We're Not Letting Judgment Join Us in the New Decade
by April Leiffer Henry
December 13, 2019 .3 min read
With all the typical expectations during the holidays — buying just the right gifts, putting up the perfect decorations, and baking beautiful treats — it’s easy to feel like you just can’t keep up.
Perhaps you judge yourself and your spending habits. Maybe you fall into the comparison trap when seeing others’ extravagant giving. It happens, but these feelings bring anything but joy to what’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year.”
How do you resist the temptation to let shame creep in? Here are 5 tips to get rid of the judgment during the holidays, including a little encouragement to start the new year with a fresh mindset.
Remember Why You Have a Budget
This is more than the standard, “Make a budget and stick to it.” Keeping your why in mind will help you resist overspending when buying gifts or committing to expensive holiday outings.
Are you working hard to be debt-free by the end of the year? Do you have a goal to have an emergency fund with six months worth of income? Are you saving for a vacation next summer and intend to pay for everything in cash?
These are worthy goals that require intentionality, often in small steps. Overspending adds up quickly, so keep your goals in front of you. Save inspiring quotations and photos on your phone. Leave yourself reminders on your fridge and in your car. Associate with people who support your goals.
Do Not Compare
We all know this is way easier said than done. But it can be so tempting to compare yourself with others, especially during the holidays.
You don’t know others’ financial situations. Maybe they have been saving for months to buy someone that one special gift, or perhaps they are using credit cards to purchase presents, while you are paying cash.
In our technology-savvy culture, social media can fuel comparison. If this is the case for you, consider taking a break from or limiting your time on social platforms.
Do your family members or friends host an annual gift exchange that's not within your budget? Did you somehow get roped into participating in a cookie swap? It’s OK to opt out, especially if staying in will put a strain on your finances.
Another reason to leave behind old customs could be grief. If participating in a certain tradition brings too much sadness, perhaps taking a temporary break from it can help with the grieving process.
Think about starting new traditions, especially those that focus on helping others. If you know folks who are lonely or geographically isolated, consider inviting them to join you while serving food at a local soup kitchen.
Be Kind to Yourself
Did you blow your budget by spending too much on gifts? Did you use a credit card when you promised yourself you wouldn’t? Did you over-extend yourself with your time commitments, leaving you feeling stressed and anxious?
Take a close look at what led to your missteps. Acknowledge your mistakes, learn from them, and move on without shame. It's important to forgive yourself and not dwell on past errors. As long as you have a plan for the future, you can let go of the guilt.
Regroup for the New Year
If you accrued any debt during the holidays, plan to pay it off as quickly as possible. If not, congratulate yourself. In either case, a new year is the perfect time to re-evaluate your financial objectives and prepare for the next 12 months!
When you're setting goals, one of the best things you can do is write them down. This makes your plans much more real. Document what you hope to achieve, break it into smaller steps, and give yourself deadlines.
April Leiffer Henry
April Leiffer Henry is a writer, wife, mom of three, Diet Dr. Pepper addict, and dark chocolate lover. She has channeled her borderline obsessive interest in pregnancy, birth, lactation, and well-woman care into a freelance writing business that helps women’s health professionals and birth workers publish awesome content. You can find April on her website or follow her on Facebook.