Last Minute Holiday Budget Tip – Spend Time, Not Money (or at least not as much)
It’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed amid all the hustle and bustle and retails feeding frenzy of the season, but it’s worth asking yourself – why are you giving someone a gift at all if not to show them that you care? That you appreciate them in your life? And what better way to show someone you care than to spend time with them?
This year – instead of spending hours and hours searching manically for gift ideas on Amazon or driving all over town dashing from store to store dropping a few hundred dollars on whatever you find plus the cost of gas and/or shipping fees only to stay up all night consuming massive amounts of caffeine and wrestling with wrapping paper and tape (none of which will make you a right jolly old elf!) – what if you could make your “time” your gift?
Instead of gift exchanges, consider these few suggestions to give you and your wallet a break this holiday season
- Volunteer to watch nieces or nephews or grandkids. The holidays can be a magical time – especially with children. But it can also be really stressful trying to decorate, shop, wrap, cook, clean, cook again, shop again, clean again. Be the family superhero this year, and offer to grab the kids for an afternoon or evening to give the parents a break. You can have them over for a night of pizza and movies. Depending on their ages or interests, you could set up a craft table and help them make their own Christmas ornaments. Not artsy? Offer to take them to the zoo or out to look at lights or skating at Steinberg Ice Rink. Maybe schedule an afternoon to take the kids shopping to buy their presents for family members. Mom and/or dad will probably be happy to chip in to help cover any costs in exchange for a little time to get things done – or just to relax for an hour or two. Plus you get the added bonus of making memories that will last for years for both you and the kids.
- Have your own kids? Set up a Kid Exchange with family or close friends. Host a sleep over at your place (see activity ideas above) and they in turn will host a sleep over on another day or weekend. You each get some free time during the hectic holidays.
- Have a favorite charity? So many charitable organizations are working overtime during the holidays to help people and animals in need. Instead of a Secret Santa exchange, have co-workers or family pick a charity or cause and then schedule time to Volunteer As A Group. Help with a local food drive, volunteer to walk dogs or build feral cat shelters for a local shelter or animal group. Perhaps you know of an organization that hands out blankets and clothing for the homeless. You’ll get to spend quality time with your friends or family and everyone gets to know they made a difference.
- Group shopping expedition Yes, this one bends the rules just a bit. But let’s face it, it’s not like we’re not going to be doing any shopping this holiday. And it’s a good bet your friends will be as well. So since you’re all likely to end up at a mall at some point, why not schedule time to shop together? You can pick each other’s brains for ideas, get second opinions, catch up on the latest stories and grab lunch or dinner before heading your separate ways.
None of that sound like you? All of it sound like too much planning and scheduling amid work, school, picking up the kids, cooking and errands? That’s okay. Start small. Stop by your parents’ or grandparents’ house one night. Grab some chicken or pizza. Help them bake cookies. Or fold the laundry. Tell stories about your day. Listen to stories about theirs. Save the money you’d spend on blankets, socks, or a box of bath soaps that will just go into a closet or drawer and instead make a memory. Give a gift only you can give – your time.
Contributed by Prosperity Connection Financial Coach, Hope Johnson