Does this holiday season have you feeling stressed or questioning whether you can afford to gift loved ones this year? According to a recent Beyond Finance holiday spending survey, 66% of shoppers worry that shopping will harm their financial health. Meeting family expectations can be difficult during the Yuletide season. Still, you can do a few small things that won’t leave you feeling the holiday blues.
We asked our financial therapists to share ways of combatting holiday spending stress, Dr. Erika Rasure and Nathan Astle. Each week, they host financial therapy sessions for enrolled Beyond Finance clients and provide effective coping mechanisms and strategies for debt-free living.
Check out their top three holiday spending tips this season.
Set Precise Boundaries
Avoid opening new lines of credit simply for the holiday season. Think about whether this is a need or a want. Try planning for holidays early by finding gifts in your budget or researching to find alternative options that are not as costly.
“Taking out a new line of credit for the holidays should not be the first thought,” says Astle. “While it is more complicated for most people (some still need things even if interest rates are high), it is wise to wait if you don’t need to take out additional debt.”
Budget for Inflation
Inflation has affected us all. The best thing we can do to stay on track is to plan for budgeted price increases. Writing out what you spend on items can help you compare shops and get the best deals.
“Budgeting in times of high inflation is exceedingly more difficult because everything costs more, and it’s frustrating, especially when your income isn’t adjusted to compensate for the gap,’’ Dr. Rasure said.
She shares with Beyond Finance clients to take a hard look at finances and see where adjustments to variable expenses can be made to get costs down.
“Try to eliminate some non-essentials temporarily or help identify items where you can start negotiating lower rates, like insurance costs or subscriptions,” she continued.
Finding ways to increase your income can also help alleviate the strain. The good news is that inflation is usually temporary. Budgeting tweaks you have to make are likely to be short-lived. This is an opportunity to help identify the things that create the most value.
Reflect on What Matters Most
“It can be stressful to hear that our finances may remain tight. That stress can make enjoyable things less meaningful if we aren’t careful,” Astle said.
He recommends personal expectations should shift to suit the current financial situation. Standards are usually more than just numbers. By practicing self-compassion, Nathan believes people can improve their regulating emotions and manage stress more effectively.
Remember, gifts can be store-bought or handmade.
Another idea is to center your gift gifting around making memories. Try more functional gifts that a person can use multiple times. Taste of Home.com developed a list of excellent presents on a budget that will still make loved ones feel like they are the apple of your eye!
The holidays are a time of gratitude, celebration, reconnecting with loved ones, and a small break from the stress of everyday life. How will you be spending your time? Maintaining life after the holidays and prioritizing your financial well-being is essential. Do what works for you and watch stick holiday stress in a stocking.