The holiday season is upon us! It’s a time for festivities and feasting and family – and financial stress (well, it can be if you’re not careful). This year, as you eat, drink, and make merry, be sure to include a modicum of financial planning so you can start the new year debt free.
Be honest about your spending patterns in past holiday seasons. Are you someone who, historically, has allowed credit-card debt to mount this time of year? Perhaps the way you feel you ‘should’ celebrate the season is not in line with your ‘actual’ financial profile. Don’t allow the ghost of Christmas debts past to ruin the fun this year. Let it be, “spending time with loved ones,” not “spending money with credit card companies.”
What Does The Holiday Season ‘Look Like’ For You?
Food? Family? Casual? Formal? At home? Away? Perhaps you’re not the only one in your social circle who is feeling a sense of looming financial stress this year. Ask around. Maybe you’ll feel better about planning a more modest holiday season this year if you find out you’re not the only one.
Establish Your Vision For The Holidays, Then Budget
Write down everything you’ll need to create your vision for the holiday season. Start with the things most important to you, Will it be: Gifts? Food? Drinks? Decorations? Invites? Colorful lights? Animatronic reindeer for your front lawn? Are there things on the list you could either limit or live without? Of those items you must have, try to find budget-friendly versions that will have the same effect. Second-hand lights often look as good as new ones out of the box. Talk to your guests and see if you can pool resources if you’re celebrating at the same location. It could be fun to establish a rule of BYOCC (bring your own Christmas crackers),
Start the process now and you’ll be in a stress-free state of mind before the festivities begin. Even if it’s too late this year, the pattern you establish now will carry you through future stress-free holidays and set you up for good habits in the New Year!
Celebrations Should Have Meaning
Remember the real reason you’re celebrating this time of year. Your friends and family are joining you because you are the one with whom they want to share this celebration. Remember the warmth you’ve felt in past holiday seasons and why it felt so good. It probably wasn’t the matching green-and-red dinner napkins or the perfectly-draped tinsel on the tree or any other specific detail that made those past holidays special. It was more likely those things you can’t put a price on: The expressions on children’s faces as they open their presents; the jokes your favourite uncle told at the table; the songs you sang together (however off-key). It was the moments money can’t buy. Let that joyful spirit of this season guide you as you plan your budget.
May peace and joy be yours this holiday season!