Staying financially sane during the holidays

Well it’s that time of year, at the end of the week prime shopping season officially kicks off with the masses tearing the doors off stores on Black Friday. Let’s just hope that no one gets stomped to death this year as the masses go off in search of the biggest and cheapest tv their money can buy!

Now, for those of us struggling to stay the course and not give into the God of consumption, I wonder what you have planned? See, I set a holiday budget and was excited about it until it dawned on me that the amount I had budgeted really was too much money. See, with elder boy living out in the Midwest and his flying in for both Thanksgiving and Christmas that already sets me back a bit before we even think about things like the gifts and the food.

I have to confess, I have issues around holidays and have a tendency to over-shop in part because I often felt deprived as a kid. Yet as  I try to reevaluate my relationship to money, its starting to dawn on me that my kids have never been deprived in the ways that I was as a kid and instead my behavior has just done a great job of creating consumption behavior in both my kids. I am not mad at them though, they have merely been the recipients of my past issues but as I told the Spousal Unit, no more.

So now I am looking at ways to retool the holidays so that there is less emphasis on the gift aspect and more emphasis on the spirit of the holidays. So dear reader, I want to hear from you…what do you during the holidays? Do you buy the kidlets a boatload of gifts or do you only give 1-2 highly wanted items? Or do you bypass gift giving all together?

My goal this year is to stay below the budget I set and ideally use that extra cash to fund our mid winter trips we have planned. So hit me with your holiday shopping ideas for not breaking the bank and I especially want to hear from you if you have teens or young adults. One area I really struggle with is now that elder boy is almost an adult, it seems like gifts are so much more costly. My son is a bit of a clothes horse and the stores he likes are not terribly cheap, of course he now has his own car so that too is costly. With this also being the beginning of college application season, I am trying to balance the real need for me to assist his father in paying for these costs with my desire to not just give practical gifts. (college application money, gas money, etc)

So as you can see any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.