The holidays aren’t happy or wonderful for everyone.
Mary and Jack were stressed. She was crying, and he was visibly frustrated. “Our family’s tradition is to buy holiday gifts for everyone. Tis the season to be jolly—and we want to give, but our giving is causing us financial problems. Every year we feel pressure to buy more gifts. Last year, it took until July just to pay off all our Christmas debt. We couldn’t even afford a summer vacation.”
Holidays don’t have to leave you stressed. Giving more expensive gifts is fine, if you can afford them. However, the average American worker’s real income has actually been reduced. Make a decision: Be solvent or be insolvent. The first gives you control and choices; the second gives you no control, no choices, and heaps of headaches.
It may be self-evident, but there is no requirement for Americans to be in debt and stressed. It’s all up to you! Decide now to get control of your gift list, and reduce your financial stress by climbing out of the “traditional rut." Financial freedom is exhilarating and fun! Here are a few ideas to get the “jolly” back into your holiday finances:
- Give yourself permission to downsize your gift list. Talk privately to relatives who are on fixed incomes, and share with them your need for a change. Brainstorm together for a solution. These relatives will be happy to accommodate you, as they have similar financial concerns. One solution: Adult relatives do a gift exchange, purchasing only one adult gift, limited to $20.
- Keep track of every gift purchased. Fold an 8 X 10 piece of paper into half repeatedly, until you have one folded section for each person for whom you buy gifts. Write one person’s name on each section, along with the amount you can afford to spend on him or her. As you shop, record the gifts purchased—and stop when you reach your spending limit. This alleviates the problems of spending too much on any one individual, or finding you forgot to purchase a gift for someone.
- Give “Acts of Kindness” certificates. For busy parents, give them a weekend of babysitting. They’ll definitely appreciate a getaway! If you have children with similar ages, have their kids sleep over at your house for a slumber party! For single friends, invite them over for dinner.
Be creative and have fun this holiday season. Gift-giving does not need to cost a lot of money!
Written by: Maria J. Kuitula, a Free Market & Stewardship Coach, co-authored the book, Stress-Free Investing, available at Amazon.com. She is the president of Wordhouse Wealth Coaching, and may be reached at 616-460-6518 or at [email protected]. For QUESTION LISTS and INVESTOR EDUCATION VIDEOS, go to www.WordhouseWealthCoaching.com. Photo: stock.xchng