4 November

Reining it in

Sticking to your budget requires discipline:

  • Don’t buy a present that’s over budget unless you’ve already made the savings elsewhere.
  • Don’t buy dubious presents early in November: you may come across something better later.
  • It is okay to buy dubious presents late in November but only if you promise yourself that you won’t replace the compromise present with something else at the last minute. (Buying twice is False Bargain #2.)
  • If you get a surprisingly good bargain, don’t feel obliged to add anything else: a good present is a good present even if it’s cheap.[1]
“Surprise me,” she said. “I’ve got you something you’ll hate,” I replied.

Of course, all of this is much easier if you have a very generous present budget.

“You won’t believe what Gertruda is giving us for Christmas!” Wendy said to me in an excited phone call at lunchtime. “A tropical island cruise! New Caledonia and Vanuatu! In suites with balconies!”

Gertruda, although stubborn (and, apparently, devious) is both well-off[2] and generous, which is a happy combination for both the giver and the receivers.

[1] My mother tended to do this. She’d buy a scarf for her sister and be worried that maybe it wasn’t quite right so she’d add a book and, although logic says that the combination should have felt like an even more generous gift, the extra book just telegraphed that she thought there was something wrong with the scarf.

[2] Although she’s not so heavily laden, now that she has sold most of her jewels.

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