The holidays can be a stressful time for all of us. Between the hassle of finding a parking spot at a mall, the over indulgence at various parties and gatherings and just the sheer business of the season, even the best of us can be left feeling overwhelmed.
An area that can often be brushed a side and overlooked during the festive season can be our personal finances. Unfortunately, doing this only serves to defer the pain, and that comes at a cost, as come January, the shock of the credit card bill arriving with all of those charges will erase any residual holiday joy you created with that spend.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be like this. By employing a few simple and time tested strategies, you can give your finances the attention they deserve during this period, and likely help bring down your overall holiday stress levels.
- Do your shopping online – You have to be a special kind of shopaholic to enjoy going to the malls on a busy weekend to shop; however, most of us suffer through the crowds and do it, often at the last minute. With the explosion of online shopping over the past few years, you can now buy any gift you could possibly need, very often with free shipping. All that is required is a little proactivity, and instead of driving endlessly around a parking lot looking for a spot on a Saturday morning, you can stay home and enjoy a good book.
- Don’t go into debt buying gifts – As of December 2016, the average Canadian had over $22,000 in consumer (non-mortgage) debt, and unfortunately, the holiday season is a time when that number is often highest. So, instead of increasing your debt load with holiday shopping, set a budget and stick to it. Only spend money you have! The pressure to keep up with your wealthy brother in law when it comes to gift giving can be intense, but resist the urge! Remember, your family and friends love you, and they will understand. Get creative and make something memorable on the budget you do have, after all, it’s the thought that counts!
- Instead of giving, organize a group activity – The amount of money we spend on gifts for people can get rather absurd, and too often the gifts that are given end up collecting dust or in the bottom of a drawer. So do something different! Have a discussion with your family and agree to put the money you would have spent on gifts and instead plan a super fun day together, or even a short vacation. In 2015 the average Canadian spent $766 on holiday gifts, just think of the fun and memories you could create with that money!
- Make a group donation to charity – If you really want to fill up your heart with joy and gratitude, forego gift giving altogether and instead give to your favourite charity. In most cultures and religions, giving to those less fortunate is a cornerstone. So embrace that ideal, and give to those who wouldn’t otherwise have a happy holiday season. A great way to do this is through a mixture of local charities and also some in the developing world.
So there you have it. By employing even just one of the strategies above, you can greatly improve your financial self care during the busy holiday season and greatly reduce your stress. Happy Holidays!
If you’d like some additional support with staying financially sane during the holiday season, please setup an initial connection meeting with us and learn more about how Finovo can help you get better control of your finances.