With Fall in full swing and the temperatures dropping, many of us have already turned our attention to the upcoming holiday season. While, for many, it’s a time of joy and spending time with loved ones, it can also be a time of stress for many households’ finances. In this article, I’ll share 5 ways to help make this holiday season less stressful for your finances.
The most obvious and most recommended way to avoid financial stress not just over the holidays but throughout the entire year is to establish a budget. It’s usually the top recommendation for any financial advice article for one simple reason; it works. You don’t have to spend hours on a detailed spreadsheet to create your own budget. There are plenty of effective apps you can use that make budgeting easy and effective.
Start Saving for Next Year Now
Part of your budget will be planning for your holiday expenses for the entire year instead of starting to think about it when the leaves turn. Just little savings each month will help make next year’s holiday season less stressful.
Buying gifts on Amazon or at any store isn’t the only way to show your love and appreciation for someone else during the holiday season. Homemade gifts are often more memorable and heartfelt. For example, one of my favorite gifts from my Grandma when I was a child was a personalized homemade teddy bear that she made for each of her grandchildren. Over thirty years later, I still remember that gift clearly. Or perhaps consider giving the gift of time to someone with children by offering to babysit and allow a busy couple to go out on a date without children. No cost for you and an always welcome gift for a busy parent.
More experiences, less stuff has become more popular in recent years and for good reason. We live in a time when we can buy almost anything from the comfort of our home, and it will show up on our doorstep in just a couple of days. Many of us have more than enough “stuff”, but what we never seem to have enough of is quality time with those closest to us. Another experience you could try would be doing a day trip with family or friends or maybe an overnight stay at a hotel or Airbnb. There are plenty of ideas that won’t break the bank and likely provide more lasting memories than a store-bought gift.
Our culture today has certainly made the holidays more about material things and consumerism. Remember the old saying “There’s a reason for the season”, whether it’s for religious beliefs or enjoying time with family or friends, or both. I don’t remember many of the gifts I received growing up, but I will always remember Grandma L’s homemade pizzas on Christmas Eve, Grandma B’s homemade gifts, time spent with family on Christmas or Thanksgiving, or midnight Mass with the entire family every Christmas.
Brad Lupkes, CFP®