Wednesday, January 15, 2020

2019 Christmas Budget/Spending Autopsy

Ok, so calling this 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".
Whatever works for you.....

I budgeted $850 for Christmas spending in 2019 back aft4r Christmas of 2018.  Except for what Hubs spends on gifts for me, this is our entire spending budget for Christmas(except for food for Christmas meals-which is accounted for in the food budget). 
But as 2019 rolled out I re-figured that budget since I knew  we weren't traveling and I didn't plan on giving cash gifts to family this year.  Both of those items would bring down the Holiday spending quite a bit so I went back mid-year and reduced the Christmas Budget to $700.

Last year I budgeted $850 and we spent $845.03.  Pretty close to my target and I knew 2019 would be even lower.

The traveling to Louisiana was happening in January 2020 for my Daughter's wedding so doesn't figure into the Christmas totals/budget.

I have been tracking our Christmas spending since 2010--
2010.........$1000 planned/$881.64 spent
2011.........$1300 planned/$851.32 spent
2012.........$1000 planned/$1020.48 spent
2013.........$1650 planned/$2164.77 spent
2014.........$1900 planned/$1742.87 spent
2015.........$1800 planned/$1583.94 spent
2016.........$1600 planned/$793.72 spent
2017...........$850 planned/$845.62 spent
2018...........$850 planned/$845.03 spent

How do I arrive at a budget for Christmas?  Nowadays I look at what we spent the previous years(because I have a full accounting for the last 9 years or so on the blog)and see where we did well and where we did "not-so-well" with budgeting and add in any unusual things we plan to do and after some papers are balled up and thrown away and there is one sheet left with lots of writing on it(as well as writing scratched out on it), we have a plan and a budget. lolz

No, really.....I look at possible spending categories and what I think we will use in each one.

I generally use c/c points to get gift cards for free(to either give as presents or use to buy the presents to give)plus I buy a bit here and there during the year when a deal presents itself and those items are cash flowed from our regular monthly income.  I have been known to reserve some blogging revenue(what I don't spend on shipping costs for giveaways I hold)and then there is always all that stuff I bring home from Rite-Aid. *wink*
I generally don't set money aside each month throughout the year(like a Christmas club account or actual money in an envelope earmarked for Christmas spending)since we had a large cushion of cash in our checking and savings accounts and I can just pull from those sources when I need money to spend on Christmas stuff.  Since Hubs retired mid-2017 I have to budget for Xmas better though.

But if you don't have extra cash lying around it is a good idea to take funds during the year and earmark them for the Holidays.
There are many ways to save ahead for Christmas.....make regular deposits to a dedicated account or a Christmas club at a bank, use a one-time windfall like a bonus or a tax refund, use whatever works for your situation.

The only unacceptable plan is to GO INTO DEBT for Christmas!
Better to not spend on Christmas than to endure the grief/angst/anguish/stress by going into debt buying crap at Christmas you can't afford and having to pay off the bills incurred sometime in 2020, or 2021 or beyond.

So we went into the Holidays with $700.00 budgeted to spend.

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

Shipping gifts/mailing Holiday Cards  $40.00
Gifts for immediate family(includes any cash gifts)  $550.00
Gifts for extended family & friends  $50.00
Electricity for lights   $10.00
A Christmas eve meal and show or movie   $50.00
Christmas travel expenses(lodging, food, gas, booze)   $0.00
Charity  $0.00

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

Shipping gifts/mailing Holiday Cards  $62.73
Gifts for immediate family  $385.55
Gifts for extended family & friends  $76.40
Electricity for lights  $10.00
A Christmas eve meal and show or movie  $43.03
Christmas travel expenses(lodging, food, gas, booze)  $0.00
Charity  $0.00
TOTAL SPENT...$577.71

Here are the Spending Details....

$62.73 *Shipping/Mailing Holiday Cards & Gifts----$22.73 over budget
We sent out 21 cards(1 was put into a package and not mailed separately in envelopes) and mailed 1 package to my Daughter and her Fiance and 2 packages to 2 friends.  Stamps cost $11 and the cards I had already from previous Christmases.  The postage for three packages(1 to LA, 1 to AZ, 1 to NE)came to $51.73 for shipping. ouch.

$385.55  *Gifts for family---- $164.45 under budget
Last year I spent $640.46 on gifts for family so I spent $254.91 less this year on the family's gifts.  Family included 5 people--Hubs, 3 kids, eldest's GF and daughter's fiance(and their dog).  I gave no cash gifts this year which brought the spending on gifts down a lot.

$76.40  *Gifts for extended family & friends---OVER budgeted amount by $26.40
I bought for more folks this year but didn't spend an exorbitant amount on anyone, plus added a person so I was just a little over on everyone.

$10.00  *Electricity for Lights----ON Budget
We used the larger tree(equals more lights)but there were less lights on the outside of the house which evened out the electric spending.

$43.03  *A Christmas eve meal and show or movie----UNDER budget by $6.97
Ex-CB was working so it was just Hubs and I Xmas eve so we didn't do our Chinese dinner out tradition.  We did go out to the Chinese Buffet lunch the day after Xmas and paid for the 4 of us(Ex-CB had to work).

$0.00  *Charity----NO Cash Spending on Charity this Holiday Season. I gave to the local food bank at least 4 times during 2019.  I do plan to send a check to my old friend's widow to help with funeral costs/medical bills(Tom died Dec. 29th)but that will happen in January.

$0.00  *Christmas travel expenses(lodging, food, gas, booze, cash incidentals)----NO Spending We didn't travel this year again as the Eldest came home for Christmas with his GF in tow.

All totaled, this year I budgeted $700.00 and we spent $577.71, so $122.29 under budget overall.

Thoughts for 2020--
I think I'll keep our budget at $700 for next Christmas.  We aren't hurting for money but we are on a fixed income with Hubs retired now.  Plus all of our kids are 23 or older(and 1 is established in a career and 2 gainfully employed now)so I don't feel the need to spend so much on them as when they were younger.
For our income and our needs, I think this is just the right amount to splash out on Christmas celebrating.
Unless our plans change and we travel for the Holidays or someone gets pregnant(not me!lol)$700 seems a good target amount for spending.

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 when you look back at the Holiday plan?
Do you see anything you'll change about your spending for Christmas 2020?

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



  1. We definitely overspent on the kids and their significant others this year. and on all the food for EVERYONE... We basically bled our Christmas bonuses. shoot.
    Rethinking a LOT of things for 2020.

  2. We went over. I usually budget $800 for gifts (4 kids plus us) plus $500 for travel. Due to not having very many travel freebies our travel expenses were higher. Plus kid #4 now has a permanent livin(or future daughter in law as their Christmas gift to us said) and Kid #2 has her boyfriend who moved in midyear. We gift kid #2s GF a big gift like him and Kid #4 a small gift to her BF as we hadn't even met him. Whomever makes it to year 2 Christmas in terms of spouse will get a big gift :) This way I have a plan for future spouses/GFs. We spent less on each other thankfully. Total came in around $1500 including our trip to Alberta at end of Nov/beginning of Dec which we consider our Christmas trip. This year I think I will save $1800 to be on the safe side. I do save all year for it. $35 is tucked away for Christmas 2020 already :)

  3. We overspent. Now that I am part of the “management team” at work, I was asked if I wanted to contribute to a gift for our DM and also participate in a Secret Santa exchange. I wasn’t forced to do either but it would have raised some eyebrows if I didn’t. My youngest also has a serious boyfriend now but no real income since we would rather her focus on school at this point. She wanted gifts for his parents also, who have been generous and kind with her so I gladly spent some money on them as well. Other than those instances, we were on track with spending. Everything was cash, except for when it made sense to use a charge instead and then those were immediately paid off. All in all, it was a lovely holiday. Who knows what this Christmas will bring? JoAnn

  4. Since Christmas gifts were destroyed, only my grandchildren got gifts of money.


Hey there! Thanks for leaving a comment.
All Anonymous commentors will be deleted.
Please include your name in your comment, or choose the 'Name' option and put your name or whatever you call yourself, in the box. Thank you.

Though I moderate it's partly to keep trolls at bay but also partly so that I read every comment. I don't often respond to comments so if you need me to answer you please write me at my email addy posted on my "About Me" page, linked on the side bar.