I may never understand how "the holidays" pull this off, but I can learn not to freak out at those first inevitable signs of holiday stress. One thing I have also learned over the years—saving funds also helps me stay sane and less stressed during the holidays. In this post, we will focus in on tips to do both!
Why saving funds = less stress
According to LifeScript, the three biggest holiday stressors are "relationships, finances and physical demands." Out of these three, you’re likely to have the most personal control over your finances. So it’s just smart to focus your "stress less" energies here!
The real key to saving funds and stressing less during the holidays is to recognize that your choices during the holidays can have year-long financial (and emotional) impact. These tips can help.
1. Think "long term" in gift giving.
Military.com has a great example of long-term gift giving: This year, as a gift for your children, why not open a college fund for each child and make a $100 deposit into each account? This gift eases your stress about the future and how to afford a child's education, plus offers a great gift in the present—a win-win!
2. Become "famous."
There’s no reason you can't mass-produce something you are "famous" for (for me, this is my chocolate chip cookies—a true anomaly in my otherwise abysmal kitchen skills). Just as I can't think of anyone who wouldn't love getting a batch of my cookies, so too there is likely something you are known for that others love. Best of all, if you are good at it and known for it, you probably also know how to save money on it!
3. Go DIY bulk.
Even if you don't have a "one thing" you are known for, you can easily mass-produce sweet, inexpensive DIY gifts just by visiting KCL's Pinterest page for ideas. If you are concerned about a group gift exchange, suggest drawing names, or just give everyone your gifts at the same time and have them open their packages together.
4. Give only one gift per family.
Rather than buying a gift for your daughter's friend Kacey, and (your friend) Kacey's mom and Gavin (Kacey's brother) who is your son's friend, just get one gift for the whole family. The best option here is often a charitable donation in the family's name—or a fun outing together with your family in the future (which coupons or Groupons can take care of for less).
5. Instead of gifts, throw a holiday party as your group gift to all!
Who doesn't love a festive holiday gathering? Couponing can keep party snack costs low, and you can even make up small bulk "holiday gift favors" with a special personalized message inside if you want to send attendees home with a little something special from you.
6. Give your children a budget and let them select their own gift.
If you set a price limit—perhaps, say, $50 per child—it’s easier to explain why you can't buy them the $100 video game. Plus, if you take them shopping for their own gift with their own budget, you turn it into a fun outing the two of you can enjoy together!
7. Sneak away for a holi-date to avoid “spending it out.”
If you can feel the stress building up, this is a clear sign you need a holi-date—ASAP. The more you can do to keep your stress levels manageable (financially and otherwise), the less you may be tempted to "spend it out" to let off steam. Pop in a movie, go for a walk, take a nap, meditate, draw a bath, clean something—whatever it takes to reduce the stress without getting out your wallet.
8. Give yourself permission to say "no" to "spend and attend" festivities.
One thing I try to steer clear of during the holidays is invitations that require me to spend in order to attend. For instance, if the invitation requires me to bring a bottle of wine, a side dish, a white elephant gift—these automatically go into the "maybe" pile. If it’s a host/ess I don't know well, I will likely RSVP "no." If it is an event I really want to go to, I often ask a friend to go in with me half-and-half on something to bring.
9. Keep a log of savings and gift yourself with a savings "bonus."
Even knowing that spending less can ease your holiday stress, you may still find it surprisingly difficult to refrain. So agree with yourself to keep a log of money saved (i.e. not spent) and give yourself a percentage of those funds as a "bonus" on New Year's Day. The rest you can deposit into savings—but as far as your bonus goes, this is your fun money to buy yourself a neat gift!