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Finances & Money

Christmas 2008 Spending Recap

I’m happy to say that we stuck to our budget for Christmas 2008, and only went over by $10. We had a budget of $975, and we spent $985 on gifts for each other, our parents, nieces, nephew, grandmas and younger cousins. Oh, and we paid cash for the gifts (well, we used the credit card, but paid them off each month).

Here’s a breakdown of the last few years of budget and actuals. If you’re wondering how we get these odd numbers, we budget per person, not in total, then reduce per person if the total is too high:

2004:  Budget $807, Spent $812 for 9 people

2005: Budget $1353, Spent $1231 for 28 people

2006: Budget $1108, Spent $998 for 18 people

2007: Budget $990, Spent $889 for 18 people

2008: Budget $975, Spent $985 for 16 people

We didn’t buy for our sisters this year thanks to an agreement from last Christmas. Since they have kids that we splurge on, we all agreed (some unwillingly) to forgo sibling presents for Christmas. We agreed that if their kids want to get us something small, then we won’t decline the gift. Obviously it’s from the parents, but we won’t fight it. Also, we cut out friends from our spending the last 2 years. We all agreed we would rather save the money for gas to visit each other during the year.

In total, we bought gifts for 16 people, including ourselves, which came to an average of about $61 per person. In reality, we spent more on parents than any other relative, with a budget of $100 per parent. For cousins, we only spent $15 each on a Walmart gift card, since that was easy and they shop there often enough.

The biggest receiver this year was definitely Stacie (my wife). While we also had the $100 limit on each other, I went WAY over budget on her gifts, as I normally do. It was really due to one big-ticket item which, in fact, I said I wouldn’t get.

Yep, I got her an iPod. Specifically, I got her an Apple iPod nano 16 GB Blue (4th Generation) from Best Buy. Cost: $199 plus tax. She will really use it on her 2+ hours per day of commuting, and when she runs (which she enjoys). But while I paid retail for the iPod, don’t think I didn’t do my research! While Amazon had the best price, Best Buy was giving $25 gift cards when you bought the 16Gb model. Since we were buying my father-in-law a photo/copier/scanner for Christmas from Best Buy, I used the card on his purchase.

Sure, I was leaning towards the 8Gb model ($50 cheaper), but I’m glad I upgraded to the 16Gb one because Stacie has already filled up 8Gb of space with music, and she still needs room for her audiobooks.

And that’s not all I got for Stacie:

– Since her MINI doesn’t have an auxilliary port, I got her a Griffin FM Transmitter (from so she can listen to her iPod through the radio waves. It’s originally $80, but I got it for about $20.  I did some lengthy research on FM transmitters and decided this would be the best one. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support charging the Nano for some reason, but we tested the reception yesterday through a good portion of Montgomery County, MD and it worked beautifully. A port directly into the stereo would be best, but those cost upwards of $200-300 to install. No thanks, our $20 transmitter works fine.

– One other thing she’s been asking for since she drives so much is a bluetooth headset. And since it’s against the law in most of this region to drive without using a hands-free headset, it’s best if I got her one sooner than later. I could never decide on a headset because there’s so many and they’re so pricey, but while I was at I found the Motorola H700 bluetooth headset.  It was cheap ($28) and seemed to have the features I wanted.

I finally tested the headset on Christmas day. It synched just fine with her phone, but I did notice static through the earpiece during calls. Well, based on the user reviews, I’m not the only one who gets this. But for some reason, I didn’t see any of these reviews when I bought the earpiece. It’s our first bluetooth device, though, so I only wanted something cheap to try out. We’ll see how long it lasts for Stacie. She had a long conversation on it yesterday and didn’t complain, so maybe it’ll be fine.

In total, I spent $260 on Stacie. If I had kept to budget, we would have been under by $150 this year. But Stacie was elated when she opened her gifts on Christmas day. The only hard part was easing her fears that her gifts to me were “boring” (as she put it). I’m a much better giver than receiver (emotionally), so I’m glad she didn’t splurge on me.

For me, well, I’m still fighting the urge to buy a flat screen TV. I don’t know why I want one so bad when our current TV works just fine. I think it’s watching my great aunt’s TV when we stay at her place, but we don’t even have cable! Must…fight…the…urge…to…splurge!!! Otherwise I got what I needed this Christmas and am very pleased with my gifts.

Thanks to all our family for the gifts and friends for the beautiful Christmas cards! I hope 2009 is good to all of you, and if you find a good deal on a 52″ 1080p plasma TV, then feel free to pick one up for me!

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Clever Dude


  • That’s pretty impressive to buy for 16 people and only spend $61 per person. It sounds like you did your research to allow you to get the best prices.

    In 2005 and 2006, did you spend for additional people or did you just spend a lot more money on gifts?

  • @SingleGuy, I updated the post with the total numbers of people we bought for each year. 2005 was just crazy because we bought for family, friends, neighbors, and any random person who walked by. I think we’re down to the minimum number of people that we can buy for now though, unless we get more nieces or nephews in the future.

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