Sunday, December 15, 2013

Our Christmas budget, and how we spent the money

I'm now officially done with my Christmas shopping! We allocate $1200 to the holiday budget, but I only assign $900-1,000 to specific gifts (actual amount varies year by year). That way, there's a little bit of flexibility for the unexpected. ;-)

How do we save the $1,200? I intentionally save a percentage deduction towards my 401K (rather than a fixed dollar amount), knowing that I will  max out towards the end of October. This leaves the extra money (allocated in previous months to my 401K) for November & December to go towards Christmas. This year was a bit different, as we had to pay for our travel to Portland ($1,200). For next year, and going forward, I will have to save the travel money earlier in the year - this year it came from savings.

Here's the breakout of our budget, and how we did. Note that M's gifts to me don't come out of our holiday budget (he refuses to talk about what he spends, & uses his personal money - but we never get too extravagant. ;-)

  • Stocking budget - $120 (this covers four boys). We only do stocking for the kids. This year, I spent $116 on stockings.
  • Budget for M - $150. Actual spend = $250. I ended up picking up a pair of jeans for him - I forgot that I typically get him his once a year splurge jeans. :-) 
  • Nephews - $30/each = $60. Actual spend = $82.88. They each got a Rainbow Loom + a game.
  • Grandmother - $25. Actual = $22.
  • Grandmother's husband - $10. Actual = $0. We opted not to exchange this year.
  • Aunt - $25. Actual = $17
  • Best friend's daughters - $30/each = $60. Actual spend = $59.02
  • Sam - $150. Actual = $293. 
  • Nick - $150. Actual = $318.
  • M's best friend's daughter = $30. Actual spend = $34.88
  • Christmas cards - $20. Actual = $16. Postage not included. I had stamps at home, and didn't need to buy any.
  • Food/drinks for Christmas festivities - $100. We typically bring the festive drinks (pomegranate martinis) & contribute food. This year, we'll be traveling, so we're buying ingredients for the drinks & giving my mom extra money towards the meals. Actual = $150.
  • Giving tree donations - $50. Actual spend = $60.
  • Additional charity donations - $50. I had an opportunity to donate $50 with a four time match from my employer (to a food bank), so I couldn't resist. 
Actual spend total = $1228 (and change). I'll call that a win!

I used gift cards, discounts, etc to offset some of the spending. The kids are getting scooters as their big gift. Their other gifts are: books, clothes, and one game each. We try not to spoil them, and would rather spend our money on travels, activities, etc as a family.

For M, he got his jeans, two Under Armour shirts for running, & a couple of things he's been asking for around the house (mortar & pestle - apparently I lost ours during the move), & a platter for making his famous kebabs. Our other platter cracked. 

As for stocking stuffers, we kept things pretty basic this year. The boys got gift cards to an arcade, a book, and an origami kit. They both love origami. :-) 

That pretty much covers it! Favorite find of the year (not particularly frugal, but something that I think will be a huge hit) - a sewing kit for my friend's daughters. It looked so cool that I wanted to keep it!

What about you? Are you done? Is everything wrapped? I'll be doing a lot of wrapping on Christmas Eve, as I had most of the gifts directly mailed to my parents. Everything that I have, I've wrapped. How's your budget? 


  1. Nice job! We are not done yet but we only need to buy one (maybe, two) gifts. But so far I only wrapped one gift :) I'm a procrastinator!

  2. TOTAL win! You did great. I love that you have $30 budgeted for the nephews and best friends daughter. I wish I had that much for the 8 nieces and nephews. Soon though, right. I'm on track.

    I'm never done with Christmas shopping until sometime after Christmas. I guess there's always some growing to do (maybe someday I'll finish Christmas shopping before Christmas).

    You did so great though!