Drop the expectation cycle! The things that generally are the sneaky money consumers are the things we expect. Birthday parties with themed plates, napkins, and whatnot. Christmas with everyone getting x-number of toys per kid at certain value, etc. Be upfront with your kids. Explain what is going to happen so that expectation is low, and see what you can accomplish! I cannot tell you HOW MANY COUNTLESS TIMES (really wanted to drive home that point) I have heard OVER AND OVER again from old AND young alike, that their most memorable Christmas was the unconventional one– the Christmas that was handmade (because it wasn’t the norm), the Christmas where mom sold her prized whatever, so she could give the best she could, so on and so forth– so why do we keep having high expectations on ourselves? Instead of a $15 gift at Walmart for a razor gift set for a young man in your family, place $5 in a card and ask if he will go with you to the movies some time, or if no cinemas in your area or no cheap movie days, try writing out a list of movies available on Amazon Prime for Rent that you would love to watch with him, and does he have any suggestions for something else? I know where this would work for a couple of the young men in my life, and it wouldn’t for other. My more practical jokers, would add a challenge to double this amount creatively and share with me how it’s done. For those that you don’t have any relationship with— just buy some junk food, $5 worth: why create an expectation when the relationship isn’t growing? I think that is more valuable than an item in the name of Christmas. For this month, drop any expectations whether it’s birthday that may come up, Christmas for the future, what you normally recommend volunteering for,
Plates with Paw Patrol on them, set of 8 x 3 (I mean, our family alone takes up 1 set) = $3
Napkins with Paw Patrol on them- Set of 8x 3 = $3
Plastic silverware (can’t have anyone throwing away my good stuff), Set of 8 x 3 $3
Cups, SOLO, pack of 24 $3.50
Treat bags and goodies to go inside 8×2 (our family can skip) $10 at our most frugal way possible (more likely $12-$15)
Grand total on these supplies alone? $25
Add cake, frosting, ice cream, soda, juice, finger foods and and and- Suddenly you are looking at $75-$100 to put on a birthday party. If I did this for all my kids for every birthday, we’re looking at $500 a year. Not to mention the gifts.
Instead I set this tradition up, and you can do something even simpler!
I let them get a new outfit for their birthday (Walmart special). When you wear second hand a lot, this is a big deal. They also get to choose the menu for the day. You get a big birthday party when you turn 5 for sure and we’re trying to figure out the upper ages birthdays. But you get the gist, keep expectations affordable. When we lived near Starbucks, I would take them and we would get a grande strawberry treat, split into 2 tall cups with extra whip cream. You made $10 for 2 drinks for 4 kids (Baby was still a baby at the time so he just got a cup of whip cream = free). Again, keeping expectations low created this excitement and the one time I forgot about Starbucks… well, I haven’t forgotten since.
It had gotten to the point where each kid wanted the other siblings to know how much they were valued and loved and I wanted to foster this idea of it’s more blessed to give than to receive mentality, but each kid buying something for another kid resulted in more money than was in our budget. Dollar Tree items just don’t last beyond ripping the package open. I want our children to value money more than that. It’s a waste of money to purchase something with no expectation of lasting longer than a day. So we implemented drawing siblings name. Then we had this idea of keeping an eye out for something they want, seeing the best deal we could get, and making it this secret mission game. Fun was involved, sometimes it was excruciatingly hard to keep secrets and some were spilled and I had to let go of that idea that I wanted a surprise. If the kids wanted to do something more for their other siblings ( I have 2 kids that are big gift givers), then they had to be creative and make it. For a LONG while, we did the Christmas poem for their gifts; something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read. But when you add grandparent gifts, aunts, uncles, friends, gift exchanges, and and and, suddenly its overwhelming. So, in the last 2 years, we’ve done one gift from us and one from their siblings.
I often ask the kids what their favorite Christmas was, what gift they remember the most, what gift I remember giving the most. Each time it has been the unexpected Christmas, where the routine was broken, the mindless habit wasn’t there. The handmade Christmas, when we were moving into a rental and needed to save the pennies, the years where we were trying so hard to pay off our house, the year where we moved to Indiana and got a rental home Christmas Eve. So lets start breaking these expectations. Need motivation? Read The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker or Watch his YouTube channel. You don’t need to go minimalist to see the benefits of less is more.