This article is part of an M-Network group writing project, the 12 Days of Christmas – Personal Finance Style. As the project moves through it’s days, I will be adding each article at the bottom of this post. We’ll be posting from December 1st to December 12th.
Here are 5 Golden Rules that can really help to make your holidays easier and more festive at the same time. Have your own ideas for more rules? Make sure you let everyone know in the comments!
Buy Only What You Can Pay For In Cash
You know the drill – you take your credit card to the store, max it out to try to impress your family and friends, and then you spend the next 6-12 months paying it off…just in time for the holidays next year. This year, try something new – spend only what you can afford. Most people like getting any gift at all, and a lot of us spend more than we should in an effort to please or impress someone else – don’t do it. See what kind of cash you can spend this year and only spend that amount. There really is no sense in paying interest on your holiday gifts, and if the recipient knew that you were doing so I am sure they would not be too happy with you! We set a budget of what we can afford, and divy up the gifts within that budget – it works every time. And yes, “cash” includes using a cash back rewards card and then paying off the balance. I say always use a card to buy everything you can; at least that way you are getting something back in return for using the card!
Try Making Some Personal, Homemade Gifts
I would love to get something as a gift that someone made just for me. Talk about personal! Since we can generally afford what we wish for in life, getting something that another person really put thought and effort into is incredibly satisfying, even if it only costs a few bucks. I think too often we have all gotten in the habit of just looking through Amazon.com or elsewhere and just picking out some items to ask for – and while it’s nice getting things that you may have wanted for a while, it’s even nicer when the gift is homemade and one of a kind. Be it something for our home or a cookie mix in a decorated jar, I really appreciate gifts like that. And grandparents REALLY appreciate handmade gifts from their grandkids, so be sure to encourage your children to get started on some presents!
Go Easy On The Kids
Does your 1 year old need a dumptruck-sized gift pile under the tree? Nope – they are only 1 year old and they don’t know any difference! So many people buy way too many gifts for infants and toddlers, when a few well-made and fun gifts would serve the exact same purpose. Instead of buying as much cheap plastic crap that you can fit in the wagon, try maybe picking up a few toys made of solid wood or metal – they last longer, are more fun to play with, and you can at least know your child’s toys are not made from the toxic plastic coming from China lately!
Start A Family Tradition Each Year
This is something I wish my family had done…but we didn’t, so now we don’t have any traditions! My wife’s family, on the other hand, has all sorts of traditions that they do each and every year – from the music they play and which version it is, from the ornaments that get hung to what they have for dinner. They are all about traditions, and I have to say it was pretty nice to be involved when we first met and I was introduced to her family. So if you don’t have family traditions that you can follow every year, why not make this holiday season the first year you start them? It may seem hokey at first, but after some time everyone will be into it.
Take Stock And Cherish The Time With Your Family
I know this can be hard to do when a family argument about politics comes up at dinner, but seriously – cherish these times. I lost my Grandfather the day after Christmas three years ago, and my wife lost her dad suddenly in November just two years ago – you don’t know when your time will come. So no matter what petty crap comes up, try to put it aside – if only for a few days if possible. Use this time to reflect on your family, the past year, and what next year will bring to you. I just realized the other day that it has been 1.5 years since I have seen most of my family, which is far too long. Time flies by and you don’t notice – making it all the more important to take this time to take stock.
And here are the rest of the 12 Days of Christmas – Personal Finance Style from the M-Network
Day 1 – The First Rule Of Personal Finance at Paid Twice
Day 2 – Two Financial Goals – Less Debt, More Income at Cash Money Life
Day 3 – 3 New Year’s Worksheets at Mrs. Micah
Day 4 – 4 ways to be better prepared for Christmas next year at Gather Little By Little
Day 5 – 5 Golden Rules To Follow During The Holiday Season at My Two Dollars
Day 6 – 6 Ways To Give at Moolanomy
Day 7 – 7 Savings Strategies at Being Frugal
Day 8 – Eight Simple Snowflakes at Paid Twice
Day 9 – 9 Year-End Money Moves at Moolanomy
Day 10 – 10 Personal Finance Essentials at Cash Money Life
Day 11 – 11 Ways To Decorate at Plonkee
Day 12 – 12 Steps to a Prosperous New Year at Being Frugal