The change of seasons is something I look forward to each year, though admittedly it’s subtle in San Diego. Still, the cooler temperatures and early nights make me want to eat comfort foods and enjoy a dark beer. That said, there can be too much of a good thing and that is why I’m trying (and losing the battle) to stave off Christmas movies in my family until after Thanksgiving. All of the excitement, especially in children, can make it hard to say no. Retailers try to capitalize on the weakness and temptation to say yes during the holidays, and it seems to be working as holiday sales surpassed $1 trillion dollars last year.
If we aren’t careful, the magic that comes with the holidays can actually suck the joy from us shortly thereafter. According to LendEdu, nearly a quarter of Americans will go into debt at Christmas and a survey by Principal Financial Group revealed that 53 percent of people feel financially stressed by holiday spending.
Here are a few tips to keep the joy and avoid stress:
Start saving for Christmas in January – Set a budget for Christmas, save for it throughout the year and stick to it when the time arrives. It feels much better to spend money you’ve already given yourself permission to spend.
Avoid the Costco curse – This isn’t an official thing, but I’ve fallen victim to it myself. It’s the idea that I had no idea I needed something, or that it even existed, until I go to Costco and now I have to have it, and it’s a good deal! You could also call this impulse buying and it can happen anywhere.
Take advantage of sales, but don’t be taken advantage of by them – I can’t even keep track of all the “special” sale days there are now, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc. With a little research, this can be a good time to make purchases as long as they’re planned for, and maybe not only for Christmas gifts. For example, my wife is overdue for a new phone. Since I was planning to buy her one within the next few months and we have the money earmarked, why not get a $200-$300 gift card for Target or Walmart by buying it at this time? That money can go towards our Christmas budget.
I hope the tips above help you truly experience the joy of gift-giving, without lingering negative effects. Of course, the most important thing to remember is that the magic of the season comes from sharing moments with those you love and celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace.
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