Christmas, a holiday that we have come to love – most of us anyway – has also become a holiday that causes a lot of us to stress and stretch ourselves beyond our means. We have allowed this holiday and the desire to please our family and friends to place us in positions of financial straits. This Christmas, I implore you not do that.
Love is free. We can provide love to our friends and family members at no cost, at least financially, to ourselves. Spend time with loved ones. When they look back on their fondest memories of you, I can guarantee it won’t include what you bought them or what you gave them monetarily; but will invariably revolve around how you made them feel, the time spent with them, and the love shared between you.
If you are crafty, pull our your most used craft items and get started on a gift. One year when our finances were severely limited, I transformed a picture frame using craft letters that wrote out my sister’s favorite quote and placed a fitting photo of her inside of it. I created hand made cards for my parents and wrote a personalized note on the inside thanking them for all of the support they’ve ever provided me. I made a scrap book for other family members and printed out photos from CVS. All in all, I believe spent about $50 that Christmas using mainly the Cricuit my husband, then boyfriend, had purchased me the year before.
Now that I am on a journey to peace in my finances, I have learned how to properly budget for Christmas and my family is aware of our budget. When we first started being conscious of our finances, we had $300 for Christmas that year – for all three children and ourselves. My husband and I agreed to spend on the children first and then see what was left, if anything. We took a look at our oldest’s Christmas list and bought her something she really waned – a pair of Jordans from Marshalls, and then bought her a purse from Ross. We bought the little two items from Walgreens. They had a sale where you bought 3 items for $12.99 and got a 4th item free. We were able to make it appear like they got a whole lot for a little. Since they were young, they were happy with the little trinkets Walgreens had to offer – lip gloss, figurines, toy soldiers, race cars, play-doh, things of the like.
Now, we have created a sinking fund for Christmas and contribute to it every pay period. We add left over money from other budget categories into the Christmas sinking fund to pad it a little. I save our change from our purchases in a coin jar and we use it to purchase our live tree and the decorations for the house. If there is anything left over, we purchase gifts for those outside of our house. This year, our budget is $900 for our three children. We have decided that we are not being wasteful or extravagant for them. Instead, they are getting four things: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.
We allowed them to tell us a few items they wanted and we chose what to purchase them. Our oldest learned the hard way early that she is not getting an iphone. With $900 in the budget, 3 children, and the desire to pay for things fully in cash, we are not willing to cash flow a $600 phone and leave $300 for the other two children. So, we picked one of her other wants to provide her. Their something to wear is a pajama set we will all wear for Christmas Eve so that we are coordinated for Christmas morning.
If there is any money left over after spending on the other categories, we will roll it over for Christmas next year and maybe then we will have enough to cash flow an iphone for her.
But for now, this year and years to come, we will not stretch ourselves thin to prove we love our family members. They know we love them, and love is free. And if they love us the same, they will understand and wouldn’t want us to go into debt for this one day. I implore you to take the same stand.
Until next time … journey on!