I Will Not Overspend, I Will Not Overspend…

Navigating the many temptations of the holidays can be a challenge.  It’s a time when a lot of people overspend, overeat, and miss out on all that makes this time of year so meaningful.

When I teamed up with the Market Research firm Synovate a couple of years ago to conduct a Holiday Regrets survey right after the holidays, many people said they wished they hadn’t spent so much money and so much time shopping for gifts.  And many wished they had spent more time with family and friends and reflecting on the spiritual significance of the holidays.

To get it right this holiday season, a little willpower training may be in order.

A recent New York Times article on the topic noted the importance of external controls.  If you know that credit cards often make it all too easy for you to overspend, take your credit cards out of your wallet or purse and opt for an all-cash or all-debit card Christmas this year.

The article also highlighted the importance of deciding what you will do in certain situations before you get in the situation.  For example, before you start receiving invitations to this or that holiday event, look at your calendar and reserve certain days or weekends for family time.

I find that advice to be especially helpful.  When my wife, Jude, and I were training for this year’s Chicago half-marathon, it was much easier to run on days that I had designated in advance as training days.  If I had waited until the actual day to decide whether to run, I know there were many times when I would have taken the day off, especially if one of our kids had kept us up the previous night.

One final note about preparing for this year’s holiday season, it’s still not too late to come up with a gift budget.  Perhaps a simple form will help you avoid overspending.

What are you doing to prepare for a financially, emotionally, and spiritually sane holiday season this year?

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