The holiday season can be one of the most special times of the year, but it can also be one of the most expensive. Coming out of the holiday season with a glow of satisfaction and not a cloud of regret doesn’t happen by accident. Here are a few tips to help you stay on track financially during the holiday season.

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Set the priority.

There are a lot of voices out there telling us what is most important about the holiday season and how to celebrate in a memorable way. In order to stay on track financially, it is so important to decide early and often what is most important to you.

When you have a vision of what will make you and those closest to you the happiest, it is much easier to stick to a plan and not be swayed by what someone else's idea of a great holiday season looks like. When we try to do what everyone else says is important, we will most likely end up overextended in more ways than one.  

Take the time now to decide what it is that is most meaningful to you. Whether it is certain events, meals, gifts, moments, or something else entirely, zero in on what is central to the happy moments that make up this season for you.

Set a budget.

One of the biggest keys to not leaving the holiday season with financial regret is setting a realistic budget. Starting in November with fall festivals and Thanksgiving all the way through the New Year with parties and celebrations, there are a lot of things you could spend money on.

Be honest with yourself about all of the one-time and smaller expenses that add up quickly. How much do you plan to spend on seasonal events, gifts, holiday parties, new clothes, big dinners, decorations, greeting cards, and travel? The list can keep going if you don’t go into the season with a budget. 

The important thing is to know your plan and where the money is coming from to fund your happy holidays. Look through your calendar and make a list of any and all anticipated expenses through the end of the year. Which are you excited about? Which would you rather skip? Your holiday budget should reflect the priorities that you already set. Let your priorities guide you as you finalize your spending plan.

Set Expectations.

It doesn’t take the magic out of the season to set expectations. In fact, it prevents a lot of stress and disappointment. Have a conversation with your partner, family, or friends about setting a spending range for gifts or how to approach mutual events. 

It takes the pressure off for everyone when expectations are set and you are free to enjoy the time together. Never feel like you need to go into debt or over budget to meet others’ expectations of what this season should look like. 

If you have young children, it’s not necessary to discuss the exact amount of money you’re spending on their gifts, but it is okay for them to understand why they can’t get a pony or receive every item on their mile-long gift list.

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Set your mind.

When you have a plan financially it frees up your attention to focus on the things that make the holiday season special that aren’t tangible. If you’re not stressed about money, you can choose to set your mind on enjoying the connections, relationships, and experiences that matter the most.

It’s the people, conversations, and joy of being together that are the true foundation of the holidays after all. Without that, the gifts and parties would be pretty pointless, right? If you get too caught up in the cost, it’s easy to lose sight of the “why” of celebrating your holidays and traditions. 

Setting your intentions and your plans for this time of year allows you to fund the things that maximize happiness and minimize financial regret during the holiday season.

Bethany earned a B.S. in Psychology from the University of South Carolina and has fourteen years of experience coaching and mentoring. Her passion for being a Wealth Coach comes from witnessing the negative effects financial stress has on so many people and the fact that financial wellness is often a neglected aspect of one's overall health. Bethany loves helping people discover how to align their spending with their values and design a plan that brings joy back into that part of their lives. Outside of work, she enjoys time with her husband and three children, baking, reading, creating art, and doing anything outdoors.