Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Christmas 2010 Budget/Spending Autopsy

Super Nerd Girl here again.....

Ok, so calling it an Autopsy is not very festive or cheerful.
So call it "The Post where I talk about what I was Going to Spend for Christmas and what I Actually Spent for Christmas".

We budgeted $1000 for Christmas spending.
$1000 in money we HAD already, so no putting Christmas spending on Credit Cards to pay off in June or January 2012.lol

Here is where the funds were allocated at the start.....

Traveling to visit with Family.  $300
Sending a few Holiday Cards.  $10.80
Shopping for and exchanging gifts with family.  $400
Cooking Christmas dinner.  $30
Charity.  $100
Baking cookies and pies.  $20
Christmas Tree.  $5
A Christmas eve meal and show or movie.  $125

And here is where the money actually went.....

Traveling to visit with Family.  $0
Sending a few Holiday Cards.  $4.40
Shopping for and exchanging gifts with family.  $695.89
Cooking Christmas dinner.  $0
Charity.  $100
Baking cookies and pies.  $0
Christmas Tree.  $5
A Christmas eve meal and show or movie.  $76.35 including tips

Here are the Spending Details....

$0  *Traveling to visit with Family----
The travel plans didn't work out so we didn't spend on this.  Not being able to visit however did mean we had more shipping costs to get the gifts we were bringing with us to their destination.  Shipping were put under the Gifts heading.

$4.40  *Sending a few Holiday Cards----
We sent out 13 cards. 10 were mailed and the others were hand-delivered or put inside of mailed gift packages so no stamps needed.

$695.89  *Shopping for and exchanging gifts with family----
WOW!  Ok, so $300 of this figure was the $100 cash we give each kid, so $395.89 was spent on gifts and shipping.  This does NOT include what Hubs spent on my gifts.
I kept an itemized list of who got what and how much it cost.  I about blew a gasket when I saw how much it all added up to!  You don't think you are spending, even if you are frugal, but boy oh boy!!!

Keep in mind that this spending number doesn't include the $200 in FREE Gift Cards I obtained from my credit card points program that I gave as gifts.

Looking back over the items, the least frugal thing has to be the Stocking Stuffers!  Even though I got most of mine this year for free at Rite-Aid, after using +Up Rewards and free Rite-Aid gift card to pay, those little "filler" type items will kill your budget!

$0  *Cooking Christmas dinner----
I didn't buy any extravagant meat or other gourmet type food.  My usual monthly grocery spending covered the Holiday meal.

$100  *Charity----
 I didn't involve the kids in a charity activity this year.  There was just nothing I could find that worked out with their school/work schedules so I just gave cash to a local Holiday charity organization.

$0  *Baking cookies and pies----
Again I was able to cover ingredients in the monthly food budget for December.  Everything but the pecans I had to buy was already procured before the month began using previous month's food funds.

$5  *Christmas Tree----
Hubs strung 2 strings of lights outside and lit the Wreath on the door.  They were only up 2 full weeks and lit for a few hours each night. 

$76.35  *A Christmas eve meal and show or movie----
We didn't have any extended family come this year so it was a smaller bill.

And the grand total we spent for Christmas 2010?


$118.36 UNDER Budget!

Yay us.....

So looking forward to Christmas 2011 for me--
*I'm basically happy with what I ended up spending, though next year I may redistribute the amounts spent in individual categories.
*We spend way too much on gifts, even if they are money or non-stuff gifts.
*We need to be more actively involved with the charitable spending, not just throwing a check at some group.

If you kept track of your spending for Christmas, how did you do?
Did you spend more. less or right about what you planned on spending?
Did you have any money epiphanies(epiphany? epiphani?)when you looked back at the Holiday plan?
Do you see anything you'll change about your spending for Christmas 2011?

Leave a comment and let us know how ya did and what you learned about yourself & money this year!!



  1. I was curious, since we really didn't track out Christmas spending, but I just went and did a quick calculation and we spend $345, not counting what Hubby spent on me for Christmas. That total was for gifts for 20 people, so not bad at all. We gave our 2 girls cash, (which didn't come out of any account, as I had 2 $100 American Express giftchecks that I received as incentives at work. I just cashed them at the bank and gave that to the girls.) then some jam and bread I made. (all kitchen gifts had already been counted in the grocery budget.) Chance just wanted gifts, so that is what we sent him. I had earned a lot of Amazon dollars doing surveys, so had saved that up for Christmas or our spending would have been higher.

    Grandsons got toys and books purchase with some Amazon $.

    Wow! I am glad I added that up. I feel so much better!

    We put some on a credit card, but it is already paid off. Just used the CC to get some rewards points.

    My entire side of the family in Tennessee and South Dakota go lots of homemade jam. They were all very happy!

  2. Junior Nerd Girl here. We budgeted $4/week for Christmas over the course of the year; don't ask why I decided on $4 instead of $5 because I can't remember now. Add to that $105 in Swagbucks converted to Amazon gift cards for a grand total of $313 for Christmas.

    The only gifts we bought were for Kat and one for her teacher. Shane and I didn't exchange gifts with each other or with any of the adults in our families.

    Any special grocery items were covered by our grocery budget. We didn't send any Christmas cards. We didn't buy any new decorations for the tree or house. We didn't do any charitable giving beyond the usual we give throughout the year.

    We did go out to eat twice on Christmas Eve -- breakfast with my in-laws and dinner with my daughter and SIL. We picked up the entire breakfast tab (5 people) and we bought our own portion of dinner (3 people).

    We ended up with $12 and change still in our Christmas budget.

  3. Wow! You did great! I'm going to plan ahead this year and make more things as well as bake more, can more, etc. I'll try to take advantage of deals throughout the year.
    Don't hold me to that.... It'll probably all shake out by 12/25/11 tho.

  4. McVal, I found that everyone prefers to get homemade jam and bread to whatever gifts I could buy. I used to shop for months and ship gifts to my family in Tennessee. 3 years ago, I decided to send jam instead. They went crazy and told me I never needed to send anything else. I enjoy making it and they sure enjoy eating it. (My mom makes jam and keeps them all supplied, so I just make sure I send flavors that she didn't make.) Mom says that getting the jam is the highlight of Christmas day. They unwrap all the jars, set them out on the table and start picking the ones they want. Apparently there is a little good natured arguing and some trades going on. LOL! So, not only is it a gift, it is entertainment. LOL!

  5. Nice going and great breakdown analysis!

    I was doing great with my Christmas gift spending -- managing to buy just about everything for the four family members in my life (father, sister, husband, son) with zero actual OOP dollars -- until both son and sister used the words "Gift/Cash Card". And basically they uttered those words too close to Christmas for me to find an online discount deal (like plasticjungle). But all in all, given that DH spends whatever without thinking about it, and I balanced that by spending $0 on him (of our actual income), I feel like we came out of Christmas this year a lot better than we have in the past! Plus, we also managed to curb our instincts to buy stuff for the sake of having lots of presents under the tree. After all the work we put into decluttering this past fall/winter for the upstairs reno, we both didn't really want to let ANYthing back in :)

  6. I think I love you. I am so digging the detail of your accounting. I don't do any of this. In fact, my Partner, Fred did all of the Christmas shopping and I don't know if we spent $3. or $3000. I'm a sad sack, I know.
    Will try to step-it-up. But does all of this tracking drive you crazy? Curious minds want to know.
    Your Friend, m.

  7. Frances--I'm so glad I could prompt you to look and feel better about the whole situation. Deep down, I KNEW you'd come out of any spending analysis smelling like a daisy....or would that be geeky #2 pencil lead?lol

  8. AnnieJ--Dear Jr. Nerd Girl, Congrats on your spending, or lack thereof at Christmas! And did you roll that $12 over into the Xmas 2011 fund? I think we need matching Nerd Girl capes.....would matching shoes also be too much?

  9. McVal--You have great enthusiasm and a plan, now you just need less on your plate to get it all done.....am I right? ;-)
    With all you do now in a frugal realm, how can you possibly sew/craft/cook more for gifts??
    Start earlier in the year and forego sleeping from Sept. thru Dec.? Might be a plan!lol

  10. Frances--RE:Your relatives. Can they adopt me?
    Seriously, I'd love to be able to gift family who appreciated my talents/skills.....skills that don't include buying crap at the mall and buying gift cards.

    Do you know what my brother/SIL gave me for xmas?
    A gift card to Barnes&Noble. This is something I would never ask for and I don't know why they sent it....I guess because they bought one for Hubs and it was convenient to just get me one too while they were at it.lol I love books, don't get me wrong, but I HATE HATE HATE paying full retail price for them!!! At least with Amazon I can use a gift card for there to get a used book from a Marketplace vendor. My family, what's left of it, so do NOT get me.....

  11. Pretty--You did GREAT with your spending(or lack thereof), even with the last minute snafu at the hands of son/sister.
    And I remember what a wanton spender your DH is so counterbalancing spending $0 OOP on him with the bucks he prolly spent on you is wonderful!
    You can't change others and their habits but modifying your own is the best you can achieve.

    I hope for your sake that DH's less stuff gene has kicked in finally and continues to make itself known. ;-)

  12. Mark--Thanks for stopping by to see me but I need a big ring before you start using the "L" word.
    Seriously, if I had no clue what my SO spent for Christmas(or any day)I'd be a basketcase! That's just the controlling money freak bitch in me.....
    I don't know how y'all handle your finances but it might be worth having a pow-wow about next Christmas spending, and have it SOON. Make some kind of plan/budget/whatever you want to call it...just do it! Maybe it will lead to the angels descending and a whole new reality with money opening up in your relationship....or you might get dagger eyes and be sleeping on the sofa for a week.lol

    As for the tracking.....I live to track. I was probably Kit Carson in a previous life. Oh wait....not that kind of tracking.
    Seriously, I enjoy numbers, even if it took me 2 years to get through algebra II in high school...hey, I was a whiz at geometry! I couldn't figure out how much money you had but I could arrange it nicely and find it's hypotunse.

    One of my hobbies is list making and bean counting nowadays. I grew into a nerd...who knew!? It counterbalances my previous life as an artist. I HAD to become a budgeting gal since Hubs didn't have any interest in the finances.
    Now I like it.

  13. "or would that be geeky #2 pencil lead?lol "

    No, that would be the smell of Excel. My favorite computer software of all time.

    You CAN adopt my family. I am sure they would happily accept any gifts you would like to make for them. My family has always loved handmade gifts. My mom raised us to be avid crafters. So we all know the love and effort that go into making gifts. You would get as much gratitude for a crocheted pot holder as you would for $100 cash. That is just my family.

    We also will adopt any and all that want to be members of our family. My parents have always been that way.

  14. What made you decide to give cash to your kids instead of gifts? I have a 4 year old so Santa still comes, but we dont really give cash. We have 4 kids ages 20, 15, 13 & 4 and just on the 4 of them we spent about $1800. We even cut back this year. I dont know how to cut back. They have come to expect this and now I just cant wait for all of them to grow up and get married so the madness will stop lol

  15. Frances--I so feel I was born into the wrong family sometimes.lol I truly think my god given talents would be much better appreciated in your family. ;-)

    Seymour6--We give both cash and gifts. My teens use the cash to buy phone time, wow time, go to the movies, out to eat with friends. When they buy stuff it's usually clothes and they don't want me picking those out for them!lol And I hate shopping pretty much except for food/hba so I give a few little things to personalize it, gift card and/or cash.
    $1800 for 4 kids? wow..... It all depends on/is relative to what's 'normal' for the circles you run in I guess. I'd fall over dead if I spent that much on mine....I think they'd fall over too but would recover enough to use it all.lolz
    And I hate to tell ya this....but when they get married, the madness doesn't stop, or so I've heard. You just inherit MORE people to spend it on!....and then the grandkids start coming...you'd better put the brakes on the spending now... ;-)

    When #1 son went off to college last year, we used that benchmark to start weaning him from the Bank of Mom & Dad. Yes, we are funding college(within limits)but if he wants walking around money or needs new clothing, that's on him now. His laptop we bought him for school is having problems now. He's been told that it's his responsibility to keep it in working order/repair/upgrade/etc. it. He is not happy with us but I figure better to gradually ease off what we pay for now so that come college graduation it isn't a sudden shock to his system when we cut off the cash spigot for good.lol


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