Get off the Holiday Rollercoaster!

Christmas season is a rollercoaster of stress and spending. By the end of the ride, you exit with a hoarse throat, empty wallet, frazzled nerves and shaky legs. For many, the short ride is not one of exhilarating joy but of stomach turning stress (“I need to find the perfect gift!” “Forget the credit card bill… There’s always the mid-year bonus…”)

Holiday spending has become a symptom of our consumption driven society’s lack of self-restraint. It doesn’t have to be this way. Stop and take steps to actually enjoy the holidays this year. Here are a few suggestions care of Diane McCrudy, an experienced financial planner with over 25 years of professional experience under her belt:

1. Make a spending list based on hard numbers, not emotions. When you have hard numbers in front of you, you’ll be less likely to overspend out of guilt or desperation or just simple ignorance of how much you’ve already spent. If you find that you can’t afford a big holiday this year, then don’t. Postpone it to next year.

2. It’s OK to break your holiday spending traditions. All too often, we try to outdo ourselves in getting the PERFECT (read: usually expensive) Christmas present for our loved ones. If money is tight this year, just warn your family and close friends in advance. You never know, they might just be in the same predicament. =)

3. If your extended family wants to cut back, suggest some money-saving ideas. Start of tradition of “grab-a-gift games”, set price limits of settle on a gift-to-kids-only policy.

4. Think edible, biodegradable, or readable or… homemade! Try not to add to the bulging closet of dust-collectors. Most people appreciate gifts like sugar cookies and a nice bottle of wine. My gift this Christmas is Desto’s Leche Flan, a melt-in-your-mouth flan whose secret recipe has passed down at least 3 generations in my husband’s family.

5. Favor holiday activities over holiday stuff. Think about what means the most to you during the holidays. Is it the gifts in your stocking… or the time you share with loved ones? There are so many activities that the family can enjoy… like the fireworks display in the Ayala Malls or the tree-lighting ceremony at the village park.

6. Create new traditions. As a young parent, I try to build memories for my son to savor and treasure. Creating your own traditions is far more rewarding than going along with the expensive, stressful status quo of giving and receiving lavish gifts.

This holiday season, simplify and relax. Enjoy your holidays! =)

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