Taking Back Christmas

08
June

Do you ever think back to a Christmas of your childhood? Do you remember it as being a happy, exciting time? For most of us that is the picture we retain in our minds.
Life was good when Mom and Dad had everything under control. We may not have gotten everything we wanted at Christmas, but most of us got something. With all the extra good food around, family and friends dropping in, and that feeling that is in the air only at Christmas, somehow it didn’t matter that we didn’t get everything we thought we wanted under the tree. Do you ever wonder why Christmas can’t be like that now?

Most families today experience a totally different kind of Christmas. For too many adults Christmas has become more of a burden than the time of good will and peace which we all wish it could be. Most adults cannot enjoy Christmas for what it should be because of the financial drain which people have allowed it to place upon our society. Millions of Americans spend a large part of the next year paying off credit card charges or loans incurred by Christmas spending, placing an additional burden on their already financially strapped lives.

For countless individuals, the madness goes way beyond buying things for the children. Many people feel that they have to do more entertaining for business and personal acquaintances. They feel obligated to give gifts to almost everyone they know including those who perform services for them during the year. While it is a nice feeling to give someone a gift, the feeling of struggling financially after you have spent way too much on Christmas is not so nice. And what about the feelings of frustration that are inevitable when you are shopping for a gift for someone you hardly know, only because you feel obligated? Then they feel that their house must have the nicest and newest decorations for those people whom they hardly know to admire when they come to be entertained.

So how do you get off the holiday roller coaster? How can you take back Christmas? Is there a way to turn things around and make it a holiday to be enjoyed and not dreaded? The answer is yes, there are steps you can take to simplify the most wonderful time of the year. You may not be able to do it instantly, but you can begin now to make the coming Christmas a little more like those you remember from your childhood.

Early in the year, begin to put a few dollars away each week. Open a special savings account, or put the money somewhere which will make it hard to get to so that you won’t be tempted to spend it. Try to save at least half of the amount you spent on the previous Christmas.

Trim your Christmas list. If you have the conversation with your friends and let them know that you won’t be buying for them, you might find out that they are actually relieved to be able to mark you off their list also. At the very least, if they are friends worth keeping they will understand what you are doing. Take this step early in the year before your friends start shopping. You will find that it gets easier to leave people off your list once you realize how much money and effort you are saving. There is no law that says you have to buy a gift for the post man, your beautician, or other helpers if it puts a strain on your finances to do so. While these are nice gestures in a perfect world, the economy is forcing millions of people to rethink their spending and everyone realizes this. Trimming your list will get easier after you rid your self of undeserved guilt. This tip also applies to entertaining. Just say no for now, and have a party later on in the year when things are less hectic and expenditures may be more manageable.

You do not have to buy everything on your child’s list. It is okay to pick one or two of the coolest gifts. Chances are your child will forget that they even asked for the other stuff when they get one good thing. Christmas should be fun, though, so don’t leave off all the fun things and buy pajamas.

While these ideas may seem like no-brainers to some people, it can be very hard to change traditions. It can feel discouraging to realize that you must leave off some things that you have always done, because of financial reasons. But you can hold your head up and sail through Christmas with a smile knowing that you are not doing a bad thing. And when the bills don’t come due in January, you will be totally convinced.

This post was written by

jason – who has written posts on Budget Clowns.
Father of three and married to a lovely women. Always looking for ways to save money, and invest it properly for my children's future.

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