Wow, lots of really interesting responses to my last post about finding your energy budget. So many people were interested to hear all about that.
Interestingly enough I also had a few people who emailed me privately (thank you!) asking about a real money budget.
Well I’m not an expert but I can tell you a few of my own tips. Although this is a bit outside my normal blog you know I think it’s important to have a healthy relationship and understanding of your money.
Money is a tool. It is a tool we use to get what we need, and sometimes what we want. I think a few of us have that rather mixed together. We’ve got this mentality in our society that if
we don’t have the newest things and lots of it we are somehow diminished as human beings. Ask yourself this, would you go take out a huge personal loan just to buy toys or gifts that probably most will gather dust? Of course not but guess what? That IS what we do when we abuse our credit cards and drain our bank accounts! Crazy right? But it’s what many of us will do this holiday anyway.
Many of us get by okay but end up hurting our bottom line in a BIG way around the holidays. You know I saw some photos of friends and family with gifts for the kids piled up high enough to block the tree! A bit over done and the kids couldn’t even tell me what they got for Christmas. What is the message? What are we really sharing? Your worth is measured by what now?? Gifts, money? Gosh I hope not!
So why do we do it? Oh I can guess that answer. Before you get it out there is one thing I have to say here; as human beings we have an almost infinite capacity for BS…even and especially to ourselves. We tell ourselves all sorts of reasons we buy SO much for everyone. Mostly we say because we love them right?
Okay…quick test. List all the gifts you got before the age of 12. Go…How many? Probably a few really special ones right? Shoot, my sister can’t even remember the stuff she bought her kids last year. So what’s the point? Who are we REALLY doing all that for? It’s the ‘keeping up with the Jones” mentality; couple that with a real fear of disappointing someone if you scale back. Judgements and wanting to be ‘awesome’ can be powerful motivators can’ t they?
What I know? A special, well thought out gift is far, FAR better than 10 gifts with little meaning that in the end, no one cares much about. A happy parent, spouse, brother, sister…etc is much more pleasant to spend the holidays with and afterwards no one should be crying in their oatmeal for fear of the Visa bill.
The holidays should not hurt!
So, here are some tips from someone who has been there. Heck one year all I could afford was to write heartfelt notes of appreciation and insert them into cards!
1. Create an automatic savings account and put what you can afford in it to save for gifts for birthdays and holiday. Start now, next year comes fast!
2. Set a limit for each person. Start with how much you can afford in total and divide. Left over amounts can go into the holiday fund account.
3. Let people know you are scaling back the spending. Ask them to do the same! Everyone gets the same limit so everyone knows what to expect.
4. Use that lovely brain of yours to think creatively. Not every gift must come in a box from Macy’s. Maybe your sister would love a pedicure. Hmmmm. Only $20, but offer to watch the kids for the whole afternoon so she can relax after. Now that’s priceless! Write a kids book with your kids names, your pets and maybe a real memory that happened. So this with your kids, have them do the pictures and voila a very special gift for a mom or dad from the kiddies (way better according to my sister than another bottle of perfume she’ll never wear!). Build a basket of things the person loves rather than buying a pre-made one with stuff they may or may not like. Check the small business and local merchants who might have some creative way to share a gift.
5. Talk about giving with charitable acts (not talking donations but that’s nice too). Volunteer with your family to not only help others, learn to appreciate what you have, but also to build stronger ties with each other.
6. Are there people you buy for you don’t really need to? Will a handwritten note of appreciation or a card with maybe a lotto ticket suffice? Perhaps some baked goodies instead for the neighbor? For people far away try a gift card to save having to ship bulky items. Hey, they get the after Christmas deals on what they really want and the fun of shopping!
7. Be gentle and honest with yourself. Do not feel badly that you are scaling back. Flip that bad stuff over and look at the good stuff that will come of it. Less anxiety, more stability, over all happier you+happier family. Living your truth should never be something to be ashamed of. You should be proud to do this. Step into your truth and stand tall.
8. Spend time doing things that matter with those you love, rather than giving things. This is far more valuable and will make much happier family memories than any toy.
9. Any gift you do buy should be meaningful and thoughtful. What does that person like, like to do, admire etc.
Remember, we are happier spending our energy appreciating one another and what we have, rather than crying over what we do not have. Choose to be happy and satisfied! Take back the meaning and the joy of the holidays.
What are your tips? I’m sure you have lots to share!