by Ashley L
Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope that everyone is having a pleasant holiday season. I had a great and simple Christmas this year and spent it with my mom. We did a bit of grocery shopping, retail browsing, and spent most of our time at home. We discovered that Christmas Eve seems like the best day of the entire year to find movies on television, and not just Christmas movies. There were so many movies showing on TV that we ended up watching many old classics like the Wizard of Oz, all three versions of Scrooge, Shrek, Polar Express, and of course, a Christmas Story many times over. On Christmas day we opened presents, ate a nice dinner, and went to the movies. I also think that we were sincere when we answered the question of what a great holiday blessing was this year as simply being able to spend the holiday with each other.
I am also happy to be below budget for Christmas this year so I am feeling like a master budget-er this time. I saved $350 for the holiday this year, starting by saving $75 in October. My personal gifting philosophy is a balance between quality gift giving and frugality. I believe that people have to find what works for their budget, lifestyle, family traditions, family size, etc. For me, I like to give quality gifts to the most immediate people in my life, such as my parents and boyfriend, even if that means splurging a bit. For my family and friends, I seek to give gifts that are still meaningful, but don’t have to be amazing.
For example, this year I am gifting smart watches to my parents. It’s no cheap gift. However, it is worth it to me, especially because I want to push my parents to remain active, and also to answer all of my calls and texts immediately, of course. I got the Fitbit Charge 2 on sale on black Friday for about $125 for my dad and a Fitbit-type smartwatch that has different features that my mom would like and is cheaper on Amazon. This turned out to be a great choice, because a few days before Christmas, my mom told me that she wanted a Fitbit. I think she reads my mind sometimes.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, personalized gifts work well as a frugal option for me. I got an engraved cutting board for my stepfather. He really enjoys to cook and likes collecting any type of cooking paraphernalia. The total cost came to under $10. I also got gifts for my supervisors. I ended up finding three nice gifts and a set of gift bags from Burlington for a total of exactly $25. After my spending is totaled, I ended up having about $60 left. My original plan was to put this entire remainder toward my credit card, but then I got a bill about balance from a recent doctor visit and I will put it toward that and the leftover will be absorbed.
Another reason that I ended up below budget because I was not sure where I was going to spend Christmas this year. Sometimes I am with my mom and just the two of use exchange gifts. One year, I was with one side of the family and we decided ahead of time that none of us would exchange gifts and we all pitched in for a gift for my grandmother only. Another year, I was with other family members who traveled to Disney World and had a magical time and we all exchanged gifts with everyone. This is where family size and tradition comes into play and when I know ahead of time, I can budget accordingly. This year, with just my mom and I, I remembered the beauty of simple times spent with loved ones.