How to spend less this Christmas, without feeling guilty!

Christmas can be expensive at the best of times, and with some of the financial challenges 2020 has presented us with, this year might feel all the more overwhelming when thinking about the cost of Christmas...

So, here’s some thoughts on how you can spend less this Christmas, without the added guilt!

First of all, let’s take a minute to think about your Christmas spending behaviour…

Does your desire to please and make other’s happy override your own needs to look after your bank balance, causing you to get yourself into financial difficulties rather than tell people you need to spend less this year?

It’s normal for us to want to make others happy, but for some people this can become a problem. If you’re a “people pleaser”, you might be driven to please above and beyond what is reasonable. And so, at the thought of spending less this year, you might worry what others might think of you:

  • “Will they think I don’t care?”
  • “Will they think I’m selfish?”
  • “Will they think I am a bad person?”
  • “Will they think I’m a failure and a let-down?”

Thinking in this way might lead us to do things that end up being detrimental to our own health and wellbeing – including spending money that we can’t afford.

Something important to remember if you feel like this, is that anyone that cares about you will not want to see you struggling financially and will completely understand if you aren’t able to spend as much.

Often it is the pressure we put upon ourselves that can be our biggest hindrance at times like this.

A ‘COVID’ Christmas

This year particularly has been challenging for many of us financially. People have lost their jobs, perhaps had less work or business than usual, spent more on household bills from home working or home schooling the children. So, doing what you would ‘normally do’ for Christmas might be more of a struggle than usual.

On the flip side, if you find yourself in a more fortunate position this year, there might be a pressure to overcompensate and spend more to support family members or friends who are worse off.

We also might feel like we need to make this Christmas ‘extra special’ to make up for – quite frankly – a rubbish year, and not seeing loved ones as often as we’d like to.

Whatever situation you find yourself in, the bottom line is – it is ok to set boundaries with what you can afford, regardless of your financial situation.

So, how can you put this into practice?

Ok, so you might be thinking “well, that’s easier said than done!”

I appreciate setting these kind of boundaries can be difficult. So here are some practical tips on how to manage your spending limits this Christmas…

1. Decide what you can reasonably afford this year and set yourself a spending limit

Sit down and work out who you want to buy for and what it is you can afford.

Don’t forget to take into account other costs including wrapping presents, food, decorations, socialising and other things you might be spending your money on over the festive period – it all adds up!

It’s not too late to review this if you have already started spending. Don’t think because you’ve started, that you’re past the point of no return. Take a pause and reflect on what you’ve spent and ask yourself – “does this feel ok?”

Remember, it’s not too late to return some things if you’ve overdone it, there is no shame in taking corrective action to help ourselves out.

2. Communicate with your loved ones and let them know that you’ll be setting a spending limit this year

You might feel embarrassed to bring this up, but believe me, you’ll feel relieved once you do! If you feel awkward saying this in person, you could maybe send a message to let your loved one’s know your plan. Don’t feel you need to be apologetic – if they care they’ll understand and if they don’t, then they’ll be on Santa’s naughty list for sure!

Who knows, you might also bring some relief to other’s who are feeling the same, so this could be a welcomed message. Remember, you probably aren’t the only one that is feeling this way and putting on a brave face.

3. Stick to it!

Resist the temptation of buying “just one more thing” or feeling pressured into getting more if what you’ve got doesn’t feel like enough.

Make a list, check it twice… No but really, keep track of what you’re spending and try to shop mindfully. Before you buy anything, check in with yourself and ask “Is this within my spending budget?”. If it isn’t, question whether this is an essential purchase based on what you’re intending to spend.

4. Be aware of your inner self-saboteur and remind yourself that your financial status does not reflect your worth!

Remember, “comparison is the thief of joy”, and when scrolling through social media it is important that you don’t compare your situation to other people’s perceived reality. Whilst on the face of it they may seem to have it all, their reality could be very different. Try not to be tempted to get yourself into financial difficult just to ‘keep up’ with everybody else if it is at the cost of your own wellbeing. Your self-worth is not dependent on your financial status.

What’s it all for, anyway?

If anything, this year has taught us what is important in life. And I’m certain for most of us, it has become less about material things and much more about the little things in life that mean the most.

Many people will actively welcome a less costly Christmas, and often by setting a spending limit ​it encourages us to find something more personal and more thoughtful. 

So, here’s a question to think about – what is the meaning of Christmas for you?

Is it a time for family and coming together with loved ones? A time for your faith? A time to celebrate? A time to take some much-needed time out?

Remember, these things don’t have to cost the earth.

Self-care isn’t just about face masks and bubble baths. Self-care involves looking after all aspects of your life, including staying out of financial difficulties and all that involves, like stress, anxiety, sleepless nights, worry, doing without etc. 

So, try to be realistic this year, set a budget and talk with people if you are cutting back.  

You deserve a stress-free Christmas and a positive start to 2021!

Get in touch with me if you’d like to discuss how I can help you in setting boundaries with confidence and prioritising your own needs without feeling guilty.

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