Financial expert with Cyprus Credit Union, Rachel Langlois shares tips for handling holiday financial stress.
This time of year can be draining on your time and your checkbook. We are in the midst of holiday preparations so let`s talk about what we can do now to minimize stress:
• Take mid-shopping inventory on what you`ve already spent and determine realistically how much you can afford. If you are continually tempted to overspend, switch to a cash-only spending.
• Skip-a-Payment programs—many financial institutions offer the option to pay a minimal fee to skip that month`s loan payment. Helps to keep you from digging a deeper hole. At Cyprus, that fee is donated to charity which is a win-win for you.
• Hand in hand with your budget is your gift giving. We are often the ones putting pressure on ourselves.
• Determine whether you would like your gifts wide and shallow or narrow and deep....but not wide and deep!
• Make a list of who you are giving to and intentional gifts for them. Ask yourself if the gift will be 1) valued or 2) memorable.
• Remember that children will not remember the gifts, they will remember traditions and experiences. $20 at the Dollar Tree can provide the same excitement for young children.
• When asked what the holidays are about, do you what your children to say it`s about getting what they want or about giving? Teach your children what this season is truly about, apart from the commercialized hype.
• What do most of us feel like we lack? Time. Give the gift of time to others, offer to babysit or help clean before a holiday gathering. Even children will appreciate special one on one time gifted to them.
• Calendar in time to shop, trade babysitting with friends or family.
• Shop online or during off-peak hours to avoid crowds and lines. For example, many stores have extended hours so go once the kids are in bed.
• Take time to relax individually and as a family: exercise, meditate, read a book, do a family craft, enjoy free community events.
• Give of your time by volunteering. Help keep the focus on the holiday spirit. Make care packages to give to homeless. Volunteer with agencies such as the food bank or Salvation Army which have a higher demand this time of year.
If financial stress is taking its toll, seek the help of a professional that can help you. Set up an achievable financial plan by visiting any Cyprus Credit Union branch or call the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at (800) 388-2227. For more information, go here.