It’s that dreaded time of the year. Not only has Halloween launched the sugar overload season that lasts through Easter, it is also the beginning of holiday spending.
I used to be one of those people. One of those people who spent too much money buying junk for people I didn’t even like.
Finally there came a year when there just wasn’t enough money and I had to stop. How did I do it?
First, I made a list of everyone I thought I SHOULD give gifts to. Then I went through the list selecting only the people I WANTED to give gifts to. And voila, the list got a lot shorter.
On this shorter list were a few people who didn’t need more stuff, like my mother in a nursing home or my sister who can buy anything she wants. I can’t buy for my sister because our tastes are so different. It’s a waste of my time and money. So now Mom and Sis get cards.
Same for my brother and his wife. I do send his kids gift cards with a token amount.
How about friends? I try to go out to dinner with friends during the holiday season and let that be our gift to each other. Years ago, a friend and I used to go out for Chinese food between Christmas and New Year’s just to get a break from all the sugar and turkey leftovers.
If your house is suitable for entertaining, why not have a pot luck for friends? Shoot, how about just dessert and coffee some evening?
Sometimes giving at the office becomes an obligation or heaven forbid, a competition. My recommendation: Don’t even start this tradition. If the whole office wants to have a pot luck, great idea. Just sign up to bring something inexpensive like tortillas, sodas or bread. If you want to give gifts to good friends in the office, why not go to lunch together, dutch treat?
Now, it is nice to give homemade gifts, but they are not always a budget-friendly alternative. Whether food or crafts, by the time you buy all the supplies and add your time, you may be spending more than you want.
Holiday spending can be such a trap. We get hung up on the traditions and obligations, and we forget that gift giving is supposed to be a JOY.
Why do we let ourselves get trapped into destructive spending? We do it because we don’t think it through. So whether you are looking forward to the holiday season with anticipation or dread, take a few moments to think about what you are doing. Ask yourself if making a change will make you a more joyful giver.
Beverly Bailey is principal of Chamisa Financial, a full service financial firm. She has been a registered representative since 1995 and a Certified Financial Planner™ since 2009. She focuses on retirement planning and asset allocation.
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Securities and financial planning offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC.