I sat in my parents’ living room surrounded by children knee-deep in toys and torn gift wrap. Some were digging around to find more toys. Others were crying because they were exhausted. The adults seemed somewhat in shock, wondering how Christmas had come to this.
Giving gifts isn’t a bad way to celebrate Christmas. Unfortunately, many of us go too far and end up spending more than we can afford.
Here are four ways to keep your spending at a reasonable level and to help you focus on what really matters.
Christmas is supposed to be about God’s gift of His Son, Jesus. If it turns into a spending or giving competition, it’s easy to lose the focus on Jesus. If this happens, try taking a step back.
My parents are older. What they want isn’t more things, but the gift of my time. Spending time with them doing things they enjoy or need done means more than anything I can buy.
Quality time is an important gift for many of our loved ones, especially kids, who need quality time with their parents. Children need to know they’re loved and cherished to the core of their being. It’s not about what you do together; it’s about having each other’s focused attention in our very busy world.
Experiences can be great gifts that also give you the opportunity for quality time. What adventure can you plan that they’d enjoy? It could be anything from a camping trip to an art class. A family gift of a membership to a museum or zoo is a great way to encourage spending time together throughout the year.
The key to staying in your budget is careful planning.
One way to do this is to make a simple chart or spreadsheet. First, determine your total budget. Then, list the people you want to get a gift for and how much you plan to spend on each. Make sure that the sum of the individual budgets is not more than your total budget. It’s also good to set aside a little money just in case you forget someone, or there’s something you want to get that’s slightly above your budget for a person.
To help you stay within the budget you’ve set up, use cash instead of credit cards. Using cash keeps you aware of what you’ve spent and what’s left. And it also prevents overspending.
You can also stretch your budget by shopping sales throughout the year. This allows you to get nice things for less money.
Be sure to track what you spend whether you do your shopping all at once or throughout the year.
A wise friend once told me, “Because we love our children equally, we treat each one uniquely.” Walk in the freedom that showing care doesn’t require a certain price tag.
Don’t ruin your year financially just to make one day memorable. People would much rather have fewer and less expensive gifts than have you stressed and grumpy after Christmas because of debt.
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