Seven tips for holding onto your holiday happiness and budget
The pressure to buy more, act fast and jump on exclusive time-running-out sales can feel inescapable this time of year. It's easy to lose focus on what you actually want or need, and you can suddenly find your holiday budget completely busted.
So how do you overcome all the spend-more messages on TV, on social media and in your inbox? You become a more mindful shopper.
Were sharing seven strategies for ignoring the urge to put extra things in your cart and keeping track of what matters most.
1. Be present over presents
Getting and giving gifts tends to take over the holiday season. Instead, work to put the focus back on spending time with family, friends and loved ones. Becoming caught up in gift shopping can cause both emotional and financial hardship, which only adds to personal stress and pressure around this time of year.
Taking the priority away from a material item and back on the people in your life helps to shift your mindset to what's important over the holidays. And it'll also reduce your impulse to shop until you and your wallet drop.
2. Be more aware
You know its coming, but somehow, you just never feel quite prepared. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Midnight Madness. Early-Bird Deals. They pop up around Thanksgiving and quickly become relentless.
So, before the shopping season, take a mindful moment to mentally prepare yourself for what's ahead. It's hard to ignore all the ads, so just be aware that you're going to see a lot more influence and pressure to shop everywhere you go, and on every screen or device in your view.
Control what's controllable. This means unsubscribing to some email lists, or sending them to an unchecked folder for the holiday season to reduce temptation and the heavy pressure to click.
It also might be a good time to commit to personal shopping mantra: I don't have to buy something just because its on sale.
3. Set boundaries
This takes awareness and preparing to another level. Go into the holiday shopping season with your limits in place. And stick to them.
Make a gift budget and a list ahead of time that includes all the gifts you plan to purchase and start your shopping a couple of months ahead of the busy shopping season. Get gifts over time that mean something. Don't wait until last minute when the tension in stores is higher. This strategy also provides reduced financial impact versus buying all your gifts at once.
You can use this same approach and purchase a few extra gifts to have on hand. If you shop throughout the year when gift inspiration strikes, you're more likely to have something special on hand when a last-minute party invitation or event comes up.
4. Mind your environment
Your environment influences your health and state of mind. So if the bustling holiday shopping environment stresses you out, consider shopping during off times or online.
Waiting to shop a week before Christmas is sure to wreak havoc on your stress levels. Having a shopping plan with exactly what item you are buying for a specific person and at what store will help you stay on track and in control.
If you like to shop online for its convenience, do your research and price compare. If you want to purchase in-store, starting out online to see what's available or calling ahead to reserve an item could save a lot of time and keep overspending in check.
5. Encourage the gift of health
Both for yourself and your loved ones!
Think about what message is in the gift you're giving. Gifts that encourage healthy behaviors like exercising or home-cooking show your support for someone staying well and achieving their personal goals.
And don't forget to take care of yourself, too. The holidays naturally bring an element of stress, so rest, get enough sleep, be mindful of enjoying the personal time with friends and family, maintain self-care and incorporate healthy nutrition and exercise into your daily routines.
Don't put too much responsibility on your plate. Give yourself permission to take a break, and have a plan for how you'll find balance between your health and the temptations of holiday overindulgence all around you.
This could be encouraging family members to go for walk after a large meal, or skipping the gooey cinnamon buns at the food court while shopping. Every healthy choice goes a long way this time of year.
6. Get creative
Can your holiday gift list be whittled down? If you have a large family, consider a gift swap or Secret Santa exchange so that each family member can focus on buying one thoughtful gift for one person. This helps with everyone's budget and stress.
Get creative with how your family and friends exchange gifts, and think about how you can make a gift something intangible, like a trip, experience or event. Its never too late to redefine what a gift means for yourself and your family.
7. Focus on gratitude
Refocus on what the season is all about. Find opportunities to show thanks for what you have in your life, find ways to gift your time by giving back to the community and encourage your family and friends to do the same.
Helping others is a gift both for others and yourself. When you give back, you get back the greatest gift of all: renewed gratitude, hope and faith in the holiday spirit.