Week 83: The Holiday Budget – Make It, Don’t Break It!

Monday, 27 November 2017

Thanksgiving is always a rather big deal in our family.  Usually, we have two of them – one on the specific date (4th Thursday in November) and then another one on the Saturday after so all the rest of the family can connect.  When you have members in the health professions and in the news casting industry, days off are not necessarily the holiday news.  We cycle through who hosts the holiday, and this year we did the “big one” at our house.

Did we eat the traditional turkey?  No, but we did buy two and froze them.  Instead, we had chicken, roasted veggies, tabbouleh, saffron rice, tzatziki, and a few other things, including the dishes our guests brought.  There are, of course, a lot of leftovers, and that is when Thanksgiving is really fun.  We get to eat the leftovers for a few days – and then again when we defrost them!

We set a budget for the Thanksgiving, and stayed within it.  Initially, I had chosen $100, but after remembering we were doing two, I upped it to $150.00.  Altogether, we fed 15 people, so that estimate averaged $10.00 / person, but we really spent $148.43 based on the recorded expenditures.  I expect it was a bit more with cash spent on this or that forgotten item, but even if was $200.00, that is still only $13.33 / person.  We shopped at Costco and at a really cool market that caters to the Middle Eastern, Asian, and Hispanic populations, and with really great prices and variety of products.

There are benefits to tracking money, especially during the holiday season.  Nowadays we are both aware of where our pennies and dollars go.  I (usually) think twice before spending.  I look at the food in the fridge and figure out how to use it up.  Admittedly, we still do waste food, but not like we used to.  Our red meat consumption is down, and our healthy eating choices are up.  This alone has shifted our food bill into lower costs.  It also helps us rethink how much to allow for holiday spending, and in this area we are considerably more frugal than we were early in our marriage, or even two years ago.  It feels good to limit expenditures, and it feels good think more carefully about a gift for a family member.  Good gifts do not need to be expensive, nor do they need to be material.  Memories are often the best gifts.

Holidays can be expensive, and certainly the consume-consume-consume advertising pushes the message.  However, holidays are not about spending.  Instead, they are times to reflect, to rejoice, to enjoy – not spend, spend, spend.

Thanksgiving is over and kept within budget.  Now time to consider the Christmas season and its budget.  Always, always another budget!

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