Christmas might be the most wonderful time of the year, but who are we kidding? In this day and age, it’s also arguably the most expensive time of the year. The average American adds to their debt by about $1000 at Christmas. And just like how a dog isn’t just for Christmas, neither is debt; that’s going to be looming over their shoulders long after the festive lights have been taken down.
As such, it’s a good idea to get planning about how you’re going to navigate the yuletide period without your financial standing falling through the floor.
We take a look at four tips below.
1. Don’t Start The Celebrations Too Early
Christmas Day is, as well as know, December 25. And while the festivities will likely begin in the days running up to the big day, sometimes they can start much earlier. It’s often the case that the second December 1 rolls around, everyone gets into the festive spirit.
And while there’s nothing wrong with being in a jolly mood and enjoy this time of year (actually, it’s encouraged), you’ll be doing your wallet a favour if you say no to the many events that take place early in the month. You’re going to have enough to spend in the week around the 25th; keep the early month activities to free events only.
2. Sell the Old Junk
Our salaries don’t magically increase just because Christmas is rolling around. Yet because there’s so much to spend money on, we need to find ways to boost our bank account. So take a look around your home. Many Americans have thousands of dollars worth of unused goods just sitting in their home! You can get a lot for your smartphone and other technology. And before you think “sell my cell phone? Are you crazy?” we don’t mean your current phone. We mean the one you were using before this one, which is probably just sitting in a drawer somewhere. Once you’ve had a clear-out, you might find that you’re actually up for the festive period.
3. Make Savings On Presents
Most of the money we spend during the holidays goes on buying presents. But there can be a big difference in the amount we spend, even for the same items. It’s all about where and when you buy. The closer we get to the big day, the cheaper items might be (some sales begin on the 23rd, for instance). Also, there are websites that allow you to price compare. You might be able to save a decent percentage on a present just by going to buy it from another store. Never blindly accept the first price you see; it might not be the best one!
4. Make Payments Early
The problem with Christmas and New Year’s is that they fall at the end of the month, when most of our other bills come out. To make sure you have a firm grip on your finances, look at making payments early. It might not save you money (though will in some cases), but will prevent you from spending money that’s earmarked for an important bill around Christmas.
Give thanks for the simple pleasures of life... it's not all that difficult.
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ... though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
These days, everywhere we go it seems we're plugged in, turned on, and firing on all 8 cylinders.. all the time. This is a sure recipe for burnout, and perhaps we know it in our hearts. Never before in history has a craving for simple pleasures been so strong, or so important. You might have noticed it in the renewed interest in retro or vintage fashion, cars, interior design and home-life.
Some have suggested different reasons for this, but it seems to represent an acknowledgement of the quality and unique nature of retro products, a sharp contrast to today's technology and mass-produced items in our lives. Some also believe that this fascination highlights the need we feel to escape to a simpler style of life, almost a time-travel back in history.
But escape isn't easy. Are you looking for a simple lifestyle? Do you find that simplicity manages to elude you, even on those days when you swear you're going to indulge your senses in a relaxing activity?
Do cherished pastimes such as crafting, getting out in nature, or spending time talking face to face with those who mean most to you, end up taking a backseat to the Call of the Computer, and your frantic life?
Maybe you decide you're going to do a hands-on project. So you log onto the internet in search of instructions. Instead of revelling in the task at hand, you find yourself hopping from one link to the next, and before you know it, you're overwhelmed and distracted yet again.
How do we manage to pry ourselves away from technology, so we can once again indulge in the simple tasks that offer us relaxation and enjoyment while helping us focus?
One way to keep it simple in our everyday dealings is to lower the bar of our own expectations.
No, maybe you're not going to be the next Martha Stewart or Pinterest Mom of the Year. Or, are you? Does it really matter is the full scheme of things?
If you do tend to be an overachiever, maybe "keeping it simple" really has to do with just allowing yourself some time to think and ponder.
For some people, simplicity might be about calming that urge to out-perform yourself, or to be and do everything to everyone. Maybe you need to say 'no' more frequently.
Sounds unattainable? Well, no. There are some practical ways to achieve it. You'll discover that you can give thanks each day for the simple pleasures of life. Here's how...
Well sure, we can all dream. It's fine to reflect on the reasons that all of us feel overwhelmed, especially at this time of year, and dream of the joy of simple moments in our lives. But we need to do more. It's even more important to act, to take some simple, practical steps to introduce simple joy in your life. And yes, you can do it!
After all, a well-known quote reminds us that 'Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.'
If you don't initiate practical steps with a definite plan for simplifying your life, then your life will take control and continue to overwhelm. It's really not all that difficult.
Think about it. What types of activities do you relish in the name of keeping it simple? Take a couple of moments to write down the simple things that you could do, one small thing each day, that will ground your spirit and bring you joy. Make a list of possibilities.
What about some of these suggestions?
1. It could be writing personal musing in a diary. A gratitude journal is a great option.
2.Maybe it's creating a beautiful painting of an outdoor scene.
3. Or how about something even more simple, like just taking a slow walk around a quiet pond on your lunch hour? Take some photos. The birds are singing in the trees above, branches softly rustling in the wind. Relax...
4. Do you have a pet that you enjoy spending time with? Give yourself permission to take a technology time-out so you can offer your dear dog, beloved cat or other cherished pet a nice belly rub, scratch behind the ears, an afternoon walk and a treat.
5. Love to read? Reading is a simple thing you can do each day. Just a few pages will do, or aim to complete a chapter a night if that makes you happy and satisfied.
6. What about a craft? Some enjoy knitting and crocheting. Try creating a family photobook. Others do needlepoint or latch hook. Perhaps you find pleasure in penning calligraphy letters on a clean white page in bold, black ink. What about an online craft class?
7. If you can't think of any task you'd be good at immersing yourself in, why not return to childhood? What did you enjoy in your youth? No shame in revisiting old talents to see where they take you.
Today, write down the simple things that gave you a few moments of pure, unadulterated joy. Give thanks for these meaningful, simple moments of fun and enjoyment. Make it a priority to enjoy them again, tomorrow. And encourage your whole family to do the same. Maybe you can do it together.
Disclosure: At Grandma's Place is committed to high standards of integrity and quality. I do not promote any brand I do not believe meets these standards, and I only promote brands I would purchase myself. If I don't love it, and don't think you'll love it, it won't appear on my blog.
Living in such a high-tech world, our kids prefer tech-based games to play with neighbourhood kids nowadays. So, there’s no doubt that you too have hard times when it comes to taking the kids outdoor, like so many other parents out there.
Anyway, if you are one of those fellow parents searching for some effective ways to encourage your little one to explore the outdoor world, this post is absolutely for you. Here are a few ways you should try before you give up.
Let’s check them out in the following:
Limit Electronic Gadgets
Electronic gadgets have taken over the people all across the globe. We cannot even think of a single day without them, right? Likewise, children, from the very early age has been attracted to numerous electronic devices.
So, it has become impossible to an extent to get rid of all sort of techy things no matter how hard you try. However, you still have the control to limit the access to those electronic gadgets you kids stick to every now and then. Set rules for the usage of gadgets and tell your kids to go outdoors and play with the neighbourhood kids.
Introduce Your Kids to Outdoor Environment
At this stage, as a conscientious parent, your aim is to introduce your kids to the outdoor environment once you set the limit for electronic gadgets. To do this, you can simply decorate the backyard of your home in a kid-friendly way and take their toys out there.
Now, ask them to play with their favourite toys like block and puzzles, playdough, outdoor playhouse, baby activity tables, etc. and explore new arrays of the games they love.
Invite Your Kids to Nature
Once your kids are comfortable with the outdoor environment, it’s time you invite them to nature and show them the blessings. You can simply take your kid to the nearby park, playground, beach, river banks, hill slopes, and wherever in the green.
You can even restart gardening with your little one and ask him/her to assist you in gardening chores. Nature can be the best alternative to get rid of techy gadgets at childhood days.
Introduce to Neighbourhood Kids
Introducing your little one to the neighbourhood kids can be an effective way to encourage him/her to explore the outdoors. Besides, neighbourhood can be the best place to teach your kid different social skills as well.
It’s true that your kid will feel like out of water at the very beginning but once they are comfortable with them, I bet, you’ll have a hard time taking him/her home from the neighbourhood.
Get Them the Right Outdoor Gear
Getting the right outdoor gear can also contribute a lot to encourage your child to go outdoor and explore newer things. If your little one hardly wants to go outside, get him/her a Kid’s Binocular and teach how to use it properly to see distant objects. Once it learns and realises the beauty of nature, the pleasure of sightseeing and birdwatching, it’s more likely to go outdoor on its own.
Last but not the least, be bright and encouraging with the kids, make them excited about the outdoor, and follow the tricks above. We expect that you will notice a positive change in your kid’s attitude towards outdoor soon.
This guest post is from WelcomeParenthood
"I am Angelica Murdock, a working Mom with two lovely children. I have a parenting blog
where I share my personal experience as well as parenting tips, tricks, and guidelines
to make parenting comparatively easy for working moms like me."
I remember when my granddaughter was little, perhaps 2 years old, she would wake early and dance happily down the hallway. Then she would stop, cover her mouth with her hand, and make a noise that was half a cough and half a clearing-her-throat type of noise.
We were all mystified for a while. Did she have a cold? Was she coming down with something?
Then one morning, my daughter came to the end of the hallway and stopped. She frowned, put her hand over her mouth and made the same sound as Rachael. "Ahh.. this sinus so annoys me," she muttered. And the light dawned.
Rachael didn't have a sore throat. She didn't have a cold. She was copying her mother, who struggles with asthma and sinus. She's had it since she was little herself. Little Rachael just did exactly what her mother did, almost every morning.
Kids copy their parents almost without thinking. And gratitude is no exception. The best way to develop thankfulness in our kids is for us to show gratitude first. But there are other worthwhile strategies to encourage your kids to be more thankful. Check out some of these ideas that follow.
1. Remember that children learn best by example.
Kids learn best through copying actions, behaviours and attitudes. Any behaviour I want my children to exhibit, I must master first. So, it's important for me to live it. That means remembering to say 'please' and 'thank you' not just because it's polite, but to teach thankfulness to my children. I can best teach them to be grateful by expressing my own gratitude.
In practical terms, it means that, no matter how small the deed, it's important to give thanks when someone does something for me. I understand that when others serve me or buy things for me, it is only out of the generosity in their hearts, not out of obligation. I want my kids to understand that, too.
It's important to show my children that I appreciate others, that I'm humble enough to accept that I am not entitled to their kindness.
2. Guard your children from that sense of entitlement so they may be free to be thankful.
It's not easy to do when advertisements and social media constantly bombard us with images of amazing items we'd love to own. And you can be sure that your kids will know which of the amazing toys on offer their friends want or own. But it's important to be selective in the number of material things children receive. Yes, I know how hard that is, and it doesn't get any easier when you're a grandmother. How much is enough?
But I also know it important to inspire them to appreciate the things they already have. Often having too much limits a person’s ability to be grateful. So, I try to model a long-term sense of appreciation and resist the urge to give them too much.
Click on the clip below to hear Elisa Morgan, (Focus on the Family.) She provides parents with tips for cultivating a grateful heart in their children when it comes to the issue of possessions.
It also means thanking anyone who presents me with a gift. Sending out a thank you card is important, too, and something that kids should be encouraged to do themselves. Model Elle Macpherson expects her children to promptly send a thank you card for any gifts. Here's what she expects and the consequences she initiates if thankfulness is overlooked.
Your kids might be more enthusiastic about writing thank you cards with these printable cards they can complete themselves.
When I take care of the things I have, I'm demonstrating thankfulness for my own possessions and encouraging my kids/grandkids to do the same. It's another way to help kids appreciate what they already have.
Some parents find it helpful to regularly ask their kids to sort through their possessions and decide which ones are not used much and could be donated to other children who have little themselves.
3. Learn to think about others.
This might be as simple as encouraging your kids to compliment others who have worked hard to finish a special project. Perhaps they've won an award. Maybe they've achieved an important milestone. Talk about it and expect your kids to be encouraging.
Spend time together to help someone less fortunate. There's nothing quite like seeing how others are struggling to encourage thankfulness in our kids. Sure, it's good to talk about the difficulties others may be facing but it's so much more meaningful when they experience it firsthand. So volunteer together. Take time together to help out in the community. There's no reason why kids can't be more proactive in volunteering and helping others in practical ways..
4. Look for amazing moments that happen throughout the day and share your gratitude.
Turn dinner into an opportunity to share the special moments from the day with the whole family. Encourage your kids to list the things that happened to them, things they saw, that made them feel thankful.
Create a family gratitude list or journal, or a thankfulness tree or a thankfulness jar,
Money-saving Mom has a free printable 31-day Gratitude Journal for Kids that you might like to download and use, too.
5. Link your thankfulness back to God, reminding your children about His love and care for us and remembering to thank Him.
Take gratitude walks together and look for things for which you're thankful- warm sunshine, shady trees, the songs of cheerful birds, funny little caterpillars and more. Encourage your kids to do more than just list things they see but to also determine why they're thankful. For example, I thank God that made each bird with its own song, and that not every bird sounds like a crow. :). The birds sound beautiful and helps me identify a bird before I even see it. But it reminds me, too, that He made me unique and special, too.
Always look for the positive. Not everything is going to go well but look at those difficult times as teachable moments, times when you can show your kids that God's hand is in everything even when we can't see it. Yet we can still thank God. Perhaps it rains when you'd planned a trip to the beach. The rain will benefit the farmers who need rain for the strawberry crop- yum! And it might be a great time, instead, to go to the cinema for that movie you'd all wanted to see. These are wonderful opportunities to practise turning complaints into praise.
Okay.. so what about some other fun, family, ideas to focus on and encourage gratitude? Check out these suggestions:
* Learn how to make Gratitude Stones
* Go on a Scavenger Photo Hunt together.
* Make a Kindness ChatterBox (cootie catcher)
* Play a game of Gratitude Pick-up Sticks
* Create and hang up some Thankfulness Wind Spinners
* Smile it Forward with printable Kindness Activities for kids
* 7-Day Gratitude Challenge for Kids
Today, my choice is to foster a genuine sense of gratitude in the hearts of my children that goes beyond a simple habit of being polite. I'll seek to teach my children to use their manners to give thanks but also have a deep appreciation for others. Check out the questions below for reflection.
1. Do I demonstrate gratitude in the way I care for my possessions?
2. How can I foster a deep sense of gratitude in my children beyond simply giving thanks?
3. Why is it best to limit the amount of things I buy for my children?
Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.