I thought I would try my hand at a listicle, lets see how it goes! I know everyone struggles with overspending during the holidays and I thought I would share some tried and true family favorites to curb reckless spending.
- It’s not about you, but you will be tempted: While you are out shopping for the perfect gift ( or at your computer, clicking away), you will be tempted to buy yourself something. Don’t do it. Remember the spirit of the season and focus on others. If there is something you truly need, put it on your list and ask a special someone to gift you the item. Most everyone would be elated to be able to give you a gift that you need, want, and will be put to immediate use. Which brings me to…
- Work from a list: Just like grocery shopping, the spending is bound to go off the rails if you don’t have a list. This may require actually having a conversation with the person in question. Good! We should avail ourselves to have more intimate moments with loved ones during the holiday season.
- Restrict Gifting: A variety of gift restrictions have been used by my family. We have put a dollar limit on gifts. We have restricted gifts among adults to consumables. We have bundled a “family gift” to avoid purchasing separate gifts for every individual in our extended family. We finally landed on, no gifts for adults. After many heartfelt conversations with all the extended family, we convinced everyone that my husband and I simply felt that we already had too much. We would prefer the space and time to spend with our family members, rather than the stress of overextending ourselves with holiday shopping. I’m happy to say that all of our extended family seems to agree.
- Supplement Home Made Gifts: Some people love this idea and some people really hate it. To each his own, I guess. It seems there is some stigma around gifting home made goods/ crafts as being “cheap” or “stingy”. I’m certainly not encouraging anyone to give a poorly made or low quality item. Lots of us have niche skills and those skills can be utilized for holiday gifts. Personally, I have gifted hand knitted hats and scarves, homemade jams and jellies, custom made wine bags ( including a nice bottle of wine), and sugared nuts ( we have nine pecan trees on our property). My grandmother, may she Rest In Peace, baked dozens and dozens of different varieties of cookies and then packaged them up in recycled coffee cans (covered in holiday paper and topped with a bow), and delivered them to our friends and family. My very first memories of the Christmas season include my Nonnie packing her little compact car full of these cookie gifts and delivering them to all our neighbors. Decades later, when my grandmother’s neighbors would see me out and about in town, they always asked about my Nonnie. Once I posited to a man, younger than me, that had inquired about my Grandmother “ I didn’t think you were old enough to remember my Grandmother” and his quick reply was, “ I remember the COOKIES!”. Again and again, over the years, I have been reminded that my grandmother’s seemingly simple gesture was remembered above all the other expensive gifts of the season.
- Do your Homework: It may be too late this season, but moving forward you should use the amazing tool of the internet to get the most durable product for the most reasonable price. It’s not good money management to wait until the last minute and pay top dollar for an item you could have bought for 30% less during a sale. Equally important is to avoid purchasing cheaply made gifts that will soon break, stop working, or immediately become shabby after one or two washings. Being frugal is different than being cheap. A cheap person begrudgingly buys an inexpensive piece of crap just to get the “points” for putting a gift under the tree. A frugal person is an astute consumer and purchases a quality product on sale (or makes a quality product by hand-see above) .
- Make Family the Priority: Pull out the board games or cards, Christmas movies and eggnog. When you set the table for the holiday meal, enlist the help of the children. Engage in heartfelt conversations. If you have trouble getting the ball rolling, there are many games available that encourage discussions.
- Don’t Stress: Whatever stresses you out during the holiday season, make a conscious effort to dial that stress back. Is it the over the top decorations that take up so much of your precious time? This year, commit to simple decorations and avoid the National Lampoon Christmas Vacation light show. Do you secretly dread the days long marathon of cooking and cleaning, only to have the family vacuum up their Christmas meal in less than 15 minutes? Get a pre-cooked ham and prep as much as you can in advance. If you are spending the holiday sweating over the stove or getting dishpan hands, instead of basking in light of the Christmas tree, you are doing it wrong. Demand more help or outsource the work. This is your holiday, too! Not really a saving money strategy, but a saving your sanity strategy. Like old Ben Franklin said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
My son’s endeavors into cookie making. He was inspired by the movie Coraline, fashioning his cookies as buttons.
Please, let me know what you and your family does to reign in holiday spending. It’s always good to compare notes. ; )