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  • Surviving the Family Christmas without Breaking Your Budget

    by:
    Alan McQuarrie

    You may have heard the old joke, why is Christmas just like your job?  It’s because you do all the work and the fat guy in the suit gets all the credit.  If you smiled at that one, you are not alone.  Many people become disillusioned at Christmas.  In fact, Christmas can be a very stressful and expensive time especially for those Canadians with debt problems.  You work so hard to meet your self-expectations and to please others and end up feeling frustrated.  With all the expense, busyness and hard work, it is so easy to lose sight of what Christmas is supposed to be.  What’s more, as families come together during the holidays, you are exposed to stressors and challenges that you don’t experience any other time of the year. 

    Is Aunt Jane critical of your decorations?  Are the twins running through the house with their slushy boots on?  Did your sister in law neglect to invite you to her annual Christmas bash? 

    One way to deal with the stress and the financial challenges of Christmas is to anticipate and plan ahead. By planning ahead you can spend smarter and avoid making debt problems worse. Below are the most common Christmas dilemmas and some specific steps you can take to handle the challenges.  If you would like to get to January without needing a Credit Counsellor, your solutions need to be within your budget while keeping your cool.      

    You have a dozen nephews and nieces to buy gifts for and your siblings think drawing names is cheap.

    1. Buy all their gifts from the dollar store
    2. Negotiate limits with your siblings within your budget
    3. Conveniently catch the flu just before the gift exchange
    4. Buy them all $5 gift cards with no amounts showing on the cards

    Your cousins are arriving from Halifax and want to stay a week.

    1. Ask your cousins to take responsibility for three dinners
    2. Warn your cousins of the nasty bedbug outbreak in your home
    3. Advise your cousins that you are spending Christmas out of town
    4. Arrange for your cousins to stay with a few family members during the week

    Christmas dinner is at your house this year and two of your extended family members have severe dietary restrictions.

    1. Ask those family members to join you in the kitchen to assist with food preparation that meets their special needs
    2. Serve a special plate for each of those family members
    3. Order Kentucky Fried Chicken and let them take their chances
    4. Ask those family members to bring their own meals for their own safety

    Your parents have downsized requiring you to use a hotel during your visit home for the holidays.

    1. Cut short your visit
    2. Check to see if the condominium has a suite for guests
    3. Stay with childhood friends
    4. Buy a couple of air mattresses from Walmart and camp in the living room

    There are no easy solutions for some of these Christmas dilemmas but with some creative thinking and planning, you can find solutions that will help keep your sanity and protect your wallet.  

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