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Many years ago, before I ended my shopaholic ways, I would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each Christmas on gifts, decorations, parties, cards, outfits, booze, food, ribbons and wrappings, tickets to the Boston Pops concert and more.
I spent a lot of money on my daughter. I was divorced, and so I used money as a way to make up for breaking up our family. I felt guilty and that guilt, among other things, motivated my spending.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, every single present you can see (and the ones you can’t see) under this tree was for my daughter.
Christmas Circa 2000
Back then I didn’t understand how to do things differently and felt that my overextravagant gift giving was the solution to fix the mistakes I had made by ending my marriage.
Of course, my daughter didn’t really mind; she knew she was spoiled and what kid would argue against that? She got everything on her wish list an more!
But of course eventually the credit card statements would come rolling in and I’d feel guilty, desperate and like a complete failure because I had once again lost control of my spending, overspent and overcharged.
I didn’t live on a budget. Heck, I didn’t even know what a budget entailed.
I lived above my means – way above my means, and I didn’t fully understand what I was doing to myself, and the detrimental consequences of my actions. So, budgeting for the holidays wasn’t even on my radar.
THEN IT ALL CHANGED
The first Christmas when that all changed was the year I was facing foreclosure on my home.
Yes, it was a self-inflicted change, but a change that was long overdue.
It was 2002, and I had to tell my daughter I couldn’t afford to buy her any Christmas gifts. She was in college at this point and fully understood my precarious financial circumstances. She was really great about it – never making me feel bad about what happened, but I still felt miserable.
I had no job, I was paying for her to go to college, my parents were still alive and I was semi-supporting them. I was broke, had over 50K in credit card debt alone and I was scared.
I remember sitting there with no presents for anyone and I really felt like I had hit rock bottom. Then my daughter handed me a gift and I opened up the most beautiful coat. And I felt completely unworthy of her generous offering. Ashamed I ran off to the bathroom and sobbed for twenty minutes.
Once composed, I knew I needed to face my money issues head-on, or it would be the end of my financial security.
And that’s what I did.
I read as many books as I could get my hands on to help me figure out what the hell my problem with money was all about.
What I read was eye-opening and it put me on a different path than I had ever been on before.
Instead of reckless spending, I learned to love and value budgeting, saving and investing.
WHY YOU NEED TO START BUDGETING FOR THE HOLIDAYS NOW
If you can relate in any way to my story you know first hand how stressful the holidays can be. When you overspend with little regard to the consequences and then face those consequences come January it can feel like you’ve been run over by a bulldozer.
But things can be very different if you’re willing to allow it to be different.
You have to be willing to accept what is and embrace a new way of doing things.
Although I didn’t want to look at all the ways I sabotaged myself with money, how messed up my belief systems were around money, and how poorly I handled money, I was willing to do the work and figure it out.
My being willing to look at my money issues became quite liberating. Because in that moment of saying, “yes, I am willing to look at this and figure it out” I became completely energized, motivated, and powerful. It was like I did a one-eighty.
I was a woman coming out of the shadows of debt and shame and instead was standing powerfully in my capabilities to get to the bottom of this mess and clean it up and I hadn’t done that in a long time.
What I came to realize was the more I was willing to go deeper and deeper, to peel back the layers of my money bullshit, the greater the transformation was.
So, here’s the question. Are you willing to look at your relationship with money?
Are you willing to peel back the layers to see what motivates you to spend like crazy during the holidays?
Are you willing to do something different this year so that when January comes you’re not flooded with guilt and shame because your debt is cranked up to a ridiculous level?
The answer is either yes or no — not maybe, not probably, not possibly, not let me think about it. You must decide if you are willing or not.
YOUR HOLIDAY PLAN
The start of the holiday shopping season is only weeks away and I want you to have a head start.
Halloween hasn’t even happened yet but some stores are already displaying Christmas decorations. I don’t know about you, but the Christmas Seasons seems to start earlier and earlier each year. And, with the early arrival usually comes the pressure to begin thinking about gift giving.
Think about this: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are three major holidays that occur within a 32-day span of each other.
You may be thinking, “The leaves have barely begun to turn color so why think about holiday gift giving and holiday expenses?”
I will tell you from experience; it is really smart to start earlier than to wait for the last minute holiday rush.
By planning now, you can take advantage of deals that will save you tons of money in the long run.
Additionally, the more you plan the less stress you will have; it’s as simple as that!
By starting early you’ll save money, be better prepared and have a holiday season that’s just about stress-free.
HOW TO BEGIN
From now until Christmas watch for regular articles all about how to get a head start on budgeting for the holidays so you can save money this holiday season.
I’ll cover everything you can possibly think of to have as uncomplicated and easy Christmas without spending a fortune or breaking the bank.
But for now, here’s two resources you can go and print from the Free Resouce Library:
- The Thanksgiving Planner and;
- The Holiday Planner
Both planners will give you exactly what you need to take control of your holidays and include things like:
- Understanding what you value as a family
- A Calendar for the months of November and December
- Countdown checklist
- To Do Lists
- Gift Planner
- Gift Tracker
- Stocking Stuffer Tracker
- Gifts Received Tracker
- Budget sheets
- Menu Planning
- and Cleaning Checklists
If you want even more Holiday Planning Tools, you can join the Premium Resource Library which is a membership-based program for a one-time investment of $15. When you sign up for the Premium Resource Library you get access to a whole host of additional downloadable holiday planning tools as well as other budgeting mini-courses, worksheets, and checklists that are NOT found in the regular library. Plus, you get a whole host of other terrific benefits.
But, this price won’t last forever and will be going up next year!
Here’s some of what you can find in the membership community to help you this holiday season:
- Party Planner
- Christmas Decoration Inventory
- Decorating Worksheets
- Family Activities Worksheets
- Letters to Santa
- Christmas Bucket List
- Cookie Swap Bundle
- Baking Checklists
- Gift Tags
- Christmas Card Worksheets
No matter whether you join the membership community or not, go grab your Holiday Planner Budgets sheets and start working out her holiday budget.
Now is the time to start thinking about the holidays whether we want to or not. Being prepared will help you manage your money better and help you stay away from credit cards this holiday season.