We're in the thick of things in the holiday shopping season, and we've all got gifts on our brains. Macy's has had holiday displays up for a while, and pretty soon we'll start hearing Christmas music. All this leads up to the "most wonderful time of the year." Yet for many of us, this season of giving is spoiled by the stress of overspending.
It's easy for the stresses of this time of year to turn us into Scrooges, but so many of us allow those low moments to take a turn for the less positive for a longer time. Maybe, the overwhelming list of gifts to give and parties to attend has turned you into a crab in your own bucket.
Though the economy is still pretty fragile, many of us will still fall prey to spend, spend, and spend some more over the next few weeks. In the face of financial insecurity and job instability, we continue to allow both external pressures--Gifts! Parties! Kids!--as well as our own internal crabs to guide how we spend our money.
Many finance journalists and experts say to save a little bit each month so that the holiday season doesn't present such a problem money-wise. Putting away a little bit each month or pay period is a good way to avoid a lot of stress. But, with us already approaching mid-December, saving money now if you haven't already may be a challenge.
So in this season of giving, give what you can... but not too much. And that means not allowing the crabs in your own bucket to make your financial decisions for you.
What does giving too much look like?
It's charging every single credit card to the max. How many winter holidays have you spent more time stressing than feeling the seasonal happiness? We want to give the best to our kids, siblings and spouses. We need to be in the spirit for the Secret Santa or grab bag at work. And we can't forget about our friends.
Take a load off by not racking up too much debt. Lay off the credit cards by not charging things you can't afford. Yes, it's the holidays, but that does not mean you need to go broke to be everyone else's personal Santa Claus. The need to please everyone, especially during this time of year, is hard to resist; it's the biggest crab in your bucket.
So this holiday season, try to use cash as much as possible--within reason, of course. Studies have shown that when people spend cash, they are more likely to think twice about purchasing something major.
I'm not expecting you to go cold turkey on the credit cards. Maybe you could start out with a 50/50 split; 50 percent of your holiday spending is available cash with the rest going on the credit cards. Or a different percentage--whatever works best for you.
The goal here is to lessen the load on you financially and emotionally. During this season of giving, give to others what you can. But give to yourself the gift of less stress and more holiday love.
JMC Wealth Management distinguishes itself from its competition by understanding the emotions behind money. We empower our clients so that they may be better able to have their lives control their finances rather than having their finances control their lives. For more information, please visit http://www.jmcwealth.com/.© 2014 Julie M. Casserly
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