The holidays happen at the exact same time every year. I know this, and you know this. So how is it that every year we get to the holiday and realize we don’t have money for them. Instead we freak out, try to find deals, try to pick up extra hours or odd jobs to get together the cash we need, or we just put it all on the credit card and choose to deal with it later.

I am on a mission to help save us all from the dreaded post-holiday depression that comes from out of control and unplanned holiday spending.

It is October, which means you have 3 months to get the money you need for the holidays. You don’t have to buy the presents yet but you need to be putting the money aside now so it is there for you when it is time to buy.

You need to write a list of every person you are buying presents for this holiday season. Then next to everyone’s name you need to write the max amount of money you want/are able to spend on them. Then grab a calendar and count how many times you get paid before the holidays. When you are finished add up how much you need and divide by the number of times you get paid. That number is how much money you need to save from every paycheck, starting now, to pay for your holiday.

You need to be smart and realistic when you are choosing how much to spend on people. Children do not need you to spend a small fortune for them to have a wonderful holiday. If you are broke then you shouldn’t be buying presents. You do not need to try to impress people with expensive gifts. You are not obligated to buy gifts for everyone you know. Take a look at your list and see if there is anyone you can discuss not buying gifts for. You may feel pressured to buy gifts for friends or co-workers even if you don’t want to because you feel like you need to. Just talk to them about it, chances are they may not want to purchase another gift either.

If you plan ahead this year you will be able to enjoy your holiday so much more! You can buy gifts without feeling guilty about reckless spending or overspending. You can buy gifts and not still be paying for them next year. You can budget for the holiday, and it’s as easy as 5 minutes of planning, simple addition and division. Then of course, having the self-discipline to follow through on your plan. Start saving now and you can have yourself a merry little holiday, however you celebrate.

I have some more food for thought for your holiday this year. The season of giving is full of things to give and people to give them to. But too often we are focused on the tangible or physical things we give to others. Consequently I wanted to present you with a few ideas of ways to give that are non-monetary as well as easy things that you can build these into your life that will help you give all year round.

Give time.

The biggest thing you have available to give is your time. This can be spent volunteering but there are also easy ways that you can build this idea into your everyday life. My favorite way to easily add this is at the grocery store, I am usually shopping with my two young daughters and often elderly people approach us and either speak to my children or to me about my children. I could easily brush them off and move my cart on down the aisle with a “have a nice day” but I choose instead to give them a bit of my time. It’s usually under 5 minutes, they ask questions to me or my girls and we chat with them. I find they usually have children who are grown and gone, children who have passed away, or grandchildren that live far away that they don’t see as often as they would like. They seem to take so much joy from our conversations and it literally takes nothing away from my life, it actually has the opposite effect and gives me good feelings.

Give compassion.

If you have lost a loved one you know how hard the first holiday without them can be. So if you know anyone who has lost a loved one this year let them know that you are thinking about them during this difficult time and you understand. This small act of kindness can mean the world to someone who is suffering and struggling surrounded by happy people celebrating the holidays.

Give energy.

You can give your energy. A simple way to do this is give people your undivided attention. When you are speaking to others put your phone down, look them in the eye, be genuinely interested in what they have to say, and be completely engaged in the conversation.

Give your talents.

No matter what your talents are (and I am completely sure that you have them) there is someone that needs them. Maybe you have handiwork skills, or cooking skills, or even grocery shopping skills, there is someone that could use your help this giving season.

Give your passion.

When talking to others, match their excitement for the things they are telling you. If they are passionate about something and they are telling you about it, even if you don’t specifically care about the topic, match their enthusiasm with your interest in what they are telling you.

Give forgiveness.

The last thing to consider giving this holiday season is forgiveness. Forgiveness for others and maybe more importantly forgiveness for yourself. Don’t take your negative feelings into the new year. Let go of the things you have no control over and choose to believe that everyone is just living life doing the best that they can. Freeing your heart from resentment, pain, disappointment, and sadness as well as no longer giving someone or something else authority over your happiness is monumental. Give this gift to yourself and I know you won’t regret it.

Need more inspiration for practical living? Check out the full #MoneyTalks series HERE!

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