1. Family Instead of Fancy Gifts
In North America, our society is losing touch with the meaning of Christmas – whether it is the birth of Christ, or the celebration of the season. Regardless of your reason, family is the focus for almost everyone.
We love to lavish our kids with fancy gifts. It makes all of us feel good. The problem is that we have let gifts take priority over family. We are sending a message to our kids that Christmas is more about the gifts received than the reason for celebrating.
On Christmas day, the most important thing to our kids is having Mom, Dad, Grandpa and Grandma all spending the day together, no shopping, no school, no work distractions. By cutting spending, the focus of Christmas shifts from the gifts we gave and receive, to a greater focus on family.
2. More Thoughtful Gifts
If you put yourself on a reduced budget than last Christmas (you do budget, right?), you will naturally be more creative and thoughtful with your gifts. You will find that you aren’t buying your son that toy he doesn’t need just because you “need” some stocking stuffers. Rather, you will spend your time finding that “perfect” gift that he will use for weeks, months, and hopefully years to come. By cutting your spending, your gifts will naturally be more thoughtful.
3. Your Kids Appreciate Their Gifts More
How many times on Christmas morning have you seen your kids open up all of their gifts and pile them on the sofa or the floor, only to choose one or two to play with and ignore the rest? I have seen that with my own kids. You spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on gifts, only to have most of them ignored.
Kids get very excited in the days leading up to Christmas because the pile of gifts keeps growing and growing, as do their expectations, only to have the natural disappointment that all of the hopes and dreams of the greatest gift ever didn’t come to fruition. But if your kids only have 3 or 4 gifts under the tree, they will appreciate what they do have more and the gifts will not be discarded in a pile.
4. You Can’t Really Afford It
Here is a reality check for most of us. We have bills, car payments, credit card balances, lines of credit, and so on. For 11 months of the year, we have stress about not having enough money for the life that we really want, but we spend our future on a day that comes and goes in the blink of an eye. The banks and credit card companies are happy to lend us more money to supplement our income. We are taught to have good credit and make my monthly payments and we will get the money that we need to have the lifestyle that we want. It is Christmas, so we don’t want to deprive our kids of the best Christmas ever. Then January comes and the credit bills start coming in. How many times are we shocked by how much we spent to celebrate just one day? By then, most of the fancy gifts we bought our kids are either stuffed in their closet or are broken, and we are left with bloated credit card bills. Most of us can’t afford to pay off those bills all at once, so the 18.9% interest charge makes Christmas even more expensive. Unless you buy your gifts using cash and have no personal debt, you really can’t afford to have a bloated Christmas budget.
5. Massively Reduce Your Stress Level
Christmas is supposed to be a time of reflection, family, and new beginnings. Many people make life-changing decisions such as a change in job, a move, or some other profound change to their lives to get them closer to their goals. Yet the hustle and bustle of the season also makes it the most stressful time of year. Many of us would rather visit the dentist than try to navigate the traffic and the mall crowds during the Christmas season. Yet we still do it, every year.
By cutting your Christmas spending, you become more intentional in your actions while shopping for gifts. You will be more likely to research your purchases online before heading out to the box stores or mall to buy them. You will spend less time wandering around aimlessly, trying to figure out how to spend that last hundred on your youngest child because you haven’t spent precisely the same amount that you did for your oldest. By cutting your spending, you will have more focus, and you will massively reduce your stress level.
If you aren’t ready to make a change to your Christmas spending habits yet, do a trial run and see how it works. When you head out on Saturday morning to start your shopping, stop at the bank first and take out a predetermined amount of money that you plan on spending for the day. Take a few minutes the night before to research what you intend to buy and where you intend to buy it. See how it goes. If you don’t like it, you can always head out to the mall the next weekend with your credit card and go crazy. But at least you tried. At least you had a taste of a shopping experience on a budget, shopping with intention, and focusing on what is really the true meaning of Christmas.
All the best and Merry Christmas!