The Budget-Conscious Parent’s Guide to a Merry Christmas
By Sylvia Cochran –
The Bible calls us to be thrifty stewards of the money we do have, but Christmas is a challenge for parents who want to buy good gifts for their children.
Advertisers tell the youngsters about all the expensive gadgets and doodads they have to have; your wallet sings a swan song. What do you do when you cannot afford to buy a lot of Christmas presents this year?
- Ask for a wish list. Make it clear that the children may not receive anything from the list, but let them get their wishes out of their systems. Feeling heard and understood even if you cannot afford to buy an expensive game platform is oftentimes overlooked in the holiday hustle and bustle.
- Look for a common thread. Do your daughter’s wishes seem to involve a lot of dolls or doll-related items? Does your son have trains on the brain? While an American Girl doll is out of the question for plenty of families, a much less expensive but just as nice-looking version is frequently a good choice.
- Set a budget. Once again, the Bible cautions us to count the cost of an action before engaging in it. Look over your budget for the month of December and meet your obligations (rent, mortgage, utilities, etc.). Tally up the discretionary amount. If it is bigger than $0, you have to make some hard decisions.
- Prioritize gift-giving. Does your spouse really need a Christmas gift? If money is tight, she or he should be more than happy to accept tasty baked treats or a hand-made card in lieu of a store-bought item. Sit out the office’s “Secret Santa” gift exchange this year; do not feel compelled to contribute to the church’s holiday gala this time around assuming you are nevertheless tithing and do not worry about contributing $20 or more to the efforts aimed at buying gifts for teachers, preachers or coaches. After God and your spouse, your children should have first priority.
- Swallow your pride. If the discretionary income is below $0, admit to yourself that you simply cannot afford to buy Christmas presents for your kids this year. Families should contact http://www.toysfortots.org/ or http://www.wishuponahero.com/. Let your minister know that you need help with Christmas gifts for the kids this year. If you do not have a church home, find one; then make your needs known.
It is a good idea to remind children that being loved and getting stuff are not synonymous. Work with the youngsters to recognize peer pressure to have the latest and greatest and teach them to stand up under it. Help kids to see through slick ad campaigns and show them to be discerning consumers.
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