Festive finances

Budget often is scrapped as Christmas nears

Posted: Sunday, December 25, 2005

 

  Kim Earll helps her husband Leith load Christmas supplies into their truck in the parking lot at Three Bears. Like some shoppers, they said they spent more than they planned this year. But its for family so its worth it, Kim Earll said. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Kim Earll helps her husband Leith load Christmas supplies into their truck in the parking lot at Three Bears. Like some shoppers, they said they spent more than they planned this year. But its for family so its worth it, Kim Earll said.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

With just three days left to find Christmas gifts, Thursday night shoppers in Kenai and Soldotna tallied what they thought this year’s gifts would cost, a total that appears to grow with gift shoppers’ age.

“A budget? What’s that?” said Jan Wright, 57, of Soldotna, as she loaded her vehicle with bulging bags in the Three Bears’ parking lot in Kenai.

Wright said she was only buying gifts for five people but expected to spend between $1,000 and $1,500 in gifts and about $200 on Christmas dinner when she and her family will likely go to a steak house.

A newly engaged couple found shopping at River City Books and Cafe, however, were gift shopping within a more modest budget.

Rachel Beatty, 18, of Sterling, said she expects to spend a little over $100 on gifts and another $50 dollars on food, slightly more than what she spent last year.

“It’s going up now, but I’ve added a new family,” Beatty said, referring to her future in-laws.

In addition, Beatty said that she is expanding the number of people within her family that she plans to buy for and relying less on her parents to do the gift shopping.

Her fiancé, Nathan Nash, 25, of Nikiski, was shopping within a larger budget of approximately $300. But Nash said he mostly budgets as he goes along. Rather than planning out how much he will spend, Nash said he periodically checks his bank account to make sure it still has money in it.

“I have a check I haven’t cashed yet, so I’m budgeting that in there, too,” he said.

At Trustworthy Hardware in Soldotna, a woman dangling two large leather duffel bags from her arm and poking through a pile of folded fish shirts suggested that her energy level might be more of a limiting factor than money.

Becky Flynn, 52, of Nikiski, said she was busy spending her husband’s bonus and expected to spend about $2,000.

As a young couple, she and her husband needed to watch what they would spend on gifts, but now she doesn’t really worry about a budget, she said.

“I go out and I get what I need,” she said. “Now that we’re older we have everything paid for.”

Robert Martin, 37, of Kenai, however, is dealing with the expenses of starting a new family, including hospital bills, and plans to spend less this year on gifts than last year.

“You caught me on the final stretch,” Martin said.

Most years Martin spends up to $1,000 on gifts, but this year he is spending approximately $600, he said.

“I pretty much budget and try to stay within that portion,” he said. “But it’s easy to get carried away if you’re not careful, especially if you’re carrying plastic.”



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