Holiday Hangover?

The dust has settled from the holidays, the bills have come in, and the damage has been done. How did you fare financially during the holidays? Did you overspend or did you stay on budget?

After reviewing our holiday spending we actually came out almost exactly on target. That’s not to say we spent exactly as we’d planned. We overspent on gifts for some and underspent on others. It definitely helped to have a plan because we would have grossly overspent without one. This year our plan was a little more casual than other years. My wife and I did a quick and dirty plan one evening, but we’ve had enough experience creating these plans that we were able to implement effectively with only one short meeting.

In December I posted about strategies to reduce spending during the holidays. One strategy we relied upon this Christmas was that of buying items on the fly if we found a good deal, but then returning the items that were over our budget or that just weren’t as compelling as gifts. A couple of days before Christmas, we laid out all the gifts on the kitchen table (after our sons were asleep) and sorted through them decided which were really worth it and which could be returned.

This process was so useful and actually had an unexpected benefit this year. As we looked at the gifts all together, it gave us a great overall sense of “too much stuff.” We realized that we simply had too much stuff for our son. We’ve experienced over and over at Christmas the point of diminishing returns where each additional gift just doesn’t add that much. A 5 year old can only really enjoy a small handful of gifts. More than that and you start entering that spoiled mode where the child is like “is that all there is?” “Aren’t there any more gifts?”

By looking at all the gifts at once we could very clearly see how many gifts constituted “too much” and how many were just right.

So what was the result on Christmas morning?

I’m happy to report that this Christmas was probably the most rewarding in terms of enjoyment-per-gift for our son. Not only did our activity of looking at all the gifts at once lower our Christmas bill, it also resulted in a happier and better-balanced child. There was virtually no spoiled response and our son had just enough a variety of gifts that he was thrilled.

So how is your holiday hangover? Did you have one or were you able to remain sober?

Posted in Budgeting, Shopping | Comments Off on Holiday Hangover?

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