It hits you every time the holiday season comes to a close. No, not the joy and excitement of spending time with loved ones. It’s the post-holiday stress and anxiety over how much you spent (or didn’t spend), and how it compares to the people around you. You might feel embarrassed but guilt around spending during the holidays is more common than you think.
According to a 2018 survey, two in five Americans feel pressured to spend more money on gifts than they’re comfortable with. While the way you’re feeling is normal, there is something you can do to rid yourself of the guilt. Here are a few ways to release your money guilt and start the new year right.
Make an "I Did" List
We all have a never-ending to-do list, but this holiday season, try the opposite and make a list of everything you’ve done. Whether you bought holiday gift cards for co-workers or donated canned goods to your local pantry, make a note of it.
Throughout the holiday season, look over your list to refresh your memory on all you did. This can help you feel more accomplished and less focused on any tasks that weren’t completed.
Stay Away from Social Media
With social media giving us a snapshot of other’s lives at every moment, it’s easier than ever to compare ourselves to the next person. If you find yourself making comparisons as you browse through photos of friends and family with the gifts they gave or received during the holidays, you should probably log off for a bit.
If you don’t want to stay off social media altogether, it’s also perfectly fine to mute posts that trigger feelings of guilt. Remember to check in with yourself as you’re scrolling and adjust how you consume information accordingly.
Don't Overextend Your Wallet
There’s a lot of pressure to give the “perfect” gifts during the holidays but it’s important to recognize it’s only one time of the year. There are so many other ways to show your appreciation for your loved ones than spending tons of money this season.
If your budget is tight, it’s okay to give a thoughtful card or homemade gift. Make plans to go on a special holiday outing with family or friends or create any new tradition that isn’t just focused on gift-giving.
Look Forward to the New Year
Maybe you spent more money on gifts during the holidays than you planned. Or maybe you felt like you didn’t spend enough to meet your loved ones’ expectations. Whatever you feel guilty about is in the past, and it’s likely that no one is thinking about it as much as you are.
The holidays come around the same time every year, so you have a whole year to make changes. Remember you can always do things differently the next time around. For now, relax, take a deep breath, and give yourself credit for making it to another year.
Quinisha is a freelance writer, U.S. Navy Veteran, and part-time Staff Writer with The Muse. She writes about topics on career development, diversity and inclusion, and financial literacy for entry and mid-level professionals. You can follow her on Twitter @KWright0702.