Changing Our Christmas Ways To Get Ahead

Christmas ways YodaMy husband and I love Christmas, it’s always been our favorite holiday. How could you not love Christmastime? It’s just a feel-good holiday with pretty lights and decorations everywhere and the Santa hats (I just love them). We always decorate way too early and love to fill the space under our tree with tons of beautifully wrapped presents.

The last few years, since I’ve really gotten on track financially, I have been stressed out every single Christmas. My husband loves getting massive amounts of presents and our daughter has become the same way.

What about me? Do I still enjoy getting tons of gifts on Christmas? No sir. The last few Christmas’s I haven’t really wanted anything (well nothing we could afford at least like a car, vacation, etc.) and it drives my honey nuts. He wants me to have presents to open too, so he usually makes me go out a buy myself a few things the week before Christmas.

Of course I use this an excuse to buy and wrap items I know that I’ll be needing, like: household items, beauty items, office supplies and so on. I really don’t need anything for Christmas and would be just fine watching them open their presents.

Aside from the financial side of things, I have also been trying to go a little minimalist. Going minimalist is really difficult when your husband and daughter aren’t on board, but what can you do. I’m happy with the things I have and I still have way more than I need.

How we normally do Christmas:

Normally, we just start buying lots of presents with the 2 paychecks (bi-weekly) before Christmas. I use all that money to get the two of them tons of gifts because I know that’s what they really want.

Then, my parents usually give us a couple hundred dollars for our Christmas present. I then use this money to buy them even more gifts because I worry they will be sad because there might not be enough. So there goes that money too.

Christmas ways socksOn top of that, my honey’s mom usually sends money for Christmas. Can you guess what we do with that money? Yep, even more presents—this time I usually spend this all on my husband because I know how he is. Great guy, but very materialistic—many people are.

After all that spending, my husband still makes me pick out a few things. I usually use my own savings (for luxury spending), gift cards I earned online and sometimes our debit card.

Christmas is a very expensive time for our family and I’m sick of wasting money that we could be saving or investing. Plus, I’m sick of all the extra stuff; everything keeps adding up and then it creates more hassle for me.

Last year, I tried to convince my husband that it would be so much fun to go another route. Instead of buying lots of presents for our family, we could help others (lots of others). I could use my savvy couponing skills to get a crapload of food, health and beauty products, toys and other items to donate to those in need. Even if I only spent $500 doing this, it would equal at least $5,000 worth of items and help so many people. He said no, he wanted presents. :-(

Changing our Christmas Ways:

Christmas ways VaderI had a talk with my honey the other day and begged that I could just spent half (or less) than we normally do on Christmas presents. I explained that we have so many large projects and things we need to be saving for and that money could be put toward them. He saw reason…he is a smart guy. :-)

So this year I will not go overboard with buying the two of them Christmas presents and I will save the rest of the money toward our upcoming financial needs. I will not feel bad that they only have X amount of gifts under the tree because many people have way less than we do and would love to have this problem.

I will not be stressed out and financially purge our budget. I will not try to make my family happy with material things and instead try to spend some quality time with them (internet free).

Wanting to buy less Christmas presents for my family does not make me a selfish or cheap person. They are already spoiled enough and it would do them good to appreciate all the wonderful things we have and a few new things.

Do I just have issues or do others struggle with this stuff too?
How much do you usually spend on Christmas presents? 

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About Jen Perkins

Likes: saving money, being debt free (aside from our house), zombies, travel, getting money, blogging and dogs. Dislikes: debt, being broke, bunnies, wasting money, not having enough money to travel the world and paying interest. Facebook  ♥  Twitter  ♥  Google+  ♥  RSS


Changing Our Christmas Ways To Get Ahead — 38 Comments

  1. I never got showered with presents even as a kid. I could name one or two things I’d like for Christmas, but ten or more would be hard. You really do a lot of presents! It is nice that you are able to change a little, with small steps in a few years you can have a minimalist Christmas and spend the money on a family experience instead?
    Pauline recently posted..Little house in Guatemala, week 6My Profile

  2. Yep, we used to buy too much for Christmas, right onto the credit card,but we stopped that last year and set the limit for each other at $100. This year, we’ve set it at $20 a piece and are letting our daughter pick the gifts. My husband came very close to getting Disney Princess Candyland but I was able to convince her that it needed to be a gift Daddy would like instead of just her, so we got a multi-tool and set of Uno cards. After paying off all our credit card debt, we just don’t want to spend money. For the daughter, we maybe spent almost $50 for a set of starter golf clubs and the rest of her stuff was bought with rewards points, maybe $100? I think you can be creative or give family type gifts that you can all do together instead of tons of presents, but it is hard if everyone expects lots of gifts. Good for you for talking about it and deciding to cut back.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..How We Paid Off $30,000 in Credit Card DebtMy Profile

  3. Jen,
    You’re not alone! When I was in college, I tried to get my family go buy a few things for themselves instead of doing what we traditionally do: Buy tons of gifts for each other. I didn’t have $500 or more to spend on my family like they did, so I felt inadequate.

    When I pitched the idea of treating ourselves and then sharing why we bought said luxury, everybody scoffed. They said it would be no fun even though I reminded them we’d get exactly what we want. No ill-fitting apparel or DVDs that’ll collect dust. Nope, they wanted to overspend and spoil each other.

    Even out of college, I find I don’t like spending much this time of year. So I told them: You’ll each get a little something. Deal with it. I’m on my own so I have a budget to keep in mind.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

  4. I’m with you. I consider any and all options to simplify Christmas. My hubby and I don’t exchange gifts. I wrap a few necessities like underwear and socks so the kids see us opening things. The kids each get two gifts, one from Santa,and one from us. Christmas dinners are mostly potluck, or we order something in. A simple Christmas, is a happy Christmas in my books
    Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom recently posted..Are your Finances an Amazing Race?My Profile

  5. As you know I have HUGE problem with buying stuff for Christmas (and receiving it). I am glad you managed to talk your husband out of spending so much on stuff; in fact giving away some of it is a great idea. You can also arrange a ‘happening’ rather than buy stuff – this is what we are likely to do (apart from tokens we bought to day and it took us all of 64 minutes).
    maria@moneyprinciple recently posted..Give Yourself the Spirit of Entrepreneurialism this ChristmasMy Profile

  6. I’m so bad about budgeting for my Christmas shopping. Once I get out there and actually start shopping I start feeling way more generous than I should! I don’t think wanting to spend less on Christmas reflects negatively on you at all. Most of us have too much stuff anyway, and the quantity of gifts received has never made one Christmas better or worse than any other!

  7. You’re pretty normal – I see no issues whatsoever. I’ve been trying to go minimalist like you for several years now. The hard part is convincing others you’re not doing it because you’re broke. My brother and his family always assume I’m jobless when I don’t get them a ton of gifts. I’m like… “I’m fine! I still have a job and I’m not starving!” hehe.
    Veronica @ Pelican on Money recently posted..Has Your Boss Been Naughty or Nice?My Profile

  8. Not a whole lot to honest! My family doesn’t really do Christmas. His doesn’t have much $. However, I definitely have problems with setting limits when it comes to gifts for my fiance… last year I spent about $100 but I’ve spent much more than that on presents for him in the past.
    eemusings recently posted..2012 in reviewMy Profile

  9. Well, if you’d asked me 4 years ago, I’d say we spent close to $5K on Christmas. We could afford it, but it was just so. . . unnecessary. The husband & I used the holidays to purchase things for each other that we would have likely bought at other times of the year (a camera, replaced a coffee maker, etc), but there was plenty of junk in there too.

    Now that we’re big into budgeting & trying to pay down our home mortgage, we’ve reduced our spending to $1K for the holidays. This includes everything – food contributions to parties we attend, holiday cards, postage, charitable giving that we do, and the gifts themselves. It makes my life super easy & Christmas much more enjoyable!
    Hawaii Planner recently posted..This & ThatMy Profile

  10. We have not struggled with this. In fact, just today I was thinking that under our tree looks mighty bare and I should spend a little more on my hubby! (It’s just the two of us).

    However, in my family, we purchase everyone a gift. I typically shop throughout the year and find great deals, so it still does not add up to a huge amount.

    Good for you for changing so that you have money for projects!
    Amanda L Grossman recently posted..Homemade Cookie Holders for the Holiday SeasonMy Profile

  11. I just had to put my input in on this one. Yes Honey has always had huge Christmas’s. With a ton of gifts. But what he didn’t know or remember is that most of the gifts I got free with coupons and labels! Family sent gifts, not money. I had a budget for Christmas and when it was gone it was gone. We never spent more then $300 clothes and all. Family was limited to $25. So Honey remembers the wonderful huge Trees and gifts, but had no idea that most were free!

    • I think most of us as children really had no clue how our parents did most of the things they did. My mom was a single parent who worked 2 jobs most of the time just so that we could have a nice, safe apartment to live in. I have no clue how she made birthdays and Christmas happen.

      So awesome though that you were able to work hard with the coupons and labels to save so much and provide a plentiful Christmas. :-)
      Jen Perkins recently posted..How Living in a Small Town Affects Our FinancesMy Profile