Simplify Your Life- Budgeting for Christmas

11 11 2012

I know it seems so far away and most people do not want to think about it, but no matter what, Christmas is on its way.  Since I have put my family on such a strict budget, I find it necessary that I am fully prepared going into this holiday season with an open mind and a manageable and realistic budget.  The first part of this two part post is about figuring out and setting a budget, the second will be about making Christmas more about traditions instead of gifts.

The first task I challenged myself with was to write down a list of all the people I would like to send a hello and Merry Christmas to.  This was the beginning of my list, and is fairly long.  This list will be used for one thing, to tell each and every person I care about, to have a Merry Christmas. These people will receive a Christmas card.  Now don’t get me wrong, I wish I could buy elaborate gifts for all of the people I can about, but it is just not feasible nor practical.  For my annual Christmas card ordering, I shop around as best as I can at online printing companies, trying to find the best bang for my buck.  For example I have used Shutterfly in the past and they are currently offering a deal of 40% off holiday cards.  My list usually consists of approximately 75 households.   Always make sure to include postage in your budget.  It is little necessary items that can really add up and throw your budget way off track.

Since all of my favorite people are on my Christmas card list, I look at this and start narrowing it down.  I start making a list of all the children I will be shopping for this holiday season.  Of course I include my nephews, very close family friends, and my “second children” aka, the children in my care on a daily basis.  Then I think about how much I would like to spend on each.  I know it sounds awful to put a dollar on each munchkin, but it is a necessary step to staying on budget.  Lastly, I make a short list of a few extra people in my life that have really gone out of their way to help me during the year.  These gifts are normally very small, but are just a way to say thanks.

In the past few years, since many of our close family members have also been strapped for extra cash, we have eliminated all adults out of the family gift giving and have turned the focus to the children.  This is their time to feel the joys of Christmas.  Since I still want to be able to provide those close loved ones with the spirit of Christmas, I often turn to kid pictures and yearly calendars that include pictures from the previous year.  It is a gift that we can afford and it gives back all year long.  Again, I search and search online printers to find the best available deals.

So I leave this to you:

  •  Figure out an amount you would like to spend on Christmas aka. Christmas Budget.
  •  Make a list for holiday cards, subtract that amount from budget
  •  Narrow the list to some very special ones who you would like give a gift to.
  •  Also add people who you would like to say Thank You to for their efforts during the year.
  •  Make sure to include a dollar limit for each child/person.
  •  If there is money to spare, think about giving some extra pictures or items to other loved ones.

Remember that a gift is just that a gift.  Don’t feel obligated to get the biggest and best for someone when you cannot afford the gift.  If you don’t remember in a year what you purchased for someone but still are paying for it within your monthly credit card payments, was it really worth it?

You may not be able to give them everything you want, but remember your presence is often more valuable than any present.

Look out for Part 2 of this segment on creating family traditions.

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2 responses

12 11 2012
danafoltz

Great advice! Being college students, it’s really hard to be able to afford christmas gifts every year! I’ll have to look into using shutter fly…

17 11 2012
Teresa Chalmers

Dana, Thank you for following my blog! You can also try this deal! Shop around Christmas Cards do not have to break the bank! http://athriftymom.com/christmas-cards-with-custom-photos-10-free-shipped-for-only-39-each/

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