Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Birthdays on a Budget

Marketing mavens work very hard to make people feel birthdays are all about the amount of money spent on the occasion. The sad thing is that so many people are on tight budgets, these days. Yet even many of the most grounded consumers are often driven to overspend when they can least afford to do so. Whether putting items on credit or skipping out on bills in order to buy that “perfect” gift, the aftermath of over-extension can be incredibly detrimental to individuals and families. So if a birthday for a little one is coming up but the money is lacking, consider the following tips for doing affordable birthdays.

Attention and effort is key: There are so many free and low-cost ways to make children feel special on their birthday. First off, plan a homemade cake. If you can't bake well then enlist the help of a culinary friend or family member. Decorations can be reused from other parties or bought inexpensively at discount stores. Simply taking the time to be there for one's child will mean so much more than the latest video game, so don't spend your child's day working to pay for some toy they'll soon lose interest in. Go out, play catch or hide-and-seek—make the day all about them by fixing their favourite meal and inviting a small group of friends to stay over. As for gifts, purchase or make a bunch of little things and then take the time to wrap them all individually so your child can enjoy opening more. For that one big purchase, can help.  Above all, listen; in the weeks leading up to the birthday pay attention to all the little wants your child expresses and then purchase some on the sly or make a mental note and come back later. When adults really hear their children it's a gift far beyond mere money.

Call in favours: Never forget that barter can act as real currency. Take a look at all your closest friends and their talents and skillsets and then put them to work. For instance an arts teacher can most likely devise a pinata for children to enjoy and candies can be bought inexpensively with the right search. A carpenter friend can create furniture or wooden toys, just as painters can do face-painting at a party in exchange for your assistance in another venture. When dealing with financial constraints it is very important not to lose a sense of self-worth. Everyone has unique talents that have nothing whatsoever to do with one's bank account. So remember to ask for help to ensure your child will have the best birthday, ever.

Buy used: Children go through toys and clothes so quickly that many look as if they've never been used! If your child has always wanted a game you approve of or some brand-name shoes then first try to find them second-hand before buying new. Also look online to see if any deals can be found but remember to factor in shipping costs to see if online items are really a deal, after all. Ebay is also a great source for used items as sellers have to be very candid about condition in order to get favourable approval ratings. Just be sure to read seller's notes before purchasing anything and also note what day the item is expected to arrive.

Share the Burden
Turning the party into a potluck can help keep the financial burden from resting with any one person. Simply make a list of requested items and note who will be bringing what so that there will be a variety of dishes. For a child's party make sure the foods are particularly appealing to little ones. Fun food should be the ticket. Also remember to make note of anyone's allergies and mark dishes clearly. If a costly present is hoped for then have numerous friends go in together on one larger present. By sharing some of the financial responsibilities with many, each individual will feel less of a strain.

Birthdays don't have to cost much to be special. Simply take a realistic look at how to celebrate on a budget and ask for help from friends.

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