Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season. Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Break, and of course New Years will wrap up our 2019 year.
It’s all so exciting, most people probably won’t get anything done at work this week (I know I’m already in vacation mode). We are so eager to see family and friends, and stuff our mouths full of delicious food and drink while emptying our wallets for those we love and want to impress.
Sometimes we get a little too eager to do these things. Maybe we drink too much at dinner, overeat one too many times, or make a second and third trip to grandma’s cookie platter. All of these are fine in moderation of course. As long as we don’t do these things all the time, we can still enjoy ourselves, our family and friends, and our health.
Moderation, however, is the key takeaway from this article. During the season of temptation, spending more money on expensive gifts, binging Black Friday deals (only to do it again on cyber Monday), and rising travel costs can really damage one’s wallet and disrupt any good financial plan.
Due to the nature of the beast, spending more money over the holidays is expected. However, it is up to you, your money mindset, and the relationship you have with money to determine how excessively your financial plan can afford to be agitated.
Determine Your Temptation Limits
For many Americans, spending money over the holidays can be a very stressful endeavor. Many people battle with the question, “How much money do I have to spend to let my family/friends know that I love them without seeming cheap?” Or even simpler yet, “I don’t know if I have enough money to afford buying each of my kids/grandkids/significant other/parents something they’ll want.”
The first step to spending money the right way during the holidays is determining how much you can spend. How much money is enough money, and how much is too much? For some people it may be $100, for others, $1000. It all depends on your own financial limitations. Regardless, if you set a budgetary number before you give in to the gift-buying frenzies, you’ll know when enough is enough before it is too late, and you spend more than you wanted to.
Creating a holiday budget can help you stay in control of your finances, limit your money-spending temptations, and strengthen your money mindset disciplines.
Communication is key
Believe it or not, openly communicating your budgetary number to those who you want to purchase gifts for can help relieve the stress and anxiety around buying gifts.
Although the holiday season is considered the season of giving, by default is is also a season of receiving. Giving to others makes us feel good inside, but receiving gifts tends to be the more fun and exciting event. It brings out a little bit of the greediness in all of us, and when we receive gifts we tend to set our expectations higher of the person who is giving the gift to us.
Openly communicating your budgetary number to those you purchase gifts for can help alleviate both your own stress and their own gift-giving expectations of you. The simple, best conversation you can have with anyone whether they are friend, family, or significant other, is to have a one-on-one agreement on a dollar amount that you are willing to spend on each other, and no more. It might sound something like this:
- “I am on a tight budget this year. Let’s agree to spend $xyz dollars on gifts for each other.”
- “I’d like to spend $xyz dollars on you this year for Christmas. Is there anything you want that fits in that price range?”
- “Are you on a budget for gift shopping? If you are, let’s agree on a number that we are both comfortable with.”
These simple sentences can make a drastic difference on your finances, your stress, and your time spent gift-shopping. Additionally, they promote a healthy conversation, and avoid the awkwardness of giving and receiving gifts that may feel under-appreciated. Establishing those financial boundaries can make for a smoother and less dramatic end to your year.
Magnificently Moderate Money Mindset
“All things in moderation, including moderation.”Oscar Wilde
The biggest financial discipline to practice during the holidays is moderation. Setting budgets this gift-giving season will be key factors in making sure your long term financial goals are still being met. Sticking to your financial plan can be modified in moderation for the holiday season, however, indulging in temptations and spending money that disrupts your financial plan can have an adverse affect on your wallet, your mental health, and your money mindset.
Your relationships with your friends and family do not have to be sacrificed if you find yourself on a tight budget for gifts. Communicate with your family and friends to determine financial boundaries that both parties can agree on. This is similar to setting financial goals, and achieving these goals (staying within your boundaries) will leave you less stressed at the beginning of the New Year. Communicating with those you love also has the capacity to strengthen your relationships without damaging your financial freedom.
Continue to develop your money mindset this Thanksgiving and Holiday season, but it’s okay to indulge – so long as it is in moderation, of course!