Settling Into Blended Finances

Coach Suzanne details the life of a modern family. Being remarried involves a lot of blending; finances, child rearing and so much more.

Holiday Traditions on a Budget

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Summer is long gone, school has startred and the holidays are just around the corner, time to make memories and start new traditions. The turkey hasn't even hit the table yet and we are already talking about our holiday budget.

It has been an expensive year for our family; moving, paying off credit card debt, oh and the wedding. We want to enjoy our first holiday season together, but we are going to have to stick to a budget.

Our first priority is the kids; we want them to have a magical holiday. This will probably be the last year for Santa. They are in first grade now and their friends have already told them there is no Santa. So for one last year all the presents will come from Santa and his adorable elves at the North Pole.  

Here are some tips for your Santa shopping, on a budget! 

  • Set a limit. We have set a limit for each of our boys. We plan to purchase one big present (they want a Wii) for them to share as well as a few other individual toys they want.
  • Stick to it. This is the hard part; I start my shopping early and their list of "wants" seems to grow with each passing day. So, as I purchase a gift I write it down so I can track my spending. 
  • Talk to your respective "step" families. Both of our boys have very large extended families (i.e. another set of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles); see what they are doing in terms of gifts so you can maximize the number of gifts on your children's lists. 
  • Don't go overboard. We all are guilty of overspending during the holidays. When shopping keep in mind "play value". Purchase toys based on what your kids are already playing with. My son loves Lego's, but after initial assembly never plays with them again. Three hours of fun is not worth the $50 spent on the Lego kit. 
  • Use Coupons. My family calls me the coupon queen. Before you hit the stores do your homework.  Search for online coupons, newspaper flyers, and bonus book coupons; the time you put in will be worth it when you purchase the gift you wanted for half price.

Next, we would like to keep up with our own respective holiday traditions. Sending Christmas cards, purchasing gifts for everyone, and hosting dinner; but we know we need to make some changes. Here is what we plan to do.

  • Send an E-card. Hallmark and the US Postal Service will not be happy about it, but e-cards are free and you don't need a 42 cent stamp! Most sites have a card for whatever you celebrate, many of the cards sing to your recipient, and you are saving a tree! 
  • Offer to host a holiday meal-Potluck style. You can let your guests know it is potluck and you will make the turkey / ham /lasagna and they can bring a side, salad, or desert! Not only does this cut back on your grocery bill, you will also have less to clean up, a variety of everyone's favorites, and more time with your family. Here is a link to help you plan your own Potluck party
  • Start a Gift exchange.  My family has never done this, and I think this is the year to start. With each passing year families grow larger and it is no longer feasible to purchase gifts for everyone in your family. If you want you can set up one for the adults and one for the kids. Set a spending limit and make it fun! You can play games with the gifts or who gets to open their presents first. This website has some excellent games to get you started. 
  • Most importantly, enjoy the holidays.  Don't let the stress, pressure, and expense ruin this time for you. Focus on the magic; your children's faces Christmas morning, your spouse hanging Christmas lights, and knowing your family is happy just being together. 
  • Some friends of ours invited us down to their house to hang out and watch a movie. As we sat in their

  • Parties can be a bit expensive, so you should save where you can and use every trick in the book to make your holiday party fun, festive, and fabulous while still staying on budget.

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