Finances Part II – The Holidays

15 Nov

So as mentioned in previous posts the holidays are coming upon us (yay!) but that tends to mean big spending for us. However, this year will be different. Because I’m determined to stick to a budget and only spend exactly what I’m going to allocate. I liked comments suggested in the previous post about having a gift fund that you contribute to throughout the year that you then use for gifts as needed. I think I might try something like that in 2010. If I put in $30 every month that would give me $360 for gifts throughout the year. Which actually I think is pretty good. I don’t anticipate any weddings in 2010, though perhaps a baby shower! (Crossing my fingers S!) and so that will pretty much all be for Christmas and birthdays.

Very reasonable.

It helps that this year I’m not really exchanging that gifts with many people. My planned $200 budget is:

  • $0 for the Husband (we’re going to Mexico in 3 weeks as a belated honeymoon/Christmas/Anniversary present)
  • $50 for my parents
  • $25 for his parents
  • $20 for his sister
  • $10 for a co-worker I always exchange with
  • $95 for my son

But here’s the great thing: Gift cards. We have Medica as our health insurance and they offer gift cards as an incentive to do all of these healthy programs on their website. We’ve got $150 in gift cards right now to redeem with $50 more at the end of the calendar year. So I intend to redeem these gift cards at places that I plan to buy said gifts. Likely to be Target and Amazon, perhaps Borders or Old Navy as well. You can redeem them in $25 increments for over 300 companies. Its wonderful. So essentially I’m hoping out of pocket cash costs will be minimal because of this.

The $75 that’s being spent for our parents can’t come through the gift cards because Kodak isn’t one of the companies available and I always get our parents a calendar of pictures of our son and my mom wanted a tote bag as well with his photo on it.  But luckily Kodak is doing this thing right now where you get a $15 credit to use in anyway you want and I have 3 of them :-) So essentially I can get $75 worth of merchandise for $30 plus shipping.


So everything sounds dandy right? No. Because the thing above and beyond gifts (and really we’ll have to see what happens when all the Black Friday sales are released) that we spend by far the most on is decorations. And I LOVE Target’s Christmas decorations this year… Plus our neighbors go all out crazy in decorating their houses and its hard for me to not want to.

Reminds me of something I read in a different blog. This person was able to finally get a grasp on his finances when he stopped caring what other people think. I think that’s huge. If I really think about it 90% of my non-fixed purchases are probably on some level to “keep up with the Joneses” and to impress people.

I’m toying with this concept of really trying to not care what people think, except its so ingrained in us to focus the superficial as a means of keeping up with colleagues and friends. I think it’ll prove to be difficult.

4 Responses to “Finances Part II – The Holidays”

  1. Emily November 15, 2009 at 4:14 pm #

    Have you read The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman? There’s a lot of great stuff in there about getting a handle on planning for the future and not worrying about what other people think about what you do or don’t have.

    Maybe one of your Amazon gift cards could get you that. :)

  2. Rebecca November 16, 2009 at 10:20 am #

    Good for you! It’s really hard to change spending habits, but it sounds like you’ve laid out a pretty good plan for yourself. :)

  3. Sarah November 16, 2009 at 1:30 pm #

    Can you not use your decorations from last year? You can switch things up to give it a different look, but use mostly the same marterials?

    Also, from your last post, R commented about the Debt Snowball, which I TOTALLY recommend. You can do it starting with the lowest balance to give you a “warm and fuzzy” when you pay things off, but I would also recommend looking at starting with the highest interest rate. You may end up saving more in the long run that way. You can plug all your debts into and they will calculate it out for you.

  4. M November 16, 2009 at 4:36 pm #

    Emily- Great suggestion! I did even better and looked up to see if they had the book at my library and they do. I’ve got in on hold and can hopefully pick it up today!

    Sarah- Of course I’ll use all the decorations from last year, though I think that our two inflatables might be broken…. We’ll find out soon enough! As for the credit cards; we have 3 with balances on them. Two have the same amount and one is double. The one with the highest balance also has one of the lowest interest rates. After our tax refund earlier in the year we paid off all of our credit cards with the highest interest rate.

    Becca- Thank you!

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