You have tons of friends, relatives, and co-workers. So, you have tons of Christmas presents to purchase for your tons of friends, relatives, and co-workers. BUT, you are trying to get out of debt and / or save some money. What are you going to do? Here are a few ideas… feel free to add your own in the comments section.
Grandparents: Pictures, pictures, pictures!!!
Grandparents love pictures, so create a scrap book of pictures of your kids. You can simply use the duplicates of photos you already have, inexpensive school photographs, or cheap prints from your digital camera. Have a tech-savvy grandma or grandpa? Use a photo program (like Google’s Free Picasa) and you can create an awesome photo CD or DVD. These ideas are cost-effective, relatively easy to do, and they mean a lot.
Parents: Pictures, Family Video DVDs, Recorded Songs, Awesome Art
Let’s face it. Does your mom REALLY need another picture frame? And your dad… He’s still wearing the same pairs of socks that you bought him in 1997. My parents buy what they want for themselves, leaving very little room for “practical” gifts. So, if you are on a tight budget, and have cool parents, they will not care how much you spend on them. Let your kids make a home-made recording. I recorded my son playing his little drum set, singing his favorite songs. I put this on a DVD Video, along with recordings of his 1st and 2nd birthday parties. My parents are going to LOVE this gift, and it cost me very, very little. These DVDs do NOT have to be heavily produced. Just cut and paste various clips of your child, add some music to the background, and you have a gift that your parents will totally love. Top it off with an giant kid-made work of art. I buy poster-board for my daughter, and have her create a “family-tree” drawing for my parents. They love it, she has fun, and I save money. Win, win, win.
Your children: Aha… Now we get down to brass tacks. HOW, in this modern age of hyper-consumption, can we provide a “decent” set of Christmas gifts for our children. Well, first we must take into consideration that our children are smarter, and more perceptive, than we might think they are. Our daughter, who is 7, knows that we have been trying to save money, and we have consistently communicated with her throughout our debt-free, money-saving journey. But, we have NEVER made her feel as if the cost of rearing her is a “burden” on our finances. NEVER! So, what can you do when you want to give your kids cool stuff, but you don’t want to rack up the old credit cards?
- Determine EXACTLY how much you can afford to spend, per child, and stick to that amount.
- Create a list of inexpensive, fun items that you can purchase.
- “Manage” your child’s expectations. Our daughter writes a letter to Santa Claus, but we limit the amount of things that she can ask for, and we talk to her about other little children who have less than she does.
- This one is strange, but it’s worked for us. If you have a “close-nit” group of friends with kids the same age, let each family buy this year’s “it” toy, and plan to share. Our litte girl likes gymnastics, so we purchased a gymnastics mat for her. One friend received a trampoline, and yet another friend received a home-made balance beam. The girls love to go to each other’s homes, because they know that they will find a toy that they do not have.
- Avoid super-frivolous junk. Seriously, some of the stuff they market for kids is just really, really, really junky. Avoid it, and put your money into items that will make it past January 3rd.
- Don’t fret if you can’t buy your kids tons and tons of stuff. Get your kids some fun, durable, cool gifts in quantities that you can afford.
- Avoid items which will require investments down the road. Remember the costs of batteries, memory-cards, replacement wheels, etc.
- Buy USED! 3 years ago we gave our daughter a used Barbie jeep. We bought it for 40 bucks. She never knew that it was not “brand new”, and she can still use it today. Kids do not care. Check out eBay, Craigslist, and your local thrift shop. (Always check to see if an item has been re-called before giving it to your child. Also, you will want to THOROUGHLY clean any and all used items. In other words, use your head!!!)
- Totally, totally, totally broke? I mean broke, broke, broke? If you have no, or very, very little, money for Christmas presents for you kids, then you might want to contact your local church or charity organization. Many of these organizations will purchase a small amount of gifts for your kids. (Just a side note, and I mean no harm, but if you don’t have a little bit of money to buy your kids something for Christmas.. STOP READING STUPID BLOGS, and get out and make some money!!!)
- They’re just things. You DO NOT have to buy your kid everything that everybody else is buying. Nope, you can buy your kids a couple of nice toys, some nice clothes, and maybe one or two special items, and go to bed on Christmas night without the dread-fear of January’s Credit Card Statement.
Your Spouse: One Thing!!!
Okay, so you want to get out of debt, and live a debt-free lifestyle. This requires (some) sacrifice. I’m a mature, happy dude. I don’t need a huge pile of Christmas presents to validate me as a “man”. Adults, suck-it-up, and agree that THIS year, you and your spouse are going to buy one, small thing for each other, and that’s IT!!! Seriously, how much junk do you need anyway. Wanna have some romantic fun together? Get mom to keep the kids, take your wife to the mall, and make a day of walking through the mall, picking out all of the things that you are going to buy for one another AFTER you are debt free. Then go to the movie gallery, and purchase a 20 dollar movie-pass as your gift to each other. Go home, wrap the movie-pass in a box with a big bow, and put it under your tree. On Christmas morning, unwrap the present together, and begin to plan your big “debt-free” date. Dinner, a movie, walking hand-in-hand. Come on! Isn’t that better than a new sweater, tie, crock-pot, golf club, blah, blah, blah, gift? In the words of N. Dynamite, “Heck Yeah”…