How do you stay real about finances in the midst of holiday expectations? The reality is you’re probably not comfortable showing up empty-handed at parties, relative’s houses or your in-laws, no matter how much you spent to get there. Is there a way to navigate the expectations of others and your own budget this year? Can you stay in reality and spend less this season yet still have a happy holiday?
We think you can! By trying these mindful suggestions to help balance holiday spending.
You are not your present
When you are shopping for gifts, are you thinking of what this person would like or are you thinking of how you will be perceived when they open the gift? We would all like to think that we are giving from our hearts, but mostly we give from our ego. We confuse the size and value of the gift with our self-worth. Isn’t that why Santa is such a revered figure? He can give everyone what they want, no matter what the odds. But Santa doesn’t have to open his January Visa bill and have a panic attack. So when you are choosing between a gift card for some iTunes and wrapping up the latest iPod, respect your peace of mind. Your sanity is worth much much more than temporary pride of giving an expensive gift.
Once you decide to give from your heart and not from your ego, you are going to have to guard this decision very carefully. Sales assistants, family members and friends may not be as excited about this decision as you. If you have had a tradition of exchanging big-ticket items with certain people in your life, you may want to give them a heads up. “I value our friendship above any gift you could give me… This year I am going to be a little more conservative than years past.” Chances are your loved one will be relieved to get out of the race to the most extravagant gift. Because one thing is for sure, lots of people are feeling the squeeze.
No shame budgets
Financial clarity is an essential part of spiritual growth. When you know your income and expenses, you can make choices with your cash. Abundance isn’t about blowing a lot of money in the mall, it’s about the feeling that there truly is enough for you to take care of your needs and to give to others. Unfortunately, many of us have confused financial wealth with credit card debt. The more we can get on our credit line, the more we can spend. As bankruptcy cases soar, we can see where this leads. So, before you go into “mall madness” sit down and total up your expected income and your expenses. What is left after you have taken care of your responsibilities? Remember, no one “needs” a present.
Prioritize the people you would like to give to and divvy up the money you have between everyone. Take the money with you in cash when you shop. Put it in an envelope with everyone’s name on it and write next to each person how much you spent. When the envelope is done – so are you. It may feel strange to shop this way, but when you come home and realize that it’s all paid in full and there’s no bill coming in the mail – the relief will be worth more than any gift.
Gratitude as a gift
A small gift and a sincere card can deepen your relationship as much as an expensive gift. And isn’t that what we all really want? More intimacy, more love, more connection? When you look around your home, can you remember who gave you different items? However, have you ever saved a particularly meaningful card from someone you care about? It’s hard to forget a sincere expression of emotion but it’s really easy to forget who gave you the DVD you watched twice.
Yes, it would be great if every financial goal we set for ourselves had come to pass this year, and then we could give more. But, perhaps a roof over our head, coffee in our cups and the experience of loving one another is enough. For many in the world right now, lacking even basic needs, clean clothes and hot water would be a welcome gift. In that light, the stress of choosing between a bright inexpensive scarf and a silk pashima seems sort of silly – it’s our capacity to love one another that is the greatest gift of all.
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