The holidays are supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, right? So why do many of us feel stressed? There are many reasons why one may feel stressed over the holidays… having to travel, visiting relatives, and spending money. How many of you felt your stomach tighten at the thought of spending money? Money can be a stressful topic throughout the year, but the holidays can put an extra strain on your bank account. Have no fear; there are ways to reduce the amount of money you spend while still having a wonderful holiday.
The first step is to come up with a reasonable budget and track your progress so that you stick to it. Think about the things you want to buy and how much you want to spend.
Next, stop and think about what the holidays really mean to you. I know it sounds cheesy, but think about the holiday traditions you really value and would be upset if you stopped that tradition-and think about the ones that you would be okay not doing this year. Then, have a conversation with those you spend the holidays with and express your financial concerns and bring to conversation the traditions you want to keep and those you are okay without. Come to a mutual agreement on how you will be celebrating the holidays that fits into your budget.
Be a thoughtful shopper. How many of you save your shopping to the last minute or go to the stores during rush hour? I am guilty of this and as I sit writing this blog, I am anticipating the mass of people in the stores and the stress I will feel to just pick something so that I can leave the store and go home. Now imagine what it would be like to shop early in the holiday season during a time when there are few people there and you are not in a hurry. Now that sounds like a much less stressful way to shop. You are probably wondering what stress has to do with saving money. If you are feeling stressed and that you need to shop quickly, you will be less likely to try to find the same (or similar) item for less and more likely to just buy what you see. You will also not be in a rush to buy, and therefore, if something doesn’t fit your budget you will have more time to find a better option.
Be creative with gifts. If you aren’t very crafty, think about other ways you can give something to those you care about. Offer to babysit their kids for a night or help out fixing something in their house that needs to be fixed.
Most important, remember what the holidays are really about. Be around family or those that you love. Don’t worry if you can’t give someone exactly what they want, they will remember the other happier moments about the holidays and ways you did show them you care.
Written By: Elizabeth Salland, M.A.