It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
But it can also be the most stressful.Between the pressure to overspend on gifts for your friends and family, a dozen different parties you have to attend, and last-minute shopping trips that take you miles away from home, it’s hard to keep track of your budget.
And that’s why we’re here: to help you find ways to enjoy this season without breaking the bank.
We’ve compiled some helpful tips and tricks that will help you stay on track while still having fun with your loved ones!
Hey there. Welcome back to The Heart of Your Money podcast.
Is the snow falling here? Yes. And this is a Christmas prep conversation. I think we all need a little bit of a pep talk when it comes to maybe, the pressures of Christmas and gift-giving, and this is your pep talk.
Christmas is coming up. There’s a lot of pressure to spend and I am historically famous for running away at Christmas. I have booked trips to avoid all the pressures, and stressors, you name it. And so I really think it’s important for us to talk about this because if we’re not running away this year, we have to actually enjoy Christmas, tackle it and start to plan for it.
And so being in the spirit of what I do for a living with money, I think it’s really good to start thinking about this right now and making sure that we can eliminate any of the guilt of spending and we can kind of open up our mind and realize it doesn’t have to be as stressful as we predict.
So coming out of Covid- I feel like we can see it in our rearview mirror now. And we’re coming out and there are a few things that I realized, during Covid having huge Christmas parties and visiting people’s houses and doing the socializing, got stopped. And what I also realized is that what got stopped was the panic picking up of gifts.
As you see people that feeling, that pressure of feeling like I can’t show up empty-handed. And so having to pick up that quick thing and spending those extra dollars, and that’s where in Covid a lot of us changed our habits. Maybe not on purpose, but because we couldn’t go see people. And so what I’m realizing now is it’s this limbo land.
Okay, so I’m going to a few more things [this year] and I’m seeing more people, but I haven’t given gifts for a few years. Do I just start again showing up with bottles of wine and chocolate and maybe a little something or can we continue the trend of not gifting?
So my thinking is by default- of course- thinking about our wallets and also our hearts is that I don’t have to go pick up those things for these people to know that they are special in my life, and I’ve shared in the past, and I’ll share again, is that I am a horrendous gift giver. We talk about love languages and how we show our love and appreciation and gift giving is not one of mine.
It takes a lot of work for me, and it doesn’t mean I love people less. It just means I give in different ways. And so for me at Christmas, it has been an all-or-nothing experience. And so it’s either like this random, quick, cheap little thing because I’m showing up, but it has no meaning or it’s and I don’t want them to think, I don’t care for them. And so then I go over the top and buy some outrageously outlandish, expensive thing, and so you can imagine all the stress and that’s just gift giving.
We don’t need to do that anymore. I think now it’s about actually spending time together looking at someone and saying, “I really appreciate that we can get together” and giving that extra squeeze and hug now that we can actually touch people and hug them. So this is also your permission to know that you can release some of that pressure. And so Covid impacted in a way that there are some silver linings that came out of this and we don’t have to give the mindless gift giving that I have been famous for doing.
I think time is gonna be one of my new gifts for myself. And time means, not necessarily physically with me because they might not think that’s a gift. , I don’t know. But the time spent in writing a very special note. So finding that special stationary and actually taking a moment to write a letter of gratitude to that person and letting them know how much they mean to me.
And I think that’s replacing the spending of money. It’s what little thoughtful things can we do that will mean more than a trinket. So, for example, I really battled with this recently because in travelling with my mom, we went to Europe and of course, I’m thinking about all the gifts I need to bring back because that’s been historically a tradition.
When you go away, you bring your kids back something and other friends and family. I didn’t bring a single thing back. That’s not true. I brought back a little tiny thing, but that was for me, nobody else, and I think there was the appreciation of, I took pictures specifically for different people and it was like, “Oh, Isabel, I know you’re gonna love this picture and you’re gonna love this story.”
And I shared stories and pictures and how I thought of them in that moment and why they would like it. We can do that on paper too. At Christmas. We can actually think outside the box. Start thinking of what gift can I give that is not something that I have bought.
So along with giving from the heart, another thing that I am a huge fan of is planning and preparation. And this is gonna alleviate so that when you do give gifts, it’s thoughtful and from the heart and it has guilt free giving attached to it. And this is what I’ve learned the hard way in the past.
And one of the ways to do that is to actually plan the spending of the money. And how do we plan the spending of the money? Will we get in front of it? So I know we’re weeks away from Christmas right now, but I want to put this into your brain to think about for next year and in January and start thinking about.
Can I pre-plan my Christmas spending? And what a great thing to do is pre-planning a year in advance. And how do you do that? I’m famous for buckets. It means every month, maybe whatever you can afford or you won’t miss, maybe it’s $50, maybe it’s 60, 70 – whatever that amount is to you is what you put into a special sub-account at your bank and you label “Christmas money only.”
You start putting away each month so that by Christmas time, maybe you have a thousand dollars, maybe you have $1,500. And it’s gonna alleviate all the stress and the panic Christmas buying that I have been known for in the past. And going from the swing of something really cheap to really expensive and completely out of guilt and emotion.
Take that all out by having an actual bucket of spending money that you’re going to think about months in advance about how you would like to spend it. And it’s gonna be guilt free because you’ve pre-planned it. You’ve started these savings.
So I wanna just send out everybody Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
And I hope your takeaway right now is I want you to sit down and think of how can you give without actually spending money. What can you replace with a gift?
And I know of course, that’s not going to happen all the time, but when you do have your list of having to buy for people, what in there can you replace with something from the heart? Is it that letter? Is it a craft? Do you knit? Is it something that has more meaning?
And see if you can eliminate the mindless purchases.
Don’t forget. If you need, you can check our website astrafinancial.ca for show notes or send me a note with any questions or comments.
I’d love to hear from you.
Till next time, I’m Zena