Holiday time, instead of promoting peace, happiness, celebration and gratitude, has become equivalent to hand-to-hand combat. We charge through the stores looking miserable, impatient and angry—definitely not in alignment with the merry jingles playing on the sound system. Or we stress out on-line, clicking our way into debt as we try to make everyone happy. The holidays have become financial war zones, leaving our bank accounts and credit cards in need of CPR.
Isn’t it about time for a new experience?
With a few weeks still left before the holiday ads start in earnest, you can make the decision to adopt a new holiday mindset—and create a more peaceful, happy and affordable holiday.
1. Begin with a spending plan (a sexier name for budget). Your goal is to come up with a spending plan that won’t put you in a financial straitjacket. How much can you allocate from your savings or income to make the holidays work? Beginning with that end in mind will avoid runaway spending and the ultimate misery that brings. Once you’ve settled on the amount, you can begin thinking about the people on your list—what gift would be most special to each of them? Remember, your spending plan is a not a suggestion, it is a fixed number.
2. Get on the “Expectation” train. It’s wonderful that you have created your spending plan, but it might bump fiercely against the expectations of others. Just like any project, getting all your stakeholders together to discuss and set expectations is very important. Before the chaos begins, gather your family and talk about the plan—why it’s important and how they can add to the success of the plan. This way everyone has a given task, set of chores or responsibility to make the holiday a treasured part of life. Begin with a simple question: what would make this holiday special and memorable?
3. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Like anything we do in life, it’s better to show up prepared. That might involve thoughtful research and careful communications. Adapt Thomas Edison’s belief that “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration”, and make a plan. Deal-shopping without a carefully crafted plan is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. You buy the great deal, and only then think about whom it fits. Better to sweat the details in advance than to pant across the finish line with nothing left in the tank to celebrate.
4. Take action. Nothing happens without action. You’ve done the pre-work, you’ve set expectations and have done the research—now it’s time to put your holiday plans into effect. Whether you’re shopping on-line or hitting the malls, keep your spending plan active and check off each accomplishment. Can you see how much more enjoyable this is than to dive into the fray unprepared?
5. Stick with your plan. You’ve devised a personal plan to provide maximum enjoyment with minimum stress. So enjoy each aspect to the fullest degree possible. After all, your loved ones are on board and that’s all that matters. You can let all the crazies around you gnash their collective teeth while you enjoy this celebratory time.
By following these simple steps, you’ll create a new holiday mindset for yourself. One that embraces the joy of the season and moves you happily into the New Year—without the dread of a stack of bills you can’t afford.