How I Afford Holiday Gifts While Living on a Fixed Income
Budgeting and planning ahead are key for columnist Amy Gietzen
It’s beginning to look an awful lot like the holidays! Everywhere I go I see festive decor and signs for holiday sales. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to hear ”Jingle Bells” and ”White Christmas” on the radio in November.
The hustle and bustle of the season often brings long lines, high-calorie meals, delicious desserts, and, most importantly, the exchanging of gifts. I love the tradition of gift-giving and the smiles it brings to the faces of my close friends and loved ones. Seeing the excitement that glows on my niece’s face as she tears through sparkling paper and ribbons is priceless.
However, what’s hard for me is the cost of those lovely gifts. I always wonder how I will survive the holidays and afford presents on my income.
I have been on a fixed income since 2005, when scleroderma progression made it too hard for me to continue working full time. I had to quit my job and apply for Social Security Disability Insurance.
As you can probably imagine, it is extremely hard to budget for bills and other costs of daily living with a limited amount of money. When I add in holidays, birthdays, weddings, baby showers, anniversaries, and all of those enjoyable but pricy celebrations, I often find myself scraping by, struggling to put fuel in my car and food in my fridge. As much as I love all the glitz and glam that comes with the holiday season, my pocketbook does not reciprocate those sentiments.
Living with scleroderma makes it very difficult to splurge. The cost of medications, tests, doctor appointments, and surgical procedures doesn’t leave me much spending money. But not buying my loved ones gifts to open on Christmas last year left me feeling like Ebenezer Scrooge.
What to do?
I had to come up with a way to afford gifts for my loved ones without overdrafting my bank account in the process. It took me some time and about half a dozen ideas before I hit the jackpot earlier this year. I came up with my own personal plan to save Christmas!
First, I needed to create a budget to figure out how much money I have left over each month and how much I can afford to put aside for gifts. Then I had to figure out how many people I have to buy for and how much I intend to spend on each person. With all that done, I figured out that I needed to start saving for Christmas in September. My plan was in place.
Now, some of you might be thinking, “It’s not about the presents or how much you spend.” But it’s important to me to be able to buy my loved ones something to open on Christmas Day. It’s how I show my love and gratitude for all they do for me and for their constant support and love. That, to me, is priceless.
The holiday season can be challenging, as there’s so much to do and never enough time to get it all done. But if you take a minute to make a list and check it twice, you can develop and execute a plan of attack.
Living with scleroderma comes with a lot of baggage — some big, some small. You just have to decide what’s most important to you. I believe you can do anything you set your mind to!
Note: Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.
Amy - I'm 65 now and a grandmother. Boy, have I had times of financial strain in the 45 years of being married with children as well as with the Ssc diagnosis 22 years ago! If you can find an old notebook of paper and have envelopes; can I tell you what a treasure of the written word a letter can be to someone you care about. If you see them, hand-delivered is wonderful. If not, I know stamps are pricey now and I will be happy to send you a book of stamps as my "secret santa" gift to you! Merry Christmas!
PS - some of my notes included a night of babysitting kids (to my girlfriends) or when they go to the doctor or beauty shop; home-cooked meal (I made a little extra); I bake banana bread all the time (black bananas, I cannot throw out); a drive for Starbucks or ice cream OR Sonic Happy Hour 2pm-4pm; I can go on the 'cheap' if I have to trust me....you become very resourceful when low on cash, Amy! Be well.
Thank you so much for the tips! Great ideas