Each year, I closely track how much we spend, create a detailed list & budget for the following year with notes & explanations of what worked & didn't work as well. If you'd asked me for my "budget" (in the loosest sense of the term) six or so years back, I would have put it at $3,500. I managed to cut it back to $2,500 from there, and for the last few years, we've spent $1,500. This includes everything - food, decorations, the tree, postage, holiday cards, gifts, etc.
I'm very pleased, because my goal has been to get the budget below $1,000, & I think this will be the year that I'm finally successful! :-)
Here's how each line item breaks out:
- M - $100
- S (oldest, he's six) - $150
- N (he's 5) - $150
- Nephew 1 (he's 10) - $30
- Nephew 2 (he's 8) - $30
- H1 (friend of the family, she's 12) - $30
- H2 (friend of the family, she's 9) - $30
- Grandmother - $25
- Grandmother's husband $20
- Aunt (one of my aunts really struggles financially, so we always buy her a gift card for the grocery store) - $25
- Tip for cleaning lady - $50
- Sandwich trays that we bring to our festivities - $100
- Christmas cards - $20
- Stocking items for the four boys (mine + my nephews) - $120
- Stocking items for M - $50
Total = $930, so quite a bit of wiggle room in case I go over in any one category. M & I are also talking about not getting each other anything & instead replacing the flooring in our basement. (I know, we're very romantic), so that money would come out of our home improvement budget. Our big vacation together in less than a week is definitely gift enough.
Here's what I have so far:
- A Nerf gun set for each nephew - $22.50, so will pick up something small to go with it.
- Infinity scarves for H1 & H2 - $20.80
- A necklace for H1 - free when I purchased another gift at American Eagle a while back
- An origami book/craft set for S - $16.50
- A bead craft set for N - $9.70
- A Beyblade stadium & set for S (from Santa) - $36
- A sleeveless shirt & basketball shorts for N (he's obsessed with wearing these) for his stocking - $11
So, that's how things net out. Any money leftover will be used to increase our food pantry donation. Win/win!
We're focusing this year on simplifying the holidays as much as possible. We're very lucky & live about five minutes away from a fantastic Christmas parade that runs every night between Thanksgiving & December 23rd. We take the boys as often as possible, & the magic of the drummers & lights & snowfall (from a machine) is our favorite part of the holiday. We also try to catch the Christmas boat festival, & spend time decorating our tree, making cookies, & enjoying Christmas Eve & Day with my family. I *love* the holidays.
What about you? Have you started thinking about your budget? Are you like some overachievers, & almost done? ;-)