I haven’t been very thrifty lately. Like everyone else, I was just trying to get through the holidays. What I know that most of my readers already know, is that holiday spending is only partly about gifts. The rest is extra food for various occasions, cards and postage, extra gas to get here and there. It adds up, and I have always budgeted for these things, along with my gift giving budget.
In 2014 I did not have a Christmas Club. I stopped working the end of January and suspended the Christmas Club. Financially, these accounts make no sense. They pay no interest, and have no benefit. It is all psychological. You put away your chosen amount each month/two weeks/one week—whatever period of time you choose—and in October, you get your money. For me personally, this has been excellent. I have five birthdays from October 17 through November 10. My Christmas Club is also a Birthday Club.
I started my account back up in November so Christmas 2015 will not be so stressful. Here are some things I/we did to make things work this (and other) year.
If you are married, you must work as a team. If you are doing things behind the scenes, you end up with one kid getting more than the other and although we don’t count pennies around here, we try to keep things somewhat equal. My husband likes to surprise people. I don’t care HOW much he surprises me; but let me know what you are doing with the kids, buddy!
I gave up Christmas cards. I love them but I have arthritis in my right thumb and there is no way I can do them anymore. Since I began writing blogs; that seemed like a good place to “keep” them. Cards and postage for us was $100. If you haven’t seen the 2014 Christmas entry, it is right here!
I like having a few go-to recipes for occasions. You know what you need and you can find the ingredients on sale. This year my daughter-in-law did Christmas and I didn't have to do much! That was wonderful! She had some go-to things and I learn from her too.
I fill stockings. I don’t know how long I am going to do this for the adults, but I will for the kids. I like to pick up things during the year, but it goes against the whole concept of accumulating if I get little stuff. We like our candy (!) and I bought mine after Halloween. I prefer to get gift cards or some other item that will be consumed, not clutter up someone’s home.
My son and his wife built a new house this year and they are still in the accumulating phase as they buy things for their home. My daughter and her husband, and my husband and I are not in that place. We prefer things that do not take up much space or that will replace something worn—or a gift card for an experience.
We try to give each other ideas, but I wish I could surprise them more. My daughter needed clothes to rebuild her wardrobe after maternity clothes, and my DIL wanted boots. They send me links to Kohls and The Limited (or whatever). While I enjoy shopping from home, I still wish I could surprise them.
We all use Kohls cash or any other premium that we can. Even buying gift certificates sometimes gives you extra $$ on a small card or, in the case of Bob Evans, an apple pie! Works for me!
While we were on the cruise, we did buy some stuff that we would have bought anyway and that made nice little gifts. I got the little girls matching dresses in St. Marteen. My daughter has set boundaries for her children: only three gifts per child. They have so many relatives that it’s plenty! More than plenty! Now Grandma has been known to put two things in a box, and if it fits in a stocking it’s OK, but I suppose the three-gift rule is probably a good idea. The grandparents and aunts and uncles would go overboard.
Every Christmas is not the same. Last year we gave the kids some money; so I didn't shop much! That worked out excellently as I was “recovering” from radiation and I was tired. This year we took a cruise so that was our present to each other. It will be something else next year.
However, we stayed within our limits and I have about a $50 credit card bill to pay in January. I consider that a success.
What kinds of things have you done to save money during the holidays?