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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Holidays vs Well, Everything

I was reading one of my favorite blogs Budgeting in the Fun Stuff. Her post concerns something she read on Yahoo--how to save $1000.00 for the holidays by cutting this and that: vacations, landline, movies, whatever. Like BFS, I went through the list too--you can't cut something you don't have or don't do, so these lists work best for those high on the profligacy meter.

So I was thinking and thinking...only to realize that I don't have to save $1000.00 for the holidays because I don't spend that much. The only recipients of holiday largesse are my two kids, neither of whom wants all that much, or so they say.

It's easy for me, because my family was completely lackadaisical about holidays and birthdays. Mr. FS grew up with blow out Christmases, but he has gradually converted to the lackadaisical.

I give this background to warn you: for me to give up the holiday blowout is like me giving up cable. I don't have cable. I don't want cable.

With my lack of credentials established, let me ask: why would you want to give up, say, a vacation in order to have a holiday giftfest? Isn't it better to have a nice pace of treats now and again, rather than scrimping to have a major over-the-top fest?

You know what my answer is? What's yours? Are holidays a sensitive area for you?


Deja Pseu said...

A few years ago our family switched to giving charitable donations in lieu of gifts for adults. It's been a sanity saver as well as a money saver. No more rushing around buying gifts (not to mention trying to figure out *what* to get everyone). The two kids in the extended family (under 18) still get gifts but we don't go extravagant. Birthdays, le monsieur and I tend to give each other little gifts, but it's not carved in stone. Since we're into travel more now, we'll just say that an upcoming trip will be our gift for the year.

Duchesse said...

Last year I asked all my GFs to stop giving me Christmas gifts, and to donate to charity instead (no account need be given to me) and told them I was doing the same. All but one liked the idea.

At Christmas, Le Duc and I set a spending limit for one another and our children- it's not extravagant.

I view the giving and receiving of gifts as integral to the social values of reciprocity and mutual caretaking-so "no gifts" feels cheap and sad to me- but I prefer to honour personal dates (such as an anniversary or birthday) rather than a made-up holiday.

And-I simply enjoy delighting someone.

Sometimes a person says he is "not into gifts" because they can't be bothered to really think about it, resent what they view as an obligation, or resent spending money on someone other than themselves. I am thinking of the partner of one woman I know well. He's cheap, and it is about to end the relationship. A gift does not have to involve money but it does take attention.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Deja--I love reading about your wonderful trips! Your writing is a gift to ME.

@Duchesse--Good points, esp at the end about ATTENTION. Your whole family is good at gifts. I just hate feeling obligated to go along with the commercialization of occasions.

Shelley said...

I think we have been pretty low key on Christmas for a while now. Bill and I tend to buy several things for one another, but we don't bust the budget. Sometimes we agree on things we would both enjoy. We are to the point where we have all that we need and most of what we want.

Anonymous said...


Though my MIL does seem to spend uncontrollably on the grand-kids. (Example: she just bought our little kid a WII for no special occasion at all.) If it keeps up, this year Santa is just going to stick with candy in the stocking.

I think I spent about $30-$50 on each relative I buy for. It doesn't come to $1K. If you include holiday charitable giving it does... but we don't have to cancel netflix to do that.

Funny about Money said...

My mother and my great-grandmother used to make a BIG deal of Christmas, with gifts for everyone and a big feast. It was the high point of the year. With them gone and no one to take their place, it's now the saddest time of year for always highlights how much I miss them.

My son and I don't normally give each other expensive gifts, because neither of us afford it. Instead we have a swell dinner, either just the two of us or, preferably, with his best friends.

But this year there will be no Christmas for me, unless M'hijito can come up with the cash for Christmas dinner. I can't entertain people here, because I won't have enough even to entertain myself.

For the crime of earning a few bucks more than $14,160, Social Security will confiscate an entire month's check, probably in December. So not only will have I have to come up with $975 to live on out of savings, I'll also have to scrape together another $111 to pay for Medicare. Oh well. One less hassle to have to deal with.

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff said...

Thanks for mentioning my post!

I totally agree. Mr. BFS and I actually did have some stuff on the list that we could give up, but we won't. Christmas never ends up costing us much, so I'm not going crazy to save up enough for a big if it was for a Christmas cruise...well, maybe...

Duchesse said...

A dinner you make for a loved one as Funny About Money did is a gift; making a CD of an elder's favourite music, or restoring an old photo (not very expensive). Writing someone a poem, or playing a board game with kids until they want to stop... I could go on. It's not about spending money.