I’m all about living a good life. Life doesn’t get much better than connecting with family and reflecting on my many blessings during the holidays. That being said, there’s one thing about this time of year that goes against everything I stand for…
“BUY MORE STUFF!!!”
Here are 10 ideas to help you avoid the financial trauma that you may otherwise experience during the holidays…
1. Don’t get lost in the consumerism of it all.
Retailers wait all year for the holidays. And then, they swoop in with their big advertising machinery to convince you that the only way to enjoy the holiday season is to buy a bunch of crap that you don’t need. It’s a lie! You can show your family and friends that you love them without spending an outrageous amount of money. Don’t ever forget that this season is about love, faith, and celebration… NOT about stuff.
My personal intention is to buy experiences. This past year, my college-age kids, Garry, and I went on a trip to Costa Rica, and we had an amazing time. I’m thinking that these will have a much bigger impact and provide longer-lasting joy than an Apple Watch.
As you know, when I was a single mom in a duplex, I couldn’t afford a family trip to South America. I’ve built my wealth to afford that luxury. But whatever you decide, choose to invest in what makes life truly rich (and helps you stick to your own wealth-building goals).
2. Stick with an investor mindset.
I don’t use the “b” word (budget). I know that most people associate budgeting with the end of fun, and it is! It’s like a diet for your money. Ew!
Instead, the most freeing and empowering thing that you can do for your financial life is to view everything as an investment.
There’s no time when investing is more important than during the holidays. It’s imperative to establish where to put your money (and time and energy) for the greatest return. For you, your family, and your friends. And be clear. You can’t invest money that you don’t have. How much can you afford to invest without starting the New Year saddled with additional debt?
I want 2017 to be the year where you become financially free, not the year where you feel any more despair over money.
3. Pay cash.
The interest charged on your credit card balance adds substantially to your total spent during the holidays. Don’t give this money to your bank! Remember, if you can’t pay cash, you can’t afford it!
Now by “cash,” I don’t necessarily mean the green stuff. You can put your purchases on your credit card, but ONLY if you can pay off the balance in full when the statement comes. And no cheating!
4. Get creative with homemade gifts.
Make your own granola, fudge, jam, pottery, hand-knitted scarves… you get the idea. Pinterest is full of DIY gift ideas. In addition to saving you money, collaborating on homemade gifts offers a spectacular way to spend time with your kids or partner.
As a matter of fact, my favorite gifts to receive are almost always the homemade ones. I have a beautiful collection of hand-knitted scarves that are far better than any I’ve ever bought in a store. And I love all of the homemade holiday treats that are naturally free of GMOs, trans fats, and other man-made additives.
5. Agree to go gift-free.
Someone on my team recently told me that she and her husband agree not to buy each other gifts for Christmas. “I know he loves me; we have everything we need. Why should both of us spend money on stuff that we don’t really want? Ultimately, it saves us a lot of stress and pressure,” she says. I love this idea!
I’ve also heard of people with large extended families doing a “Secret Santa” so that each family remember is only responsible for one other family member. If you’re looking for a way to organize this type of gift exchange, you can enter everyone’s name into a site like https://www.drawnames.com/, and the names will be assigned randomly.
6. For toys, go pre-loved.
We all want to give our kids the best, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that means buying them the latest and greatest toys. Not so! They grow out of clothes, toys, and books so quickly. Many times, things are forgotten not long after they’re out of the box! All of these pre-loved clothes and toys have to go somewhere, and they’re usually available for resale in great condition for a super low price at garage sales or online.
Which reminds me of another idea: add a few dollars to your holiday fund by selling some of the gear your own kids have outgrown.
7. Send e-cards.
I love receiving holiday cards in the mail! That being said, it’s expensive to have them printed and to pay for postage. You can save a few hundred dollars by sending an e-card instead. Take your own photos, design your own e-card, and send it without spending a dime. Try www.fleetinggreeting.com.
I’ve started to get more and more of this electronic love. And I have to say, I love it!
8. Don’t go overboard decorating.
Pull out your favorite decorations… the ones passed down through your family, but don’t feel like you have to buy new ones each year. A few carefully-placed items can bring just as much holiday cheer.
My practice is to wait until after the holidays to buy all of my decorations, bows, and wrappers. I love knowing that I can save 50% to 75% on the exact same things by waiting. An additional bonus is that when I open my “Christmas Stuff” storage box, I have all sorts of new things. It’s like the holidays coming early!
9. Make your holiday party a potluck.
If you’re planning on hosting a holiday party at your home, ask that everyone bring a side dish. Alcohol is another major expense, so consider making your party BYOB. It’s easy to position this in a positive way: bringing food and drinks allow everybody to share new tastes with each other.
10. Do a Google search for some coupon codes.
You can often save at least 15% or even more if you simply have a code to use at checkout. I did a search really quickly myself and found a few sites I liked:
Another amazing resource is called Honey. This is a Google Chrome plugin that actually automatically applies the best coupon code at checkout. I highly recommend it!
Invest responsibly this holiday season. And promise to make 2017 the year you become financially free. I’d love to help!
I hope you have a wonderful holiday!