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Thread: Christmas- yes, already!
09-03-2007, 07:28 PM #1herberkids3Guest
Christmas- yes, already!
For the past few years, Christmas at our house hasn't been too bad.
I'm not a shop happy person- I don't think kids NEED to have cell
phones, MP3 players, and TV set ups at the age of 9 or 10. I realize
not all parents feel the same, and I respect that.
My husband is the opposite of me. The kids each have a TV, DVD
player, and VCR in thier rooms (3 kids, 3 rooms). Now, one TV is our
old hand-me-down from about 10 years ago. The other two tv's are
combo units- one is a 13" with a VCR, the other is a 13" with a DVD.
The one with the VCR we got on clearance for $40 last year- cheaper
than any VCR we could find at the time, since VCR's were hard to
find, and the only ones we COULD find were combo units with DVD
players. The other one, with the DVD, we got on sale for around $80.
I digress. I am not a huge fan of it, but I know the kids enjoy
having them, and I figure if we didn't go broke doing it, might as
Christmas is coming up. Scarily fast, if you ask me. For the first
few years we were married, we were broke in a way that wasn't even
funny in retrospect. We got food stamps, WIC, commodity supplements,
we were given a HUGE Thanksgiving basket one year that had enough
groceries for a week, plus a gift card for $25 to the local grocery
store for fresh meats (in theory, for a Turkey, but they told me I
could use it on any fresh meats, so I stocked up for multiple
One year, I think Chris was almost 1 (his birthday being in mid
January), we got a phone call from a local agency. A small outlet
store donated 10 $100 gift cards to be handed out to those they felt
could use them the most. I was shocked (and a bit dismayed) to learn
we were one of the 10 poorest families registered with that agency.
I went in, got $100 worth of toys (some of which I kept seperate for
Chris's birthday), and checked out- to my utter embarrassment, my
husband's friends sister was working, and KNEW where I got the gift
card. She didn't say anything embarrassing about it, it was more the
knowledge that we had received it, and now, friends knew.
To top it off, she did mention it to her brother, who talked to me
about it at his wife's baby shower a week later- apparently, of the
10 families chosen, most chose to spend the money on themselves
rather than their children, which was the intent behind the store's
We got toys for tots as well for the first few years we were
married. We almost never had extra money to contribute to the tree,
except a few little things- a $5 doll, some dollar tree coloring
books, etc. The kids never lacked for anything, but our trees at
home were usually pretty sad looking. Several years we would
purposly visit my family on Christmas Eve, so we would be there
Christmas Morning where the tree at least -looked- more stuffed.
A few years ago, I was getting ready to make the annual call to sign
up for Toys for Tots, and I realized... we didn't need it. Sure, it
would have been helpful and nice, but we were at a point where we
could at least provide a few small things for the kids. My family
tends to go overboard in "making up" the difference at times, so...
I just didn't make the call, and I haven't made it since then.
Sure, the gifts were small, some homemade, some cheap, some even
from Goodwill or Salvation Army, but it was Christmas I provided.
This year, we made a huge move in our lives- Nick got a job an hour
and 15 minutes south of us, and as soon as the kids were out of
school, we picked up and moved. It took us a bit of work, but the
move itself was very easy, and we love the new area.
With the new job comes some perks, though. For starters, the salary
itself isn't much higher than before (around $500/yr higher), but in
addition to the salary are free medical coverage (we have co-pays,
but no paying out from our check), no union fees, quarterly bonuses,
and a Christmas Bonus. The quarterlies are sort of a profit sharing
deal, sorta not. Basically, they award employees with a 1-2% bonus
based on how the profits are. At Christmas, it's much the same, with
the amount being higher- 5-10%, with the last few years being around
7-8%, but with this year showing the largest profits of all time for
That in and of itself was great news. Not only did it boost our
income for the year, it also comes at the perfect time to provide
some extra around Christmas.
My goals were lofty, I'll tell you that right now. I don't like to
spend a lot of money, even if we have extra, simply because I'm
frugal by heart. I've known for months what my two oldest children
wanted, but the price tag made me leary of it- $150! Then, it went
down in price to $130, still not great, but at least -better-.
What usually happens in our house is that the kids get inundated
with assorted stuff from so many families (my parents are divorced
as are my husbands, which means instead of 1 gift from a set of
grandparents, there's 2, etc, and 2 extra families, etc, etc,
etc...), not to mention the Santa gifts (yes, we do Santa, and no,
we won't stop- it's a tradition in both our families), plus the
gifts from us... well, the kids are on toy overload, and with so
much stuff, half of it isn't even used for months- if ever!
It always felt great when I'd buy the stuff, then afterwards, it was
a huge let down when I felt like I'd wasted money on stuff I was
SURE they'd LOVE.
So, I came to the conclusion this year that I want to first of all
splurge a bit, money wise. I know, it's not what most of the people
here would do, but that's what I really want to do for my kids this
year. My next decision was to try and find 1 item they really want,
and focus on that, instead of getting a bunch of small toys and
I've explained my husband a bit, right? Well, he's a techno-geek,
and loves his video games, which is something he's kind
of "installed" into our kids. They love em, too. Me? I'll play one
here and there, and like it, but I'd rather play arcade games
online, or read a book.
So, the $130 item the kids want? A Nintendo DS. After hearing that,
I did a bit of price checking, and found that the older style Game
Boys are still sold brand new, still have games being made for them,
and range from $50-80, so I thought that would work better. I could
get them each one of those and a game, and have spent $100- which
was my "limit" from both us, and Santa. Yes, my goal is to spend
$600 on Christmas, which is insane- I know! In past years, I've
spent around $100 total for 3 kids. But, I know that once I get them
each a handheld game system (the DS or Gameboy for the older two,
and a Vsmile for our youngest), and get them each a game or two,
plus the traditional new outfit, a new blanket, and maybe 1 or 2
small toys, I'll have reached that $200 easily. And with a quarterly
bonus that arrives around the end of October/early November, and
November being a 3 check month (usually we get 2 checks per month,
but twice a year, Thursday falls so that we get 3 checks), we're
going to be able to do a lot more, without feeling rushed, or
worrying about bills, or anything like that.
As of this morning, I was sold more on getting the older two the
Gameboys- then, my husband decided to give something up. He has an
Xbox 360, as well as a PS2. When we moved, the PS2 got put in our
room because we like playing scary games... except, it's sat there
for months now collecting dust without having been hooked up at all.
So, he decided to sell it to Gamestop (or, rather, Trade it in).
Along with the unit, he had 3 memory cards, 4 controllers, 3
extenders, and 14 games. He briefly considered ebay, but really, the
hassle wasn't worth it.
Gamestop had a deal going today- if you traded in 3 games, you got
an extra 10% "bonus" in trade value, 4 games was 15%, 5 or more
games and it was 20%. Plus, we have a card that gets us an extra 10%
on top of that for all trade ins except systems.
In the end, I took them in to trade it all in, and we wound up
getting $172 in trade value!! I was amazed- I had been expecting
around $100 max, but 3 of the games we had were older and rare. Even
on eBay, they go for a decent amount still.
So, I walked out of Gamestop today with 1 brand new Nintendo DS
Lite, and 2 used games for it (we get a 10% bonus OFF used games, so
I'd rather do that- plus they're cheaper to begin with!), and I only
That REALLY makes the cost of those systems MUCH better. I fully
intend to wait until Black Friday for the next one, and hope I get a
good deal on it, and then... well, that's a HUGE chunk of Christmas
On top of that, though, I also have a few other things set aside
that I've already picked up-
3 microplush blankets I found on sale for $6 each, one for each kid.
1 Fisher Price StarStation to Go that I found for only $5 at an
outlet store for a department store (these sell for $25-30 brand
new) for our youngest (it's basically a faux MP3 player, BIG and
Chunky, with music cartridges)
2 StarStation Cartridges I got off eBay for $15 after shipping-
Walmart sells them for $10.47 each.
3 Magazine Subcriptions I got on eBay- one for each child at MUCH
cheaper than list price.
I'm MUCH further ahead than I planned to be right now, but hey, if I
could get the little stuff here and there, and then the big stuff
later (except well, the 1 DS I got already), then I think it'll go
smoothly for me.
I know- no where near budget friendly, but I looove that I was able
to get the DS & 2 games essentially for only $2 today.