Wine & Win: Holiday giving

Happy Winesday !! Wine & Win is where I discuss my money ‘wins’. The magnitude of the win itself is insignficant. Rather, it allows me the space to start fostering positive money moments (e.g. something learned, accomplished), as I jet set towards Debt-free day! Today’s Wine & Win is about HOLIDAY GIVING! But first, grab your glass of wine (or beer, or drink, or mocktail), play some holiday music in the background (if that’s your thing), and whip up some holiday cheer (required)…

Holiday giving is a timely topic seeing that Christmas is a mere 12 days away!!!  My initial giving strategy for this year had me  focusing on my Salvation army Christmas Angel ONLY and foregoing all presents for family and my fiancé. Simple, right?!  Here’s what actually went down…

As aformentioned,  my Christmas Angel was first on the Holiday giving list. The way it works is each child gets a “need”(full outfit: pants, shirt, shoes) + a “want” (Santa wishlist). I picked the card at random and got a 10 year old boy who likes action figures/toys, but is also at the awkward stage of  being in men’s size clothing. And boy oh boy (no pun intended) was I at a loss ! I’m not a ‘girly girl’ by any means, but I also have about 0% boy in me, unless growing up with a little brother counts for anything… I initially set out on a mall trip solo and left with NOTHING. I couldn’t decide what would be appropriate and was completely indecisive.

The next week my fiancé took the trip with me and was a much better Santa than me! He picked out the coolest Star Wars toys, the nicest  pair of Nikes (and a great deal!), and a pant size I could have never found on my own (men’s clothing is VERY confusing for me!). The whole experience was so gratifying and in total only left a $130 dent on the wallet. I don’t have any regular charitable donations set up currently, so this all felt very manageable in terms of price point.

Around the time of shopping, I informed my fiancé that I was not planning on buying anyone Christmas presents this year besides my Christmas Angel. To this news, he expressed that he was planning to get me a gift and would appreciate a small thought as well. Actually, he first asked for the Nintendo switch(?) I think it’s called, but I told him that was way out of my price range.

The 5 Languages of Love, ever heard of it ? Well, my #1 is Acts of Service, meaning that for me the way I feel most loved/appreciated is by having my partner helping out (e.g. chores, helping shop for Christmas Angel !). My  LAST love language is Gift giving, which means that although I enjoy a good gift ( I mean c’mon who HATES getting a gift?), it’s not my end all be all. My fiancé on the other hand has Gift giving as one of his top love languages, hence his strong desire to exchange Christmas gifts 🙂 .

I had to put myself in his shoes and think about the consequences. What will a $30 gift do to my debt free /financial long-term goals? The honest to goodness truth is, drum roll…  nothing. If giving gifts was equally unimportant to my partner, we could come to a mutual agreement and skip gifts. But, the reality is that exchanging gifts IS meaningful to him and why engage in strife or knowingly sabotage a moment that should be happy and joyful. Further, his mom and great aunt are visiting Florida this holiday season and I know he is looking forward to spending time and opening gifts together. They have not had a Christmas holiday with eachother in over a decade!

This long winded backstory is nearing a conclusion (soon-ish)! I chose a gift that was practical and fun, particularly for Winesday ;). I bought him an wine aerator , as well as a wine preserver. I may also tag on a [cheap] bottle of wine and some chocolates (max $10 more), but that’s not yet decided. For now, I’ve spent exactly $28.90.

Then, the gates of Holiday giving flooded open!  I decided to send out gifts to my immediate family too (Mom, Dad , younger brother). Everyone gets something small in the price range of $15-$35, similar to my fiancé. Gifts that are small, genuine, and packed with love !

Last on my holiday giving list are my grandmother (she’s 93!) and nephew. They’ll each get $20. My grandmother is still driving and one of her greatest joys is heading out to coffee and breakfast, so a little cash can give her that experience even though I live too far away to join her. And my nephew is 7 years old and as I earlier alluded to, I do not know ‘boy stuff’. So, with good ol’ cash he can buy what he likes.

The remainder of holiday giving will be in the form of food and drink! We are having a Puerto Rican Christmas this year, so it’s really out of my hands to plan the meal and its accompanying budget. I know we will all be pitching in and honestly it’s not about the money. We have been through quite a year (e.g. them Hurricane Maria, us moving Miami –> Tampa) and celebrating with some good food and drink and family is the best way to ring out this season of life!

Total Holiday Giving Costs :

Christmas angel : $130 

Fiancé : $30 [Wine themed gift] + (TBD) $10 [chocolate and/or bottle of wine]

Dad: $15 [Playing cards. He has a side hustle as a magician!]

Mom: $25 [Hand cream + Sampler perfume set. The hand cream is  helpful for the brutal New England winters and the samples are light scented and perfect for travel. ]

Younger Brother: $35 [A Swell bottle since he left his Nalgene at my house after Thanksgiving. Poor graduate students have a special place in my heart.]

Grandmother: $20 cash

Nephew (Older brother’s son): $20 cash [If/when younger brother has children someday, I’ll follow the same rule of gifting kids over adults]

Total : $250

So, why is this even a win? Obviously, it’s not a ‘win’ because I did some uber amazing job of getting cheap/Free gifts. $250 is no minor drop in the bucket when I still have approx. $11,000 I’m hoping to pay off by March(ish) 2018. However, what makes this a win is that I overcame my miserly/greedy ‘Scrooge’ moment. I was focused only on myself and my goals (debt-free), without considering other’s feelings, particularly my fiancé. I credit him for making me step outside my super focused mindset of debt pay-off and think of my loved ones.

Now, there are important caveats to the decision I personally came to with this year’s Holiday giving. I don’t think gift giving should come at the detriment of foregoing necessary expenses (i.e. rent, electricity, car payment) NOR should gift giving cause debt that can not be reasonably paid off (reasonably for me means always carrying a $0 balance at the end of billing cycle…). Also, if my debt was at a higher interest (right now everything is 5% or less) it may have precluded the spending approach I took.

However, debt (high interest or low interest, credit card, student loan, car, etc.) should NOT stop anyone from living their best life. As always, ‘living’ is a relative word. I’m not suggesting that someone deeply in (Fill in the blank type) of debt is entitled to a free for all “Treat yo’ self” Holiday season. But, should they be prohibited to give a [small] gift to their loved ones if that is something they personally value?

Finally, giving is not a one size fits all. Although my giving this year comes in the form of new ‘material’ items, there are plenty of used or refurbished items that may be of even better quality than that new stuff ! Also, there are numerous options for gift giving aside from “things” such as experiences, food, art, TIME.

Thus, the moral of this Wine & Win… don’t let debt stop you from the simple enjoyments of life, particularly one of the best feelings:  GIVING! One year ago at this time I was  essentially ignoring my debt. Now, I’m SO so SO focused on it (maybe even too much!). However, I’ve realized that sometimes I need to have a balance and dial back. My focus on debt is allowing me success, but, it’s not all about my debt, or my savings account, or my retirement, or every penny that my partner spends. I’m all about the Oxygen mask metaphor (help yourself before others), but with money there are a lot more gray areas. Having an open heart and mind should be ongoing no matter where you land on the wealth spectrum.

May this Holiday season bring you joy, peace, and merriment!  A great big Wisdebther HUG to YOU xo!

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