How many times have we planned, prepared and saved for our holidays only to be discouraged when the "little" things added up to a budget buster during not only our holidays but all throughout the year? Over the next 5 months we'll all be scheduling those family photos, hair appointments, Christmas outfits, extraordinary feasts, etc... When you began your Christmas savings in January you had no idea the cost of living would have gone up 14% for food alone much less another 6% minimum on everything else. This is going to be very difficult for many to absorb at the last minute. As I was filling up my car after having my hair done it occurred to me that my weird way of doing things might help others. You see, I grew up in a home where every penny was precious and you had to be prepared for hard times. As an adult we survived floods, hurricanes, job loss, illness and more so much easier than most because we "prepared for the hard times". One way that I've always done this is by utilizing Gift Cards. These days there are very few places that do not offer them. You can get a gift card for everything from oil changes to hair cuts. How are you going to pay for it? Okay, so you've scheduled your hair cuts for every 8 weeks and you know that it will run $100 for that cut and color. You also know that you are most likely going to have that special Christmas Party whereby you are going to want that style that only the beautician can pull off, so that's an extra appointment. Starting today go get a gift card specific to your salon. Mine is JC Penney so that was easy. I put $30 on this card every 2 weeks. This not only covers my regular 8 week appointment but leaves enough extra on the card to take care of those special occasion styling. I don't have to worry about busting my budget in the middle of the holidays. Many of us travel much more during the holidays. Whether you are planning that 6 hour trip or simply heading out on black Friday or cruising the town one night to see the beautiful lights, you are going to need extra fuel during the holidays. Start planning now by getting a gift card specifically for fuel/gasoline. I use Sam's Club so I got a fuel card from there and took a Sharpie and marked it "FUEL". Every week I add $75 to this card. It only takes $58-$62 most weeks to fill up my 4-Runner. The extra is accumulating to spare me the additional expenses during the holidays or heaven forbid, should we have to evacuate for a hurricane. I have several gift cards. This eliminates holding on to a lot of cash either physically or in your checking account where it's too easy to dip into. It's my version of David Ramsey and has served me well. You can get gift cards to the movie theater because we all know there's always that one great Christmas movie that comes out during the holidays. You can do this at your preferred grocery store because with a 14% increase in food we'll be watching those sales closer than ever and will have the money (gift card) on hand to take advantage of every one. Just thought I'd share some of the methods to my madness. LOL Hope it helps!