Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of TD Bank. I am part of Mom It Forward Blogger Network.
Holiday Spending made Easier
This is us sitting at the table. The kids are in bed. It was like wrestling a pig covered in oil. We did it. We are laughing over the excuses for why it isn’t bed time and the sales pitches for why staying up five minutes later is cooler than when the first laptop came out.
We are trying to keep the conversation light because the next conversation we have usually ends up in one of not sleeping.
We sit down at the table. I grab my glass of milk and that chocolate chip cookie that I had been eyeing and secretly hoping the kids didn’t notice. He grabs his decaf. We are unsure as to who should start the conversation. I begin with do you remember last year? He says, “most of it.” I shake my head and try to begin again. “I mean do you remember last year around December.” He says, “Yes, I am not sure where this conversation is going, but if you could get me there quickly I would appreciate it.”
Well, here goes nothing or everything. I am still thinking do I want the couch or the bed?
We need to talk about our holiday spending. He gets up and asks “Do I want something besides milk?” I say something along the lines of “I do not think so but maybe after our chat?” I open up my spreadsheet from last year. Yes, I make one. Yes, I know it is totally type A.
Who needs a spreadsheet well someone who did this.
I never used to have one of these spreadsheets until the time I was at a party and realized I forgot to buy a gift for one of the cousins. It was the cousin who would notice and the one that would put her hands on her hips and say “Where is my gift?” You know in that voice that sounds like a chair scraping the floor.
I am so lucky that I carry a box of thank you cards in my car. I excused myself and ran out the car. I put the $20 after scraping off whatever was stuck to it that I have hidden in my car for emergencies in that card. Yes, this was an emergency can you imagine not having a gift for a child when your in-laws are watching? No, my husband didn’t figure out what happened and most importantly what could have happened didn’t.
That was when I knew I needed a spreadsheet like a teacher needs a blackboard. The spreadsheet shows all the names of the people we have to buy for. Then I marked who I wanted to buy for. Then I add in who it would be nice to buy for. That is my column for charity. I think it is important to help if you can. Then next to each person, I put what I want to buy them and the budget when I am in the planning stage. When I actually go shopping and buy the item, I put in the actual amount spent. Then I run a total. I do this so I do not have to have the conversation about over spending.
Did you know that couples spend a lot on holiday gifts? The data suggests we spend $148 on our partner, $244 on children, $112 on friends and family; while only 22% of couples save up for gifts, and 25% of couples use a credit card and worry about paying for their gifts later. It is important when talking about holiday spending that you decide not only what you are going to spend but how you are going to pay.
We have a special bank account set up which we direct deposit into each year for the holidays, and that is our budget. You can also get a Simple Savings account with TD Bank. They can provide you with excellent service and help to set up your very own.
The way we determine what we need to save each month is simple we look at what we spent the last year and then we add 10% for the “just in case scenario.”
So I bet you are wondering how my chat went? It actually went well after I explained what the projected volume of spending would be. I came in prepared with data. I know that a couple that talks about money once a week are 78% happier than those that talk about money only once every few months at 50% according to the the second annual TD Bank Love & Money Survey. I know that talking about money in my house is stressful unless I have a plan and an organized system to track our spending. I know that I am the spender and my husband is the saver. I also know that my husband is reasonable if he can track what we saved and how it was spent. He did have some concerns over what I had budgeted for certain people since he is more of a $20 per person guy and I am a more of an I like them so they can have a better gift kind of person. He also doesn’t get the present exchange rate you have to buy a nicer present for someone who buys you a nice present as opposed to the person that gives you a gift from their regift closet.
I want to share a couple of expenses people should include in their budgets but often do not.
1) The cost of shipping.
2) The cost of getting the product.
3) Paying more for the product and then finding it on sale. (Save your receipts and buy from store with good price matching policies)
4) The cost to wrap or decorate the package.
5) The cost of products that go with the purchase like batteries, tools to assemble, or add-ons like a doll and then buying doll clothes.
I hope your holidays are bright and your savings are heavy, and your spending is light. I hope you sit down with the person you love the most and have an honest conversation about spending because together you can achieve more.