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Christmas on fixed income in retirement

Christmas on fixed income in retirement

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We all love Christmas; this is such a special time of the year that you can spend with your loved ones.  

I remember as a kid, Christmas was all about mad house cleaning with washing all windows, which was not fun for me with – 20 degrees outside and with the snow falling on my face while trying to clean that glass window and a feeling that my frozen hands will just fall off in a minute. But my mum insisted it had to be done.  

Then lots of shopping, cooking, more shopping, it was never possible to buy everything in one go, and not forgetting something.   

Going to shops in a deep snow was not a great fun either.  

Then fixing a Christmas tree, and cleaning again, as those real Xmas trees are very messy. Then back to cooking and cleaning, wrapping all the presents and cleaning again – that was exhausting.  

But when all got done, the house was beautiful, with the smell of this amazing pine tree, lights that twinkled all over it, tons of presents under the tree and an amazing smell of all Christmas goodies coming from the kitchen.  

Yes, Christmas is exhausting in Europe, but it is always and unforgettable family time with lots of friends visiting as well.  

But one thing that I must say is overdone in Europe are presents. Parents and grandparents will go overboard with the number of presents, trying to outdo each other, like a little secret competition, that everyone knows about, but no one will ever say out loud.  

So I hope you are not doing this in your family. It might give you a great deal of pleasure on the day, but it will be quickly forgotten tomorrow. 

However, when you receive your credit card statement showing you how much you have to repay now, or your bank statement with a very, very low balance, you won’t be that pleased any longer. 

I think that a lot of Australians do it better, easier and maybe even with a greater benefit for the person receiving the gift, so your kids or your grandkids.  

Instead of buying expensive presents that your kids or grandkids don’t really want or need, but will pretend to enjoy receiving them not to upset you, I have few suggestions for you: 

1. Ask them what they want, but within your budget. As a child every year I had to write a letter to Santa with a list of my wishes and my gifts. Of course, I had to prove in the letter that I was a good girl. The funny thing is that we loved this tradition so much, that we continued even as teenagers. 
And then as a mother myself, I introduced it to my son, and we had fun all-over again. So do this with your family as well. Variety of presents will give you some choices that will be within your budget.  

2. Even easier, knowing your budget, just give them the money – if you put it in a nice envelope, hide it in a box and then in another bigger box and another. I did this once with a person having to open 4 boxes to get to a present – that was fun. Then decorate the biggest box – good present and lots of fun opening it.  

3. Buy a present with another person and share the expense – this is a great idea, as you are able to purchase a more significant present, that otherwise might be outside of your budget. As long as it is what the receiving person really needs, wow that might be a great surprise.  

4. One for one – If you have a big family, it is very costly to buy present for every person, so instead agree just to one present for one person. So each member will only buy one present instead of 20, hence each member of the family might still get a nice, solid present if there is only one for you to buy.  

5. Don’t buy, but rather do – I think at this point in my life, this would be my preferred option. No present will ever give you the same enjoyment and memories as the time spend with your family to make them.  
 
Especially with your kids or your grandkids when they are small. So think of some fun and exciting ways to make those presents that will deeply involve the little ones to play with you.  
This is what they will remember, while another toy from Target, however great it might be, will be soon forgotten. 

6. Teach your kids and your grandkids a spirit of Christmas which is giving and sharing with strangers, people that are worse off than you are. There are lots of charities that need donations to continue their good work. Even better, do some voluntary work. Every little help means a lot.  

I would like to wish you a safe and very enjoyable Christmas that you can now spend with your family and friends, unlike in 2020. And if your family is not here with you during this festive season, I am sure they are thinking of you and sending you the warmest wishes.  

Merry Christmas.  

By: Katherine Isbrandt CFP®
Money Strategist & Retirement Planner
Principal of About Retirement

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