Christmas music has been playing in our house for way too long. And yet... I. can't. stop. I made the mistake of thinking the radio station we usually play in the house would be playing regular music November 1st. My bad. I won't make that mistake next year.
Another sign of the times is that grocery shopping takes 50% longer than it used to on account of consistent crowds at the store shopping shopping shopping. How are your wallets faring?
Let me tell you, I'm not usually a sucker for holiday consumerism, but the longer the Christmas season is, the harder it is to shrug off tugs from retailers everywhere. Christmas shopping used to be a short sprint. It has over the years become an 8-week marathon, and maintaining financial composure for that long is definitely an event of endurance.
I've avoided the stores by grocery shopping every two weeks, but considering I usually have two little ones with me, this still leaves me at least an hour and a half of walking through the retail battlezone and fighting off the onslaught of "DEALS!" "SALES!" and "BARGAINS!"
And this year, oh this year, I've had too many instances where I needed a police negotiator to talk me off the "Complete Order" ledge of my online shopping cart. I am so happy I do not get the newspaper right now or have a television. I don't think I can deal with the extra advertising.
How am I fighting the festive BUY BUY BUY temptation? Try these basics.
1) I mentioned creating a holiday shopping plan here.
2) Create your holiday budget envelope. Can I tell you I am even more in love with my holiday budget envelope? OK- I am even more in love with my holiday budget envelope! It has been fantastic for our family! Are you using this tool?
3) Stay focused on YOUR holiday celebrations instead of letting advertisers tell you how you "should" celebrate Christmas.
4) Distract yourself with charity. The more we become attuned to the needs around us, the less hungry we become for stuff. The challenging part for me in this arena is realizing there are SO MANY NEEDS; it's hard for me to choose just one or two.
5) Choose activities consciously. This kind of goes with #3 and #1. If your holiday budget includes paid events and venues, choose carefully which are most meaningful. If your holiday budget does not include events, fun is still available. Having fun this season doesn't mean you have to spend money! Find a hill and sled down. Visit the community creche with your family and talk about the Christmas story. Make Christmas cards with friends. Invite neighbors over for hot cocoa and have everyone bring their own mugs.
There are also LOTS of Christmas activities available for free in your community if you will ask around. Some of the things we have done so far are:
- Instead of paying to see holiday trees, we went to Temple Square (first time for me EVER) to see their twinkle-light-decked-out grounds and listen to live music. Free! (If you don't count the parking ticket.) (heh)
- We were surprised to learn our membership to a local family attraction was offering free events for members. I took my little daughters for a drive through their light festival. We will also get to visit with Santa and get a photo with him.
- Free for everyone, this same local attraction has live reindeer out at night you can come visit and feed.
- A nationwide clothing store recently sent out $10 gift cards in the mail to get people in their doors. I took my little girls with me and chose a $6 toy. I have found a lot of stores have been doing this. You can either use the credit to get a gift for someone on your list, or get a gift to donate.
- One of our local malls hosts free mid-day mini-concerts featuring various recording artists.
What are some fun things you are doing this year while also maintaining financial peace?