At this time of year, the commercials beckon us to spend, spend, spend, but for many families this just isn’t realistic. Here’s how to survive the holiday season on a budget.
‘Tis the season to be jolly. ‘Tis also the season for spending our hard-earned dollars. And that means the holiday season can be a budgeting nightmare. Although most parents want to satisfy their children’s growing wish lists, for many, it can be a tall order especially if your family is experiencing a difficult time financially.
Charles Long, author of How to Survive Without a Salary, assures us there are ways to balance our books over the holidays, while satisfying even the most discriminating child. “The ‘I want’ stage, when the kids are comparing with their schoolmates is the toughest. There’s two ways to deal with this.”
1. Tell your child to make a wish list! Wish lists are fun and helpful. On that list will be all the advertised toys from televisions and ads, and there is bound to be one thing that you can afford. Just let your child know that wish lists are different than order forms!
2. Find that one-of-a-kind gift. I remember one year my brother made his children a home-made puppet theatre and his wife made up some adorable sock puppets; their kids were the envy of the neighbourhood! So consider making something that nobody else in their peer group has. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive, just different or unique.
3. Be honest with your kids. If your family is a little cash strapped this holiday season, be upfront with your children. In this way you’ll take some of the stress off your shoulders and reduce what could have been unrealistic expectations of your child. Find time to sit down with the kids and explain it as best you can, at an age appropriate level, that things are tough and you’re going to have to work out ways to have a different kind of a Christmas, but that you’re going to do your best to make it the most fun kind of Christmas you can for them.
4. Have fun together. The number one thing children remember about the holiday season are the special traditions and the fun the family has together. These things often cost nothing more than time, and that’s the most precious gift you can give. So think of things to do with your children like making crafts, checking our the holiday lights, cooking, singing; things which shouldn’t cost too much money.
5. Gather with others. Getting together with friends and families over the holidays are sure-fire ways of making the best of the season. So if you are going through a difficult time financially, but you can get together and share the day with others, it’s going to be a better day. As Charles Long says, “the more the merrier; that’s the sort of thing kids remember.”
Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.