The holidays bring joy and a warm heart to everyone. It is a time when we are a bit light-hearted, cheerful, in the mood for festivities and warming up to friendships. Despite the cheers and festivities, the holidays can sometimes also be a time of stress for many.
Most people feel stressed at the onset of the holidays because of the pressures that come with planning and giving of presents or the exchange of gifts. It seems almost required of everyone to give or exchange gifts during the holidays. Because this is a tradition that we have become accustomed to over the years we feel obligated to make a list and plan to give gifts even when the means to do so is not easily available.
It Starts with the Aura
It feels like the holidays because we are to feel a certain way during a certain time of the year. The weather is right, hopes appear to be high for the coming year like we think each year, there’s talk of bonuses at the office, Santa’s standing on every corner, the atmosphere is right and we are hooked!
Walk into a department store or shopping center and you are immediately greeted with the sounds, sights and even smells of the holidays. Decorations and smells bellow you to take a closer look and store clerks are a bit more cheerful when greeting you. All this with one motive – that you will make a purchase.
It’s Easy to Lose Focus
When family and friends begin to talk about things they want for Christmas or other holiday celebrations you immediately begin to have visions of what you also would like to have as a gift. It is easy to lose sight of how much you can afford to spend during the holidays. It takes a high level of discipline and focus to keep from making that list and buying the gifts.
Although we have also been taught to believe that gift giving is a matter of the thought attached, that you remembered someone rather than the cost of the gift itself, we tend to focus more on the gift hoping that the receiver will be proud of you because you bought them something expensive rather than because you thought of them even if the gift is something of a lesser value. The pressures of holiday giving often leads us to splurge on presents to impress even if we cannot afford the cost. That is when the spending starts.
Can You Afford It?
If you did not make a yearlong plan starting from January what you want to spend on presents and other holiday festivities you might be faced with the question of “can I afford it?”.
Many of us do not plan for our holidays until the holidays are upon us. Instead we choose to rush to get things done. When this happens we tend to spend more than we had planned for or take the easy way out if available – the credit card. The feeling of rushing to get everything done on time is the perfect recipe for overspending. Rushing means you have no time to think about how much items cost. The only important thought you have is getting it done.
The Start of the New Year Can Become Tough
To go on a shopping spree without planning how much you can afford, especially if paying for items using debt can mean one thing for you at the end of the holidays. The start of the New Year can be tough when the bills begin to roll in.
I have learned from experience that January can be a very long month after the holidays. The reality of the poor spending choices made during the holidays becomes evident during the month of January. As the bills pile up the woes of not being wise during the holidays starts to take its toll. Now you understand why many of us make resolutions to be smart with money in January.
Let Experience Be Your Guide to Making Better Spending Choices
Chances are you did not plan for holiday spending in advance. It could be because you did not have the money to set aside or did not remember to plan ahead. If you fall in the category of people who did not have the money to set aside the temptation to use debt to finance your holiday spending is high. Also, even if you have the money to spend, because you did not plan ahead it is possible to overspend and probably use debt to offset the excess.
Before you start to make your holiday shopping plans ask yourself these questions:
- Was my experience years before with holiday spending regretful?
- Did I promise myself to be careful with spending during the holidays?
- How am I paying for what I want to do, did I save during the year from January to November in anticipation for the holidays?
- Do I want to spend all of my hard-earned money on gifts and festivities?
The holidays are about sharing what we can afford. It is not to impress others or show off. Remember that family and friends might probably understand the reason that you will not give or exchange gifts during the holidays. Tell them that your priorities have changed and that you there are other goals that you want to achieve. They might decide to do the same and begin to take steps to be smarter with spending during the holidays.