Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Everything In Between – Tip #551
Balancing my life without holidays is a daily challenge. When you throw in holidays it can often send me over the edge. I was blessed to have had a childhood filled with happy holiday memories – there would be parties, baking, family board game nights, and lots of laughter. I want all of this for my children too but am trying desperately not to lose my mind or go bankrupt trying to do it. As a child I had no idea that this required so much effort, in fact, I don’t think I gave it much thought at all until I was a parent! Now that I am a parent, have a career and a husband that is now away Sunday night to Friday night, I realize that their holiday accomplishments were nothing short of miraculous! For the next few months I am sure that all of us are going to be scrambling (even if you have a calm demeanor on the outside it can’t possibly be that way on the inside if you are part of a military family or any family for that matter). Then add in that we struggle with our finances (like so many of us do) and always end up spending more than we have. This makes for the perfect ‘stress storm’ which runs the risk of spoiling special occasions and holidays. Last year I tried a few things to try to combat stress and over spending and they worked so I thought I would share them.
* Do all holiday shopping in one day (per event). Buy all Christmas presents in one weekend (it was exhausting but worth it). What happens is we get things at different times and then pick up more along the way and forget what we have and over spend.
* Get storage buckets for each holiday and only keep what you can fit into the bucket – this makes it easy to get out and easy to put away
* Wrap presents at least three weeks in advance – that means that you can be worry free and enjoy family gatherings
* Make family “To Do” lists and post them on the fridge – this way everyone sees and knows what needs to be done and who you want to do it
* Make ‘Holiday Bucket Lists’ – This will give you a sense of what is important to everyone in your family and prioritize what you all want to do
* User the “Saver” app on your phone. Put in a budget and track all of your spending. Stop when it says you stop so that when the holiday is over you are paying for it for months
* Make a “Jib Jab” holiday ecard for everyone – it is quick, easy and gives everyone a good laugh (JibJab.com)
* Do a weekend baking session – tell everyone (that will be helpful) to dedicate a weekend to baking and helping and get all the baking done and out of the way with a lot of helping hands
For me, the key to any holiday success is a lot of organization and planning well in advance. Once I got into the habit of being better organized and prepared it meant that I could relax and enjoy the holiday more too. I am not going to pretend that all stress disappears (it doesn’t), that I now stay right on budget (I don’t) or that I don’t have a good old fashioned meltdown at times (I do) but doing these things means I get more than a few seconds to see everyone else enjoying themselves and don’t end the holiday panicked about how we are going to pay for and survive the next one.
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Filed under: Military Family Support - Tips from the 101 Tips books, Tips for Educators and Deployment Support Workers | Tagged: budget, budgeting, holidays, military, military family, money | 2 Comments »