|Great Grandma shows off her gift of gloves.|
Okay, I decided that we should talk about the proverbial naughty word for the holidays, budget. Raising four children on a single income created tension during the holidays as I tried to help my husband understand how important gift giving was. Of course his customary response to my whining for spending money was, “set a budget”. So, every year I would sit down and pen dollar amounts for every child, extended family member, extra food and decorating expenses. I delighted in the shocked expression on his face when I presented him with the budget (pay back for forcing me to budget), but at the same time was determined to be sensible about the expenses and not over budget. I actually found freedom when shopping from a budget because it forced me to make wise purchases that were meaningful long after the holiday season was over. Therefore, tip number two; Freedom to shop means to set-a-budget.
- Have the kids sit down and cut out, using advertisements/catalogs, the exact gifts that they want. We would post their picture list on the fridge with the most important gift listed first. My picky seventeen-year-old daughter created one of these lists on black Friday this year and I found it very helpful when I shopped for her gifts.
- Let your children know that you have a limited amount of money to spend on gifts. I found that my children were very conscientious about their gift requests when they knew they could expect only one nice gift.
- Communicate with the extended family what is going to be the expectation for gifts. We often draw names with extended family and set a dollar amount on the gift. It can be challenging, but very important, to let your relatives know what you can spend on gifts, or not spend. We have even opted out of gifts during a very difficult financial time for one of our relatives, instead enjoying our time together with a card game that all ages could play.
- Potluck! We ALWAYS have potluck meals during the holidays. The financial burden is heavy for the host so be sure and offer or ask others to share the meal expense by bringing a dish.
- Decorations are my weakness. Every year my hubby and sons have to lug up several huge boxes filled with Christmas decorations. I love the idea of reusing and repurposing decorations each year. The outdoors is a wonderful resource for décor and it is free!
Remember, planning with a budget will give you freedom to enjoy your holiday long after December. ~ Sheryl