The Holidays are Coming
We’re starting to slowly see the holidays coming into focus. Soon festive commercials will be on repeat and stores will be full of holiday decorations. Especially considering how rough this year has been, it’s going to be even harder to not buy, buy, buy to fully experience the comfort of the holidays.
Americans were expected to spend an average of $920 per person, topping $1 trillion in total spending this upcoming holiday season… but then the coronavirus crisis took hold. In an unpredictable year, it’s hard to pin down what this season will look like. Last year the average shopper accumulated $1,054 in debt, later taking 3-5 months to pay it off. All of this spending wreaks havoc on our emotional health, not to mention financial health. And this year, with the financial crisis looming and millions of Americans out of work for months on end with no relief it’s possible we have to be even more aware of the impact of spending. Depending on your situation you simply may not have access to the funds or credit necessary to spend like you normally would at the holidays. Or you may be one of the lucky ones whose finances haven’t been impacted in the same way yet. But we’d still caution that overspending this year isn’t a good idea. We are still in the midst of a financial crisis, everyone needs to be on their guard.
According to a Psychology Today study, 53% of Americans report feeling stressed after the holidays because of overspending. The time to pay down debt from the holidays interferes with our ability to save or pay down other debts. Additionally, there are often tinges of regret for how money was spent, second guessing the gifts we gave. On top of everything else going on, we don’t need MORE stress. Save yourself the grief and start planning for a simpler, thriftier holiday season.
How to Prevent a Holiday Hangover
- Make a list, check it twice. Make a budget, check it thrice.
- Make your gift giving list.
- Create a budget you can afford, without going into debt
- Think out of the box about gifts (see bullet below)
- Remember, price tags don’t equate to meaning
- Plan exactly how much you’ll spend per person
- Don’t get tricked into the deals and “savings”
- Deck the halls, not the malls.
- Gifts that are most meaningful won’t be found in a mall
- Make or give gifts that are meaningful to the person receiving it
- Items that capture past memories (photo albums, books) continue giving for years to come
- Track your spending like kids track Santa on Norad
- There are nifty apps that do this for you or you can simply keep a notebook. Santa’s Bag, The Christmas List and The List Minder are just a few of the top apps to help you get this job done
- Identify your recipients and overall budget
- Record all supplies purchased for DIY gifts
- Track your spending against your holiday budget
- Joy to the World – Give the gift of giving
- Try giving the gift of a charitable donation in someone’s name
- Homemade ‘Lend a Hand’ coupons for services you can do for a loved one is a no-cost way to extend the holidays
- Donate your time to help others less fortunate, or do it as a group!
- Walk in a winter wonderland. Use the holiday time to enjoy doing fun things with others, especially if you can be outside in the snow!
- Find free and relaxing events to experience during the holiday season
- You will always remember the gift of a lasting memory
- Keep calm and merry on
- Whatever is going on around you, remember to take care of yourself and mind your finances
- There is usually an abundance of things to do, places to go and people to see during the holidays but this doesn’t mean you have to do all of it
- When all else fails, breathe…
The holidays should be a time to relax and enjoy being with the special people in your life. Try your absolute best to avoid the stress and say no to overt consumerism and pressure to spend more than you can afford.