“October’s Signs of the Holidays” – A Call to Action!

By: Amy Hannold

24/7 MOMS Frugal Living Editor

As the first signs of the holidays arrive, there are a few things you can do to make your holidays more “merry and meaningful”.  If you’re like me, you feel that holiday decorations arrive in stores earlier each year.  Frugalistas will use the “October Signs of Christmas” as a call to action!  It’s time to “pencil in” our holiday plans before the turkeys and tinsel sweep our best intentions away. Valuable resources, such as temper and energy – as well as money, will be saved.  Best of all, you’ll be more prepared to involve your children in memorable, educational ways.

 

It’s best to start with your spouse, relatives and close friends who will be a part of your holidays.  Coordinate schedules, talk about gift-giving details, etc. Synchronize your calendars to include school functions, religious services, travel time, etc.  Be sure to set aside some “at home” family time.   Your enthusiasm and holiday values will be reflected in your children.  Decide on your family’s focus and create a holiday you want them to remember. Build healthy and reasonable anticipations in your children about this time of year.  Present them with your family’s holiday calendar which highlights family traditions, community activities and creative time they can look forward to.  Include them in the planning as well, with discussions about including holiday traditions they’ve enjoyed from years past. To counter the “I want’s”, focus on the making of gifts and the designing of decorations for your home. Research new foods and activities, as you just might discover new holiday favorites.

 

Plan your giving now. Talk to your children about the gifts of time, talent, and sharing.  Giving as a family, throughout the holiday season, will demonstrate generosity—leaving less time to focus on the “I want’s”.  Decide as a family, where you will donate this year.  Contact the organizations and ask them about their needs and timeline for donations. For gifts of time, take your children with you when possible, or make advance childcare arrangements.  Encourage your children to think about who they are giving to.  Allow them to help choose the donations, as the project allows.

 

Just as you’re budgeting your time and money for activities, be prepared for creating holiday gifts. Gifts from the heart and the time spent in making them will be remembered for years to come.  Give yourself the gift of time and space, so that you enjoy the creative process.  On your holiday calendar, designate family craft nights/weekends for holiday preparations. Gather supplies and designate the time needed for each project. Make it a social affair, by hosting holiday craft time with your friends. It’s a good time to learn tasty recipes and fun holiday ideas.

 

Whatever your traditions or beliefs on giving to your kids during the holidays, keep in mind your own budget. Remember back to your holidays and you may find the root of your giving motivations today.  Remember that whatever you give now creates expectations (these grow with your child, at the same pace!), and defines their holiday values. Whether your childhood was in prosperity or poverty, buying too much for your kids now will not reconcile that. It may in fact, continue whatever pains you from that period of your life, into theirs.

 

Financially speaking, this month is a time to discuss budgets and make the lists of gifts, goodies and other holiday expenditures.  Think thoroughly, remembering last-minute gifts, postage, and added transportation costs.  . It’s a good idea now (or even earlier in the year) to alter your spending habits.  Instead of coffees, burger stops or other unnecessary expenditures, put that money towards your holiday expenses. Remind yourself of the holiday bills from last year.  Make it your goal to ring in 2013 with less holiday debt.  You may even consider “freezing” your credit cards and spending in cash only what you’re saving from other unnecessary expenditures. Talk with your kids about their holiday gift giving. Help them decide where that money will come from (allowances, home budgets, extra chores, making gifts, etc.).

 

Regarding the use of credit – be wise. As stated earlier, make your holiday expectations reasonable for yourself and your children. MAKE the holidays merry and bright, instead of buying them. If you must use credit, find yourself the lowest interest rate (not simply the promotional rate), and if you can, transfer your debt to lower rates. Don’t consider your credit limits to be your limits.  If these limits are temptingly high, contact your bank to lower them. Be open and honest with your partner regarding your use of credit and if you see a problem on the horizon, get help now. It won’t go away and it will affect every other aspect of your family life. And, be aware of identity theft and other crime during the holidays. Be aware of your children, belongings, identity/credit, and other assets during the holidays—crime doesn’t take a holiday!

 

Just as you’re budgeting your time and money for activities, be prepared for creating holiday gifts. Gifts from the heart and the time spent in making them will be remembered for years to come.  Give yourself the gift of time and space, so that you enjoy the creative process.  On your holiday calendar, designate family craft nights/weekends for holiday preparations. Gather supplies and designate the time needed for each project. Make it a social affair, by hosting holiday craft time with your friends. It’s a good time to learn tasty recipes and fun holiday ideas.

 

Have a happy, home and family holiday! – And, please share some of your ideas for creating a “Merry and Memorable” holiday season!

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