Everywhere you look the “Christmas Creep” is happening. Holiday music is hitting the radio, decorations are going up and stores are all in full-blown Christmas mode. The holidays, and related expenses, are approaching whether you’re ready or not. Having kids is expensive year-round, but the holiday season can be especially tough on the wallet. We all want to shower our kids with the entire Target toy aisle while also paying all our bills. However, most families can only do one or the other. (Sorry kiddos, the bills have to get paid!)
To avoid maxing out your credit card or draining your checking account this Christmas, plan ahead (like, right this minute), set a realistic budget and stick to it.
Five Tips to Ensure A Merry Christmas and Debt-Free New Year
Set a Budget
I’m a huge budget nerd, and the most wonderful time of the year is not exempt. My husband and I get together and break down exactly what we can spend on the kids, each other, family, and friends. It’s important to be on the same page with your significant other. This keeps you from spending more than you have.
It can be a monetary number, or a number of gifts. Here’s what it looks like in our home: each child will get one toy, one book and one outfit. That’s it. We are allowed additional ‘family gifts’ such as, movies or board games, things we can enjoy together. We plan to keep this going as our little ones grow up, so that we teach them to place less value in gifts and more value on gratefulness.
Sometimes it feels like everyone expects a gift on Christmas, so get crafty and make some things. Neighbors, coworkers, and distant relatives are the lucky recipients of your midnight Pinterest creations. If crafting isn’t your thing, try your hand at baking. (I’ve never known a person to turn down fresh baked cookies.)
This is something I only do for my kids. They are so young that it doesn’t matter if their toy is brand new or not. This year I scored two Pottery Barn chairs on Swip Swap (I saved over $120), and once I order new slip covers for them, they will look as good as new. Other big ticket times to look for are swing sets, play kitchens, and bikes/scooters.
Give an Experience
My grandparents did this for me growing up and I’m so grateful. An action figure will eventually break or loss it’s appeal, but a weekend spent camping can make lasting memories. A family picnic or day trip to Sedona is unique and also conveniently cost effective.
Having a Merry Christmas doesn’t require over-spending. How do you minimize your holiday expenses? Comment below!