Budget Planner - Consider your Christmas Spending Avoid Christmas Debt

Q: With a growing list of recipients, where do you draw the line on holiday gifts, so you don't seem cheap?

A: With all the attention on finances and personal credit use, many people are looking at their needs and wants differently. Making budget-conscious family spending choices for day-to-day expenses is a great first step. Extending this to your Christmas gift-buying decisions is important as well.

Start by thinking about what you enjoy most about the holiday season and what it means to you and your family. Gifts are only one fun part of Christmas. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do we want or need to buy gifts for these friends or family?
  • Does buying for these adult children fit our budget?
  • Whose expectation is it that we buy gifts for adult children? The children themselves? The parents? Ourselves?
  • What could we do for them instead?

While receiving a gift is always nice, how would you feel good about receiving a gift knowing that the giver had gone into debt that they can't afford, just to buy it for you?

Consider alternatives to buying gifts. Many people enjoy family holiday traditions that typically don't cost a lot of money. Look back on your favourite holiday traditions and see what you may enjoy doing this year again. Group gift-giving or drawing names works really well if everyone sticks to the limit and the rules of the gift exchange. This may also be the year to pay-it-forward with a donation of time or money to an appreciative charity.

Regardless of your decision, the gifts you buy need to fit your budget as neatly as they fit under the tree.