Many of us feel extra pressure during the Christmas season. In a recent poll taken by Think Finance, almost half of respondents said their level of stress related to holiday expenses is high or extremely high. Believe it or not, 45 percent indicated they would just as soon skip the season due to financial frustrations. Most Americans will spend around $900 on gifts and that doesn’t include the extras of food and decorations, etc!
So, what can you do to lower the stress of finances? Here are a few things that can help.
Remember things don’t bring happiness.
We want Christmas to be special. But spending more on stuff doesn’t satisfy! The adrenaline rush of getting something new fades. You can’t even remember what you got last Christmas, can you? Clever advertisement and the enticement to buy the latest gadgets can cause us to spend emotionally, rather than rationally.
Set a budget.
Set a limit to your spending. It is best to decide in advance how much you are going to spend for each person. Make sure you comparison shop by doing research online and using phone apps.
If you have already overspent, consider returning those gifts. I know it’s uncomfortable, but it is probably the best thing to do. Face your “over-generosity” gene and get your money back. They’ll never know.
Don’t charge anything.
You don’t want to start the new year with new debt. It is too easy to charge it and forget the obligations of those monthly payments. “One of the things that we know is most people — almost half the country — are still carrying some sort of debt from the last holiday period.”
I’m not saying you can’t shop with credit, but make sure you are able to pay it off in full by the end of December!
As a rule, cash is safer than credit during the holiday spending spree.
For many families, holiday spending sets them back financially for months to follow, if not longer. Credit cards make it easy to overspend leaving families to suffer the consequences later. The problem with credit cards isn’t just the monthly payments; it’s the long-term cost from accrued interest. One family overspent for Christmas and had no money left for food in January.
Plan for things that are free.
Making memories doesn’t require money. Walk around the neighborhood and look at Christmas lights. Google some ideas you can do for free as a family.
BEFORE YOU GO
How are you handling the financial pressures of Christmas?
Remember, we have Supt. Zoom Room tomorrow. Coincidentally, the topic is A Pastor’s Personal Finances. Hope to see you there! (Comment below for a link if you need one.)