The average Canadian plans to spend something like $1,500 around the holidays (between gifts, travel, food, decor, etc.). Unfortunately, the average Canadian doesn’t budget for this expense and soon find themselves starting the new year in debt.
I somehow managed to survive the holiday season without spending a dime. Well, at least not any additional dimes to what we would have normally spent over the last week or so.
In fact, because R and I both ended up working extra shifts and a statutory holiday each, we actually profited off of the holidays. (And no, that’s not including the wonderful gifts we received.)
I wish there was some super exciting secret trick or clever life-hack that no one else had discovered yet in order to make this possible, but the truth is really simple:
I spent nothing this Christmas because I did nothing this Christmas.
Okay, so we didn’t actually do nothing nothing – but considering what I remember doing every other year and what most other people I know did for the holidays, it was basically nothing by comparison.
We Both Worked
As I already mentioned, we both ended up working over the holidays.
R told his co-workers back when he first started his job in September that he wanted to work over the holidays. His coworkers all have kids or grand-kids at home (and we do not) so they were thrilled that someone was willing to cover those shifts so that they could enjoy Christmas with their families. R’s a super nice guy like that, but that stat-holiday pay certainly helped!
As for me, I’m not entirely sure how I ended up being scheduled to work Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, but I was. And I also worked the 4 days before and 4 days after that – which didn’t leave me with a whole lot of time to do anything. (But yay for getting more than full time hours at a part time job!) I already knew that R was working anyways, so I might as well work a stat-holiday too, right? It was also pretty cool to see how excited the kids got as Santa’s visit came closer and to hear about all the gifts that they got afterwards.
We Didn’t Buy Gifts
Yup, that’s right. I didn’t buy a single Christmas present. (Maybe I am more of a Scrooge than I thought I was after all?)
I had talked with my sisters about doing a Secret Santa or something with them and their men instead of exchanging gifts with everyone, but we were all so busy that nothing was ever decided. (Whoops!) It’s a very similar story for gifts for my parents. We had ideas but no time.
Although we agreed months ago not to exchange gifts this year with R’s side of the family, my future Mother-In-Law (who is a BIG fan of Christmas) did fill-up stockings for everyone. Again, we had talked about getting his parents something small, but never got around to it.
R and I decided a while ago not to exchange gifts either. There is nothing that either of us really want or really need, so trying to find “the perfect gift” for each other would have been more stress then it was worth.
A part of me does feel bad for not giving any gifts this year, but I really do not have the money right now or any idea of what any one would like or want or need. (Which is why I usually just end up getting every one gift-cards.) I’d much rather spend my money on meaningful gifts when I find them or think of them – and have every intention on doing just that throughout 2015.
We Stayed Home
Getting engaged meant my definition of “family” and “home” drastically changed this past year.
This was the first Christmas that I didn’t go home to spend with my family (as in my sisters and parents) because I instead stayed home and spent it with my family (as in my husband-to-be).
It would have been great if we could have somehow done both, but it would have cost too much for us to take time off work to fly down to the Toronto-area where my side of the family is basically located. (And if I’m being perfectly honest, I am scared to leave my cats home alone in their condition for long, even if we had someone checking in on them.)
Instead, we talked with my family via Skype. It was a little awkward as R hasn’t met my mom or older sister yet but they say he made a good first impression. I did miss being there, but this way easily saved us more than $1000.
We did have Christmas and New Years Day dinner with R’s parents and grandma, but we stayed home for New Years Eve, too. We were invited to a friends house, but taking a cab across town would have cost $50+ (assuming we could even get a cab). And since R started this new job, we’re in bed early and didn’t even make it until midnight! (Man, we’re old!)
In conclusion, I guess the “secret” to spending nothing during the holidays is to be a antisocial workaholic hermit. (Is that even a thing? If not, it is now.)
How did your spending fare this Christmas? Were you right on budget or did you go a little over-board?
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.