Amazing how quickly Christmas and the Holidays come; the shopping and preparing anyway.
When I was young, one of my most memorable Christmas gifts was the year my mom gave my two sisters and me our favorite box of cereal and soda pop. They were real treats to us, as that was a huge splurge and we were thrilled.
Funny, that I never felt that we had less, or cheated, or ashamed. I think it was because I realized, even though young, that I was more important than ‘stuff’. When I say that I mean that I understood how critical it was to not over spend, especially on things that won’t last long, much less a lifetime anyway.
When Stan and I started our own family, we made the decision to not spend more than we had set aside for Christmas. And if we had an excess of money, it was better put toward a savings account or other ‘real’ needs and bills.
One Christmas many, many years ago, we had about ten dollars for the four kids Christmas gifts and that was it. It had been a particularly difficult year with job situations, health issues, a brand new baby and other unplanned circumstances. What to do with our small amount of money? We decided to get a cat, the food and litter box. Stan brought the cat home early Christmas Eve, but it ran away and we could not find it! Now we had nothing, and there wasn’t the shelters, internet, etc., to get a new cat, plus we didn’t have any money to replace it anyway. Blessedly, Stan’s parents felt impressed to call to check on us, Stan told of our predicament and trying to find the cat. His parents made sure each of our children had something to open from Santa Christmas morning.
So that we can stay on track and be wise lets look at a few issues on money and the Holidays
Why do we overspend? A few possible reasons are:
- We want to impress our kids, family, friends, co-workers
- We feel it’s a social status maker/breaker
- Buys friendship or approval
- Fixes relationships or makes up for poor behavior
Ideas for making and staying within a BUDGET:
- DO not, do NOT, DO NOT get caught up in the hype, hoopla and frenzy of the ads, sales and push to shop Thanksgiving Day until Christmas Day.
- Make a list of the priority people you need to gift to
- How much you can/will/want to spend on each gift
- Only use a credit card, if you will stay within your pre-set budget and can/will pay it off before interest incurs
- Another option is to use the envelope method of cash, just be careful not to lose it or let others see the cash; keeps temptation away. The envelope method is when cash is divided into envelopes of a certain amount set to spend in each category/envelope. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
- Make a family agreement for a limit to spend and stick to it. Families grow quickly and there are so many people to purchase gifts for that it can quickly take up all of your budget, just on extended family, leaving little or none for your own.
- For kids, how much do you really need to give them? Kids respect a parent who is responsible and will do the hard/right thing.
- Have a potluck dinner or lunch for extended family, co-workers and friends to celebrate the season instead of buying for each.
Dave Ramsey has a phenomenal NEW website that not only helps us track a Christmas budget, but sets us up for the entire year of making a budget, sticking to a budget, having and keeping a Christmas budget, and guess what? It’s FREE and you can find it HERE The site is called EVERY DOLLAR, Meet Every Dollar
More ways to save:
1. Make gifts – homemade are the best anyway. There are so many ideas, such as calendars with family pictures, a family favorite recipe made with the recipe to go with it, a favorite treat, the list is endless.
2. Scale down. Do people really like you better depending on the gift you give them? If that is the case, do yourself a favor and get new friends. Going into debt to impress, or compete is not worth it, and just makes you resent them in the long run.
3. Watch for sales and specials, shop on the internet to compare prices, and before making purchases, look at the rating of that particular product.
4. Kids do not need everything or expensive items. Letting them know that Santa/parents have a budget they need to stick to. This teaches them how to budget when they are older, the importance of correct priorities and especially puts a stop to the ‘entitled attitude’ and ‘deserving’ whatever they want just because they breathe. Keep in mind, we are not in a popularity contest to be our kids ‘bff’, but a parent to be relied on, trusted and to show an example to follow, that is a great parent.
5. A friend told me about this practice of what each of her children are given – that’s one in each category. Our kids don’t need to open gifts for an hour straight, much less hours on end to have a great holiday.
- Something to wear
- Something to read
- Something they want
- Something they need
6. Vouchers for a nice meal, babysitting, etc. The key here is to follow up so the gift is actually used and appreciated.
Looking ahead to next year to save money ahead:
- Purchase after Christmas sales of wrapping paper, cards, ribbons, etc.
- Sales during the year to put away for Christmas, such as overstock items
- Buy gifts that will last and be appropriate for the next year. For example, if mom likes to garden, then watch in the fall for the gardening tools and supplies to go on clearance, purchase those in your budget (envelope method) and put it away for Christmas.
Most important, above all else, remember the reason for the season. If you do, then all falls into place and your heart will be filled with sweet peace and love.Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2013, 2014
Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.