Holiday Gifting: The Temptation to Overspend at the Last Minute

It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, right?

Holiday Gifting: The Temptation to Overspend at the Last Minute

If you are anything like me you’ve done one of two things by this time of the holiday season. You’ve either:

  1. completed your gift shopping but are still interested in being out with the crowds (people watching is so much fun this time of year!), tempted to buy something a little more or a little better…OR…
  2. …you haven’t even started your shopping and are contemplating making up for lost time by purchasing everything online and paying for express shipping while you are at it. Budget? What budget? Am I right?

Are either of those resonating with you? If so, I’d like to applaud you for taking the time to check out the following reminders before you make the decision as to what you will do next. Make sure to check out these tips to avoid holiday overspending

Reminder #1: You’ve Worked Hard This Year. Don’t Screw It Up Now.

I know, I know…I’m starting to sound a bit like a broken record, right? But it’s only because I care about you, I promise.

I’m not sure what your financial situation looks like, but if you’ve read this blog for any given period of time, then chances are you’ve been working to get your finances into some semblance of order, have made goals to get there, and are still struggling with whether the time put into it and the restrictions involved are necessary or even worth it.

It might be even harder if you haven’t seen any progress made or are still just barely paying the minimum payments on more debt than you know how to handle.

It would be easy to give up. To put the whole thing aside for a time and just do the holidays the way you’ve done them in the past, wouldn’t it?

My question to you today: If you give up now, what are you saying about all the hard work you’ve put in up until this point? Is it worth it to set it all aside, knowing that, at some point in the future, you will have to start over at square one?

What about those goals you made? The best version of yourself that you will be in the future? Are a few extra holiday expenses (or treats) worth risking it all?

Give yourself a moment and look back over your goals and use the answers you just came up with to make a thoughtful and educated decision going forward. Pausing and re-evaluating your financial goals is crucial to avoid holiday overspending.

Reminder #2: Your Worth/Value Does Not Equal the Expense of the Gift You Give

Each year, Justin and I struggle with one couple in our lives that places an extremely high value on gifts. In fact, they go overboard to the point that, even when we’ve bought the perfect gift for them (in our price range, even), we are always left second guessing whether we did enough.

Their gifts are always more expensive, and our gifts look meager in comparison. In the past it’s left us feeling highly insecure, spending more than we intended (or could afford), and regretting the gathering altogether.

Have you been in that spot? Are you currently there?

If so, I’d like to encourage you with what I’ve learned and hope that it helps you the way it did me.

Ask yourself the following questions to avoid holiday overspending:

  1. Is my gift thoughtful? Have I made an effort to pick something that the other person will love or that makes me think of them fondly?
  2. Is my gift within the budget I’ve set for that person, no matter how big or small?

If the answer to both questions is yes, then you should feel confident in giving your gift to them. Say thank you for whatever you receive and put aside any insecurity because you put the time and effort into something that you believed to be the right gift.

You are not the value of the gift you give. What should be valued is the thoughtfulness that went into the gift, not the amount spent. If the other person can’t be pleased, then that’s on them and not you.

Reminder #3: It’s Okay for Someone Else to be in a Different Life Situation Than You

Really, what I love most about my family at the holidays, is that we just all want to spend time together, because, isn’t that what it’s really about? And yet, so much of the modern holiday experience involves the pull to do more, buy more, spend more, and we lose focus of what really matters.

I have two sisters and a brother. We are all in our 30’s now and for all of our adult lives have been in completely different financial situations. Typically, from year to year, there is at least one of us that really cannot afford the expense of Christmas. You know what, though? That has never mattered.

Still, we each show up for the holidays and do what we can, and don’t allow for insecurity in the process. If I have extra money I want to spend on a grand item I know my sister really wants or needs, then I am free to do so without the expectation that I will receive an equally grand gift in return or make her feel bad for not being able to purchase something similar.  If, on the other hand, I really cannot afford much in the way of gifts this year, then I contribute what I can, without feeling guilty about it!

And…each and every year, whether the gifts are small or large, expensive or inexpensive, handmade or store bought, each person walks away feeling loved. Isn’t that how it should be?

So, as you stand in the store aisle or look at your cart on Amazon, take a moment to remember what really matters before reconsidering the choices you are about to make.

Your Decision

So what decisions are you being pulled to make today? Whether you are struggling with your worth, a desire to please others, or are trying to keep those promises you made to yourself, just know that you aren’t alone. I’ve been there, too, and I’m cheering you on this season. Resist the urge to abandon your newfound priorities for a trip back to where you’ve been in the past.

“There is no failure except in no longer trying.” – Elbert Hubbard

You’ll thank yourself later!

Tip: Grab my FREE Family Budget Workbook to help you get (and stay) on track going forward – no matter how your finances look at this moment!