Saturday, December 7, 2013

Frugality Tip #11: Do Christmas on a Budget. {The Cautionary Tale of Furby}

I love Christmas.

The REAL Christmas.

Celebrating the birth of the Savior. The magic. The memories...

The pure and simple version is my favorite. It's difficult to enjoy Christmas much if I'm always preoccupied with all the "fluff" that often comes with it.

By "fluff," I mean the oodles of discounted "stuff" with prices that are all too tempting to pass on. At which point, the temptation to buy more and more and MORE of it becomes overwhelming, and the modest pile of gifts under the tree reaches "small hill" status, and the Christmas tree itself becomes barely visible... and Christmas is no longer about Christmas.

I admit, the fluff stuff is where it can get tricky for me.

Anyone who knows me well enough, knows that I love a good deal. (Except when it's a pre-black friday deal that over-shadows Thanksgiving Day... rude.) My sister, Amy, says if I were a cartoon, I'd be holding up some random object and the bubble blurb over my head would say: "It's for FREE!!"

And this time of year there are sooooo many super deals going around.

If I'm not careful I can fall prey to those low prices and end up spending more than I wanted to in the first place simply because the deals were "too good to pass up." Then, I end up with more gifts than I ever wanted my children to expect as the "norm."

Case in point:

"The Cautionary Tale of Furby"

Image courtesy Kohl's

Furby... the hottest toy of the year.

Furby... it talks, it's "smart," it's interactive.

Furby... every kid wants one.

Furby... retails for $68 on Amazon.

Let me clarify something: I don't get that toy. I think it's ugly. And over-rated. And slightly creepy. And I fully expect a horror movie to made about one... cause seriously doesn't it look like it'll grow up to be this guy someday? (I always was scared silly by the movie, Gremlins.):

Not to mention, it'd take me a year to figure out how to make that thing work since it is now set up to work with a program online as well. (I'm NOT tech-savvy. It's my own fault.)

One fine day, this little alien toy goes on sale for $28.00.


Why, that's the LOWEST price ever seen on it... EVER!!

Nearly 60% off one of this holiday's hottest toys?!?

I had a minor internal freak-out session.

I may even have squealed like a 5 year-old. (Okay, I FOR SURE squealed like a 5-year old.)

I abandoned all previous gift plans/budgeting and JUMPED on that sweet deal, happily giving up my money to the sweet deal-making retailer.

HA! I had just totally scored!!

Here's the thing though...

Furby is not on my Christmas list. It's not on my kids' lists. In fact, I don't believe they even know what it is. Furby was never part of the plan.

WHAT just happened?!

What was I thinking?

Poor black and white zig-zag Furby Boom was returned from whence he came.  I'm certain he'll find a family that will love him better. (Not difficult considering my feelings for the thing.)

I got back on my budget-track/gifting game-plan and went merrily on my way.

As you can see, having a budget this time of year is crucial for a deal-loving, penny-pinching, frugal-minded person like me, and probably for most people in general.

SO... budget!!

Image courtesy Yahoo Shine

After considering the number of people we needed gifts for (17) , their ages/interests, how much "stuff" I wanted my children to get (knowing that they'd be getting gifts from several other sources as well) and how much we could afford, I came up with a number:

$250 for gifts/stockings/christmas cards. 

*I understand that some of you will think that $250 is outlandishly high. I know there are those of you who do homemade Christmas, or hand-me-down Christmas, or no gifts on Christmas, in order to focus on the meaningful rather than the retail aspects of the holiday. I think that's great! This is just what works for me and my family.

Here's my Christmas breakdown (and yes, I scored a few sweet deals):

Big box of K'NEX - $10.00
Polly Pocket set #1 - $7.06
Polly Pocket set #2 - $11.55
Form Fitter Toy Box (Shapes) - $4.47
Snow White & Prince - $8.33
Cinderella & Charming - $8.33
Ariel & Eric - $8.33
NCAA BYU football for autographing - $19.95
Look & Find Baby Einstein Book - $2.99
Look & Find Mickey Mouse Book - $2.99
Berenstein Bears Book - $3.99
Rook Cards - $8.19
Phase 10 Cards - 6.99
Clue board game - $7.77
Infantino Lil Toot Toy - $0.70
Infantino Tap & Giggle batting buddy - $0.90
Baby Keys - $3.02
Baby Rattle  - $3.00
Photo Calendar (Hubby's parents) - $7.17
Photo Calendar (My parents) - 7.17
Mission Belt - $22.75
Sugar 'n Spice Apron - $17.60
A surprise I don't want my hubby to read about here, and if you are in fact reading about it here, Honey, don't you dare go searching through my email receipts, or it's the COUCH for you! - $10.54
Brand new BYU jacket - $0.00
Play-doh - $3.83
Candy/stocking stuffers - $8.01
My hubby's budget for my Christmas gift - $25.00

Total = $196.30

55 photo cards w/envelopes - $10.80
55 stamps - $25.30

Total = $36.10

GRAND TOTAL = $257.40

I went $7.40 over budget this year. (Whoops)

But the point is, having a number in mind and sticking to it is crucial. Otherwise it's easy to give in to all those "BUY NOW!!!" "TODAY ONLY!!!" and "LOWEST PRICE OF THE YEAR!!!" messages.  You'll find yourself hung up on the commercial-ness of it all, with a super-skinny bank account, ugly talking alien toys, more stress than you know how to deal with, and not know what hit you.

Keep Christmas simple: The Savior. The magic. The memories.

Have a budget that works for you and your family.

Stick to it as best you can, so that you won't be bogged down by over-spending, or buying too much of what you don't need, then worrying about finances throughout the holiday.

Most importantly, spend as much TIME as possible with those you love, celebrating the season, and counting your blessings.

Good luck!!


  1. EVERYTHING I was thinking of getting on Black Friday, I mentally put back before I even had the chance to buy. I said to Hubby, "JoAnn's is have a super deal on fabric," then I looked at my fabric bins (with "Black Friday" fabric from two years ago) and said, "I have plenty of fabric." I was also considering a tablet, then my gaze fell on a pair of pants I was patching for my 7 year old. I told Hubby if I was being frugal by patching pants (in totally cool ways of course), then I had no business buying a tablet. I don't regret staying home a bit! :o)

  2. Oh I spent WAY more than that and I only buy for my kids and husband. I don't ever buy them random gift throughout the year so Christmas is big at our house. We also give the kids money to give gift to each other to share in the giving fun!

    1. Debbie, I'm with ya on the no gifts throughout the year. :) and I'm excited for next year because we'll start having the kids buy gifts for each other as well. I know they'll love it!

    2. You inspired me to call grandparents that needed gift ideas for the kids to bail me out of a few items I went overboard on :) They don't have to shop and I end up spending less. Win win.

    3. Ha! That's exactly what I do, because they always ask what my kids want. :)

  3. Thanks for sharing this Andrea!

    Our family has decided not to do gifts at Christmas, If we need something or if dd wants something that is appropriate, we get it when then. That keeps us out of the stores, stops the gift card swapping and being tempted by the "latest and greatest". Dh is very sensitive to the fact that growing up, every time you needed or wanted something from Sept (or sometimes earlier in the year than that) to Dec, the response was "put it on your Christmas list."

    J in VA

    1. Thank you for your insights, J! I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas!

  4. I just have to say that you have a GREAT sense of humor!! It's nice to find a blog with LOTS of helpful information with humor. Thank you!!


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