on Dec 11, 2008


First of all, be thankful to your previous Company for giving you a three-month severance pay, because otherwise you would be spending Christmas at your McJob.

Second of all, also be very thankful that you and Husband have always put money away for savings, and both of you not having jobs can now be considered the ‘rainy day’ in which to spend them.

On to the good stuff:

  • Talk to your spouse about it. Choose a time to do this when you are both feeling good and relaxed and hopeful. Bringing a delicate subject up when either of you are feeling depressed or overwhelmed about not having a job is a very bad idea. For example, Husband woke up today in a fantastic mood and I could tell because he started tidying and cleaning and ordering things without being asked to, aaand he was singing all the time. So I made a batch of pancakes and midway through breakfast brought the subject up. It was good.
  • Remind yourselves what Christmas means to you. For us it is very much the celebration of the birth of Jesus, and we take the time to remember life is supposed to be loving and joyful. We try not to lose perspective of that and it really helps to stay focused when cutting back on expenses. Christmas for most may also have tradition significance; it may not feel like Christmas without a tree, presents, turkey, lights etc. Talk about it and really, really look at what is important about the holiday and why. Are presents really that important? Is it really about what you get?
  • Also please don’t forget IT IS ONLY ONE YEAR. Life is always going to be this way, sometimes things are better, sometimes they are not, but everything passes and life always changes. This is a very difficult year for most of us, but chances are next Christmas will be better and you will be able to get back to your usual way of celebrating. It is only one year. IT IS ONLY ONE YEAR. (Or in my case, it is only 3 years)
  • Once you are both talking about it, look at how much money you have and assign a realistic budget to the holiday. This is very personal for every family and it will depend on how much money you have, how much your expenses add up to, how many members are in the family, etc.
  • Make a list of Christmas expenses, i.e. gifts, food, decorations, activities, cards, etc.
  • Once you have a very thorough list, think of any elements on there that you can cut back on or, even better, eliminate. For example, you may have been invited to a relative’s place that is providing the food, and you may only need to purchase a few bottles of wine. That would take care of the ‘food’ expense. Cross it out. I would also recommend slashing presents completely. Seriously, You don’t have a job. You don’t need to make things worse by buying Aunt Mildred a scarf she won’t even like. If you can’t bear arriving empty handed, or have a difficult family, you can do the X-MAS PRESTENT GAME, which I will post about tomorrow.
  • If you do decide to eliminate presents, I would still recommend sending cards. They are cheap, and they still tell people you thought about them and took the time to mail them a card even if this year you couldn’t afford a present. Most people will understand what you are going through, and not mind not getting anything for ONE YEAR. If they don’t then why are you even bothering giving them a present? It’s Christmas!!! Now is the time for everybody to understand!
  • If your family is difficult (there are a lot of different families out there who don’t understand or maybe you don’t really want them to know your spouse was made redundant etc) then again, talk to them. Pick a good, calm time to let them know you are doing a lower budget Christmas for ONE YEAR. If they don’t know your jobless status, then you can tell them you have realized that with the economic climate, Christmas is going to be harder for people in developing countries and have decided to donate half your budget to a charity, or the homeless or something like that (Which is not a bad idea by the way).
  • Now it’s time to assign a figure to each aspect of the list. Try to save some money wherever you can. This is where your ‘thinking out of the box’ office skills will really come in handy. Can you put up fewer lights this year? Can you buy a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey? Can you have only one dessert instead of two? Can you make a tree out of cardboard instead of having a real one? Can you buy cheap pre made cards instead of printing custom made ones? Can you hand deliver some of them? Please remember IT IS ONLY FOR ONE YEAR. Having a cardboard tree for one year is not the end of the world, and also will create great memories for future years. (Remember the year we attempted to make a cardboard tree?)
  • Stick to your budget. If you find yourself tempted to just get this one little thing, remind yourself IT IS ONLY FOR ONE YEAR, and think about the stress free January to come.
  • Volunteer some of your time in a soup kitchen or some activity like that. It feels good to help out. It feels very, very good to make a difference in someone else’s life. Instead of sitting around your tree-less, present-less house, you are doing something valuable. This will also help you and your family realize ONE YEAR without presents/tree/lights/two desserts is not a big deal.

Husband and I were not invited to spend Christmas with anybody. Which means we will have to provide the food, so we have slashed everything but that and Cards. Boo Hoo. (See, if we can do it, you can do it)


Bethtastic said...

It IS about Jesus. I like that we have that in common!

One year, we were so broke we went to a second-hand store to buy gifts for our family. It was a fun challenge, and still makes us laugh each year as we reminisce. Sometimes the hard times (and the things we do to get by) make the best memories.

I hope you make a cardboard tree. :)

Dynamita said...

We actually did do a cardboard tree last year. It was amazing, and we decorated it with 'ornaments' made out of post-it notes.

Another year our only present was a season of the show '24'and we watched it all on Christmas day.

We have loads and loads to be grateful for this year, so I can't really complain on another budget Christmas.

Firegirl said...

We have a tight budget this year too and 2 feet of snow hampering any Christmas festivities, so I'm feeling a little ho-hum about Christmas this year.

Like you said, it happens. It's temporary. It's what you choose to make of it.

No Worries!!!

Merry Christmas Blogger-Friend!!!