There is often a stereotype that the holidays and end of year can be a very stressful time for a majority of people and cause a toll on people’s emotional health. This is often viewed this way because people set unrealistic expectations for themselves and fail to prepare. A way that can decrease stress during this time is planning out your finances and setting budgets.
It is important to plan ahead, stick to your set budgets, be realistic about money and tasks, and reach out to others for help when needed (mayoclinic).
There are many factors that go into budgeting for the holiday season including: setting an overall budget, setting limits for each category, making lists, tracking expenses, etc.
Often due to the holiday season being a stressful time for most, people often fail to set expectations and plans for themselves ending in looking at the holidays as a chore rather than an exciting time to end the year. Sixty-two percent of people have reported that they notice a dramatic increase in their stress levels during the holidays (harvard.edu).
When asked how much time is spent on preparing for the holiday season, Wendy Carlsen, mom of three kids responded, “I spend on average 15-20 hours creating budgets and planning for the holidays” Carlsen said.
The first step for preparing for the holidays is making a list of everything you expect to spend money on for gifts and food. Then categorizing each item into lists for different stores, people you are shopping for, and events.
Things to consider when making financial spending lists is to include money being spent on things that are often forgotten about such as: gift cards, food expenses, charitable donations, travel expenses, and wrapping paper (thebalance). There are many websites such as myregistry.com and dreamlist.com that are an easy source to create digital lists that can also calculate overall costs of the items in those lists.
Deciding your spending limits and setting money aside for each category of spending is important to not exceeding your desired budget.
“Americans spend over $1000 over the holidays” and “Controlling your holiday spending is an essential aspect of a healthy financial life” Investopedia states.
Successfully watching your financial spending over the holiday season will not only ensure that you go into the new year in good financial standing, but also will result in the holidays being a more enjoyable time of year.