3 steps to begin now for a less stressful holiday season

3 steps to begin now for a less stressful holiday season
July 29
10:52 2021

By Lisa Terry

Normally when you think of July, you are probably planning your vacation to the beach or sending the kiddos off to summer camp, or maybe even a simple “staycation” at home. More likely than not, you spend more money during the summer months and during the holidays than any other part of the year. Kids are usually out of school; the grocery bill is through the roof and paying for full-time childcare can also be an extra added expense during the summer months.

Christmas is no doubt the furthest thing from your mind. But should it be?

This  may be the perfect time to start thinking about the holidays: gift-giving, family gatherings, travel plans, menu items, and all the trimmings that can rack up to a hefty sum before the New Year. Even as many are still trying to financially recover from the pandemic, planning your financial steps along the way, and focusing on what YOU do have control over, can help set realistic goals now for the holidays! 

First, let’s talk about money. How many paydays do you have left until your holiday shopping deadline? Because I know everyone follows a budget … How much of your surplus can you comfortably set aside toward the holiday season? Are you already saving? If so, that is awesome! Analyze whether you are saving enough or if you need to increase your level of saving. Surely unexpected things will come up, so having more set aside will come in handy whether holiday-related or not.

Making a list and checking it twice isn’t just for jolly old Saint Nick. As you review your list, prioritize as you go, and include the ‘must have’ column, the ‘maybe’ column, and the ‘extra if I have extra’ column. Everything has a certain value and level of importance for your family – traditions, aging loved ones, those we’ve lost, new family members, and furry kids – so embrace all of those things in your plan.

Talk to your family – extended or immediate – ahead of time, to garner holiday expectations. Are things going to look different this year than in past years? Get creative and get suggestions from family members that may help spread out not just the cost of the holidays, but peace of mind. If you have a large family, draw names for gift giving. This will lighten the financial burden on family members that may not be able to purchase a gift for everyone.

Holidays are to be a time of celebration and joy. There are no rules you have to follow, just enjoy time with the ones you love and practice gratitude for the things you have without focusing on the things you may not have…yet.

Our counselors at Financial Pathways are here to help you reach ALL of your budgeting and money management goals. I hope you consider reaching out to us today to start your path to your best holiday season yet!

Lisa Terry is the director of financial management and education for Financial Pathways of the Piedmont.

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