Are you a holiday enthusiast like me? About the third week in November, I turn into Mrs. Claus. I become giddy with the idea of baking Christmas cookies. I light maple scented candles and drape faux fur blankets across any bare surface. And also, I love to buy gifts for everyone.
I believe that money should be spent on the people and things you love, and gift giving is tops for me, especially after the year we've had. But there’s something about the holiday season that makes it especially easy to overspend (even in the midst of a pandemic). You don't mean to, but somewhere between the constant drone of Christmas jingles and choosing THE perfect gifts for loved ones, it becomes easier than ever to tap, tap away with your credit card.
If you’ve been working hard to slay your debt all year and stick to your money goals, now is not the time to blow your efforts and generously spend on everyone. As much as it feels good to give, building wealth means spending on what you can afford.
You want your holiday shopping should be both enjoyable and affordable, right? Who wants to start the next decade with a huge debt hangover?
To help you achieve a debt free holiday, I’ve created The Ultimate Holiday Spending Checklist. Together with my 5 tips listed below, you’ll have zero guilt when the bills start to arrive in January 2021, and you’ll feel amazing (and proud!) that you stayed on budget. In it, I outline a quick mindful money exercise before you start shopping. Download it here.
There are two types of people when it comes to money: those that spend, and those that save. If you’re a saver, you've likely set aside a chunk of change for discretionary spending. Review your savings and determine what you can allocate to spending over the holiday season this year.
If you haven’t saved much (or anything at all), tread carefully. Review the next two steps before you start to make any financial decisions.
If you haven’t downloaded the checklist, grab a pen and paper, and in one column, write a list of every single person you would like to buy a gift for this holiday season. My own list doesn’t change much year to year, but I give myself a couple of days to complete it because inevitably I forget someone and must go back and re-work the budget. Do the same exercise for all the planned holiday parties and events you will attend as well.
Leave the second column blank until you review tip #3.
Not every gift has to be purchased. If you happen to be one of those amazingly talented people who can sing, draw, paint – basically, create beautiful art, I guarantee you the receiver will be touched by the thoughtfulness of the gift. If you’re like me and don’t possess these talented traits, you can get creative in other ways!
The holidays are a time for showing love, and your valuable time offered to someone else is a personal way to show gratitude. You can run errands for an elderly friend or family member, babysit for a friend or neighbor, or host a dinner party.
Holiday baking is also an option. My personal favorite is homemade granola, and my friend Cathy at Pink Avocado Nutrition has a fantastic recipe you can grab here. Wrap it up with a red ribbon and presto – the best gift ever (hint, hint).
As you review your second column created in tip #2, decide on the gift you’ll give, and the amount it will cost. Talley it up. Are you on budget with what you allocated to holiday spending? If you had nothing saved to spend for the holidays, is this an amount you can pay off within the next month?
Over the holidays, the onslaught of online promotions can wear any mindful shopper down. It’s easy to get sucked into the Amazon vortex and keep clicking items into that basket. In addition to the amazing deals to be had (the add ons! The daily deals!), a simple click painlessly separates you from your cash.
Use your holiday spending checklist to keep you aligned. Another great tip? Delete 3 subscriptions right now from your email. Reducing the amount advertising you see isn’t a magic bullet fix, but it will help reduce the temptations.
In my blog “5 ways to raise money savvy kids” I mentioned that we have a holiday tradition of purchasing a gift for another child through the Gift of Hope by Plan Canada each year. This is a special way to share the spirit of the holidays and a great opportunity to demonstrate to your children how to be generous for those who need it most. Volunteering your time is also a wonderful way to express gratitude, but it requires time. With the holidays already stressful for many, this may want to be something you consider doing throughout the year.
The process to wealth building means bringing mindfulness to your spending habits. The feelgood vibes of giving are wonderful, and I sincerely hope the holiday checklist helps you manage your spending, while allowing you to enjoy the holidays.
I’d love to hear from you! You can DM me directly on Instagram @wolfecolletivewealth or leave a comment below.