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Holiday spending: How to prevent emotions taking over your budget

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Christmastime is wonderful! We gather with family and friends, drink eggnog, eat turkey, and decorate a tree. ​​​​​​​Although this time of year is great, the holidays can bring out negative emotions. These emotions, such as fear, shame, guilt, and doubt, commonly revolve around gift-giving and can sometimes cause spending to spiral out of control.

The steep rise in inflation may mean that Christmas will be even tougher for many people. Global News reported that a recent poll showed that inflation and rising interest rates had a significant effect on the holiday budgets of many Canadians.

Sean Simpson, senior vice president of Ipsos Public Affairs, in a Global News interview, said this about the 2023 holiday season, “housing prices are higher, food prices are higher, all outpacing inflation and so there’s just less money left over at the end of the year to give gifts because people have been able to save less, and they’re spending more on the things that they need and less on the things they want.”

It’s not uncommon that even those struggling with the rise of inflation and debt will still buy gifts this Christmas. They may listen to their emotions and respond by purchasing items they can’t afford. They may even borrow money to buy these gifts, putting them more in debt.

In this blog post, we’ll share tips to deal with emotional holiday situations. We’ll explore how difficult feelings can affect decision-making in certain scenarios and provide strategies for managing them.

Managing a lack of balance in gift-giving

Fear may be one of the most negative emotions in dealing with gift-giving over the holidays. The fear someone feels when they find out they spent less on a gift than the recipient spent on them can drown out their holiday spirit. This discomfort may even inspire them to max out their credit card to buy a gift worth the same value. Borrowing money to buy expensive gifts because you’re afraid of looking bad can hurt your financial future. It might help to remember that someone who really has your best interest at heart will never want to put you in a detrimental position.

Here are some other things you can do to mitigate the chances of this happening.

Create a budget

Budgeting reduces fear. Creating a holiday budget will help you build up savings for buying specific gifts. Plus, being smart with your finances will allow you to save more money on the products you want to buy.

Using a budgeting app can help you create and manage a budget. Many, send reminders about how much you need to save each week for your financial goal. These reminders can motivate you to save more finances for Christmas gifts instead of spending on things you don’t need.

Buy used items

Don’t be afraid of buying used items. ​​​​​​​Buying used things for Christmas is perfectly fine. Not only are you saving money, but you are also helping to save the environment as well.

If you want to find a great place to buy used, but fantastic goods online, check out the Facebook Marketplace. The market has terrific items that you can purchase. You can also bargain with sellers in the marketplace to get a cheaper price on the items you want.

Be honest

Be straightforward. ​​​​​​​If you can’t afford to buy your loved ones expensive Christmas gifts, let them know. Honesty, in this case, is the best policy. Your family and friends may even thank you because they were afraid to admit they’re in the same boat.

How to find alternatives to presents

Spend money on experiences. One of the best gifts that you can give is spending your money on an adventure. When you spend your money on adventures, you’ll give your loved ones memories that will last a lifetime.

Imagine this, you’ve just checked your account and realized there’s no way you can buy gifts this year. You feel sad or maybe even ashamed. Instead of letting unwarranted shame take over, think of memories instead of money. For example, you may not have enough funds for gifts, but maybe you have enough to make your family dinner. Or, an even lower-cost option is to host a potluck. Doing the hard work of coordinating a time for everyone to be together to make memories will outlast any material gift ever given.

Lastly, know you’re not alone. Many Canadians are struggling financially. With the recent rise of inflation, plenty of families have to be cautious about how they spend their money. Though it may feel like you’re the only one facing a hard time, many of those around you are, in fact, facing the same situation. They may be even relieved to be released from the pressure of gift-giving when approached with the idea of a memory-filled holiday instead of gifts.

Purchasing presents for someone hard to please

Spending money on a gift for a picky person can be stressful, even nerve-racking. If you choose the wrong gift for them, it can go unappreciated, which can be quite hurtful. This burden can make you wonder if celebrating the holidays is even worth it.

These tips will calm your nerves when buying a picky person a gift.

Tip 1: Expand your timeline

Some of the stress related to finding a good gift is the tight timeline. Make a point to keep an eye out for a spark of inspiration all year round. When an idea comes to mind make a note of it. Maybe you notice the person is always leaving their water bottle behind. That may spark the idea of getting them a water bottle with a strap on it for them.

Tip 2: Use social media

If you check out someone’s social media, you can find out what they’re interested in. For instance, if the person you’re buying for follows Rachel Ray and Gordon Ramsay on Facebook, you can focus on getting a gift in and around cooking.

Not only is social media a great way to find out what someone likes, you can sometimes even get discounts.

More strategies for managing negative emotions

Here are some other strategies for managing emotional gift-giving over the holidays:

  • Get a piggy bank: if you have any loose change, putting it in a piggy bank will help you save for Christmas presents
  • Give Money: If you’re not sure what holiday gifts to give your loved ones, money is a great choice. They can buy something they really want with it.
  • Give gift cards: getting gift cards from certain stores can help you with holiday shopping. Gift cards are amazing gifts and if done right, can save you a lot of money when it comes to buying the wrong present.

Final thoughts

The holidays can be an emotional time under the best of circumstances. This year, financial struggles are leaving many feeling added pressure. Global News reports that 29% of Canadians plan to spend less on gifts this holiday season compared to 2022. If you’re facing negative emotions like shame, judgment, or fear this holiday season, hopefully, the tips in this article will help alleviate, at least, some of them.

Don’t let stress or your financial situation prevent you from enjoying quality time with the people you love. Take the first step to a debt-free life by talking to one of our expert credit counsellors.

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