So just to recap, we had $1,098 in cash rewards that we built up over the last year by using our cash back rewards cards – Chase Visa, Discover, and American Express Blue Everyday. We cash these rewards in every year, and that’s the firm cap on all of our holiday spending from October through the end of the year. It covers most of the birthdays in our families, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas.
How Did We Do?
On the whole, I think we did a great job of aligning our spending with our values, which is probably the most important aspect of spending in our opinions. We were well under budget, which is another positive. But let’s take a look at where all the money went.
Holiday Food – $40
Halloween Candy – $8 was more than enough for all of our trick-or-treaters this year. We even sent plenty of extra candy to Mr. PoP’s office the day after thanks to a heck of a BOGO deal.
Thanksgiving Dinner – $16 covers two different veggies that I bring to Thanksgiving dinners. As side dishes go, I luck out because the ones I am “assigned” are pretty inexpensive and easy to make.
Christmas Dinner – $16. At the PoP’s dinner table, it’s exactly like Thanksgiving, but with presents. =)
Non-Food Gifts For Family and Friends – $227
This is seven birthdays and eight Christmases. Phew. That’s a lot. But, an unexpected store credit to a store where we didn’t want anything provided an additional $67 worth of home merchandise that will be gifted on Christmas morning. It was of no cost to us. Score!
Also, in order to prevent giving a gun rack Wayne’s World style, we worked off of wish lists, went shopping with the recipients, and chipped in with other family members to buy what we hope is a buy-it-for-life gift for one family member this year.
Non-Food Gifts For Each Other – $222
Birthday spending for each of us was $50, and we did end up making purchases that were a little on the frivolous side with the money. When Christmas approached, though, we both felt like all of our wants were taken care of, so the Christmas spending on each other this year has been mostly “needs” that are getting wrapped and put under the tree. These are things that are usually everyday purchases, but when nothing else is under the tree, I like to wrap up the replacement running shoes I just bought or a bag of espresso beans for Mr. PoP.
Holiday Cards and Stamps – $25
Mr. PoP thinks these are a big waste, but we have some family and friends that still treasure these small tangible tokens of our thoughts each year.
Food Gifts For Family & Friends – $42
Every year I make some family favorite holiday sweets recipes and we give them out to very special people in our lives. These particular treats aren’t all that costly to make (in fact, much of that cost is because I needed to buy a new bottle of Kahlua for the Chocolate Kahlua Cake, but a bottle lasts several years). But these treats do take a significant portion of time. My MIL came over this year to help with the baking, and making them with her added a touch of love to the process. The $42 includes trays and fancy wrapping paper that I use to doll the treats up as gifts for distribution. Gotta love the dollar store trays!
Holiday Parties – $40
Though I did complain briefly about attending four holiday parties in two weekends this year, we survived. Spending on these parties fell into two categories.
Food – $15. This covered desserts and veggie trays that aren’t all that expensive to make when you assemble them yourself.
Gifts – $25. Participating in a White Elephant gift exchange at a work party was pretty non-negotiable, so we contributed a $25 gift. From the exchange we brought home a $25 gag-type gift, too. Mr. PoP’s been having a good time with the gag gift at work with his friends there.
Holiday Decorations: $56
We pay $35 for a live tree every year, and then we have a tradition of where each year we purchase one new ornament for each of us. It gets marked with our name and the year, and is often loosely related to something that happened that year. Those ornaments cost $21 this year. Although does anyone know of a blogging ornament? I might be convinced to buy one more if I could find one to signify starting the blog this year. =)
Gifts & Donations to Non Family & Friends: $250
For us, this is donations of food, gifts, and cash to needy local families this time of year. Typically we spend between $75 and $100 in this category each year. However, we upped this for two reasons this year. First, we had way more rewards money to spend than we have in past years. But more importantly, one of the charities that we’ve supported for our entire marriage experienced an acute need this year. It was really important to us that group be able to meet their goal of helping all the families they had committed to helping this holiday season, so we bumped up our donation to that group and were really glad to do so.
Total Holiday Spending: $902
Looking at that number, it feels like a lot of money. But…
1 – It was kindof “free money” since we stuck to our cash back rewards budget
2 – Our proportions were good
3 – This is pretty much most of the holiday spending for the entire year. We’re not big on anniversaries or Valentine’s Day, so this is pretty much it for big lavish spending for the year.
Were you able to stick to planned spending for your holiday spending this year? Anyone else care to share their total holiday spending for the season?