Every year, right about now, we start to feel the pull of more. The holidays are coming and we are called to spend more money, time and attention on things that aren’t always meaningful to us. In our efforts to demonstrate holiday cheer and to make everyone around us happy, we get sucked in to saying yes when we want to say no.
Creating boundaries with holiday budgets will create more comfort and joy
We don’t need to go full on bah humbug, but creating boundaries with holiday budgets will allow us to engage in the best parts of the season. Those best parts look different for everyone, but moving through the end of the year with more intention will allow us to be healthier, happier and more loving to ourselves and everyone around us.
Avoid holiday burnout by creating holiday budgets:
Even if you’ve already begun (or finished) holiday gift shopping, it’s not too late to budget your dollars for holiday spending. This starts by having a better understanding of how much money comes in and goes out each month. Sometimes we ignore the facts and hope that everything goes ok, but seeing the real numbers will be a relief. Even if it’s not what you expected or had hoped for, you can act with the facts instead of being fearful about your money situation.
If you are in debt or looking for a better way to manage your money, consider Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover. Don’t wait until January to address money issues just because the holidays are coming. Taking action now will prevent buyer’s remorse, financial emergencies and a spending hangover in the new year.
Once you have a good picture of your current financial situation, create your holiday budget. List all the extras you spend money on this time of year. Include gifts, entertainment, travel, donations, decor, extra shopping or beauty appointments, and anything else that comes to mind. Estimate how much each thing will cost. Include what you’ve already spent.
Add it all up, look at the total number and ask these two questions:
- Can I afford it?
- Is this how I want to spend my money?
If the answer to either of those questions is no, go back to your list of holiday spending and list the items in order of what’s most important to you. Then begin eliminating from the bottom up until you can answer yes to both questions.
If your calendar gets a little crammed between now and the end of the year, decide what really matters to you. Create your time budget like you create your money budget. First, write down an honest assessment of how you spend your time now. If you want a deep dive into how you really spend your time, track it in 15 or 30 minute increments with Author Laura Vanderkam’s time tracking sheets available here. Next, list all the extra ways you spend your time over the holidays. Include shopping (online too), time at the post office, throwing parties, attending parties, family events, work events, volunteer work, travel and anything else you spend extra time on during the holidays.
Look at your list of extra time spent and ask these two questions:
- Can I afford it?
- Is this how I want to spend my time?
If the answer to either of those questions is no, go back to your list of the extra ways you spend your time and list the items in order of what’s most important to you. Then begin eliminating from the bottom up until you can answer yes to both questions.
This one is harder to measure but how you spend it will determine how you experience the holiday season. How will you give your attention? You can’t be with everyone, everywhere enjoying everything. So where will you be? Do you want to do as much as possible thinly spreading your attention around or will you consider doing less and showing all the way up for what you love?
For your attention budget, make two lists. The first list will be all the things you’d like to experience over the holidays including people you want to spend time with, places you want to visit, and things you want to see or do. These are the things you want to give your full attention to. The second list is the things you don’t want to do. These are the things you often do, people you see, and things you say yes to even though your heart says no. You don’t typically appreciate or enjoy things on this list. You may spend extra time on your phone or zoning out when doing these things, or resent the fact that you have to pay attention to these things at all. You might also feel indifferent about the stuff on the second list but turn on auto-pilot and go through the motions so not to rock any boats.
Next, narrow down the 2 lists. What are the most important things to fully engage in on the first list? What are the most important things to decline on the second list? Now you know where your heart is. Give it to what matters to you now.
Bonus step: Go back to your lists. Is taking care of yourself on any of your lists? If not, add it in at the top of each list and see what else has to drop off to make room for you. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else.
We shouldn’t have to completely deplete our resources to enjoy the holiday season. In fact, they become more meaningful when we don’t.