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

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!

3 thoughts on “Our $100 Christmas — or how to stretch your budget by buying used

  1. Deb

    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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