8 Tips For Less Financial Stress, More Festive Fun

financial stress during holidays

Money Thought Leader: Karen McAllister

I adore Gary Chapman’s “5 Languages of Love,” which are “five ways that people speak and understand emotional love.”

“Gift-giving is my way of nourishing social ties with friends and family.”

The Five Languages:

I’ll spell them out here: words of affirmation; quality time; receiving gifts; acts of service, and physical touch. Although the book is directed at intimate partners, I use this a lot with my community. As many of you might know, I live in an intentional community at Clear Sky. We can sometimes have 20 people at any one meal. One of our values is to do something for the well-being of the others who live with us. And knowing each other’s love language is very helpful. You and your family members can take the test here.

One of my ways to do something for the well-being of others is by giving gifts and quality time. Gift-giving is my way of nourishing social ties with friends and family. And it is also a way many of us create the perfect holiday experience. 

Fallout From Pandemic:

Yet, basics, like food and utilities, have increased by the largest amount over a 12-month span since 1979. Inflation is surging, increasing by 8.3 percent over the last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The fallout from the pandemic, the volatility and uncertainty around Russia, supply chains, and the housing market have all contributed to a sense of ambiguity around the economy that is still very present in our lives.

And as a result, like many people, I just don’t have the money I normally have for gift-giving for this holiday season. It feels out of reach for me. And I feel upset about this and so do many of my clients across the globe.

Some of them told me that even with two full-time salaries making ends meet is difficult. They have had to resort to borrowing money, selling belongings, or just not paying some of their bills.  

“Some of them told me that even with two full-time salaries making ends meet is difficult.”

And despite the price inflation, many are compensating for the times when they couldn’t be together during the pandemic and are accruing debt due nevertheless. 

Financial Setback, Financial Stress:

A client spoke frankly, “I am putting myself under a lot of pressure because I missed seeing family or exchanging presents during the pandemic. I really want to create a very special holiday and make up for the two years we lost being together.”

So, I asked my clients what comes up for them when they are not able to give gifts.

  • “Shame and upset.”
  • “When I can’t afford to give a gift or experience that expresses how much I value the relationship, it will damage the relationship.”
  • “If I cannot afford holiday activities, then I’m a failure. I cannot see it as a temporary financial setback. I feel not good enough.”
  • “I get so anxious about the finances that I say no to lots of things and then miss out on opportunities to connect with friends and family and deeply regret it.”

What comes up for them when they don’t receive gifts?

  • “I don’t feel valued.”
  • “My relationship isn’t valued.”

A Common Theme:

“There seems to be a need to make up for lost opportunities to show love and affection.”

The same words come up again and again: not enough. I am not doing enough or feeling enough, or it is not good enough. This is a very strong mindset for many people this year. There seems to be a need to make up for lost opportunities to show love and affection. FOMO is well and alive. The holiday season is seen as the “most wonderful time of the year.” And yet the holidays are also rife with emotions and family expectations.

So, how do we manage scaling down and our feelings of “less than”?

8 Tips For Coping With Financial Stress This Holiday Season:

Here are nine suggestions for coping with financial stress this holiday season. You may not be able to change your financial circumstances in time for the holidays, but there is a lot you can do to manage the stress you feel around your spending this time of year.

1.) Know you are not alone.

According to a report from the American Psychological Association (APA) in 2022, U.S. adults ranked financial worries as their biggest source of stress. Money is this weird taboo thing we don’t really talk about at home or learn about in school. Yet it’s fundamental to survival and our ability to get what we need. It’s normal to feel anxious about money. Quit making yourself wrong around money.

2.) Talk to someone.

Find someone trust  and talk to them about your anxieties around money. Tell them what you avoid doing around money that makes your holiday financial stress feel worse. It is better out than kept inside.

3.) Be empathetic.

Build financial empathy by talking to someone about how you’ve felt in the past when you couldn’t give gifts, or you didn’t receive gifts. 

“Try a gift-making party, a book/clothes swap, bake things for people, or throw a potluck.”

4.) Be OK with saying NO.

Be ok with saying no to invitations from others and with buying gifts for others. Say no, coming from doing your budget and knowing your boundaries. People feel relieved when they hear a clear no or a clear yes.

5.) Get creative.

Let your close family and friends know you are going to be creative around gift-giving this year & find out what you, your family, and your friends’ language of love is. This will help you to get creative about gift-giving, which may save you money. Try a gift-making party, a book/clothes swap, bake things for people, or throw a potluck. Volunteer to babysit or to do some of the chores they hate, being generous with time is more meaningful than anything that fits in a gift box!

6.) Take time to understand your relationship with money.

Get a deeper understanding of your relationship with money. Take the money quiz here and schedule a 30-minute complimentary appointment with me to get a few tips on managing your holiday financial stress. 

7.) Find local resources.

Navigating the holidays when you cannot afford groceries is no fun. Avail of the resources in your area. If your family is in need of food assistance, there are places you can turn to for help. 

8.) Take action.

Join the Peace & Ease around Money course with Karen, starting January 18th, 2023, to reconnect with abundance and feel confident when making money decisions regardless of the state of the economy. Change how you feel about money in 2023 so that when the holidays come around next year, you can enjoy them stress free. Learn how to authentically manage your money in Karen’s upcoming online course, Money & Spirituality: Integrating Spiritual with Material, Saturday, Jan 21st. Learn more.

Whatever your plans for the holiday season, I hope that worries about finances won’t spoil your enjoyment. 

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About the Author:

Karen has worked with over 100 clients, helping them untangle their money issues and to become more effective in their work because of it. To do this, Karen has studied financial issues extensively from both the practical, behavioral, and the emotional perspectives.

She has been certified by Deborah Price of the Money Coaching Institute as a Certified Money Coach, a Couples Money Coach, and a Business Archetype Coach. She has studied with Lynne Twist from the Soul of Money Institute for two years on Mastering your Money and Transforming your Life, including studies in Lynne’s Fundraising from the Heart program. Checkout Karen’s site TheMindfulMoneyCoach. Or, you can email Karen directly at the[email protected]. You are more than welcome to join the Money and Spirituality online course, starting Feb 19th at Noon EST for four Saturdays.