Curb the Holiday Spending

Christmas can be a budget busting experience for one and all.  Ten years ago, when we had NO money, we began a tradition that makes the holidays less stressful for all.

1.      The first year, we only spend $25 on the child.  Each year we add $25 (to cap out at $300).  It may not seem like much, but what does a one year old really need?  As they get older, they will never be able to say “you spent more on him than you did on me.”  😉

2.      No matter what, we don’t give more than three big gifts (we put the same rules on the grandparents).  People think more about what they give if they are limited.

3.      No buying for extended family.  This has been tough, because everyone wants to give everyone something.  Instead, we spend a couple of days making goodies that we deliver on Christmas Eve.

4.      The kids have to save their own money to buy gifts for Christmas.  They get a tiny allowance each week (if they do their chores consistently) so they have some money.  Plus, there are always opportunities to make more money (like weeding the garden, washing the car, babysitting, etc).  Limited funds means they have to budget out what they will spend, shop wisely, and often cooperate to get the gift they want.

5.      Stocking stuffers can’t cost more than $10.  I use to aim for $5, but that is almost impossible these days.  Stocking have been filled with oranges and apples on more than one occasion.

6.      For go the junk.  All year, we talk about things that we need and want and are interested in learning or doing.  We try to match up gifts with these desires.  Instead of buying something just to have something to buy, we focus on things that we can get excited about.  (Pass on the new, hip remote control gadget and get a super set of Legos for my builder.  Pass on the “in” toy and get a microscope set for my science son).

Setting out to buy gifts for out family is as much fun as getting gifts.  Budgets are limited, thought is taken, and the holidays aren’t just about spending anymore.

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  • One year we went all out on Christmas gifts for my son. He loved the first one and the second one was great. The more gifts he opened the less he cared about them. I realized then that we needed to go back to one “big” present.

  • Kids can be so funny. On Christmas, Nana went WAY overboard. About half way through the gifts my four year old crawled into my lap and said “I’m tired of opening gifts.”

    That was the year that I decided even Grandparents couldn’t give more than three gifts (oh, and just ONE for the birthday). I threatened to put the rest in the attic unopened.

    So far, it’s worked.