Free Gifts

Holiday Budget Series 3 -

Christmas Gift

It’s December. Christmas is just days away. We set our $1,000 Christmas budget. We’ve picked up some driving shifts and already made an extra $200 dollars. We’ll make another $200 before Christmas. After all that we’re still $200 short. 

We’ve agreed debt is not an option. Nothing is going on the credit card this year. We have three options. 

1. Lower our budget and spend less

2. Pick up additional extra work to make up the short fall.

3. Cover what would have been $200 in gifts in another way. 

We’ve covered the budget and side hustles in our previous articles. Next we will talk about gifts you can give loved ones that cost little or nothing. 

The Coupon Book isn't Just for Kids

“Made or created gifts are something little kids do for their Dad.” “It’s only for artsy people. I’m not artistic that way.”

Put those conceptions behind you right now. We are talking about real, tangible things you can do for your family and friends. Things that come with real world value. 

We’ll work on making up a $200 holiday budget shortfall

1. The coupon book – An oldy but a goodie. Your time is valuable. Think of all the tasks that need to get done around the house. When is the last time you and your spouse went on a “real” date? There are tons of non cheesy options than can be done with a simple coupon. The trick is to make these real things you would not have normally done anyways. 

Spouse/Significant Other 

  • One Free Top to Bottom detail Cleaning for each room in the house. This isn’t the normal start the dishwasher wipe the counters you do at the end of the night. A top to bottom cleaning, figure it should take you an hour for each room
    • Value – $25/ Room: 1 hour/Room
    • Cost $10 in cleaning supplies
    • Kitchen
    • Master Bedroom
    • Children’s Room(s)
    • Office
    • Master Bathroom
    • 5 rooms x $25 = $125 value.  
  • Real Date “Homemade”: I am amazed by how many married couples I meet that say, “I don’t remember the last time we went on a real date.” Go to a nice restaurant these days, by the time you have a cocktail before, the check, transportation back and forth, possibly babysitting. Try going on a date for less than $200 dollars these days. For about a quarter of that and a little work. You can treat your significant other to a date night experience. And cover your $200 shortage in one play.
    • Value $200 
    • Cost $50 Groceries 
  • This is a date you are going to create for your spouse. Treat it just like you two were going out. Fine meal. Have music. She’ll get dressed up and so will you. The options are limitless.
    • Plan a picnic in the park.
    • Turn the garage into a fine dining restaurant for two for the night.
      • Get out the Christmas lights, hang them over the table. Maybe you can talk a buddy into playing table server for the night.
      • What’s important is time and the experience. 
    • Personal Uber – $10 Value/Ride . Your spouse likes to plan a night out with friends once a month. Normally she takes an Uber or Lyft. You have the evening to yourself to relax. Instead of spending twenty dollars for an uber ride back and forth. You’ll be her and her friends DD for the night. You guys need me, you call me. I’ll stay up and available. If you guys want to go to another place sounds great. I am on call tonight. You think that won’t have some real value to your Teammate?  

Children. This will depend on the age and interests of the young ones in your life. You can do any number of activities. With the children your time should cost something of your time. Also, remember it’s a gift for them. It could be as simple as reusing the DD night idea for your daughter and her friends. One Saturday of personal chauffer. Get up that morning. wash your car. Maybe even find a cheap driver’s cap at thrift store. If you always work in the evenings. One free weekday movie night. pop corn and candy included. Cost $10.00 

A few ideas:

  • Young Children
    • One free hour of hide & seek to be claimed at anytime.
    • Five extra hours of screen time to be used at their discretion.
      •  Yes, you will be keeping a tally. Make them keep  time and report it to you. (You just taught your kid to budget something without even telling them 😉
    • Two coupons for their favorite breakfast to be made before school (must be given 48 hours notice)
  • Older Children/Teens
    • 5 extra hours of curfew to be used at their discretion. No more than 2 hours in any one use. Best believe we’re tracking this one to the minute Becky. 
    • One Saturday morning off from chores. 
    • One free ice cream trip to be used at their discretion
    • Date chauffeur one night- No asking him about his parents and making it weird Dad. Remember this is a gift 
    • Get Creative!

Extended family/ relatives/friends

If we’re having this conversation. They don’t get gifts. They’re adults, and you don’t have the money. If they can’t understand, that’s their problem.

Three rules to non gift Presents. No matter who the recipient. 

  • They should be something you would not have already done anyways.
  • They should require an input from you. Most likely time. If you didn’t spend money on it, you should be spending another of your valuable resources. 
  • They should be on the recipients terms. If you agree to one hour of hide and seek and they bring you that coupon the night the report is due. you’re staying up an extra hour to finish the report. Honor your commitment. It was your gift. You wouldn’t accept the video game you bought your son working most of the time. If you give them a gift that requires your time. Commit that time.

That’s it. Three very simple articles to improve your holiday season. To help you keep your Christmas budget and help start the new year on the right foot. Next year. The holiday budget starts in January. Remember $100/month is $1,200 by December.  

Merry Christmas.



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