Minute by minute

my thoughts on making the most out of all of life's minutes…


How do you figure your Holiday budget?

I have a question for you.  And this is a real question – not a rhetorical question that I’m asking just as an intro to share my thoughts. (Although I am going to share my thoughts…)

Here’s my question – how do you set a budget for holiday gift giving?

I admitted to my husband the other day that I think I’m turning into a bit of a Scrooge.  I’ve been struggling with all the materialism that the Holiday season brings.  Everywhere you turn it is buy this and buy that.  More, more, more….kids are crying and demanding stuff, husbands and wives go into debt trying to surprise each other with the prefect gift that will be remembered forever, only to be forgotten by the middle of January   The pressure is tremendous.   The debt is outrageous.

WHEW – OK – settle down, Amy.

A couple of years ago my husband, Tim, and I figured out a budgeting system that works for our family.  As our kids are getting older, they naturally have become aware of what the holiday season brings.  They are now at the age of circling items in catalogs, creating lists and calling me over to watch commercials of things that they see on TV and they “really, really want”.  As a parent, it is hard to not want to give your child everything.  You want to provide for them and give them things. You want to surprise them and for them to have lots of fun on Christmas. But I think there needs to be limits on how much kids receive and how much expense and potentially debt parents are willing to take on because of all the gift giving.  And let’s not forget that more and more stuff causes more and more chaos.

Tim and I came up with the idea of setting a budget for each child.  We needed something to use as a target or limit so we don’t have to forfeit their college saving just for a newest game or toy.  So for our system – this is what we do.

For each kid, we figure their age and multiply it by $10.

That would then give us a max dollar amount to spend on each kid.  So this year we’ll spend $80 on the older son and $40 on the younger.

At first, Tim was a little unsure of how this would fly.  But it made us reconsider the gifts we were giving them and it caused us to be a little pickier about what we were choosing.  It really has kept Tim and me in check.  Whenever we see something that we’d like to give to one of the boys, we check in to see if they really need it, really want it and then how does it fit into the budget.

We haven’t really shared with the boys our budgeting system.  Maybe someday we will explain to them how we come up what we decide to give them.  And maybe someday we’ll have to readdress the method – like when the dollar amount gets too high.  But then – what’s too high?

That’s my question for you – – –  what sort of system to you use to keep your holiday gift giving in balance.

Please share your comments below.  I’d love to hear them and I’m sure others would too.

Happy Tuesday Everyone!





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Tips on Tuesday…it’s not too early

OK – before you say – “bite your tongue, Amy…you better not be offering a Holiday tip.”  let me explain.

Looking at the calendar and counting the days – we only have nine weeks and 62 days until Christmas.  Next week is Halloween, then the election, then Thanksgiving.  Before you know it – Christmas will be here.

While I have many tips to offer about saving time over the Christmas rush this is one you can do now and it will save you time and help with your gift giving budget

Actually it is two tips rolled into one:

  1. Buy your stamps now.  Either at your local post office or online, Holiday stamps are already available.  The secret is to NOT use these stamps for mail from now until Christmas.   Buy extra, but definitely save these for your Holiday cards and newsletters. 
  2. Set aside tips.  Do you give delivery people, your post delivery person, garbage collector, newspaper guy, babysitter, hairdresser, milk man…Holiday tips?  Go ahead and set that money aside in an envelope today and forget about it until gift giving time.  Cash isn’t going to spoil or expire, so setting it aside now will only save you and help your budget as you get closer to the big day.

Look what I found – a Christmas countdown clock.  Use it to encourage good behavior from your kids or use it to keep you on track.

What Holiday tips do you have that will we can do now to help us save time and money?  Please share them so we can all benefit!

Happy Tuesday!