Friday, December 5, 2008

Frugal Living Friday: Keeping the Holidays Simple

Welcome to Frugal Living Friday! Each week I will feature a tip that can help us stretch our budget and live more frugally! If you have a tip that you want shared on Frugal Living Friday, let me know and you could become a guest blogger for a day.

We always have great aspirations of keeping the holidays simple, don't we? Then when they get here it can be a different story. What is important to remember is that we are in control of our own environment. If those around us choose to make the holidays overly crazy and tiring, you don't have to choose that. Simplicity is a choice, although not an easy one most of the time.

Here are a few things you can do to make the holiday season a little more stress-free, simple, and budget-friendly.

  1. Make gift giving simple. There are many ways to do this. Forgo the big extended family gift exchange and donate all the money that would have been used to a shelter or other needy establishment. You can decide to all give homemade gifts from the heart. Have a contest to see who can give the most meaningful gift. Instead of having a minimum for family gift exchanges, have maximums, ie, don't spend over $10. These are fun and creative, not to mention less stressful approaches to gift-giving.
  2. More isn't always better. Spending lots of money on countless toys and gifts that don't mean anything to the recipient has two problems: wasted money on the giver's part, and a receiver who doesn't really want the gift. It is better to give one or two meaningful gifts (even to children) instead of several. I am a firm believer in not giving my children lots of toys at Christmas. Too much causes more chaos, fighting over the gifts, and just more gluttony...they always are looking for more. Teach them to appreciate what they do have, and less can become more.
  3. Forgo the Christmas cards. Going one year without sending out Christmas cards isn't the most horrible thing you could do. It will be one less thing to worry about, and it really is no big deal. If sending out cards is important to you, then plan ahead so your holiday season can be less stressful. I keep a list every year and update it as I get new cards. This way I already know who I am sending cards to without hunting for names and addresses.
  4. Don't do a lot of baking. I am not boycotting baking here, since I enjoy it at the holidays also. But it is one thing you can cut out to allow more time to spend with your family as well as save you calories on your waistline. If you really want to bake some goodies, try baking after Christmas, around New Year's. It is still the holiday season but the rush of Christmas is over.
  5. Save ahead for your gifts. It is obviously too late this year for this tip, but try saving for Christmas all year. That way when it is time to go shopping, you have some money saved up. Much easier on the budget, and it will give you peace of mind as you shop. Always set a limit and don't go over it.

Hopefully you can sit down and relax during this holiday season with a cup of hot chocolate by the Christmas tree. Take time to soak in the wonders of the holiday season and remember all the other stuff isn't as important...but the feelings, traditions and memories created stay.


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