Thursday, December 27, 2007

Who's happy? You or Mastercard?

It pains me to think of how many people charged Christmas this year. I know it happens, and I know it's common but I have also lived through it and know many of you are sitting there today ... already a little nauseas over that January bill.

So stop.

Don't do it again.

Ever.

You can't do much about it now - except, perhaps, take some of that stuff back! Besides that, you need to start out the new year with a game plan.

Are you going to spend money on Christmas every year? Um ... YEAH you are!

Where is that money coming from? Well, it has to come from somewhere. So, make your budget right now. How much should be spent on the kids, on you, on your spouse, on your extended family, etc.? What is reasonable? What can you afford? What about birthdays?

Add it all together, then divide by twelve. That is the amount that has to be set aside each and every month.

What? Is that too much? Well, looky there. Ding! Ding! Ding! You spend more than you can afford on things like holidays and birthdays! You need to go back to that budget and re-evaluate.

"But we can't just tell our kids that we can only spend $30 on their birthday party AND present!"

No, you shouldn't tell them that. You should tell them, honestly, that Mom and Dad have not been handling the family's money too well. You should discuss, as a family, what is reasonable for celebrations. Everyone should have a part in understanding that this year was not reflective of reality. Everyone should have a part in building a new budget.

Sometimes everyone is in agreement. Sometimes there has to be a vote. Sometimes there is flailing and gnashing of teeth. And it's all good, because there are no more surprises in January.

(photo by sanja gjenero)

11 comments:

Mary Beth said...

Awesome post!

Cammie said...

That is a great post! We decided a few years ago to stop charging Christmas! Great for us, my husband gets a bonus at the end of November and that is what we use for Christmas. Also, when I find things on sale throughout the year, I buy them and put them away. Usually when a birthday or Christmas comes around, I have most gifts already bought and in the closet!

The oddest thing this year...my sister (who usually has to out-do everyone...I gave up keeping up years ago!) bought my son 2 great gifts...a Disney Scene-It Game and the Santa Clause 3 DVD. Well, she then calls him over and hands him $30! Hello!?!? Because, according to her, she didn't do enough!?! and tells him that he can spend it on whatever he wants! Now I am the bad guy for telling him that he is going to put it in the bank!

BTW, she is totally over her head in debt!

Amanda said...

the feeling of getting rid of credit card is second only to not having any at all! Great post!

pickayarn said...

It is my belief, that if it is not in your pocket, dont spend it. We do not do credit cards or bank accounts. Just dont believe in them. Many people have nicer than us, but we worked hard for the little we have, we apreciate it more because it didnt come easy:) Just my .02$ :)

Christine said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I know that there are plenty of people reading that aren't going to comment, "As a matter of fact, I stayed up all night crying and stressing over how we'll pay our bills!"

They just need to know that others are doing it. It IS possible. It is also hard and it brings many opportunities for self-sacrifice, patience and planning. All good things. Things I want to have in my life, and things I want to teach my children.

Angie said...

After charging part of Christmas this year, I have already started planning what we are doing for next Christmas so that we can start setting aside money for it.

Christine said...

Angie,

That is SO GREAT! It will be a challenge, but totally worth it!

Dawn said...

Thanks Christine. I was one of those who wasn't going to comment but you're so right. We're struggling to get our debt down right now and yet we still charged some of Christmas.

This was a really welcome post!

Anonymous said...

Just paid my holiday spending bill in full--OUCH and then did exactly what you said, had my bank automatically deduct $30 a month to put in a savings account. Painless!

If we were really smart, we'd do most of our holiday shopping for next year this week, while everything is on sale!

Christine said...

Woo! HOOOOOOO!

Amie said...

We have started giving our two kids one main thing they want within a reasonable amount of money. Often, those things need accessories/consumable supplies/gear, etc. Instead of buying the whole package, they understand that they will be working for/using money gifts from relatives to get the extra accessories. This is the 3rd year and we have been able to maintain our budget. My husband wanted to get a Wii for the kids (and himself probably LOL) but decided against it because not only was it not in our budget but it was hard to come by during December.

For my 9 year-old's birthdays, we usually have a backyard "camp-out" sleepover party. We have it in our backyard now, but when we were in a condo, we held it at my parent's house. I make the cake and invitiations. All we have to pay for are drinks, hot dogs, and cheap flashlights for all.

My 16-year-old's birthdays usually consist of a hambuger bbq at the park (if the weather is nice) with a touch football game and catch. He likes a stack of brownies for his birthday cake.

Great post. I like hearing about what others do for these types of special events and save our precious, hard-earned $$$!