Let me be the first to remind you that the holidays are right around the corner.
The kids are in school, pumpkin spice lattes reappeared, Labor Day has come and gone (I still think the academic year should start after Labor Day weekend), Halloween candy is in the stores and Christmas trees and decorations aren’t far behind.
The holiday season starts with Thanksgiving in just nine weeks.
Money can be one of the most stressful parts of the holidays as we try to create unique memories, buy gifts for everyone, travel to see family and friends and, in the process, rack up credit card debt.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, and it’s not too late to have more holiday cheer and less holiday money fear. No, I’m not going to try to persuade you to hand-make gifts as a way to save money. I’m one of the least crafty people ever.
I do want to introduce you to the concept of essentialism and a New York Times bestselling book by Greg McKeown, http://gregmckeown.com/book.
In Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, McKeown says, “The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about challenging the core assumption of ‘we can have it all’ and ‘I have to do everything’ and replacing it with the pursuit of ‘the right thing, in the right way, at the right time.’ It’s about regaining control of our own choices about where to spend our time and energies instead of giving others implicit permission to choose for us.”
Instead of trying to do it all this holiday season, try this. Take 30 quiet minutes, get a journal or notebook, ask yourself these questions and write down the answers:
What’s the most important activity I want to do this holiday season?Who are the essential people I want to buy gifts for this year?What is the one perfect gift I could get each person on my list?Estimate the cost of your chosen activity and the gifts you want to buy, check how much you have accumulated for holiday spending and subtract. Now, divide by nine – the number of weeks until the holiday season kicks off.
The quotient (I had to look that one up) is the amount you’ll need to save each week. For the next nine weeks, place that amount in cash in an envelope marked “Essential Holiday Spending.” If saving that much each week seems like too big of a stretch, you can reduce your holiday budget or wait a few more weeks to start shopping.
Remember, this is about doing what’s most important to you, not getting caught up in holiday consumerism.
Durango resident and personal finance coach Matt Kelly owns Momentum: Personal Finance. www.personalfinancecoaching.com.