Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally felt victimized by the onslaught of godchildren or “inaanak” subtly and not-so-subtly asking for presents (cash or otherwise) during Christmas.
Okay, hands down.
Now, I don’t mean to sound like a Scrooge since the holidays really are a time for giving and for spending time with your loved ones, but let’s face it, it can also take a huge toll on your wallet, year-end bonuses and 13th month pay notwithstanding. It’s not exactly easy to say no to your cute godson or goddaughter when they point all over the toy store with their chubby little fingers now, is it?
Thus, overspending during Christmastime is an all-too common occurrence for many OFW’s, though it is still very much possible to avoid if you take a handful of precautionary measures:
BUDGET, BUDGET, BUDGET.
Take note, this step is in ALL CAPS.
Before you even book that ticket, calculate how much you’ll be spending during the holidays and don’t forget to factor in travel costs (plane tickets, accommodations, etc.) along with gift-giving and party-hosting expenses. Come up with a reasonable figure for your budget, and most importantly, STICK TO IT.
If you can set your budget months before, that’s even better. It’ll give you more time to save up for your trip so you’re less likely to fall short of cash, which brings us to the next item.
DO NOT TAKE OUT A LOAN FOR UNNECESSARY EXPENSES.
Personal loans should only be reserved for emergencies. Not having enough money to throw a party or to buy your neighbor’s goddaughter an iPhone X does not qualify as such. Do you really want to go into possibly more debt and have to work longer abroad to pay it off over something so frivolous? No, I didn’t think so either.
If you can’t afford something, don’t buy it or don’t sponsor it. Period.
Resist the urge to post about your upcoming visit on social media.
Rather than posting photos of the airport or of your boarding pass online, keep the details of your trip to the Philippines in private. In other words, inform only your family and close friends, or anyone else you actually want to see.
Otherwise, you run the risk of invitations to events you’ll be asked to sponsor, get-togethers orchestrated by distant relatives (which you’ll be asked to sponsor), and even “catch-up coffee sessions” with acquaintances who’ve joined network marketing companies (which you’ll be asked to- oh, you get the picture).
Make a list of people you’re giving gifts to, and stick to it.
Here’s a public service announcement: you don’t have to give presents to EVERYONE YOU KNOW.
Just as making a grocery list helps prevent overspending at the supermarket, so too does making one for gift-giving. If you already have an idea as to what to give each person on your list, that’ll help you figure out how to allocate your budget as well as what sort of items to canvas for.
Alternatively, you can also assign a fair value to each person if you don’t know what to get them yet. For instance, you can budget Php2,000 for your spouse, Php1,000 each for your children and your parents, and perhaps even Php500 each for your godchildren (less if you happen to be Godfather or Godmother to an entire town. In which case, where do I sign up?).
Don’t feel pressured to spend.
“Manglibre ka naman!” (“You should treat us!”) “Pa-pizza naman diyan!” (“Buy us a pizza!”) “Merry Christmas, Ninong/Ninang.” (“Give me money.”) Sound familiar?
Few things can shame a Filipino into overspending than peer pressure. As a people who have been colonized for hundreds of years, we’ve turned people-pleasing into some sort of defense mechanism, albeit this has been to our detriment than our benefit. Thus, we often care too much about what other people think, regardless of whether they actually matter to us or not.
But you know what? You worked hard for your money, kabayan. You and only you should decide how you want to spend it and who you want to spend it on. So, if you’d rather put what you’ve saved up into your daughter’s educational fund instead of paying for the town fiesta’s band, don’t hesitate to do so. You’re here to make some good memories with your family anyway, not to run for public office.
There’s nothing wrong with having a generous heart. It’s actually quite admirable. However, let’s also bear in mind that the true meaning of Christmas lies in celebrating the birth of our Savior with the people we love the most, and that, per se, costs next to nothing.