As you can tell, I have been quite busy with the little one who will be turning one in a week. He is very active and the total opposite of how my daughter was at his age. So, I have been receiving catalogs and advertisement mailings with all sorts of holiday-inspired themes. I am already getting into the spirit and becoming reminiscent of what made the holidays special for me as a child. Now, with two children, it is important to immediately keep my head on straight and start a budget that I will stick to. The season can speed by so fast, and we can be taken up in all the holiday movies, sales, smells, and food that when the new year rolls around, we are trying to find out where all of our money went. I have become quite thrifty lately and want to make sure that I do not owe anything from the holidays in the new year. In order to do this as a single parent, sole provider, and self-proclaimed “starving-artist”, I have come up with a few pointers for myself. I will probably add to this list as the season starts to swing into high-gear but, for now you can use any of these tips yourself, too.
1. Create a budget; include in your budget how much you will spend on family, friends, and your children.
2. Create a budget for yourself. Remember that you may want to get your hair and nails done, pick out a special outfit or two and treat yourself to a couple of holiday movies or festivities (alcohol may be included). Take all of this into account.
3. Do not feel as though you have to get your children so many gifts. I found that some years, I bought gifts for my daughter in addition to what she wanted because I liked them. She has only played with one consistently out of all of her gifts from last year.
4. Remember that as your child gets older, their toys and ‘wants’ get more expensive. My daughter can pick out two gifts this year with a maximum of $200. She doesn’t know the max because sometimes she picks below it. My son is only one so he will get two toys also because, he rather bang on the walls anyway.
5. Decorations cost money. Go to the Dollar Store, Five and Below, or Home Goods. Do not go crazy. You may want a different theme next year.
6. Just say “No!” There will be a lot of events and sales and friends asking you to this and that. Just say no. I want to buy my first home within the next couple of years so, I have a bigger focus and that is paying off my debt and not creating any new debt and duh…saving!
7. Remember what this time is really about. Go for walks with the kids. Bundle them up and walk around the block. If you live a place where the weather is great all year around, even better. Read to them, sing songs to them. Stay indoors and make it a movie night. There are plenty of options that do no require you to spend a fortune.
It’s hard out there and I figure any corners that can be cut should. As a single parent, I can get down sometimes on myself because there are things that I simply cannot afford to give my kids but, then I ask myself “Is it something that they need?” If the answer is no, then I focus on what they DO need and that is love and attention. Give that and have a great holiday.