This is Day 12 of the 30 Days to a Debt Free Christmas Challenge
Today's simplification topic – 12 Unique Ways to Simplify and Spend Less This Christmas
This post is a guest post from Jason Cabler at Celebrating Financial Freedom
What is it about Christmas time that causes you to overspend, overeat, over commit your time, and generally stress out this time of year? It seems that the closer it gets to Christmas, the crazier it gets.
With all the Black Friday sales, holiday parties, and general hype that surrounds the Christmas season, it’s way too easy to get stressed out and not enjoy Christmas at all. In fact, I think the stress of the season played a small part in why I had a heart attack on Christmas Day 2012.
We Had to Simplify Our Approach to Christmas
Since then, I’ve learned to take a chill pill when it comes to the holidays, and I don’t let it stress me out nearly as much. One of the things I decided we had to do when it came to the Christmas season was to simplify things a bit.
My wife Angie and I have learned that if we want to have less stress and more fun this time of year, we have to do things a little differently. So I thought I’d share with you some of the things we’ve started doing since my “episode” to cut down the stress and expense during the Christmas season.
Here are my 12 favorite ways to lower your stress level, spend less, and increase your enjoyment of the Christmas holidays by simplifying your approach.
12 Unique Ways to Simplify and Spend Less This Christmas:
1.) Slow Down
It’s so easy to rush around like crazy trying to get all your Christmas errands done. Take a chill pill, relax, and don’t try to take on more than you should.
2.) Don’t Be a Control Freak
Trying to make everything “just perfect” for the holidays is a recipe for disaster. You can still have a magical Christmas without getting stressed over what everyone thinks about your party, your gift, or your décor. Relax, keep it simple, and allow yourself to have a good time.
3.) Set Expectations
Tell family and friends that you’re taking steps to simplify the holidays this year. Let them know that you won’t give a gift to everyone or attend every gathering. This allows you to ease the pressure of buying too much and trying to make it to every party. If your friends and family don’t like it, that’s their problem. They will eventually get over it.
4.) It’s OK to Say No
Once you set expectations, stick to your guns by committing to the people and parties that bring you the most joy. Don’t let anyone guilt you into doing something you don’t want to do.
5.) Don’t Spend More Than You Have
Use only cash or a debit card to buy gifts. That way, you’re not tempted to go overboard with the credit cards and end up with a ton of Christmas debt come January. A fancy Christmas is not worth living paycheck to paycheck the rest of the year.
6.) Skip Black Friday
Even though less people shop on Black Friday these days, it can still get crazy. Instead, slip into your most comfortable PJ’s, shop online and avoid the Black Friday mayhem altogether.
7.) Don’t Go Crazy With The Christmas Decorations
Some people (my wife Angie, for example) like to go all out when it comes to holiday decorating. But if trying make your house look like the North Pole causes you too much stress, then take a step back. Decide to decorate much more simply, and you’ll experience much less decorating stress.
8.) Give Less Gifts
You don’t have to give everyone a gift. Giving gifts just because you feel obligated is not a way to bring joy to your life. Focus on giving to the people you love the most and make you the happiest.
9.) Focus on Faith and Family
Remember that Christmas is about expressing faith and loving others. It’s not all about gifts, parties, fancy decorations, and good food. It’s about reflecting on the real meaning of the season, loving people, and spending time with them.
10.) Don’t Accept Every Invitation
Going to too many holiday parties can be stressful. It’s easy to overwhelm your busy schedule with invites to a party every other night. Attend only the parties that mean the most to you, and send your heartfelt regrets to the rest.
11.) Find Time to Relax
Dim the room lights, turn on the Christmas tree lights, and curl up with some nice Christmas music or a good book. Add a cup of tea or cocoa and relax away!
12.) Make a Plan for Next Year
Christmas is stressful for a lot of people because it results in huge credit card bills. Make a plan to start putting back money every month for Christmas spending. Start your Christmas fund in January, and when Thanksgiving rolls around you can pay cash and leave the credit cards in your wallet.
Simplify and Spend Less- The Best Christmas Ever!
We are exposed to so much advertising and hype that it’s easy to forget just what Christmas is all about. Ultimately, it all comes down to priorities. You have to decide what’s most important to you and your family when it comes to Christmas, and minimize the things that make it too stressful, too expensive, and too complicated.
In the end, you’ll find that a Christmas holiday with no debt and less stress is always the best Christmas ever!
Read more from Jason Cabler at Celebrating Financial Freedom.
Dr. Jason Cabler is a top Christian personal finance blogger and owner of the Celebrating Financial Freedom blog. He teaches how to get out of debt, behave better with money, and live a debt free life through his blog, book, and online courses.