Well, it’s Christmas week. A magical time of year. A recent poll by Gallup shows that the actual days — Thanksgiving and Christmas — are two of the happiest days. In 2013, over 69 percent and 63 percent of respondents reported they felt a great deal of happiness and very little worry on each of the two days. The rest of the year, only 48 percent said they felt a lot of satisfaction and low stress.
The folks at Pew Research Center conducted a survey and asked Americans what they liked most about the holiday season. Spending time with family was at the top of the list. Just over 11 percent said they look forward to religious contemplation and only 7 percent said that happy and joyful people are their favorite thing.
A paltry one percent of Americans cited shopping as the thing they most enjoy. The top three things that Americans like least about the holidays center on buying. Almost 33 percent said they mainly dislike the commercialism. Number 2 was financial worry and ten percent said shopping bugged them the most.
It’s no surprise that finances are among the largest category of stress-boosters during the season. Eliminating stress would be great and while that won’t happen, some thought and planning will help to reduce the pressure.
Christmas is one of the most stressful times of the year, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With family coming, decorations to hang, Christmas parties to go to, shopping, wrapping, cooking and the other routine household chores can all add up to leave heads spinning.
If all this wasn’t enough to cause headaches, there is the budget to keep in mind. How can a person stay on budget if there hasn’t been any spare change to prepare for it this year? Gas prices fluctuating madly and house prices soaring out of control, the routine bills can be the tipping point in making many wonder how they can survive.
Even for the committed non-planner, a person can train them self to be a planner. It may take some work, but thinking ahead can make Christmas beautiful again.
Listen all year to what people want and write it down. One day after Christmas, head to the store. You won’t find a bunch of crowds, but you will find some sales.
Forget About (Losing) the Weight
Don’t focus on trying to lose weight during the holidays. There is enough stress, a diet will just add to it. Instead of worrying about a diet, focus on portion control and eat just a little bit of this and a little of that.
Remember to get a special gift for yourself, wrap it and put it under the tree for the magic morning.
Whatever else you do, don’t overschedule the activities. No one will remember who crammed in the most parties. If you try to get to every event and function, you’ll just make yourself crazy and lose time with family. You can stay within your budget
If it’s too late for you to de-stress this year, here are a few tips to make sure don’t break the bank next year.
- Make a list. List the people for whom you’ll be buying a gift and write down a suggested amount.
- Think of a gift. For everyone on the list, think of an appropriate gift that you would like to buy them. If you aren’t sure what they may want, write down a few ideas so you will have something to work from when you head to the mall.
- Research online. An excellent way to make sure the proposed budget is realistic is to research online before heading out. Not only is it a good way to see if your budget will work, it also may generate some gift ideas for that person-who-has-everything. Sites such as MoneySavingMom.com, Coupons.com and Discountrue.com all offer tips and information about savings and some have printable coupons as well.
- Do the deed. The action starts with this step. Head down to the mall — or go online — and look for the promotions that encourage people to spend. Having the shopping list handy and the budget in sight will help avoid the “buy-it-now” promotions.
- Compare. Compare what you spent against the budget you wrote. If you find that you busted the budget on some of the purchases, then you may have to lower the ceiling on others. Keep comparing your purchases with your budget and you will be able to track the actual amount of money spent.