I read something interesting in the paper the other day: Some parents are putting off Christmas until January. Tight budgets are back in vogue, and many parents are just waiting until the after Christmas sales in order to buy their gifts.
We are fortunate enough to have all our Christmas shopping done right now, but I do know some folks who are really feeling the pinch this year, and reluctant to spend a great deal of money right now. Being able to save up for the rest of the month can help quite a bit, and some are hoping that a little Christmas bonus might be included with a paycheck.
And, of course, there are the sales. The best time to buy holiday-related items is after the holiday is over. Discounts can mean more bang for your buck if you wait until after December 25 to do your Christmas shopping — or your traveling.
Talking To Your Children about Money Problems
Instead of waiting until Christmas morning to tell your kids that Santa will be late, it might be better to prepare them ahead of time. You can also talk about your family’s financial situation, and talk about how Christmas is likely to be downsized a little bit each year.
Talking to your kids about money problems is always a little bit difficult. However, there are some things you can do to make the talk a little more productive:
- Discuss money matters in an age-appropriate manner. A six-year-old isn’t going to understand things the same way a 13-year-old does.
- Try not to scare your children. Even a teenager can be scared if you overload him or her with details. Be aware of how you sound, and keep it to the essentials.
- Focus on what you already have as a family. Make sure to point out that your family still has a number of things to be grateful for. Counting your blessings together can help your children see that there’s more to life than stuff.
- Plan more quality, frugal family activities. You can find creative and fun ways to spend time as a family. You’ll build memories that will last longer than stuff.
- Talk about how you can all work together to help the family, and that some things will have to wait. Show that you are optimistic about the future, even though you are sacrificing right now.
If you do have to put off Christmas, be up front about it. Let your children know that you will still have some holiday cheer, but the gift-giving will have to wait. You can even consider instituting a homemade Christmas, or a service-orient Christmas (give gifts of service to each other) rather than making the presents about material items.
Most children will be understanding if you are candid about the situation. Preparing them ahead of time, and planning some family-oriented activities (or starting new, frugal holiday traditions) can help them avoid crushing disappointment Christmas morning, and might even encourage your child to moderate his or her wishes this holiday season.
Do you have plans to delay or downsize Christmas?
Btw, there's a pretty nifty tool that motivates your kids to do chores. It's called MyJobChart.com. With a free account, they can earn points for finishing jobs you assign them, good towards free merchandise. Give it a try. It's completely free!