Avoid going overboard and running over budget on Christmas gifts for children
IIt’s hard to resist the Christmas messages to buy gifts – and lots of them – to make the season brighter and more fulfilling.
However, interruptions in the supply chain can make shopping this year stressful, especially for parents looking for scarce toys. Shortages aside, overdoing gifts for your children can lead to budget stress and inadvertently create unrealistic expectations for years to come.
This year’s extra pressure could give parents a chance to rethink their Christmas shopping and budget strategies. These tips from budget and parenting experts can help you avoid the noise and find out what works for your family.
Set your vacation budget
Having a budget is critical to keeping spending in check. If you’re struggling to come up with a realistic vacation budget, review previous years’ spending.
“You can literally call up your credit card statements from last November and December if you generally want to get a feel for where your money has gone,” says Andrea Woroch, savings expert with a focus on advice for mothers. Consider if you want to repeat this spending pattern or if it left you stressed out in January.
Budgets change from year to year. “Things can change dramatically within a year,” says Woroch. âDid you have a child? Did you divorce or get married, bought a house, got a new job, lost your job? Whatever it is, you need to reevaluate it based on your current situation. “
Take stock and get organized
Things get lost in overflowing toy boxes. Taking stock of what you already have is a great way to figure out what your kids need and a chance to put aside things that have outgrown them.
Items in good condition can be donated to other parents or sold on online marketplaces looking to get a deal.
Keep track of early purchases
Gifts that you bought weeks or even months ago may have disappeared from your radar – especially if you’ve hidden them well. Before you go into stores, make a list of previous purchases.
“If you don’t write down what you bought, you’ll forget what you had,” says Woroch, who suggests using an app called Santa’s Bag – although a note on your phone or old-fashioned pen and paper can work as well. Keeping track of purchases throughout the season can help avoid over-spending.
Find a gift strategy that works every year
âSomething they want, something they need, something to wear and something to readâ is a popular phrase, and for good reason: it sets parameters for giving and works regardless of the age of the child.
Another strategy is to buy fewer toys and focus on what will help your child’s development, which is especially important for younger children. Kathryn Humphreys, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Human Development at Vanderbilt University, suggests finding toys that enable collaboration and open play.
“Less well-chosen toys are likely better than a large number of toys that would be difficult for the child to keep track of during a busy gift opening day,” she said in an email. “With my own children I find that everything that goes beyond two or three presents is quickly forgotten, since Christmas is already pretty exciting.”
Have experiences that last all year round
Woroch suggests buying a children’s subscription box after the holidays in order to receive a âgift to pass onâ. There are tons of options for kids, supplying everything from art projects, Montessori toys, and various books each month. Some of these services may have Christmas promotions, so keep an eye out for a deal.
Resist the comparison game
Parents have a hard time comparing themselves to others, especially when the social media feeds are cluttered with vacation photos. Remember, you don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes.
“It’s so easy to get caught up in other families ‘and mothers’ expenses that you feel bad and end up spending more,” says Woroch.
You’re looking at a highlight role and don’t know if this family is spending beyond their means.
Reminders are free
If you are gripped by the Christmas craze, remember that this time of year is about more than just things.
âAt the end of the day, it’s really important to remember that the holidays aren’t about the physical gifts,â says Woroch. “Creating memories, and maybe creating traditions that don’t cost a lot of money, is a great way to connect and connect with your kids.”
This article was written by NerdWallet and originally published by The Associated Press.
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Amanda Barroso writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected]
The article Avoid Going Overboard and Over-Budgeting With Christmas Gifts For Children originally appeared on NerdWallet.
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