It’s that time of year! Christmas shopping season is upon us and with only nine shopping days left time is slowly running out. The marketers have been gearing us up for the “spending season” as early as Halloween and have increased their efforts exponentially leading up to and including Black Friday. With the pressure of gift giving how do we practice financial caution before we start heading to the malls this holiday season especially when we are carrying plastic instead of cash in our wallets. Understand there is a time and place for using credit and staying within your threshold would be financially prudent.
Set a budget
For starters, one of the most important things before the shopping exodus is to set a budget and stick to it. When our daughters were young children and when they became teenagers, Christmas was a time that aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents would converge to our home to distribute and share Christmas gifts. This is before we would go to other family member’s homes for more gift giving and receiving. How could you possibly buy for the entire extended families without ending up in the poor house? Each year after gift opening, snacks, and eggnog we would put everyone’s name in a hat and draw a name as to who would buy a gift for that person. We would set a maximum dollar amount to spend on that person
prior to drawing names.
Start shopping early
Starting Christmas shopping in early November is not a bad idea so you can comfortably avoid the shopping “craze”. This also gives you time to comparison shop for the more costly items that may appear on your child’s list to “Santa”. From personal experience the later I started shopping the more likely I was to spend more freely because of last minute pressure. Dads are the worst offenders. If you have never shopped on Christmas Eve Day take my word, “Don’t do it”! Apart from everything being “picked over” the feeling of guilt compounds the pressure to spend more on a family member than we would have otherwise.
The retailers are busy, we are feeling rushed, we are impatient and hate to stand in line with all the other dads who have decided to wait for the last minute, so we tend to pick items that we have not comparison shopped. All these points tend to add up to higher costs. When emotions run high we tend to spend more now and worry about paying off the credit card later. Unfortunately, by that time it’s too late and the Holiday Season financial fallout hits home with a vengeance.
Teach children at an early age
According to financial literacy statistics the average age that parents start talking to their children about money is 10 years old. According to some experts this may be far too late and this topic should be started at age of four or five. Any earlier they may not grasp it, but at age five they are able to understand that a dollar will buy a certain item. I believe that children will learn and begin to understand if parents begin by teaching their children to work towards a goal. Parents may begin by teaching their children that Santa doesn’t bring them everything that is on their letter to Santa at the North Pole. They may have to choose between the iPad or the XBox. It used to be between this doll or that toy. How things have changed!
Inspire charitable attitudes
Begin by teaching children that there are children who are less fortunate during the Christmas. Help them by suggesting that they you go shopping with them to pick a gift for a less fortunate person. As our two daughters became older and had some income from babysitting or other small jobs, we would choose an amount that we would have normally spent on one another and donate the cash to a less fortunate family or to the local food bank. I noticed that over a couple of years their expectations decreased and the true meaning of Christmas sank in. Once children develop these positive habits of charitable giving they will carry them throughout their adult lives.
Before the holidays it may be a good opportunity to discuss gift giving with grandparents. Not to sound ungrateful for the gifts grandparents lovingly pick out for their grandchildren however, grandparents may not live in the same community or the same province so they rarely see the impact of these gifts which could be overwhelming especially when you receive an entire stable of Little Ponies or an entire train set with all the accessories and villages that go with it. It is easy for grandparents to go overboard and their gifts become “stuff” rather than a cherished item from gram and gramps. A conversation with grandparents to discuss a choice of one or two items may not only reduce the amount of stuff coming in but may also be a sigh of relief knowing it won’t break the bank when it comes to Christmas gifts for the grandchildren.
From all of us at Windsor Benefit Plans we wish you a Joyous Holiday Season and Health, Happiness, and Prosperity in the the New Year.