This year I’ve cut our holiday budget in half as sort of an involuntary experiment.
When we were hit with the house crisis in July, I poured my excess savings, including my holiday funds into getting the house. I did not, however, touch my emergency savings, that stayed right where it is, to serve its purpose when we got this house. That purpose being any emergency fixes we had to do, or any other absolute emergencies that needed to be taken care of -now-.
So I had to start over my holiday fund after that, which brings me to about $300-$350 to spend on the holidays, as opposed to the $600 I saved last year. Prior to last year, I didn’t have a holiday fund at all and was always rushing around at the end of the year trying to figure out how to pay for the holidays. Starting up my holiday fund in January of 2007, and adding a little each month took -all- the stress away from the holidays for me. What a relief that was.
This year I’ve cut the budget in half (which I had been wanting to do anyway, as $600 seems overly extravagant), and now I have to figure out how to divvy it up between our normal holiday traditions.
Last year my totals were as follows:
– $200 given to my father to buy gifts
– $300 for me to buy gifts for my father, the sweetheart, my soon-to-be step-daughter, and my sister
– $100 to buy the christmas tree and to get my dad his christmas cards
This year I’m thinking of the following:
– $100 for the tree and dads cards, which include inserts with our new address and information on it for relatives
– $100 to my dad to buy gifts
– $100 for me to buy gifts for my dad and sister and my cousin Landon. The sweetheart will have to do without unless I find some good bargains. He’s difficult to shop for anyway, and knows that sending him gifts just isn’t practical right now since he’s planning on moving.
– $50 excess to catch any overflow on gift-buying or possibly stamps for the cards or holiday food
Not entirely too much difference, just in the amounts. I normally try to have all of my holiday shopping done by October, but given the house crisis for July/Aug/Sept that just didn’t happen this year. I have no idea what to get people, but I know it will all be practical/useful items. For my sister I was thinking of getting her one of those pre-paid Visa cards, and start teaching her about financial responsibility.
I’m actually looking forward to seeing how far I can stretch $350, and see if I can accomplish a well-thought out holiday with such little money. I hope to try and focus on home-made gifts as much as I am able, and I -always- wrap in extra fabric from around the house, or newspapers. I’ve developed a hatred for expensive wasteful wrapping-paper.
Thinking ahead, I will most likely continue to do the $600 holiday fund after this year, given that our gift receivers will be expanding. I still plan to not use as much of it as possible and tuck the rest into an extra bill payment or a charity donation at the end of the year. But Christmas with my father is a very ingrained and enjoyable tradition for me. I’m certain there is a way to remain financially responsible while still partaking in the secular frivolities of the holidays.