Elf on the Shelf (for Money)

One of the “traditions” many families do every Christmas is play Elf of the Shelf with their children. The “game” consists of buying a book, which has an Elf included with it. The parents put the Elf in different places, and the children must go find him (her?).

Should you wish to buy an Elf, here is a link

Evidently this Elf goes back to the North Pole every night and reports back to Santa if the kids have been naughty or nice (think of it like Santa’s version of the NSA). To me this is a pretty darn creepy looking elf, and I am not really sure what it is teaching our kids, but if you read the Wikipedia entry for the game you might get a hint.

Suppose we had a Financial Elf on the Shelf™ might that help us control our Festive Christmas Spending? Better still how about this idea, knowing how our friend Gail Vaz-Oxlade hates over-spending, how about a Financial Gail on the Shelf™?

If every time you came back from shopping there was a small Gail Vaz-Oxlade waiting for you, that simply said, “What did you buy this time? Could you afford that?”, and every night she went back and reported to “Santa” on whether you were good financially or not? (and if you were naughty Santa cut up your credit cards).

Better still, the Gail on the Shelf can also go into your wallet and replace your credit cards with cards that say, “You Cannot Afford this!” and a picture of Gail wagging her finger?

An Excellent Photo for the Replacement Credit Cards

I think I could make a pretty penny selling this (of course I’d have to give Gail royalties as well). Have I missed the point on this odd new Christmas “tradition”?


Christmas Quickies

I know you all have to rush around and get all your Christmas shopping/carnage/guilt in high gear so here are some quick ones for you to think about while you are shopping.

Getting a Good Deal on something you don’t need isn’t saving money. 
Thank BroTips for that one.

Christmas go for the Holiday but don’t end up  unable to pay
Stop overspending for Christmas maybe

Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more…
Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas 
I believe he is commenting on overrunning your credit cards in this case.

In suggesting gifts: Money is appropriate, and one size fits all.
William Randolph Hearst
He must have been commenting on Gift Cards

Oh, for the good old days when people would stop Christmas shopping when they ran out of money.
Author Unknown
Very topical, and maybe you should be paying cash?

When the Christmas Lights are brighter than the street lights, you might want to tone it down.
Brotips again
A lot to be said for demure lighting

Christmas is the season when you buy this year’s gifts with next year’s money
I think that is where we will end the sermon for today

Keep some of these in mind when you are out there trying to find the perfect cheese straightener.

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Give Ca$h not Gift Cards for Christmas

There does seem to be a backlash going on against the Gift Card industry this Christmas season, and I ( for one ), like it. Preet B. wrote about it yesterday in the Globe and Mail, however, I have said this all along. Why is there a stigma about giving cash and no stigma giving a gift card?

I asked my Christmas Gifting expert, Mrs. C8j and she said the big thing about cash is it seems like a Lazy Present (i.e. you didn’t feel like spending some time to find a nice present).  While I understand the sentiment about cash, I again say why are Gift Cards being viewed as “just fine” then?


Gift Cards, Cash

This is more personal than Cash? It’s at a Loblaws!

I can buy a gift card at my Loblaws for pretty much any store, in fact, I can do that at most Gas Stations now, why is that more personal than Ca$h?

Cash on the other hand, you usually have to go to a Bank to get. Banks are very exclusive, yes they may be open 7 days a week, but they close a lot more than most stores (and certainly more than most Gas Stations).

If you give Cash, you know it will get used, if you give a Gift Card, do you know how many gift cards never get completely used? I have no idea, but I am sure it is a huge number. Cash is friendly, fits in your wallet just like a gift card, and it has a picture of the Queen on it (or other important Canadians).

Give Ca$h this year, for Christmas.


Things to Buy on Black Friday

Black Friday has become Black November, and the orgy of spending being done in the name of Christmas is getting very much out of hand. I never espouse spending for the sake of spending, so keep that in mind this Christmas season (don’t go for the Holiday and end up unable to pay (that rhymes)).

With that in mind here are the kinds of deals you should be looking for on Black Friday, or Cyber Monday, or Black Autumn.

    1. Anti Virus Software for 3 computers for less than $12 , I have seen it in so many places that if you are still renewing your anti-virus stuff auto-magically, you are a fool (there I said it). I have talked about the Anti-Virus Tricks going on, so this shouldn’t be anything new to my regular readers.
    2. If you need memory cards (USB Flash, or SD Memory) or the like, that is a useful thing to get, since you always are going to need more storage for your Digital Camera, Tablet, or for back up. For that matter look for a 1 TB external backup drive for your laptop because backing up your data is really important.
    3. If you can find a copy of Quicken on sale, buy it! No time like now to start working on your Christmas budget and track your spending.
    4. A Christmas Fruitcake, start a new tradition, give a fruitcake to someone you particularly don’t like, but still have to buy a present for, and see if they are any the wiser.

      Another Fruit Cake

      Oh Joy! Fruitcake!

    5. A really big garbage can if it’s on sale, to put all the crap you will end up accumulating over the holidays. It’s important to be able to deal with the new crap you will be receiving.


The Real Price of Christmas

For most of us, it is back to work day today (some lucky folks got to work through the holidays, and for those folks, you have my sympathies), let’s all remain calm and get through this short week without too much drama or excitement (let us not speak of any Financial Cliffs/Ridge/Escarpments or the like, or if we do, in hushed tones).

Totals, Totals, Totals

Totals, Totals, Totals

So Christmas the season and holiday is over, how much did it cost? In terms of time and aggravation, I can’t really help on quantifying that but here are some important things to remember to have in your total (in case you want to budget for next year):

  • All presents bought, which is easy most people would have that at the top of their list. Do you have all the receipts? Why not?
  • Holiday gratuities should be included, if you tip your: doorman, paperboy, garbage man, mailman, etc,. etc., etc.,
  • If you traveled to see loved ones, the cost of travel (gas, hotels, etc.,) is part of that total
  • Did you eat out more often? Maybe you should add those extra meals in your totals
  • Did you have to pay someone to watch your house, your dog, your cats, or the like?
  • How much did you drink? Did you buy a lot of booze?
  • Did you have a party? Did you buy new clothes for the party? Food for the party? This can add up
  • Did you have visitors? Did you buy a lot more food for these visitors? Did they overuse your Internet access and do you have overage payments?

What should you do with this total? Sit there and fixate about it and make your life miserable? No! Simply take the total  divide it by the number of pay cheques until next Christmas (if you are paid bi-weekly, let’s say 24), and that is how much money you should put away per pay cheque for next year, Voila, problem under control.