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I remember the first Christmas where we weren't stressed over money. It was a strange feeling, mostly because for the five years prior we had charged Christmas on credit cards and gotten into more consumer debt. If you can relate to this at all – Christmas Debt Relief is here!
That memorable year, we decided to start giving our kids only three gifts for Christmas, and the money that we used to pay for those gifts was earned throughout the year using Swagbucks. I was also able to make money doing surveys to cover the rest. I was pregnant with my third child and in order to make ends meet, I had to wait outside in line at Toys R Us at midnight. I stayed out shopping with my very specific list until 4 am that night, came home exhausted and slept most of the day away while Mark watched our other two children.
To be totally honest, the fear of not having enough Christmas presents under the tree was almost paralyzing me from having a good time. I was so sad because in my mind, my kids would be coming downstairs to a tree void of presents. I knew that we needed to stay within our budget, but I was having a hard time breaking my annual tradition of dozens of gifts under the tree.
Sometimes during this joyous time of the year, we can get swept up in the generosity of the season. And, let’s face it, overspend….I was facing that desire to overspend on my children…but for what reason? I had to take a good hard look at my values and realized that I needed to re-think the way that I viewed this holiday. Was Christmas just for gifts? Was I buying presents for all the wrong reasons? Were those same presents putting my kids in trouble because of the debt I was continuing to get us into?
These were all questions that I had to face and it was HARD! It was then that I realized that I had an issue with Christmas, not because of what anyone else was doing or thinking, it was because of ME and my thoughts. Why was I sad that my kids ONLY get three gifts at Christmas? Shouldn't I be thankful instead that my kids have a belly full of food, and a warm home? Shouldn't I be proud that we were out of debt and didn't want to go back into it again?
If you struggle with this too – let's rethink the holiday together.
1.) List out all of the things that your kids need
One of the three gifts that we get our kids is something they need, it can be something fun like a new jacket they've wanted.
2.) List out all of the things your kids want
Ask them to write out 3-5 gifts that they want and let them know that this doesn't mean they will get all of them. This gives you an idea of what they want and how you can do it within your budget. Your kids will also think harder about what they want, and this helps them with problem-solving skills.
3.) Think of all the people you want to bless this year as a family
As a family, part of rethinking this holiday is starting to bless others.
Do you want to bake treats and bring them to friends houses? Maybe make cards for people in the retirement home around the corner? Maybe even host a Christmas cookie exchange party.
4.) Write down what your ultimate values are in life
By writing down your true values in life you start to weigh your purchases against the values that are the most important to you. Your values can be things such as Financial Security, Family, Faith etc.
5.) Write down a budget for each child based on those values (what can you afford that won't hurt your values)
By looking at your values first, you see what your ultimate goals are. When you set your Christmas budget, make sure that your budget doesn't go against those ultimate values. For example: If you typically spend $300 per kid but that makes you go into debt further, you are going against your true value of financial security.
6.) Make a solid plan
Now it's time to make a solid plan. Who do you need to shop for and what is your Christmas budget? Lay it all out BEFORE you start shopping and make sure that you are seeing your values as more important than the “stuff”
So – how did the story end?
As I sat in the living room waiting for my kids to come downstairs Christmas morning, I was dreading their reactions. Were they going to be disappointed? We had talked to them about the change in how many gifts they would be getting, but you never know what the response will be with children. When the kids came down the stairs and looked at the tree…they smiled and said thank you. All of my emotions and stress and dread was for nothing and I was left feeling so thankful.
I was reminded again that the most meaningful way that we can give our kids isn't the presents we buy then, but the present in every meaningful moment.