Taking Guilt Out of the Holiday Season

December 1, 2017

Taking Guilt Out of the Holiday Season

The holiday season is an amazing time. We fill our calendars with get-togethers, overindulge in rich foods, and embrace the joy this time of year brings.

But there is something else that often surfaces during the holiday season: guilt.

Yup, ’tis the season…to feel guilty. It isn’t mentioned in any carol, but navigating guilt is a reality for many trying to live within their means, pay off debt, and get their financial house in order.

Guilt over not being able to drop hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on gifts. Guilt over not throwing perfect Pinterest-worthy parties. Guilt that you don’t have a Lexus with a big red bow in your driveway (does anyone really do that, by the way?).

Unfortunately, this guilt can lead us to make decisions that feel good in the moment, but we later regret. The sense of guilt is especially prevalent if you have children or come from a large family with large holiday expectations.

So, how do we take guilt out of the holiday season? What do we do to resist the temptation to give in to it, possibly making decisions that will have a negative financial impact on us?

Here are some steps you can take to experience this holiday season with more jolly and less guilt.

Focus on the Reason for the Season

Believe it or not, the holidays are not about acquiring stuff or getting the best deals on electronics. Stuff is fun, stuff is great. I’m not saying to avoid that part of the season. I am saying don’t make it the focus.

Thanksgiving is about being grateful, and Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. Both are an opportunity to spend time with friends and relatives, eat fruitcake that doesn’t look good but actually is, and celebrate and create traditions.

That can all be done without dropping hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Related Reading: The Profound Joy in Simplicity and Having Less

Remember That Christmas Comes Every Year

Quick! Name every present you received last Christmas. Not just the big ones — every present. Bet you can’t. Bet you can’t remember everything you gave either.

We tend to act as if this Christmas is the end-all and be-all — that everything hinges on this holiday season. Well, it isn’t, and it doesn’t.

Obviously, this is a special time of year and giving and getting is a part of the fun, but if this year is the year you’re tackling your debt or working on another financial goal, then accept this season for what it is and adjust your gift-giving accordingly.

Drop the “go big or go home” attitude, and do what you can. Christmas will come again.

Related Reading: 6 Reasons Your Debt-Free Journey Is Going Nowhere

Manage Expectations

One of the most powerful things we can do to eliminate guilt from the holidays is to manage the expectations of those around us.

Whether it’s your children, spouse, or your relatives, you may need to be upfront about how you plan to approach the holiday season. If you are not in a position (or don’t want) to spend gobs of money, be transparent about it.

With your kids, this could mean having an open conversation about what you can afford, depending upon, of course, their age and ability to understand. For years, I have shared with my kids what our (or Santa’s) Christmas budget is. Once kids are aware that your wallet is not limitless, they recognize that their wants shouldn’t be limitless either. They will prioritize what they hope to receive.

When it comes to managing the expectations of friends and family, being open may seem uncomfortable initially but will save you pain down the road.

You might also be surprised to discover that you’re not the only one in your circle that is challenged by the financial obligations of the holiday season. Your transparency might be met with a “Me too. I’m so glad you said something.”

Related Reading: Do You Have a Financial Bully in Your Life?

Have a Guilt-Free Holiday Season

When you’re attempting to be responsible financially, the holidays and the guilt that the season brings can cause you to take one of two paths: abandon your plan in favor of short-lived glee (because, you know, YOLO) or bear down and keep your goal in focus.

I encourage you to do the latter, because, after all, YOLO. Let the only guilt you experience this holiday season be over eating all that fruitcake by yourself.

Related Reading
•  Surviving the Holidays Without Derailing Your Debt-Free Plan
•  51 Tips to Have a Frugal Christmas Without Going Broke
•  Why You Shouldn’t Wait Until Tomorrow to Be Happy

Do you often feel guilty during the Holiday Season? How do you overcome it?


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