Do You Want Your Christmas To Be Stress-free?
Yessiree. It’s almost that festive season of peace and joy.
Peace and joy? Heck no. Many of us eat too much, drink too much, spend too much, and have way-too-much-fun. Other than the way-too-much-fun part, most of us could do without the other three.
Christmas is a wonderful season but, I’m going to be really blunt with this question. Do you enjoy the effects of your spending patterns at Christmas?
Think seriously about this.
If your Christmas purchases help you to feel a great sense of satisfaction and unconditional love when you give those gifts and entertain your guests, that’s great. Those feelings of sharing love, abundance, and joy are what the season is about.
On the other hand, when you pull out the cash – once again, do you have little voices in your head saying, “Who else do I need to buy for” or “But I have to spend ___ dollars on each of them” or “He/she will kill me when he/she finds out how much I paid for this”?
Or when the credit card bill arrives in January, do you think, “Ouch, that hurts” or “It’ll take me months to pay for Christmas” or “I can’t believe he/she spent that much”?
This mental clatter is a good indication of guilt, remorse, shame, or even anger. That’s not the purpose for Christmas. And if there is any blame toward others, the long-term effects on your relationships can be devastating.
For example, statistics indicate that finances are one of the top reasons for divorce.
I don’t believe that finances are the issue at all. The problem is the lack of honest communication and agreement about how money is spent, where it is spent, and why it is spent.
Here’s how it can play out in extremes.
About a year ago, we coached a couple who thought that money was their big problem. She believed that if her credit cards had $5,000 limits, that money was hers to spend. Her husband didn’t have the same beliefs. Their incomes didn’t come close to covering the money going out and debt was piling up. Money was not the problem. Their lack of effective communication and agreement on spending patterns was the problem.
Another couple came to us for help. He was generating a great income and held tight control of the purse-strings. He didn’t want to spend a nickel on anything more than the basic necessities. His wife was struggling to raise their children with a small weekly allowance. Any discussion about money quickly escalated into a fight. So she stopped all verbal communication and avoided him physically as much as possible. They existed in the same house but it was not a home. Money was not the problem. Their lack of effective communication and agreement on spending patterns was the problem.
I’m hoping you don’t fit into either of those examples, yet they can be great reminders to be consciously aware of your spending patterns as Christmas approaches.
How can you avoid pre- or post-Christmas debt, guilt, struggle, and blame? How can you and your life-partner be “singing from the same Carol sheet” with Christmas spending?
I’m not going to tell you what to do – it is always your choice. However here’s a challenge for you, should you choose to accept it. Make all of your purchasing choices consciously and with joy.
If you are single, you get to make these choices by yourself. If you have a life-partner, honestly and openly discuss the following tips:
– Determine entertainment priorities, their cost, and a budget. There may be many opportunities for parties and celebrations. Which ones will you say “yes” to, and which ones will you graciously decline? Consciously accept the ones that you will attend, or host, and do it with joy. Keep some free time for your own relationship-building and celebrations together as a couple.
– Determine for whom you want to give material gifts. A key word is “want.” If you give gifts out of a sense of duty or obligation, stop it. That leads to resentment. Just because you’ve always done it, doesn’t mean it needs to continue. Talk to the other person and come to an agreement. Often they feel the same way.
– For purchased gifts, determine a budget that fits your income. Ask yourself, “Will I feel joyous in January about what I/we have spent?” If the answer is “no” adjust your budget to where it will feel joyous.
– Eliminate thoughts of score-keeping or equalization. Dollar amounts and box sizes have nothing to do with value received.
– Can gifts be reused, recycled, made, or re-made? Home-made gifts can be fun, spark creativity, and are usually highly valued by the receiver, regardless of the cost. Consumables such as home-baking, pre-made meals, and home-made wine can be a hit because they can be enjoyed by a group, but don’t require a place to store them. Most people have enough material trinkets already. I don’t want or need more clutter, do you?
– With your life-partner, discuss and plan for experiences that will enhance your relationship (just the two of you). Could be: a special night together at home, where you jointly prepare your favourite meal; skating together on a nearby pond; a couple days together at a secluded hotel or B&B; attending a relationship-enhancement seminar or event.
Christmas is meant to be a joyous season, not a hectic, high-stress, foray of busy-ness.
Are you going to be one of the masses on January 2 who are saying, ”Oh that was stressful. I’m glad it’s done for another year”?
Or are you going to be saying, “That was fabulous. Let’s make the spirit of Christmas last all year”?
Stress happens when you don’t decide what to do.
So what choices are you going to make to ensure this Christmas is stress-free? Joy or not-joy are the only options.
Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? Merry Ho Ho, and Hoooold onto the joy!