount of cash you’ll need for gifts and use that predetermined amount instead of a credit card.  Using an envelope of cash labeled “mom,” for instance, makes me more focused on buying her gift and helps me avoid impulse buys. [click to continue…]


I hate crowds and getting up early, so I’ve always skipped Black Friday.  The news footage of people getting trampled and fighting each other for bargains has always made me wonder if being a Black Friday shopper was worth the effort.  I made my Christmas shopping list back in September and recently saw that one of the items I wanted would a doorbuster deal at Target on Black Friday.  I also saw that CVS had a ton of freebies during Thanksgiving weekend, so I figured I’d become one of the (possibly crazy) Black Friday masses.

My Thanksgiving started with an 8 am trip to CVS.  They had a long list of items that were free with ExtraCare bucks.  After 45 minutes of shopping at two CVS locations I left with $107 worth of stuff for only $4!  I also got $40 back in ExtraCare bucks for future CVS shopping trips. My two receipts were literally taller than I am.  Check out this post if you’re wondering about how to get good deals at drugstores.

My afternoon was filled with parade watching, cooking, and pondering about whether I should really go to the Target Black Friday sale.  In the midst of pondering, I read that Target was having a Black Friday Twitter contest and would be giving away $500 GiftCards to people standing in line dressed like the Christmas Champ (aka the lady in the Target 2-Day Sale commercials).  So then I was pondering about not only if I should go to the sale but if I should also dress up for the occasion.

With dinner and pumpkin pie finished, I decided to go for it!  I headed to SuperTarget in a too small pair of red track pants from high school, a red hoodie and pearls and jumped in the line at 10:45 pm.  The line wasn’t too long at that point and the people around me were friendly Black Friday veterans.  Several of them had already made trips to Toys R Us and Walmart and had stacks of ads to strategize their shopping.  The employees handed us maps with the different locations of the doorbuster items (for Black Friday a TV may be in the baby apparel section so electronics isn’t overwhelmed with people).

The security guards were really helpful in answering any questions about where items were located in the store and they passed out energy bars around 11:30.  At 11:32 the Target Twitter account asked for tweets of people dressed like the Christmas Champ for the giveaway, and the nice lady in line behind me took this kinda horrible picture of me:

Then midnight rolled around and the line started moving into the store.  Target uses a process called metering to make sure that everyone gets into the store safely, so we were let in the store in groups of 30 at a time.  Once in the store everyone was walking quickly to get to the item they wanted and there was surprisingly little running.  I went straight for the item I wanted and walked triumphantly to the well-organized checkout area.  I was out of the store by 12:10 as people were still waiting in line to get it.  I didn’t see any crazy incidents.  The shoppers I spoke to were nice and the Target employees were friendly did a great job of making sure everything went smoothly.  Way to go Milton, GA SuperTarget!

I was excited to get a great deal on a Christmas present, but here’s the best part: I won one of the $500 Target GiftCards in the contest!  Staying up late for Black Friday was absolutely worth it.

Are you a Black Friday Shopper?


Getting a Head Start on Christmas Shopping

September 14, 2011

It’s a balmy 90 degrees in Atlanta today, but I have decided that it’s time to get a head start on my Christmas shopping.  I was shopping at Costco on Labor Day weekend and noticed that they were already selling Christmas cards and decorations (they were also selling wedding dresses, but that’s another topic) and […]

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Should I Buy It? A MacBook

September 27, 2010

It’s time for me to upgrade my laptop.  My current Dell and I have been through a lot: law school exams, countless grad school papers, and lots of wasted time on the internet, but I’d like to get something new.  I’m not really a “Mac” person, instead I’m a boring PC, but it seems that […]

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