There are so very many things I want to get Tim. So many cool things that he’d like — many of them on sale and just a few clicks away from being ours. But I’ve already spent more than planned. But… cool things….
It’s quite a dilemma.
Of course, our gift buying limit with the in-laws ($30 this year) makes things much easier on the gifting budget. Just to keep things even, I have the same budget for my mom’s gifts. On the other hand, those limits make it easy to rationalize a jump from, say, $50 to… uh… more than $50 for Tim’s gifts.
It was easier when we were broke. First, we were in debt from medical bills and student loans. Once we paid that off, we were saving up to get into a house so that Tim’s parents wouldn’t be homeless. Then we had to cope with the unexpected expenses of home ownership.
Now, we make more. We have savings – including a new car fund. Now it’s about willpower, rather than spending power.
So to combat these consumeristic impulses, I’ve pulled out the most trusted ally of frugality: math. Math puts things into black and white. With math, it’s easy to look at your budget and figure out if you’re spending too much. With math, you can figure out exactly when you’ll have debt paid off. And with math you’ll be brought up short by your running total.
That’s how I stopped myself from spending any more. When I did the initial total, I found I was at just under $100. A far cry from my original $50 budget. Then I ran the numbers again and realized I had gotten some of them wrong. (Not surprisingly, placing orders for your in-laws makes things very convoluted very quickly.) So, in fact, after my one, last-minute add-on gift, I’m looking at about $76.
Still not close to my original budget but not as bad. Assuming I don’t cave to any other presents. After all, I had already accepted that I had spent $100. Which means part of my mind is trying to convince me that I have another $24 I could spend. Mental math apparently isn’t the same thing as regular, hard math. You know, the kind with logic attached to it.
Time for my second line of defense: lists. I never feel like I’ve bought enough items, until I list them out on paper. I need to see everything that will be going under the tree/in the stocking. It helps calm me down and convince me that I have, in fact, bought enough.
And if all else fails, I think about clutter. Where we will put this stuff? How often will it get used? Where will it inevitably get left in and around the house? Those thoughts tend to convince me that Tim doesn’t actually need all that stuff. Besides, there’s gotta be stuff left to buy for future holidays, right?
So anyway, those are my coping tactics for the giving season: add it, list it, think about cleaning around it. Well, assuming we cleaned.
What are your best tactics to avoid a case of the last-minute spends?