The holidays are supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year” but often they can also be the most stressful time of the year. In my family, financial stress is almost always the worst during the holiday season. It seems like everywhere you look there are more reasons to spend. For example, even though my husband and I try and teach our kids the value of money, they ask for even more than usual since it is not mommy and daddy’s money being spent, it’s Santa’s! As a society we tend to overspend and get into debt too often in general but it seems even easier as the holiday spirit overtakes our common sense.
Here are three tips to remember to avoid overspending during this joyful time.
#1 Remember what is important. Happiness comes from our beliefs and our thoughts not the things we own. Is the new video game system going to make you and /or your kids happy? Maybe for a moment, but the lasting happiness comes from feeling loved and a sense of belonging. For our family, being together is what is most important. I have to remind myself that I don’t need to feel guilty if all of three of my girls don’t have the exact same number of gifts. Talk to your family about what is important to each of them..Teaching kids to find happiness within themselves is going to last a lot longer than the X-box.
#2 Start some new and more affordable traditions. Don’t stick with the same old traditions if they are leading to more stress than comfort. Make new traditions that don’t involve spending a ton of money. Activities that become part of the tradition is more meaningful than everyone getting the perfect present. For example, my in-laws follow the Swedish tradition of dancing and singing to encourage the Swedish Santa to visit. This leads to a lot of laughing and silliness which is we look forward to more than the actual presents. I also love the idea of home made gift that are meaningful but inexpensive. Ultimately your children will remember these traditions and take pride in them.
#3 Avoid “Comparisonitis!”. Don’t compare your holiday celebrations to others or even to Christmas past. In addition, avoid comparing the real holidays to the perfect vision in your head. As discussed in #1, remember what you truly value. If something feels stressful it’s ok to say no. Avoiding things (and people) that cause stress will leave you feeling happier and healthier which in turn will help you enjoy this wonderful time of the year. As always focus on Discovering your Best (Holiday) Self.