Guys guess what!? Did you know that there are only 56 days left until Christmas!? You may be thinking “hold up, Halloween hasn’t even passed yet and you’re already talking about Christmas?” I love Christmas! As of Wednesday I will start listening to Christmas carols and watch my favourite Christmas classics. But as much as I love the holiday season, the tears that pour out from my wallet cannot be ignored. Christmas is EXPENSIVE! And it’s so easy to get carried away with gifts, especially when you score some sweet deals. With only 56 days left until Christmas I am sure many of you will start thinking about your Christmas shopping lists (if you haven’t already!). So how much should you spend on Christmas gifts with your given income? Of course there are tons of websites that provide some gift etiquette as to how much you should spend on spouses, children, nieces/nephews, friends, bosses, co-workers, etc., but what these websites forget is that what might be considered etiquette is not necessarily affordable.
So what is that magic number? Well according to Scott Hannah, the head of the Credit Counselling Society, your Christmas budget should be 1% of your gross annual income. So if you make $50,000 a year, your Christmas gift budget should be $500.00. I am sure many of you are thinking, “Holy smokes, I spend way more than that”. I myself am guilty for spending over 1% of my annual income. But while it’s wonderful to be generous in our giving, giving within your means is an essential aspect to financial stability and independence. And what are Christmas gifts? It’s just more stuff that we often don’t need. Don’t ever feel pressure to financially strain yourself just to give more stuff. When I think back to my favourite Christmas memories as a child I barely remember the great gifts my parents gave us, rather I think back to the time we spent as a family playing games, watching Christmas movies, our Christmas traditions, and our annual Christmas walk around the neighbourhood admiring the lights and decorations.
So this Christmas I challenge you to stick to the 1% rule. And here are our tips for not over spending
I cannot say the word budget enough. If you don’t create a budget for your Christmas spending, you will over spend. And when you go shopping make a list and stick to the list
2. Shop Early in the Season
This tip I learned from my momma! My mom was/is notorious for starting her Christmas shopping on December 26th for the next year. By shopping throughout the year you score great deals, and you avoid the crazy Christmas shopping season where the pressure to buy is intense! Also take advantage of end of season deals on Christmas cards, wrapping paper, etc. for the next year. Last Christmas I bought 4 rolls of wrapping paper for $1.00!
3.Avoid Credit Cards
If you struggle with credit cards, avoid using them during your Christmas shopping. Instead stick to cash or debit. I personally like using my credit card to collect points. But to keep on budget we pay off our credit card as soon as we make a purchase so we aren’t shell shocked with a huge bill at the end of the month.
4. Ditch the gift exchange
Don’t get me wrong, exchanging gifts with those you love is fun, but don’t do it for just for the sake of doing it. Every year my siblings (and sibling’s spouses) exchange gifts, however this year we are opting out of our annual gift exchange. We are going on a Caribbean vacation right before Christmas (thanks mom and dad) and we feel that this time together is sufficient.
5. Buy practical gifts
The Christmas before I got married my mom asked me if I wanted practical gifts or fun gifts. As much as I wanted to say fun gifts I knew that practical gifts would be better in the long run. So that Christmas I got a beautiful set of pots and pans. I can also remember that grocery gift card that was in my stocking that year, and while not exciting it’s easier (and wiser) to spend money on something you know someone needs.
6. Spend time not money
Memories are worth so much more than gifts and best of all creating memories can cost as little as $0.00. As someone who had parents who gave us all the time in the world, I can say for certain that I wouldn’t trade this time for any present or material item. So this Christmas consider giving the gift of time.