The holiday season inspires generiosity; however, many Americans are ladened with debt after the season of gift giving. According to the World Atlas, the average American adult plans to spend $908 on gifts each holiday season. We don’t need so much stuff! In fact, we may even be happier with less. http://greatist.com/happiness/less-stuff-happier
I love a big Christmas with lots of presents under the tree, but after the present opening ends, the euphoria wears off. Think back to the gifts you gave last year. How many are still being used and adored? What makes these gifts endure?
We were sent a copy of Living Well Spending Less by Ruth Soukup. This book contains “12 Secrets of the Good Life”. Much of its advice is applicable to the holiday season.
Living Well, Spending Lesswas written to bring hope and encouragement to every woman who currently feels overwhelmed or stressed with a life–and budget–that feels out of control. It speaks to the mom trying to juggle all the demands of a busy life with the pressure to keep up with those around her. It is a practical guide for those of us who often long to pull ourselves together but don’t always know how. It is real, honest, packed with practical tips, and speaks to the heart of the matter–how can we live the life we’ve always wanted?
Soukup calls saving a “state of mind” quoting Henry David Thoreau:
A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to leave alone.
The holidays can be just another manifestation of the culture of consumerism, especially if you tend to be a shopaholic. You can make a conscious choice to avoid all of the marketing sales to get you to spend more money on gifts for yourself and others. Let’s be honest…If you are like me, gift shopping usually includes a gift for yours truly. Make a conscious choice to stick to just your list and leave the impulse buys behind (Good luck at Costco!)
According to Soukup, only 32 percent of Americans create a detailed monthly budget. How about making a detailed holiday budget? Consider how much extra money you have to avoid holiday debt and find creative ways to make it reach all of those on your list.
When the money runs out, you don’t have to be crafty and make all of your gifts. One idea I like is to create a special event for someone. Make them a special meal, go for a hike with them, support them in whatever they enjoy. You are then honoring them personally and giving them the gift of your time.
Our children often want expensive presents like their peers. This can be especially challenging. No matter how much we try to downplay that you don’t need those fancy boots or that personal device to be cool, our children feel the pressure. Our children don’t need to keep up with their peers, but if they truly want an expensive gift, we can teach them how to contribute to it. Children can declutter their rooms and sell off old toys or sports equipment on Ebay. They can do extra chores at home or in the neighborhood to earn a little extra money. Offering a 50-50 match is a generous gift and teaches children the value of the gift.
I love the generosity of the holiday season. My son has asked his grandparents for money in order to donate to the animal shelter. We can foster this generosity while recognizing the abundance already in our lives. We don’t need more legos, toys, gadgets.