This is Part 3 in a holiday series to help you manage the emotional, mental, physical, and financial clutter that can accompany the year’s end. You can read Part 1, How to Keep Your Holiday Calendar Clutter Free, here, and Part 2, Is It Time to Re-evaluate Your Holiday Shopping List, here.
In just one week, those of us in the United States will gather around the table with family and friends to share a meal as we give thanks for the blessings in our lives. Then, the very next day, we’ll duke it out in stores to grab Black Friday deals.
People will fight for items that clever marketing agencies have convinced them are the “must haves” for this holiday season and, just one day after Thanksgiving (or sometimes that same night), fists are likely to be thrown, and, based on past incidents, bullets may fly. Once the mayhem has subsided, many shoppers will be left with insurmountable debt and a pit in their stomachs to start the New Year.
Let’s save you some of this agony, shall we?
In last week’s letter, I wrote about intentional gift giving, and now that you’ve taken a closer look at your holiday shopping list, it’s time to turn your attention to your budget.
I know, I know. I can hear the groans from here.
But wait! What if I told you that taking the time to plan meant you could enjoy the holidays much more? And you could start off the New Year in the black instead of the red?
Ah, now I’ve got your attention.
The last thing you want to give yourself as a gift is financial clutter, or more of it. When you turn a blind eye to what you can and can’t afford to spend and swipe that credit card, you send a loud and clear message that you’re not a good steward for wealth. And that’s no way to invite in abundance!
By drafting a budget for holiday spending, you put yourself in charge of your finances and you let your younger self know that you’ve got this “adulting” thing on lock.
Here’s how to get started:
- Look at your current income vs. expenses and determine how much, total, you can afford to spend on gifts this year. This might be an eye-opening exercise so be nice to yourself as you check out the situation.
- Evaluate your gift-buying financial plan. Do you have money saved in preparation for the holidays, like a Christmas Club? How will you shop — all at once or a gift each week to spread out the spend? Will you be offering any handmade gifts instead of store-bought?
- Next, take out the shopping list you tweaked last week and write down some figures next to each name, estimating how much you’ll spend per person. Be sure the total for your list doesn’t exceed the limit you set in step two.
- Now, write down some gift ideas for each person. Make sure the items are within budget.
When considering gift ideas, go for experiences instead of physical items. Something like:
- A cooking class,
- Guitar lessons,
- Museum or movie theater passes,
- A fun outing you can all do together, or
- A strategy coaching session to support their dreams.
Some of the greatest gifts you can give cost no money at all. Things like:
- Babysitting services
- An afternoon of yard cleanup
- Technology help for the luddite in your life
Studies show experiences stay with us forever where joy from items is fleeting. Sure, we get excited to have the latest gadget or stylish, new bag but then we get used to it. And then we want the next shiny object. (I’m looking at you iPhones).
Dr. Thomas Gilovich who conducted a 20-year study on the difference in happiness levels from material possessions versus experiential purchases points out, “One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation. We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed, but only for a while. But we remember experiences long afterward.”
So skip that sweater and instead head to a paint nite with your bestie.
Not only will your gift be appreciated for a long time and the memory you create, cherished, but you’ll enjoy the holidays more and start out the New Year welcoming in abundance!