Tuesday Tussle: The Pressure To Spend In December
10:30 am, December 4th | by Sarah Devlin
Sarah: So — now that it’s officially December, have you started thinking about Christmas shopping? Or holiday shopping, rather.
Laura: I say Christmas shopping. Yes, but it’s not at the top of my list. I’ve done some of it already.
Sarah: So how do you budget for that stuff?
Laura: Priorities: some people get small gifts. Others, like my mom, get nicer things. My friends and I exchange small gifts. I know some people who say it’s all about the price tag but I believe that’s a ridiculous philosophy. I only get my mom nice things because she deserves something great for all she’s done for me; same with my siblings. I don’t have a boyfriend so that’s a big money saver.
Laura: I like the gift markets in NYC. Those are great for finding gifts that are inexpensive and nice.
Sarah: Yes, I love those too! I get really excited about gift season because gift-giving is my love language. But I have to be careful not to overextend myself, budget-wise.
Sarah: So you told me something kind of crazy about gift budgeting that a friend told you.
Laura: Someone from home [in California], yes. She says anything under 50 dollars is not a good gift, which is so lame and stupid.
Sarah: That is crazy to me. That would be, like, really extravagant in my book — and I’m an excellent, non-cheapskate gift giver.
Laura: Well, this is someone from a really wealthy Marin County family. But still! It made me feel bad. But at the same time, I know most people don’t subscribe to that notion. Price shouldn’t matter.
Sarah: I also think if you give a thoughtful gift and take some time to think about what the person would like, the last thing they’ll be noticing is how much something cost.
Laura: Yeah, really. I have no idea what anything costs, and I don’t go out looking for price tags.
Sarah: Do you ever do homemade gifts?
Laura: I’m not smart enough to do that.
Or creative enough.
Or patient enough.
Sarah: I don’t because I feel like you have to commit to doing the same thing for everyone unless you have ALL the free time. And then that feels less personal to me, even though there’s a lot more labor involved.
Laura: It’s great when people knit blankets and scarves for others. I like that stuff.
Sarah: Oh yes!!! That’s the best. My grandma crochets and just gave me a bunch of pot holders she made and I was thrilled.
So what happens if you try to budget for your family and friends, and you end up going way over? Or you haven’t gone over-budget yet, but you find something that’s amazing for someone and it’s more than you were planning to spend.
Laura: I haven’t had that problem yet, but my family is definitely a top priority over friends. So I would put family first.
Sarah: And then re-budget accordingly for your pals. That’s smart!
Sarah: There are also so many other hidden costs to the holidays that are hard to opt out of — party clothes, hosting gifts for people who have you over for dinner/throw parties. It’s easy to let it get out of control.
Laura: It always does. I don’t usually host parties. I travel a lot. At the end of the day I don’t think gifts matter that much. My closest friends don’t even get around to buying gifts sometimes and it’s totally fine. It’s my family I worry about most.
Sarah: Yeah, I mostly just stick to gifts for family. I like to spend lots of time eating and drinking with friends around this time of year (well, ore time than usual). I feel like that’s a Christmas gift for everyone! Haha.
Laura: Yeah seriously. And time off work, and Christmas movies. Who needs jewelry or expensive bags?
Over the years I’ve become a lot less into things. I’d rather have a trip somewhere nice, or get photo head shots and a Coach bag here and there! But experiences matter more to me.
Sarah: I think that also tracks with growing up and having your own money. When you’re a kid Christmas/the holidays are like “OMG THIS IS MY ONE SHOT AT ALL THE THINGS I WANT.”
Laura: Yeah, really.
Sarah: Once you’re an adult you can buy yourself the things you want, and focus more on the “holiday spirit” part of things.
Laura: Exactly. I like Christmas better as an adult!