christmas gift budgeting

The Gift of Not Gifting

christmas gift budgeting

Christmas is the season of giving, but sometimes giving can become a burden on our wallets. Unfortunately, the burden of giving turns into stress for far too many people. This can be even worse when you have a large family. Growing up, I had a total of seven siblings in my family after both parents remarried. That is a lot of kids and a lot of family gifts! I can only imagine how it would be if we were all still buying gifts for each other and our children. If you are feeling emotionally and financially stressed by your gift list, it might be time to re-think your gifting and suggest a change to the rest of your family for next year.


There are a few ways that families choose to handle the gifting burden. One option is to give to everyone but limit the dollar amount you can spend. Another is to have a sort of Secret Santa where you pick a name from a hat and only buy gifts for that person. Both of these are great ideas that can reduce the financial stress of family Christmas gifts. Plus, everyone still has a gift to put under the tree and open during your celebration.


My problem with this is that it is still a waste of money for everyone involved. How many times have you ever received a really fantastic gift that you loved from one of these gift arrangements? I can tell you that my answer is one time. Yes, one time I received a gift that I actually liked and used. Every other time? Well, there are gloves, hats, scarves, slippers, socks, and jewelry that I never wore and only end up throwing out or giving away. I am literally throwing someone’s money away, and I hate that. Chances are that no matter how much I try to find the right gift, my family members are doing the same thing with my gift to them. Let’s stop the madness this year!


Consider the gift of not gifting next year. What is that? You and your family members decide that you are not buying each other any gifts next year. (Note: I think this really applies best for adult family members. Kids still like to get gifts, and it is part of the holiday magic.) Everyone saves the money and stress of buying Christmas gifts. Take the money you would have spent and buy a nice gift for yourself instead. Use the money to pay down some debt or build your children’s college savings accounts. Donate the money to a favorite charity in your family’s honor. There are so many better ways to give by not gifting at all next Christmas.


What’s the worst gift you ever received from a family member?

christmas personal finance lessons

Lessons in Personal Finance for Children During the Holiday Season


christmas personal finance lessons




Christmas is a great time to teach your children some important lessons about money and personal finance. A hidden benefit to teaching your children these lessons is reinforcing them for yourself as well. Try some of these activities with children of all ages this season.


Christmas shopping provides a wonderful opportunity to practice budgeting. Share your family gift budget with your children and allow them to help you make a gift shopping list that stays within the budget. While you are shopping, let your children keep a running total of your purchases to practice math while keeping you accountable for sticking to your budget. Consider giving your children a gift allowance of their own money to spend on gifts for siblings. Any activity you can provide that involves managing money and budgeting is an opportunity for applied learning.


While talking about budgeting, include the practice of saving and giving in your discussion. One of the best experiences for my children has been choosing Angel Tree children every year. We started a tradition of letting each of our children pick a child off the tree who was about their age. I set a gift budget for each child, and they had to help pick out gifts within that budget. My children learned about budgeting because they had to weigh the cost of each item they chose. They learned lessons about the tradeoff between one big gift or many small gifts. Most importantly, they learned how blessed they are and that the bigger joy during Christmas comes from giving rather than receiving.


If you are a homeschool mom teaching elementary and middle school children, I also recommend incorporating some of these lessons into your math studies. For those looking for a ready-made lesson, try one of these:

Christmas Math: Grades 4-6

Christmas Measurement and Money: Grades 3-6

Christmas Budgeting: Grades 4-6



How do you teach your children about money, budgeting, and giving during the holiday season?


how to survive black friday tips for shopping and saving

How to Survive Black Friday

how to survive black friday tips for shopping and saving

People seem to have a love-hate relationship with Black Friday. Some people swear by it for getting deals on holiday shopping. Others swear it off completely. I’m going to start with a  disclaimer that I am one of the people who swears off the stores on Black Friday. One time I went to Target in the early morning hours on Black Friday for a specific item. There is no deal good enough to get me to get up in the middle of the night to shop. I value my sleep too highly. And seriously? I am not camping out in a parking lot even if they are going to give me a free 50-inch TV! A closet full of Jimmy Choos? Maybe. Aside from that, never.


Aside from my aversion to long lines and psychotic shoppers, I have two complaints about Black Friday. First, I hate that corporate marketing experts have decided to push Black Friday up into Thanksgiving. If you open your doors earlier, shoppers will visit your store first and spend a majority of their money with you. So, everyone keeps backing it up until you are not shopping on Friday at all. It’s not fair to the store employees and detracts from the spirit of the holiday. I like that several retailers have finally just said no and pushed back. Second, Black Friday is a recipe for disastrous overspending. There you are, all hyped up on caffeine and peppermint. Doorbusters and special deals are sparkling in your eyes. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the hype and spend too much buying extra things you really don’t need at all.


So, how can you survive Black Friday without melting your credit cards in the process? I have two suggestions.
  1. Stay home. My Black Friday shopping is limited to a handful of online deals. I know what I want, I buy those items, and I am not tempted by all of the other deals. Plus, I can do it from the comfort of home while wearing pajamas and drinking hot chocolate. If you are doing this too, please go ahead and click over on the sponsors in my sidebar on Black Friday. They will all be offering special deals on great products that I love, and you get to support this site while you shop. Thanks!
  2. If you can’t bear to miss out on Black Friday, do some work ahead of time to keep your spending in check. First, match up your shopping list with the advertised deals. Write down the items you are looking for at each store along with the price. When you get to the store, check the items off your list. Stick to your list. Do not deviate unless you see an item that was already on your Christmas shopping list. Once you leave the house, do not add to the list. Download this FREE BLACK FRIDAY PRINTABLE to help you stay on task and on budget.