holiday spending

Holiday Spending

Here we go! The holiday spending frenzy has begun.

Does holiday debt stress you out? Do you find yourself spending in ways you really don’t want? Have you lost the joy of celebrating? Are you overwhelmed by your credit card bills once the holiday madness has diminished?

If so, perhaps it’s time to stop.

Here’s where the common sense comes in. If you don’t have it, don’t spend it.

As a money coach, I often see my client’s desire of simple joy for the holidays hijacked by obligation and overspending. Maybe you’ve already explored ways to economize: you draw names, shop early, catch the sales, or buy in bulk. But I’m suggesting you make a bigger leap. Go beyond just finding cheaper ways to buy more stuff.

Yes, it’s nice to give gifts, but when gift giving costs us our financial health and our peace of mind, it’s a good idea to redefine how we do it.

Here’s how:

  1. Seriously evaluate what the holidays mean to you. Ask yourself some hard questions. What if there were no expectations of you for the holidays? Then how would you honestly wish to celebrate the season? Would you still want to buy gifts? If so, for whom, and why? You don’t have to let our consumer culture dictate how you express love and create connection.
  2. Decide how much you can afford to spend, and set a limit. You have to figure out how much money is coming and going for the month so you know how much is available for holiday spending. Once you know how much cash is on hand, you can prioritize your buying. And remember, that’s cash, not credit cards! If money is tight, a commitment of time and thought speaks volumes.
  3. Respect peoples’ differences, including your own. If your friend wants to throw an extravagant party with expensive gifts, go and have a blast. But you also don’t have to reciprocate in kind. Your idea for a holiday gathering might be hot chocolate, cookies and a hike. Have the courage to be true to your own values and beliefs.
  4. Create new traditions. Traditions are familiar repeated practices that can give a sense of belonging. But they also might get you stuck in a rut. What about creating some new traditions this year, ones that put common sense above dollars and cents?

Almost 14 million Americans began this year saddled with debt from last holiday season. You can decide not to be part of that statistic this year.

Remember, if you use common sense along with dollars and cents you will have the gift of financial health all year long.