Spending with Intention (Instead of Stress) this Holiday Season

by | Dec 9, 2022

The holidays are officially here and spending right now is a huge source of stress for so many. Long gift lists? Extra party expenses? Decor? Holiday spending with intention is possible. The stress is optional.  This is my favorite time of the year, and I absolutely despise the holiday craziness.  When it was my son’s first Christmas, my family fought over who would spend the day with him.  It left a really bitter taste in my mouth and took all of the magic out of the season for me.  For years I’ve fought the current of the holiday – spend spend spend….stress stress stress.  13 years later, I’m really grateful to be able to say that it is my favorite time of year – for very intentional reasons.  

Here’s my thought for you today:  it is worth it to find that balance between holiday spending and holiday stress. Let’s look at how you can bypass the traditional pitfalls of overspending and create a better financial strategy this season and in the new year.

What causes holiday spending stress?  My tips on combating it:

If you find the whole concept of holiday spending stressful – join the club!   In the Beyond Finance 2022 Holiday Financial Stress Survey, more than two-thirds of respondents (68%) said they expected holiday spending to worsen their stress levels this year, with 53% saying it would “cause some stress” and 15% saying it would “cause significant stress.” Other key findings from this survey: 

  • More Americans are worried about being able to afford holiday shopping this year, mainly due to inflation concerns
  • Because of rising costs, holiday shoppers expect to rely more on credit cards this year 
  • Most consumers believe that shopping will have a negative effect on their holiday spirit this year
  • Those already in significant debt have the biggest worries — but also the biggest challenge —breaking the cycle of overspending

Trying to “keep up” is always a struggle during the holiday season.  Even if you have the best of intentions – at this moment, my invitation to you is to ask yourself, “Why is this holiday season really important to me?”  

In a time when we are collectively redefining what we want to do with our money, traditions can be modified, and new trends can pop up. You want to find balance, and it starts with knowing your numbers and planning your holiday spending intentions. 

Here’s my why:  I want to slow down.  I want the people in my life to know how much I love them.  I want them to know that my life would not be the same without them.  This requires NO amount of money.  This requires me to dig deep, get vulnerable, and etch out some time to spend quality time with the people I love.  What do I want?  I want them to know and to hear from me that they made a difference.  For me, that’s the only reason for the season.

What’s your reason?  Before you become a victim to the season madness….just another number…..stop.  Breathe.  Get into nature.  Second step….put a plan together.

How to build a plan for Holiday spending with intention 

Figure out your priorities – make the money match.

What traditions are most important? 

What are your non-negotiables? Start there. 

Work backward from “must haves” so you know where money needs to go first. Building a plan for strategic spending is unique to each person, since it’s all about what YOU want. Everyone’s plan is going to look a little different. Once you have a plan in place, you can focus on sticking to holiday spending with intention more easily. Here are some other ways to make more savvy money moves even during the holidays:  

  • Make a list. List out who is on your gift list, what you plan to buy to prepare or decorate, annual donations, you get the idea. Seeing it on paper can help you trim the list when needed or switch something out. 
  • Set spending amounts. Whether that’s by category (entertainment, gifts, food, donations) or by person/organization, figure out how much you’re going to spend and stick to it. 
  • Do gifts that matter: go with something more personalized. Making gifts, or giving cool experiences together are even better than tangible goods (and research backs that up). 
  • Track, track, track! You can’t manage it if you’re not tracking it, so remember to follow your list with updates as you spend. Tracking dollars in and dollars out leaves you in control, where you are able to course-correct in real time. Plus, you can avoid surprises along the way. 
  • Be true to yourself:  Everyone wants the holidays to be special, and that might look different this year. Being realistic with your own expectations keeps you from forgetting your financial strategy. 

Another important way to manage holiday stress when it comes to finances is to maintain your normal routine as much as possible. December is like any other month, with routine bills and responsibilities the same as any other month. Keeping tabs on your normal spending while adding in your holiday activities can keep you close to the ‘pause’ button if you need it. Connecting to your why is a great way to start the new year from a place of planning and strategy rather than recovery from a wild month of unfettered spending. 

Connecting with community can keep you on track 

This season, it can be easy to get swept up in the holiday drama – even if you’ve been focused all year on building a brighter financial future – pun intended ;). Staying in tune with your why (along with your needs and wants) can help you stay true to your goals and practice holiday spending with intention. The best part is that money is better when you aren’t working toward your future alone. If you are looking for help getting your $hit together or learning how to make savvy investments with the money you have, join my community and let’s connect today

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