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? 

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Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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