|Photo by jeshoots.com on Unsplash|
I guarantee that a minimalist mindset will make your holidays more joyful. And no, I'm not envisioning a Little House on the Prairie Christmas with candy canes and handkerchiefs for gifts.
Simply put, managing your money, time, and energy during the holidays will bring more peace and comfort to your days, now and into the new year. When you find out what matters most to you, and focus your attention and resources on those things, the return is far greater than what you'll get from trying to buy and do it all.
Even if you've already begun (or finished) your holiday shopping, it's not too late to create a budget for your money. If you're anything like me, you tend to hope you'll have enough money, and if you feel like you've overspent, there's always the credit card. Problem? Holiday shopping isn't an emergency (which really should be the only reason you whip out the plastic), and you have to pay eventually. January always comes.
Here's a thought: if you budget for this coming holiday realistically, you won't be making credit card payments in January and beyond, and you could actually save that money, month by month, for next year. Create a holiday nest egg. Wow! This is not a new concept by any means, but we don't do it. Either we can't do it because that extra monthly money is going toward credit card debt, or because we have no plan for that money and we just spend it. We fritter it away on who knows what. Save it instead, and pay for next year's holidays ahead of time.
But back to this year. This holiday season is still ahead of us. Think about all of your holiday spending categories: gifts, travel, special foods, postage, entertainment, the tree and other decor, special clothing and/or salon visits, donations, and anything else that comes to mind. Don't forget the higher heating and electricity bills that come every winter. List it all out, and estimate the cost of each thing. Include anything you've already spent.
Add it all up. (Okay....)
Look at the total. (Ouch!)
Ask yourself these two questions:
- Can I really afford all of this?
- Is this really how I want to spend my money?
If your honest answer to either of those questions is no, go back to your list and organize it according to your priorities, most important category first. Then begin eliminating from the bottom up until you can answer yes to both questions. (It's okay to find a less expensive way of doing something in order to keep it on the list, if it's really important to you.)
If your calendar is usually a little crammed between now and January 1, create a time budget the way you did your money budget. List time demands, such as parties, holiday concerts, rehearsals for those concerts, extra shopping time (including online), baking and cooking holiday foods, volunteer activities, standing in lines and driving in traffic, extra cleaning, wrapping packages, addressing cards and mailing packages, hours at the airport, etc. Don't forget your normal time commitments to your spouse, kids, friends, job, and other family members.
Look at your list of time demands and ask yourself two questions:
- Can I really manage all of this?
- Is this really how I want to spend my time?
If your honest answer to either of those questions is no, go back to your list and organize it according to your priorities, most important category first. Then begin eliminating from the bottom up until you can answer yes to both questions.
Know What Matters
If you've stayed with me so far, you've defined your personal minimalist holiday by choosing the things that are most important to you and eliminating the rest. The items you deleted are the ones you probably do year after year even though they add to your stress and your debt and you get little or no enjoyment from them. The items that remain on your money and time budgets are the ones that matter the most to you, the ones that add the most meaning to your holiday celebration.
Look at your lists one more time to see how you've chosen to spend your money and time, and what you've chosen to delete.
Now you can focus on the things that bring you joy.