It’s that time of year with festive commercials on repeat, stores full of holiday decorations, music and alluring aromas, and conversations turning to gifts. It’s hard not to be in the holiday spirit and buy, buy, buy. The pressure to get just the right gift can be overwhelming and usually translates into buying something expensive.
Americans are expected to spend an average of $920 per person, topping $1 trillion in total spending this upcoming holiday season. Last year the average shopper accumulated $1,054 in debt, later taking 3-5 months to pay off. All of this spending wreaks havoc on our emotional health, not to mention financial health.
The phenomenon of a holiday spending hangover is very real. According to a Psychology Today study, 53% of Americans report feeling stressed after the holidays because of overspending. The time to pay down debt from the holidays interferes with our ability to save or pay down other debts. Additionally, there are often tinges of regret for how money was spent, second guessing the gifts we gave.
But enough of all the negativity and scary data points. Let’s get on to how you can avoid being part of these statistics:
- Make a list, check it twice. Make a budget, check it thrice.
- Make your gift giving list.
- Create a budget you can afford, without going into debt
- Think out of the box about gifts (see bullet below)
- Remember, price tags don’t equate to meaning
- Plan exactly how much you’ll spend per person
- Don’t get tricked into the deals and “savings”
- Make your gift giving list.
- Deck the halls, not the malls.
- Gifts that are most meaningful won’t be found in a mall
- Make or give gifts that are meaningful to the person receiving it
- Items that capture past memories (photo albums, books) continue giving for years to come
- Track your spending like kids track Santa on NORAD
- There are nifty apps that do this for you or you can simply keep a notebook. Santa’s Bag, The Christmas List and The List Minder are just a few of the top apps here to help you get this job done
- Identify your recipients and overall budget
- Record all supplies purchased for DIY gifts
- Track your spending against your holiday budget
- Joy to the World – Give the gift of giving
- Try giving the gift of a charitable donation in someone’s name
- Homemade ‘Lend a Hand’ coupons for services you can do for a loved one is a no-cost way to extend the holidays
- Donate your time to help others less fortunate, or do it as a group!
- Walk in a winter wonderland. Use the holiday time to enjoy doing fun things with others, especially if you can be outside in the snow!
- Find free and relaxing events to experience during the holiday season
- You will always remember the gift of a lasting memory
- Keep calm and merry on
- Whatever is going on around you, remember to take care of yourself and mind your finances
- There is usually an abundance of things to do, places to go and people to see during the holidays but this doesn’t mean you have to do all of it
- When all else fails, breathe…
The holidays should be a time to relax and enjoy being with the special people in your life. Try your absolute best to avoid the stress and say no to overt consumerism and pressure to spend more than you can afford.
I guarantee loved ones will forever always prefer quality time.
Gayle Evezich, AFC® is a Senior Financial Concierge at Your Money Line and personal finance author. Gayle’s greatest joy is to help others find comfort with their money through financial empowerment. When not working or donating her services, you can find Gayle hiking, cooking creative vegan food, traveling or reading scandalous murder mysteries!