When I do holiday posts, people always say, “Darn Mindy, if I had only read this in October I would have been all set.”
So this is your public service announcement to get ready for the ho’days!
You might have guessed that since I am a planner professionally, that carries over into my personal life (which is a whole other thing than being organized…I can PLAN how I want things to go, but for some reason I am always running out of batteries and light bulbs…so I choose my battles). So YES, I am starting to think NOW about what I want my year-end to look like. It’s not so far away.
Here are the steps to saving money AND doing the holidays right:
#1 Begin with the end in mind. What do you actually want to happen? If you’re not thinking about that before Thanksgiving, I know you’re going to be stressed out, resentful and unhappy with how things turn out (I always was). Here’s a whole blog post on how I learned to let go of my own issues and started having happier holidays.
#2 Cut back on gift giving. I have a whole slew of reasons to cut back that have virtually NOTHING to do with saving money. It’s about happier holiday experiences, right? And if you save some money to be used for something that is more meaningful for your family, then so much the better, right?
#3 Reassess holiday goals. Part of my personal stress around the holidays is deciding what to buy for everyone. I realized, most of my enjoyment of the holidays had NOTHING to do with gifts! They had to do with what we DID as a family…not what we GOT. I have a whole process you can read about here that preps me to have the best holiday, every single year.
#4 Work on Codependency. I really leveled up my holidays when I realized what a codependent control freak I was being. That sounds harsh, but I was giving gifts for ALL of the wrong reasons, which ended up costing lots of moola because I was obsessed with getting the “perfect” gift for everyone. You can read about the gory deets here plus also self assess to see if this might be an issues for you or anyone in your family (I learned from my mom).
#5 Create a holiday spending plan. Wouldn’t it be cool if you spent $X less on the holidays and were about to redirect that money toward something your whole family would enjoy??? Create an agreement that you’re not going to go crazy on ____________ (fill in the blank) so that in a month or two, you can all do ___________ (fill in the blank) together. I have a worksheet that does this in my free resources library BTW.
#6 Get those 529 Plans funded. Did you know most 529 college savings plans allow you to send a link to your relatives so THEY can contribute to it? So instead of overwhelming your kid with a lot of gifts they don’t need, ask relatives to contribute to the college fund.
#7 Designate personal days. I am an introvert, so I am EXHAUSTED by all of the family fun. Therefore, I have “cushion” days before and after I visit relatives where I can sleep in and do whatever the heck I want, so that my vacation doesn’t feel like an entire obligation-fest. This means if you’re booking flights or traveling, build in a “re-entry” days to chill.
And if you’d like all of the holiday worksheets in one place, then I invite you to look at some of the exercises in my free library – which you can access here.