Christmas = Debt for families.

Christmas! Yay! Right?

I love Christmas, and my children love Christmas. But I, like many other parents are guilty of over-spending on Christmas presents and blowing the budget. It is said that the majority of people go into debt for Christmas with the intent to have it paid off in three months. But sadly, that is not the case most of the time. By racking up credit card debt or not paying necessary bills such as rent or power to fund Christmas can have an average family paying this debt back well into the next year.

So why do we do it?

I know we all want to give our children everything we possibly can out of life, but more toys, games, and technology can not really be the answer. I read last Christmas about a mother who gives each of her children 100 presents each (google it, it’s not hard to find!). Now, when you look at the tree, you can only see the star at the top. It makes me wonder what the meaning of Christmas is for her, and what is she teaching her children?

All my life I have thought Christmas was an amazing time of year. There is nothing like waking up to a Santa sack at the end of your bed on Christmas morning. When I had children, I followed the same tradition that I grew up with. I felt like the more gifts I gave my children, the better their Christmas would be. Guilty as charged!

Now I live with less…

But this year, I have started to live with less. I think about what I buy a lot more than ever before, and I refuse to buy things for the sake of buying them. So all of a sudden my thoughts about Christmas have changed. I keep thinking, ‘Why do we spend so much on Christmas?’. I get the whole gift giving, family orientated Christmas, and that’s what I love about it. But why do we need to give our children (in particular) hundreds of dollars worth of stuff just for the sake of it.

Needs VS Wants

This got me thinking about what my children need and want for Christmas. They certainly don’t need any more toys (we just got rid of some). They don’t need clothes or shoes. They would like a new game for the Xbox. Would LIKE being the operative here. I have had a request for a new bike. This is because the one currently getting used is now too small. That is a good request.

But after that, I have drawn a blank. Normally I would have started Christmas lay-bys in June and mostly be sorted by now. I haven’t even looked into it yet. I have been thinking long and hard about what I can give my children that isn’t a massive waste of money. And also, that isn’t putting more objects into the house.

Conclusions

I have come to the conclusion that unless they need it, I won’t buy it. Except for one thing. I will add one toy or game that they want. I will buy the keyboard or the bike that is needed for practice or a way to school. And then after that I will buy them an experience. A holiday would be a good idea, if we recently hadn’t come back from one. Instead it will be a season pass (seven months) of fun at a theme/water park. We can go anytime that it is open in that time. Now that’s a present and an experience, tripled with a way to make some memories together! And to top it off, it will only cost a fraction of what I would normally spend on them.

We as a family will get a lot more out of a season pass to anywhere than we would out of a new Lego set that will sit on the shelf collecting dust – or any of the latest fads that hit the stores on a month to month basis.

Where do your values lie?

So before you blow your budget trying to impress your children or immediate family, have a long hard think about what is important in your day-to-day life, and where your values lie. If you are trying to save money, don’t spend all your savings to fund Christmas. If you are trying to live with less, then buy less. Explain to your children what you are doing. My children appreciate and respect my decision. They know that they will still have a fun-filled Christmas whether they receive two gifts or forty-five.

The pressure we feel that comes from our need to please others, and from society in general (Christmas is in your face from October on-wards) can be overwhelming. But you can take a step backwards and decide what is right for you and your family and change it.

I myself am looking forward to hours of fun with the kids during the holidays!

Good-luck everyone.

Jaimi

 

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