There are few times of year at which it feels worse to be short on cash than the holidays. And for those of us who celebrate Christmas — arguably the most commercial and gift-centric of all the major holidays — the pressure to go into debt to make sure you’re “doing it right” is overwhelming. Trees are expensive. Decor is expensive. Travel is expensive. Elaborate Christmas meals and, of course, those aforementioned gifts are expensive. Opting out of the finances of Christmas can feel nearly impossible, and expressing your affection without the accompanying beautifully-wrapped box can make us feel totally inadequate.
But as someone who is doing a minimal Christmas this year (mostly as Marc and I save up to hopefully purchase a home in 2017), I’ve realized that if one dives headfirst into the no-spend elements of the holiday, it can feel liberating instead of shameful. The more consumerist trappings you remove, the more you realize that the meaning of the holiday — time and communication with loved ones, simple pleasures of comforting food and movies under warm blankets, a time to relax and reflect — has very little to do with money. You can spend almost nothing and still have a wonderful time, provided you treat your thrifty holiday proactively and find unique, true-to-you ways to celebrate that don’t put you over your budget.
To that end, Lauren and I did a video this week on how to handle being broke on Christmas (or simply wanting to save, and opt out of all that spending). There is nothing shameful about saying no to the spendier parts of Christmas, and no reason that the price tag of a gift should have anything to do with your connection to someone on a special holiday. You can spend almost nothing and have a wonderful time, which is exactly what Marc and I are doing this year.
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