Although Thanksgiving is still weeks away, most of us have already heard the seasonal music and spotted the twinkling lights that serve as not-so-subtle reminders that the holidays are just around the corner.
It’s a time of year where, for many, joy and stress go hand-in-hand. However, feeling overwhelmed doesn’t have to be part of your holiday tradition.
Stephanie Click runs a popular money and stress management blog, StephanieClick.com, and this time of year is her busiest.
“I think a lot of people put undue pressure on themselves,” said Click. “Holidays overall are the number one time when I get the most questions and people seem to be really, really stressed out.”
The number one cause is money and by breaking down the numbers it’s easy to see why.
According to combined numbers provided by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Retail Federation (NRF), and the National Christmas Tree Association, in 2015 the average person spent almost $1,800 on Christmas alone. Lump in Thanksgiving and New Year’s and it’s enough to make anyone a Grinch.
Click says following a few simple tips can help beginning with setting a budget.
“You have to be realistic. This is the amount of money that I can spend and not be stressed out, not be in debt and not be overburdened.”
If your budget for the entire season is $2,000, decide how much you’re willing to spend on each one and don’t cheat, even when it comes to gifts which goes hand in hand with tip number two: manage expectations.
“As a parent if you can't do it then you just can't do it. I think there are times where you can have some honest conversations with your kids, try to involve them in the process a little bit to let them know exactly what you can do financially.”
You can also think outside the “present” box and head to a website like Pinterest.
“It is a great way to do things at a low-cost and find items that people really love to have and that have a personal touch.”
Number three, plan your meals then collect coupons and shop over time.
“Stockpile some things early on if you have some absolute favorites. But for your little things like appetizers, if you can buy those ingredients the week of you’re going to find some really great deals on those.”
And finally, remind yourself, over and over if you have to, what this time of year is really about. After all, no one wants to spend the holidays with a scrooge.
“This is supposed to be the time that we get together with family and friends, people we don't see very often and it should be a joy filled occasion.”