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..…with SEVEN great ways to reduce Holiday Stress!
1. Set up a Holiday action plan.
Start by determining what activities are most essential to bringing YOU that Holiday joy. Then, set goals based on how you will spend your time doing things that you value. Don’t forget to break down larger goals in smaller and more manageable tasks. Be sure to write them down, and refer to them often.
2. Keep your plans WITH YOU all of the time.
Include your appointments, task list, gift list (including ideas), contacts and budget notes with you, so that you will be able to make use of this information as you need it.
3. Spend time daily and weekly to review your plans.
Take time to review your goals. Chart your progress to make sure that you are on track AND that nothing critical gets overlooked. Set deadlines for your goals. Remember to be realistic, AND remember to reward your progress.
4. Create your Holiday budget AND stick to it.
Determine how much will you spend in total and for each person on your gift list. Take your budget with you, and keep track of what you’ve spent. Be sure to include an allowance in your budget for unforeseen circumstances like forgetting to include a person on your list, price increases, shipping costs and sales ending too soon.
5. Keep gift buying as simple as possible.
Limit the number of stores as well as the amount of time spent in each one. Online buying is a good alternative as long as you allow extra time and consider shipping costs in your budget. Follow your plan as closely as you can. Include some flexibility, so you still enjoy your gift buying experience.
6. Focus your time between work and play.
When you are working, don’t focus on your personal life and your never-ending to-do list. Do your best to leave work on time, so you CAN get those things done. Try to focus ONLY on family and friends while you are spending time with them.
7. Take time for your own personal well-being.
Whenever you are feeling stressed, take time to relax and refocus. Schedule time for self-renewal, exercise and healthy eating. If you can’t get everything done, focus on the things that matter most to you.
When you plan in advance and manage your time based on what is most important to you, you will have less stress and more peace during the Holidays AND in the New Year ahead.
The Holidays are supposed to bring us joy.
..For many of us, it is also a time of stress.
Many, but certainly not ALL sources of Holiday stress can be relieved to some degree by prior planning and organization.
Let’s take a look at the TOP TEN Most Stressful Holiday Activities List from Franklin Covey, a global leader in effectiveness training.
1. Spending too much money
2. Deciding which gifts to give to whom
3. Sending parcels and cards on time
4. Taking care of health and well-being
5. Not enough time for gift buying
6. Not enough time to attend events
7. Decorating and hosting parties
8. Managing workloads in order to take time off
9. Maintaining relationships with family and friends
10. Creating and sticking to a Holiday budget.
Most of these items probably sound quite familiar to most of us, and almost every one of them could be reduced or even eliminated with a bit of prior planning and organization.
We recommend that you start NOW (it IS November!) to make your own plan to relieve your Holiday stressors.
If you need a few ideas, read on to check out our suggestions to reduce Holiday stress. Print out a Holiday Checklist.
Winter’s on its way! Use our handy
FALL HOME MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST
to help you get ready!
WHAT ABOUT DEBT?
We hear a lot about debt today: Personal debt is at all-time highs; government debt is out of control. What does it all mean? What’s the truth? Is all debt bad? Where do you stand?
Understand Your Debt – It is most important to understand your debt. How did that debt occur? Was it a one-time event that was out of your control? For instance – were you out of work for a period of time? Is your debt increasing every month?
Create a Cash Flow Statement – We could call this a budget; however, many people dislike the idea of a budget. Whatever we call it, it is imperative you know what is coming into your household on a monthly basis and what is going out. If your income does not equal your expenditure – it’s easy to see that your debt can increase every month. For instance, if you are $200 short every month – and that $200 ends up on your line of credit – you start one month with $200. The following month you add $200 and on and on – you get the idea. Not only is the debt increasing, but you have also added a bill payment that does not fit in the budget. Contrary to popular opinion – having a cash flow statement can be liberating because it creates knowledge and control. It means having a plan. Yes – plans create freedom.
Not all Debt is Created Equal – There is a big difference between debt that is creating an asset and consumer debt. When I speak about debt that is creating an asset, I’m talking about a mortgage on a home or a course you took that was needed for work or the vehicle you bought to drive to work. When I speak about consumer debt, I’m talking about the impulsive purchase of a big screen TV, a seventh pair of cute dress shoes or a new tool you think is really cool but that you might only use once. When your cash flow statement shows that you do not have enough flowing in each month to cover the expenses flowing out, there are two approaches you can take to fix this.
1. You may find there is a behaviour that needs to be addressed. I’m certainly not against big screen TV’s and shoes. What may need to be addressed is the impulse buying. Credit is readily available. This is a relatively recent phenomenon. Our grandparents had only one choice; save the money and then make the purchase. It’s so easy for us to see a great deal we can’t pass up and put it on a credit card. If there are a large number of impulse purchases in your history, you may have to look at these behaviours and put some limits in place. This is not to say that you can never do anything impulsive, but wouldn’t it be great if you had that worked into a budget, and you knew what discretionary funds you had?
2. You may find your purchases are all practical. You may find that you are actually doing great. You may also find out there is nothing in your cash flow you can give up. Perhaps there just is not enough money coming in to pay your bills. For instance, if you are always going to be $200 short every month, you have discovered you need to earn another $200 a month. This could be a second stream of income. This could be taking something you love to do and turning it into something to earn some extra money. Be creative.
Be Kind to Yourself – Be prepared to accept what you learn and take whatever steps are needed. Take control of your cash flow. Give yourself a pat on the back because you have examined the situation and are taking steps to correct it. Please do not berate yourself for your situation. It does no good to blame yourself. If you find your debt is unmanageable and you need help, there are organizations such as Consolidated Credit Counselling of Canada who offer counsellors that provide training to help you take control.
To test your knowledge regarding credit, follow this link.
If you need a financial plan to help you achieve your goals, send me an email. I’m here to help.
Lynn Whetham is a Certified Financial Planner and managing partner at Stepright Capital Planning Inc. in St. George, Ontario.