Melanie’s Spending Diet Progress Report

How I Saved 1K in a Month (click through for more!)

Below is Melanie’s December Spending Diet update. See all the past Spending Faster updates here. – Anna

December was the month that I had anticipated a spending spree. With the holidays in full swing, I always have the tendency to overdo things– more gifts, more food, more spending and ultimately, more regret! I had been (fairly) good all year, but I was afraid that somehow the spirit of St. Nicholas would possess my body and credit card. But lucky for me, I’m a planner, I had planned and purchased most of my gifts before December ever rolled around. I had budgeted just $100 for holiday gifts. I did use $100 separate from my $100 Spending Diet fund, but it was $100 none the less. It was still a challenge. I did obsess over the $100 gift budget. I planned sales, I planned coupons and I did more math than I had done in the last 5 years. I also had a strategy. Here’s some things that helped me…

  1. I set a limit! I had just $100 in cash reserved for holiday gifts
  2. I made a list and checked it twice! I wrote a gift list on my phone with ideas for each person and checked it constantly to make sure I didn’t miss anyone.
  3. I used a lot of coupons. I’m not typically into grocery coupons, if I have one I use it, but since the holidays only happen once a year, I will coupon for gifts. I checked the local circular, asked friends and family for coupons and I always checked for an online promotion.
  4. I spent very little on wrapping! I wrapped most of my gifts in good ol’ paper bags. They weren’t gorgeous, but they did give a sense of nostalgia.
  5. I made a few gifts, but I was careful to do the math first. Crafty gifts aren’t always cheaper than store bought.
  6. For co-workers, I baked up a big pot of nuts and put them in little baggies. Easy peasy.
  7. I shopped early! I knew if I was under a tight deadline it’d be too easy to just throw up my hands and say “Ok! That’s it! I’ll just buy everyone easy and expensive gifts and be done with it!” I know a few people who even shop year-round for Christmas, that way there is no pressure and they spread out their spending over many months. Kudos to them.
  8. I  gave my time. For my bestie’s gift, I went over to her house and helped her wrap gifts for her child. It was nice to spend time together and we didn’t spend a dime!
  9. My in-laws and I did a “Secret Santa” so we didn’t buy gifts for everyone.
  10. I made a no-gift pact. My husband and I don’t exchange gifts for most holidays. We’d much rather save the money to go on a trip or to eventually buy a house. It’s not “fun,” but we’re together for the long haul.


Although all this planning and strategizing made the holidays a bit more stressful, it was worth it. If you are interested in total cost breakdown check out this post on my blog. Also, while this post did focus on how to cut back on holiday spending these strategies can be used year-round for all gift-giving occasions. -Melanie

Melanie’s Month 6 Spending Diet Savings: $1,000

Started the Spending Diet: July 1, 1014

Savings to date: $6,600


How do you save money on gifts throughout the year?

P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp!


3 thoughts on “Melanie’s Spending Diet Progress Report

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  1. Chrystal

    I wanted to stick to a budget this year for Christmas, but that quickly disappeared. So for this year I’m going to actually make lists ahead of time and buy things throughout the year. I’m also planning on setting a limit for each person that we need to buy for and if i get a deal that brings me under budget, then the extra will either go into savings or against debt. I love the secret santa idea and we do that now on both sides of my family and my in laws. We only buy for the kids and one name drawn on each side. That saves a lot too. And for my few close friends I now buy a “family gift” for the whole family – like a board game.

    I am so impressed that you did all of your shopping for $100! Congrats on the savings!

  2. Amanda

    I really need to have a go with a spending fast, as would love to be able to save one of our salaries (and live off the other one) to save up to pay off the mortgage.


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