Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


Happy Hump Day, Dear Readers.

I feel a bit odd continuing this Climbing Out of the Big, Black Hole series, since I’m almost out of debt, but I still have a (short) ways to go, and hopefully telling my story can help others avoid these financial pitfalls.

While cutting back on the things I bought for myself was hard enough, curbing what I purchased for others was worse. I love gift-giving. One of my favorite things to do was to go shopping with a friend, watch as she raved about and pined over something she couldn’t afford, and then sneak back and buy it for her. Usually by the time Christmas or her birthday rolled around, she’d completely forgotten about it and was ecstatic to receive it.

Giving a great gift isn’t about money, of course. It’s the thought involved. By have any of you noticed how often those thoughts cost dearly? I always tried to keep to a budget of under $1,000 for Christmas gifts. It never worked, even when I made a lot of the gifts myself. I also loved to entertain, and would invite people over for parties that included huge platters of food and open access to my little bar. Only in the last year or two have I been able to get my generous nature under control.

My friends (hopefully) still know I love them. And I’m sure not a single one wants an extravagant gift from me while I’m still mired in the misery of CIBC owning my ass. Most of us have agreed that time together is more important than things, so on special occasions, we’ve shared cheap (but delicious!) dinners together, gone for a walk, or watched a matinee.

While I am looking forward to more flexibility when it comes to presents for friends and family, I’m going to be better at setting a budget and sticking to it in the future. Spending yourself into a hole is a gift to no one.

How about you? Do you find it easier to spend more on family and friends than you would on yourself? Do you go crazy around the holidays? How do you keep your gift-giving under control?

Thanks for reading!
1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.


  1. Lisa S.

    Yes, I definitely find it easier to spend more on family and friends than myself. I’m generally pretty good with not spending more than i can afford, though. I grew up in an environment where those around me were always arguing about money, so i vowed not to do the same. I’ve mostly done that by staying out of debt and living slightly below my means.
    I love gift-giving but am usually good with sticking to what i can afford. I don’t beat myself up when I don’t, though. It’s only money.

  2. kungfusinger

    I have always felt that way. I love giving gifts, but they have to be the right gift. I christmas and birthday shop year round. I have a budget of $30 per person per gift occasion. In order to keep the credit card under control in december, I pick up gifts as I find them. One or two a month is a lot easier to handle than 15 in one month.

    One inexpensive thing I do with my friends is I host a regular “dinner and a movie” night. I cook the meat and everyone else brings a side and a movie rental. We vote on the movie(s) we will watch. It works well, and we all have a good time. It is also very inexpensive as I am only providing one part of supper.

  3. Story Teller

    @ Lisa – “Only money”? Spoken like someone who has no debt! 🙂 Thanks for your comment.

    @ KFS – the dinner and movie nights are fabulous. I’ve often thought buying presents throughout the year is a good way to go, except the people in my life are bound to buy everything for themselves by then! Still, if it works for you and yours, it’s a creative solution. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Anonymous

    One of my fav cost savings get togethers is a wine and cheese. Everyone brings a bottle (no more than $15ish) and a single cheese to share. The wine & cheese usually follow a theme (Australian, Italian, or a varietal, such as Merlot). We make it a blind tasting and have a great time (one or two labels always seem to surprise). I have had nothing but rave reviews…it really is quite fun.

    Another one is PPV nights. We buy the PPV and everyone else supplies the grub…fun times!

    The common theme is the “shared experience” – that is the gift…all the rest is incidental.

  5. Story Teller

    Both of those sound like great ideas, Anonymous. Thank you so much for sharing them. And if you haven’t been here before, welcome!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.