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So a few weeks back I wrote some about being a one income family. There are lots of difficulties that come with living on one income but I believe many more benefits.
This time of the year can be particularly hard when it comes to staying disciplined and focused. Just because its Christmas doesn't mean you forget all about your budget. In fact if you are an organized one income family you will have budgeted Christmas into your finances months ago.
I know its tempting to forgo putting extra on the credit card your trying to pay off so that you can buy that video game for your kid. But trust me when I say your child will understand, maybe not now...but when he/she is older they will remember what it means to be responsible and wise when it comes to money. So whats your Christmas budget look like? Do you have one? Here are some tips-
1. Set a budget and stick to it! Sounds simple doesn't it. But our consumerist society is out there waiting to temp you into buying more. And its not just stores that don't have your best interest in mind. Its friends and family too!
Just yesterday I was told by my well meaning Grandmother to just get a $5 gift for a gift exchange at a family gathering. Although I had just told her that we are not doing gift exchanges because our budget will not allow. Just $5, and my nephew will have something to open up. As if he doesn't already have many gifts to open that day. Its easy to think "Just $5" but that's a slippery slope to go down. Don't do it.
2. Make a list and check it twice! Yes, write it down, everyone your buying for and what you will be buying, then try as best you can to stick to it. I know once you get out there you might see something for someone you hadn't thought of, and that's okay. But it has to fit into the budget. Set a limit for each person your buying for. It might be $20 for your Aunt, and $100 for mom. If you see something while your out that you just know that special someone would love but it doesn't fit into your budget you will have to have the discipline and strength to move on. Maybe you can save to get it for them another time. There's always birthdays! Plus they will never know that you didn't get them that "other" gift!
3. Don't forget about the "other" expenses. Gifts are not the only thing that you spend more on this month. There's all that yummy holiday food, and gas to drive to visit family and friends. Is there going to be a office Christmas party, a bible study group gift exchange, or perhaps your child's school will have a special event that you'll have to bake something for? You must consider all of those things and add them into your budget.
So how is my family budget doing? We set a $500 limit and have about $200 left to get our kids their main gift and eachother something special. Okay, I would like to be able to spend more on my kids, my friends, my in laws. I want to bake every neighbor, church member and acquaintance cookies. Give my pets something special to show my love. But when it comes down to it that isn't what I want my kids to remember when they think back on Christmas. They won't remember that they didn't receive some toy that they wanted when they were 5. They will remember if Mom and Dad where always struggling to pay the bills or never saved for college.
And also let us not overlook that Christmas is about CHRIST, not shopping and presents!