Jorien (36) is married to Jan-Dirk (38) and the mother of Kate (9) and Siem (11).
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“In the weeks after Christmas, I make my first move. Then I already buy Christmas napkins and tablecloths and balls for the following year. Many stores will price off all their Christmas stuff after December 26, just great. I store those things in the attic, behind the special Christmas bulkhead. Mama’s treasure room and a no-go for the kids, because of all the stacked gifts. Because I prefer to buy those throughout the year when I see an offer or something nice on Marktplaats. Because I put a lot of Christmas gifts under the tree, it is nice if I can spread the purchases. Even though I do the biggest Christmas expenses at the end, because then garden centers have their special Christmas sections and, if possible, I visit at least two German markets, where I fill my baskets drooling.
My husband Jan-Dirk and I have quite a generous income. We have been lumping our salaries together for twenty years. Dirk works full-time as a chef in a company restaurant and earns 2,400 euros, I work 24 hours as a management assistant at the municipality and earn 1,250 euros. Our housing costs are quite low at 575 euros, because we have saved and paid off a lot during our childless years.
We lead an easy life. Not lavish or overly luxurious, but carefree. We spend about 250 euros per week on food. I usually do the shopping, without a budget. When I don’t feel like cooking, we order something tasty or we go to our favorite pizzeria and every Saturday I get good Limburg flan.
Good for the wallet
In terms of gadgets and clothing, I am more sober. I don’t have a dryer, our TV is already a few years old and I spend up to 50 euros per month on clothes for myself. I do not attach much value to brands: pants should mainly look nice and sit comfortably. I also don’t give in to the children’s arguments that the whole class is wearing so-and-so shoes. They can indicate which model they like best, but I decide.
I don’t worry about paying 200 euros for shoes for children’s feet that are still growing. On average, I spend 350 euros per child per year on clothing and I pay for that entirely from the child benefit. There are some outliers when it comes to a new winter coat for a hundred euros or shoes for 60 euros, but I also feel free to buy second-hand. And I also put their beautiful-looking clothes for sale on Marktplaats. Not only good for the environment, but also for my wallet.
Even now that we have children, Dirk-Jan and I save quite a lot. Both for the short term – holidays, outings, birthdays – and the future – study of the children and our old age. The latter is a fixed amount. Each month 600 euros automatically flows to the blocked savings account, which already contains 86,000 euros. A small fortune, but studying is not cheap and we also want to give the children their driving license later.
In addition to our fixed savings goal, we deposit the credit that we have left in our private account after deducting household money and fixed costs, plus extras such as holiday pay and bonuses. We do this in a regular savings account, which we can access right away. Now there is 1,790 euros on it, but one month is more than the other. For example, these past months we have barely saved anything, but that was my fault.
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I admit it readily: I will pass when it comes to December. For me really the most wonderful time of the year. That stems from my childhood. My parents used to be very generous with gifts and I can still remember that magical feeling. The decorated pine tree, all the lights in the garden and wake up in the morning and see all those beautifully wrapped packages and look forward to the unwrapping party. I wish the same for my own children and I create that by means of two amazing Christmas trees, meter-long cables of outdoor lighting and a lavish mountain of gifts.
Not that my kids are that much Christmas fanatic, you know. Kate likes to go to the garden centers, but will drop out when the tree needs to be rigged. She also finds the red-green flickering Santa Claus in front of the door funny during the day, but at night she complains that it shines too much in her room. And Siem grumbles that his football table is moving to the garage because there must be a Christmas tree. But all in all, they love the cosiness in the house and the many gifts are obviously very popular.
Expensive and time consuming hobby
Well, as long as we also save and normally live fairly frugally, I think it should be possible. Dirk-Jan runs fast, which costs a pair of new running shoes of 200 euros per year. He also has a season ticket from a football club. I don’t do any of that. I ‘Christmas’. I see it as an expensive and time-consuming hobby.
In addition to the money I spend on it, it also takes a lot of time. In any case, the shopping itself, but also packing, I spend a week every evening doing that. After that it takes me a lot of hours to arrange the presents under the tree. On Christmas Eve itself, unpacking also takes a few hours. I am gleaming with pleasure. I enjoy those delighted little faces of the children and gloat about the enthusiastic reactions of my family to what I have found for them. And yes, that’s a lot. Very much. From watches and espresso cups to barbie houses and half the assortment of the perfume shop.
Economical again in January
For this interview, I calculated what I spent last year on Christmas decorations and gifts. I was shocked, because I estimated it at least a third less. Normally I never keep track of it exactly, but now I came to the bizarre amount of more than 3000 euros.
Jan-Dirk called me completely insane when I confessed that. Fortunately, we don’t really argue about it. He sees it as an outrageous indulgence of mine, but it sometimes annoys him. Jan-Dirk has the banking app for our joint account on his phone and literally sees every debit. As soon as he sees the name of a toy store or garden center in the description, I always get a ‘is that necessary?’ followed by a deep breath.
He has stopped calculating how much fun we could have been on winter sports for that amount. After a relationship of twenty years, he is now used to something. He knows that in January I will be myself again and will save and live frugally. Until I encounter the first advantage that I absolutely cannot miss. For Christmas next year. ”
This article has previously appeared in Kek Mama.
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