How to Start Saving for the Holidays
The holiday season is coming. It does every year. It kicks off with Thanksgiving and doesn’t stop until sometime in January. A little planning now, will really add to the joy of the season and eliminate the usual money crunch. Believe me when I tell you, that the last thing I want to think about today, is Christmas, but I refuse to go into debt to spread joy, because I wasn’t prepared for something that happens at the same time every year.
Regardless of what holidays you celebrate, it is likely that you will buy gifts, decorate your home, attend parties, or throw parties.
I think what we are looking for every day, is magnified during the holiday season. We want meaning. We want joy. We want to share and connect. Unfortunately, just like everyday, those things are overshadowed by stress, debt and confusion. By turning the focus to gifts, buffets, and too much of everything, we lose sight of what is really important. Having a plan will make this holiday season crystal clear.
Be More With Less Get Your Joy On Holiday Plan
Budget – Now is the time to figure out what you will spend over the holidays.
- Make a list of holiday spending. Include detailed gift lists, postage, decor, events, extra contributions to charitable organizations, special food, and whatever you typically spend on during that time. Don’t hold back. Make it a big fat holiday list from turkey to trips and whatever comes in between. I want you to see the price tag on what you would normally spend.
- Cut the list by at least 25-50% - Chances are you are not the only one that wants to spend less this holiday season. Who knows, your friends might be aspiring minimalists too! Think about how you decorate. Do you really need a wreath on the back door? What about the different dresses you buy for formal events. Could you cut back there? Maybe a minimalist fashion project will help. Examine and re-examine your budget. Make the necessary cuts, and figure out the overall budget. If you really do this today or this week, divide the final number by 15. If you normally spend $3000, you will have to save $200 per week. You will start spending this before you save it all, but nothing will have to come out of your regular budget, and you will not have to use a credit card.
Meaning – Like our budget, our search for meaning seems deeper during the holidays. Through prayer, meditation, and volunteer work, do a little soul searching and soul giving. You may develop habits that last year round.
Obligation – Between parties at your child’s school, your office events, family gatherings and other festive happenings, the holidays can be exhausting. Make a commitment to stay energized with regular yoga classes or sticking with your simple exercise plan and by saying NO. I know you want to be the hero and Santa to the world, but this year, focus on just being present for you and your family. Focus on the most important things. Pick and choose the other stuff very carefully, or say no to all of it.
Spending – This seems like the time of year where anything goes. Credit cards come out, excessive spending begins and all in the name of giving. Christmas is not an emergency. There is no excuse to start racking up credit card debt in the name of love and joy.
Material Giving – There are many ways to give and it doesn’t have to come in a box. I made a list of gifts for minimalists that may help. Have conversations with your close friends and family. Agree to exchange gifts under a certain dollar value, or not at all. Even better, agree to work collaboratively to give to someone less fortunate or volunteer together at your local food bank, or an organization that you care about. If someone asks you what you want, be honest. It’s ok to say, “I honestly don’t want anything, but if you plan to buy, I would love passes to a local yoga studio” (family – take the subtle hint!)
Commit to a budget this holiday season and find true meaning. Think about spending less time at the mall but more time creating memories with your friends and family. Think about giving fewer gifts to those of us who have so much and give to someone less fortunate, or pay off your debt and start an emergency fund. To experience a truly joyous new year, don’t let the last two months of 2010 derail your big picture of being more with less.
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