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by Vianey Latisnere
‘Twas the night before Christmas, with Santa in my house; will I get an iPad Mini, car, or just a blouse?
Let’s face it; the classical Christmas story isn’t the same anymore. As time progresses and technology advances, people’s expectations for Christmas seem to surpass our capabilities. With children asking for new and expensive toys and technology, holiday shopping can feel a bit overwhelming.
As teens, sometimes we don’t understand the financial burden our parents carry: house bills, maintenance bills, debts, PLUS the expensive gifts we want… the list of financial burden becomes endless.
The truth of the matter is that not all of us are millionaires. We can’t afford to buy each family member that expensive iPhone or that designer purse; so what should we be getting our family for Christmas?
If you find yourself struggling to make ends meet around the holidays, here are some jolly ideas in order to have an affordable Christmas:
- Make the Present Yourself
I remember when I was a little girl, my mom made me a beautiful wooden chair. The wood was aligned perfectly, the polish was stunning, and my name was carved at the top in neat print. My mother, with her own two hands, took time out of her day to build me that chair for my favorite doll. As I grew older, I outgrew my toys. But that chair, that beautiful chair my mommy made, never grew old to me.
So, whether you have no job, no money saved up, or too many bills to pay, you can still give someone a present for Christmas if you really desire. Who says presents have to be store-bought? Making something for someone else can actually have more sentimental meaning, rather than if you bought it at the store. Not only would you be taking time out of your day to make a present, but it would take effort too, and that’s beautiful. Remember: you can’t put a price on a present made out of love!
- Sales, Sales, Sales
Christmas time might make you feel obligated to buy everyone a present. Let’s say if you have at least 10 family members, and you plan to spend at least $20 per person, that’s already about $200. Now, imagine if you have an even bigger family, or wish to spend more than $20 per person… Yikes.
Something convenient to do is to buy items on sale. There are sales all throughout the year: spring sales, summer sales, back-to-school sales, fall sales, Black Friday and Thanksgiving sales, winter sales, and Christmas sales. Large sales like these can amount to amazing offers from about 10%-50% off an item. Sometimes stores pull the classical, “buy one, get one free” for certain items. A good plan would be to buy different items on sales all throughout the year and save them for Christmas. Or you could buy various items in bulk at a sale and get the shopping over with. You don’t have to feel ashamed if you get your Christmas shopping done during a sale. Presents shouldn’t be judged on value. And if you fear that the person who is receiving the present will judge the value of the present, then maybe you should reconsider even getting them anything.
- Secret Santa
Sometimes we can’t afford to give everyone a present no matter how much we want to. However, if you’re really concerned about everyone getting at least one present for Christmas, consider talking to your family about the “Secret Santa” gift exchange.
Here’s how it works: Every family member’s name is placed in a container. Each person will randomly pick a name out of the container. Whoever’s name you pick, you have to keep a secret. Then you must anonymously give a gift to the person you had selected.
Rules can vary, depending on the family and how much money you’re willing to spend. In my family, our gift minimum is $20. That means the gift we buy has to be worth at least $20 or more. However, my family likes to add a little fun into the game. Every week starting from the beginning of the month until Christmas, we anonymously send mini presents and hints to our selected person. On the day of Christmas, we all sit in a huge circle and attempt to guess who our “Secret Santa” is. Once we guess correctly who our “Secret Santa” is, we’re allowed to receive our actual present.
The “Secret Santa” gift exchange can be a very fun family activity, and it is also very convenient. Instead of having to worry about buying everyone a present, you’re only putting effort into buying a present for only one person. Everyone gets a present and everyone stays happy.
- Plan Your Spending
Whether you decide to make your own present, buy items at a sale, or participate in the “Secret Santa” gift exchange, you need to have a financial plan for Christmas Spending.
The first step would be to evaluate whether you can even afford to buy Christmas presents for your family. If you have bills or debt to pay off, that would be your priority. If you don’t have bills or debt, then you need to decide whether you have enough money saved up for shopping.
If you you don’t have enough money, it’s not the end of the world; there are options on how to earn cash. If you have no job, perhaps you can gather extra cash by plowing snow, or cleaning, or basically any little job that anyone is willing to pay you for. If you do have a job, maybe you can speak with your boss about working extra hours.
Another option would be to save up throughout the year for Christmas. Even if you put $5 a week into a piggy bank or any loose change, it can amount to a lot by the end of the year. If you are able to, set aside money from your paycheck toward the end of the year as well. Anything counts!
Make a budget. Decide how much you’re willing to spend and on who. Are you going to buy everyone presents? Or just your closest relatives? Maybe just the people in your household? Or maybe just the kids? Planning your costs can help you avoid overspending and keep you on track.
- No Gifts
Christmas shouldn’t be about presents. Christmas should be a time where everyone is reunited at peace, loving each other as a family. The holidays can be just as fun without presents. You can play games, sing, dance, anything to have a good time. Don’t worry about being labeled “cheap;” it’s your humbleness and kindness that counts!
So however you decide to spend your Christmas, make it a beautiful one to cherish in your memories.