Christmas is coming. Most of us want to spend this time with friends and family and we wish it to be magical. Some of us, however, go a little bit too far. Don’t let the Christmas ruin your finances, learn how to avoid the most common financial mistakes.
1. You don’ t have a Christmas budget
Of course, it sounds boring. Nevertheless, if you wish to have everything organized and at the same time don’t want to make a hole in your pockets, you should create a budget.
You want to invite your family and friends, you want them to feel comfortable. Please do not forget, that you also should feel good. Would you feel fine spending all your money on Christmas? I wouldn’t.
Analyse how much you can spend on Christmas and divide it into the categories, for example, food, gifts, decoration.
If your budget is tight try reaching out to your guests. Explain the situation and ask if they are willing to participate. You don’t have to ask about money, you can always ask if someone can bring some decoration or some food.
There is always a solution, you just have to communicate. Noone is going to guess what’s your situation, or how you feel. This is pretty simple, yet might make your life so much easier.
2. You don’t discuss the gifts with your family
This part can be really problematic. You can receive a gift that will make you sad, or you can give a gift that will ruin someones’ day.
I’m not only talking about giving some lame socks, or sweater. You can also receive a gift that is just too expensive and you can feel bad about it.
To help you out I prepared ideas that could help you coordinate the gift-giving/planning process:
– you can set a price limit. Discuss the limit with your family. Some will be fine with $1000, some with $10. Pay special attention to setting a limit that everyone is going to be comfortable with.
– gifts are generally made for making the other person smile. You can make a rule that the gifts have to be handmade. This should keep the price low and still could make the other person smile. There are some DIY ideas for you:
– You can set a rule that only specific kind of gifts should be used, for example only sweets, or only funny socks (how can someone be mad at you if everyone becomes funny socks? Not a chance! 😉 )
I really recommend discussing the topic with your friends and family if you want to avoid unpleasant surprises.
3. You are more concentrated on looks than on atmosphere
I know, you want the Christmas dinner to be perfect. You want the decoration to be fancy, you want the food to be delicious and you want to look great. I get it.
There is, however, one thing you shouldn’t forget: Christmas is actually about the atmosphere and you just cannot buy it.
You can buy a Christmas tree.
You can buy some delicious food.
You can buy expensive gifts.
You can buy fancy decoration.
But what are you doing it for is no one is coming? Or if people who are coming are going to complain or grumble?
If you fight every single Christmas with your siblings, call them a month before, try to ease the situation.
No money can buy you a good Christmas atmosphere, you have to work on it. Stick to the budget, you can make everything looks really good and not ruin your finances.
4. You expect costly gifts
Come on! If you expect a new watch or anything comparatively expensive you should ask yourself one question: what is Christmas for you? Is it just a possibility to receive an expensive gift?
Re-think, if needed.
5. You don’t realize how much work does it take to organize a Christmas dinner
If you are organizing the Christmas dinner, you can skip this point. If you are just participating take 3 minutes to think about it.
Someone who prepares a Christmas dinner has to:
– coordinate and plan who and when comes
– buy food
– prepare food
– buy decoration
– prepare decoration
– buy/coordinate gifts
– plan some additional activities
If you think the list is short and it could be done easily, re-think. Ask yourself how much guests are coming. Then think how much time it would take you to call all of them and find an appropriate hour and/or day. Once you have it, take a minute to evaluate how much food you need and how much time and work it is going to take to prepare it.
It is a lot of work. If you are invited to a Christmas party always ask the host if they need any help, they will appreciate that. By helping someone you can actually give them the best gift.
6. You forget all the rules and go on shopping spree
If you set a budget stick to it. If you have a problem with impulsive buying you can try the following tricks:
– never go shopping without the shopping list
– only buy things you are really going to use
– never buy things you did not plan to buy, give yourself a couple of days, then make a decision to buy/not to buy
Christmas is not a competition. If your neighbors have a great lights and decorations it doesn’t mean, that you have to have the same or better ones.
Competition is good, but only when it makes sense. Do you really want to spend your money on having more lights or decorations that your neighbors?
If you have some problems answering the questions, here are some additional ones that you can always use:
– Is the purchase in line with my core values?
– Do I want to please myself, or someone else?
– Is this purchase going to make me happy for years, or for days?
– Am I doing this because I want, or because someone expects me to do so?
Do yourself a favor and refuse to buy more lights and decoration this year. Your wallet will be happy. You will be happy.
Those were my thoughts on how to make minimalistic Christmas be the best ones you ever had. What are your ideas on Christmas on a budget?