If you managed to resist the noise of Black Friday, I salute you. Can you do the same for the upcoming holidays?
The holidays are a time of gathering together for traditions with friends and family – but another thing deserving an equal seat at the table is focus. It’s that last part on which we lose perspective each year.
A new survey by personal finance comparison website finder.com reveals that we’re gearing up to spend a lot on gifts – more than $180 billion, in fact. Over 157 million Americans are going to go into debt to afford a “good” Christmas this year, with the average gift giver spending $738 each. Interestingly, this spending does not appear to correlate with what’s in our paychecks: even those with no income are budgeting 40 percent of their holiday spending from carefully saved reserves.
As an antidote to this financial stress (and for many, *raises hand*, an overall stressful year), we could all stand to pump the brakes a bit and resolve to simplify the holidays by slowing down and refocusing on the present.
If you’re on the brink of buying gifts just for the sake of buying them or you’re part of the 17 percent of Americans with no savings put away to buy gifts this holiday season, feel free to swap in these alternatives.
Gift experiences of joy
Before you buy, ask yourself whether the recipient will have the time and space to enjoy your gift. Consider low-cost experiences that can be used where they live when they wish. We’re not talking about a hand-scrawled coupon for “1 free massage,” but options like tickets to the local theater, a season pass to a museum, or a donation to a neighborhood park. Deliberate gifts of experience will be appreciated beyond the holidays.
Reflect on personal needs
Think about how you can contribute to the needs of your loved ones. Gift movie or exhibit tickets to a new mom who’d appreciate the quiet afforded by you spending time with her little one. Show solidarity with a friend going through treatment by donating to a charity in their name or offering rides to and from places they need to go. Careful reflection can reveal many possibilities.
Customize your giving
Are you an artist at heart, throwing pottery in your off-hours? Do you knit during your long commutes or have a knack for baking? DIY a few of your gifts this year, incorporating the colors or flavors preferred by your own favorites for a thoughtful surprise.
Don’t forget yourself
We best love out loud when we’re most fulfilled ourselves. Drown out the hubbub of the holidays with a class on meditation or yoga. Volunteer your time to those you don’t know at a local food bank or soup kitchen. Develop lasting habits to sustain your mindfulness throughout the year.
By forgoing overspending this holiday season for more thoughtful gifts, you’ll achieve a focus rooted in authenticity – and avoid contributing to the more than $103 billion in credit that will carry over to the new year.
Read more intriguing findings from finder.com’s holiday spending survey.
Photos © Finder.com, Bread and Olives, Joyful Journey
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