Mom and daughter read a book in front of the Christmas tree and a lit fire.

Stress Less Over Holiday Spending

Last year Americans racked up an average of $1,054 in debt due to holiday spending.

Financial worries are a leading source of stress, with nearly three out of four adults reporting feeling stress about money at least some of the time. For those feeling chronically under pressure over money, the unyielding stress can lead to major health problems including anxiety and depression, weight gain, sleep problems and memory and concentration impairments.

So how can you avoid the debt trap this year and stress less about money spent on the “perfect” holiday? Here are some tips to consider.

  • Set a Budget. It’s not glamorous, but it’s crucial to figure out how much money you can spend on gifts before you go shopping. Allocate a spending limit on each person you plan to shop for and stick to it. Make sure to factor in extras such as wrapping paper, cards and small gifts for co-workers as you’re planning.
  • Buy for Fewer People. If you’re worried about money, chances are others in your family or circle of friends might be as well. Instead of buying for every family member, suggest a gift exchange with a spending limit so everyone gets a lovely gift to take home and you can spend more time enjoying each other’s company. If you and your friends exchange gifts, bring up the idea of having a holiday potluck sans gifts instead.
  • Rein in Spending on Your Kids. It’s fun to watch little kids tear into a pile of presents, but every parent knows that many of those must-have toys won’t be played with very much into the new year. If you really stop and think about it, do you remember many of the gifts you received as a child? Unless they had significant meaning, it’s kind of a blur, right? There’s a movement with some parents to only give four gifts – one they want, one they need, one to wear and one to read. Read about how changing her gift-giving strategy made the holidays more enjoyable for this mom.
  • Give Your Talents and Time. If there just isn’t any wiggle room in the budget, consider gifts from the heart. Maybe you have an elderly relative who would appreciate help with cleaning or household chores – give the gift of your service. Instead of gifts they’ll soon grow tired of, make your kids coupons good for an after-dinner walk or weekend trip to the playground. They’ll cherish some special time with you and get a kick out of calling the shots by “cashing in” their gifts. If you’re crafty or a great baker, there’s nothing wrong with gifting homemade items or baked goods.
  • Be a Bargain Shopper. As you do work through your list according to the budget you set, make sure you’re getting the best deal possible on gifts. If you’re a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan or Blue Care Network member, you can do just that through the Blue365® member discount program, which gives you exclusive savings on health-related products and services. Check out this helpful gift-giving guide to find deals for everyone on your list.

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Photo credit: Fat Camera

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