{Guest Post} Meaningful Christmas Ideas On A Budget

 

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It’s that time of year.  We deck the halls, bake goodies, and stuff ourselves on multiple Christmas dinners, gatherings, festivities, and parties. Then, there are the presents!  We buy gifts for everyone on our list.  Some of the gifts are absolutely hits while others end up in the back of the closet or re-gifted to someone else.  But, hey, it was fun, right?

After all the fun is over, the last present is unwrapped, and we have down the last of the Eggnog comes the aftermath!  We wake up one sobering morning in January and realize the damage we’ve done when we open our credit card bill.

My daughter told me to listen to a song called “The Twelve Pains of Christmas”.  It’s a tune that is a remake of the classic “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.  Instead of belting out “FIVE golden rings”, it’s “FIVE months of bills”.  I chuckle, but say to myself, “It doesn’t have to be that way.” In all of the chaos and celebrations, we sometimes lose our way during the Christmas season.  We must remember the reason for the season.  I want to share with you some ways to celebrate the season that won’t jeopardize January’s mortgage payment.  Some of these ideas not only cut the expense but also bring a little joy to the season that will glorify our Lord.  I encourage you to be a blessing to others this season without breaking the bank!

1. Create a budget for EVERYONE on your Christmas list!

Get your kids involved. Let them know their dollar limit and help them pick gifts that stay within the set budget.  If they go outside the amount, have them make a decision.  No exceptions.  This will be a valuable lesson for them going forward.

Keep up with it on a Christmas spreadsheet.

2. Spend more time opening presents on Christmas morning.

Have a personal scavenger hunt for each child to find their gifts throughout the house.  Get creative! Make up a story to go with it.   My kids look forward to the hunt as much as the gifts! I have even managed to incorporate the story of Jesus’ birth and other .

3. Skip the Gift Exchange.

  • Instead of exchanging gifts with other adults (e.g., colleagues, peers, friends, adult family members, etc.), ask that group to forego gift exchange and instead pool money together to give to a cause or be a Secret Santa for a child in need, etc. For example, instead of coming out of pocket $120 because you feel obligated to get that $10 gift for the 12 people at the office, get everyone to donate $10 toward the Secret Santa fund.  In the end, you have saved $110 and everyone feels good about helping someone in need.
  • Get the group together to volunteer time to a cause in lieu of gift exchange (e.g., soup kitchen, Salvation Army, etc.)

4. Give your services instead of gifts.

Share your skills or talents with someone.  Give them a “coupon “of what service you are willing to offer (i.e., babysitting, cooking lessons, music lessons, help with errands, etc.)

5. Love with your words.

Hand write a letter to express how much that special person means to you.

6. Focus on family activities and the experience instead of the gifts and goodies.

Create some Christmas traditions. Get creative!

  • Decorate the tree together
  • Volunteer together
  • Go Christmas caroling
  • Go look at Christmas lights

7. Clear out the old!

  • Before you bring a ton of new toys into the house, clear out some of your child’s old toys (you may want to include the child on this to teach them a lesson). You may choose to make an agreement with your child that the number of new toys cannot exceed what they decide to get rid of.
  • It helps to keep down the clutter, as well. You can do the same for your closet if you are expecting new clothes from a loved one. You may choose to sell these toys to a consignment shop or give these toys to charity (e.g., Goodwill, etc.) and write it off on your taxes!

8. Shop the sales!

Take advantage of sales and clearance items.

9. Save on gift wrap.

  • Use old newspaper (e.g.,Comics) to wrap gifts. Just don’t use the obituary section! (That’s creepy!)
  • Purchase next year’s Christmas wrapping paper and décor on sale after Christmas this year. Store it until next year.  Take an inventory of how much wrapping paper you have before purchasing more.  Reuse Christmas gift bags that you or your family received gifts in.  Forewarn family members.  “Oh my, what a nice bag! You may see this bag again!”  Hee hee!  In my family, we get a kick out how many Christmases a bag can survive!

10. Give homemade or inexpensive personalized gifts.

  • Decide what you do well and go for it.  For example, bake goodies, if are a pretty decent chef.
  • Make a personalize calendar or scrapbook for your loved one that include special moments you have shared.

 

Don’t stop with Christmas budgeting…

{Our theme for January 2017 is Focus on Finances. If eliminating debt, budgeting, saving, creating residual income, & investing is a personal goal for 2017 AND you’re ready to do the work, you don’t want to miss my announcement on the Woman, Live! Facebook page on Friday, December 23rd, at 8PM EST! An email reminder will be sent out to our subscribers. See you there!}

 

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Financial Coach, Crystal Brown, is an accountant by trade and an avid learner. She is also certified in Internal Audit, Risk Management and Assurance, and Internal Controls Auditing. 

Her love of teaching lead her to facilitate a Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and teach a Jr. Achievement class to students at a Title 1 school.  

Over the years, Crystal has acquired a host of “financial nuggets” that she teaches others in order to empower them to make sound financial decisions of their own. 

With a good handle on budgeting, saving, and debt management, Crystal is passionate about helping others become financially free. 

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