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Tips to Diffuse Holiday Financial Stress

by Karen Wilhelms, Financial Wellness Educator
Woman Shopping Snow

The holidays can be filled with financial landmines. Everywhere we turn, we’re bombarded with pressure to spend! Pressure from friends. Pressure from family, and even pressure from ourselves. When that pressure gets to be too much, our stress reaches dangerous levels. Here are a few ideas to use to defuse the financial stress before it explodes.

  1. Have a plan. What do you want your money to do? If you are already struggling with your finances, the last thing you want to do is go into the holidays without a well-charted path. Make a list, set limits and stick to your plan.
  2. Be kind to yourself. Don’t explode your budget. It’s ok to take care of your financial life and just say no to things you truly can’t afford. This goes for joining in Secret Santa at work, giving gifts because you feel obligated and sticking to financially costly traditions just because it’s what you’ve always done … be honest with yourself.
  3. Think first. Ask yourself these questions before an impulse purchase:
    1. Is it in my budget?
    2. Is it necessary?
    3. Is it useful … does it serve a purpose?
    4. How will I feel after the purchase when I see my account balance or my credit card statement?
    5. Is it part of my plan?
  4. Gift yourself … your future self. Don’t decrease your retirement savings to cover spending during the holidays. Decrease your spending. Remember, you cannot finance your retirement.
  5. Be prepared. The holidays happen every year. Consider funding a holiday account throughout the year. Even a “Keep the Change” account will create a cushion for spending by the end of the year.

Saying “no” this time of year can be exceptionally difficult, and many of these worries are inventions in our own mind. Most people are too wrapped up in their own needs and schedules to even care. If you don’t know what to do or how to start, reach out to a financial coach, counselor or an accountability partner. If stress is getting the better of you, seek professional guidance immediately. Access free counseling services from the EAP, available to all workers in the Concordia Health Plan. How you handle this holiday season can set you and your finances up for a whole year’s worth of success.