So you set a budget and now you are having trouble sticking with it. You really want to do Christmas this year without more credit card debt.......I know you do and I do too. Maybe you are exchanging gifts with people that that your have a superficial relationship with. Or maybe your kids want an expensive gift for Christmas but it is over your allotted budget. This is the case for my youngest son last year. I wanted to buy it for him but I don't want to blow our budget on it either. So here are some tricks and tips for sticking with your budget while still giving gifts from your heart, not from your depleted bank account.
- First step was to see if other people wanted to go in on the gift with you. So often grandparents, aunts and uncles are stumped as to what to get the kids on their list. But pooling resources is a way for the child to get the gift while still being budget friendly. Everyone can simply put in what they feel comfortable giving.
- See if you can cut gifts from your budget. Do you exchange gifts with someone just because you think you "have to". Ask them if they wouldn't mind stopping that tradition, chances are they will be just fine with it. Remember you want to give from your heart not because it is expected of you.
- Can you make some of your gifts homemade. I have a secret caramel corn that I make and my friends would love to see a batch of this warm from the oven as their gift. Maybe a loaf of your blue ribbon winning banana bread or a jar of your fudge sauce. People love the sentiment and the fact that you spent the time making it for them means more than just buying a gift card.
- You contribute a portion to the gift and have the recipient pay for some. I know this seems not very "giving", but kids need to understand the concept that sometimes they need to help pay for something. My oldest son mowed lawns for a summer and paid for half of his viola. And he has a sense of ownership over that viola, he doesn't loose it, it doesn't get scratched, he in fact takes care of it. If you raise kids with instant gratification they turn into adults who want everything right now and not have to work for it.
- Buy "gently used". Have you ever made a visit to a pawn store or a used game store? Kids play a game for a few hours and get bored with it. They then trade in for a new one and so often the shelves are filled with previously played games. Pawn stores also get in used televisions, DVD players and other electronics. Our XBox 360 recently broke and I lamented on facebook about it. I had a message from a friend within minutes saying that he is getting rid of his XBox that is less than a year old and rarely used. The price was low enough that my oldest son was able to buy it all by himself. You too can put the word out there what you are looking for, you never know who has the exact same item they no longer want.
While we are in the last week before Christmas, stick to your budget and give gifts from the heart that don't cause you to cringe when you open the bank statement next month. A thoughtful gift that doesn't cause you angst in your pocketbook is the best gift for yourself and the recipient.
To Joyful, Simplified Living,
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