Archive | Holidays RSS feed for this section

How to Avoid a Post-Holiday Financial Hangover

It’s the end of January 2015 and you walk in the door at the end of your day and begin to open the mail. You freeze when you notice that the post-holiday credit card statement has arrived. Uh-oh…time to face reality from the “retail therapy” that took place before the holidays.

While I’m certainly a fan of a little retail therapy now and then, I will also say that if you’re willing to take some time to plan in advance to save money and keep from overspending that you can successfully avoid the post-holiday financial hangover!

Similar to everyday money management, designing a financial plan for holiday spending ahead of time that aligns with what matters to you allows more money to stay in your pocket while creating experiences and connections with people you care about.

Here’s how I encourage you to think through and design your own financial plan for the holidays:

Step #1: Decide on your “big” holiday occasions – There are so many opportunities to do things during the holidays that sometimes it can make your head spin. Deciding in advance what your “big” occasions will be (i.e. Chanukah, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, specific parties, etc.), and where you’ll enjoy investing your money the most will help you properly allocate most of your free cash flow to those occasions. And if possible, make sure to allocate a small portion of your holiday financial plan for the “unknown” events as well (i.e. those opportunities to head out unexpectedly with friends for dinner and/or have cocktails with co-workers before or after the company party).

Step #2: Focus on experiences vs. things – We live in a culture where we are constantly being bombarded to buy everything, whether it’s through a TV or radio commercial, an email, or perhaps even good old-fashioned “snail mail”. So before you start to think about purchasing gifts (which we’ll talk about in Step #3 below), I’d encourage you to think about whether a gift is what you really want to give. From my experience, people are craving connection and meaning in their lives, so ask yourself – are you in a place to provide either of those gifts to them? Some examples might include taking time to volunteer as a family at Thanksgiving at a soup kitchen and then coming home to a smaller meal later in the day, or perhaps scheduling a family event in December to get together with loved ones and asking everyone to bring their favorite dish to share with others (a bit like pot-luck style). Also, one of my favorite things to do is to make a donation to a charity on behalf of a loved one to a charity that has meaning for them. For example, in past years I’ve chosen to make a donation on behalf of my Uncle to remember my Aunt who passed away in 2008.

Step #3: Conscious gift giving – You’ve heard how Santa makes a list and checks it twice, so I encourage you to do the exact same thing! Put together a list of people that you’d like to buy presents for, including your kids’ teachers and the mailman, if appropriate. Once you’re done with that list, review it to challenge whether or not you need to buy something or perhaps you can refer back to Step #2 and give them the gift of an experience. Also, ask yourself the question whether there are people on the list who might appreciate one less thing to shop for during the holidays. As an example, my best friend and I decided years ago to focus on getting together for lunch instead and it’s one of the best gifts (less time shopping and more time together) we’ve ever given each other! For anyone who still remains on the list that gets to have a gift, take some time to decide on a target amount for each person so that when you get in the store you have some idea of how much you’d like to spend. And lastly, before you even head to the stores, hop online to search for promo codes or coupons at the stores you typically shop at – at this time of year there are always good promo codes and coupons online that can help you save money and keep more money in your pocket!

These 3 simple steps can honestly be done relatively quickly, yet it can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars this holiday season. And a bonus tip for next year so that you can streamline your holiday spending even further if you’d like to: write down who you bought for, what you bought them, and how much you invested. Take this list and revisit it in January with two main purposes: 1) to see who you’d like to include for next year again (or perhaps who you no longer need to include); and 2) take the total amount that you spent, divide it by 12 get a monthly amount and begin to save in advance so you’ll have the money on hand to pay for everything next December!

And above all, remember to have fun when you’re thinking about planning your holiday experiences and gifts. In this day and age when everyone is so busy, take some time to stop and smell the roses. Life is short and it’s meant to be enjoyed!

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Comments { 0 }

3 Steps to Financial Gratitude in Your Life

When I mention the topic of financial gratitude to people, sometimes I get the blank stare like “Huh? What the heck is that?”

To me, financial gratitude is when you’re grateful for the resources that you already have, instead of always focusing on what you don’t have.  If you’re always focused on what you don’t have, you’re focusing on the negative instead of being appreciative of what you already do have.

Let me offer an example. If a loved one heard you complaining about what you didn’t get for Christmas when they just gave you a beautiful scarf that they took time to pick out specifically just for you, how do you think they would feel about getting you something next year? Probably not very good, right?  They might not put much effort into it next year.  It works like this in a universal sense as well – if you focus on what you’re not getting, you’re sending out bad energy and you block positive things from showing up in your life.

I’m going to get real here for a minute about my own life.  Two years ago I took the brave step to open my own business, and let me tell you building a business is challenging sometimes.  There’s no guaranteed paycheck, and I’ve been investing in myself and my business heavily.  I have less money in my accounts now than when I started, and I have some additional debt now too from some business investments that I’ve made.  Yet despite the decrease in my financial net worth, my personal self-worth has increased exponentially and I’m grateful to know I’m on the right path and living my purposeI choose each and every day to focus on the many resources I do have.  I have supportive family, friends, colleagues, and a life that I love – can you ask for much more than that really?

At this point, you may be saying “Well Beth, how do you find financial gratitude, especially during the challenging moments?”  I’m glad that you asked.

Step #1 – Reflect more on what’s working, and less on what’s not working!

When was the last time you complained about something? I know several years ago that I complained….sadly I did it a LOT.  I was miserable at work and in my life, and I whined to others about it.  My friends were unhappy too – it was like a big old complaint-fest and we fed off each other’s energy about how crappy we felt (yuck). And if I’m being really raw here, I was jealous of other people who were happy.  (Sorry, it’s ugly but it’s true.)

Then I learned to focus more on what was working and the resources that I did have instead of whining and complaining. Slowly but surely I felt a shift start to happen…more good things and good people showed up in my life.

Try for yourself and schedule some time to reflect on what’s working.  If you’re having trouble with getting the complaining under control, Google “A Complaint Free World” to find some great resources.

Step #2 – Write down what’s working

Once you’ve found some positive resources in your life, it’s time to write it down (i.e. journal, gratitude jar, etc.).  Because when we’re trying to shift our habits, sometimes we forget the positive things in the harder moments.  Shifting takes time, so it’s always good to have something written down to refer back to when you’re struggling and having a tough day.

Step #3 – ASK for what you need

During Step #1, inevitably things that you need and don’t yet have will come up.  We can’t help it, we’re human.

Select one item from the list of what you need to ask for help with.  What specifically do you need help with (details are important)? Who can help you? How will you ask for help?

Don’t be afraid to simply ask.  It’s an often forgotten art form, especially for us women.  Be brave and ask as you may just be surprised how positively others respond to your request.  When the resource that you need appears, you can be grateful for it and reflect on what you have (and thus, the circle begins again).

3 simple steps to begin building financial gratitude in your own life – it’s that simple to get started.  And for a bonus step (because some of you are over-achievers like me :)), if you want to take it up a notch you can ask the loved ones in your life how you can help them.  You may just spark something in them to help spread a ripple effect of financial gratitude!

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Comments { 0 }

Designing Your Festive Financial Plan

It’s January 15th and you’ve just gotten home to grab your mail and walk in the door at the end of your day…when you notice that the dreaded post-holiday credit card statement has arrived.  You really don’t want to open that statement. (C’mon, we’ve all had that happen to us, yes???)

Well I’m happy to say that it doesn’t need to be that way, if you’re willing to take some time to plan in advance to save money, keep from overspending, and avoid the post-holiday financial hangover!

Similar to everyday money management, designing a holiday financial plan ahead of time that aligns with what matters to you helps more money to stay in your pocket while creating experiences and connections with people you care about.  Here’s how I encourage you to think through and design your own festive financial plan:

–  Step #1:  Decide on your “big” holiday occasions – There are so many opportunities to do things during the holidays, and sometimes it’s a challenge to do them all.  Deciding in advance what your “big” occasions will be (i.e. Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, etc.), and where you’ll enjoy investing your money the most will help you properly allocate most of your money to those occasions in your financial plan.  And if possible, make sure to allocate a small portion of your festive financial plan for the “unknown” events as well (you know, those opportunities to head out unexpectedly with friends for dinner and/or have cocktails with co-workers before or after the company party).

–  Step #2: Focus on experiences vs. things – We live in a consumer culture where we are constantly being bombarded to buy everything, whether it’s with a TV or radio commercial, an email with something on sale (is it me or has the volume of those emails picked up significantly in recent weeks?!?), or a “flash sale” in a store.  It’s unforgiving at times, quite honestly.  So before you start to think about purchasing gifts (which we’ll talk about in Step #3 below), I’d encourage you to think about whether a gift is what you really want to give.  From what I see and hear, people are craving connection and meaning in their lives, so ask yourself – are you in a place to provide either of those gifts to them?  Some examples might include taking time to volunteer as a family at Thanksgiving at a soup kitchen and then coming home to a smaller meal later in the day, or perhaps scheduling a family event in December to get together with loved ones and asking everyone to bring their favorite dish to share with others (so that the party host doesn’t have to bear the entire expense of the event).  Also, one of my favorite things to do is to make a donation to a charity on behalf of a loved one to a charity that has meaning for them.  For example, my Uncle George is also my godfather and every year I make a small donation on his behalf in honor of his sister (my aunt and godmother) who passed away 5 years ago from Lupus.  He doesn’t need gifts or things, but his face lights up every year when I give him the card that says I remembered to make the donation!

–  Step #3: Conscious gift giving – You know how Santa makes a list and he checks it twice?  I encourage you to do the exact same thing!  Put together a list of people that you want to buy for, all the way down to your kids’ teachers and the mailman.  Once you’re done with that list, review it to challenge whether or not you need to buy something or perhaps you can refer back to Step #2 and give them the gift of an experience instead.  Also, ask yourself the question whether there are people on the list who might appreciate one less thing to shop for during the holidays.  As an example, my best friend and I stopped giving gifts several years ago to focus on getting together for lunch instead and it’s one of the best gifts (less time shopping and more time together) we’ve ever given each other!  For anyone who still remains on the list that needs a gift, take some time to decide on a target amount for each person so that when you get in the store you have some idea of how much you’d like to spend.  And lastly, before you even head to the stores, hop online to search for promo codes or coupons at the stores you typically shop at – at this time of year there are always good promo codes and coupons online that can help you save money and keep more money in your pocket!

The few steps above can honestly be done relatively quickly in just under a few hours, yet it can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars this holiday season.  And a bonus tip for next year so that you can streamline your holiday spending even further if you’d like to: write down who you bought for, what you bought them, and how much you invested.  Take this list and revisit it in January with two main purposes: 1) to see who you’d like to include for next year again (or perhaps who you no longer need to include); and 2) take the total amount that you spent, divide it by 12 months to get a monthly amount and begin to save monthly in advance so you’ll have the money on hand to pay for everything out of pocket!

And above all, remember to have fun when you’re thinking about planning your holiday experiences and gifts.  In this day and age when everyone is so busy, take some time to stop and smell the roses. Life is short and it’s meant to be enjoyed…I’m wishing you and your loved ones a very happy holiday season!

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Comments { 0 }