Christmas is a particularly stressful time for families, at least when it comes to finances. Gifts, wrapping, decorations, and food can all take a toll on your monthly budget. If you are already struggling to make ends meet, the stress is even more overwhelming. Our Michigan family counseling center is here to help you reduce those stress levels so you can enjoy spending time with your spouse and children.
Here are the top 7 ways to reduce financial stress around Christmas.
Set A Budget Or Gift Limit For Each Child
As a parent, you naturally want to give your children everything they want and more. This can put unnecessary stress on you during the holidays, and it sends a bad message to your children. Whether you have one child or a dozen, set a budget for each one of them or limit the number of gifts you get for them. Try to keep the budget or number of gifts uniform for all of your children. This may be difficult if there is a big age gap in your household, so use your best judgment.
A good rule of thumb to follow for children’s gifts is 1 gift they want, 1 gift they need, 1 gift they wear, 1 gift they read.
Prepare As Early As Possible
This tip may not help much this year, but it could reduce your financial stress in years to come. Prepare for the holiday season as early as possible. If you’re a person who likes to decorate a lot for Christmas, take advantage of the sales that happen after the holidays. You can get timeless decorations that will last for years to come at 50-90% off regular store prices. This is also a great time to buy wrapping paper and ornaments that will not be outdated next Christmas.
With regards to gift shopping, it is easier to get a few things each month than trying to buy it all at once. For toys and clothes though, it may be hard to predict what your child will like several months down the road. In that case, put away money every month so you have a Christmas fund saved for when November and December roll around.
Focus On The Memories, Not The Things
Try not to let the material side of Christmas get the best of you. Focus on making great memories with your family instead of stressing about what you are going to buy them. This teaches your children the value of spending time with one another, and it saves you the hassle of buying countless gifts year after year. There are plenty of free holiday activities for families in Michigan, so you can have a great time without adding to your financial stress.
Keep Other Stress Sources To A Minimum
Stress is one of those emotions that only get worse if left alone. It can quickly build on itself until you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Reduce your stress in general as much as possible, and you will have a clear mind to tackle financial obstacles. Don’t worry about family members coming over or meals you have to cook. Focus on tackling each task on its own, and the rest will work itself out over time.
Have A Group Gift Exchange (Perfect For Large Families)
Group gift exchanges are great for large families. Instead of every single person buying everyone else a gift, each person only brings one or two items to Christmas. You could play Dirty Santa, Secret Santa, or a variety of other party games related to gift exchanges. Set a price limit for the gifts people bring to these events so everyone has the same expectations and experiences. You will still have the fun of unwrapping presents and giving something special to someone else, but you won’t have the headache of shopping for an army.
Don’t Go Above Your Means
In our family counseling sessions, we have talked to countless parents who turn to payday loans and other quick money sources to pay for their holidays. This may seem like a good solution now, but it will only lead to more financial stress later on. There is nothing wrong with being on a budget. That’s ultimately how you will save money. Figure out what you can realistically spend and abide by that number as much as possible.
Avoid Making Personal Purchases
We’ve all done this at one point or another. We notice something we like while out shopping for someone else and instantly think, “I’ve done so much for others – I deserve this!” There is nothing wrong with treating yourself from time to time, but you have to keep your current financial situation in mind. If you truly need whatever it is you are trying to buy, it will be available for purchase after Christmas.