Friday, November 28, 2008

The Anti-Black Friday Exercise

I was over at the New Dream website (which I found while trying to assess our carbon footprint the other day) reading their Simplifying the Holidays pamphlet when I came across a fascinating Compacting Christmas activity.

They suggest adding up ALL the money you spent on Christmas (still have your receipts from last year?!!!), and when they say all they really mean all... stocking stuffers, wrapping paper, gifts... the whole nine yards. Then see what percentage it is of your annual take-home income. If you discovered you spent more on Christmas then say your year's heating bill would that change your spending perspective? Or if it's more than you spent on a full month of food?

It's one thing to look back and realize you spent a hell of a lot more than you intended (or with all the little incidentals... then you realized). It's a whole different thing to realize you spent more than you did on a house payment. Not that we did... or you did... but you know what I'm saying. In general I think most of us set up our spending either based on guilt, or precedence, or an arbitrary number... I don't think very many of us do it from this *whole picture* perspective. I know we never have.

When we get home I'm going to look up our last year's spending and I'll let you know what our percentage of spending was. I'll also let you know what I plan on spending this year.


Marie said...


I'm not even going there, even if I DID still have the reciepts!

This year we are definitely concious of each and every thing we buy. There is no way to go over budget (and still pay the bills.. :-) Plus, I really, really, really don't want to accumulate stuff just for the sake of getting/giving stuff (KWIM). As it is we just purged out the kids toys MAJORLY and I am so hoping not to replace it all at xmas. Its just too much "stuff".

Mrs Furious said...

I thought I could look back but now I realize I bought most of the stuff at Target and those statements aren't itemized. Ah well... it was more than I should have spent that is for certain!

Nutmeg said...

We spent less than 1% of our income on christmas (including trees, lights purchased on sale the previous year and celebratory food items), but we have a pretty low gift burden. Only one side of the family has kids, there are only four and they are the only people who get christmas gifts. I didn't buy my brother a gift, we don't buy eachother gifts, Eli doesn't even know what christmas is yet so he had fun with the bows and the gifts from grandparents. So it was basically four nephews and two mothers (we both have dead fathers). Family tragedy has its perks!

We were pretty generous to our mothers (and will continue to be this year), but still it isn't that much money or stuff. Eli is getting something for christmas from us this year, but for one final year he doesn't realize that his birthday and christmas are EVENTS that should be separate and just happen to be 10 days apart. So, he'll get one big gift for both. Ahhh... the oblivion of the toddler is to be reveled in occasionally.

I like the reflection this caused.

Mrs Furious said...

"Family tragedy has its perks! "
LOL! that's kind of how I'm looking at the whole in-law debacle! ;)

michelline said...

We spend well over a month's mortgage payment on Christmas every year. I have a large family, but we've managed to pare our list down to a manageable 25 this year and before we buy, we set a per person budget as a guide. We do the bulk of our shopping on Black Friday and look forward to it every year. We also pick up things during the year. This is part of our Christmas enjoyment.

Of course we do have a few obligation people on our list, but how does one remove a stepmother or half-sister? Still, I wouldn't change our Christmas purchasing. We both enjoy it too much.

julie said...

I never thought that we spent that much until I just did a report on Quicken that showed everything that I had labled Christmas 2007 (and that would only be things that I paid for in cash) and it came to close to $2K. My eyes popped out of my head. Of course, I do put a lot of different things under the Christmas label at that time of is when I usually replace old or broken items in the house like coffee makers and tell myself it is a Christmas present.

But still...this really made me think.

Mrs. F., do you have anything like Quicken or some kind of money software to do your banking? It is really like a big check register. It is really useful in seeing how much you spend on things. Of course, I did not know how to do that until your post...I decided to figure it out. I did a report on how much money we spent on food last was so alarming.

Anyway, it is too late for me to cut down expenses for Christmas this year since I am basically done shopping. Also, I start buying stuff for my kids over the summer. I bought stuff for my sisters in September. Maybe I really should wait.

I guess I will just start chanting Obama to myself again to make myself feel better:)

Dana said...

Seriously...I was all about the anti-BF thing. I read that someone died from BEING TRAMPLED ON, and I am so appalled I'm ready to scream.

Mrs Furious said...

Jesus Christ! I never go shopping after the holidays... it is too crowded in general and gives me serious claustrophobic anxiety.
But trampling someone?! That shit is crazy. People are out of their minds!

Deb said...

Interesting exercise. I definitely didn't spend more than my mortgage last year (although that would be fun), but I know I spent more than a month's groceries. About half of that went to a family we adopted, so it wasn't entirely selfish excess, but there's no question we could have spent less on ourselves. We are down to a fraction of that this year, and I'll be shocked if we spend more than we do on a week's worth of groceries. It's just not the year for it.

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