With Thanksgiving just behind us and more holidays around the corner, this seems to be a time of year for mixed emotions. On one hand it’s about family coming together, beautiful decorations and cheery music filling the air. For others, it’s about financial stress, unmet expectations and so much extra work to make everything appear perfect. It can be a holiday where many anticipate its end.
What if it can all be simplified? What if this whole holiday season could be stress free? How would your family interactions be different? It’s time to determine who you would be without the stress. With a little perspective and some planning, it can be a joyous time of year that everybody can look forward to. There are a couple quotes I would like to share to provide some perspective.
- Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes for you. -Anthony Robbins
- We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. -Winston Churchill
- Your greatness is not what you have, it’s what you give. – Unknown Author
Obviously, it is in the giving of one’s self and rarely the gifts that brings fulfillment. Some would make the case that the giver of a heartfelt gift receives as much, if not more, fulfillment than the recipient of the gift. A heartfelt gift certainly does not have to be expensive. So how does all this tie into a financial blog? Well…this is where the planning comes in. It is no surprise that Christmas comes in December every year, but how many people are going into credit card debt or are behind the eight ball when it comes to affording all those gifts? A survey by T. Rowe Price shows that on average, parents spent $422 per child in the 2016 holiday season and it is expected to be even higher in 2017. Another report from CNBC claims that 24% of Americans that used credit cards for Christmas in 2016 are still carrying a balance into the 2017 holiday season. Ugh! Now that’s great news for the credit card companies and retailers, but it adds undue stress on parents and families, that lasts far beyond the end of December.
Everybody budgets Christmas in, whether they do it ahead of time or pay off a credit card after the fact. With a budgeting tool like www.YNAB.com or www.mint.com, you can easily plan for Christmas ahead of time by allocating a little towards holiday spending each month throughout the year. You could even do your Christmas shopping at a less busy time of year and avoid most of the holiday crowds. This would leave you more time to spend with the family, drinking hot chocolate and enjoying the fireplace; you know…the real purpose of the holiday season. Now this is starting to sound like something most of us would truly enjoy! How does it get any better? Well…if you save your money inside your properly structured whole life policy, along with having guaranteed growth on your cash value, it would also be providing a death benefit for the family and can be borrowed against, for things like Christmas.
Instead of putting money in someone else’s pockets by using high interest credit cards, you could take a loan against your cash value and your savings will still grow. Not only is the interest cost much less than any credit card that I know of, but you are treating this as your personal banking system (and you can get the family involved too). This may even get the family to see a bigger picture and begin to think about long term value, rather than instant gratification. Maybe even have a family discussion about using some of the family’s resources to give back to the community and/or to other deserving souls during the holidays. After all, isn’t this the true meaning of Christmas.
You may be surprised at what’s possible when you give up the expectations you place on yourself. It is not your job to keep up with the Joneses; besides, is that really what you want your kids to do? They will most likely follow your example. Decide how you want to be remembered and the legacy you want to leave, and lead by example.
Have a blessed holiday season!