Typically, I write about how to save money or avoid the temptation to indulge. I, at times, have chastened friends for their unnecessary expenditures. Today, I want to express quite the opposite.
My wife and I just put up our Christmas tree. I believe that we broke some universal law by putting it up before Thanksgiving. But we just couldn’t wait. Christmas trees seem to carry with them all of the good and warm feelings that Christmas invokes and we were feeling rather merry (maybe it was all that egg nog).
Much to my wife’s chagrin, we own a fake tree rather than a live one. We purchased it several years ago at Target for around $50. Since then, we have been adding ornaments and embellishments. Anyone that has owned a cheap, fake tree knows that they don’t look to great just out of the box. There are random, barren spots. To make the tree look good, you kind of have to put a lot on it.
Last year, we decided to invest in our tree by buying quite a few new decorations. I estimate that we’ve probably spent all-together around $300 on our Christmas tree. That price tag may seem a bit at odds with my normal “save wherever you can” approach. However, I think it’s important, almost essential really.
First, you need something to splurge on
I have a friend who is working on getting out of debt. We occasionally talk about what he and his wife are doing to pay down the debt. One of the comments that he has made to me several times is that they need to splurge every now and then. Otherwise, they feel suffocated by the debt.
The way I see it is if you are going to splurge on something, then why not let it be on family traditions. Tree trimmings can be used year after year. We make putting up the tree and Christmas decorations a day long event involving music, food and fun.
Second, Christmas is one of the most memorable events as a child
I still remember all of the ornaments that we would hung each year as a child. I remember the box they were stored in. And I remember when I was finally old enough to start putting the tree together myself. Our three year old was ever so anxious to help setup our tree. Both of our kids talk all day about Christmas and snow.
The holiday season, for me at least, is about creating memories – not so much the gifts. I want my kids to know that they grew up in a home where we celebrated this joyous season.
Third, don’t be a Scrooge-ly miser
I get that Scrooge was a wealthy man and had money to spare. You may feel that you don’t have extra cash. My recommendation is plan and save for it, just like anything else. Also, consider diverting some of the gift money to a tree fund, which benefits the whole family.
Let me end withe the words of one of my favorite Christmas songs (I Cry the Day I Take the Tree Down by Michael McLean):
I thought I’d seen all the lights and sung all the songs
I thought the holiday lasted a bit too long
I never shed any tears when Christmas was through
Until I celebrated one with you
And now I cry the day that I take the tree down
I want the season to last all year round
And I’m surrounded by these memories
It’s almost like you’re here with me
For more of my musings on families, careers and financial planning, follow Rabbit Funds on Twitter. Also, let me know in the comments section what holiday traditions you splurge on.