Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Budget!!

Clearly, there are so many things vying for our money this time of year, which is why it is vital to carefully consider a good Christmas Budget. No, not the straight jacket that most people thing of, when you mention the “B” word! You can have wings to fly, when you have a well thought out budget. And not having the Holidays follow you into the next year, is a great place to start for new traditions this year. With all the spending you feel you “must” do, the Holiday Season can seem to fly. If you would like a sense of slowing things down a bit, I would suggest that you stop to reflect and communicate what is really important as a family, and find alternate ways to celebrate,. This doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t buy gifts, or don’t spend money. It simply means you don’t buy gifts because you feel guilted into it, and if you can’t afford to buy something-you don’t buy it!

When we began to think of our budget, we started by writing down all the people we would like to give gifts to, and we projected what we would like to spend. Of course, there is our immediate family, who we spend the most on; the name drawing from Alex’s family, couples gifts for my family, our nephews, our adopted niece and nephew, teacher gifts, etc. There are also events to consider; will we need to eat out because we’ll be too busy for this event, and will we want to bring a gift for the host/hostess of that event? Are there any extra school projects, field trips, or programs we might need to budget for? All of these things add up, and if you don’t realistically think them through, you will be wondering where the money went, and what other budget can you pull from, or worse, which credit card can we use to make up the slack. You may find at this point that you have to say “no” to a few things. This is not as difficult as it may sound, and I have found that great alternate ideas of giving come from the desire to give a gift, but having no budget to give from.

This is where you can really get creative, and begin to rethink how you give! Sometimes, I even find that the person I’m thinking of really doesn’t need another “thing” this Christmas. Perhaps they would just enjoy a gift of time! Here are a few alternate gift ideas:
• Babysitting for a friend, who could use a date with their spouse;
• coffee with a listening ear;
• a movie together;
• take a friend to the beauty school to get facials or pedicures together.
• Game night with family friends
I know there are endless ideas!
• You could try something new as a family. Our family, this year, was lucky to get some really great gift certificates for things to do, such as roller skating, ice skating, and bouldering. We’re very excited to do these things together, and we’ll even get to try something new!
• You could make things for a few people this year. It will still cost some money, so you still have to budget for it, but it is really fun to do together, and in the end it can save some money. Handmade items are really trendy right now!
• You could give the gift of starting new traditions as a family!

One year, we decided that we were done trying to keep up with the latest thing our kids were into. Family would call to see what they wanted, and we would have no idea what to tell them, and the kids had a hard time coming up with a list off-the-top of-their-heads too. In order to fix this problem, a few years ago, we started taking our kids to Target to make a Christmas Registry. It instantly became a wonderful new tradition! We budget to eat out and make a whole night out of it, which makes for a really great time!

Obviously, these are just a few ways you can save money. The most important points are these: identify what is truly important to you and your immediate family, communicate this with the people around you, have a plan, get creative and make more experiences during the holidays!

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