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Our $100 Christmas — or how to stretch your budget by buying used

by Karen on December 29, 2009

Christmas is over, and now that I’m looking at the stack of books, movies, and records that Tony and I bought for each other, I’m amazed at just how far our Christmas budget went.

We set a budget of $50 each before we knew just how generous our friends and family would be to us. To be honest, if we had known we’d end up spending $200 on a new TV and getting a Playstation 3 and Beatles Rock Band, we probably wouldn’t have bought each other gifts at all. But we love shopping for each other and making the most of a $50 budget is a fun challenge for us. Here’s what we were able to get:

From Tony:

  • A French phrase book for our trip to Europe
  • Bill Bryson’s “Dictionary of Troublesome Words”
  • The Pixar movie “Up.”
  • Bob Dylan “Desire” on vinyl

From me:

  • Tony had a list of books that he plans to teach either next semester or in the future, so I just filled his wish list. He got four books.
  • The Beatles “Abbey Road” on vinyl.

We had a $25 Amazon gift card from cashing in our rewards points from the debit card for our old bank account, so we also got three non-fiction books by David Foster Wallace that we both wanted: “Consider the Lobster,”  “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” and “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.”

Looking at everything that we got, it’s hard to believe we only spent $100. But that’s the most fun part about gift giving for each other — we set a budget, and then do our best to get the most out of our money. We so rarely buy things like books and DVDs these days, so Christmas is a fun time to splurge and figure out what the other one wants.

We bought most of the books and vinyl used on Amazon. There are a ton of books available for $1-$2. You have to pay $3 in shipping, but that still keeps the cost of the book below $5. That’s a great deal considering most new books are at least $10, and all but one of the books we got are as good as new.

There was one gift that was not in our budget. Tony got me a Chi flat iron. I straighten my naturally curly hair almost every day, and I’ve been talking about wanting one of those things for five years. Tony surprised me by going a little over budget to finally get it for me. It’ll make my life easier, and since I’ve wanted it for so long he thought it was about time. I suppose I won’t hold it against him that he made the purchase without discussing it with me. :)

On Christmas Day we ate dinner at a hibachi restaurant and saw a movie using the cash we received from our grandparents. It was a lovely day, and it didn’t cost us a thing.

I hope Santa was good to all of you this Christmas. And I hope he was frugal, too!

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1 Nicole at Breaking Even December 29, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Wow this is impressive. Congrats on bucking the trend, and being inspirational to those of us trying to do the same!
.-= Nicole at Breaking Even´s last blog ..Marketing Monday: Mardens =-.

2 Mike December 30, 2009 at 11:37 pm

I got the rest of the money I needed for my trip to Haiti this Summer. Yee Haw!

3 Deb August 13, 2010 at 11:45 am

We eat out rarely and Christmas is always a day for a home cooked meal. I can’t imagine going to a restaurant. We probably would have saved the gift certificate for an anniversary or other special occasion.

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