To tell my children we can't afford Christmas?

(445 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

DNo Thu 10-Nov-16 15:52:23

This is hard to post.

My daughter is 9 and my sons are 8 and 3. We are on the brink of bankruptcy due to me leaving my very well paid job to have DC3. I never in a million years dreamed we'd be in this situation.

Our mortgage is one month behind and our two credit cards are maxed due to essential buys - no frivolous spending, just childcare costs and things like school uniform and food shopping. We are not idiots and it's only been the last 3 years we've used credit. I work 30 hours per week but I used to earn 3 times my wage.

We have literally £140 to spend for Christmas as we've been saving £5 a week. There is no way we can get more money as I've sold all our non essentials - we don't even have a microwave as I sold it for £20.

Would you explain to the eldest that Father Christmas chooses to spend more on the younger children and older children get rewarded in other ways during the year? Or tell the truth? They'll still have a wonderful Christmas I promise you! But how do you tell them that some children get more than others?

Not looking for any sympathy, just advice from people who may have been in a similar situation, thank you. X

mouldycheesefan Thu 10-Nov-16 15:55:25

Can you go back to your previous job? If it paid x3 more it has to be worth considering. 💐

ChristmasEvePJs Thu 10-Nov-16 15:56:19

If I were you I would spend less on the little one and more on your 8 and 9yr olds. Between home bargains and such you could have a fine Christmas on that budget all be it very tight.

BrieAndChilli Thu 10-Nov-16 15:56:52

You could get quite a lot for £140 for the kids if you go to Poundland, home bargains, wilkinsons etc.
It's actually easier to spend less on toddlers so I would spend less on the little one as you can get big flirt puzzles for a £ etc and then look for offers for the older one.

KindergartenKop Thu 10-Nov-16 15:57:57

I would tell the older two that Santa is going to bring them a few little bits (chocolate, cheap stuff) but that you can't afford extras atm. Explain that you need to prioritize the little one and get them to help make decorations to make it magical. Basically big them up and make them feel grown up. Some well placed stories/vids about the true meaning of Christmas wouldn't go amiss!

BrieAndChilli Thu 10-Nov-16 15:58:13

You could get the 9 year old lots of cheap £ craft sets etc

DNo Thu 10-Nov-16 15:58:27

Going back to my previous job isn't likely as childcare costs mean I'd make about £400 a month. My part time menial job makes me £600 a month. When the older ones start secondary school things will be very different.

Thanks. X

AndNowItsSeven Thu 10-Nov-16 15:58:27

I would spend £60 on the two eldest and £20 on the three year old or maybe £50,£50 and £40. That is honestly plenty

BrieAndChilli Thu 10-Nov-16 15:58:46

You could get the 9 year old lots of cheap £ craft sets etc

Bumpsadaisie Thu 10-Nov-16 16:00:18

Is that £140 for the whole of Xmas - presents for family/food and everything

Or £140 just for presents for the children?

PeggyMitchell123 Thu 10-Nov-16 16:00:31

I would explain to all 3 children they will be getting less this year and then spend the same on all 3 of them so it is fair. You don't have to spend a lot. Look around on eBay, charity shops etc. I bought a christmas present for my son also 3 yesterday the 5 where's wally books, good as new for £1. I also bought his Christmas jumper for £1.50. Just make it all about having fun together.

iklboo Thu 10-Nov-16 16:00:48

When DS was younger we had a year with very little to spend. We got his presents from Home Bargain, Poundland, charity shops etc. He still had a nice little pile to open & a good Christmas.

ragz134 Thu 10-Nov-16 16:00:49

Plenty of people have done Christmas on less, yes explain you don't have as much this year and just make it up to them with family time and games. Tell anyone else you buy gifts for that you can't do it this year.
I usually budget £15-20 per stocking and £20-30 per main present for my three at Christmas, so it should be easily managed. Do they get gifts from relatives? That one one or two gifts for each isn't so bad.

ragz134 Thu 10-Nov-16 16:02:14

Also, second hand stuff is fine. I've never bought new games consoles or guitars or big stuff like that if that's the main present. They are happy with that and don't even question it.

eatdrinkandbemarysfairy Thu 10-Nov-16 16:02:15

have a look at argos they have 3 for 2 offers on the toys and games and the entertainer hade a buy a toy and get another for 1p
i wouldnt tell the older one they was getting less its not fair , id probably spend less on the younger one

ragz134 Thu 10-Nov-16 16:03:04

Also it is much easier to spend less on the younger child as they won't know the difference!

PilkoPumpPants Thu 10-Nov-16 16:03:11

If that's £140 just for presents I'd be more than happy to help you find bits? I'm good at finding bargainssmile

hungryhippo90 Thu 10-Nov-16 16:03:29

oh shit OP. Can I ask what size your daughter is in? I've got a few bits of clothing that my DD never wore (too small) that are an age 10 I believe. Just thinking you might be able to add them to her pile for Christmas. Tags still on.

You will get through this. There will be times that you aren't sure how you'll get through the next 2 days, but you will manage.

B&m, home bargains, Wilko and Poundland are all great for cheap crafty things.
If I were you, I'd use that £140 for main gifts for the kids, and buy trinkety type things each week for them, just a few quid each.

It won't create huge piles of gifts, but they'll have plenty.

Graphista Thu 10-Nov-16 16:03:29

The 3 year old will have no idea how much things cost so spend less on them. Do the best you can for the older 2. Remember to check out freecycle, Facebook local pages (I thought it was just my area but I've since learned several towns have Fb freecycle type groups), and consider 2nd hand for certain items, also home made things. Can friends and family help them have more to open? Also starting now talk to them about the true meaning of Christmas, being with family, having fun together.

Long term, as this was a long term decision, are you selling the house? If you're already getting behind with the mortgage you need to consider taking on a cheaper property? Or a cheaper mortgage? Talk to the bank, they're usually inclined to help and can offer solutions.

I'd strongly recommend going on mse site for ideas for Christmas AND how to reorganise finances.

Are you paying interest on the credit cards?

SooWrites Thu 10-Nov-16 16:03:59

I had to do the same for my kids.

I promised to help them save for the thing they really wanted and they could get it after x-mas. They both understood. My youngest is 10. Perhaps try that for the 9yo?

Also check out ebay, second-hand shops, local facebook pages etc for bargains and freebies.

Bluntness100 Thu 10-Nov-16 16:04:12

You can't penalise one child, that's awful, you need to buy for them all equally, be inventive as others have said and uou don't need to spend a lot, but don't make your oldest have little and sit there on Xmas morning watching the siblings open their gifts. You need to treat them equally.

DNo Thu 10-Nov-16 16:04:16

But they think father Christmas buys everything. Do I tell them that I have to pay him or let them think that they haven't been good enough this year to deserve expenaive presents like their friends will get.

To PP my food is covered due to a Christmas book I started a couple of months ago so £140 is for presents only.

LunaLoveg00d Thu 10-Nov-16 16:04:42

First time poster... where's that standard MNHQ statement/disclaimer?

YelloDraw Thu 10-Nov-16 16:05:11

Can you or DH take evening or weekend hours? Bar work. Christmas temp work in shops.

museumum Thu 10-Nov-16 16:05:24

Personally I wouldn't say anything about prioritising younger kids or older ones - I'd certainly not prioritise an 8yr old over a 9yr old - to me they're pretty much the same age.
Buy low value 'traditional' fun things like jigsaws and games and books and spend less on the 3yr old who won't know the difference. Try to avoid character-based items as they cost more than they're worth and don't worry too much about the sort of things only adults notice (nice tree vs. tacky cheap tree or more expensive food items).
Good luck. If you can, do loads of crafty things (home made paper chains for decorations for e.g.) and keep the kids busy and away from wanting expensive electronics.

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