Christmas is an expensive time of year. No matter how much we try to save throughout the year, we still find ourselves spending beyond our budget. With Christmas ad campaigns on radio and tv encouraging us to spend, spend, spend, it’s no wonder we go into debt to satisfy gift giving expectations.
Your kids’ wish list consists of the newest gadgets that cost no less than $200 like cell phones and game consoles. Suddenly, instead of spending $500 this Christmas for everyone on your list, you’re spending $1,500.
It’s easy to whip up the credit card and start charging it up knowing that you will not have to pay for the expenses until next year. But when the new year comes, you drown in financial debt from the Christmas splurge.
Christmas doesn’t have to break your bank or rack up your credit card. There are some good ways to stick to you budget without appearing cheap:
- reduce your gift list to children, immediate family, and close friends.
- for expensive gifts, share the cost with close relatives. It’s better to receive one special gift from everyone than receiving a lot of useless trinkets from everyone.
- suggest the Secret Santa gift exchange idea with a limit on gift spending. This eliminates the need to buy everyone a gift and works well with co-workers and friends.
If you are budget conscious, here are some meaningful ways to express yourself with a gift that is both practical and affordable:
- create a “necessities package” with hygiene products that the recipient would use such as Q-tips, hand cream, etc. Go to the dollar store to purchase the items.
- create a themed basket with all their favourite food (ie, sports fan basket with pop, chips, popcorn, peanuts). Baskets can be picked up at a craft stores or dollar store and you can buy their snacks at the local grocery store.
- create a scrapbook of important memories. Develop photos and buy an inexpensive photo album with 5 -6 pages. Create captions that speak to the memories and you’ll be creating a priceless gift.
- create a “special favour voucher” and insert with your Christmas card with a message “You are entitled to receive a favour from me. Redeem anytime. Certain conditions apply”. You can offer to cook, clean or provide massage to your recipient.
- send out an e-card rather than Christmas cards.
- frame a special photo
There are ways to avoid being caught up in the spending spree. Being creative and practical will help you to keep in line with your budget. Happy holidays.