Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas On A Budget: Embracing Your Bah-Humbug

It's that time of year again when the world overspends in the name of Jesus for a period of one month. Then they spend the first quarter of the new year complaining about what they received or didn't receive and how much they overindulged in Momma's black forest cake. With your budget lower than the temperature on the thermostat it can be difficult to get into the spirit of Christmas. Don't fret. Embrace your inner Scrooge. There is something to be said about not getting lost in the festivities. By cutting some corners now you ensure the rest of your new year has a great start. There's no fun in paying for this year's Christmas gifts well into next summer.

The Tree

Most people wait until the end of the month of December to buy it because the price is cheaper. These people are on to something. Follow their lead. If you insist on the responsibility of a real tree, buy it as cheap as you can find it. It's going to wind up on the sidewalk until Martin Luther King Day anyway. Or, you can take a long term approach. If you were broke last year, and you're broke this year, chances are, you'll be broke next year. You may as well spring for the flawless fake tree. You don't have to spend extra on lights. You don't have to keep it watered. It doesn't need to be dragged out the the curb after the holiday and you can keep it up longer without it dying too early.

The Presents

Religious or not, Jesus is the reason for the season. It's not your family's fault, however, that they only care about the label or the price tag on Christmas Day. You have let them live under those principals all year. Don't expect your family to get religion and not care about the presents this year. That also doesn't mean that you break yourself to please the ungrateful little wretches either. The better solution is to buy one gift per person. Parents tend to exert themselves trying to squeeze as many gifts as they can under the tree and onto their budget to no avail. Buy each person the one thing on their Christmas list that they feel they could never do without. If they want something more, they know about the after Christmas sales. Tell them to take themselves shopping if they don't like your gift.

The Treats

Every other day your little sugar plums want to make cookies and ask you what pie you're going to bake today. And everyday, you die a little inside. You have no desire whatsoever to bake one more stupid pie or batch of cookies. You practically killed yourself making treats on Halloween, and turkey on Thanksgiving. Now, because of Christmas you are expected to be Betty Crocker. Forget all that. Tell your children to make a choice. They can have one baked good a week. For example, cookies one week, pie another week, and chocolates another. To save you the headache, God invented these wonderful places called bakeries. Use them. To make up for the cost don't buy any other sweet snacks for the house. Let the baked goods be the centerpiece.

The Family

They all want to come visit you and eat up all your food. Then they want to spend the rest of the year complaining about your accommodations and your lack of culinary skills. Don't buy into that crap this year. Tell everyone that you are not excepting overnight guests this year. Make them get a hotel or commute. That'll make them appreciate your sofa bed. Tell everyone that they need to bring a dish of their own. Tell them the economy has assaulted you and this year you are having a potluck Christmas. That's less headache, time and money for you. Let them see what it feels like to be insulted after slaving over a hot stove.

The Shopping

The crowds, the shoving, being robbed, overspending, it's all too much for one housewife. Do your shopping on the internet and call it a day. I only recommend this if you are a housewife, meaning you are home aaaall day. You don't want the packages to be stolen. This may be a good time to get a post office box. Buying online is quick, efficient, and prevents overspending since there is no creative store shelf designing aimed to make you do just that. You aren't limited to mediocre deals either. By shopping online you have access to all of the warehouses belonging to the store. What may be sold out at your local store isn't sold out online. You can even use your store credit cards to earn extra discounts and awards at places like Macy's, Toys R' Us, and JC Penney. If you have to brave the mall don't carry a purse or a bag. Don't carry cash in case you are robbed you can put a stop on all of the cards. Go in as if you are going grocery shopping. Have a list, get in and out.

The Photos & Cards

You spend so much money on those holiday portraits and cards. Half of the people who receive them don't send you a thing. Stop sending them pictures. Don't buy a photo pack without a coupon. Try JC Penney, they have $7.99 portrait packages. Be careful going there. They take quality photos. You may wind up spending more than you wanted. They also charge a sitting fee so only let the children pose. If you know your children are photogenic, go for the $3.99 portrait sheets coupon. It allows you many different poses. Don't pay extra for Christmas cards from portrait studios. Just go to the Dollar Tree and buy your cards there, enclose the Christmas photos and you're done.

A little bah -humbug goes a long way toward maintaining your happiness and sanity.

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