Christmas is such a joyous time, and is my favorite time of year.
Everyone acts so different: you get a “pay it forward” free coffee at Starbucks. People actually let you cross lanes in front of them instead of speeding up. You get friendly smiles and nods from others as you Christmas shop. Cute little Rudolf noses are donned on the front of the car.
There is another side to it, however. It’s one that is not talked about as frequently, but weighs heavy.
How am I going to afford Christmas this year?
If you are working hard to get your finances in order, to pay off your debt, or just can’t spend the money, you ask yourself that question a lot.
I have a few suggestions that might take the edge off of that sinking feeling. You won’t always have to utilize these suggestions, because you won’t always be in the circumstance you’re in now. Especially if you’re following a budget.
These suggestions will also work for you if you are good with your finances, but maybe forgot to save up for Christmas this year.
1. Make a list
Go ahead and sing the song. You know you want to. “Makin’ a list, checkin’ it twice…”.
Make a list of everyone you want to shop for, and be sure to include everyone. Extended family, coworkers, mailman, everyone.
Next, add tiers of importance to everyone on your list. No, this doesn’t mean that you like the mailman more than your Great Aunt Shirley. It just means that you haven’t seen or spoken to Shirley since last Christmas, but you ask your mailman how his family is doing each time you see him.
Finally, start knocking out tiers based on the money you have saved. If you have $1,000 saved up and 100 people to buy gifts for, including your spouse and children, it isn’t realistic to say you will buy for all 100 people.
Be practical here and think about how much you’d like to allocate to each tier. Then start crossing off the tiers that you don’t have enough saved for. We’ll take care of them in another tip below.
2. Make what you can
When my husband and I were getting out of debt, we barely had enough saved to buy each other one or two things. It’s just the way it was.
Because of that, I turned to my creative side (aka, Pinterest) to make a few gifts. They turned out to be huge hits! I made some drink coasters with pictures on them (sentimental for the parents, funny pictures for the siblings), and a wooden stand for recipes or pictures.
Pinterest can be a powerful tool when making your own gifts. You barely have to be crafty at all! Your gifts will at least get a good laugh, but will likely be used for years to come.
3. “Borrow” money from your budget
No, I am not talking about using a credit card to buy gifts.
Take a look at your monthly budget and see what small things can be temporarily cut. Fun money, for example, when used for a Christmas savings for a couple of months, could help build a Christmas savings account.
Also take a look at cable, entertainment, and other things that are not necessary. It’s only temporary!
4. Bare bones Christmas
If you can’t afford for anyone other than your immediate family this Christmas, that’s okay. The Holidays aren’t just for showering with gifts.
One idea here, besides making Christmas presents, is to make your own Christmas cards.
Use a simple photo collage maker (free online) to put together some fun pictures of your family from this year. You could even use CVS to print on nice card stock, and it is about $1.50/card. That equates to $75 for 50 cards! So less than $100 for 50 people. Not bad.
Write a personalized message on each card and that’s that.
Christmas doesn’t have to be stressful. Use a few of these ideas (or all of them!) and enjoy the season.