It’s coming round thick and fast, Christmas is around the corner, and with it comes a huge amount of stress. And when it comes to buying our kids what they want for Christmas, we feel compelled to give them everything they want. But do we waste a lot of money on our children at Christmas time? The answer would be a resounding yes, but we know in our heart of hearts that we want to give our children the best. But what are the factors to take into account when we overspend for the sake of our children?
The Quality Of The Toys
It’s not just a financial hazard for us if we buy toys for children that don’t work or are defective, but there’s also the safety hazards involved. A notable example in the last 10 years is the Bindeez, now known as Beados, where batches were recalled in 2007 after children swallowed beads and were affected by a chemical that was used in the product. It turns out this chemical was a sedative drug known as GHB. And while the design called for a different chemical, this has been swapped with a chemical that wasn’t too dissimilar to GHB! And while this is an extreme example of a defective product, it goes to show the costs involved in buying a product that is defective, and you can see other extreme examples on Gizmodo.com for an eye-opening view of questionable toy products.
When buying these expensive products, we would like to think, as parents, that they meet rigorous safety standards, but as time has gone on, it seems that many toys are built to break. And so not only if they break, they are likely to ruin your child’s Christmas, but the rigmarole of going back to the shops to exchange the item, get a refund, or just buy another one, can be quite a strain on your finances. Even the most basic of children’s toys are quite expensive.
The Parental Guilt
This is a big thing now if we don’t feel we can get our children exactly what they want, it can weigh heavily on us, and we can feel very guilty. We tend to equate having a big heart with big spending. This isn’t the best attitude to have, and if you do feel like this, this may be the culmination of spending more and more with every passing Christmas.
You may feel the need to improve all last year’s efforts and buy more items for your loved ones. This doesn’t just saddle you with a lot of debt; the pressure we feel can get to us. Remember, if you ever feel that you are in this debt spiral, there are resources to help you escape these problems. Sites like DebtConsolidationUSA.com offer various resources on escaping debt, including more sensible ways to spend. but, sometimes the emotions we feel as parents can override any financial sense. So how can we minimize this guilt?
The first thing to think of is to get a sense of perspective in relation to the amount of gifts your child may have. Don’t just think about what you are buying them; do you have an extended family, such as grandparents? And are these grandparents likely going to spoil your children more than you anyway? Think about these before you spend above and beyond your budget.
Assessing Your Budget
Of course, planning is the key to curtailing your spending habits. The issue when it comes to spending for Christmas is the tendency to overcompensate in every aspect. This doesn’t just include the presents, but it also involves the snacks, beverages, and of course the turkey.
When it comes to buying enough to cater for everybody, there are some schools of thought which may benefit you. The first one is, when buying for each child in the family, you can gradually go up in the amount based on their age. So if you have a toddler and a teenager, it’s unlikely you would spend the same amount of money on both of them because their needs are different. The second one is to alternate your spending habits every year. So one year, you spend a modest amount, and the following year you splurge.
Not only is this beneficial for your finances, but it also helps to even out your child expectations every year, and the big years will stand out for them because you have purchased something like a large game system or a once in a lifetime experience.
Is It Better To Buy After Christmas?
A lot of families now adopt the mantra of having a frugal Christmas so they can buy much more for their loved ones when the sales hit. This may be a sensible angle if you find yourself constantly digging yourself out of credit card debt, and it proves very popular, as can be evidenced by the amount of people queuing up for Boxing Day sales. It makes financial sense if you want to give them the Christmas they really want, with every single toy they desire, so the argument is that this is not making the most of Christmas and the occasion.
Naturally, if you decide to have a frugal Christmas, it could be met with a few raised eyebrows from, not just your children, but your partner, your parents, and possibly everyone in your immediate circle. For many people, it makes much more financial sense, but it may take a lot of convincing to get people round to the idea. So tread carefully with this decision, because it might backfire and result in a miserable Christmas, no matter how good your intentions are.
As you can see, spending money on our children for, what is essentially one day, is met with a lot of concerns. The amount of money we can potentially waste on things like toys, in conjunction with our own parental guilt and a limited budget means that we try to find a good way to conserve our finances, but we still have that desire to get our children everything they want for the big day. The balance is very difficult. So when you think nothing about getting into debt next January, think about if you have overspent for the sake of your children.