Life, Money

Am I Having A Frugal Christmas Meltdown?

Since coming back from my vacation, I have been trying to get into the Christmas spirit without much success, sometimes it is just the way it is. So I started spending money on things I usually wouldn’t buy and it seems to help a little! Thinking back, I seem to go thru the same cycle every year! It’s not like I can’t afford to spend money. I am financially independent in pursuit of financial freedom, I get a regular paycheck and I am not talking about thousands of dollars here so why do I feel some guilt? Am I having a frugal Christmas meltdown?

Being Frugal And How It affected Others:

When you always think “frugal”, any extra expense feels like luxury. What I realized this year is that by becoming so frugal with gifts in the last few years, it affected the people I love the most. I know this can be very controversial to some of you but by being so frugal and pragmatic I have taken away the “joy of giving” from my loved ones. My family is almost too “scared” to buy me anything for Christmas because if I think it is too expensive (I have a very low threshold) or not useful enough they know I will return it! They also don’t always tell me what they wish for for the same reason. I know Christmas is not about buying stuff but it is such a nice feeling when you can get someone the one thing they really want. So this year I am going to try to control my frugal self a little.

Not So Frugal!

After reading many recent posts about frugal Christmas, I realized I wasn’t that frugal with everything else around Christmas time.

  • I buy a real tree: Except for this year, I always bought a real tree (too long of a story on why it is fake this year). It was one of our traditions when my kids were younger; we actually went to cut the tree ourselves! And I am having a hard time breaking away from it.
  • Most of our Christmas decorations are store-bought! Most on sale but still store-bought! When my kids were younger we would buy them one decoration per year to commemorate something that happened in their life during that year.
  • I buy wrapping paper because I think there is something beautiful about a nicely wrapped gift under the Christmas tree.
  • I do stockings and I stuff them to the max! A lot of the items are usually practical but it does add up quickly.

Sometimes I think too frugal can be perceived as being cheap, and I never want to cross that line (even if my kids think I have been there a few times already).

Who said frugal meant you shouldn’t spend money on things that matter to you and may bring happiness to others? Yes I agree we all have too much stuff and we live in a very materialistic society. But it doesn’t mean we should never spend our hard-earned money on things that may bring enjoyment to our loved one, does it? There has to be a balance and it may not be the same for all of us.

My Frugal Christmas Fails:

So, without further ado, here is the list of items I have bought so far for Christmas that I would never buy at any other time (Don’t judge!)

Gingerbread House – $48!:

Gingerbread house
Work in progress:)

The most awesome Gingerbread house!!! Yes you heard me $48 (Canadian dollars!). How? Well that was easy: $30 for three gingerbread houses and $18 for extra candies at Bulkbarn (no coupons this time!). When my kids were younger, we always did a gingerbread house before Christmas. We would spend hours building it, eating the candies and just enjoying the activity together. My son is 16 now and is way past making gingerbread houses but he really enjoys building things so when I asked him if he wanted to do one , his first answer was NOooo (Like I was some sort of idiot for even asking) but then he changed his mind “ Maybe it would be cool if I could try to build a huge one“.  My baby (he is my youngest, what can I say) doing a gingerbread house one more time:) I ended up buying 3 of them for $10 each. I could have shopped around but I got to it too late and just not enough time. In the spirit of frugality, I did remind my son that I expected all candies to be eaten (watch for my dentist bills next year!) and part of the house too.

Stocking Stuffers – $120 so far:

And I am not done! My stockings were getting a little less fun in the last couple of years. Maybe I was becoming too frugal! So this year, I am making the stockings a little less frugal and a lot more fun. I even bought an ugly sweater for $10 and Santa boxer shorts for $5!! I have no shame (maybe a little).

Ski Goggles – $255:

Ski goggles
That is what $255 ski goggles look like, no gold!

My son had mentioned a pair of ski goggles at… $255! Are you freaking out of your mind??? It’s insane, are they made of gold???He is usually very considerate when it comes to my money so he would never ask for it. He just mentioned it then told me to just forget about it, it was way too expensive and he would be happy with whatever I got him (awww). I agreed but then found out from my daughters that he wished he could get them. He skis every week-end at a minimum. So here was the dilemma, do I get him a jacket, pj’s and socks like I was planning to? Or do I just go ahead and surprise him with an excessively expensive pair of goggles he will probably only wear 15 to 20 times each year. Because my kids are becoming very frugal and pragmatic, it makes it hard sometimes to get them anything fun. Not that you need to always spend money but I do want them to know that it is fine once in a while (I repeat: once in a while) to spend money on something you want.  I ordered the goggles, had a panic attack and cancelled the order! Back on the site, will I hit “confirm the order” again?

One Sweater – $135:

I could buy four sweaters for that price! My oldest daughter likes brand names. Both my girls buy most of their clothes with their own earned money, on top of paying for their university tuition, so at Christmas time I usually give them some cash (to go shopping on Boxing Day – my frugal contribution) but I also like for them to have a couple of small gifts to open Christmas morning. This year, I knew how much my oldest wanted an Aritzia sweater so I thought I would surprise her and buy it. Still struggling with the price but she will be so happy (mostly coming from her frugal mom). Not much cash for her this year!

Donation to Redeem Myself – Priceless:

My middle child is the most frugal of the three and puts me to shame when it comes to frugality. On her list was a bunch of stuff from an obscure on-line store (amazing deals I have to say, she is getting 8 items for the price of the sweater) and then her words “Don’t buy me anything I don’t need or specifically want, it would be a waste of your money! If you must spend money, just give to charity on my behalf”. So I did! I donated money to a good cause: access to clean water. I hope she likes it. Sometimes I worry she is becoming too frugal but she still seems to know when to spend her money and she hasn’t cross the line of becoming cheap yet!

Am I having a frugal Christmas Meltdown?

So here you have it, my list of frugal Christmas fails so far, all in the open!

Christmas is a bittersweet holiday in our house so I do my best to keep the good memories and traditions alive.

I still consider myself to be frugal , I am just taking a well-deserved break during the holidays, spending a little more of my hard-earned money for the enjoyment of others (a key to frugality) and I will get back on the FI bus shortly. I haven’t lost track of my final destination (Financial Freedom). Even if I don’t save as much this month, I will get over it. Just checked my net worth and it has increased quite a bit in the last year so no sweat (By how much? You will just need to wait for that report won’t you!)

So readers, what do you think? Am I having a frugal Christmas meltdown or just enjoying a little break in my journey to financial freedom?  (Go easy, I have feelings too:)) How about your Christmas, frugal or not?

I wish you all a wonderful holiday.

In the spirit of giving, here is a pic of our Toy Mountain at Work (we are a very small office). Giving time is also very important.

Toy Mountain


12 thoughts on “Am I Having A Frugal Christmas Meltdown?

  1. This totally hits home for me! It is tough being frugal, day in day out, for years and then finding it easy to relish spending money at Christmastime. It’s easier for me to splurge on my kids. I tend to want to get them what the they truly desire – like the ski goggles. In our case, the expensive Christmas gifts have often been tech related – phones, computers, etc… My husband and I are so practical that we’re totally boring with gifts for each other, ugh. I’m actually trying to enjoy spending more these days (because we can afford it), so maybe I’ll try to do better this year!

  2. Those are some nice goggles!! He will be so cool on the mountain. And they are helpful to protect his eyes from sun and glare and snowflakes- so it’s a very pragmatic gift.

    Aritzia sweater, I remember those days– that stuff is so expensive. I used to go in high school to Hill’s (the original Aritzia) to shop.

    I think coming back from holidays so close to the holidays throws us off. I just got back recently and it’s been a bit overwhelming with everyone wanting to meet up, or to drop off a ‘wee gift’ for our baby’s first Christmas. My husband and I are planning to tell everyone next year we are away but actually just hermit at home instead haha.

    We bought a $10.99 mini Christmas tree, it’s living so maybe I can manage to keep it alive for next Christmas on my patio.

    Have a Happy Holiday to the Money Scrap family!

    1. Good plan, do it while baby GYM is still young and won’t have a clue what you guys are doing:) I would love to go away for Christmas, my girlfriend just left for two weeks to Florida (just her, her hubby and daughter), sounds like a relaxing holiday. Happy Holiday to the GYM family. Cheers

  3. Awwwwwwwwww I think this is very cute. Gingerbread houses are for the experience. I would do the same if it means my kids and I get to spend a few hours of joy together. Totally worth it.

    Those ski goggles just be magical to be so expensive omg!! (They’re very stylish actually!)

  4. Wow those are some expensive googles!

    I’m really conflicted on Christmas. On the one hand I enjoy the family and social gatherings, but I really hate the focus on buying each other useless shit. My wife and kids we all go to my parents house for Christmas each year, and the last couple years we’ve been pushing to get rid of all the gift giving. We’ve got it pared down now to something fairly minimal, a secret santa with a $50 limit. Still don’t like it, because someone is going to spend $50 on something I don’t want, and I’ll have to do the same.

    1. Yes it is a conflicting season, you don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings but who needs more crap! At least I don’t have to worry about the rest of my family, they live far and we stopped sending gifts a long time ago. It was costing us more to mail than the gifts themselves. Have a great Christmas

  5. Happy holidays Caroline. I can relate as I suffer from spending anxiety. It is just part of my nature and I have learned to live with it. My wife helps me sometimes telling my not to cave in to buying the cheapest available or not buying at all. It’s a balance like most things in life. Tom

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