All year, we play the comparison game between ourselves, our colleagues, siblings, friends and neighbors. The holidays roll around and it doesn’t get any better. It can easily feel like we have to put our money where our mouth is in terms of the financial insecurities we may be hiding.
First, Be Real About Your Finances
Yes, this may seem like a trick- isn’t it so much easier to be happy about Christmas when we can just roll along without thinking too personally about it when money is tight? It can be a one way ticket to Bummersville if your cash is tight and you have to make a budget. The first step is to be honest about your assets and your debt- how much money do you have to spend? Set a budget and stick to it, (these holiday budget tips are helpful!) and it can be freeing, not limiting.
Standing in your truth is important, especially around the holidays.
Reframe The Blues
Yes, it can be depressing to set a budget and count all of the things you simply cannot afford. It can feel like the holidays are officially ruined, and you single-handedly ruined all the fun with your debt woes and your low salary, but it’s time to reframe.
When you’re real about your money, and you’re committed to standing in your truth- even if that truth is only a $100 budget for everyone’s gifts, you go through grief, then you go towards freedom. You can be bummed, but remember, it’s not forever- and it doesn’t have to suck. It may be different this year, but it’s not forever. Make it heartfelt and personal, and know that yes, someday you can go back to cutting corners, and using credit (responsibly) to buy gifts from the store, or a new holiday outfit, but this year, you’re living authentically and giving meaningfully with what you have.
There will be lean times; there will be harvest. We live in a world of excess where every year is plentiful, but that’s not the reality of how it is nor, has it been the way it’s ever been- you aren’t being left behind; you’re being honest, and that’s freeing.
Learn A New Skill Instead Of Buying Gifts
Making gifts feels so stupid and so lame when you haven’t got a penny to pinch and a tight budget is looming over your head, but honestly- if you have been on Pinterest this year, why not see this as a great opportunity to craft your Christmas?
Yes, you could totally wallow about not being able to buy the things you’d “like,” or, you could finally put those Pinterest boards to good use! Wreaths with monograms or hand embroidered or stenciled gifts are really popular this season, and you’ll look classy- not cheap. Learn to finally make something you’ve always wanted- like French macaroons or infused bourbons in mason jars, and you’ll be a hero! Even if you’re not crafty, Pinterest can help you be a rockstar- at a fraction of the cost!
Shorten Your List By Swapping Names
While many of us fear being a Grinch, and others simply loathe having the dreaded budget talk around the holidays with each and every one of the people we typically buy gifts for, why not simply do a family name swap at the holiday get together? Every person buys just one gift, and calls it done.
Truly, getting all of our crazy family under one roof is a present in itself, so we can simplify things and cut down on the awkward gift giving with distant cousins by simply buying for one instead of buying for nine.
Or, Cut Down On Gifts With “Want. Need. Wear. Read.”
I recently read this trick and absolutely loved it. If you find that, like me, you don’t have a huge list to shop for with a large extended family, but you typically overspend on a few key people (significant other, parents, kids) you can try this rule:
“Pick one of each: One thing you want, one thing you need. Something you’d wear, something you’d read.” Like, duh- simple! I love it and it’s USEFUL for your budget and USEFUL for the recipient. One of these gifts can be pricey, but the rest can be more affordable- like new mittens or even mascara, and books are under $20!
Opt For Experiences, Not Stuff
Perhaps a staycation is in order? Or simply, take advantage of winter deals by taking a Christmas destination vacation to experience snow or lights somewhere else for a fraction of the cost (which can be split amongst family members). Be sure to take lots of pictures!
Honestly, whether you choose to travel, or volunteer instead of gifting things, make it memorable and take photos or at the very least- mental snapshots of the time you spend with loved ones. Someday, they will be treasured times you long for, after loved ones are gone. You will have long donated the kitsch you normally give each other, but the time spent together is truly a keepsake to treasure.
You may not always be able to choose your budget at Christmastime, but you can choose what you do with it. Remember, lean times are not forever, and it can be an opportunity for you to practice what you preach when it comes to your values by reassessing what matters most to you. With the right framing, this can be an opportunity to get creative and insist on having a festive Christmas that isn’t hinged on excessive consumerism, but instead, only what matters most- time with family, crafts, volunteerism, learning new recipes or traveling to visit loved ones, not time at the mall.
Happy Holidays, everyone!
This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are mine. As the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most–but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day.