Well, Christmas is right around the corner and I hope my ideas today can help you budget for gifts this year, and every year going forward. Here’s the deal, are you tired of stuff as much as I am? Let me define stuff, to me, it is stuff we want but may not really need. Does that make sense? Here I am today going through my stuff and selling it on a Facebook Marketplace shop. I want to simplify my life. This means getting rid of stuff I do not need or want now at my age. I remember my mom in her older years saying to each daughter, “Is there anything in the house you would like?” Looking back, I am sure I hurt her feelings when I said, “Mom I have so much stuff at my house already”.
Now, at my age I get it. We just had Thanksgiving here at our home and I asked the family members that were here, “Is there anything in the house you would like?” I just have to laugh, because I’m doing exactly what my mom did. During the four days my two daughters and some grandkids were here we took stock of quite a bit of stuff. We loaded their cars with Lodge cast iron pans, griddles, and Dutch Ovens. I love it, and they are grateful for the cooking devices. I love simplifying my life. I did mention one rule, if you take these you must get rid of something you no longer need at your house.
The funniest part is the huge tubs we filled with items they want and they each put their names on the buckets to be picked up later. Three of my granddaughters wrote down on 3 by 5-inch cards what they want and took a picture of the cards with their phones. The cards were placed in my safe so they can retrieve the items after I die. Now, you may be thinking like me on this one, I don’t want to get rid of items that mean something to my precious daughters and grandkids, so I had them identify them for later pick up. It only makes sense.
How To Budget For Christmas
I know it’s a bit late this week to budget for Christmas, but you will get the drift of my ideas soon enough.
The first one has to be planned for way before December. I know, but we have to start somewhere. If you have budgeted a certain amount of money for Christmas, you rock. I always remember what I spent last year and I never increase the amount. I will not use credit cards because I will not go into debt to satisfy a want or need for anyone. If using a budget is a new concept for you and your family, let’s cover a good approach here. I suggest you grab a piece of paper and start with your net income (after taxes) and list it at the top. Then, list your rent, house payment, utilities, car payments, car expenses, groceries, donations, and any other expenses you have during most months. Without any other changes, this is a simple budget, money in and money out. Hope you’ve thought to set aside some money for savings or for unexpected things like home repairs, they can be real “budget busters.”
Then you start subtracting each and every one from the net income. If you are short on your cash flow, then you have two choices, first get a second job to make more income, like starting to babysitting kids, charge for classes to teach other skills you have that people can use, or whatever you may have time to do. As a side note, please teach your children to be self-reliant and DO NOT DEPEND on others to cover your expenses. For some, it has become a way of life to depend on the government or your extended family to cover your families expenses.
Sorry for the rant, but come on people, the second choice is to get rid of the things we may want but don’t have to have, like cell phones, cable, soft drinks, another shirt or blouse, or eating out. There is always a way to cut expenses or add income to your household without expecting others to take care of you.
I remember one year when Mark and I had very little money and we wrote letters to family members as gifts. Our little family shared love notes with each other and to Grandma and Grandpa. I get teary eyes still remembering my dad cry as he opened his letters from each of us. My mom was blubbering just as I was. Gifts can be free, I promise.
Now back to the budget, figure out how much excess you have or you can earn that can help stretch your monthly income. It just may be a second job. That’s life, people, it’s called work. Now, you can figure out how much you can save monthly for your Christmas budget.
P.S. If you get a raise at your job, put it in a savings account, learn to live on less. You can do it, I promise. Please do not count on that yearly raise or bonus, it may not happen. If it does, put it in the bank. It’s called save money and live on less.
Christmas Bank Savings Account
I remember setting up a Christmas savings account at the banks where I worked over the years. The payroll staff set up an automatic payment from my paycheck to go into that account. Here again, I tried to set up a budget and then stuck to it. By November I was ready to purchase the gifts I felt our family needed.
Cut Your Christmas Gift List
Now, this gets a little touchy here, some people cannot stop or give up the gift giving. You know what I’m talking about, everyone gives to every aunt, uncle, sister, brother, cousin, grandma and grandpa, friends, etc. Here’s the deal, someone has to step up to the plate and say, “I can’t afford to do this anymore” when they ask about drawing names for Christmas gifts this year.
I wrote a similar article last year, and several readers voiced their feelings they could no longer afford to keep giving the gifts and didn’t know how to stop it.
Christmas Need or Wants
I hope you think twice this year before you buy any gifts, is it a want or a need? Am I the only one that thinks kids have way too much stuff?
Christmas Letters or Love Notes
I promise these are the best gifts in the world. I treasure the ones I have received. Nothing says love more than words written on a piece of paper and signed by the giver.