Parties, shopping, cookies, visits with relatives, travel, decorating, more cookies, giving gifts, receiving gifts, and more cookies makes the holidays a truly wonderful time. Then there’s paying the bills, too much “togetherness”, too little “togetherness”, poor sleep, year-end deadlines, shopping, and travel. All that can make the holidays not so wonderful, stressful even.
Holiday stress is definitely a thing. From a financial perspective, not only does our holiday spending cause stress but, according to a recent survey by credit karma, stress causes many of us to spend more. This is a dangerous cycle.
A quick Google search will find pages and pages of articles with tips on minimizing your holiday financial stress. Most of them hit on the obvious: Make a budget, start saving early in the year, don’t use credit cards, start shopping earlier, etc. While helpful, these articles often neglect the big picture.
Here are my suggestions:
· Determine why you celebrate the holidays. Is it about the gifts and spending? Or are there other important priorities? Discuss this with your family to get everyone on the same page. De-emphasize the all-day gift opening sessions.
· Make it about experiences rather than things. Volunteer as a group or family to serve at food banks or for projects that help others. Create lifelong meaning and memories.
· “Adopt” a family in need. Instead of buying things for each other that you don’t need, share your blessings with others.
A little reflection and communication can go a long way to making the holidays more enjoyable, and you may even find that others in the family have the same ideas.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!
A. Christopher Engle, LUTCF®, CFP®, ChFC®
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.