## About Clark Griswolds Swimming Pool From Christmas Vacation

One of my favorite Christmas movies is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  I laugh pretty much from start to finish at that movie.  It’s hard to believe that it’s almost thirty years old (which is why this post is full of spoilers).  But then again, it is most definitely a holiday classic!  A major plot point is that Clark wants to surprise his family with a swimming pool.  He has already paid the deposit, but needs his end-of-year bonus to cover the outlay.  A nagging question I’ve always had, as a personal finance blogger, is whether the Griswolds swimming Pool ever got installed.

Let’s run some numbers.

The movie came out around 30 years ago, so all the numbers would be completely different.  So, let’s run some numbers based on today’s numbers.

As this is lighthearted and in good fun, these are just wild estimates.  It’s just a little playing around!

#### Cost Of A Pool

Clark shows a co-worker a brochure featuring an in-ground pool.  He had to put a deposit down.  I’m estimating that the pool costs around \$30,000, and that he had to put 50% down.

So, let’s suppose his outlay is \$15,000.

#### The Eventual Bonus: Pool Or No Pool?

Clark counts on the annual bonus to cover his deposit.  While at first he isn’t going to get a bonus, in the end he gets the bonus he got last year, plus 20%.  Say his bonus last year was \$15,000.  That would make this year’s bonus \$18,000.

All set, right?

Maybe not so fast.

While he ended up getting his bonus, there was a lot of damage from the happenings that took place during the movie.  Let’s run some (very highly estimated) numbers.

#### The Griswold Family Christmas Tree

On the way to get the family tree, Clark jumps over a snow bank and lands hard.  This had to cause some front end and suspension damage to the car.    \$1,500

After the tree gets home, he opens the oversize tree only to have it break two windows and a lamp.  I’m guessing \$750 per window and \$50 for the lamp.  \$1,550

#### Outside Christmas Lights

Clark loves his lights. Who doesn’t?  I love putting up lights, and always say that there is no such thing as too many lights.  Still, Clark takes it to the extreme.

I think that stapling the lights to the roof and siding is going to cause some unexpected repair come spring. He might have to repair or replace part of his roof\$2,500

During the install, he destroys a decorative reindeer and Santa.  \$50

Falling off the roof, he dislodges a gutter from his home that will need to be replaced. \$250

Let’s not forget that the electric bill will cost a fortune.  \$500

#### Cousin Eddie’s Contribution

Who doesn’t love Cousin Eddie?  He surprises Clark during the grand lighting.  Unfortunately, his presence means quite a few extra costs for the Griswolds

Clark offers to pay for presents for Eddie and the family when Eddie reveals they have no money.  \$500

Eddie destroys Clark’s package of light bulbs by slamming a bag of dog food on top of them in Walmart (this is just such a funny little touch that I had to add it). \$2

Eddie empties his RV toilet tank into the storm sewers.  This causes a buildup of gas, and there’s an explosion.  I’m sure there would be costs to repair this.  \$2,500

#### Animals

The animals that are part of the movie are also extremely expensive to the Griswolds.

Aunt Bethany’s cat electrocutes itself eating through a line of Christmas lights.  This will require the purchase of a new easy chair and re-carpeting the living room.  \$1,000

Cousin Eddie’s dog Snot yaks up a turkey bone.  From the sounds of it, a complete cleaning of the dining room rugs will be necessary.  \$100

Snot and the squirrel also knock down a china cabinet, destroying the furniture itself and all the dishes it holds.  \$1,000

The dog also bashes through a wooden door in pursuit of the squirrel.  \$100

#### Uncle Louis’ Cigar

Uncle Louis does love his stogie, doesn’t he.  Unfortunately, he torches the Christmas tree, and the fallout won’t be cheap!

Uncle Louis sets himself on fire, which Clark puts out with the living room drapes\$500

All of the decorations on the tree are likely destroyed.  They’ll need new ornaments and lights \$250

The fire will surely require the room to be repainted\$250

Luckily the carpet that also sustained damage is already accounted for from the cat. \$0

To replace the tree, Clark cuts a tree down from the yard.  This will have to be replanted in the spring.  \$250
Also, while cutting it down, he breaks the neighbor’s window \$750

#### Other Costs

There are a handful of other events that take place that have some costs as well.

Clark destroys his sled using his companies new non-stick product to help it slide down the hill.  \$10

A new newel post will be needed after Clark repairs it by cutting it off. \$100

The front door will need a new knocker after the ‘Jelly of the Month’ delivery man accidentally rips it off the door. \$10

While hiding presents in the attic, Clark fell through the bedroom ceiling, which will need to be repaired and painted.  \$250

There are always unexpected costs for Christmas, no matter what!

#### Maybe More

There were some other costs I debated on whether to include.  In the end, I decided not to.

I didn’t include the cost of the original tree.  You have to figure they were going to get that no matter what.

I didn’t include any damage that Clark did to other people’s property.  He destroyed a small building during his shed ride, and was responsible for some other damage.  Presumably, he got away with nobody finding out that it was him.Beyond the broken window noted above, he did much more damage to the house of Todd and Margot, his yuppie next door neighbors.  But, I’m not convinced that they can recover the cost of the broken window and destroyed stereo that Clark was responsible for while installing his outdoor lights.

So what’s the final damage?  According to the numbers above, Clark’s good old fashioned family Christmas would result in costs of \$13,922.

So, even if the extra 20% of his bonus gave him \$3,000 more than he’d been planning on, he’d still be over \$10,000 in the whole.

Maybe there’s a reason we never saw the follow up movie with the family at the new pool!  After all, having one of the hap hap happiest Christmases ever doesn’t come cheap!  Still, that would have been a funny movie!

### Readers, what do you think?

Is this one of the best Christmas movies ever?  Did I miss any costs?  And most importantly, did the Griswolds ever get their pool?  Let me know what you think in the comments below.

## Letting Go

Have you ever had something that you held onto that you knew you shouldn’t have?  Eventually the time came for letting go.  For me, the recent example of that was my old artificial Christmas tree.

### My First Adult Christmas Thing

I had the tree in question since 1996.  That was the year I graduated from college.  So, that holiday season, I bought myself my very first tree.  It was nothing special.  It was probably around 7′ tall and fit nicely in our small apartment.

This was in the days before pre-lit trees.  The tree was in layers.  Each layer had about 7 or 8 branches that you stuck into the pole.  They were all color coded at the end so you knew which ones went where.

The tree did well for me.  It went up every single year.  For all of the years when I was single, it was my only tree.  I originally had a snowflake theme where most of my ornaments were snowmen.

There was one year after a breakup that I was not much in the holiday spirit.  I still put up the tree and put the lights on.  I just didn’t put on the ornaments.

One of the cats that I used to have was a huge fan of Christmas.  She actually got excited when the boxes came out.  During the time the tree was up, her favorite spot was to lay underneath.  When it came time to put the decorations away, she would purposefully get in the way.  I know that she loved the tree, too.

It was always a very nice tree with a good shape.  Because it went on in layers, I could always get lights on very evenly.  I would put one layer of branches on, then put the lights on, and move upward.  This was a trick my dad taught me.  It allowed lights to go on further back in the tree, which is the secret to getting lots of lights on a tree and having it look good.

### Signs of Age

After we moved into our house, we got a bigger tree as our main tree in the living room.  Still, we started putting up multiple trees and this tree got relegated to the ‘second’ tree.  Then, we got a new tree for the family room and this became the ‘third tree’ that got put in the dining room.

By now, the tree was around 15 years old and was showing signs of age.  The tape on the box fell apart and had to be re-done.  A few of the branches were broken.  They had to be put towards the back.

The biggest issue was that the plastic needles started to fall off in mass quantity.  Putting up and taking down the tree literally covered the floor with needles.  In addition, one of the cats took a liking to licking up the needles.  Since they weren’t real, he’d throw up somewhere in the house.  I think he thought this was a fun game.  (It wasn’t)

The original stand that the tree came with broke.  The replacement stand never did the trick.  It held it up but the tree was always crooked one way or another.

### Finally Letting Go

My wife found a deal on a new tree and convinced me it was time to let go.  We got a tree that matched another one we have.  We definitely like the way it looks.  Maybe in 10-15 years this tree will hold some nostalgia.  But for now the new tree is the one that pushed out my history.  Even though it was time to go, it was still a forlorn moment to discard the tree.

Of course the tree did give me one last smile.  After the tree was taken out of the house, I grabbed the broom and dustpan, and swept up the trail of needles that fell from the box.

Thanks for the memories, old tree.

Readers, what have you let go of lately?

## 3 Ways We’re Streamlining And Saving On Christmas

The Christmas season is fully upon us.  We have finished our decorating and are getting ready for all the shopping, family gatherings, and seasonal activities.  A big part of Christmas has become gift giving.  This is true for us, especially with younger children.  Although we have our Christmas gift fully funded, we came up with some ideas to save us time and money.  Here are thee ways that we’re streamlining and saving on Christmas this year.

### Saving Time And Money On A Gift Exchange

On my wife’s side, there are six adults that exchange gifts.  Traditionally, we had a budget and list for both of my in-laws, plus my sister-in-law, as well as her boyfriend.  That was four people to buy for.  This year, we all agreed to a system where we drew names and each person will buy for one other person out of the four people not in our household.  This means that between my wife and I, we’ll only have two people to shop for instead of four.  This is also less gifts to wrap.  We also put a cap on the budget, which will save us around \$50 versus the budget we had previously in place to cover all four people.

When we signed up for our new cell phone plan, we got lots of Best Buy gift cards as we traded old phones in and signed for new plans.  We used a lot of these up front, but still ended up with some left over.  We plan on using these for some stuff for each other that Santa might get.  This will basically be allowing us to buy gifts using money we’ve already spent!  This will probably save us around \$100.

### Cutting Back On Each Other

My wife and I always joke about couples that have been married a long time who don’t get each other anything.  It

always seems to happen, but so far, we have stuck to buying each other a number of gifts.  Although we’re not giving up all gifts, we decided to both scale back.  This will allow us to start setting money aside for other long term goals.  It’s nice to give each other gifts, but we’re both realizing that having the money ready for other things is just as fulfilling.  This should save us at least \$200.

### Saving On Christmas: Time And Money!

We’re looking forward to just these three things making a difference on Christmas.  Together, this would save at least \$350, and maybe more.  It’s also less time spent on looking for gifts, wrapping gifts, and tracking the gift buying list.  That’s less stress, more money, and extra time.  For my money, those are some pretty worthwhile benefits.

## Christmas Checklist: The Early Edition

Christmas is, well, not right around the corner, but you would never know that from watching TV or going out to most national stores.  Even though we give Halloween and Thanksgiving their proper due, there are always things that are just unavoidable.  Here’s a quick Christmas checklist for our house.  I hope things are going well (but not too well *lol*) for you!

### Mid-November Christmas Checklist

•  Indoor Decorations Put Up: Zero. Although we sometimes put up our decorations the weekend before Thanksgiving, our calendar will keep us completely honest.  This year, we’ll be spending the days after Turkey Day getting the house full of festive cheer.
• Outdoor Lights Put Up: All of Them!  November in Michigan is kind of the tipping point between good weather and cold weather.  I like to get my lights up when it’s warm, which it has been here.  So, I hung the lights over the last few days!  Don’t worry, they aren’t on and won’t be until after Thanksgiving.  Good thing I hung them, as temperatures look to dip into the 40’s this weekend.
• Gifts Purchased: Two!  We bought our son and our daughter each a gift as we found sales that we couldn’t pass up.  Not a bad start.  I know some people like to shop throughout the year, but we know wants can change, especially with kids.  We also like to make sure that anything we buy can be returned if it’s not liked or a duplicate.
• Set Aside Money For Gifts: Complete!  Our monthly budget includes stashing money away, so that our budget is fully funded.  We pay for our gifts on credit cards.  This lets us take advantage of cash back rewards, but come January, they’ll be paid in full!
• Listened To Music: Nope!  My wife is usually guilty of flipping on the radio when some of the stations flip as soon as November 1st.  Not this year!  Summer weather seemed to run late, which has made for an abbreviated fall season, and she’s taking the time to enjoy it.
• Started Christmas Lists: Early For Us!  On our in-laws side, we’re taking a new approach to gift giving that will save a little money and make shopping a lot easier.  One of the stipulations is that we have to have our lists ready no later than Thanksgiving.  This is probably the earliest I’ve started my list!
• Dropping Santa’s name: Here and there.  It’s never too early to start dropping Santa’s name to the 7 and 5 year old kids, is it?  🙂

That’s our Christmas checklist as of mid-November.  So far as I can tell, we haven’t gotten fully immersed, but have gotten our toes just wet enough.  I think we’re in good shape!

Readers, have you started holiday planning in earnest or are you taking a ‘one season at a time’ approach?  What’s your normal get-ready-for-the-holidays strategy?  Let me know in the comments below.