You Know What Time It Is

Well, we crossed that invisible line this week. That line that divides The Holidays from The Rest of the Year. November begins the season of spending. We have Thanksgiving which means, perhaps, travel for us and our family or inbound travelers staying with us. What it means regardless is more money spent on these seasonal things like trips and extra food and more wine. That is quickly followed by the gift-giving season. It all amounts to budget-busters unless you stop, take a breath, and make a plan.

Here is your quick and easy template to stay on top of your spending so that you enter 2017 large and in-charge of your checkbook!


Why Am I Spending? Comments Last Year I Spent This Year I Plan to Spend
Holiday Travel      
Extra Meals      
Thanksgiving Dinner      
Holiday Cards (and postage)      
Gifts: (list each person)      


Fill this out (excel would be best so that it can do the math for you) and consider what you did last year, how much that cost, and what you are planning for this year.

Consider the enjoyment that you get from this. If you love it and consider it priceless, then you are doing the right thing to allocate funds toward it. If you are anything less than ecstatic, think about what you could do instead. If you hate traveling to a relative’s house, could you have them come to you instead? Could you put in a plan to alternate going forward?

Gifts are important so I encourage you to be mindful about who, what, and how much. Can you give something that is very thoughtful, very personal, and inexpensive? What talents do you have that others would love to experience? Yes, this takes time to think and plan and create AND that’s why you are going through this exercise now….

You are in charge of your wallet, your plans, your gift-giving, and your holiday experience. Start now and make sure that you can afford the plan, that the plan lines up with what is truly important for you to experience this holiday season, and that you come out the other side without a big, fat credit card bill!

To your financial (and holiday) success,


Tis the Season of Giving and Saving !

In the spirit of giving, I thought I would pass along a few sites that I have come across with some free activities for those of you minding your budget during this season of spending.

For a list of free (or nearly free) Christmas activities, I found The link is to their page on free Christmas events – and they have a long list. Looks like they have lots of other ideas for Georgia trips, outdoor adventures and date nights to name a few so you may want to bookmark this one.

Roswell square has a number of free activities not only at Christmas but year-around. Go to for their many activities and offerings. My family is headed to A Christmas Carol at Bulloch Hall this year. It’s not free but it is much less expensive than the big venues.

Lights, lights and more lights:

  • com has a whole guide to light displays near Atlanta. I have been to the Botanical Gardens in the past and plan to head down there again. It’s not free but it is spectacular. Off-peak nights are Monday – Wednesday so you may want to try one of those nights.
  • Lights of Life (Life College) – Monday – Thursday until December 18th, the cost is only $5/car. After the 18th, the price goes up to $10/car.


For those of you in the Marietta area, try for their activities. I also see that Uber is offering new customers a free ride – use code MariettaNYE. has all of the happenings on the square.


  • If holiday volunteer projects are your thing, Kathryn Boortz has listed 5 projects on her November 19th blog post.
  • CBS Atlanta has a list of organizations that need volunteers this holiday season.
  • Hands On Atlanta has a whole calendar of volunteer opportunities


Remember too, the old fashioned decorations of popcorn and cranberry strings, cut out snowflakes, and glitter stars. Even your big kids will get into the spirit once you get going. For a list of projects try Homemade Gifts Made Easy.


Want to make your home smell like Christmas? Put a large pan of water on the stove. Add apple peels, orange peels, a cinnamon stick and a few whole cloves. Bring to a boil and then keep on low heat. It will definitely fill your house with the smells of Christmas.  Just don’t let the water get too low or it will fill your house with smoke!

With a little bit of planning and a good internet connection, you can find fun, entertaining activities to fit your holiday traditions and not bust the budget.

I will be on a little hiatus over the holidays but will back in January with lots more tips to help you be more financially successful. May the spirit of the holidays fill your home and your family and bring peace, love, and joy to you.

Happy Hanukah and Merry Christmas!