I know it doesn’t seem possible but the holiday season is upon us. Buying gifts, decorating, sending out cards, social events, food, travel… and for many, overspending and financial stress. Don’t let holiday spending get the better of you.
I am going to share with you a few tips on how to reduce holiday stress with a spending plan. It’s called a budget. My life became so much easier and less stressful when I started using a budget. Money used to be one of my BIG triggers in causing a lot of emotional upset and stress. With the help of a budget and some emotional release work, I handle financial issues in a much calmer way. You can ask my husband. I used to get so overwhelmed, almost out of control,
when it came to money issues. A lot of it was because of the way I grew up and my beliefs about money “there’s never enough”, “it’s my fault”, “money is hard to get”, etc.) but most of it was because I didn’t know how to manage and budget my money.
Do you have a budget? Do you save money for Christmas spending, or do you charge it and take you 6 months to pay it off? I grew up in a household where my parents, (they were doing the best they knew how), would take out loans every year to pay for Christmas giving. Now, many years later down the road, they are STILL paying the consequences of those financial choices. Early in our marriage, my husband and I went into debt ONE year to pay for holiday gifts. It took us months to pay it off and we swore to NEVER do that again, and we haven’t.
Having a budget is one of the most important things you can do to alleviate stress in your life. I have tried several budget plans and did OK with them, but when we found mvelopes, our lives truly changed. I don’t have any ties with them by promoting their system, I just love how simple it is to use and it WORKS! We save so much money by knowing exactly where every penny is going. They do have a free plan available which we started out at, but soon found to pay for the upgrade was way worth it. We have been with them for ten years and have a lifetime membership.
If you don’t have some kind of plan, I encourage you to start thinking about it. Dave Ramsey also has great advice about how to get out of debt and uses an envelope cash spending system as well. I highly recommend taking his financial freedom class or read his book. Good stuff in helping you manage your money wisely. We have implemented many of his recommendations and use cash for almost everything.
These little tabs I designed work really well in your wallet to organize your cash. You can read more about them here. The BIG shopping frenzy starts this weekend, are you ready?
Here are a few tips to help reduce holiday financial stress:
1. Make a spending plan
Start with a realistic idea of how much you have to spend on all your holiday purchases. Make a list including gifts, food, entertainment, and travel expenses. Now make a list of people you want to give gifts to, relatives and close friends, as well as gifts you give teachers, neighbors or others, and decide how much you want to spend on each.
2. Know your limits
Cut out the non-essentials. Do you really need to give that random person a gift? Can you curb the decorations around the house? I find that if I don’t set limits, the spending can go on an on, especially if you do your shopping early. There will always be those “other” items that will catch your eye. You need to be ready to say NO MORE!
3. Save a little each paycheck
Hopefully you are using some kind of budget system where put a little away each check for holiday spending. I figure how much I want to spend for Christmas (ballpark figure of course), and divide it by how many months until Christmas, and that is the amount I take out each paycheck. Set it aside in another account, or if you use mvelopes, simply fund that amount in your Christmas Giving Envelope. A little adds ups quickly.
Now if you haven’t done that this year, no worries. Start now, and intend to do it next year.
There is so much peace and calmness knowing you have money set aside.
4. Track your spending
You’ve made a spending plan — great! But if you don’t keep track of all your purchases and make sure you’re staying within your budget, you’ve wasted your time. As you shop, write down the gift and the amount of the gift by the name of the person you are giving. This will help keep a tally on how much you’ve spent on each person.
It can be very easy to forget about items that you have purchased, and then it goes unaccounted for. (And it also helps you moms remember what you have bought). There are usually a few gifts I forget about and a day or two after Christmas will locate it and my kids usually get a late gift. It makes gift giving last a little longer. LOL.
Write down everything you spend on holiday clothing, cards, postage, wrapping paper and decorations as well.
5. Load up your wallet with cash
If you can, leave your credit cards at home. Spend cash. This will force you to budget and make overspending more obvious. It is too easy to overspend when using credit cards. There is no emotional attachment to plastic like there is to cash, and you loose track of where you are in your budget.
But, if you must use plastic, keep track by deducting all your purchases in your checkbook register. That way, when the bill arrives, the money will be in your checking account or your “Gift Giving” envelope to pay the bill in full. Going in debt will only cause unneeded stress!
6. Create your own gifts.
Giving a gift that you have made shows genuine thoughtfulness and love! Use some of your talents, skills to create something from the heart or give the gift of TIME. Make a fun coupon with a task, or job or something you could do for someone. Some ideas might be: One Hour Massage, Car detail, picnic dinner, window cleaning, etc.
7. Shop with a list
Know what you want to buy, write it down and go to the store with a list. Have the intention of going in for that item only so you can zip in and zip out of the store, which will cut down on impulse buying.
8. Shop early
Don’t wait until the last minute. Give yourself time to compare prices and find the best deals. Last-minute shopping can lead to impulse buying. Getting your shopping and holiday tasks finished early, will give you some enjoyable downtime that you can spend leisurely with family and friends. Isn’t that how it should be? This is something I intend to do every year, but still needs some work.
I buy gifts for Christmas all year long. If I see something on sale that I think would be a good gift, I buy it and set it aside. Then I mark it on my gift giving list, (so I don’t forget that I have it) and the money comes out of my Christmas Giving envelope.
Sticking to your holiday budget will allow you to focus on the joy of Christmas instead of worrying whether or not you are going to be able to pay for your bills. So start now, make a plan, put what you can aside and enjoy the peace that you deserve this holiday season.
Let me know if you have anything to share or have questions.