Every holiday season there are many parties and functions to attend and things we feel compelled to buy for others. What’s supposed to be a relaxing time feels insane and crazy busy! Often at times, this causes us unnecessary stress and leaves us feeling drained.
I feel the Christmas holiday has become more about consumerism, and “must-dos” and less about enjoying time with family and friends.
This year is uniquely different for my wife and I. She has taken a year off from work (unpaid) and has decided to go back to school to earn a degree. While this is great is so many ways, it has forced us to reevaluate how we spend our money, living on one income.
I have listed some ways that we are doing the holidays differently this year. I think no matter what your situation, there’s something you can take away from it…
1) Be choice-ful in which parties you attend
We have all been there… so many invitations. Your work party, your spouse’s work party, friend’s events and all the other holiday functions. Your calendar quickly becomes full, and your wallet takes a hit with each “Secret Santa” gift exchange you take part in. Going to all these parties add up!
This year we’re choice-ful in which events we attend. We’ve asked ourselves several questions…
Are we in a leadership position and setting an example by attending?
How close are we to these people?
If we could only attend 2-3, which ones would they be?
The Christmas season is about being with those you care about. Be choiceful with how you spend your time and money this season.
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2) Limit who you are going to buy for
Do you have a big family where everyone buys a gift for each other? Or do you feel compelled to buy each of your friend’s something just because you want to? Here is the perfect opportunity to save some money.
Why not suggest drawing names and picking only ONE person to buy for? This will allow you to be more selective about what you buy and how much you spend. Doing it this way also allows you to spend money on QUALITY items rather than buying many cheap knickknacks.
As for your friends, is it necessary that you buy everyone a gift? Perhaps going for a coffee and giving a simple, heartfelt card will do. Often quality time is MORE important than gifts!
Don’t let previous “traditions” blow the budget. You can start a new tradition by telling your friends that this year there will be no gifts and plan “dates” with each other instead. Time together is so valuable, especially during the holiday season when everyone feels rushed and stressed.
3) Don’t Shop Aimlessly
Alright, now that you have trimmed your shopping list to a few important people, you need to make a list of what you intend to buy. This idea is repeated on many other blogs but its so important when shopping on a budget.
We have all been at the mall the week before Christmas, and have wandered aimlessly looking for an idea (ahem.. most men!). Eventually, we get frustrated and just buy whatever we think is a good idea, with no consideration for budget or what the person wants.
Make a list! Ask your spouse, friend or whoever you are buying for what they would like. Usually, people will TELL you exactly what they want/need.
Go to the mall with intent! Don’t get swayed by “sales” or “deals”. “Sales” are no good if they’re not on your list! This tip will not only help you stay on track with your money, but it will also save you time! If you are like me, I do not want to be in a mall any longer than I need to be 🙂
4) Keep your options open
Not to contradict my last tip but go to the mall with OPTIONS. Build a list for each person with two or three options in mind.
If you see one of your three items from your list on sale, buy that one! Don’t get fixated on one idea and believe that you HAVE to buy a particular item. Doing so gives you flexibility in your budget.
For example, I know my wife wants a new face cream, but she’ll be equally happy with a new make-up brush set or nice hoody. I know these things because she has already told me so. Yes, these things are all different but having a list gives me options to focus on value for money.
Don’t get tunnel-vision when shopping. Just because it’s the “top” thing on the list does not mean it MUST be bought.
5) Remember the real meaning of Christmas
Last but very not least. Let’s remember the REAL meaning of Christmas. It is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. A time to share this love with others. A time to be with friends and family and celebrate the gift of life that has been freely given to us. Share this holiday season with the people you genuinely care about… it will be the memories that last forever, not that expensive gift you found at the mall!
Think it through
- What events can you take out of your calendar?
- What’s preventing you from enjoying this holiday season more?
- Who can you spend more time with this holiday season?
- How not to overspend and save money
- Why budgeting actually give you more freedom, not less
- Want to feel wealthy? Give your money away
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