According to Wikipedia,
The [Budget] of Christmas Past is the first of the three spirits to haunt [J. Money]. This angelic spirit shows [J. Money] scenes from his past that occurred on or around Christmas, in order to demonstrate to him the necessity of changing his ways, as well as to show the reader how [J. Money] came to be a
bitter, coldhearted miser[stunning, financial genius!]
Okay, so perhaps Dickens wasn’t exactly talking about me or my budgeting skills in his famous novel, A Christmas Budget, but the takeaways are just as important ;) Re-read the book to see for yourself!
I share this with you scholars today because I happened upon an old budget of mine circa 2008 (my Budget From Christmas Past!), and while I thought I was pretty hot $hit at the time, compared to present times I was certainly most not. Which bodes even better for the Budget of Yet To Come!
Here was 2008’s “Holiday Gift Budget”
First, I have to point out a passage I wrote back then which makes me just shake my head:
“I’ve also decided to keep being generous this year, despite the world crumbling around us. I still can’t afford a crazy amount of gifts – I’m actually hoping to get a bonus this year to help pay for it all! – but to me, it’s a huge chunk of change…”
You think??? $600 during the biggest crash of our lifetime? Yeah that’s a lot of money. And why I felt I needed to justify it with “I still can’t afford a crazy amount of gifts” is beyond me… That’s more than plenty, who was I trying to impress?
I also like that I was “hoping” to get a bonus that year to pay for it all – hah. More like *banking* on it! That’s breaking the cardinal rule of budgeting right there: spending money you don’t even have! There’s no “hoping” with budgeting, it’s all about working with the numbers that you know for sure. Playing with magical money is a quick way to fail out the gate. (Though, for the record, I did end up getting that bonus. However it was one of our last as our company eventually got affected by the economy too and a couple years later we imploded. Forcing me to become a full-time blogger ;))
Now to this year’s Christmas Budget:
(I copied the previous budget for easier comparison. The giftees in yellow are new.)
Six years later and our budget is cut in half – woo! And for almost the same exact amount of people too, fortunately and unfortunately :( We had two beautiful children come onto the scene, but sadly two beautiful grandparents left as well… Circle of life, eh?
Here’s the breakdown:
Mrs. BudgetsAresexy’s gifts — These are my favorites because a) we both have a limit on what we can spend, thereby never making it “weird” (and honestly, it’s both of our money we’re playing with anyways, right?) and b) we only buy stocking stuffers for ourselves! Which are a lot less stressful to get, and even more fun to open because you get more of them and we make it an “evening” with wine after the kids go down to sleep :) Also we both have birthdays in December so we already get “big” gifts there anyways (and by “big” I mean “anything $50 and under” as we recently capped that down from $100 each too – are we frugal or what? ;))
Siblings gifts — we now do a “not so secret” Santa that’s supposed to be “secret,” however the organizer (*ahem* my sister) decided to email all of us with who got who to save time and we all inadvertently saw. Still, this will be our second year doing this and everyone seems quite satisfied with it so far – especially as we keep adding in more significant others to the family over the years.
My eldest nephew — I want to do something financially related or entrepreneurial for him, but I haven’t decided what yet. 6 years ago I went all grandpa on him and gave his parents cash for his college account, but now that he’s older I want him to be able to appreciate it more or at least learn. Any ideas?
Work Secret Santas — The worst! So glad I don’t have to do those anymore! I once got the CEO of our company, ugh… talk about being awkward.
My “random” category — A lot less now that I’m married :) Not only are my wife’s stocking stuffers now accounted for since they’re her “main” Christmas presents, but she always takes care of everyone I end up forgetting! Usually by just not forgetting – hah.
[Which reminds me: This budget is slightly skewed to what *I* spend vs her. We’re both pretty much in charge of our own families and then we sign off on everything and they all come from “us.” So your budgets might look a lot different if you’re combining what you and your partner spend in TOTAL.]
Auntie #2’s bottle of “nice” wine — I don’t know if you caught it, but this bottle cost us a whopping $0.83. My wife signed up to some “wine of the month” club promo where she got 6 killer bottles for only $5, and then going forward you get hooked into ponying up more each month… She tells me she plans on cancelling it ASAP so we don’t end up with tons of wine we won’t drink (is that possible??), but I should probably go and remind her now to do so just in case. That $0.83 might turn into a lot more if we get hit with the normal dues!
Our children — Oh, how I love them! But we won’t be peppering them with handfuls of toys, I’ll tell you that much. They’ve got enough to fill up an entire block’s worth thanks to grandparents and friends – and they only ever play with the non-toys! ;) But we will be giving them a few to open, of course, along with plenty of other more educational/hobby like items such as books and art stuff/etc. Even if I don’t necessarily like getting many gifts myself these days, I don’t think I could deprive them of the joy that is opening presents. It’s like being a little kid on Christmas! (see what I did there?)
My self-appointed Godson — I’m now the Godfather to a nephew as I learned his original one doesn’t stay in touch with him anymore and I thought I could be a good influence in is life. And since I’ve always wanted to say that I’m a Godfather – and mean it – well, it made for the perfect opportunity ;) (This is the same nephew, btw, who once proclaimed “Cash is king!” when one of our cousin’s credit cards got declined in front of him, haha…)
So that’s the good news: I now spend a lot less during the holidays. I’m not sure if that actually makes me more Scrooge like or less now that I think about it (?), but I do know my stress levels are a lot happier these days. And since we all agreed upon the limits, everyone else is just as happy too! Yay for communication!
The bad news? I still wait until the last second to get everything :) I don’t think it can get much worse than last year though when I went out on Xmas Eve, haha… It was quite the scene to see. Me and about 8,000 of my male counterparts all descending upon the stores pretending we’ve got our $hit together! I’m still amazed I pulled it off…
How is your budget looking this Christmas? Is it getting bigger or smaller over the years?
[Photo by Dita Actor // Tweaked by J$]
Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!