Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Holiday Budgets

Now that the holidays are drawing to a close, it's time to review my holiday spending and decide on next year's holiday budget.

I used to budget $25 per month for holiday gifts, which resulted in a budget of $300 per year.  Then, after an initial round of income reduction due to salary cuts, I reduced the budget to $20 per month, which meant a holiday budget of $240 per year.  Yet another round of salary cuts a few years ago and an increase in other expenses led to further budget adjustments.  Currently, my holiday budget is set at $120 for friends and family other than daughter, and I allocate $10 per month for holiday gifts, cards, postage, etc. 

Once the budget is set, I make a list of people to whom I'll give gifts. I have my list organized by Family, Friends, Office, Neighbors, daughter's teachers (when she was still in school), etc.  Over the years, I've reduced my gift list until now, I have 40 recipients (couples often count as 1). 

I have a budget of $120 for holiday spending.  $20 of that is for cards and postage (some of my cards are sent to family living abroad and airmail postage cost $1.15 per card, this year); leaving $100 for gifts for 40 people. Every year, I wrack my brain to come up with low cost gifts, since, I have an average of just $2.50 to spend on each person.   I decide how much I want to spend per person and write it down next to their names; I vary from it ONLY if I know I can make adjustments, elsewhere.

I make the majority of my gifts from items I have on hand - jars of jam with fruit from my garden, items I sew with fabric in my stash, etc.  I shop the discount stores and sales. I don't even go into department stores and I won't buy anything unless it is on sale. I also have a $ limit on what I will pay for an item.

Finally, I keep track of the spending. I write down the amounts I spent against each person's name on my list. And I keep a running total.

I guess I could have more to spend on each person if I was willing to cut down on my gift list, but I am not willing to do that. So, I will continue to give homemade and "bargain basement" gifts to the extent that I am able.  For the most part, I am going with the "it's the thought that counts" premise of gift giving, and giving token gifts.

And yes, I was able to keep to my budget this year.

Do you have a holiday budget?  If so, were you able to keep to the budget you set for holiday gifts and entertaining?  If you stayed under budget, do share your secrets and tell us how you do it.

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