Don’t Feed the Alligators

A Personal Finance Blog from a Small-Scale Landlord’s Perspective
12.19.2008
Days 'til Christmas

Creative Commons License photo figure credit: aussiegall

Despite our best efforts we still didn’t sit down to do our shopping until about a week later than I would have liked. Unfortunately, with a work trip for MITBeta, a new baby on the way, and an apartment to be rented, we were preoccupied earlier this month. Because of my frugality and my past experience with Amazon I still choose to use Free Super Saver Shipping, even though they warned things may not reach us by Christmas. I will have to wait and see if this was a prudent choice. We are buying multiple gifts for most of the kids so my hope is that at least some of the gifts arrive on time and in a perfect world Amazon is managing expectations and everything will be in on time anyway. I haven’t had problems in the past and everything usually arrives in the nick of time. As of this post a lot of items have already shipped despite the late estimates. Amazon does a really good job of managing expectations.

One regret I have is not using the click thru option for shopping with Amazon. MITBeta and I are big fans of public radio and like to support it when we can. I obtain almost all my news from this source and feel like it’s nice to give a little back. Our local station has an option to click thru from their site to do your Amazon shopping. Although I remembered this fact while we were shopping for gifts, when I actually placed the order I forgot to click thru. I will try to remember this for next year.

I have decided it would also be a good idea to add Christmas cards to the budget for next year. It may not change the overall total since we came in under budget but it is an anticipated cost that can add up. I ended up buying 75 photo cards from Costco which had the best prices around for around $20. I think I typically spend about $40 for a similar amount of cards. In order to mail these cards I bought stamps, 100 for $42. So I think a safe budget number for cards would be around $60 and it pays to look around for the best deal.

Another thing that no one probably thinks about is swaps and charitable giving. Swaps are a great way to cut down on the amount of gifts purchased, while still sharing in the tradition of giving. If you are involved in a few different swaps each year it is probably a good idea to add those to your budget. If you have a couple of swaps with friends and work this could account for up to an additional $100.  It’s also nice to donate to charity at this time of year and MITBeta’s work has organized giving for Toys for Tots.

We do not want to forget our readers who may celebrate other holidays this season. I’m sure budgeting for Hannakuh gifts would be no different. Both holidays have anticipated expenses and are something to add to your yearly budget in order to avoid the holiday shopping crunch and credit card run up in January! But let us not forget that the most important thing this holiday season is spending quality time with friends and family.

We like to extend our warmest wishes to all our readers this holiday season!

Editor’s Note: All of the gifts that we ordered from Amazon.com last week have arrived and are wrapped. Hooray for Amazon and free shipping.

6 Responses to “Some additional thoughts on Christmas Shopping”


  1. Dubes Says:

    Thank you for recognizing those of us who celbrate “Hanukkah..the festival of lights,
    Instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights…” (Adam Sandler 1996)


  2. kristen Says:

    I love amazon too…I ordered some books for my cousins (free shipping of course) and it said they wouldn’t get there until after xmas. Then when they shipped it said the 24th and they ended up getting them yesterday!! then I ordered a cookbook for my mom and it said we would get it the 27th (just in time for her birthday the next day :) and I just cheked, it’s out for delivery today!!! Well have a good holiday and we probably won’t see you until the baby is here, so good luck with that (con is hoping for a boy!)


  3. Michelle Says:

    Thanks for this great post.

    I shudder to think what I spent on Christmas cards this year. My cards themselves were cheap, (completely handmade with minimal purchasing required {they are actually made out of recycled corrugated cardboard.}) But the postage? Ouch! I did not realize that by mailing a 5 x 5 envelope my cost per card would go up from 42 cents each to 62 cents each! ALL of my cards came back to me in my mailbox a couple of days before Christmas!!!

    The good news? Usually the post office stamps something on the letters when this happens and you either have to re-envelope everything, live with the mess, and sometimes even RE-stamp because they have canceled out your original postage. Not this time… they bundled them up, and put a note on the bundle saying an extra 20 cents was needed for each card.

    Next year the cards will be of a more standard size!


  4. MITBeta Says:

    Ouch! Maybe next year your stretch goal should be to qualify for postcard postage.


  5. Amy Morris Says:

    I love photo cards, they are more special than those ordinary greeting cards that is just full of text.;~-


  6. Roof Helmet  Says:

    photocards are nice specially if they are custom built,;~


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