Sometimes the greatest barriers to holiday cheer come from financial stress. (Courtesy photo)
Sometimes the greatest barriers to holiday cheer come from financial stress. (Courtesy photo)

One of the trickiest things to avoid when thinking of holiday blahs is how our spending creates a minefield of unhappiness. Whether it’s spending to meet the ever-growing demands of our children or the belief that purchases make us good people, the resulting stress and bills usher in the type of blahs and bills that keep on giving! Here are few tips to pushing back those holiday financial blahs.

Have you ever purchased gifts for everyone in the office, house, or club – and walked out after a gathering with a single item or empty-handed? Too often the financial blahs of the holidays are brought on by overextending ourselves. Consider giving cards to everyone – but gifts to only a few, select individuals. Also, if there are more than two people in a given household, practice giving a single household gift from which everyone in the house benefits, like a streaming subscription.

Several years ago, a colleague who constantly bragged of over-shopping suddenly lost his job. With a monthly budget spent on luxury items – including watches, silk ties, and fragrances – in the thousands, he reached the end of the year depressed that he would not be able to dazzle Christmas parties as he had in the past. To break the blahs, he selected items he believed would serve as great gifts for others and gave them to friends that year. Consider wrapping new or unused clothing, books, or other items from your own home and giving them as gifts to others.

At a recent dinner party, I noticed that most of the diners who were together sat with their mobile phone in hand, chatting, texting or live-streaming portions of the meal, rather than engaging with each other. The greatest and most enduring gift of all, I surmised, was the gift of uninterrupted time with another person. Consider giving handmade gift coupons to friends and family for a bit of one-on-one time with you to chat, have coffee, or take a spin through a local museum. Not only is it a practical and free gift, but it also builds lasting memories.

Consolidated Credit, a credit counseling and debt relief agency, found that the average American family can expect to spend approximately $970 this year on Christmas gifts – even though a large percentage may be cash-strapped and forced to use credit cards to meet the wants of those around them. Holiday spending includes decorations, Christmas trees, (including increased an electric bill for outside lighting half the night), as well as the meals and gifts of the season. Consider cutting back on the decorations, going potluck for meals, and eliminating some gifts.

In the days leading up to Christma and New Year’s Day, advertisers will do their best to part you and your money. Every manner of “last-minute” sales and promotions – including Buy One, Get One Free (BOGO) and buy now-pay later enticements will abound. Avoid this at all costs by remembering how quickly the items you purchased last year went into the basement, sock drawer, back of the closet, attic, garage, or garbage.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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