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Avoid post Christmas Blues: Spend TIME not Money

Every day we are inundated with messages about what will make our children happy, what will make the family perfect or what will make us indestructible.  Marketing departments, armed with powerful words, fight strongly for our hard-earned dollars. They focus on our guilt, the guilt we may feel if we’re not good parents.

We have to fight back with our own message.

We are good parents, and we want Christmas to be filled with JOY, not guilt.

We all know the feeling of looking at the bank accounts after Christmas, beaten up and empty. Credit card bills that will take months to pay off; the sadness of being defeated once again, not by the Christmas spirit, but by the materialism of the Christmas season.

So this year, let’s work on our own message–something that will make Christmas personal, words that will be more powerful than the generic messages because we own them and we know how our unique family works.

What might this message look like for Christmas 2013?  It’s quite simple.  We can spend more time together as a family.

Fight marketing guilt with family joy.  How do we have a joyful January? By not overspending in December. How do we have a joyful December?  By planning—together, by spending time–together.

Christine, a young navy wife in Halifax, says that taking this approach certainly takes the stress out of the holidays. “We budget together on how much we will spend on the kids’ gifts and on each other, so we don’t go in to debt over the holidays.”

This does not mean locking the wallet but opening it to let joy out, not guilt.

Christine adds, “We plan the menu because that saves us tons of money on groceries.”

The little chef in the family can help with the menu and help with the groceries.  It will take more time. Oh, it will take more time–together. Yeah.  The little artist can make the decorations. Of course, it will take more time–together. Yeah!  The adventurer in the family can plan an outdoor experience.

How do we have a joyful Christmas?  It’s there already; we just have to take the time to enjoy it.

“I like family traditions a lot,” says Christine. “Mine seem to always involve food!  Those memories warm my heart and always get me excited for the Christmas season. I love bringing those traditions into our little family.  For me, those are the things that make Christmas special, not spending tons of cash on another tie, or a candle or gift card just because you feel like you have to.”

So much can be achieved without breaking the bank. What are the tactics to win the battle for your hard-earned pay?  Planning, planning, and planning! If we know where we are going, we can plan how to get there. And it takes less than a paycheque to get there.

“Family has always meant more to me than anything else,” says Christine. “What I truly love about Christmas is just that: making it about family and loved ones and the quality time you spend, not the money.”

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Vicki L Morrison

Thanks to her husband's military career Vicki reinvented herself as a writer so she could work from home, while taking care of their three kids. A former MFRC executive director Vicki is a passionate advocate for military families who loves telling their stories.

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