For far too many people, the holidays have become a time of stress instead of the Norman Rockwell picture of family togetherness that we like to imagine. The reasons for this incongruity have to do with the stress on our time, our finances and our inability to wrap our minds around the ideal versus the reality.
After constant bombardment with idyllic images of what the media and marketers proclaim the holidays should be, our own limitations in time, money, and energy prevent us from achieving the same heart warming image, no matter how far in debt we go.
How do we survive the holidays? The answer begins with being realistic about our finances and our limitations. To avoid the land mines of holiday spending, overeating and overexerting yourself, it pays to have a plan.
Budget Your Time and Your Money
Parties, traveling, gift buying, decorating, baking and cooking—all of these take time and money to achieve. Sit down and realistically plan what is and is not doable before you commit yourself or your money to doing anything else.
Making a List and Checking it Twice!
The key to freeing your mind from worrying you will forget someone or something is to make a list. Once on “The List”, that nagging concern that you will forget that particular thing needing doing is forever gone and will not be a recurring worry that keeps churning repeatedly in your mind.
Concentrate on Less Holiday Spending and More Holiday Enjoying
Instead of spending what free time you have frantically fighting for bargains at the mall, spend your time doing things you enjoy doing. If you enjoy baking cookies, making gifts or decorations with the kids, make time to do these activities; avoid those activities you don’t enjoy, it’s ok.
Make it a Game to Find Ways to Save Money on Holiday Spending
Have fun finding ways to save money on holiday spending. Depending on your particular talents, this may include making your own Christmas presents or scanning the internet for the best deals, the best money saving recipes or decorations. Consider trading gift certificates from a friend to buy presents. Often the best gift that you can give someone is your time. Giving the gift of babysitting, tax preparation or a car wash is a way to connect with friends and relative after the holidays are long forgotten.
Planning for Next Year
Remember what you liked and disliked during the holidays and resolve not to put yourself in that position again next year. The day after the holidays end is the best time of year to get bargains on just about anything holiday related and the best time of year to start saving money for next year. Now is the time to start splitting up your Christmas purchases to a year round buying plan instead of squeezing everything into one month’s budget.
In the next few articles, I will be exploring these Tips on Surviving the Holidays as well as How to Recognize and Avoid Holiday Scams.