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 having stuff as much as I am? Let me define stuff. To me, it is stuff if we want something but may not really need it. 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 don’t need or even 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. At our last Thanksgiving get-together here at our home, 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 stipulate one rule, if you take these home you must get rid of something you no longer need at your house.
The funniest part is, there were huge tubs we filled with items they wanted and they each put their names on them to be picked up later. Three of my granddaughters wrote down on 3 by 5-inch cards what they want when Mark and/or I are gone, and they took a picture of the cards with their phones. The cards were placed in my safe so they can retrieve the items at the appropriate time. 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 year to try and budget for Christmas, but you will get the drift of my ideas as you continue reading.
The first budget you put together has to be planned way before December. I know it’s late, 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 try to never increase the amount. I won’t use credit cards because I don’t want to go into debt to satisfy a want or need for myself or anyone else.
If using a budget is a new concept for you and your family, let’s cover a good approach that really works. I suggest you grab a piece of paper and start with listing your net income (after taxes) and put 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. I 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 expense you’ve listed from the net income. If you are short on your cash flow, then you have two choices, get a second job to make more income, or try to eliminate or reduce some of the expenses so the income exceeds what is being spent each month. These can prove to be tough decisions to make.
If you’re already working full-time, how can you fit in even a part-time job to help make ends meet? Whether you’re working a full schedule or just a few hours a day, you may be faced with the additional costs of transportation or child care.
On the other hand, if you are already having to decide whether to feed the family or get your teeth fixed, trying to cut back on expenses could be tough to do. One thing to think about as you put your list of expenses together, are there items listed that really aren’t necessary, like eating out, movies, gym memberships, video game purchases, etc.?
As a side note, please teach your children to be self-reliant and TO NOT DEPEND on others to cover their expenses. For some, it has become a way of life to depend on the government or your extended family to cover your family’s 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 to survive, like cell phones, cable, soft drinks, another shirt or blouse, and so on. 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 with Grandma and Grandpa. I get teary eyes still remembering my dad’s face 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 cash flow. 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, if there is anything left to spend.
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 don’t count on that yearly raise or bonus, it may not happen. If it does, put it in the bank. It’s called saving money and living 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. Some people can’t stop the urge to shop or give up gift-giving. You know what I’m talking about, some people feel the need to give 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 the family asks about drawing names for Christmas gifts this year.
I wrote a similar article last year, and several readers voiced their feelings that they could no longer afford to keep giving extended family gifts and didn’t know how to stop it.
Consider What Kind of Gifts Should be Given
If when you’ve completed your Christmas budget you find you have sufficient funds to purchase gifts for some family members, I’d like to suggest you consider some of the following items that are near and dear to me since they relate to preparedness:
Water: you can help support family preparedness by providing a gift that offers water storage options like 55 gallon barrels, Water Bricks, Blue Can cases, or larger storage containers. Everyone can use water when it comes to emergency prep.
Food: right now the #10 can freeze dried foods are more expensive than I’ve ever seen. I’d suggest buying some canned foods offered in store caselot sales. That way you can get some real bang for your buck. Also, consider a dehydrator they can use to store food economically.
Light Sources: people should have a way to light their home in case the power goes out. I like solar flashlights and lanterns, but the old standby flashlights using batteries are still a good option, and fairly inexpensive.
Cooking Devices: my blog frequently discusses ways we can cook when power, either electric or natural gas, are not available. Propane tanks for BBQ’s, butane stoves with canisters of fuel, SunOvens, fire pits, and other devices are good choices. Don’t forget fuel for the devices too.
Dutch Ovens: I use my cast iron Dutch oven to cook all the time. They are so versitile, I love preparing all sorts of meals with them. They’ll work in your regular oven or over an open fire.
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. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen that special loved one, an old friend, or that school teacher or mentor who helped you along your path, consider a personal delivery of the note or small gift. Doing so makes it even more meaningful.
I’ve personally been on a journey to simplify by life. We recently had to pack our house as we relocated to get closer to family. It gave me a chance to look over all my possessions and make some clear choices of what should be moved. Let me tell you, lots of stuff has been given to family, neighbors, thrift stores, and the local landfill. An old saying goes something like, “Two moves are as good as a fire” when it comes to getting rid of stuff. We don’t want to move again, and I certainly didn’t want a fire, so I tried to clear things out with this one move.
I doubt we’ll be doing too much Christmas shopping. Hopefully the kids and grandkids will appreciate what we’ve given them, even though “slightly” used. They were given as loving gifts we hope they can put to use for many years to come. I hope you’ve found this post on how to budget for Christmas as a helpful guide prior to the holidays. May God bless this world. Linda