Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Spending - Frugal or Frivolous?

How high would you score on a Scrooge-o-meter?
More than once or twice I've heard my favourite money guy, Kevin O'Leary, tell an audience that if you want to discover the truth about an organization (or individual) follow the money because "money never lies." If O'Leary is right then we should be able to use our cheque books, credit card statements and debit slips to find out where our hearts truly are this Christmas. Are you more like Scrooge or Cratchit?

Until recently, all the financial evidence pointed to the fact that I was ringing the bell on the Scrooge-o-meter. I have always been the sole parent and breadwinner for my family. Having a frivolous Christmas was never an option. Every dollar mattered. I filled stockings with underwear, bath soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and even cash. Every November I would do an inventory of household goods and use that list to make what I thought were very practical purchases that qualified (in my fiscally responsible mind) as Christmas-worthy gifts. But were they?

This year, I have a new person in my world who believes that Christmas is not about giving Mom a kilogram of bath salts or Dad a package of razor blades from Costco. No, this hardworking soul believes that Christmas gifts should not be practical. He believes that Christmas gifts should be fun, carefree and most definitely not serious. In other words, Christmas gifts should be frivolous.

That's an idea that, at first, was a bit bothersome for a frugal mom like me. I mean really, doesn't it make more sense to blow you Christmas budget on things the family really needs? Won't that turn into savings for the next fiscal year? I think so. Or should I say, I thought so.

I've realized something this year.
Frugal gifts say, "It's all about the money."
Frivolous gifts say, "It's all about the person."

So this Christmas shopping season I have taken a step back from making practical purchases and I confess that it is kind of fun to lighten up.

In the process, I've realized something else. A frivolous approach to gift buying doesn't effect the amount of money you have to spend. I have a budget and I'm sticking to it. And, though it pains me a little that not stocking up on underwear, bath soap, shampoo, and toothpaste at the tail-end of 2011 will defer the expense to 2012, I can deal with it. I want my family to know that Christmas is all about the person and not about the cash. In fact, this Christmas I may just ring the bell on the Cratchit-o-meter.

Copyright 2011. Laura Thomas. All Rights Reserved.
For reprint permission contact moneyme at telus dot net.

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