Monday, September 22, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

As I mentioned in passing during my 30 day blog challenge I LOVE Christmas. I love the music, the colours, the magic, the food, the lights. I just love the festive season.

Now as is obvious from my recent manage your money series I also LOVE saving money and spending wisely.

Have a guess when I started planning for Christmas??

It wasn't September 16th - 100 days before Christmas - nor was it July 25th which is considered the half way point of the year by most.

Nope, this little Christmas lover was planning for Christmas in January.

Close your mouth before you catch a fly. It's not THAT shocking, I just love to be organised.

I start my lists early in the year.

I have a food list, a baking list, a gift list, an Elf on the shelf list, a family activities list, a kids craft list...I also love lists in case that wasn't obvious too.

The lists get started early in the year then around March or April I start buying items here and there. I add an extra chicken to the grocery shopping to store in the freezer for Christmas lunch, I buy craft bits and pieces and put them aside, if I see books or puzzles or small toys that would make great stocking stuffers I buy them and hide them in my closet - shhh no one tell my kids - but most importantly I also set my Christmas budget.

In years past we've never really set an exact amount per person but I never went over $100. This year as we have started on our 'getting out of debt' journey we've set a limit of $50 per person. This includes our kids, our family and each other.

I have always been a firm believer in the old saying "it's the thought that counts". Humanity has become so materialistic, which explains why so many people are in debt up to their ears, but we haven't just fallen in love with our possessions we've also become very competitive, we have to have bigger and better belongings than the guy next door.

The biggest favour you can do for yourself at Christmas time is to stop thinking that way. If your family and friends are upset that you don't spend a lot of money on them then are they really worth your time and love?

The reason why I start so early with my Christmas plans is because I do love the season, I want to do special activities, have huge meals, decorate the house, make it magical for my kids, but I don't want to be sent broke to achieve it.

Christmas happens at the same time every year there is absolutely no reason why you can't be prepared for it. It's not an emergency that just sneaks up on you, so no using your emergency fund to spoil your kids or to buy a new tree, it is an annual event. You don't need to start in January but give yourself and your budget a fighting chance to make it out unharmed. October is close enough for the Scrooges among us yet not too close that you have to choose between milk and bread or nan and pops Christmas gift.

Set a limit for each person, then add one person per week to your budget. Before you know it you'll have everyone's gifts under the tree and no extra debt.

I want to add here a belief of mine. I am not religious so I don't preach "Christmas isn't about the gifts it's about celebrating the birth of Christ" if that's your thing then celebrate to your hearts content.
For me and my lack of religion Christmas still isn't about the gifts. It's about spending time with your family and friends, creating memories that will last longer than any new gadget ever could. Your children will appreciate the activities you do as a family far more than what was under the tree. I'm 31 years old and I can name two gifts I received as a kid. A cabbage patch doll from my Nana when I was five and a baby doll and cradle from 'Santa' when I was nine and it's because I still have both.
What I do remember is going into the city each year and seeing the Christmas window displays at David Jones and seeing the huge tree in Martins Place. Exploring Santa's village at what was then called Grace Brothers.

Don't spoil your children with presents and create another generation of materialistic debt owners. Spoil your children with memories as they are what last and will be remembered in years to come.

P.s there's only 94 sleeps till Christmas ! :)


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