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.