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Holiday Shopping Made Easier

I found a great app for my phone to help organize my holiday shopping list.  The app allows you to make a list of people you want to include on your gift list and set a budget for each.

With The Christmas List app, you add people to your list and you can even assign them to groups such as family, friends, and work and then assign a budget for each group.

Here is an example of my groups.

Once you have your list of groups, you can assign budgets for each person.  In this example, I allocated $75 each to my husband, daughter and son.

You can add the person’s photo and even add from your phone’s contact list or use the festive icons that are already on the app.

Ok, seems simple enough, but what I like best about the app is that I can set a budget, snap a photo of gift ideas and even track how far I am in my gift buying process.  This comes in handy because not only does it help you see how much shopping you have left, but it helps you keep track of spending.  You can even view gifts by store if you know where to find the gift.

So let’s say I found a cute jacket for my daughter at Costco for $50.  I can snap a photo and log it into my app.  If I add other items from this same store, I can view the list while I am in that store.

What I like best about this app, is that I can add to this list any time during the year if I happen to see something that would make a good gift for someone on my list.  Then if I buy the gift early, I will have it tracked so that I do not forget months later that I already bought a gift for someone.

The app has a passcode lock in case you have kids that might peek.  This app is only $.99 and is available for the iPad, iPhone and iTouch.

Do you use an app to help you with your holiday shopping?

Why You Should Be Tracking Your Expenses

So another month is over now….amazing isn’t it?  Before you know it, it will be 2013.  The beginning of November is a great time to look at your monthly expenses in preparation for next year’s budget.

Now, you might be thinking, wait a minute, November and December are not “normal” months.  There is the extra addition of gift expenses and maybe even travel expenses.  Well, realistically any month can have unexpected expenses.  For example, in the last month we had medical expenses,  a car repair bill and travel expenses (it was a blog conference and so worth it).

If you already track most of your expenses, now is a good time to review the expenses you are incurring so that you can adjust your budget for 2013.  It is a lot easier to start now, than to wait until January to put a budget together.  It is as simple as getting a small notebook or using a budget app on your phone.  Start tracking what is going out by category.

List out everything you spend.

Yes, everything.

I know that a $3 latte does not seem too relevant, but multiply that by the approximate 21 working days in a month, and that is $63.  If you add weekends, it is even more.

If you commit to doing this just a couple of minutes a day, at the end of the month, you will have a picture of what you are spending.   Track all the money your are spending on groceries, eating out, sport/club fees, coffee fixes etc….  This is the only way to get a clear vision of where your money is going.

When you pay your bills, list out what each bill cost or print out the bill payment page if you bank on-line.  We will do this together.  It will not be painful, it will feel better to know for sure where your money goes.  If you skip a day I won’t tell, just take the first step.

In a near – future post I will share the method that I use to track expenses.

Do you keep a budget? If so, how often do you review it?

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