Although my husband and I aren’t frugal weirdos per say, we do try to keep things as frugal as possible in our household, especially around the holidays.
Part of our interest in frugality stems from the period of time when we lived in Grenada so my husband could attend medical school there. During that time we learned to be wise with our money, and we even paid off all of our credit card debt because we lived so simply on the island.
However, we still have a massive amount of student loans to pay off from my master’s degree and my husband’s medical school, so we’re constantly trying to find ways to simplify our lives.
While Mr. Frugalwoods and I enjoy/attempt to survive our very first month as parents to our daughter, Babywoods, I have a delightful slate of guest posts from my friends lined up for your reading pleasure. Today, please welcome the fabulous Catherine Alford from www.BudgetBlonde.com!
By: Catherine Alford
When we found out I was pregnant with twins, that really kicked our frugality into overdrive. We started saving up as much money as we could in a “baby fund” so we’d be prepared to deal with all the costs of having twins.
Since then, we moved back to the United States, I became self-employed, we had our boy-girl twins, we all moved to New Jersey for hubs’ medical school education to continue, and we’ve learned a lot about life (and parenting) along the way.
One of the most important things we’ve learned so far is that instilling good financial habits, including frugality and minimalism, in your children is important to implement from day one. This absolutely includes making your Christmas traditions frugal and minimalistic too. Giving your children a frugal Christmas has many incredible benefits; here are a few of them:
Setting Expectations for Future Years
We decided to go frugal starting with the twins’ very first Christmas, even though they were only 9 months old and wouldn’t remember how big (or small) Christmas was their first year. It was really hard to keep a frugal and minimalist mindset at times. We’d see pictures on social media showing Christmas trees surrounded by presents, but we knew we were making the right decision by keeping Christmas small at our house and investing money they received from grandparents on their behalf.
What you give your children for their first Christmas really will set the tone for future years. If you start off by giving your child a pony, be ready to give them a fancy car when they’re old enough to drive. This is similar to lifestyle inflation. Once you get used to a more expensive lifestyle, it’s hard to cut back to being more frugal. It’s much easier to start off being frugal from a young age.
Teaching Children to be Giving, Not Greedy
When children get a little older, it’s important to teach them to be giving, not greedy. Giving lots of lavish, expensive gifts will eventually spoil children until they are greedy and even entitled. We want our children to grow up to be good, giving people, so we decided to keep Christmas simple at our home. Once they are a little older, we will likely start teaching them to give back by purchasing things for people in need or volunteering their time to serve people less fortunate.
Remembering the Reason for the Season
Finally, it’s important to teach children the real reason behind the Christmas season. Christmas is not just about giving and getting gifts, and it’s not just about visits from Santa Claus. Christmas is really about celebrating your faith and spending time with friends and family. Our lives are so hectic with constantly clashing schedules that time with our children is precious, and we plan on enjoying them while they’re young.
How to Have a Frugal Christmas for Children
It’s important to remember that giving bigger, better, and more gifts doesn’t show more love. We love our children very much but we want them to appreciate the gifts they are given instead of being focused on how many gifts they get or how much they cost. That’s why we decided to stick to the “Four Gift Rule” for our Christmas tradition. The “Four Gift Rule” entails giving gifts in the following categories:
- Something They Want
- Something They Need
- Something To Wear
- Something To Read
Other families might have different rules, such as setting a spending limit for gifts each year, or simply setting a limit on the number of gifts for each child without following the categories above.
No matter how you choose to go about it, giving children a frugal Christmas is a wonderful parenting decision that will help shape the people children grow up to become. We kept to the four gift rule last Christmas and we plan on doing the exact same thing this year. In fact, Santa already came and delivered a gift that’s sitting in our basement right now that he found on Craigslist. Apparently, that Santa guy likes being frugal too.
Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions, earn more, reach their goals, and take on a more active financial role in their families. She is also the founder of www.BudgetBlonde.com, an award winning personal finance blog that she created in 2010 and the innovator behind the web’s most comprehensive course on how to Get Paid to Write for Blogs.