It's getting to be that time for Christmas present shopping. While I love Christmas, the decorations, the music, the tv specials, the food (especially the cookies!), etc., the spending money part is not one of my favorite things. I'm too cheap and then I feel a little guilty that I didn't spend enough. The past few years the number of people we have to purchase for has reduced (long story, but for our own mental health we had to cut ties with Dh's family) so it has been easier on the budget and my guilt. I just have the 4 of us to buy for, my mom, grandma, uncle, Ds's girlfriend and 3 nieces. I have several step siblings, but for quite a few years now we have just done a fun gift exchange game at our family holiday get-together party, so only one $20 gift to buy, instead of one gift for each person.
I try to stick to about $150 for each of my kids and $100 on Dh (and he the same for me). Some years Dh and I decide to buy something for the both of us -a piece of furniture or something (this year I am thinking a new recliner -as ours is seeing it's last days). Dh likes those years better because then he doesn't have to shop for me, LOL. For my mom, grandma and uncle we usually do $30-40 each and for my nieces I usually only do about $15 each and probably $40 on Ds's girlfriend. (those are the one's I always feel guilty on...I guess because my step siblings are all quite more well off than we are (even though the gift exchange game or drawing names was their ideas).
I'm terrible when I go to make the purchases - I keep thinking I might find a better deal elsewhere and then I keep putting it off until it's getting almost too late! I always want to find the very best deal and I drive myself crazy. It has been easier the past 5 years or so with so many online stores now and ways to compare prices. I have done quite a bit of online shopping the past few years, which saves my sanity because I detest being in crowded stores. I can only stand about an hour of actual in-store Christmas shopping at a time before I am no longer enjoying any aspect of it.
I remember when we were first married and our first Christmas I felt the need to keep up with all the gifts Dh's mom gave out and the money she spent (which she could NOT afford - several thousand dollars a year on credit cards). Dh had just got laid off his job and I only worked part time while going to school. So, I put the gifts on a credit cards....come the next Christmas I still owed some on those cards! I said never again....if all's we can afford is a $5 gift for everyone then that is what they get....and some years that's all they got. In over 20 years I have never charged Christmas presents again. Some years I just had to make some of the gifts.
The past several years I have managed to stay pretty close to about $600-$700 per year, nothing extravagant. For a few years, before my dad passed away, he and my mom were "gifting" each of us kids a check for $500 each Christmas and one year was $1000. That sure was nice! and basically covered most of what I had just spent for gifts. But, I totally understand my mom feeling the need to watch over her money carefully, now that she's on her own, and she already does so much for me and my family. Last year my employer gave us a $500 Christmas bonus (after taxes taken out) so I am hoping this will happen again this year.
Do you have a holiday budget and how do you stick to it?