Whether it’s due to a lack of money or a lack of creativity, holiday budgets easily get stretched. It is estimated that the average holiday spending per person will reach $1,007 in 2018, according to the National Retail Federation. Before you whip out your wallet, ask yourself: How much have you spent this year?
If you’ve done a great job all year navigating the money cycle, then let the end of the year be a celebration of your accomplishments. If you've been able to stick to your budget so far, the holiday season should make you proud.
Contrary to D.H. Lawrence’s poem “Money Madness,” money doesn’t bring with it a cruel game of win or lose. That is, unless we let it.
During the holiday season, we allow money and people to bring us to our knees in shame if we can't keep up with the Joneses. It's our responsibility to counteract this pressure with peace. Otherwise, we can feel not just money madness, but also money sadness.
This Holiday Season
Financial coach, public speaker, and entrepreneur Karen Ford provides insight into how to silence that money-spending mad voice in the back of your head.
- The first thing to do is tell yourself that you don’t have to keep up, but that you’ll purchase gifts for the folks who matter.
- Make a list of the people you plan on giving gifts to, and beside each name write the amount that you plan to spend on that person.
- Now, add up the total amount. That’s your holiday budget.
- Divide that amount by how many weeks are left until Christmas. That’s how much you need to save each week.
- Both brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers have deals right before Christmas as well as online. Take advantage of them.
- Let the fun begin.
Keep in mind that this is a time of giving and love. The amount you spend on each person doesn’t reflect how much you love them. The act of giving a gift at all shows that you care.
Don’t Stress the Small Stuff
Many people travel, take days off work, eat out more often, buy gifts, and party as the year winds down. All of these activities can subtract from a person’s bottom line. One way to justify these budget adjustments is by determining whether they also add to your quality of life.
Almost seven in 10 Americans — 69 percent of the country — would skip the gift giving if friends and family also agreed to it, according to a study by SunTrust Bank. Take comfort in the fact that if gift shopping stresses you out mentally or financially (or both), you're definitely not alone.
The same study shows that 60 percent of people who spend time making gifts would rather spend that time with friends and family during the holidays. A further 43 percent are riddled with anxiety over the season, feeling pressured to spend more than they normally would to keep up.
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Other Holiday Budget Tips
Conquering holiday money madness starts with creating a personal standard, budget, and purpose. Reducing stress and anxiety comes down to taking control on one hand and letting go with the other.
Take control of your holiday budget, your emotions, and your time. Let go of shame, expectations, and pressure to perform or conform. Instead, do the best with what you have. Be creative and passionate, and others will reciprocate.
Actions like early shopping for food and gifts, clipping coupons ahead of time, and saying no when that is the best answer are good ways to keep money issues and other stressors in line. You can also use tools like PocketSmith and Digit to help set your holiday budget and save up money.
Keeping an ongoing list of to-dos and checking them off as completed tasks can help you feel productive rather than overwhelmed.
Lastly, remember everything that has to get done does not have to get done by you. Delegate, and you take the madness out of your holiday budget and your brain.
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Understanding that there is only so much that you can control is a powerful and peaceful way to approach the season. Letting go of expectations reduces stress and anxiety, and also lessens your disappointment.
On the other hand, there are things that can't happen without proper planning and execution. Finding that balance is where peace lies.
Additional reporting by Kelly Meehan Brown.