Several years ago, 2010 to be exact, my husband and I made our final payment on our debt. We were officially debt free!!
It felt amazing. We had done it through a lot of hard work and sacrifice. We had done all we could to save so we could throw loads of money at our debt.
A few months later the holidays rolled around. Now, one may think that we went crazy to celebrate, but we didn’t.
We still set a budget. We saved. But the funny thing is that it allowed us to splurge too!
Our family had worked together to pay off our bills. We had sacrificed dining out. We had not taken vacations.
I clipped coupons. My husband and I sold items.
It was a lot of sacrifice but it was very well worth it. We had achieved our goal.
And, we wanted to celebrate.
We decided to have a little extra fun that first Christmas. And, being smart about it allowed us to do what we wanted.
LESS CAN BE MORE
We told our kids that they would only get 2 presents under the tree from Mom and Dad. That allowed us to spend a bit more on the big-ticket item on Christmas.
They did not miss opening more presents. In fact, they did not even notice there was less there.
GIVE THE PRACTICAL
Some of the gifts that we gave to our kids and one another were things that were needed. There were pajamas under the tree and a new coat from grandma.
Putting the focus on adding more gifts by including needed items allowed more from the holiday budget to be spent on the fun things!
SAVE ALL YEAR LONG
Once our debt was paid-in-full, we had a bit more money left over each month. We did not spend it. We put it into savings.
For example, our car payment ran a bit over $300 a month. We did not up our food spending or go out to dinner. Instead, we paid ourselves.
And, we also continued with our savings methods at the store. We used the same budget methods applied to get out of debt. But, rather than send money to creditors, we paid ourselves.
We were able to save hundreds every single month. Then, when the holidays came, we had a bit more money to spend to get the extra things we wanted.
USE YOUR BUDGET
Your budget is still necessary for the holidays. You need to make sure. You follow it. Budget for the big-ticket items and find a way to make the numbers work.
That is exactly what we did as well. We had our budget. We knew we wanted to buy our kids a video game system that was around $200.
That was a big amount for a single item for them. We simply adjusted some of our spending and also found less expensive items to go along with the game platform.
Whatever you do, never spend more than you have in the bank or saved. Never go into debt to pay for the holidays.
REMEMBER THE REASON FOR THE SEASON
It is easy to get swept in the “stuff” when it comes to the holidays. But, that is not what matters.
Family and friends are what to focus on. If you can’t do the splurge – then don’t. Your kids or spouse will love you no matter what.
What they need most is to know you are there for them and that you have that chance to be together and celebrate the warmth of the season.
Focus on traditions. That may mean matching PJs the night before, reading the “Christmas Story” before bed, or having Kung Pao chicken for lunch on Christmas day.
The holidays are about more than splurging and spending money. Never forget that.