Saturday, December 11, 2010

Be a Chriftich (Thrifty Christmas B!tch)

Santa Claus is Coming!! 

The holidays are definitely the most challenging part of my financial journey. I just want to go out and buy all sorts of presents - for myself! Not only is there that societal pressure to buy gifts for your family and friends, there are also those unheard of charities that only seem to show up at the holidays. 

“Hey John, can you spare $5.00 for this family of refugees from Utah whose parents have bum cancer and a 7 year-old who is a recovering crack addict with 3 dogs that need hip replacement surgery after slipping in the ice on their way to the family’s great-step-aunt-who-just-moved-from-Clevland’s funeral for her cat Mittens?” 

Add in the fact that for some reason many of my friends are having birthdays and holiday parties every other day this month and I’ve got all those extra expenses of bringing snacks and cookies, and buying tacky Christmas sweaters. It seems my money is just asking for me to pull it out and slap it down on the counter for some greasy cashier’s hand to grab it and play with it. Christmastime is certainly proving to be a challenge.

I’ve been depriving myself of all my wants for a couple months now and it has been so freaking challenging; however my will power is unwavering. For example, I saw a great t-shirt that would be a great gift for my partner, but it was $40! Back in the old days, I wouldn’t blink an eyelid at $40! I’ve spent $90 on a t-shirt; heck I’ve spent $300 or more on my partner on multiple occasions! And then that’s when I remember that my stupid spending is what got me into this fiasco of a clustertruck of a situation that is $40,000 of debt. So what, oh what can I do to stay on my crazy $100 of spending per week budget? I only have $40 per month set aside for gifts, so it’s looking like shopping is completely isn’t happening and prostituting myself around the neighbourhood for extra cash is out of the question – those ladies down on Dalhousie are just way to sexy to compete with! Then I got an idea! An awful idea! THE CHRIFTICH GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA! "I know just what to do!" The Criftich Laughed in his throat. And he made a quick Santy Claus hat and a coat. Oh $hit, wrong story; but seriously, I did get an idea.

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but presents really don’t mean $hit in the grand scheme of things. Sure I love to give presents, but I really don’t care much if I’m not receiving them. One thing that I learned when I moved far away from my family is that (sorry this is where I get sappy, cheesy, and/or clich√© so feel free to stop reading, I won’t blame you) the time you spend together is what you remember. I can’t tell you all the Christmas presents that I received, but I can tell you about all the great times I have had during the holidays. There was one year that my Grandma gave my cousin this ridiculous dancing chicken and by the end of the night we were all hammered and used the video camera to record a video of it with this little scarecrow thing looking like they were having sex while we’re all pissing our pants laughing. It was pretty hilarious, and you can watch it here! Another hilarious Christmas time memory was last year when my roommate (as well as everyone else) had one too many glasses of eggnog and starting dancing all over the apartment by herself and THAT video is here

See, gifts don’t mean anything; it’s the memories that are what really count.

So how do you get out of buying gifts for everyone? Do what my family does; have a Secret Santa gift exchange and only buy 1 present instead of dozens. We do Secret Santa for the whole crew, including parents, grandparents, partners, etc AND WE SET A SPENDING LIMIT! In the beginning we didn’t really do this and it turned into more of a pi$$ing contest to see who could buy the best gift (and then I started blowing away the competition with my cheap and thoughtful gifts). That’s why now; we take out the shopping and each buy a $25 gift card - so simple. I did all my Christmas shopping on my way home from work and it only took 5 stinkin’ finkin’ minutes.

Another great way to save money is to host a Christmas Party potluck and have all the guests bring something to snack on. That way the costs are cheap for all and you all get to have a great time hanging out together. Scrap the gifts for friends, and instead give them some good times together! If you really need to get them something, think about making something cheap like a scarf, or a scrapbook of photos, or even some Christmas baking (my friend Caitlin has a ton of great ideas here). The point is, being cheap at the holidays is the new cool thing to do – because I said so!! Keep your spending in queue and you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank in the New Year. The banks will effing hate you for not using your credit, and that my friends, is the true meaning of Thriftmas!

Happy holidays!

John

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