Holidays Vivian | 28 Jun 2011 05:13 am

Reduce Financial Stress at Christmas With 3 Steps

We enjoy giving gifts for Christmas. Many of us have experienced change in our financial situation in 2009,
so Christmas may be even more financially challenging and stressful than before. Below are three top things you can do to reduce stress this Christmas season.

  1. Set specific “gift giving” budget and stick to it.

    Pick the maximum dollar amount you will spend for gifts this Christmas. Set the budget based on the cash you have. Knowing that everything is paid for creates a really good Christmas for yourself, too.If you are willing to spend beyond cash beyond what you currently have, do not charge more than what you will be able to pay off by mid February. Have it all worked out before you buy the gifts. Avoid spending money you do not have, such as bonuses or commissions you expect to be paid next year.

  2. Prioritize your gift giving list.

    There are various groups of people on the Christmas gift giving list: kids, spouse, parents, siblings, friends, boss. Depending on the size of your budget, this year, try shortening your list of people who will receive traditional (store bought) gifts. Reach out and make specific agreements with each group – agreements that will work for everyone involved. Agreements could range from “Let’s set a limit of maximum $ per gift” to “We will not exchange gifts this year and will celebrate Christmas by…” You may be surprised at the warm welcome such a conversation brings.What about the non-negotiable list of people, such as kids?As a parent, you may have received a long “Dear Santa” list of what your kids want for Christmas. If the list stretches beyond this year’s budget, ask your children to select the most important gift on their list or to prioritize the gifts from most important to “nice to have.”

  3. Be creative with your gift ideas.

    Sometimes not involving money in gift exchange may be the best opportunity to give gifts of the greatest value to those we love. How about an exchange of family coupons, where the child gives the gift of cleaning his/her room for one year and the adult gives the child a certain number of uninterrupted hours of game play on the XBox or Nintendo?Another creative way to approach gift giving this Christmas is to have a family agree on replacing personal gifts with a contribution to an organization or charity that the entire family can align behind. Rather than spending money on yourself, you jointly give to others or a cause that matters.

What creative and fun ways can you and others on your list bring in any holiday or celebration with less stress and a great gift to yourself, too?

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