Oh… the holidays. To some, they are the most wonderful time of the year.
Most of us, though, add too much to our calendars, eat the wrong kinds of food or too much food, drink too much alcohol, or feel very inadequate among others. And we haven’t even talked about the budget.
Seems like we should start there. The dreaded budget.
So how does someone even fathom creating a budget for the holidays?
There are probably so many people we are expected to buy presents for…
Siblings & their significant others
The UPS man
Oh wow… This is getting exhausting
Whoa. Chill out.
What if, just for once, you were able to sit down and relax, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, and write a To-DON’T-Do list this year? What would you include? Maybe some of these DON’Ts:
Overindulge in food and/or alcohol
Commit to every party, program, or family gathering
Ok, that sounds nice, but that’s probably not going to happen.
Why not??? Each of those examples involves pleasing other people, trying to be that perfect person, and putting yourself lower and lower on the list of importance. That’s kinda depressing. What can possibly be wrong with just saying NO?
So, we’re back to the budget…
Budgeting your hard-earned money, your time, and your sanity can help you get through tougher times – like around the holidays – but you have to give to yourself first.
After writing that To-DON’T-Do list, what if you took it a step further and created some budgets. And we’re talking about more than just money. Maybe something like this:
Take time to carve out how much money you’ll spend this holiday season. If overspending is a big issue for you, only use cash for gifts. Once the cash is gone, you’re done spending money. Period. That’s it.
We use envelopes like these* for keeping track of our budget.
Did you know? Many people using credit cards for the holidays are still paying them off (including interest) the following December. What?!?! It’s definitely time to change that up. It may be hard at first, but a lot of times, others might actually respect you more for setting a limit (it may take a while, but I know you got this!).
If you typically overextend your time, put everything on a calendar, then go through the calendar and start an elimination game.
Eliminate the work events (let’s face it – they aren’t usually great parties to begin with, but somehow we usually feel obligated to go). Bonus: You get to cut out extra calories, alcohol, and awkward moments the following Monday at work.
Eliminate family gatherings you just don’t want to go to. If family members really want to see you, they will make time during the year, not just around the holidays. Bonus: Cut out more calories, more alcohol, and limit the obligatory gift-giving list
School and church programs: This is a tough one. A lot of times we are expected to not only go to our kids’ programs but to go the nieces/ nephews/ grandchildren’s programs as well. They don’t all need to be eliminated, but really be picky about which ones will work with you and your sanity. Bonus: You may have more time in your schedule to do these if you have already eliminated the work and family gatherings.
Once you’ve mastered the elimination game, work on a different kind of time budget.
Spend engaging time with others. Create memories of laughter, not of constant chaos. Remember, PRESENCE is often more remembered than presents. So play cards or board games, go on an adventure, explore outside – live life actively, not frantically. Make life FUN!
Guess what! Now you’ve worked on multiple budgets… Your money, your time and your sanity! All of those belong to you, and it is your choice how you choose to spend them.
Uh Oh. I can almost hear the next thought…
Right. I can’t just create those money/time/sanity budgets out of thin air. So how does that actually become a reality?
First, make time to create these budgets because when it comes down to it, if you’re not taking care of you, nobody else will either. When you set your boundaries, when you take some time for you, you create change, which leads to love and respect.
Second, be ok with saying NO. You’re human, and your super powers only extend so far. You know what your limits are.
And Lastly, look forward to the new memories you get to help create. Part of the stress of the holiday season is DREAD or fear. When you’re looking forward to something, you take away that negativity – it no longer has any hold over you. Instead, let’s create some JOY.
Now it’s finally time to kick this holiday season in gear. Cheers to making this a budget-friendly holiday season!
Big hugs and lots of love, Leslie
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