Each year, we set aside $100 per child, $100 for my husband and me, and $150 for family/friends for Christmas gifts. It’s always seemed like a lot to me and it’s an amount that works. This year, we’re cutting down the budget due to upcoming furloughs. We saved enough but have decided to move some of the funds over to the upcoming paycheck shortage category. There will be no gifts for my husband and me and no gifts for family/friends. Each child will receive $50 in gifts.
On paper, this seems very straightforward. Times are tight, spending should be as well. Not a big deal right? Well…
Like I’ve said before, I grew up in a large family. My parents had 7 children and despite the fact they never had two cents to rub together, they somehow came up with $100 for each child back in the ‘80s. Looking back, I’m amazed they did this every year. It didn’t matter how tight things were, we knew we had $100 and we carefully crafted a list that equated to that amount.
My kids don’t know we spend $100 on them each year. I’m not even sure they’ll notice the pile is smaller this year than last year but I can’t help but carry some major mom guilt. We have the money. We’ve been setting it aside monthly all year. We still don’t know how long the furloughs will be but I’m planning for worst case scenario. The reality is, we have an emergency fund that hasn’t been touched in 4 years. We’ll probably be just fine adjusting categories and cinching down on the types of foods we buy at the grocery store but in tough times, I’m financially conservative. I don’t like the thought of possibly cracking into the piggy bank on the emergency fund.
My husband is supportive either way. He understands my concern but he lives firmly in the ‘everything is going to be OK’ camp. He has some huge jobs coming up in February that should make up for any furloughs but you know what they say about a ‘bird in hand’. I’m leaning toward a smaller Christmas this year and leaving the money in the Christmas account. If everything ends up fine, I can add it to their birthday budget next year or we can do something special as a family after those big jobs are wrapped up and paid.
So much of my angst comes from the example my parents set. Christmas was always a big deal, current economic situation be damned. I want that for my kids. I’m sad about it. But I’d rather give them financial stability in the long term. No, avoiding $200 in Christmas spending won’t do that, but add it to all the other decisions over the next few decades and it absolutely will.
Anyone else going easy on Christmas this year?
Beks is a full-time government employee who enjoys blogging late into the night after her four kids have gone to sleep. She’s been married to Chris, her college sweetheart, for 15 years. In 2017, after 3 long years working the Dave Ramsey Baby Steps, they paid off more than $70K and became debt free. When she’s not working or blogging, she’s exploring the great outdoors.