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5 Easy Ways to Manage Holiday Stress W/ Free Holiday Budget Planner
You know the feeling. It’s the middle of the holiday season. You’ve spent all afternoon elbowing people at a crowded mall. You’re buried beneath a pile of holiday cards you haven’t found time to mail. You still need to pack for a week of travel with your in-laws. Not to mention, you’re officially well over budget. Welcome to the holidays!
We’re here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be this way! It’s completely possible to have a happy, stress-free holiday season. Here are our top five tips for managing stress during the holidays with our free Holiday Budget Planner template:
#1. Determine Your Budget
The most critical part of managing your stress during the holidays is creating and following a budget. Figuring out your financial strategy is key. It should be one of the first things you do during the planning process. To help you set your budget, we’ve created a simple, effective and customizable Holiday Budget Planner to use throughout the season.
Download Holiday Budget Planner
Review last year’s spending
To help you get started, review any financial records of last year’s holiday expenses. We tend to underestimate how much we actually spend during the holidays. Last year’s spending will give you a much better idea. Notice your spending patterns and decide where you need to cut back or add on.
Define and categorize your budget
From there, determine exactly how much money you have to work with. It’s helpful to divide up your budget into categories. Our Holiday Budget Planner includes sections for gifts, travel, entertainment, and miscellaneous items. Feel free to customize your Holiday Budget Planner in a way that’s helpful to you and your family.
Set your spending allowances
You’ve created your categories and finalized your overall spending budget. Now it’s time to set your spending allowance for each item you plan to buy.
Gifts are a difficult item to budget for. Figure out your per-person gift limit to help keep you on track. To do this, divide your total gift budget by the number of people you plan to buy for. This per-person gift limit will help keep your budget afloat. If you can, allow for a 10 percent buffer for miscellaneous items. You never know what you’ll end up needing at the last minute!
#2. Develop a Game Plan
Figuring out the logistics is a critical part of reducing unwanted holiday stress. The earlier you can nail down the details, the better.
Lay it all out and update your calendar
Determine exactly where you need to be and when. Are you traveling for the holidays? Spending time with your extended family? What are your most important obligations? Think about the details early. Record them on your calendar so you have a clear visual of where you need to be. This will serve as your roadmap for the holiday season.
Don’t forget the small details
Don’t forget to schedule the additional activities your family commits to. Remember to pencil in any school concerts, baking schedules, and time for holiday cards and home decorating. Again, the more detailed you can be, the better. Give yourself some wiggle room in case things change at the last minute.
Create a gift list
Create a gift list and update it each time you buy something. Include who it’s for, when you bought it and its expected arrival date if you purchased it online. Be diligent in updating your gift list, and take the time to be organized and detailed up front. This will help you relax and enjoy yourself during the actual holiday festivities. We’ve included an easy-to-use gift list template for you to use in our Holiday Budget Planner.
Download Holiday Budget Planner
#3. Look for Extra Ways to Save
Money is the number one source of stress during the holidays. Look for any saving opportunities and ways to cut corners.
Purchase a savings plan
We recommend purchasing a savings plan to help get you started. Don’t waste time shopping around for the best deal. With our wide variety of plans, you’ll find plenty of companies offering discounted rates. It’s the easiest, most stress-free way to start saving money.
Do your research
Taking the time to do some research can be very beneficial in helping you cut corners. Many stores offer various saving opportunities around the holidays, including discounts, store credit cards, and interest-free financing options. Make sure to compare prices before purchasing. And don’t just stop at retail stores. There are tons of ways to save money at grocery stores and dining out throughout the holiday season. It might require a little research, but saving options are available if you are dedicated to finding them!
You can also think about creative ways to cut corners. Is there an easier, more affordable way to do something? Many are using websites such as Paperless Post and American Greetings to send electronic holiday cards instead of traditional paper cards. This saves time and money on postage. The little things add up! There are also many DIY gift options available. Making gifts yourself is traditionally a great money saver! There are many tutorials and recommendations online to help you get started.
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#4. Find Time to Give Back
When you’re feeling overwhelmed with holiday stress, it’s helpful to remember the reason for the season. No matter what specific holiday or tradition you celebrate, there is an emphasis on giving back and helping others. Focusing on community service helps put things in perspective and reminds you what is truly worth celebrating.
Give back to the community
Make it a priority to give back to your community. Websites like VolunteerMatch.org provide you with volunteer opportunities in your own neighborhood. There are lots of different programs and organizations that would love your help this holiday season.
Don’t forget to get your kids involved with giving back. Volunteering with your children is a great way to teach them about helping others. Have them pick out a volunteer activity and help them see it through. You could be creating a lifelong love for community service!
Connect with family
Remember to make an extra effort to connect with family, friends and neighbors. It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Find a way prioritize time with your loved ones. This is a special season. Even though it can bring added responsibilities, it can also bring great memories. Cherish the time with the people that matter most to you. Don’t let yourself get too overwhelmed with the details to truly enjoy the moment.
#5. Make Your Health a Priority
To manage your stress during the holiday season, you need to prioritize your health. So often, it’s the first thing we take off our to-do list when we feel overwhelmed. It’s actually the most important. Taking the time to tend your health – physical, mental, and spiritual – is critical to preventing holiday stress.
Exercise and eat right
First things first, make time for exercise and proper nutrition. Just 20 minutes of moderate exercise a day provides you with more energy and an influx of endorphins that will make you happier and less stressed. Likewise, nutrition is a key component to protecting your health. It’s tempting to want to binge on holiday cookies, but remember to avoid sugar overload. Instead, seek out nutrient-dense foods that support your immune system and fight against unwanted stress.
Don’t forget to relax
Tending to your mental health is just as vital. Focus on your own happiness and fulfillment during this hectic period. Schedule some time in your calendar to relax and decompress. Fill your weeks with things that bring you joy.
No matter how busy you are during the holidays, you can actively choose to reduce your stress and remain positive and upbeat. Simple things like setting a budget, determining your plans, looking for savings opportunities, giving back, and prioritizing your health can go a long way in managing your stress and anxiety. By following these helpful tips, you are five steps closer to having a peaceful and memorable holiday season.