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Taking the money stress out of the holidays

I hate budgeting. I hate doing accounting. I’m not good at math. Do you ever find yourself saying these types of things? Or worse, do you find yourself with an excessive credit card bill at the end of the holiday season that will take you six months to pay off? Do the holidays leave you feeling drained, depressed and overwhelmed because of the financial impact of the things you have purchased?


That is a choice. Being generous feels good, but what is the impact to yourself? Consider that your generous heart is causing you to be stressed out and overwhelmed at the end of the season and well into the following year. Is it worth it?


With that question in mind, take a moment to stop, assess your finances, and look at who you will be spending time with and exchanging gifts with over the holiday season. Reach out to the people you will be with and discuss what you will all do from a gift perspective. You will find that oftentimes, people appreciate the candor and the ability to lighten their own financial burden over the holidays.


Perhaps you can agree to a Secret Santa exchange so that you do not have to buy for everyone. Or you can set a spending limit for each person or family. You can do things like buying one gift per family or handmade gifts only. Or you can write letters to each other telling them what you appreciate about them. You do not have to spend money on every person around you. Maybe you could do a potluck rather than providing all the food at a party. Another option is a no-spend holiday.


What is a no-spend holiday?

Where you can only do things that do not cost you money and you don’t spend any money on gifts. You will need to get agreement from everyone who will be participating in your festivities, but it can take a lot of the financial pressures off you. This can be a challenge though with small children if they still believe in things like Santa.


There’s no one way to do the holidays. The most important thing is to spend time with the people you care about and celebrate your relationships.


Holiday Budget Worksheet

I’ve created a worksheet for you to help with planning for the holidays. Select the Holiday Budget Worksheet, provide your email address and you can download the worksheet.


Holiday Gift Tracking App

I would also recommend considering an app for your phone if you know you will have a lot of holiday expenses. I have an android phone so I use an app called Christmas Gift List. I like it because I can list out each person I'm buying for, set a budget for each person, list each gift for people, track when I have purchased it, and track when I have wrapped it. The app provides me with stats for the number of days till Christmas, total spent, total budget, gifts left to buy, and gifts left to wrap. It's a single, easy to use the app.


I hope this helps you and makes things a little easier.

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Christy Zuehl

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