What Will Keep You Sane This Holiday Season?

I’m going to swing out and take a wild guess.  If you’re a debtor, the oncoming rush of the Christmas and Hanukah season is enough to send you into a nail-biting, worry-inducing, hyped-up frenzied overspending spree—and it probably happens every single year. Am I right?  I’m betting I am.  So here’s the thing:  if you want to stay sane around the holiday you’ve got to have—you guessed it—a Debt-Free Spending Plan for gifts.Holiday

That means that you set aside exactly what you have—and not one damned dime more—and you live within that amount.  Take a look:  have you got $200?  $500?  $2,000?  Then that’s what you spend and not one red cent more.  But what if I’ve only got $125.00 and I have 17 kids, cousins, nieces and nephews to buy for? Then you get creative and you make it work for you.

This year, after spending two years writing my book on a downsized spending plan, I’m spending exactly $250.00 on presents.  How am I doing it?  It’s simple.  It’s the basic premise of The Debt-Free Spending Plan applied to a special event—in this case, the Holidays.

Here’s what I do.  I allot what I can reasonably spend in cash into my checking account.  Then I buy myself a little 2 x 4 notebook for $1.19 at Walgreen’s and I list the amount I have to spend on the top of one page.  In my case, that’s $250.00.

Then I list everyone I have to buy for, allowing a bit of wiggle room in case I forget a gift or I need one at the last minute.  Then, every time I go shopping, I figure out proportionally what I’ve got for each person.  If I spend more on my mom’s gift, then I have to spend a little less on someone else’s.  No big deal.  Every time I buy, I look in my notebook to make sure how much cash I have and how much more I have to buy.  Then I decide whether this gift purchase will work.

That’s it in a nutshell.  Set aside what you have in cash.  Keep track of it in your notebook.  Spend proportionally based on how many gifts you have to buy.  Buy at reasonably priced stores.  Don’t debt for one damned purchase.

And stop, stop, stop thinking you have to overspend to impress.  Stop with the labels, the fancy name brands, the high-end and the swanky.  For most of us shoppers, we are not buying anything for our loved ones that they will die without.  This gift giving is about pleasure—the gift of giving someone something for pure love or delight.  So we can knock it off with the $200.00 per person gifts if we can’t afford them.  Stop going into to debt to impress, and stop thinking that that’s the only way to bring joy.

The delight in giving has to include your delight, too, not just the present-receiver.  And—trust me—you won’t be delighted if you’re running up debt to pay for your gifts.  If you’re part of a family that is fond of setting high expectations regarding gift-spending, then tell everyone beforehand:  “I’m making a commitment to live debt-free this year for the holidays, so my gifts are going to be simple this year.  Feel free to give me simple, affordable gifts as well.”

And don’t look so sour-faced about it all:  you’ll be surprised—shocked, I’m betting—to find that the gifts you bought for less money with no debt bring exactly the same joy, and bring you delight and joy too.  I guarantee you, without doubt, your Holidays will be filled with so much more gratitude and happiness when there’s no debt to mess them up.

“No regrets” is what we’re talkin’ here.  Paid-for, simple, affordable, freely-given, no-debtor-hangover gift-giving.  Try it and see for yourself.

I’m betting that, if you do it, you’ll find the first genuine peace and joy in the holiday that you’ve ever experienced.  Debt-free, drama-free, happy.  That’s the way it works.Holiday


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