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Spread Cheer Not Debt

For some people the holiday season brings yummy food, beautiful decorations, and plenty of Christmas cheer. For those who are a little more connected to reality the holiday season brings more stress, debt, and drama. The emphasis that society has created on “finding the perfect gift” can often times take away from the joy that comes with celebrating the holidays. This year I challenge you to stress less and enjoy more! Don’t be the Grinch of your family this Christmas because you decided to rake up the credit card bills on ridiculous gifts. Instead take the time to plan and really think about what matters most to your family and celebrate each other. This is easier said than done and I totally get that. Your teenage son is obviously going to want the latest iPhone over your hugs and kisses but there are still tricks to help ease the blow of holiday shopping!

Santa makes a list and checks it twice for a reason… He has the entire world to shop for and he knows the importance of staying organized! You need to steal Santa's classic phrase and apply it to your shopping experience this year. Seriously though the first step should be to get organized and make a list, maybe even a couple lists if you are in the planning mood! Start by everyone you need to shop for then build off that list with possible items to give those individuals.

With all this planning going on don’t forget to plan out your finances.... BUDGET! The key to this is make a realistic budget that works for your family and then stick to it. Don’t let killer deals or your kids extravagant wish list tempt you to break the budget. This is also the perfect time to remind yourself these gifts are not expected so try to spend less and celebrate more.

The next step to planning a successful holiday season is to simply plan ahead. As in start right now. Waiting until December can cause unnecessary stress which then often leads to people spending more just to get it over with. Starting early helps you avoid the crowds but also gives you the opportunity to shop around and compare prices for the best deal! The extra time also allows you to get creative when shopping like using coupons or looking into cheaper gift options.

A couple more tips and tricks to think about are maybe focus more on experiences and memories rather than material items. Material goods bring instant gratification but it has shown that making a memory or enjoying an experience has lasting gratification on a person. For example you could get tickets to somewhere, make a scrapbook, or find a groupon deal on a fun adventure! Lastly don’t feel bad about making it easy. Holiday shopping is the exception to the negative saying of “you're taking the easy way out”. I see it as the easier, the better because that means less stress on you! I’m just saying fuzzy socks and chocolate are much appreciated but are also the definition of cheap and easy. Really though, keep it simple and spend the time you save spreading actual Christmas cheer with family and friends!

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