Christmas is a wonderful time of the year! Who doesn’t love gift giving?! Unfortunately, many people become extremely stressed and spend money they don’t have to give the perfect gifts.
Here are my tips on holiday budgeting!
1. Make A List: Write down each person you are buying gifts for. Due to my family’s limited budget, we draw names rather than buying every single immediate family member a present. I’d much rather spend $50 on one person and get them something they really want, rather than spend $15-20 on multiple people. I feel very strongly about being honest with family, and telling them if it’s been a rough year, or that you’re trying to get out of debt so you can buy every dang cousin a present this year. If they are loving and understanding family members, they will understand.
2. Set a budget: Plan out your budget, and stick to it! My son is only 2 years old this Christmas, so we are keeping his gifts VERY simple. I bought him a Thomas the Train pillow pet for $16, and that’s about it. You know the grandparents are going to get your kids a butt load of gifts anyway, so why the overload? And for the love of all things good….PLEASE do NOT put presents on a credit card! If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it, period!
3. Do Your Research: Don’t wait till the last minute to buy your gifts. Peruse the Internet and find the best deal if you are looking for something specific. I absolutely love Amazon (especially w/2 day free shipping.
4. Get Crafty: For Grandparents I usually make some sort of kids craft (framed handprints), frame a family photo, or use Shutterfly to create something small using family pictures (ornaments, desk calendar). Another great low-cost gift idea for friends and co-workers are baked goods. I hate baking, but the beautiful Christmas packaging alone makes me want to whip up some holiday cookies.
5. Family Activity: Try to balance out the amount of gifts you give to your spoiled rotten children with volunteering or a family activity, such as a morning 5k/Walk that everyone can participate in. Drive around and pass out food/gifts to the homeless.
I studied abroad when I was 18 in Poland, and I will never forget the way they celebrated Christmas. They didn’t give out tons of gifts, but rather gave 1 special present that was extremely important to each child. We fasted Christmas Eve, then celebrated with a 12 course meal (no meat), and after attended the most amazing midnight Catholic Mass in a Cathedral that was built in 1925. Christmas was about so much more than gifts, and it is a memory I will have engrained in my mind for the rest of my life.
Do you go overboard on Christmas? Are you a savvy shopper? No matter what type of gift giver you are, we all know that Christmas comes at the SAME time every year. It should be no surprise to you. You have months and months in advance to prepare. Personally, I have a Christmas fund that I put cash in to every month (I plan ahead on how much I want to spend that year) and by the time December rolls around I have all the money I need. No stress! You can find more tips about budgeting and living debt free on my personal blog here.
Let’s not go broke this Christmas!