Confessions of a Cheap-Ass Santa

Confessions of a Cheap-Ass Santa - picture of Santa running holding bag over shoulder

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The holidays are approaching and I’m slowly getting cheaper as the days tick by.  This is mainly because I have spent most of my Christmas spending budget, and I still have a few people to buy for. (Gasp!)  I’m still not sure how I am going to swing the gifts for the few additional family members that are left on my list.  However, I have recently made a few genius strategic moves to put some breathing room back into my allotted Christmas spending budget.

Confession #1

The other day, I wrote about how I returned an art easel straight to hell Toys ‘R Us and got a full refund.  I did this because my boss gave me a free easel that her kids had outgrown.  I cleaned it up and it looks brand spanking new now.   I will have no problem passing it off as a gift from Santa on Christmas day.  It actually does have a small crack on it, but it’s nothing that a strategically placed sticker won’t fix. BOOM! Greg thinks I crossed the line from frugal to tacky with this move.  What do you guys think?  Savings: $48.14


Confession #2

EVERY SINGLE YEAR, I consider buying my boss this World’s Best Boss mug off of  Not only does it say “World’s Best Boss” on the front, but it also says Dundler Mifflin on the back – referencing the TV show, “The Office.” He loves that show.  However, my frugality reminds me that it is not necessary to buy him a separate gift since we all go in on a joint gift from the entire staff.  Also, we have so many damn mugs in our office already.  Do we really need another one?  Would he feel obligated to drink out of it?  Would he become secretly resentful of me?  Savings: $17

Confession #3

I got Greg’s Christmas present absolutely free!  (Does that still count as a present?)  Of course, I can’t tell you what it is because he will obviously be reading this.  But still, I’m proud of my creativity…especially because I budgeted money to spend on him and saved it instead.  Score!  Savings: approximately $100

Confession #4

I slashed $35 from my Christmas budget by removing everyone’s pets.  Seriously, is it really necessary to buy a bag of treats for everybody’s dog or cat?  Would they even realize it was a gift from me?  Do animals care if they get Christmas gifts?  Do I even care if they care?  Obviously, I don’t. Savings: $35

Confession #5

I was in charge of buying my boss’s Christmas present on behalf of all of the employees this year. We ended up with around $300 of pooled money. I put the $300 in cash in my bank account and bought their gifts on my credit card in order to rack up the credit card rewards. I feel so dirty!  Still, I do realize that I didn’t technically do anything wrong….and that it makes no difference.  If given the opportunity to earn rewards, this Cheap-ass Santa always chooses to do so.

So, there it is. I have bared my frugal soul and shared with you my deepest, darkest secrets. What special strategies have you employed to save money this year?  Are you feeling particularly cheap?  Or generous?  Please share by commenting below!


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  1. No offense to Greg, I think he’s wrong. Your kids are young enough that they probably don’t understand the difference between used gifts and new gifts.

    When they get older, it gets trickier, since you’ll want to make sure if one or two of them get new gifts, they all do. Gifting hand me downs to the youngest when the older kids get new stuff is definitely a cheap-ass santa mistake my parents made when I was old enough to understand the difference.

    1. I don’t think we’ll be able to get away with it when they are older. But for now, they don’t notice!

  2. We did a similar thing with a toy we bought for our daughter. It was a set of the ‘Little People’ within a castle or something like that. It was $29.99. Later my wife found it in great shape at a resell shop we frequent for $12. It was missing one of the little people. For an $18 savings, I know our 18 month old won’t even know the difference. Down the road this might be an issue, but when they’re small enough, I think it’s just fine.

    Now that The Office is ending, you’ll probably be able to find that mug for dirt cheap. Keep an eye on the clearance racks in a few months.

    1. I’m sure that your 18 month old wont notice one of the little people missing! I know mine wouldn’t.

  3. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the easel, especially as it’s going to a child. I know, that sounds bad doesn’t it? 🙂 We do stuff like that all the time. I would’ve done the credit card thing too…you were in charge of it and it’s not like you just pocketed the money.

    My confession…we’ve only bought our 10 month old 1 gift so far. I feel bad about that and we might get him something else. However, we’ve already received so much junk from our parents for him & will he really remember we were cheap to him? I’d rather save the money and use it on something for him that he’ll need/enjoy in the future.

    1. It is so hard to buy for a ten month old, though. If yours is like mine were, they couldn’t care less about gifts anyway.

  4. Who in the world buys gifts for other peoples’ pets? I guess my mom does buy treats for my dog every Christmas but I’ve never thought about (and never will) buy gifts for somebody else’s cat/dog. lol. Hopefully people don’t think I’m a bad person because of that…

    The credit card reward thing for your boss’s present is a little out there. I think it’s fine but I probably would have taken a shower when I got home from all of the dirt on my face. haha.

    1. I used to buy for people’s pets! And people still buy for my dog. Maybe it’s a regional thing.

      About my boss’s gifts-I did feel a little bad about it, but since I ordered part of their gifts online I had to put it on a credit card anyway.

  5. I feel so dirty after reading all those confessions. ha ha. I will be honest, I have never heard of anyone that buys Christmas presents for other peoples pets or presents in general. My one question, is Greg more excited about the cost savings or more worried because of the cost savings?

    1. I don’t know. He pretty much lets me do the shopping and stays out of the way. He’s going to love his gift, though!

  6. My parents buy gifts for our dogs…don’t hate.

    I’d be scared to buy a gift on a credit card and take the money, just for fear of people thinking I was shady!

    I also wanna know what Greg’s present is sooooo bad now.

    1. A couple of their gifts were bought online so I didn’t really have much of a choice anway!

  7. Haha, I am glad you didn’t purchase gifts for other people’s pets Holly. I don’t even get gifts for my dogs. I think that is crazy and unnecessary. I have enjoyed your frugal Santa confessions.

  8. Very nice! Honestly, I think you made some very wise choices and the money you saved definitely adds up. We got treats for our cat for Christmas, but I’m not about to get everyone ELSE’S cats gifts!

    1. I know! It’s crazy. I bet my dog gets 2-3 gifts this Christmas from other people.

  9. I think these are all genius ways to save money and I don’t think you should feel cheap at all! Also, this year was the first year I’ve bought presents for my pets, and I felt pretty silly about it, especially about saving it until Christmas day. They don’t know what Christmas is, so why am I waiting to give them gifts? I definitely don’t think you should feel bad about not buying gifts for other people’s pets.

    1. I used to buy for other’s pets! I dont know how it started….maybe because people bought for my dog?

  10. Can’t wait to see what Greg is getting! Seriously, you used to gift pets? It wouldn’t occur to me, but that is a great business idea! My presents list since I am away is reduced to 5 people so it will be a pretty cheap Christmas!

    1. Greg is getting something awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. I really don’t think you are being cheap as much as frugal. As far as the Boss gift, you may feel you are stuck. Change it up by giving cookies or something that is token and just say you thought he only needed so many cups.

  12. I think Cheap Ass Santa is really smart. I’ve run into a bit of a pickle myself this Christmas. For years, we haven’t exchanged gifts with my sister in law and her husband. We started it when they were having some financial troubles, and I actually prefer it that way. My sister and I do the same thing because we don’t need things and it’s just silly to exchange gifts. Anyway, they are doing pretty well now and sent us a Home Depot gift card that we received yesterday. I have nothing for them. I guess I have to get them something, but can I just regift something or is that incredibly tacky? Cheap ass advice appreciated.

    1. Do you have something you can regift? I dont know. I hate trading gift cards around so I feel your pain. I would probably just bite the bullet and send them a gift card of some sort.

      1. You know we thought about it and since we’ve already sent out their son’s gifts they know we didn’t have anything for them, so it would look more tacky to send something now. Hopefully, they will get the hint and not do anything next year. I do supply her and my nephew with free contacts and glasses plus exams. Of course, I get them at discounted rates, but I think maybe that is her way of saying thanks? I hope so anyway.

  13. I don’t think it’s tacky to give the easel that has a crack in it. I totally would have done the same thing! Kids can be rough with toys anyways; nothing is in pristine condition when it comes to kids 🙂

    1. That is so true. My kids are so hard on their stuff.

  14. I got no problem with the used easel, the thing is going to be a mes after a week or 2 anyways! I did this a couple years ago with my son’s snowboard/boots that I got gently used for Christmas. He was none the wiser.

    BTW, some of the best gifts my wife has EVER given me were also completely free. 😉

    1. I hope that he loves his free gift. I really think he will!

  15. I’m looking for some cheap-ass-santa tricks as we speak actually. I’ve also spent my budget (sticking to it!!) but like Kim, my father decided to send us a gift which he hasn’t done in year and I feel the need to oblige and mail him something but don’t know what!

    1. Parents are hard to buy for anyway. I usually buy my parents a restaurant gift card because they like to go out to eat.

  16. You feel so dirty lol. Mrs.CBB did the same she would collect all the optimum points at work when she had to buy gift cards for give-aways….might as well collect them rather than so no she didn’t have a rewards card. We wrap a treat for our dog every year and he tears the living crap out of it on the front lawn in the snow and loves it. We don’t buy for others. We just wrap a bag of treats we already have for him or a big bone. Thanks for sharing! Mr.CBB

    1. I totally agree that there is no reason to forfeit rewards if there is nothing unethical going on!

  17. Sharon Voskamp says:

    I agree with each and every statement here. I would do exactly the same things and I don’t consider myself to be cheap or frugal, just smart.

  18. Johnny @ Our Freaking Budget says:

    I think kids only really care about ripping off wrapping paper for the first few years. So no harm and no foul on the used easel.

    Christmas is the one time of year that I try to ease up on my frugality. But it usually doesn’t work very well. My biggest problem is that I don’t really like getting gifts. I LOVE giving people gifts, but my wife won’t accept that I’m pretty content with my current “stuff.” And when the money comes from both of your pockets anyway, it’s hard for me to justify it in my head. But my best medicine would be to shut my mouth, be grateful, and jump back on the normal budget horse next month.

    1. I don’t like getting gifts either very often. My favorite gifts are money and gift cards.

  19. I found myself cheering for you with each post. Heck yeah, 48 bucks! But they should have paid you to go back to that place! 🙂 In my opinion, every single one of these is an example of how frugality works, and how it works well. It gives you room to be generous with other things, and that’s the idea behind frugality.

  20. Heather Stephenson says:

    sent over by Mr. CBB
    I think you are awesome and now I don’t feel cheap for buying gently used items for my 11 month old son and 23 month old daughter (that’s right I am a crazy lady with kids less than 12 months apart and an 11 year old!). This Christmas has been mostly second hand from us as I know these kids get spoiled by grandparents and aunts and uncles. Besides they have sooo much already.
    I am also thrilled to have purchased a very gently used iPod touch for my 11 year old as even with the awesome Black Friday deals I just couldn’t justify spending $180 on a new one for my daughter when she is likely to drop it and or possibly loose it. I was able to purchase one for $70 – so much easier on my pocketbook!
    I have always been a “frugal” person as I refuse to pay full price for most things. This year has been a real eye opener being on a second mat leave in two years!!
    We buy treats for our pets and have a stocking which Santa fills for them (one stocking for all the animals) but I don’t buy for my nephew puppies and kitties…. I will feed them scraps from my dinner plate though 🙂

    1. Awesome, Heather! A second hand Christmas can be a great Christmas. I plan on buying even more second hand in the future….when my kids tastes get more expensive. The iPod touch is a good example.

  21. K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks! says:

    Holly, I’m with you on the easel. I would have done the same thing! I laughed out loud at Confession #4! It reminded me of how my mother would buy a Christmas card for my cat Piglet. I used to shake my head in wonder but it made her happy to do it.

    1. She got her a card? That is funny! Oh well, if it made her that happy when I suppose it’s worth it.

  22. Hahaha….love, love, love this post. I’m a cheap-ass santa as well because I’m always trying to figure out how to capitalize on my rewards, etc, in order to get the most Christmas bang for my buck. This year, over half of the gifts I bought ended up being free to me…score!

  23. I don’t know why you would feel guilty about using your credit card at all. As long as you have receipts, you did what you were supposed to. If anything, I would get cash mixed up more than spending on a CC. Plus, if you spend it on a CC you have two ways to verify your spending, not just the receipt.

    I have given used things as gifts before. Once I gave my mom about five books from the thrift store that were trendy and in great shape. There’s no way I would have afforded them new! She liked them 🙂

    1. Books are great to buy new anyway. There is no reason for a book to not have many lives! I think that is a great idea.

  24. I can relate to each of your budget friendly purchase decisions! Koodos to you to put them in print. Heck,I take most of the ‘freebies’ I get mailed during the year and put them into pretty containers in groupings,wrap them pretty and give them for gifts. Whoops!..Did I just say that outloud?

    1. Your secret is safe here, Susan. I personally like your strategy. People probably love those gifts anyway. It makes no difference.

  25. Christine Weadick says:

    I was aimed in this direction by our fave…. Mr CBB!! I save my airmiles and HBC points all the time for gift cards to use for my shopping. Last year between HBC and Airmiles I had $100.00 worth of HBC gift cards to use for my shopping. I use Canadian Tire money for gifts there as we are always getting more tools. And ,of course I shop sales!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Awesome! I love using rewards to buy fun stuff or gifts for others.

  26. Justin@TheFrugalPath says:

    Greg I’m sorry, but I don’t think it’s tacky. Your children will love the easel whether it was free or paid for. Plus they’ll be a lot happier down the road when they don’t have to worry about helping mommy and daddy pay for retirement.

    1. I totally agree. They will appreciate it when we aren’t a financial burden on them as we age.

  27. I think those are very clever ideas! I don’t know how old your kids are, but I imagine they might catch on one day…but for now..

    1. They are 3 and 1. I know I might not be able to get away with it forever!

  28. I woulda still bought the mug for my boss – maybe that’s all you needed for him to give you a raise 😛

    That same tip has just inspired me to fill my girlfriend’s stocking with her fave TV show merchandise….

    And I refuse to buy even my own pets christmas gifts – I would be pretty disturbed if anyone else bought my furry balls of inconvenience anything for Christmas!!

  29. Keep used books in mind as well. Amazon and B&N sell used as well as new. If it’s listed as like new or even many are new for a lot less $. I think your decision on the easel was a great choice. We do give our pets treats on Christmas-everyone else is getting something why not them? Babies are generally more interested in the pretty boxes than what is in them.

    1. Hey, I don’t blame you. I know some people love their pets the same as their own children!~

      I totally agree about babies. Neither of mine were the least bit interested in gifts themselves, but loved the wrapping paper and boxes!

  30. I think you’re definitely not cheap, you’re frugal. Spending money to get rewards from your credit card was a wise idea. One bad thing I’ve done is eat a bunch of samples at costco… several times.

  31. Thankfully our families aren’t big on Christmas, which helpss a LOT with the budget.

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  33. We have bought our pets gifts before but it’s usually stuff they need or we don’t usually buy like the more expensive food they like or toys we want to get them anyway. I don’t buy for other peoples pets though..that is too weird.

    I laugh at #5 because my cousins are coming to visit in March and my cousin has a credit card like that and when they went to buy their airline tickets everyone gave her their money and she paid for the airline tickets on her credit card. I laughed even more because I would have done the same thing!

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