How to Avoid "Gift Grief" This Holiday Season
Posted 12/18/2013 11:51:00 AM

I know this topic seems redundant but it’s a cycle many people repeat every holiday:

Overspending.

You can’t squeeze juice from a turnip (I think that’s right) so why do we go overboard, spending what we don’t have during the holidays? Outside of money, are there ways to give gifts this season? According to Savvy Sugar, there are some things that are worth quite a bit without breaking the bank. Suggestions?  

Organize a Closet: What it takes? Getting rid of clothes that are outdated, that no longer fit or that are damaged. Help your friend arrange items that are worth keeping in a way that's convenient (by color, season, style, length) and easy to see.

Bake Cupcakes: No matter the size, a good cupcake can be pretty pricey. Help out a friend by offering to provide some homemade ones for an upcoming party.

Play a Personal Stylist: If you love to shop and have a good eye for style, then consider giving tips to a friend who isn't as fashion forward.

 

Clean a Home: Know someone who can't get around the house easily (e.g. she just had a baby or is feeling sick)? Take a load off by offering to come over one afternoon and tidy up her place.

 

Create a Meal Plan: Getting in the habit of eating healthy isn't easy, but if you're someone knowledgeable in that department, then by all means, help a friend in need by creating the perfect meal plan.

 

Maybe you are a fitness guru – plan a workout plan for a friend. Cook a nice meal. Those are a couple of ideas that can help someone – practical but not pricey. However, maybe it’s too late and you already spent too much. What do you do? Tanvier Peart via Madame Noire gives some tips on dealing with holiday money stress:

Come to terms with it

The sooner you realize you are stressed out the faster you can look for what is causing it. Too many people try to sweep things under the rug with the whole “I’m okay” routine. This not only is a lie but puts even more stress on you than necessary. Accept your reality for what it is so you can move forward. We can’t afford (literally) to live in a fantasy land.

Remember, it’s a season

Our current circumstances can sometimes leave so much on our shoulders that it makes it difficult to look for the silver lining. While holiday stress is real do realize that like the festivities it’s only for a season. Business, so to speak, will eventually go back to normal and you will be okay.

Focus on the positive

While you should always live within your means, there is certainly no reason to beat yourself up now about what did and didn’t happen according to plan. Did you spend a little more than you anticipated? Or perhaps you are saddened you were unable to accommodate the needs and wants of others? Just stop right now and jump off of that negative bandwagon – should’ve-could’ve-would’ves are not hot!  As an alternative try to focus on the bright or positive side of things. If you went over your budget then you know you have to cut back as soon as possible, or move things around to make up for the difference. If someone didn’t get what they want, at least you thought of them in the first place. Try to always look for good before bad.

Stop unnecessary/harmful spending

Just because the holidays are here doesn’t give you an excuse to keep spending money you shouldn’t or just flat out don’t have. A hazardous cycle will only stop when you allow it and if this means saying no to others or even yourself then so be it. Do you really think that digging yourself further into a hole is justified or will do more good than harm? Another area you need to monitor is harmful spending, that is unhealthy purchases to get you through your time of stress. Examples include alcohol, cigarettes and even excess food that’s not needed. As you would expect, these things add up but more importantly are not a good outlet for your woes.

Try to put something away

Even if it’s the change in your purse, make sure that you are putting some money aside for savings. This will come in handy once the holidays are over and you are figuring out how to pay down any accrued debts, or even start yourself off on a healthy financial track for the new year. Money put away today is money invested in your future. There’s no need to blow it all on one occasion.

Stay away from temptation

If you are easily swayed to make a purchase based off advertisements, it’s time to step away from temptation. This could mean saying no to trips to the mall, deleting any promo emails you receive or anything else that would cause you to spend additional money during your financial stress.

Ask for help

There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact sometimes it takes more courage to admit you need it. Should you be expected to foot the brunt of the holiday expenses, see if there is someone who can help take off some of that load.  Help can come in a variety of forms that range from splitting costs to chipping in when and where needed. And let others assume the responsibility for making some of the dinner plans or party arrangements. That should also ease some of the stress.

Take a mental break

Never-ending worry will get you nowhere but taking a rest is good for the body and soul. Learn how to check out when you need a break from things by taking time for yourself to enjoy a hobby you like, or nothing at all. Sleep is very important as it helps to rejuvenate the body. Sure these mental breaks won’t make your financial problems magically go away. But it will help to keep you sane and full of energy needed to get through this time. And a clear head makes better decisions.

Talk to someone

If you feel things are getting too much for you to handle, try talking it out with someone you trust. This could be a friend, family member or even a co-worker. Though you aren’t going to them for a handout, it is good to discuss what you are going through with someone as it’s a way to get your feelings off your chest.

 

‘Tis the season for giving…but giving can be done in many ways. Keep everything in perspective and don’t let money woes plague you into 2014.

Posted By: Julee Jonez  
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