Finance Friday – Great Big Family, Itty Bitty Budget: Dealing with Holidays and Important Milestones

Having a big family can be a lot of fun but it definitely isn’t easy on the wallet. Even with careful planning and budgeting, big families make life expensive. Dealing with everyday life while sticking to a budget demands a certain amount of creativity. Getting through the holidays or finding ways to celebrate important milestones like birthdays, graduations, awards, etc without bankrupting yourself requires you to practice some budgetary jiu-jitsu. Here are some tips that can make it easier.

Fickr.com source: Kid's Birthday Parties

Fickr.com source: Kid’s Birthday Parties

Birthdays on a Budget

Get the family together and come up with one big/important new gift idea that you can purchase. This way the birthday boy or girl gets at least one big present for each birthday.

From here, set up a tradition of hand me downs. Have each child choose one of his or her possessions (something that is important, not something they don’t care about anymore) to give to the birthday girl (or boy). When hand me downs are forced upon you by a parent, they’re terrible. When your sister gives you one of the toys she loves and rarely lets you play with, or the sweater she would never let you borrow, it feels like a treasure.

Flickr.com Source: Samdogs

Flickr.com Source: Samdogs

Graduations on a Budget

Every graduation, whether it is from kindergarten or college, is special. Coming up with a personalized graduation gift for each major graduation is a fun adventure and one that your family can work on together. Personal Creations is a great place to look at for finding items online for a fraction of what they’d cost to have commissioned locally.

One of the best things to give at times like this is a personalized album in which each family member chooses their favorite photo of themselves with the graduate and then those photos all get arranged into a single book.

flickr.com source: StreetFly JZ's

flickr.com source: StreetFly JZ’s

Budget Winter Holidays

The winter holiday season, when everybody needs to give gifts to everybody else, can be particularly traumatic. Trying to come up with money for a bunch of individual gifts can really stretch your budget, especially since you’re also in charge of decorations and food as well as figuring out gifts to give. To save money, try the following things:

Have each person make a new decoration for the holiday. Add these to the collection of decorations you have from previous years. Your house will be decorated and feel like a living time capsule at the same time. Fun!

Instead of big gifts for every child as well as you and your spouse (which happen at birthdays too), have a family meeting and come up with a big and fun gift that the entire family can enjoy, like a new game console, a collection of table top games, a new couch for everyone to sit on, etc. This way it feels like everybody gets something new.

From here, load up on arts and crafts supplies and then have everybody make gifts for each other. Craft supplies can easily be bought in bulk and will, overall, cost much less than you’d spend on individual gifts.

These are just some of the ways to save money on gift giving occasions. What are some of the things that have worked for you and your family?

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Guest post provided by:  Samantha Peters, an avid blogger who enjoys reading and eating in her spare time. Sam manages The Education Update and lives in beautiful San Diego, California

Readers Question: What are some of the ways you budget for special events that are unique and memorable?

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  • I’m far from a Martha Stewart, but have reached out to artists on Etsy to make birthday decorations for my daughter, which surprisingly were a lot cheaper and more creative than local party stores. I had place mats, party hats and centerpieces personalized.

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