Everyday Living Tips | Our Family Budget

Solving Spending Pressures of the Holiday Season

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You’re probably at the beach or spending time in the pool and snow and ice are the furthest thing from your mind. It’s only July but thinking about the Holiday Season early can save you money and help take the stress down a notch with a an early planning strategy.

The Holiday Season was special for my family in the UK and there was a feeling of  joy in the air every day in December. We celebrated Christmas in the UK but just not on the level as Mrs. CBB’s family does here in Canada. Looking back I think if we had the snow it might have had a bigger impact on us. You know how we are all dreaming of a white Christmas… well that is part of the experience but not all of us get it.

My father used to always say,”I was lucky if I got an orange son,you don’t know you’re born“. In other words you don’t know how lucky you have it now compared to life before you were born.

My Mum and Dad would always help us kids decorate a tree and we would all have gifts to open on Christmas morning followed by a traditional Goose Dinner. We never really had snow on the ground so no snowmen or snow angels on our front lawns. What we did have is love and although our gifts might have been far and few we can’t deny that money is the topic most chat about leading up to Christmas and thereafter.

I’m not kidding when I say my first Christmas in Canada was outrageous. Not only did I get to make a snowman but I got to drive highway 401 in a snowstorm as my first Canadian driving experience. I also got to feel the crisp cold air up me nose and feel my hands going numb. These times although we may have had them when I was very young were not memories in my mind.

I also got a glimpse of how empty my pockets were going to be if I didn’t start planning for the holidays in Canada. I believe that Christmas is much more Vegas compared to what I’m used to and I’m not a Mr. Money Bags. No, I’m no Scrooge either but I certainly wasn’t ready for the celebrations Mrs.CBB’s family were about to surround me with.

I figured for about 8 of us it took around 5 hours to open our Christmas gifts as it’s the one time of year the entire family is together and boy do they make it a good time. The budget for each person was $150-$300 and was a growing trend each year as if we all needed to deal with a shopping addiction. Although Mrs. CBB’s family is frugal with their money they spare no expense for Christmas.

Mrs. CBB and I didn’t spend that much on each other in fact after the first year we stopped buying gifts for each other. We saved our money to buy what we wanted once per year. Last year was our HD (1080p) Smart television that we envisioned for 3 years on our wall over the fireplace.

Since we were Newlyweds and needed a budget by the time we got round to it last year everything had changed. The family now had to listen to us say no we are on a budget and so we decided to pick names for Christmas with a $50 limit per person. If only more people realized it’s not the amount you spend it’s the love that’s given. So now we only spend $100 at Christmas as opposed to the almost $2000 we used to spend (not really but no one needs to know if you got a good deal, right?)

Stress for many creeps up during the holiday season when people are trying to sort out what to buy and if they can afford it. Sometimes this stress can turn into holiday depression. Some families turn to the food bank or rely upon Christmas hampers, community groups and donations just to see the kids smile. It’s these programs that take some of the stress away for many and continue to gain full support from communities around Canada. Tis, the season of giving, sharing and Love.

Then for others it’s after Christmas when the credit card bills start popping up that stress sets in. This can cause money fights and money problems in relationships. Most people spend far more on holiday shopping than they should and simple planning can help solve this problem. Stop the last-minute shopping and paying full retail price for items. Some people like to shop after Christmas to get boxing day deals, wrap them up and away they go, smart idea.

Not only are gifts and the grocery budget top of the list during the festivities there is also snow tires, under coating protection for vehicle maintenance, shovels, wiper blades, wind shield washer fluid, boots, hats, gloves, scarves, snow pants, ice scrapers, ice-melt etc….

All this can add up and if it is not being saved in the budget these expenses can come at a high price for some. These are not considered emergency expenses either.

Ways we reduce spending pressures of the Holiday Season

  • Budget monthly maintenance costs and save the money in our projected expenses account so the money is there when we need it.
  • Factor in the cost of winter attire into our clothing allowance when allotting money to the clothing category in the budget.
  • We draw names for gift-giving each New Years Eve so that way we know who we are buying for at the beginning of the year.
  • We talk to the person who we are buying for and ask them about things they like in advance so you have options.
  • Search for the best price on items that the person we are buying for wants, then buy it. The best part is we have all year to do this.
  • Save $25 a month in our Budget for projected expenses at Christmas Time and New Years (we don’t go out so not much to save for us).
  • Set a grocery budget that reflects the food we want to bring to the relatives as we don’t normally host. This includes baking as we bake for our friends and wrap up our Christmas Cookies each year.
  • Set a drinking budget-how much alcohol do we want in our home. festive season so we budget this ahead of time so we have the money.
  • We buy items at end of season for the following year. We are well stocked on wrapping paper, bags, Christmas cards, outdoor-lights etc.
  • We don’t buy for each other so we save for want we want and buy it on boxing day if we find an awesome deal.
  • Avoid the line-ups, shop early, time is money and we would rather spend it together than slugging around in the snow from shop to shop.
  • We also like to volunteer during the festive season with our local community groups.

Thanks to my Facebook Fan Mary Campbell for asking me to talk about this topic! I always appreciate listening to what my fans want to know and learn.

What ways do you prepare for the festive holidays? How do you save money? Do you budget your holiday expenses?

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