I’ve been a humbug…

I’ve been in a bah-humbug mood this season. This year I’ve witnessed people being guilted into spending more than they are able to in order to give presents to their children, family, friends and even acquaintances.

While it somewhat warms my heart to see people being generous and paying off layaway accounts, I still wonder what possesses needy people to put hundreds and hundreds of dollars of items on layaway. Do children really need all of that to have a Merry Christmas?

I’ve been that needy person. I’ve been at the lowest point in my life, where we needed food stamps just to have food on the table. I’m not proud of that time in our lives, but I know it has contributed to the person I am today. During that time, we didn’t overspend during the holidays (we just weren’t able too), and we still don’t today.

We are better off this year, but my kids are still getting presents I bought them at a thrift store and on Amazon. I spent a total of $23 this year on my children, and I’m okay with that. They are getting “new-to-them” Barbies, a train set and a puzzle each. And this weekend, we are focusing on what really matters. Presents are nice, but not worth going broke over.

I don’t mean this post to come across as snotty or judgmental in any way. It just breaks my heart to see people struggle and fall into the trap that retailers set every single year. One of the reasons I do post deals on this blog, is because I don’t want you spending all of your hard-earned money. I want you to get the best deals possible, so that you can save money and live well.

To me, Christmas is about being with family and celebrating the birth of my precious Savior. I desperately hope this serves as a reminder to just step back, and enjoy this coming week. Take some time to appreciate your loved ones, spend time with them and focus on why we really celebrate this time of year.

This next week I’ll be elbow deep in homemade cinnamon rolls, singing carols, dancing with the kids, seeing Christmas lights, reading stories with my family and enjoying some precious time with my young children that are growing up way too fast! I hope you will save money, live well and remember what really matters this time of year. I wish you all many blessings and a very Merry Christmas.

Posting will continue the first week of January. Until then, Subscribe to my updates on Facebook (hit the Subscribe button) to see what I’m cooking up in the kitchen and how we are spending this week together as a family. 

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  1. God Bless you and you’re family! I couldnt agree more about this post! I have watched for every sale possible and made home made presents. I refuse to do any layaways. This was our first year of making a lot of home made gifts and I have to admit it was more satisfying than any gift I could give anyone. The response was amazing. My kids were involved in the process and we had some amazing family time doing so. Have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

  2. I agree with you and think your Christmas sounds fabulous! I constantly am forcing myself to restrain myself from spending a ton of money on my son at Christmas. I still probably go overboard though. As a child, I had 4 siblings and money was tight and Christmas and birthdays were scant so I guess I am compensating with my own son as an adult.

  3. I agree. I can’t for the life of me understand why people want to go broke and beyond for Christmas. Especially those in the camp of, “I can’t find a leapfrog tablet so I guess my next option for my 3 year old is an iPad!” Makes me want to bang my head against the wall.

    That being said, this year was the first year we were able to go above and beyond, thanks to planning ahead of time and having a specified Christmas budget. We gave without the guilt of “How are we going to pay for it?” My children are going to have quite a few presents under the tree, but I did a lot of consulting on Baby Cheapskate about what toys are most played with and also a couple of toys that both my 17 month AND 4.5 year old will enjoy. So I feel good about it.

    Merry Christmas to you & yours!

  4. Crystal, thanks so much for reminding us all of the true meaning of Christmas. I enjoy and appreciate you candidness and honesty. That is why your followers are never bothered by the comments you share. Merry Christmas to your family!

  5. When I hear about people paying off others layaways, I always wonder how much of that stuff gets returned for the cash.

  6. I agree with you 100%. I thought it was just me who was feeling this way. All I know is I will be enjoying time with my family and I wish everyone the best.

  7. I had the same thought as you did when I read about the people paying off the layaway accounts. Did those people really need to get all of those things? I did read one example that included clothes for the kids, and that made me feel differently. And, at least the people who put the stuff on layaway didn’t just run up a credit card to buy things. I have struggled this year with why we need all the stuff, plus we are struggling a little more financially this year, but I couldn’t justify (in my own mind) not getting things for my kids. I spent more than you did, but not as much as I hear people spending, and I never have gone overboard the way some people do! Thanks for your post!

  8. I’ve always wondered why some people go above and beyond when they know they can’t really afford it. I guess some people feel the need to be ‘that’ person. Either way, you can only do what you can do, right? 95% of my 2 year old son’s presents came from the thrift store. We found a Thomas the Train set in excellent brand new like condition for $4.99!! And a bunch of other things. I was also able to use a GC I won to buy him some new clothes (on clearance of course lol) and my aunt got him some things. I’m very big on not being ‘big’ with presents on Christmas or any other ocassion when children are so young. I hope you have a wonderful holiday. Thanks for all you do!!!!

  9. I SO totally agree with you!!! i just made a blog post on this subject this morning myself! Wishing you and yours a VERY merry CHRISTmas!

  10. I thought I was the only one who was wondering why people were putting things on layaway in the first place! It really bothers me. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be getting things for Christmas, but keep it within your means or make something, or get something for free…

    My kids are getting things I got deals on, from myhabit.com, plumdistrict.com, swap.com…

  11. You are so right !
    Blessed CHRISTmas! What you wrote: “To me, Christmas is about being with family and celebrating the birth of my precious Savior” is the BEST comment and the absolute truth! Just imagine how different our world would be if everyone practiced that statement!

  12. You know, I am so happy that you wrote this. Christmas is not about things. If I don’t do anything else, I want to teach my children that.

  13. I wouldn’t be too hard on people who put stuff on layaway. I did it to buy gifts for my family when I first graduated college and had a mountain to school debt to pay back on a very small paycheck. I didn’t want to put it on a credit card, and knew I wouldn’t be able to put that money aside each paycheck because I’d spend it on silly things like rent. Those days are long gone and not needed now that I have a Christmas Club account (although this year I made 90% of our gifts) but those struggling days taught me to be thrifty even if I don’t have to and to try not to look down my nose at someone else’s overflowing cart. You never know what their need might truly be.

  14. This post could not be more true. We do not have the extra money this year for gifts, and I genuinely mean it when I told my husband all I needed or wanted was to just have him around. Most people seem to have forgotten how to really appreciate that part of Christmas. I do not see the point in buying items for Christmas that you cannot afford, and are not going to be truly valued and cherished. If you can’t afford it, you shouldn’t be spending the money you work so hard for, but so few people really practice that.

  15. I read the other day that 40% of Americans are still paying on LAST year’s Christmas purchases. That is sickening. Pay cash, then you can’t overspend. People need to learn to living within their means.

    Chirstmas is about the birth of of Jesus! Thanks for the wonderful post and terrific reminder of the greatest meaning of Christmas. God bless you!

  16. My kids have one bag of items and some clothes. I don’t believe in charging Christmas. We did splurge on one thing this year though. It was one third from my in laws and for my husband and I, Xbox. We have never bought each other gifts, oh last year he did buy me a set of pjs, but that’s been our only gifts. We didn’t do it because of Christmas, but the price was good.

  17. I’m so glad to see someone else who thinks the same way I do about this. Sometimes I wonder if there’s something wrong with me. I think materialism is a trap and the typical American celebration of Christmas is so far from the true meaning of Christmas. We buy each of our kids two or three gifts, and the majority of the gifts are from garage sales. We spend the day enjoying each other, not material objects. We eat simple, kid-chosen food and play games together most of the day.

  18. I agree 100%. So much of what our children learn to expect of Christmas, we teach them. If we ask them “What do you want for Christmas?” over and over, we teach them to be wanty. If we ask them, “What shall we give to/make for _____________ for Christmas?” then we teach them that the season is about giving.

    That said, I do think it is right to splurge when appropriate, if you have the money. When I do buy my kids gifts, I buy high quality so they will last. I am saving for a good quality handmade dollhouse and toy kitchen, probably from Etsy. This year my husband really needed a new watch. I went ahead and bought him a very high quality one, using coupons and discounts of course, but it still came to $125. We had the money and he deserves the best. So I do not think we should go overboard with the idea that we spend very little at Christmas. I believe we give what we can afford, but the best we can afford, to people we really love. God gave his very best and it is ok for us to do that too.

  19. Thank you for the beautiful Christmas message and it’s all so true. In our family we only do gifts for the children and this year I am giving then money so they can either put it in the bank — or buy something with it after Christmas when the sales are on. We need to be reminded of the true meaning of Christmas and you did just that. God bless you and thank you for all you do on your website which I am new to. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  20. My teens just opened their stockings. Lots of gum, toothbrushes, a nail polish for my daughter. That was it! They are so spoiled by grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc., that there is NO WAY I am getting them anything more. They said “Thanks Mom” and went up to bed. They, too, know that they have everything they want and need. It’s harder when they are younger, but being confident in knowing that you give them all your love and attention is all they need (and the parents too).

  21. The hunger in the city and county where I live is astounding, who gives a birds eye you know what if a layaway is paid, when people are starving here and no jobs, cold as could be and dismal..really…really….We donate money to salvation army specifically for food, forget the toys..all my change and I did get to throw in a $5.00 spot when our car would not ignite and we walked home with our groceries freezing, forgot our jackets..it was a wake up call, one never knows when one will need some $$ for a car emergency. I walk everywhere refusing gas costs that are exorbitant, our car is nearly 8 years old from new..we scrimp & save, cooking at home, I am an old hippie and my husband retired from retail grocery he has seen the face of hunger and it ain’t pretty and many are not kind to the jobless, hungry and homless.who spends like the world is coming to an end tomorrow no one I say..that being stated, happy hanukkah, merriest of christmases today and a healthy, peaceful 2012…

  22. Oh, yes one more thing, when people come around our area asking for food donations, I am the only one who gives anything and many are blessed beyond belief, they always sprout their religious convictions but never help the hungry here, what gives with that????? Maybe if they could give food for the hungry they won’t be getting that third car, that big trip to Hawaii and many vacations, just saying..why do people think they can live like the world is coming to an end tomorrow…I have in my lifetime met people who were dying from something and charged stuff on Visa’s knowing full well they would not be around to pay them and neither their family either to pay them off oh, my goodness..what kind of thinking is that????…Materialism is rampant in this country no longer are people happy with the words, plenty and enough..words our only child knew from the time she was a wee one…just saying!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Our holiday of christmas was quiet, food at a place for the hungry I prepared and my hubby helped out, off to a movie from money I actually found waiting for a public bus last week, $20.00 and calls twice from our only child, she was off to an asian dinner hosted by friends, to a movie too..we don’t do the material stuff, 8 days of hanukkah are tiny things I get for my hubby so he can live a good healthy life, me I volunteer for the hungry 8 days, volunteering all year thru, give food to the hungry and new lingerie at the battered women’s shelter and perfume too..I cannot see wasting precious resources trying to impress family and friends who are truly blessed with jobs, health and a home and food..many are starving in this county and no jobs, it is getting worse, and now health care costs are soaring beyone belief, maybe the new president or President Obama will think about these issues when election time rolls about but once a person becomes president all bets are off as far as I am concerned! just saying!!!

  24. I did spend more than you did on each of my 4 children, but they got very little compared to friends. Today in the car a 6 year old girl in our carpool went on and on with everything she got – and it was all big stuff – over $100 per item. She couldn’t even remember it all. I was floored. So my daughter started going on and on about what she got – lipgloss, hair brush, toothbrush, leggings, doll house (the one bigger gift), etc. I just cracked up at how my dd was just as excited about her hair brush and lipgloss as the other girl was about her nintendo DS, balance beam, barbie camper, etc. It seems most families do go overboard on the gift buying at Christmas.

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