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Is There Ever a Reason to Blow Your Christmas Budget?

Really $22 for this and that’s cool?

As you may know, I am working very hard toward paying off debt and staying within a budget for the first time ever. We’ve been doing really well. We haven’t gone overboard with Christmas presents and have used rewards points, bartering, or baking for most of what we’ve done so far. However, I went out to lunch with a co worker this week and what I saw caused me to blow my Christmas budget.

First of all, since I don’t go out for lunch, I was terribly excited to get to go to my favorite lunch place, Once Upon a Sandwich. It was even better that I had to meet with my insurance biller to discuss end of the year details. It was a business lunch and didn’t cost me a thing. Our table was by a Christmas tree that had one lone ornament. The “ornament” was actually a piece of red construction paper cut out in the shape of a stocking. On it was written:

Boy Age 14

Fallen /DC or Graphic T-shirts Size M/L

Jeans 30/30

The tree was for selecting a child to adopt for Christmas. This particular one was for children in foster care, and this was the last one remaining. I had originally planned on adopting a child for Christmas but had completely forgotten. We try to do this every year, and usually the child asks for some sort of toy, electronic, or gift card. I’ve never seen one who wanted T-shirts and jeans.

The restaurant owner saw me looking and said aloud the comment that I was thinking, “Can you believe all he asked for was clothes?” She then went on to tell me that she and her husband had been foster parents before adopting their daughter. She said kids show up with nothing, sometimes after being picked up from school and told they aren’t going home. The foster parents get money to buy necessities, but I’m sure the clothes aren’t the latest and greatest. I am actually against expensive, trendy clothes for the most part, but right then and there I was determined to find a DC or Fallen T-shirt, whatever the heck that was.

After searching my good friend Google, I found out that these are brands of skater clothes. Since I live in Tinyville, USA, there is only one store that sells those in our town, the local bike store. Ideally, when purchasing something specific like this, I would look online or go to TJ Maxx, but I only had a few days until the gifts were due, so shipping was out. TJ Maxx type stores are an hour’s drive, so that would take at least 4 gallons of gas and probably a stop for lunch or dinner.  Plus, the forecasters are predicting up to a foot of snow this weekend :) We need snow, but I’m not planning a road trip during a winter storm.

I then did something that will make some of you cringe. I went to the bike shop and spent $70 on black, baggy shirts with designs that look like graffiti. I will also go to Wal-Mart and pick up some jeans and probably a gift card.

Will having the horrifically ugly latest style in clothes change this kid’s life in any sort of positive way? Probably not.  Am I contributing to a societal problem by paying ridiculous prices for a logo that was likely made for $.37 in China? Yes, but if you are in foster care, that means your parents are either dead or unable or unwilling to care for you in a very basic way. There is likely no one around to help this kid develop any sort of sense of self worth to know that you don’t need expensive clothes to achieve happiness in life. If he can open this gift and feel like maybe he’s a little closer to being one of the cool kids for five minutes of his life, then I’d do it over again in a heartbeat.

Do you think there is ever a reason to pay for overpriced clothes?  Should I have just gotten some shirts at Wal-Mart? 

Also don’t forget that you can still enter for the chance to win $100

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.

50 comments

  1. If that’s exactly what the kid wanted, I think there’s a value in getting it for him. That was his one wish. If you had more time, I bet you could have found it at TJMaxx or ebay or something for less, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.

    I had a similar wish tag a couple of years ago, where the kid wanted a Nike Hoodie. The new ones in the Nike store were crazy expensive (like yours ~$70), but with some digging at TJMaxx, I was able to get him two different Nike hoodies for ~$35. I wrapped it in a huge box (hoodies are big when you fold them up) and I hoped it brought him so much joy on Christmas morning.
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..Life’s A Marathon – Where Are You At?My Profile

  2. Generally there’s not, but that said I believe that I’d do the same thing you did. Like you said, you’ll probably make the kids day or even week for getting it for him. Sure, you could’ve gotten him some shirts at Wal-Mart, but probably would not have meant as much. I too am amazed that a toy was not the request.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Frugal Friday: Posts That Ruled This Week, Where Did the Week Go EditionMy Profile

  3. I think it was absolutely okay to pay for overpriced clothes in this situation. Honestly, the boy deserves it. Good for you for buying him it!
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..5 Signs You Need a New Job and 3 Things to do about ItMy Profile

  4. I don’t think you should’ve gone to Walmart today. This teenager will appreciate that you got them exactly what they asked for, and will think of your kindness every time they wear it.
    Derek @ Freeat33 recently posted..Nobody likes a know it allMy Profile

  5. Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom

    This post makes me sad that foster care needs to exist. As a mother I can’t imagine the possibility of not caring for my childrens physically, emotional, and psychological needs. Thanks for being a special light to a hurting boy.
    Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom recently posted..You’ve just won 1 million dollars! No Thanks…I thinkMy Profile

  6. I would have done exactly the same thing in your shoes.

    Someone very close to me is a foster parent, and I have seen what she goes through and does for these children. You really did a great thing, you really did.
    Mackenzie recently posted..Link Love: TGIF Edition!My Profile

  7. What a great thing you did, Kim! And the way you wrote about the experience really breaks my heart. :(
    L Bee and the Money Tree recently posted..Cheap Ways to Enjoy the HolidaysMy Profile

  8. Did you have to use credit? Borrow from your future self? It was worth it. You definitely did the right thing.
    Kathleen, Frugal Portland recently posted..One Unintended Perk of Writing a BlogMy Profile

  9. I think that kid probably very rarely gets something he asks for. I think what you did is going to make him feel really good on Christmas morning. I can’t think of a better reason to break budget.
    Jane recently posted..Happy New Year KatieMy Profile

  10. It’s a great thing that you did and I don’t think there is an issue with it. Sure, it’s ridiculous that t-shirts cost that much, but it’s the time to give and bless other people. It’s hard for us to get over our frugal mindsets, but it’s tough to put a price on things of this nature.
    Jason recently posted..How Do You View Your Money?My Profile

  11. Well, seeing how just about everything is made in China, makes all clothing overpriced if you really think about it. The t-shirts people buy in stores for $25 cost no more than a few bucks to make – the rest is markup. I think you did the right thing because it’ll help the kid feel better for a while. Kids need to be taught better, but doing it at this time of festivity might be a bad idea.
    Veronica @ Pelican on Money recently posted..LinkLuv Friday Missing Persons EditionMy Profile

  12. This is the BEST reason to blow your budget! Honestly, if we don’t have a heart for those who is less fortunate situations, what are we doing?
    Jacob @ iheartbudgets recently posted..What Does $1 Mean To You?My Profile

  13. Yes this is a good reason to break your budget! It will probably make his day.
    krantcents recently posted..How Are Your Soft Skills?My Profile

  14. I think this is a great idea. Maybe you could have saved by buying something cheaper but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..The VIP Club Roundup – 13th EditionMy Profile

    • No, it really does not. That $70 really isn’t going to affect me at all, but hopefully this kid will get something he wouldn’t normally get, even if it is frivolous.

  15. Kim, I would have done the same thing. At least this shows the child that good things can happen. Yes, you could have purchased cheap clothes, but sometimes getting what you want is a huge morale booster, something this kid probably really needs.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..Weekly Personal Finance Blog RoundUp – 12/14/2012My Profile

  16. I’m pretty much with everyone else here. If it was my kid (or one of my nephews) I probably wouldn’t get them something that trendy/expensive. But since this kid is in foster care, I’m guess he hasn’t had the greatest life, so one little splurge will probably mean a lot to him.

    • Right. I could explain to my daughter why we wouldn’t buy a $25 shirt, but lots of kid’s parents must because that’s what they wear.

  17. Far better that you got him what he wanted rather than a cheap shirt from Walmart – I don’t think he would have appreciated it nearly as much.
    CF recently posted..Using Debt Calculators To Accelerate Your Debt RepaymentMy Profile

  18. I bet you he is not expecting that he will actually receive that based on his situation, but that will just make it a whole lot more special and magical for him when he opens your gifts. That is very sweet of you to do all of that for him.
    Tackling Our Debt recently posted..Friday’s Circle of Friends – December 14My Profile

  19. I think you did the right thing. You have probably given the kid the best christmas ever now! It means so little to you or I, but so much to them. :)
    Savvy Scot recently posted..Change Your Life – Step 9 Find YourselfMy Profile

  20. All I know about DC is that is Rob Dydek’s brand. I’m not much for skater culture, but man, that guy knows how to hustle!
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..7 Ways to Stay Warm in the Winter for CheapMy Profile

  21. I would have done the same thing I think. But he will outgrow them in months and be left without cool shirts. I buy fake Abercrombie for my brother and he can’t tell the difference. My main reason to overspend on Christmas is guilt to buy a cheaper present or something not good enough.
    Pauline recently posted..Friday recap, mentoring and time managementMy Profile

  22. Good for you!! On one hand, I don’t like the “brand names” either, but you make an excellent point about kids in foster care – I agree, this purchase was worth it.
    Elizabeth @ Broke Professionals recently posted..Fight the Winter Blahs with a Free or Cheap Getaway – Here’s HowMy Profile

  23. I think you did exactly the right thing under the circumstances! A 14 year old wants a certain brand that he likes, not stuff from Wal-Mart. And that’s okay~ he’s 14! I think it was a wonderful way to (over)spend your Christmas budget and bring the Christmas Spirit into the life of a kid who needs it! I’m sure it will bring him a lot of joy! Bless you~

  24. This is awesome!! As a purveyor of such fashions for a long time, I think $22 is pretty darn reasonable and like that you did opt for a bunch :-) There’s about six of those skater shops in my version of tinyville… that’s one of the only styles of clothing you can buy! Work clothes, not so much.

    Well done :-)
    Anne @ Unique Gifter recently posted..Super Creative Gift Idea – One of a Kind!My Profile

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