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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

  5. 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.

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