Save Money On Christmas Gifts
It can be a difficult challenge to save money on Christmas gifts when everyone else seems to be in a buying frenzy. Particularly if you are already struggling.
I’m a giver. It comes naturally to me and because of that I tend to have trouble budgeting when someone is in need or when I see something that reminds me of someone. I guess you could say giving is my love language.
Only. There’s a slight problem with that. Money.
You see, I am a stay at home mom and my husband works on a commission based budget. Yes, I would love to buy everyone a Christmas gift this year, my family, my neighbors, the people who work with my husband, bloggers that I love on the internet. It’s just how I say “I love you, I care about you, thank you for being you.”
The Reality Check With Christmas Gifts
When I married my husband I was 19 and he was 21. He started his new job just a few months before our wedding. I was in need of a job. We married in October of that year and entered the marriage with no money and plenty of debt. Then just two months into our marriage we had a reality check. Christmas was upon us. Remember how I said I’m a giver? Well, I was also young and dumb when we first got married. I could have and would have spent $100 on everyone in our family. Except for one minor detail. There was no cash to support my desires.
The Truth Of The Christmas Gift Mentality
We had no money for Christmas gifts and since I’m a giver we had to have a solution, after all, I could not show up on Christmas day empty handed. That thought just felt horrible to me. It was enough to make me cry and so I suppose it was seeing tears roll down the cheeks of his young bride that gave my husband his idea.
The Christmas Budget
This my dear friend, was my first ever budget.
Sitting on our bed in the downstairs room of his mother’s house, we grabbed a pencil and a notebook and wrote down every member of our family on the list. Our parents and siblings were on the top of the list. Below their names, we drew a line. Those were the people that no matter what, would get a gift that year.
Below that first line we wrote the names of every cousin, aunt, uncle and grandparent and below their names, we drew another line. These were the ones that we really wanted to give gifts to.
Finally, the last set of names was added to the list, the names of our friends.
My Dear Friend, This Was My First Experience With A Budget.
Going along each name we wrote a number to represent that person. Then, we checked our bank account. We knew how much money was in the account at that moment. We took a separate sheet of paper and wrote each bill that had to be paid between that day and Christmas, along with the estimated dollar amount. Then, we took a guess of about how much money would we make in that same amount of time and subtracted the dollar amount of bills going up from the amount of money coming in. That was our Christmas money.
Next, we went back to the list of names, and now we only cared about the numbers next to the names. If we could only give to our immediate family above that very first line we would be able to buy a decent gift for each of them, but no one below that first line would get a gift. That was not an option to my naive but giving soul. So, we took the math a step farther. If we were to give to everyone on that list a Christmas gift (which was my true desire) then those people would only have a budget of $5 each.
You can imagine how I cried. What could I get with $5? A candy bar! Stupid. Stupid. Stupid Budget!
The Gifts We Gave
That first year we gave the very same gift out to everyone. Not every person got a gift, but every family did. Those who we gave the gift to may have looked down on them, I don’t know. They may have thought the gift was cute or a nice gesture, something sweet but not too grand. I have no idea what their thoughts were towards the gift, except that they got one.
To me, the gifts were made with love, a lot of love. They were thought out down to the very dollar. The details were planned out in very careful calculation and a lot of time was spent preparing the gifts that I gave. Inside mason jars with ribbons were the ingredients needed to prepare chocolate chip cookies with instructions attached to each ribbon.
The Way The Years Have Changed
To this day those below the second line still only get a $5 gift. It’s been that way since the beginning of mine and my husband’s marriage. The gifts have changed as the people have changed. Each person gets their own unique gift that I carefully shop for year round, only occasionally do I hand make a gift. My husband has received many raises since that first Christmas but I still stay at home, only now I am a mother. Many names have been added to the list as friends, cousins and siblings have had marriages and children of their own and still somehow the amount manages to always stay the same. Five dollars. And you know what? That’s okay, because the thing is, Christmas isn’t about the gifts that come from the store. It’s about The Gift that comes from above, a gift of true love.