The Budget of Christmas Past

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”

As you can see, I was pretty adamant that every person I knew got a book of our wedding pics, haha… As if it were at the top of their Christmas wishes! (Mother aside, of course) I also see a pretty hefty $$ total there which we’ll discuss in a minute…

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?

If you’re still looking for gift ideas, here’s a list that my boss highly recommends, and then here’s my own 6 best (and cheapest) gifts for toddlers too. 10 more days to go!

[Photo by  Dita Actor // Tweaked by J$]

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  1. How To Save Money December 15, 2014 at 5:49 AM

    You’re budget looks very reasonable :) My budget tends to stay constant over the years. I do not want to start a trend of “increasing” the value of my gifts as people might expect so much from it!

  2. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank December 15, 2014 at 5:52 AM

    My budget for Christmas has been getting smaller in a bit. At first, I was all out. However, after seeing how much I spent, I learned the greatest lessons: to manage finances. So far, my expenses is still in budget. Not planning to go beyond it.

  3. Slackerjo December 15, 2014 at 6:10 AM

    I just give to charity and ask that others give to charity. My family ignores this request and gives me crap I would never buy. I drop it off the next day at the thrift store. I changed jobs this year so I budgeted $200 and went a little over ($40 over) but I can still give to charity throughout the year, $10 here, $15 there etc. I think the best present I am getting this year is FOUR days off! Woo hoo!

    1. J. Money December 15, 2014 at 11:56 AM

      Haha yeah. Anytime I ask for charitable stuff it’s pretty much ignored too – I think because people enjoy handing something over and watching you open it :) Which is fine, so now I try to ask for stuff I kinda really want but probably wouldn’t buy myself. That way it’s like splurging without using my own money, haha… And since there’s a cap it’s not like we can really go overboard on each other :)

  4. MMD December 15, 2014 at 6:13 AM

    I can’t believe you are able to pull off the whole Christmas present thing for less than $350. You’ve got this down to a science.

  5. Petrish @ Debt Free Martini December 15, 2014 at 6:30 AM

    My ghost from Christmas Past would tell me not to spend so much money and to continue to focus on my bills. This year I am only purchasing gifts for my daughter and my mom and I feel no pressure or guilt about it. I know its the season to be jolly, but I’m so tired of the season of being broke.

    1. J. Money December 15, 2014 at 11:56 AM

      Good for you!! I’m sure if the others knew your situation they’d want you to focus on your bills too :) At least I’d hope they would!

  6. jestjack December 15, 2014 at 6:35 AM

    It seems to me that there is a big change in attitudes toward Xmas and the season in general especially with the younger generations. I have noticed that the shopping isn’t as frenzied and crowds seem a bit less daunting. Maybe it’s online buying or maybe folks are just cutting back. We could never DO XMAS for $350…just not gonna happen. However, our gift giving seems to be more “tactical” now…things that folks actually need or would never buy for themselves. Gift cards for coffee shops come to mind as an example and we tend to get these from our “rewards programs” from our CC’s….

  7. Mrs. Frugalwoods December 15, 2014 at 6:42 AM

    Looks like you’ve got it under control this year! I like that you are Mrs. Budgetsaresexy decide on a dollar amount in advance. Mr. FW and I always discuss whether or not we want to give gifts to each other and what the $ cap will be. Just makes more sense that way. Like you said, it’s both of your money anyway and I’m not into the whole surprising each other with some shockingly expensive thing. Also, I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who itemizes and tallies up all of my Christmas gifts :).

  8. Jen @ Jen Spends December 15, 2014 at 8:14 AM

    We’ve had the same budget since our first son was born, with the exception that we added in boy #2. I do $100 each in our immediate family because we don’t get a lot of things throughout the year. The dollar amount has worked pretty well, but I’m also starting to aim for a certain number of gifts (within that budget) because I know the boys will compare. We put the money aside in the beginning of the year (from tax refund), so it’s never an issue.

    1. J. Money December 15, 2014 at 11:58 AM

      Smart idea w/ the refund! And yeah, kids are funny like that, haha… Even if one gift costs the same as 4 others they still feel like they’re getting gypped ;)

  9. Shannon @ Financially Blonde December 15, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    Ha!! The Christmas after I got married, my budget looked like that where everyone got a book of our wedding pics whether they wanted it or not. :-) Our budgets of Christmas past are pretty heinous. Thankfully now all of the adults just buy gifts for kids and if you don’t have a kid, you don’t get a gift. It has saved us lots of money and shopping energy and we haven’t lost any of the Christmas joy despite the smaller budget.

    1. J. Money December 15, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      I kinda like that route actually, and I bet our family goes that way too… All I really care about is just spending time with everyone on Xmas and watching the kids open them up anyways. (And all the coffee and cookies that morning too – yum!)

  10. jennydecki December 15, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    It hurt my heart to do it but I told everyone no gifts this year if you were over 18. Only kids get gifts this Christmas because we just foreclosed on a house, moved, and aren’t going to break out credit cards to try and meet someone else’s expectation of…I don’t even know?

    So, yeah, I just tapped out of the Christmas ring this year. I think we should all be able to get a “skip” on it once in a while. To accept that life ebbs and flows but then not accept Christmas might do the same? Crazy.

    Have a happy Holiday! I hope your family is surrounded with love, as always!

    1. J. Money December 15, 2014 at 12:01 PM

      I think you made a good call, Jenny. And I’d hope they’d all understand if they’re aware of your situation! You have to have your own finances/life together first and make sure your family is safe and sound before sending gifts all over creation. So good for you for making the call – I’m sure it wasn’t fun :( We’ll keep you guys in our prayers.

  11. Holly@ClubThrifty December 15, 2014 at 9:09 AM

    We quit buying for siblings a few years ago. It just got really stupid. All of our siblings on both sides are extremely high earners, so it made no sense. We were basically just trading gift cards around and feeling awkward because nobody wanted to be “that person” who pulled the plug on our gift exchange. Glad that’s over with.

  12. Mel December 15, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    My first job ever was as a cashier at Walgreens and there were HORDES of men buying stuff on Christmas Eve. I had to fight laughing my butt off ringing stuff up – some of their choices seemed so weird, but what do I know what their kids or significant other liked? Also, really? Doing all your Christmas shopping in Walgreens? Men are strange.

    1. J. Money December 15, 2014 at 12:02 PM

      Haha… More like dummies :)

  13. Tonya@Budget and the Beach December 15, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    I think that’s probably very common…banking on the huge tax return or bonus. It’s always interesting to visit the past and see how we’ve changed. I think I’m spending less than $50 on Christmas this year. :)

  14. Gretchen December 15, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    Love it! I’m not all for the crazy $50 total Christmas budgets – that’s far too little – but it seems like you’re managing to get gifts for a bunch of different people without spending a whole lot of money. Plus, I love that you and the Mrs. have an agreed-upon amount to spend on each other :-)

  15. John @ Frugal Rules December 15, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    I agree with MMD – you’ve got this down to a science! I actually wrote today about how my wife and I aren’t exchanging this year and using the budgeted money for a date weekend or a weekend trip (using points as well) for a weekend trip for the fam. That said, we’ve cut down our Christmas budget as well over the years as so much of it in the past was just on crap – especially for our kids. We now spend like 1/4 of what we have budgeted for them as our parents give them so much anyway and we put the rest of it away for them in their college funds.

    1. J. Money December 15, 2014 at 12:03 PM

      Their future selves will thank you for it too! As they’re drinking beers in College after acing their exams :)

  16. Mrs. Bug December 15, 2014 at 9:46 AM

    Budget looks good! Your total budget is similar to ours. Love that you and the Mrs. do stocking stuffers only, that’s what we do too. We stopped doing gift exchange with siblings and decided to do nieces and nephews only, but I’m still waiting for my brother to buy gifts for my furbabies since we don’t have kids. Love the wine of the month idea.

  17. Mrs. WW December 15, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    We just decided last night that we’re going cash all the way this year. Sure, it seems thoughtless but who doesn’t like cash! It’s never out of style. We actually put a lot if thought into this choice.

    We don’t want to be responsible for cluttering others’ lives or perpetuating materialism.

    Since we’re debt free we see no need to limit our generosity. If we decide we want to give some crisp bills to so and so out of the blue, we will and it will be much easier to give once we take the shopping and wrapping out of the equation!

    1. J. Money December 15, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      Agreed! I’ve never once seen anyone turn down cash – I’m all about that idea.

  18. Noonan December 15, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    My siblings and i exchange gift cards.

    I think it’s a ridiculous ritual because we give each other about the same amounts so that for each of us the net cost ends up being about zero. My sisters seem to particularly like repeating this exercise, but after so many years of it i’m left wondering: what’s the point? Wouldn’t it be better to bypass the exchange of plastic slabs and give honorarium gifts directly to our respective favorite charities? At least then the exercise would at least generate additional tax deductions for us all. Of course, i haven’t made this suggestion aloud to any family members—i don’t want to be the one to rock the Christmas boat!

    1. Mrs. WW December 15, 2014 at 9:59 AM

      Do it! At least say, “how about for me this year you give to this charity instead?” Everyone else might just jump on board. I love it.

    2. J. Money December 15, 2014 at 12:06 PM

      Haha… You’ll have to ask Holly@ClubThrifty up there how she got her family to do it ;) Or better yet, you can say “I was reading this pretty awesome finance blog where the families stopped giving cards to each other and donated to charity instead – what do you think about that idea?” And then if they say, “That’s stupid” you can be like “yeah, for sure… who reads dumb finance blogs anyways?” ;)

  19. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life December 15, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    I want that wine of the month promo!

    I honestly haven’t even thought about Xmas yet (my family celebrates January 6th and 7th). But I did opt out of all the workplace gift exchanges for the sake of my budget and sanity.

    1. J. Money December 15, 2014 at 12:07 PM

      You can’t leave us hanging like that! Why do you celebrate on the 6th and 7th??

  20. C@thesingledollar December 15, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    I’ve vacillated over the years, because I’ve never had a ton of money, but there have been a few years where I’ve gone what I consider “all out” and bought for friends as well as close relatives — which probably means like $500 or $600 :) I’ve almost always kept it to $50 or less a person, although my brother and I went in together to get my dad an $80 coffee grinder a few years ago.

    This year I budgeted $200 for gifts,, although I spent some of my weekly grocery cash on a few stocking-stuffer type things on top of that.

  21. Mysti December 15, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    Be prepared that as babies grow…that budget is going to grow too! By the time they are in full KID mode…$50 won’t go far.

    I have a full on Excel spreadsheet that I track spending. Everyone has a line and a set amount. I also include the tree, decor, shipping (if I have to pay for something to ship to me, and for shipping gifts to out of town people). Each year gets its own tab, so I can look back and see what I have done in the past. And I have an on-line banking account that we put money in each month to save for the holiday.

    Our Christmas is a little lower this year because of certain line items we took out this year, such as the tree and decor. We are selling our house and about to move 800 miles!! But a typical year is about $1000 (roughly half of that is our immediate family of 2 adults and 2 12-yr olds). Of the remaining $500, about $150 is tree and decor (I go all out and buy a few things each year for the growing collection, replacing lights, etc), another $80-$100 is for my BFF and her hubby, about $75 for bosses and secret santa, and the rest goes toward school teachers, hostess gifts if we go somewhere, shipping, etc.

    1. J. Money December 15, 2014 at 12:10 PM

      Wow, you’re hardcore with that spreadsheet, haha… Love it.

      Yeah, I’m pretty sure the kids budget will grow over time too, but we’re going to make sure it doesn’t get too blown out of proportion. There’s a ton of stuff you can get on the cheap these days anyways with the internet and what not, so I’ll just get them used to getting used things from the start, haha…

  22. Barry @ Moneywehave December 15, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    I’ve scaled back my Christmas budget significantly over the years. Fortunately my immediate family believes in savings so fancy gifts have never been the norm for us.

    Some Canadian analysts are predicting that lower gas prices will encourage Canadians to spend more. This is ridiculous. The lower gas prices will save people what an extra $10-15 a month? In the end they’ll end up spending more when you factor in these extra gifts.

    1. J. Money December 15, 2014 at 12:15 PM

      Man, or just use that saved money to help pay down the gifts you’re normally buying anyways! No need to get even more!

  23. Lauren December 15, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    That’s a reasonable gift budget! I haven’t added up what we’ve spent this year, and I didn’t set a budget before shopping. I feel pretty good about it though,because we didn’t go overboard for anyone. I’m actually proud of myself for staying sane when shopping for my daughter- I could easily go crazy buying for her. Kids are too much fun to shop for :)

  24. Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom December 15, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    The budget is lower this year because we had some surprise babies and weddings this year that came out of the gift budget.

    The husband and I are just doing stocking stuffers this year too! And my sister and I aren’t bothering this year, just going to focus on the kids. The budget is tighter, but still more than enough!

  25. EL December 15, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    My budget this year is to stay under 500 bucks. Wish me luck, oh and by the way, I was convinced by my cousin to go to the mall Christmas eve cause he needed to do some shopping. On the way out, we were stuck in the parking lot for 2 hours. Lesson learned I will never go to the mall on Christmas eve, IF I need something that late, I can just go to target. ITs a stand alone store with plenty of exits, and not many people.

    1. J. Money December 17, 2014 at 11:41 AM

      Yeah man, traffic is BONKERS at certain places. Good move w/ Target…

  26. Kayla @ Everything Finance December 15, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    Wow! You really cut down on your spending from then to now. That’s amazing! I did stick to my budget for Christmas pretty well. I forgot a couple people/things but didn’t spend too much on them.

  27. Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions December 15, 2014 at 12:56 PM

    Even as my family grows (11 nieces and nephews!), my Christmas budget shrinks because I find more and more ways to save, including making one-of-a-kind ornaments for them. The materials cost about $1 each. Mr. Stapler and I also have a $50 budget for each other and for each kid … Although the 6-week old is getting diapers from sanya this year!

    1. Hannah December 15, 2014 at 2:06 PM

      My son is getting baby proofing gear. I think its probably the last year we can get away without shopping as he is nearly 18 months.

  28. Tawcan December 15, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    You really cut down your Christmas spending, that’s something I need to be better at. Definitely a good idea to set a dollar cap on the gift.

  29. Kim @ Money Under the Cushions December 15, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    My Christmas budget has gotten progressively smaller over the last few years since I’m trying to go it on my own. Even when I could spend more I felt like the queen of the bargain hunters. It’s just such fun. Since research shows that men don’t want hints, they want to be told what to buy, I told my husband that I wanted a specific book. I gave him all of the info, the prices at the different stores, how to get a new (I do want this new) copy online trying all of the usual players like Ebay. I gave him coupons and discount codes. All of this so he could get me something I want and barely spend any money, right? Poor thing tells me I stressed him out because he’s afraid that if he doesn’t get the best price possible I won’t enjoy the book. I asked him how I would know. He said, because I would demand to know. “Nooooooo, ” I said, the only time I ask is when mom gives me something and that is only if she doesn’t say, “…and guess how much I got this for,” first. Ha!

    But seriously, the budget this year is $200 for me, husband, two sets of parents, a niece and a nephew and supplies for various get togethers, and cards, And I feel like I could have done better if I had made an effort to get started earlier. Rock on with your $340 bad self!

    1. J. Money December 17, 2014 at 11:44 AM

      Haha… your poor husband. I’d probably spend 5 seconds trying it your way, and then if I got overwhelmed just go to Barnes & Noble and pick it up and be done. And then just white lied and told you I got a deal if asked – hah!

      And funny you mention us guys like being told directly – it’s true. And once a friend of mine only had to get ONE thing and had like two months to get it and he still didn’t do it. I was like, “What the hell?? You just had 1 thing!” Haha…

      But you know. Guys.

  30. Lance @ HWI December 15, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    We bought a few things last month and then counted it as our Christmas to each other. It’s been nice just not having to battle the crowds. Our daughter asked for one present and that is all we picked her up. She already has tons of toys and grandpa and grandma always go crazy for her so she is always spoiled. I’ll be honest, I just want to sleep in, eat a ton of food and hang out with family. However my sister and brother-in-law always get some new tech toy for my parents who have no idea how to use it so I end up setting up the Blu-ray, iPad, flat screen or whatever it is and then writing down instructions. Thanks Sis….every freaking year.

  31. Martin December 15, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    I finally managed to become single for the holidays, so I plan on saving some serious money! However, the bad news is that I’m tempted to splurge on my parents. I want to get them an iPad because they don’t have many gadgets.

    1. J. Money December 17, 2014 at 11:46 AM

      What about all those illegitimate kids you have running around? ;)

  32. Zina at Debt Free After Three December 15, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    My fiance and I also have a set amount we spend on each other. This is our first Christmas with combined finances so it feels weird saying, “Hey how much do you want budget for our own gifts?” Now I don’t know what to get – should I just add it to my regular budgeted fun money?
    This is our first year buying presents for his niece. We got her some Legos and I made her a cute pouch to keep them in. I feel good about getting her something that’s “educational” and something handmade.

  33. Mark @ BareBudgetGuy December 15, 2014 at 6:50 PM

    Christmas budget is shrinking. With 16 nieces/nephews, we don’t even try anymore. Doing a video chat or a phone call is just as good.

  34. cap December 15, 2014 at 8:52 PM

    Have you heard of The website automatically generates the “Secret Santa” for you – it might be worth looking into if your family wants to continue the tradition. You have to sign up, but it’s free to use. It also allows the participants to create wish lists, which can make things easier.

    1. J. Money December 17, 2014 at 11:47 AM

      that’s a great idea :)

  35. Jon @ Money Smart Guides December 16, 2014 at 7:40 AM

    We pulled the “wedding album” card last year when we got married. It was the easiest gift giving time ever! This year we are doing good with sticking to a budget. It’s important to keep things in perspective and not go overboard buying gifts. Set up a budget and stick to it.

  36. Brittany December 16, 2014 at 8:10 AM

    My fiancé comes from a family of 6 siblings and they do the secret Santa thing each year–last year his sister sent out a text giving away the secret part too, haha. My Christmas budget gets smaller every year, which is good bc I prefer to spend the money on traveling to see people. And I used to work retail part time, and you are right about you and too many other men out on Xmas eve. I really think 95% of our male clientele for the year were always in the store on Dec 25 ;)

    1. J. Money December 17, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      ON Christmas??? Now that is bad! Haha… At least we go a few hours before midnight strikes ;)

  37. Crystal December 16, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    Okay, so this is going to sound like a lot, BUT it is the total that my husband and I spent altogether for other people. $449. Oh, and it covered 54 different gifts and stocking stuffers for 33 different people – family and friends.

    I also spent $44 on his new Crocs, which I already gave him since his favorite pair of shoes ever (another pair of old Crocs) died suddenly about 3 days ago. He loves them. I think he spent around $200 on me since I saw a charge from Amazon, but I don’t know what it is. My best guess is an electronic like a tablet so that we can stream our tv shows directly from the network sites without having to use my laptop to do it (mine’s the only one with an HDMI outlet). We’ve been looking at options over the last month or two.

    So, our Christmas will probably come to just around $700. We don’t have a set budget for our personal gifts since we generally get things we really wanted and already saved for and it can range from $40 total to $500+, but we try to keep gifts for other around $500, so I’m considering this year a win. :-)

    1. J. Money December 17, 2014 at 11:49 AM

      That’s the trick with joined accounts – seeing charges fly every where and trying not to look! Haha…

  38. Even Steven December 16, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    On the entrepreneurial gift, I gave my cousin a gift of money for graduation from HS and told him he need to write a letter on what he did with the money and whether he invested it or blew it on lotto tickets. While I thought this was a good idea, I have received no response, which only worries me the direction he is currently taking.

    I think going through a stock investment or a board game associated with money could be a good idea.

    1. J. Money December 17, 2014 at 11:50 AM

      HAH! You have to call him and ask – you know how lazy teens are :) But I do like the idea, I have a similar one I may try this year.

  39. Dividend Mantra December 16, 2014 at 3:08 PM


    I think I’ll be somewhere around $500 this year. But that includes some travel reimbursement that I offered to my oldest sister. I won’t be traveling back home for Christmas for the first time in my life, but I talked my sister into coming down to visit me just after the holidays. I offered her a little cash to sweeten the deal. Saves me from travel and the costs, and she gets a nice break from the winter blues by spending some time at the beach. A win-win!

    Best regards.

    1. J. Money December 17, 2014 at 11:50 AM

      Sounds like a win to me :)

  40. Jason December 16, 2014 at 5:47 PM

    One of my financial goals for 2015 is to create more budgets. Unfortunately, we don’t have a specific budget for our Christmas gifts. My wife loves giving gifts and expensive gifts, but I am curtailing my own budget for gifts. One step at a time.

    1. J. Money December 17, 2014 at 11:51 AM

      “One of my financial goals for 2015 is to create more budgets.” – best goal I’ve ever heard! :)

  41. Christine @ The Pursuit of Green December 16, 2014 at 7:37 PM

    My list ballooned this year! I really need to see what I can do next year. I suggested a gift exchange to simplify things two years ago and none of the 4 people I suggested it to took to it. Plus my sis is the type who LOVES buying gifts for others and thus this year we’ve added 6 additional people cause of her. I’ve got some rebudgeting to do! Spent about $1000 this year. We do get a lot back though…but still!

  42. Sam @ December 17, 2014 at 12:25 AM

    Great budget for the holidays! This is an impressive amount considering all the people on your list. I’m notorious for being a cheapskate, regifter. I’m hoping to walk the line between generous and penny-pincher this holiday. I’d like to recognize those who are important to me, but the budget is still pretty tight. We’ll see what I end up doing.

    1. J. Money December 20, 2014 at 12:44 PM

      As long as you’re not regifting to the same people I don’t see any problems! :)

  43. Deasy Noel December 17, 2014 at 12:37 AM

    There was once when I worked at a retail store part time, making minimum wage, and I was spending a huge amount for each person, around the $100 mark. It was ridiculous. Now, I’ve toned it down to $20-$25 a person, and it’s gotten good responses so far. Makes you think outside the box about the gifts and actually makes gift-finding less difficult for me because so many websites now have “Gifts under $25” recommendations!

  44. Cedes December 17, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    My brother just got married, his wife has three children from a previous relationship and they just had a baby, so my spending this year is substantially more than it has been in years past. I haven’t tallied up the real numbers yet, but my back of the envelope total is somewhere between $600-$650 for 5 adults (dad, stepmom, mom, brother & his wife), 3 kids (older nieces and nephew), and 1 newborn. Still a little high, but not as astronomical as I think it could be.

    1. J. Money December 20, 2014 at 12:57 PM

      That’s a lot of new kids coming into the family at once :) I wonder what the “rules” are for gifts in that regard? Not that you’d need to follow them of course…


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