Thursday, December 17, 2009

Living Within Your Means

This time of year it seems as though every where you turn you are spending money on one thing or another. With much planning and saving we usually do okay and this year is no exception. The bigger the children get, the bigger and more expensive their toys are - so I watch sales very closely, set a budget, and you can always find me out on Black Friday snagging those deals and like this year, I got the shopping done for our children in one day.

I was feeling good about the gifts I purchased for everyone this year, including our children until a friend presented the question yesterday of "How many gifts do you give your children each year?" and in reading the responses I felt a little pang of guilt because some people responded "two" or "a few small gifts and then candy in their stocking".....our children will have several gifts under the tree.....several. Now, I enforce throughout the year and especially this time of year giving to others in need. My children know about the Crisis Nursery in our area and how we donate money to them to help children in need, they go to the Humane Society with me to walk dogs, and they know that the toys and clothes that I frequently package up are going to children that might not be able to have those things otherwise. And during the Christmas season, they are actively involved in church activities and we know that Jesus is the reason for the season. Should I feel guilty about in addition to teaching them giving and compassion for others, that my husband and I spoil them just a little bit with an abundance of gifts?

My husband and I live within our means - our home is nearly 30 years old, our car is a '98, we shop sales, and I'm a little fanatical about being frugal. But when it comes to our kids and Christmas - it's so fun to spoil them just a little bit! And it's not like I go all out and buy them whatever they want at full price.....no way, not me! ha! ha! But in reading the responses I felt a bit of guilt - are we giving them too much?

This morning during my prayers I thought about the phrase "living within your means" and I think that it can be applied to all aspects of life - are you living within your means not only financially, but spiritually, physically, within your relationships, etc. And I think that if you aren't excessive in your life as a whole and you work hard, do for others, and live your life within your means - then at Christmas it's okay to spoil your children just a little.....because nothing gives me more joy than to see the sparkle in their eye and the happiness in their voices when they see that Santa has come to our home and given them gifts. The season is magical because of all aspects and I get sucked into it because it's for my children.

Are you living within your means? Are you meeting the needs of every point in your life? If you are, then you are doing well. If you find there is excess in some areas and a need in others, make a point to make changes. There is nothing that says it's too late to make changes in your life. And after typing all of this out I feel good about how Randy and I are raising our children and on Christmas morning - whether they are getting one present or 100 presents (which, by the way, they're not....not even close) - they will be excited, happy, and full of joy and they will appreciate whatever it is they receive.

1 comment:

heresthediehl said...

Great post, Angela!

We really, really try hard to live with our means. It was a conscious decision at the beginning of our marriage; that we would tithe and also be as generous as possible in other ways (which has changed over the years, but something we still focus on with the boys, especially). I won't lie and say it's easy; it's not. We're looking to move this spring and we're constantly reminding each other that wants and needs are not the same thing! But, we try (emphasis on TRY) to remember that everything we have is God's anyway, and that we're to be good stewards of all the blessings we've been given. It sounds like you're focusing on the same thing!

I've thought, too, that I overdid the buying at Christmas this year, even though I didn't totally blow the budget. However, we never (and I mean never) just go out and buy the kids a toy/game/whatever just because. Christmas and birthdays are it! They are starting to save up their own money to buy things throughout the year that they want. This alleviates my guilt somewhat! :)

Merry Christmas, and sorry for the book I just wrote!