How To Bring Intention To Your Holiday Spending

Tis the season for stringing the lights, trimming the tree, and quality time with loved ones. While the holiday season brims with joy, it can also increase stress as spending tends to rise.

Even considering the pandemic, the National Retail Foundation (NRF) predicts that 2020 will go on record as the largest holiday spending year in history. It estimates that people will spend anywhere from $755.3 billion to $766.7 billion in November and December, an increase between 3.6% to 5.2% as compared to 2019.

National spending may be on the rise, but yours doesn’t need to. How can you change the way you approach spending this holiday season? Bring intention, purpose, and meaning back to your spending habits. Today, our team is going to show you how you can make that happen.

Build a holiday budget (and stick to it)

The holiday season lives in two competing worlds: joy and stress, and 2020 certainly isn’t doing much to improve the latter. One thing that can help alleviate some of the pressure is to create a healthy holiday budget. Writing out a budget can better illuminate what you can and should spend this season.

Given the monetary consequences of COVID-19, your spending might need to shift this year, and that’s more than okay. Be honest with yourself about what your spending should look like and how to intentionally cut back without detracting from the season. Ask yourself,

  • How much is set aside for gifts this year?
  • How will your spending impact the rest of your finances?
  • How can you make the most of gifting without going overboard?

The key is to ensure that your holiday shopping won’t break the bank. You don’t want to start the New Year with a mountain of credit card debt—that’s not what this season is about anyway. You also don’t want to overspend to the point that it impacts your daily life. You should still have money for groceries and other necessities.

So how can you better spend your money this season? Tap into your discretionary funds and repurpose them for holiday gifts. Perhaps, for example, you forego the takeout for a couple of months and reallocate that money toward gifts.

Another strategy is to be more selective about the people you buy gifts for. 2020 might be a good year to keep your gifting to the immediate family. White elephant and Secret Santa are also great and fun options to keep your spending in check.

Remember, once you set your budget, stick to it!

Give your gifts a creative spin

Gifts don’t have to be pricy to make an impact. Writing this section spurred a wonderful Christmas memory for me. As a child, one of my favorite presents was the box a toy came in. My dad and I spent countless hours and rolls of duct tape crafting it into our version of a world-class spaceship.

What was in the box wasn’t the point, rather its the time I spent with my dad building our space-traveling vehicle that holds a precious place in my heart. Time and memories with loved ones will always mean the most later on. Even though this sentiment is thought of as cliché, it’s becoming more and more important, especially in the wake of the pandemic.

As we enter this holiday season, remember there are several ways to give gifts to your family and loved ones with intention regardless of how much it costs. One way to do this is by gifting your time. Perhaps you get the family a pass to the local waterpark for a future summer vacation. This gives you the opportunity to spend time together and make memories as a family, and will likely be less expensive than the newest tablet or video game console.

Another idea is gifting something that will further a passion or hobby. Perhaps a grandparent loves photography, so you set them up with an online course to hone their skills. This gift will continue to benefit them well past the holiday season and creates special memories.

Many people think about giving back during the holidays. Your gift could be to donate to a charity in your loved one’s name, leaving a lasting impact. As we enter a season of hyper-consumerism, it’s valuable to think about others and provide them with the basic necessities that we may take for granted.

Do what you can to bring intention and purpose to each gift you give this year.

Infuse gratitude into your finances this season

Gratitude can impact your finances in significant and surprising ways. Give yourself the grace to set healthy boundaries this season and extend that thought to others as well. We’ve all heard the phrase “keeping up with the Jones’,” but in 2020 the Jones’ need not apply.

This season, being intentional means giving yourself the grace to set and stick with a budget, and granting that grace to others. Think about your friend who gave you a $25 gift card to your favorite restaurant. Let’s say that friend makes $10 an hour. They had to work at least two and a half hours to earn enough money to pay for your gift. During uncertain times, remembering to be grateful for each other keeps the holiday spirit alive.

Being intentional and grateful is about remembering the gesture, not the gift. Gratitude can bring patience, contentment, and care to your financial life, something we could all use a little more of this season and beyond.

At First Dakota, we understand both the joy and stress of the holiday season. In our 2020 “cancel culture” it’s vital to remember that life isn’t canceled, love isn’t canceled, and the holidays certainly aren’t canceled. While it may look different this year, know that you have a trusted team in your corner ready to help you with your financial needs. Give us a call today.

First Dakota Wealth & Trust is the fiduciary investment department of First Dakota National Bank with trustee powers to serve clients during their lifetime, during incapacity, and after death. We help clients develop a financial roadmap to help simplify their financial future.

Please note that neither First Dakota National Bank nor First Dakota Wealth & Trust Department, or its employees provides tax or legal advice. This is intended for informational purposes and is not intended to constitute legal or tax advice. Please consult your attorney and/or tax professional for advice related to your specific situation.