Since we’ve set our goals we’ve gotten more aggressive in our saving and much more thoughtful about our spending. This has got me pondering about how much money is wasted at Christmas time. Can we rethink holiday spending the same way we have about spending and retirement.
I don’t know about you but I would say somewhere between 1 and most of the gifts I get each year are not a good use of money. Either its something I could get cheaper myself, something I don’t want at all, or not exactly what I was wanting. Am I alone in this? Its not festive or fun to waste other people’s money while having to pretend to be thrilled.
If receiving is bad, giving is far worse. What do you buy for the people who buy themselves everything that they want? The answer is… well I never know, so every year I struggle to find anything and most years I buys something last minute, pay too much for it, and hope. Hope that I don’t see that same look of disappointment on their face that I tried to hide from mine.
Ok so its not as bad as all that. But it still is more stress for me than fun.
For years I suggested alternatives. One suggestion was to travel to a fun location to spend Christmas in lieu of presents. Another was to all just buy wine and do blind wine tastings and drink the wine. Neither gained any traction so I gave up. This year with our early retirement push I decided to try again.
This year’s suggestions were received no better. First I suggested that we scrap all the presents exempting the kiddo should they want to get her something (not that she needs more toys). That one was immediately shot down. Then I suggested we each only buy one present. Perhaps a pseudo secret Santa? The guys buy a present for one of the other guys and girls for girls. Initially I thought we did well on that one. Wrong as usual.
Just when I thought we were close, apparently I opened up a can of worms. Issues of who is hosting what holiday, etc. The type of family drama that I didn’t think existed in my family reared up. The moral of the story is that I backed off quickly. The money isn’t enough to deal with new levels of aggravation.
So back to the beginning.
We spend somewhere between $125 to $150+ per person. We don’t have a huge family so its not that bad. To the extent possible we’ll concentrate on gifts that can’t waste money. Experiences can be a good idea, for a chunk of the gifts we’ll head to the PGA Golf Tournament. It won’t be a surprise since we already talked about it and I know they wanted to go. Just a surprise that I’m paying for it as their gift. Also, you can’t go wrong with money, gift cards that is. I’ll round out some gifts with gift cards to places I know they frequent. Not thoughtful and festive and yet not wasted money.
As far as what to receive, I’ve given a couple very specific requests that would be well appreciated. Otherwise I’ve asked for gift cards to a pub I frequent. I already know that this will be seen as somewhat of a protest but so be it.
As for the wife, we’ve agreed not to give each other gifts and to save the money this year (unless she finds a navy blue purse she wants).
To Next Year
So what about next year. I may try to wheel and deal. Perhaps we’ll pack up the family and travel in exchange for a new gift deal. Maybe we can all agree on a location or and experience for all of us. Maybe we’ll repeat this year’s argument again… who knows.
To all those early retirees out these, how do you do the holidays? Let me know in the comments.
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