By: Carrie Casden
If you are like me, I won’t be sad to end 2020 and start 2021. This year has been bananas!! Now with the holidays upon us, we have a heightened desire for some sense of normalcy since we have been in such an extended period of restriction. However, this desire can trigger financial overspending and increase levels of stress. I like to call this the “Holiday slide”. It starts with overindulgence around the turkey and ends with overindulgence with an abundance of gifts around the Christmas tree. Holidays always bring up a variety of emotions for people and for some, they will overspend to compensate for feelings of loneliness or loss. Once December is over, the bills come in January, leaving people in debt, feeling shameful, and vowing not to make the same mistake the following year.
This year I am hoping the pandemic has shifted our perspectives on what we need and what is really important, I think we have all realized that health should be number one on our list because without our health…. everything else is meaningless. Additionally, we now have seen how little we really need or had to buy while we were living our “quarantined” lives. In order to help clients start the new year feeling empowered rather than shameful, I am asking them to give some thought and planning to their holidays. These are some of the tips I suggest to keep everyone mindful, thoughtful, and on track with their financial goals, which then leads to holiday joy vs holiday regret.
Make a list of your family values.
Make a list of everyone for whom you plan to buy presents.
Spend a few minutes reflecting on why you are buying presents for them and what their role is in your life.
Establish an amount that YOU CAN AFFORD for each present. Remember, your loved ones don’t want to see you in debt and suffering… that is not a gift. Also, make sure the gifts you choose reflect your family values.
Find something within your price range that you think will be meaningful and special. You can think of creative ways to “gift” family members such as cooking a meal, spending time together, giving someone a manicure/pedicure, going for a special outing to someplace new. Your time is a precious gift and one that will not put a dent in your budget.
Put together a holiday budget for items like decorations, special meals, holiday travel, holiday cards and postage, and family photos.
When you add together your budget for gifts and general holiday expenses make sure this amount is not much more than 1.5% of your annual income. If so, you may want to make some adjustments.
Keep a gratitude journal – this is helpful any time of the year but for some, it is even more useful during this time when you may be feeling overwhelmed and depressed.
Perhaps instead of expensive holiday cards this year you send ecards or post something on your social media. Plan ahead and really consider the holiday meal and what you want to cook and then you can look for specials and sales on some of those items. Use the internet to help you find the best prices on the items you plan to buy. Now more than ever it is easier to price shop – besides…. we are all safer at home so why not use this to our advantage to also save a little extra.
If you plan on charging everything on a credit card that you won’t be able to pay off in full at the end of the month, this is a red flag that you need to spend less. If this is your only option, then at least try to find a credit card with no interest or very low interest for a period of time and then make a plan to have it fully paid off by the end of the introductory period so the $50.00 gift doesn’t end up costing you $80.00 with monthly interest.
Remember the most important person to care for during the holidays is yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, you will be less able to take care of others. If money is tight this year, your loved ones will understand and you are better off finding something less expensive that still lets them know how special they are in your life. 2020 has been a hard year for so many people and I know people are getting tired of staying at home, are nervous about the future, and may say “what the heck, I’m just going to live my life and spend what I want to this year”. If you feel this could happen to you, try some other tools to stay in control and focused. Mindful breathing, meditation, and a well-thought-out plan can really help you stay calm and focused and avoid subsequent bad feelings.
Hopefully using these tips will bring more joy to you and your loved ones during this very challenging year.
Carrie Casden is a highly regarded business manager and financial consultant who has been working with financially successful clients for over 25 years. In addition to serving many clients in the entertainment industry, she has developed a specialty of working with individuals who are in the process of re-organizing their lives following a divorce. Following her graduation from American University, she began her career working at Paramount Studios prior to joining a business management firm, and then she decided to form her own company, Summit Financial Management. She is also a certified money coach and works with clients to help them understand their conscious and unconscious relationship with money. Carrie is passionate about helping clients understand financial choices for every stage in their life and she helps her clients become more mindful about spending. Carrie lives in West Los Angeles with her husband and two teenage children.