We stress out on-line or in the stores, racking up debt in a vain attempt to make everyone happy. We have replaced the idea of sharing holiday joy with a catastrophic cash dump that leaves everyone but the retailers unhappy.
Isn’t it about time for a new experience?
There’s still time—before the madness begins and the holiday ads start in earnest—to make the decision to adopt a new mindset and create a more peaceful, happy and affordable holiday. Here’s how:
- Start 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 not a suggestion, it is a fixed number.
- 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 crucial. 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?
- Prepare, prepare, prepare. Like anything we do in life, it’s better to show up prepared. That might involve thoughtful research and careful communications. Think “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 will fit. Better to sweat the details in advance than to pant across the finish line with nothing left in the tank to celebrate.
- Pull the ripcord. 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 front and center and check off each accomplishment. How much more fun is this vs diving into the fray unprepared?
- 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 (and your family). 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.