As I write this, we are taking down the Halloween decorations and realizing that Christmas is right around the corner – it amazes me at how fast it comes as you get older! Many stores are already in holiday mode with decorations stocked and ready to sell. Even though we all know that Christmas comes every December 25th, there are many people that do not start preparing financially for it until November.
I start preparing for Christmas in January. Every month we transfer a set amount into our Christmas fund. When Black Friday rolls around we have the money set aside and know exactly how much we have to spend. We have no buyer’s remorse in January (many do when they start receiving their credit card bills). I know some of you do not prepare and once again face a Christmas that you have not budgeted nor have any money for. If this is you, then you might have to do some things a little differently this December.
Many people think that buying and receiving gifts is what makes Christmas special. If you really think about it, this is totally not the case. I want you to think back for a minute to your childhood. Let’s start at the age of 6 until 18. Name the Christmas presents you received during this time. How many did you come up with? I know for me, I can think of two (one was a bike and the other a watch I really wanted). How bad is that? I know during this time I received over 100 gifts but can only recall two! However, if you ask me where I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day I can tell you without thinking twice. I think this is so important.
As parents (I have a 6 and 3 year- old), we want our children to have everything and think this is what matters to them. A lot of us get up at 3AM to wait in line and spend money we do not have to buy them things that they will ultimately forget about. I actually find this refreshing. I hope my daughters remember Christmas as a time of love and family rather than the pursuit of more stuff.
I actually had a very interesting experience last Christmas. My then 5 year-old (Ava) wanted a Nintendo DS for Christmas. We did not have this in our Christmas budget. Even though I am pretty frugal I have to admit I thought hard about buying this for her. I mean Christmas only comes once a year and she was a good girl and she did not want a lot of other things and she was doing well in school and ….. I could go on and on with reasons why she should have a DS and justify buying it for her. Tracy, my wife, and I finally sat down to really discuss it and came to the conclusion that since it exceeded the amount we had set aside; the DS would have to wait for later.
Christmas came and went and Ava enjoyed all of the gifts she received. She did mention that maybe she could get a DS for her birthday but that was it. She was not devastated and will not need counseling because she did not receive this present. The very Sunday after Christmas, our heat went out and we had to have someone come out and repair our unit. The interesting thing (I think this was a message from the Man upstairs) is that the bill was a little over the amount we would have spent on a DS. How weird is that? I then used this to teach Ava a lesson and told her why we have an emergency fund set up and do not use this money for non-emergencies – like a Nintendo DS.
My wish for you this Christmas Season is to remember that things come and go and get forgotten. Celebrating and spending time together is what gets remembered.[table "20" not found /]