There are some expenses that cannot be avoided when it comes to bringing up children, but thankfully there are some great ways to budget and make your money go further (especially around Christmas time and you have small children). Some are more obvious than you think…
Really think about the present
It can be tempting to buy expensive 1st year presents for those toddler birthdays. Ask yourself this? How many situations have we seen, where the packaging is genuinely more interesting than the present? Children love bright, colourful things and my friend’s boy enjoyed sitting in the cardboard box as it had a window (the plastic front piece displaying the tractor) much more than the toy itself.
Keep wrapping paper or make your own
My parents used to keep wrapping paper if it wasn’t ripped or torn. I’m not on about every single little piece, but if it can be re-used, why rip it and put out for recycling. If you want to opt for an older theme, why not go all out with newspaper and string. You could even have a go at making your own wrapping paper.
Make cards for birthdays and Christmas
This is an easy one, but often overlooked. The cost of birthday cards is expensive, especially when you consider they are made of card and more than likely thrown away after the event. Children will enjoy making cards and ok the design won’t match the shop brought quality, but it will be unique, personal and cheaper.
A first birthday/Christmas is special, just as much as the other birthdays. A lot of the keepsakes available are beautiful and worth investing in to capture these moments, but being thrifty and saving money is key. If you cannot afford the keepsake, make your own treasure box or frame a photo. If you know parents with children, ask them if they display their keepsake items anywhere? Make something to display and look at such as a photo or framed picture with a deep back for you to put in bulkier items.
Personal Christmas presents
Everyone with families WILL understand the financial situation of bringing up children and friends will not expect that expensive present – after all, isn’t Christmas about sharing the joy and not who spend the most money. I get a present every year from my best friend and it’s a Christmas tree decoration, or a wall decoration that has been hand-made. This means more to me than any shop brought gift. Why not opt for the personal gifts from your children to friends and family.
Plan ahead with this one and make sure EVERYONE knows your gifts will be from the children, so please do not expect the latest CD or techie gadget.
Make Your Own Competition
Personal gifts do not have to stop with children. As adults, we are all capable of making something crafty. What about a photo album for parents, or have a go at making a home decoration like a draught excluder or storage holder. If you have a group of friends, why not have a competition who can make the best home-made gift.
Second hand shopping
Swapping and second hand shopping definitely should not be overlooked. There are Facebook groups and sites dedicated to swapping new and nearly new items as children grow out of them. If you are not comfortable with the internet, try looking for local groups or ask at a local nursery if there are events on. Take a trip to your local charity shop and you will be surprised at what you can buy today as a lot of gifts in these places need to be in excellent condition before they are put on the shelves.
Enjoy the simple things
The best things in life are free…so the saying goes. If you ask a child if they want to go to a theme park of course they will, but they would also enjoy a picnic in the park feeding the ducks. It is easy to assume the latest attraction is preferred but I bet we never went to themeparks every summer and you know what? We learnt to use our imagination and entertain ourselves for a short while.
If you have taken the earlier advice from Jen about Christmas shopping early, then why not consider a different gift and sponsor a child in India, Africa or another country that you might have a connection with like Uganda, from children’s charity World Vision UK. They are dedicated to making a difference to children’s lives in some of the poorest countries.
Disclosure: Yet another post that doesn't require any. I support World vision and am happy to provide them free guest posts on my blog.