Holidays can be especially stressful when money is short.
My best advice for anyone experiencing financial difficulties- whether it’s the holidays or not- is to focus on your basic needs first. For most of us, the foremost needs are: 1) a roof over your head, 2) food to eat, and 3) heat/electricity. There is something about outlining and focusing on this reduced list of priorities that calmed me when I was barely making ends meet several years ago. Once you meet these, then focus on other important things like: any medications you need, a way for people to contact you (you don’t have to have your own phone!) and Transportation. Look at your own personal needs and prioritize what works best for you. Then address one thing at a time starting at the highest priority.
It is my firm belief that any gifts we give to others should be from the heart. The good thing about this is that giving from your heart is the most valuable type of giving and in most cases it can be the least expensive too! The worst thing you can do when you are struggling with finances is make the matter worse by blowing money you don’t have on gifts that others don’t need out of obligation or pride or just plain festive zeal. We don’t want the post holiday season to be all about dealing with the stress of charge card debt and regrets!
Here is a list of 10 free- or almost free- ways to give:
- Offer your time via a handmade coupon: Weeding, childcare, window washing, housecleaning, errand running. (Be sure to follow through!)
- Send a letter telling the person what they mean to you
- Bake a batch of cookies or candies (this is especially good for young adults who have moved out of the house!) Or use your craftiness and make gifts. If you like to crochet, knit, sew, scrapbook, design web pages, etc... Pull out your scraps and get crafting! One of my favourite things is crocheted wash cloths- they are durable, and I know that my mom thought of me when she made them!
- Pass down that family heirloom
- Put together a photo album documenting a personal history. My sister compiled pictures chronologically for me from my infancy through the birth of my son. It was one of the best presents EVER!
- Put together a file of favourite music for your Sweetie!
- Focus heavily on your reasons for the season- especially if you have children- they need to experience the traditions and special family time fully with you. Not spending money when you don’t have it is also an important –albeit difficult-example to teach your kids.
- Friends of ours started a tradition when their kids were small. They wrap holiday books to be opened and read at bedtime each night from Dec 1 to Christmas Eve. Initially they used some library books to fill the gap (wrap them in different paper so you can return them before they become due!). They also shopped at thrift stores throughout the year to compile this treasure cheaply. At the end of the holiday, these books are put away and reused the next year. (The kids are more interested in the surprise of opening the books and the time spent reading together- not so concerned that these were the same books as the year before!)
- My mother used to wrap everything individually. Understand that much of the joy for kids at Christmas comes with the unwrapping. A small quantity of inexpensive items like crayons, toy cars, bubbles, a large candy bar, etc...Can bring as much joy as one large expensive gift. I once wrapped a box of Pop Tarts- my son loved them, but it wasn’t something I would normally buy for him. So for Christmas it was a real treat!
- Give away something you don’t use anymore. Or sell it on Craigslist and use the money to buy a gift. I bet there are many things in your home that you don’t use, which have value. Clear it out!
Take Good Care!
Self Care Girl
'Elf Care Specialist