The Holidays can bring out the spendiness in a lot of us. It can be tempting to want to play Santa Claus with all our loved ones and friends. I certainly have felt that pressure. There’s so much glitz and glamour and anticipation and glittery malls and stores and commercials and offers, and the idea of being giving (translation: spending lots of money) is so appealing… or at least, it’s been drilled into us from Day One of our lives in this country.
There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as people use common sense when it comes to Holiday spending. Yet, to quote Tony Robbins (and others, I’m sure), “Have you ever noticed common sense isn’t really so common?” For instance, how many people go into to debt in order to finance Christmas? Probably too many! How many people get so stressed out over gift-giving, or party-planning, or relative-visiting, that they don’t enjoy their Holidays? Probably too many!
My wife and I do our best to do be generous and “get into the spirit” of the Holidays. But we have learned to plan ahead so that we can fully enjoy the process. For instance, early in the year we created our own Christmas funds, putting aside small amounts regularly. Because we did this, we already had a budget for gift-buying, for our tree, and for food (etc) for parties and gatherings (we hosted two of them, and attended several others, each requiring we bring gifts and/or food). In fact, we even employed our rewards card to buy gifts, a product of responsible credit card use for over a year.
We didn’t stop with ourselves and our loved ones: we filled two bags of groceries at Safeway and donated to a food drive.
Certainly, none of this cost a fortune, but it was enough that the planning we put into it made a huge difference.
In the past, I often felt quite conflicted about Christmas shopping. There was the desire to be generous, yet I didn’t always plan very well. On several occasions, I grinned and beared it as I spent more than I was prepared for, trusting that I would sort it out after the Holidays.
I do not feel that why this year. I do not feel guilty, conflicted, or overwrought. I feel satisfied that we have been generous and are enjoying a festive, social Holiday season.
Most of all, I am pleased that we are being kind to ourselves.
There’s nothing wrong with being generous over the holiday. The problem starts when you neglect your own financial health in doing so.
To paraphrase something I heard a long time ago, if you are on an airplane that’s falling out of the sky, you need to put on your oxygen mask before you can help anyone else get theirs on. I think this metaphor applies to one’s finances (especially during the Holidays) as much as with anything else.
I was never very clear on this subject. Until now. Enough is enough with the self-induced future suffering caused by not being financially prepared, and at the Holidays no less.
If you can relate to what I’m talking about, ask yourself this question: “Do your friends and family want you buying them stuff and suffering financially over it? Would you want someone else doing the same?”
If you really want to give the people in your life a truly awesome present, try being financially solvent. Try having your financial life in order. That will benefit everyone around you, whether they realize it or not!
That oughtta be the new Holiday Spirit of Giving!