Holiday Spending

QI’m on a fixed income and have a large family. Can you give me tips on how to prepare for the holidays ahead and all the buying that comes with that?

A The holidays can really bring up our issues on money and finances. This year is a great time to start a mindful practice about spending and buying. As part of our series on mindfulness, think about this: Do you really need to buy gifts for everyone on your list? Is spending money causing more stress than the joy of giving affords (think how it feels when running around the shops for that last minute gift that was forgotten)? Don’t we all have plenty
of stuff (how many times do you look at your closet and see all the things you don’t wear)? Is the old adage true that it’s the thought that counts?

Holiday expenses can quickly add up. Hosting a party or a meal gets expensive. Purchasing gifts includes the cost of the gift, the wrapping, and sometimes shipping. Holiday cards average about $8 per box, not including stamps, which are now 47 cents! Then there’s the gas needed to drive all over town looking for the perfect, wrapping, card, turkey, etc. Holiday giving and hospitality are fun traditions, but are they really necessary?

Consider a mindful holiday season, and mind your budget at the same time:

  • Make cards, or even write a heartfelt letter instead. Use up piles of old greeting cards and magazines to create holiday collages and pictures for friends and family.
  • Host a potluck instead of putting on a lavish holiday meal. People often ask, “What can I bring?” By telling your guests what you need, you share the joy of giving, and people love to feel useful!
  • Suggest a gift exchange, where everyone draws a name, gives one gift and gets one gift. Let’s face it: do we really need more stuff?
  • Ask your friends if they want to take a year off from gifts, and instead, opt for an experience. A nice meal out together, an afternoon movie, or a hike outside. Their answers might surprise you.
  • Look for deals all year long. If you know you’ll be obligated to give some holiday gifts, start early and buy when there are sales.
  • Get creative. If you know a friend loves your homemade bread, give her a loaf instead of a gift that may be forgotten.

Use your holiday budget and energy to let your friends and family know that you are grateful for their friendship, companionship, love or attention. People usually remember a feeling much more than they remember a trinket or sweater.

8 Ways to Spend Less on Holiday Gifts,
Forbes November 30, 2015