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Controlling My Christmas Shopping


Christmas shopping bags

I read today that consumers plan to spend an average of $1047.83 this year on Christmas shopping and holiday purchases. My first thought is what a ton of money to spend in one month! But then I realized I usually have no idea how much we’re spending each Christmas or where our money is going.

We’ve never saved for or created a clear Christmas budget. I just try to keep things low and hope it turns out okay. I start early, I use sales, and I’m skilled at convincing my kids they still want the toy they told me about in November and that I already bought. So far this year I’ve just been using our budget’s gift category to the max these past few months, and then supplementing with earnings from my freelance work. It sounds sloppy because it is.

We can’t keep this up. Luckily there’s still time to control my Christmas shopping. Here are some things I’m trying:

1. Limiting the Number of Gifts We Give

For our kids we’re doing the trendy-though-controversial gift-giving concept of “Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read.” Then they’ll get a board game for the whole family.

My husband and I decided to just do small stocking stuffers for each other, nothing more. But we also pondered if some other gifts could be omitted. We both come from large families that do gift exchanges, and as our families keep growing and moving far apart, this has started to cause stress, overwhelm, and loss of the true spirit of giving and receiving. At the risk of sounding like a Scrooge, I proposed to each side of the family the idea of no longer exchanging gifts. It was… not popular. But it did start a good conversation, and I think next year we may just say no thank you and bow out entirely.

2. Planning Ahead and Looking for Sales and Freebies

I always look for deals, but now I’m sticking only to the things on the list (no emotional, “come on, it’s Christmas” shopping). I’m also making better use of free items, like a cousin’s hand-me-down plane my son will love. I was even able to score a free 21-pound turkey when I spent $100 at our grocery store the week before Thanksgiving. Booya.

3. Consolidating and Simplifying

I love the chance to connect with a few close neighbors and friends at Christmas, but I’m keeping it simple and giving everyone the same thing—Christmas potpourri. I made it last year, and it was a hit. It’s easy to assemble, I have leftover supplies from last December, and I only need to buy oranges and cranberries.

4. Using Gift Cards and Store Credit

Close to $1 billion of gift cards went unredeemed in 2015. I plan to use the stash of random cards in my purse for gifts. Our local bookstore also offers store credit when you sell them used books, so I have some unused credit I’ll put towards the kids (“Darth Vader and Son” books here we come).

Controlling our Christmas shopping is changing our behavior and it hurts sometimes. My husband and I had a moment of truth standing in Target on the afternoon of Black Friday. We had gone there for something specific for the business, but the displays of DVDs on sale sucked my movie-loving husband in. As he showed me a stack of of movies we could buy, we had to look each other in the eye and accept they just weren’t in the budget. It was a buzzkill, but it frees us up for the purchases we really do want to make this time of year.

How do you save on gift-giving during the holidays?

TVs Anyone – Just Comical


As I previously mentioned, my ex-husband, Little Gymnast and Princess’ dad recently moved across the country.  Also, as previously mentioned, he stopped paying child support last October due to financial troubles of his own.  Hopefully with this move and the promised job, that will change soon, but when it does it will come as a complete blessing and not something I’m banking on. We are NOT going to discuss him anymore, so please don’t start down that road.  Moving on…

Due to his move and his purging, our house is over-run with TVs.  Remember we will in essentially 3 rooms (2 bedrooms and 1 open living space, that is right at 900 square feet.)  We already have 3 TVs.  One in the main living room where we play video games and watch Netflix, one in the boys room for another game console and one small one that sometimes doubles as a computer monitor for laptops and most just stays put up.  What in the world are we going to do with 2 more good sized TVs?

Of course, the kids won’t let me get rid of them since they are from their dad.  And I understand that for now.

But right now, I’m just giggly that with all that is going on and all that we don’t have…here we are a family of 5 with 5 TVs.  We have 3 rooms and 5 TVs.  We don’t even have cable, don’t really watch TV and we have 5 TVs.

Oh, the irony.  So for now, our dining room that will someday house a table is a storage space for TVs.

Sidenote: He actually brought them several things from his home.  Nothing practical or particularly of interest to them.  But in this matter, I guess it truly is the thought that counts, and I know there is something in all this “stuff” that they will hold on to, since they can no longer hold on to him.