Congratulations on making it through Thanksgiving!! Hopefully, you were able to enjoy the holiday. I hope you can take pride in navigating the stressors of Thanksgiving, it can be really tough! With Hanukkah here, and Christmas and Kwanzaa right around the corner, it may be time to start thinking about your winter holiday plans. If this brings a knot to your stomach, don’t worry, you are not alone. Many people find the winter holidays to be extremely stressful, between navigating tough relationships, travel, buying presents, and balancing everyday life stressors, it’s no wonder this time of year can feel exhausting.
While it may seem like there are countless lists that need to be checked twice, before creating your to-do list for the holiday, it may be helpful to take a few tools with you on the way. Below are some tips to combat the financial anxiety of the holiday season.
1. Perceived value vs. actual cost: One thing about buying presents that is often misunderstood is the value. Actual cost of the present and the perceived value of the gift are not synonymous. Knowing who you are buying presents for is the most important factor in determining what to get. For many, getting the “right” present is much better than getting the most expensive present. Children who like dinosaurs may be much more impressed with a $10 toy dinosaur or a dinosaur craft you created than a $50 race car set. Remember, that a majority of gift-giving success is in the intention behind the present. It’s easy to get caught up in getting the newest gadgets of the year, but it’s important to not lose sight of the interests of the person receiving the gift.
2. Set price limits and budget: Spend time creating a list valuing relationships with others and ranking how much money you are willing to spend on those people. While this may seem a little harsh, it will help you plan ahead on what you plan to spend overall during the holiday season. If you have a very close relationship with your brother, but do not speak with your Aunt Jane often, there is no reason for you to be spending the same amount of time or money on them. It’s important to prioritize the relationships that matter the most to you, so you can make sure you feel. An example of this may be:
Best Friend ($$$)
3. Plan ahead: Make sure you are planning ahead and buying holiday presents before the actual holiday. Waiting until the last minute often sends people into a buying panic, causing overspending and taking away from the intention of gift giving. Buying things for others throughout the fall and winter is usually your best bet to prevent spending money you don’t have on things that others may not like.
Sometimes, the best present you can provide that year is your presence. If you are planning on traveling during the holidays, make sure you have included that in your budget for holiday spending. In most cases, your being there for the holiday season is valued more than anything you could buy. Don't forget add in the costs of food, gas (if driving), plane tickets, rental cars, lodging etc. before making any decisions to travel.
While this may cause some stress in the short-term, it is better for you to be well-prepared for a financial reality than find yourself in hot water later on. Try to be realistic about the logistics of traveling, and understand that if traveling will cause you more stress in the future, or you find your family to be unhealthy to be around, you have other options. Technology makes it easier than ever to connect with loved ones around the world, and allows you to set limits on how much time you want to spend at these events.
And as always, we're here for you if you need extra support. Please don't hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.