November 28, 2010

First Time Ever - A Budget for Christmas Gift Giving

I remember January of this year and feeling low and regretful over the bills from Christmas.  We had spent too much money on Christmas and I was not happy. 

In years' past we didn't budget for Christmas spending.  We just spent what we wanted to spend and that was that.  I made a very good salary, so Christmas was simply a matter of asking family members what they wanted for Christmas, taking their list and buying what was on the list.  My husband and I would go shopping and get it all done in one day. 

Last year I was no longer working and bringing in an income, but we still went out and spent like we had in prior years.  We asked what everyone wanted, took a list and bought what was on the list.  I don't know what we were thinking last year, but I do remember regretting it come January.  Lesson learned. 

This year is different.  We're scaling back Christmas at our house.  I am putting up the Christmas tree, the navity set and the stockings and that is it.  We are also cutting back on our Christmas spending.

We have pared our Christmas budget by 60% of what it used to be (which tells you we were spending way too much money)  and everyone seems to be thinking the same thing - we have everything that we need and we have a few wants.  My husband and I sat down to talk about the budget and we made a list of items that we would like to buy our children, daughter in law, my mother and his parents.

We decided that we would spend $50 on each other and that was it.  Both of us agreed that we didn't need anything and that instead of spending a lot of money on each other just to fulfill the "Christmas lots of gifts under the tree rule," we would instead take our time and find either one thing or several small things for each other on a $50 budget.  The main thing was that these would be items that each of us would want to have.

When we looked at the list of gift ideas for our family, we added it up and realized that we could definitely do this on the budgeted amount we had set.  What is our budget?  It is $750.00.  We have some of the money saved up, and the rest will come from grocery savings and from my husband's paychecks in December.  I almost hesitated to post the amount as two things can be surmised:  That we had paid in the past close to $1,800.00 for Christmas and that $750.00 doesn't sound very frugal.

In discussing the budget, we still wanted to be able to do Christmas in a nice way for our children, yet it still won't be at the same level that it was done in the past.  Also we can afford the $750.00.  If we were going to have to put Christmas on a credit card and pay it off over several months, then we would reduce the budget.  The fact is that we can do this without going into debt and that is a good feeling.

Yesterday I picked up a couple of gifts and I walked out of the store feeling happy because I had a budget and I was staying within the budget.  This makes shopping for Christmas gifts a little merrier.


Joan J said...

I understand 100% how $750 can be frugal! We're going through the same thing here. Thankfully, everyone has jobs, but the economy is so uncertain, who knows what January or Feb. will bring? I cut the number of presents in half, and gave myself a dollar amount per adult and per child. I told the family about it months ago, so they know they don't have to spend as much either. I think it's a good lesson for us all!

Maureen said...

I,m with you Martha the cost of Christmas is getting so out of hand. In some households $750 would be an impossible amount to spend, but lets face it it,s easily done and year after year I,ve done it, but not this year.

As long as the right people are at my Christmas table then all,s right with my world.