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Tips for Coping With Holiday Financial Stress

Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure can buy a lot of gifts. So if you’re running low on cash during the holidays and have a lot of family and friends to buy presents for, this can be a frustrating season. Here are seven strategies to help you combat financial stress.

Budget

Carefully budgeting for holiday gifts is an obvious strategy that isn’t very satisfying if you’re behind on bills, haven’t bought anything and are panicking with Christmas just weeks away.

Still, who can argue with the idea of planning what you will spend? While your budget may not look pretty, do what you can. We suggest that after you set a budget, aim to pay cash for your purchases, shop online to efficiently find sale prices and avoid applying for department store credit cards that can put you further into debt.

Avoid Stressful Shopping Situations

Shopping during the holidays can be taxing even when you have money.  In other words, try to arrange things so that you never even encounter the actual stressors. That can mean buying things well in advance of the deadlines, shopping only when the crowds are small, buying over the Internet with a cocktail in your hand – doing whatever it takes so that you never have to fight for a parking space or deal with a rude cashier. Fight stress before it starts.

And you may find that you make smarter budgetary decisions without a lot of stress and chaos surrounding you.

Don’t Keep Your Money Woes to Yourself

This can mean a lot of things, of course. If you’re truly down in the dumps and unable to cope with your financial situation, you need to find someone to confide in, stat. If not a family or friend, consider contacting credit counseling organizations, which can help you set up a financial plan.

Hopefully you aren’t anywhere near that depressed; You’re just understandably frustrated and stressed by the idea of paying your usual bills while trying to buy what seems like an inordinate amount of gifts.

If you have kids that are old enough to understand, we recommend telling them in advance that the number or quality of gifts will be modest. And recognize that you may be doing them a favor in the long run. “Raising kids who really understand and internalize that message are far more likely to manage their own fiscal lives better than those whose parents never set money boundaries.

Remember What’s Really Important

The best way to cope with a materialistic time of year is not to fall prey to pressure from the retail world and spend because it is what you do during the holidays. The holiday is about religion and family. Focus on that.

That’s easier said than done if you have kids with high expectations or materialistic parents, siblings, cousins and friends, but it’s irrefutable advice.

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