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.
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.