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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holiday Spending Guide

Each holiday season we are confronted by a daunting issue: how much money should we spend on gifts?  How do you know if you’re spending enough? A hint that you are spending too much is when you get slapped around by a fat guy in a bowling shirt sent over by the collection agency.  We have developed an effective and simple formula that will insure that you don’t come out looking like a cheapskate while stimulating this rather sluggish world economy.  There are many levels of guilt working against you during the Christmas holidays, all of them barking at you to spend a staggering amount of money, most of which you don’t have. Fiscal prudence may be a nice campaign slogan for the Tea Party crowd but on an individual level it goes against everything we hold true as Americans.  We have worked in conjunction with two of the country’s leading economic think-tanks to arrive at a simple, sensible, and economically viable blueprint for gift shopping.

We start with a universal starting point for all households. For this figure simply take your annual income and double it. I told you that it was simple—at least at first.  If you have a roommate, empty out his/her wallet/pocketbook every time they come home too-drunk-to-notice during the month of December. Get them something but don’t go overboard or you’ll defeat the purpose of stealing from them for a month straight.  If you don’t have a roommate to steal from you’ll have to find some other victimless crime to get more cash. I suppose this goes without saying but under no circumstances should your holiday shopping cut into your holiday drinking budget.

If you are in the doghouse in your relationship you’ll need to double that figure again.  If your girlfriend has ever asked you, “Do I look fat in this dress?” and it has taken you more than 0.87 seconds to reply “No, you look great,” add another $80 to the total.  Tack on another $75 if you forgot her birthday or your anniversary (And yes, it’s your anniversary, too, even though you don’t care). Women, please add $100 if you think about Brad Pitt every time you do the deed with the anti-Brad Pitt your friends call your other half.

If you have children add an extra $50 for every time you promised to take them to the water park but didn’t because you were too busy sitting around in a filthy t-shirt watching a fishing show.  Add an extra $100 if you decided you were too drunk to drive them at 09:00 on a Saturday morning (Don’t forget to get something for your AA sponsor this year!).  I realize that you don’t think it’s a big deal if you forget one of their names but it may be important to them.  Add $20 every time you referred to one of your offspring as “what’s-his-name” in their presence.  And remember that even if you’ve spent more time this year picking your kid up from the emergency room or the police station than proudly standing by while they receive some honor, you still need to buy a bunch of crap for them—gift buying has a lot more to do with stimulating the economy than personal merit.

You know what people say; you can’t put a price tag on human happiness.  Or do they say that you can’t get a refund on human happiness without a receipt? Or is it something about the price of happiness and how it’s more expensive these days? It’s probably made in China. Anyway, you need to suck it up, get more checks printed, get another credit card, and get out there and start spending.

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