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« Gratitude! And not the lame happy, schmappy kind. | Main | It's complicated »

November 27, 2012


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Kids love stuff. Selling stuff only works once and you can't buy love. They will remember a warm, mom-cooked Christmas breakfast and some fun (and free) time and listening more than any THINGS.


Make this year about memories-lots of free things to do: Magic Snow at Pioneer Place, Peacock Lane or just long walks looking at lights, just being downtown at Christmas, the Christmas Boats, etc . . . . I'm scaling back this year too and it will be good for Josie to learn Christmas is not all about the presents.


We told our kids that they simply will not be getting iPhones or iPads (iPods ok). They will live. It's not a bad thing for parents to say no. In fact kids need to hear no occasionally.

See what Dave is planning to get. Together with Dave, pare down that list to reasonable. For example, the bike is reasonable. The computer and iPad mini, probably not (not in my house anyway). Then split the list between the two of you.

Also, you can buy almost-new, or even brand new for less from Craigslist. Try that before buying from a store.

Rayne of Terror

Do your kids expect Santa to supply the whole list? My kids each get one present from Santa, usually whatever is most difficult to wrap.


I love that Genoa wants tape. I know a kid whose heart's desire for Christmas one year was a clipboard. Yep, a clipboard. Her parents were thrilled. :)


Do not spend money you don't have on things your kids don't need. It will make no difference in their lives beyond that one day if they don't get a buttload of presents.

Personally, I have always been a little grossed out by giving kids zillions of gifts. Pick out a few meaningful, affordable things. Give them coupons for fun time with mom, find cheap toys on craigslist, an IOU for a new bike, whatever.

Use your money to pay your bills.


Christmas can be tough when money is tight. I know it’s not about the stuff, but who doesn’t want to see that look on their kids’ faces when their little minds are blown on Christmas morning? Since you and Dave are friends now, is it possible to band together on some of the bigger requests? Plus, and I’m sure you know this, no kid gets EVERYTHING on their list. Zone in on the things that really matter. Also check Craigslist and ebay for gently used versions of the things they’re asking for. They’ll never know. And as a last resort, I hear they pay for donating plasma! :) Good luck!

Faraway Reader

My kids have iPods on their Lists also and I have already said Santa is not bringing electronics.

My Son has a puppy on his list also and told me he thinks Santa will stop at a pet adoption center and bring him one that needs a good home (gah!) but I have tried to gently explain that Santa doesn't bring pets, at least to our house, nor can he bring everything we ask for.

Being grateful for what you have (and receive) is what we will be going for this year.

I am scaling back and not paying for it next year still, like I usually do.

I hope you and Dave can work out a plan to get a special gift for them both.

PS: Plants vs. Zombies is the best !

When my son first started his love of comics I found old Lots of Garfield books and Peanuts used on eBay and Etsy. He loved them !!


I know it's tough to not be able to give your kids everything they want for Christmas, but in the long run, it is better this way. Help them appreciate what the season is really about by spending quality time with just them and keeping up on old traditions/starting new ones.


You could do your children a huge favor and buy them a stock certificate (from Oneshare). If you choose a company that pays dividends, they'll be able to thank you for the excellent gift four times a year into perpetuity.

It would be an incredible way to pass on to your children some of your financial planning/investment knowledge.


We have always told our kids that santa wasnt real, and we buy pajamas, slippers and hot chocolate for their only gifts and have a family night singing along to christmas music in the car looking at lights. They get presents from family and friends on christmas day - we do our family celebration a week before. We all love it and its affordable on our super tiny budget.


Also - check out half price books for comics. We buy thek there fr about 10c a book.


We have similar issues pretty much every year and here are our solutions: 1) they only get gifts from Santa - none from the parents. 2) we have discussions about what we will "allow" Santa to bring. For example, several years ago my daughter desperately wanted an American Girl doll. Most of her friends had at least one, several had received them from Santa, so she was certain he would bring one. We sat down and told her we thought that was too big a gift for Santa to bring. She had two choices: she could ask everyone else to send her money she could use for the American Girl doll or she could ask for something else. She decided to use her own money (not sacrificing gifts!) to buy the Target version and Santa could bring whatever he wanted!

I definitely second the idea of at least talking to Dave about what he's planning. You don't want Santa bringing underwear and oranges to your house and bicycles and iPads to Dave's!!! (or vice versa if your Craigs List ads all pan out)

Susan DeMateo

Don't you start begging for money every year around this time?

Good to see some things don't change.


I vividly remember one year wehn we used bill money to spoil the kids silly at Christmas. we were so proud of al the crap we had managed to buy for them. Couldn't wait to see their faces Christmas morning.

Christmas morning came, they opened everything, then later that day when talking to grandparents and being asked what they got for Christmas, the answer was "not much" or "nothing really"

That was the last year we went "all out". I know they didn't mean to be ungrateful, they just really didn't need all that crap. Now we scale it down to one big gift, then books, socks, underwear, choc orange, etc.
Ive had them make list of one thing each in the follow catergories:



I think a lot of their requests are reasonable (minus the expensive electronics). My kids are allowed to make wish lists every year, but they know they don't get everything on the list--nor should they expect it. You could set a budget for each kid--$100-150, or whatever you think you can swing, and just shop off the list. Don't be afraid to buy secondhand, most kids won't even notice or care. I think you could get the kids the reasonably priced stuff on their list within a set budget. Let Dad buy the expensive stuff.


Amanda, I noticed after I first posted that their lists are "Mom's".

You gotta nip that in the bud, girl. Alex is a level-headed boy, but if he has a similar list for Dave, well, that's a heck of a lot for one 9 yr old. And if he gets it all, he really won't appreciate any of it.

My 9 and 5 yr old boys and 7 yr old girl took it well when I said that the iPad and iPhone were not gonna happen. And I think Alex will too.


Here's the thing, your goal as a parent is to raise your kids to and keep them safe, fed and educated. You love them sure.... but being a parent isn't a popularity contest. Don't feel you have to go crazy on Christmas gifts... let them know the budget is tight, really tight and make sure they understand Christmas really is a lot more than "getting gifts". Do all the fun stuff, checking out xmas lights, low cost activities, etc.

But also... maybe you should have saved your $$ from that latest tattoo huh? Sorry to be harsh. You seem to talk about loving your kids a lot and wanting to give them nice things but I bet in the last year you have spent easily over $1000 or more on tattoos, cigs, wine, eating out, etc..


Game Stop has a lot of pre-owned games and consoles. If you are willing to go with a PS2 instead of a PS3, for example, they are extremely reasonable. So you might want to check them out if you are looking for stuff at reasonable prices.

Board games are a possible option. I know my brother and I used to love them when we were your kids age.

Finally, kids are barraged with marketing as much and sometimes even more than adults, and they lack the cognitive development to understand the difference between something that is a luxury and something that is a necessity. It is your task as their mother to help them learn this lesson. Even if it means they only get one thing off their lists (which seem pretty standard but also luxurious, given their ages) as a 'special' gift and even then they may have to share it (like a video gaming console), and then a few other meaningful but smaller items, you can help them learn about the important things without making them feel deprived. That is what my parents did for me and believe me, I am grateful. And it is something my mom told me was her chief regret with my half-siblings--that they did not learn the same lesson, and their expectations of life are different because of it. Peace out, friend. <3


Gotta agree with Kendra...

Getting an expensive tattoo on your son's birthday, constant photos of eating out and parties with lots of booze, followed by a post whining about not having enough money for gifts. It's just hard to feel bad, Amanda.


Oh please, Kendra.

The smarmy judging only makes you look bad.


Sorry Lisa, but I call it like I see it. I assume the comments section isn't just for unabashed Amanda-supporters and that real life comments are welcome.

Wasn't Amanda a financial planner? Was she surprised that Christmas was coming yet again this year and that she had 2 young kids that (for better or worse) would expect gifs? When she posts what is essentially a "plea" to her site visitors to by an ad or give her $$ so she can buy her kids gifts, I think it's fair to call her out on it.

How about getting a part time retail job to earn extra $$ to buy presents, or, you know, saving up ahead of time by cutting down on unnecessaries like tattoos, smokes, alcohol and dining out.

Are you saying this is bad advice?


What do people do at Christmas? DRINK! What do they need? Designated Drivers! Does Portland have a DD service? You pick people up in their cars, with a partner drive them and their car home your partners follows you. Rate? You decide. Up here we do $13 for the first km, $2 a Km after. (A little steep?) You could do $10 first two miles $2 per mile after. It adds up quick. You do this all night long, get home at 3 or 4am sometimes 5am BUT you make shit tons of cash. Helps if you can drive stick to and make up some business cards. Good. This is what I do, but I just work for one. When I am not too busy with school and my son is at his dad's. On weekends mostly. I am working this new years not partying!

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