Manage Christmas and Holiday Season Stress to Avoid Maxing Out Your Credit Cards
by Julie Jaggernath
With only two weeks before Christmas, you might be feeling the stress of the holiday season and all that you still need to do. What you might not realize is that your high levels of stress and anxiety can make it harder to make good decisions. And the result of those poorer decisions can lead to unplanned spending and more stress.
One of the best ways to avoid the poorer choices that can max out your credit cards is to manage your stress and anxiety levels. This will in turn, help you to manage your budget more effectively.
Why We Feel Christmas and Holiday Stress
There are a lot of reasons why you may feel stressed or pressured at this time of year. You might have additional family commitments, social expectations to maintain, gift giving choices to make, holiday festivities to attend, winter recreation activities and school events to attend. It all adds up, and the more anxious or stressed you feel, the more likely you are to spend impulsively.
The Best Way to Manage Holiday Stress
It doesn’t take long for a vicious stress and spending cycle to develop. The more stressed you feel, the more you spend. The more you spend, the bigger the bills get and the more stress you feel. The best way to break the cycle is to have a plan that manages your money, as well as your expectations and stress.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, another holiday or just like to take advantage of the winter and holiday season, here are some money management tips to help you get through the next few weeks:
Plan Who to Buy Gifts For and What to Buy
Narrow your gift giving list. Decide who you need to buy for and what you can realistically afford to spend this year. You might even want to use a gift giving planner.
If you’re hosting the main event for all of your loved ones, let them know now that this is your gift to them. For everyone else, take a page from the big guy in the red suit and check your list twice!
How to Shop for Gifts and Giving Gifts with Lasting Effects
Plan when and how to shop; in store, online or by redeeming loyalty points. If you’re hitting the stores, choose off-peak times, eat first and bring a bottle of water. After you’ve got what you need for someone, cross them off your list so that you’re not tempted to keep on buying. Keep a running tally, either on paper or electronically, to help you stay on track.
If you want to order the perfect gift for someone, but it won’t arrive before Christmas, wrap a picture of it or tuck a note into a card and let them know when to expect it. This also works with alternative gifts that are hard to wrap but have lasting effects. If what you’ve chosen is something your loved one really wants, they won’t mind saving the best for last!
Choose Your Favourite Decorations
Use what you have and don’t worry about keeping up with the neighbours. If you’re short of time, decorate with your favourite items and save the rest for next year. Don’t forget to use timers for lights and power hungry decorations to help ease up on post-holiday hydro bills.
Save on Entertainment by Planning Ahead
Decide which events you want to attend and how much you’re prepared to spend on clothing, babysitters, taxis, hostess gifts, tickets, etc. Take in free community events when possible, or look for ticket deals online or in coupon books.
Christmas Dinner, Holiday Meals and Snacks
Finalize your holiday meal plan, not forgetting about the additional meals, snacks and drinks you’ll be enjoying with those who come to visit. Festive non-perishable treats are on sale all month, so stock up early.
Many families rely on traditions during holiday times, but they shouldn’t be traditions of debt. If your aunt offers to bring her “famous” dish or dessert, welcome her contribution. Ask a few others to bring their holiday favourites along as well.
Start New Traditions
A tradition we started in our family a few years ago is preparing Christmas dinner together. A few of the tweens like peeling carrots and potatoes. The younger ones love the fact that their aunt helps them chop the vegetables. It’s not often that they get a sharp knife and cutting board all to themselves!
Everyone who’s helping, and a few who are just keeping company, sit at the kitchen table and before our cups of mulled wine or apple cider get cold, the meal is ready to be cooked.
A Plan Will Help You to Manage Your Stress and Avoid Maxing Out Your Credit Cards | Start the New Year with a Plan to Pay Off of Debt
With only a few weeks left before you hang your stockings and ring in the New Year, having a short plan is better than having no plan.