Holiday Budgeting

Just to clarify, I know this is not the typical Christmas "Holiday" Season, but Christmas is not the only holiday of the year.

It seems that once we had our baby girl, the number of holidays and gifts needing to be purchased has grown exponentially. From the baby's birthday, to Mothers day, Anniversary, Valentines Day, Fathers day, now we have a grandfather's birthday coming up. After about a 2 month break, here comes Halloween, Thanksgiving, then Christmas and New Year's. Then there is the occasional baby shower, or wedding to go to. So it's become more like Holiday Year instead of Holiday season.

Now I love a good celebration as much as the next guy/girl, but this was much more fun when I didn't have a monetary care in the world. I would run up credit cards to the max for Christmas, and whenever someones birthday came up, I would be the first to offer to help out with the party even if I was broke and couldn't really afford it.

In my new, trying to be responsible, mindset, this is rather difficult to do. No one likes to look cheap, but where do you draw the line? Everyone knows we have a baby, we're trying to save up to better ourselves, but still we're not poor by any means. Do you lessen your saving in anticipation of an upcoming event? I don't really view this as an option seeing that this will pretty much open the flood gates and my savings account will be run dry before I see it coming. So what do you do?

I was toying with the idea of setting up some sort of celebration emergency fund. If something I forgot about comes up, I can just take money out of this account instead of my actual emergency fund (I don't consider a birthday party worthy of hitting up my emergency fund). The problem here is that everything happens so close together, I won't have time to build up a useful amount of cash. Plus, with all of the surprise expenses for the Piglet (new clothes because she is growing so fast, new snacks because she finally got some teeth, new toys because she is bored with the ones she has, etc.) we really don't have much to spare for another savings account.

So for the time being, I will continue to try and cut corners and save in other ways to be able to afford a decent gift for every occasion. I don't really use a budget because I feel they are very restrictive and disheartening if they don't work out. I do use expense tracking just to keep track of cash flow. Maybe I should start using a budget to see if this works.

I'm open to suggestions if anyone has any. How do you deal with the constant influx of holidays? And am I the only one that would prefer something handmade and personal as opposed to something you picked up at a store at the last minute? Now if you picked it up last week, that's fine, but don't come through with that last T-shirt from Old Navy and tell me "They didn't have your size so I have the receipt if you want to exchange it", just get me a card and write me something, it will mean much more to me. My wife is great at this, tugs at my heartstrings that woman does :)

Thanks for reading

I love you baby


  1. Anonymous said...

    First and foremost, avoid buying into consumerist, materialistic American society that keeps making up new holidays - or rather, Hallmark and the jewelry industries keep making up new holidays - for which people are told to buy gifts. I primarily buy gifts for birthdays and Christmas. There is no need to buy extravagant gifts for every holiday on the calendar. Do the people you know really need more random junk? I generally avoid gifts for Valentines, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Halloween and all the other "minor" holidays. For things like Valentines or Mother's Day, I might write a meaningful letter, which most people appreciate more than a random gift. Or I'll do something else that is special like giving a cheap but sentimental framed photo, a coupon for a massage (given by me), a coupon for free babysitting (done by me), etc. Gifts do not need to be expensive to be memorable. And gifts do not need to be given for every occasion under the son.

    For other holidays - like birthdays and Christmas - I first limit my list of gift recipients to a sane number. It's not reasonable or affordable to give one to everyone you know. Second, I look for bargains at places like Ross, Marshalls, sales at regular stores, etc. And again, you can gifts that cost you no money. Give someone a voucher that says you'll provide free childcare, you'll mow their lawn, etc.

    Next, you and your wife/partner can reduce costs immensely by acknowledging that you'd rather focus on long-term financial goals and agreeing not to get each other expensive gifts for any holidays. Instead, agree that you'll stick to budgets of $5 or $10 or whatever you want. This forces people to be romantic and creative.

    You have the ultimate cheap gift that everyone in your family will love for the next 18 years...just give the photos of your daughter. You mentioned your grandfather's birthday that's coming up...what would make him happier than a framed photo of his great granddaughter? Or her photo on a mug or calendar. Done cheaply.

    Finally, never strain yourself financially to give gifts. Gifts should be thoughtful and meaningful expressions of care and love. They should not be a chance for you to show off how much you can spend. They should not be about buying into hyper-consumerism, and they should not lead you to being broke.  

  2. Rad said...

    Thanks for the advice. We do follow mosdt of what you said. We do agree that something from the heart means much more than something you picked up at the last minute. For whatever reason, the framed picture of the piglet never crossed our minds. Nice one.

    And it does seem like holidays are becoming more like marketing tools than actuale special events. Try explaining that to your wife or mother on mother's day :)

    Thanks for the tips, I do appreciate them. Long term financial success does mean more to both of us than new, sparkly gifts. Doesn't hurt to be reminded though.

    Thanks a lot  

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