Holiday budget tight? How to explain this to your kids

giftsandkidsThe holiday season is fun and frenetic, as we engage in old traditions, lots of social engagements and general merriment.

Of course, with all this activity, comes more spending- and then there is the extra financial strain of buying gifts. What if the last year has been a challenge? Maybe you’ve experienced a job loss, separation or other change that may have caused your finances to get stretched.

As if it’s not enough that you’re clamouring to pay the bills, there is that extra pressure (and no doubt, extra parental guilt) to fulfil your child’s Christmas list wishes. But what if this year it is simply not in the budget?

Be proactive

You’ve done the math. You know exactly how much you can spend (or not spend). The best defense in this situation in the sense is to employ a good offense.

Lay the groundwork with your children to frame your holiday season in the context of your current financial situation.

Temper expectations

Be honest (as age-appropriately as you can) with your children. As challenging as they are at times, children can be sweet, funny and incredibly supportive (sometimes beyond their years) when you least expect it.

It is especially important that you help kids understand about the rigidity of your budget if the financial change in your life is fairly new, and they have been accustomed to getting what they want usually.

It’s not about alarming them or worrying them- but helping them understand.

Shift your focus to the less material

People often complain that the holiday season has become ridiculously commercialized, although people rarely take a stand and do anything about it.

Change your mindset and see this as an opportunity to shift your focus to what the season is really all about- company of those you love, special memories, kindness towards others and delight in giving rather than receiving. You might be pleasantly surprised at the change- and it may be something you choose to keep going forward, once you are back on your feet.

Pay it forward

If you are reading this and have had the good fortune this year to be able to afford all the things on your list, remember those that have not-especially the “invisible” ones :Your neighbours and friends who have unexpectedly fallen on hard times. Offer to help with their lists. It is a small gesture for you, but a significant help for them/